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Friday, May 29, 2009

Get Your Own Bag

I was just whipping up a spotlight for next week's Gogol Bordello shows at HG and stumbled upon this vid of The Fags at Club Toast (supposedly circa December 1994). For those too young — or maybe too old — to remember, The Fags were 1.) Awesome. And 2.) Eugene Hutz's band before he was, well, Eugene Hutz.

The quality is a little spotty. But if you dig Gogol, you'll dig this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Screaming For Vengeance

So, you know that feeling you get, when your best friends from high school — who formed a band and are still playing together, and who you haven't seen in a couple years — show up in Vermont in a rented car to play a gig in Winooski at the tail end of a micro-tour of Canada? Yeah, well that's exactly how I felt Sunday night when I saw The Figgs at The Monkey House. They rocked so fucking hard that I felt the earth shake under my feet. Or was that my heart pounding with excitement? Either way, it was a night to remember.

These guys know how to work a room, even when technical difficulties threaten to shut the whole thing down. The show was industrial-strength from the get-go, starting with a trio of songs from their most recent record Follow Jean Through The Sea ("Breaking Through These Gates," "Let Me Hold You" and "Hobble Skirt In Erie"). The band was super tight, and within seconds all eyes were glued to the stage. There was no set-list that I could see; guitarist Mike Gent would just shoot a knowing glance at his band-mates and then launch into the next song. The crowd was bopping along to the music and everybody was having a good time. And that's when things started to go south.

Namely, a stage monitor that was squealing feedback like a pig being brought to slaughter. Until this point the monitor had been emitting little yelps of distress whenever Gent got close to his mike. He kept trying to get the sound guy's attention and pointing to the speaker, but the hubbub continued. Finally the offending black wedge erupted in a fury of noise that put a hurt on everyone's ears, and the band came to a stop mid-song (the song was "Waiting For The Sun To Rise", and I was bummed they didn't get to finish it). Gent was visibly upset, and bass player Pete Donnelly diplomatically suggested turning all the monitors down. The sound dude came out and futzed with the controls a little and then went back to his perch. The band tore into a spontaneous version of their song "Somethings Wrong," and Gent had a little fun with the chorus ("somethings wrong...with my monitor"). Everything seemed back to normal and the band was really starting to cook again when the feedback suddenly came back with a vengeance, screaming like Rob Halford with his balls in a vice. At that point, Gent lost it and in a moment of passion he kicked the speaker off its dinky little milk crate, sending it spinning into the crowd. He turned his back to the audience and then finished the song singing into Donnelly's mike. It was the most rock and roll moment I have witnessed in a very long time, maybe ever.

But they didn't let it ruin the show. They brushed it off and made the most of the situation, like the professionals that they are. Gent strapped on his acoustic and decided to bring it down a few notches while the sound guy hopefully worked out the kinks. They played a bunch of quieter songs and eventually worked back up to full-on electric, climaxing with the Chuck Berry-on-steroids vibe of "Dance Lesson." The feedback never returned and they played late into the evening, blasting out two encores for the hardcore few who stayed 'til the end, including a solo a cappella song by drummer Pete "Casino" Hayes and a Sabbathesque version of Neil Young's "The Loner."

Smittens Play On Bartop!

Confirmation on this came in a little late to mention in today's column, but The Smittens, fresh from shows on the Left Coast, are at The Monkey House tonight with local rockers Torpedo Rodeo and Brooklyn's Lady Bright (seen rockin' here in this kinda lo-fi vid). Giddyup.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Future of Music Criticism

This. Is. Awesome.

Jalepeno Famine?

The Deli Burlington, that great arbiter of local music as spicy Capsicum, is growin' up. Or, if I may, ripening from a green pepper into the infinitely more nutritious red pepper. Or, as announced in an email sent to the press this morning by outgoing editor, Adena Harford, the Deli will now cover the entirety of New England.

So does this mean less Burlington coverage? 'Fraid so. As Harford writes in her farewell address,

". . . we will cover the entirety of New England so if there is a show out in Amherst, Mass or that killer band from Portland, Maine is coming down, hopefully writers from all over will be on that, too. Of course, Boston may dominate the content."

Harford goes on to write that she will be assisting incoming branch editor Meghan Chiampa during the transition over the next month because, "I do not want Burlington to lose this valuable outlet for sharing its music."

Let's hope that's the case, and Chiampa shares Harford's point of view. In its short run as a Burlington-centric website, the Deli has done a decent job of augmenting the pre-existing local music media. While the quality of writing on the site is sometimes spotty, they score points — or, perhaps, chili peppers — simply for the volume of coverage they produce. Or, I guess, produced.

With any luck, the Deli's soon-to-be broadened reach might have a desirable trickle down effect. If the Deli New England retains some degree of focus on the region's West Coast, the increased number of eyes and ears tuning in to the site — and by extension, B-Town music — certainly wouldn't be a bad thing. But as Harford's above statement implies, that could be a big "if."

In closing, I'd like to thank Adena and her crew for their efforts in increasing the profile of Burlington music. Here's hoping the new folks will view our cozy little scene with as much care and enthusiasm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Day in My Kingdom

So, did you happen to catch Bonnie "Prince" Billy (a.k.a. Will Oldham) at the Ballroom last night? Chances are you didn't, since the room was only about 1/3 full. And that's too bad, 'cuz you missed a good one.

