WNnG – Musings from the desk of chaz.


This Just In.
July 23, 2008, 4:01 pm
Filed under: New Music

Dr. Dog – Fate CD (Park the Van)

Dr. Dog have been around for some time now, since 1999 I believe. I’m not too sure how I managed to miss them. For their last album, We All Belong (also on Park the Van), they received quite some praise. Their name started popping up in magazines and blogs, favorite album lists and the occasional late-night talk show appearance. I still managed to not throw on their album. Then the new CD came out and I figured it was time to finally hunker down and see what they were all about (there was also a convincing Conan O’Brien appearance involved, but I’ll leave that out so it doesn’t seem I need TV to be convinced). Dr. Dog find themselves smack in the middle of the upstart new wave of indie gothic Americana. Quite frankly, I think they’re even doing it with a little more authenticity than a lot of the rest of the wave out there. Perhaps we’ll say that these guys are on the crest with Okkervil River, the Dodos and Megafaun, among others who add their own spin on something already established. To clarify – by Gothic Americana, I’m referring to musicians like David Ackles, not some strange and awkward goth/americana hybrid.

This brand of music has really always been around, but perhaps it just hits the forefront and becomes better received in times of turmoil and uncertainty around here. Something to latch onto to dig your fingers deeper into the heart of America and get you closer to the stirred, unsteady dirt of years past. To feel that connection to the power and soul of raw, 50s and 60s traditional music like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and the haunts of the cafes. There’s a cleanliness and purity involved in it. Honesty, perhaps. The Band certainly springs to mind as well when listening to these guys. Personally, I become weak during Rick Danko’s songs and that’s the exact melancholy and unease of mind that these guys invoke – they’ve got Danko’s soft (yet strangely powerful), pained voice down. That’s probably why it’s grabbed me.

Or then again, perhaps in times of turmoil and unrest, this style of music just becomes more real, more honest and that much more relevant. Give it a spin. Let me know.

[Buy.]

Gentleman Jesse & His Men – self titled LP (Douchemaster)

Brand new full length brought to us by our current favorite powerpop/garage label out of Atlanta. Gentleman Jesse is a piece of the Carbonas, perhaps even a slightly more functional piece as he’s constantly playing out down there and is on top of getting his songs heard. Where the Carbonas are loved for their Dead Boys approach and unpredictability, Gentleman Jesse keeps it more in the Stiff Records vein coming at us from the Nick Lowe or Wreckless Eric perspective. He’s still got the dirt and sneer of ’77 punk, but he’s straight up powerpop and rock’n’roll. No frills, just great songwriting. The type of song that makes ya feel good to be playing it on your player knowing it’s current and you’ve still got a chance to be a part of it. That is, unless you were fortunate enough to be around for the late ’70s Stiff Records phenomena. I was not so lucky. So I gotta be on constant lookout for the new one.

Anyway. It’s no secret. I love powerpop and I love garage. I love the originals that sparked ears in the ’60s and ’70s and I love most of the currents that crowd the ’00s. I’m a sucker for the sound. Regardless, this is one of the better ones to hit my turntable this year. New or old. I was sold at the 7″ that Douchemaster put out a couple years ago, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating this for some time. And it held up to all expectations. Great record!

[Buy.]

Black Kids – Partie Traumatic CD/LP (AlmostGold/Columbia)

It’s finally out. Everyone may now rest at ease. We haven’t seen hype this big since say, Hercules and the Love Affair or Vampire Weekend. Or maybe ‘since’ isn’t the right word to throw at it as those all happened within this year. It’s definitely interesting how that’s happened a few times this year already, no? The whole incident where something starts its climb up the praise ladder a good four to six months before it’s even available to the buying public. Is it the desire for the writer to be on the cutting edge and know about the band before the band knows about the band or is it a finely tuned tool of media? That’s curious. It seems to work though. The Black Kids’ name was in everyone’s heads before the actual thing came out.

It’s still too soon to say whether the hype machine hurt the release or helped it. They’ve made magazine covers and they’ve been getting play on every college radio station everywhere. Now, I can’t quite fully wrap my head around the Vampire Weekend explosion, but I can understand this one. A few years back this would have been one of my more favored releases of the year. The Black Kids’ new record is the best Pulp record I’ve heard in ten years. No, I think I meant to say it’s the best Cure record I’ve heard in ten years. Actually, I think it’s the best album either one of those bands have put out since Different Class-era Brit pop hit the fans. These guys have represented Pulp-magnitude Brit pop ridiculously well. Whereas dancey post-pop isn’t quite my thing, I definitely see the appeal of this record. It’s menacingly dark and awkwardly upbeat all at the same time. The male vocalist has a Jarvis Cocker voice and a Robert Smith croon and knows how to effectively pull emotion out of the listener. The female vocalist is a little more playful and disco-oriented but they never push the dance-ability over the edge.

This is a pretty solid modern day glam record with choppy guitar and dancey rhythms. And again, I don’t want to call it a dance punk or neo-disco album as it’s more rooted in ’90s Brit pop than anything. So. If you haven’t found your new Different Class since Different Class was originally released, maybe consider picking this album up. Or then again, maybe it is all just hype.

[Buy.]

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Again, for Cy.
July 18, 2008, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Durham

Check for his updates here – CyBLOG!



This Past Weekend, Pt. 3
July 18, 2008, 2:11 pm
Filed under: Shows

Okay, 3rd night of the Durham sweat-fest.
Let’s recap – the first night was Hacienda (on Alive Records) at a house party, second night was Les Savy Fav, Des Ark, Yardwork, Hammer No More the Fingers and Clawform at two different spots and now, on Sunday night the 13th, we head back to BCHQ.

Let me also just add that while this was going on in Durham, just 10 miles away in Chapel Hill, the Club is Open Festival was raging. I was bummed to miss all of that as it was entirely local-band-focused, but hell, I was happy there was even a choice to be made!!

Sunday July 13th @ BCHQ.
the Ergs! / Hunchback/ The Drowsies / The Begin-Agains.

I’ve written about the Ergs at length here already, just check down a couple posts at one of the Upcoming Shows posts. We’re talkin’ brilliant, feel-good summer pop punk. The best out there. Like all your favorite songs from Grease but rolled into a nifty little DIY pop punk package. And yes, even better than Less Than Jake’s Grease cover album. Although that was pretty awesome.

I’ve always had trouble describing Hunchback’s sound. It’s a great mess of noisy keyboards, heavily distorted guitars and clubbed drumming. They’ve played the shop here before, but we never really geeked out over music together. That usually helps me get inside a band’s collective head and understand them better. When they showed up at the shop, they brought with them tales of the recent Butthole Surfers’ gigs at the Asbury Lanes up in Jersey. I sat and listened wide-eyed and amazed as they excitedly and equally wide-eyed recounted the