Bonnie "Prince" BillyTypically, this would be the part of the blog post where I chastise the hipster elite for bitching about the dearth of indie music at Higher Ground and then not showing up when Crothers and Co. deliver the goods. But I'm not gonna do that. Actually, the relatively sparse crowd — we probably could have fit almost as comfortably in the Showcase Lounge — was sorta nice. Plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy a pint or three without being jostled. And the folks who were there were there to listen. Well, mostly. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the three buttoned-down dudes standing in front of me, rocking out with some seriously sick air drumming. But even they seemed to be intently listening, albeit in their own amusingly awkward way. And why not? Mr. Will Oldham puts on one hell of a show.

I've been a fan of Oldham and his various character turns (Palace, Palace Bros., etc.) for a while now. But until last night I had yet to catch him live. As such, I never fully realized that to truly appreciate the man and his music, you need to experience him in person. As wonderful as his voluminous canon is, his many splendored idiosyncrasies simply don't resonate as powerfully on record as they do when he's standing in front of you.

Oldham is one sly, often subversive motherfucker — as evidenced by the giddy goofiness of his Buffett-ized version of "Just to See My Holly Home." And while you can get a sense of his subtle quirkiness simply by paying attention to his sneaky turns of phrase, catching the crooked raise of an eyebrow on "I Am Goodbye," or the faint hint of a smirk on "A King at Night" adds an element of intrigue to his music you might miss otherwise. Or, as my seemingly tickled girlfriend (a.k.a. "Plus One") remarked following the latter tune, "Bonnie Prince Billy is kinda dirty!" That he is. But he approaches the rather, um, sticky matters of sex and sexuality with a sort of naif-ish whimsy that feels anything but. For example, his gender-bending duet with fiddler Cheyenne Mize (of Louisville freakgrass outfit Arnett Hollow) on "The Girl in Me." As you can see in the video below, the song is provocative, funny and oddly sweet. Kind of a microcosm of the whole show, really.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

This Just In: Neko Case to Play the Flynn!

As a little birdie just informed 7D, Neko Case will play the Flynn Theater on Wednesday, August 5. FYI, the "official" announcement won't be made until Monday. And tix won't go on sale until Thursday, May 21. And as an aside, how cool is it that I now get to use the "Vermont Music" blog category tag when referring to Neko? Awesome.

Now, if I could only get her to return my phone calls . . .

Fun with Semi-literate, ALL CAPS Interwebs A-Holes

On behalf of anyone who has ever been targeted by anonymous, mouth-breathing Internet trolls, thank you, Casey Wilson. From Funny or

Indie Brittannia: The Stirring Debut of Orphans & Vandals

I Am Alive And You Are Dead is the debut effort from the London based Orphans And Vandals — an album that is already being wildly lauded by UK music media as an early candidate for record of the year. Even in an age where trailblazing independent label releases are eagerly pursued and oft-heralded, it is still rare and well worthy of notice that a debut could be elevated to such acclaim mere weeks after its release.

Orphans & Vandals The record stands out instantly, and not just for the explicit sexuality of its lyrics or their prosaic, narrative-like delivery; nor for the fact that the band is comprised of three remarkably talented multi-instrumentalist women with a gay man at the helm.

The sound of Orphans and Vandals is a gritty, urban-hued street carnival fare unheard in some time — and certainly an aesthetic first for the seemingly all-inclusive, ever more cliche banner of "indie-rock." The true orphan on the record might be guitar, which gives away to robust string themes, musical saws, glockenspiels, rowdy harmonicas and toy pianos.

Lead singer Al Joshua's elaborate tomes on lost youth, alleyways, night buses and sexual misadventure are delivered with the dizzying ferocity of an insane, junkie tour guide. When Joshua subdues his mania long enough to catch a melodious chorus, he does so with an engaging rustic charm — like a lovable old drunk just remembering the words. Joshua is a worthy predecessor of other UK minstrels, emerging like a civilized, modern day Shane MacGowan or an indie rock Jarvis Cocker.

With plenty of time yet to debate the year's best releases, its true that this intrepid debut has the early makings of a record that might soon be shortlisted with other imported classics from the Atlantic's eastern shores.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


What? The new Wilco album is streaming today! Check it out here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

B-Town Represent!

Did you know there is "Burlington" music out there beyond Phish and Grace Potter? No, really. It's true. And it seems that folks outside the Queen City bubble are starting to discover it as well. And no, I don't mean people in Montpelier. Big city types. Like New York City-based online radio station, for example.

The station just posted a 70-plus minute show, "Spotlight on the City: Burlington, VT," featuring a slew of great local acts, including My First Days on Junk, Crinkles, Nuda Veritas, The Smittens, Villanelles and quite a few others. There's also a nifty Ryan Power remix courtesy of Mike Device right around the 62-minute mark. Aaaaand, a remarkable group (or maybe just one dude?) that's completely new to me, Paul & the Mystery of Gravity. I think might have a new local favorite.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

RIP, Dom DeLuise

Fans of pun laden, lowbrow humor are no doubt saddened today by the passing of Dom Deluise. I know I am. Originally, I wanted to post the pre-pie fight clip from the Mel Brooks classic, Blazin' Saddles, as it's one of my favorites — the clip and the film, in general. But upon further review, I think it may be a tad off-color, even for this blog. If you're not easily offended, you can check it out here. If you are easily offended, please click here.

Instead, I found this scene from Haunted Honeymoon, featuring DeLuise and the late, great, Gilda Radner. It's a tad racy, sure. But it's also funny as hell.

Monday, May 04, 2009


And I thought the Ween rumors for the Quad celebration were pretty cool:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Scratch That Last One. This is Even Better

And I thought Bon Iver's "The Woods" was the coolest use of auto-tune ever. Thanks again, Chris. What exactly do you do for a living again?

Now THIS is a Remix

This might just be the funniest thing I've seen all week. Thanks to my old pal Chris Morris for the head's up.

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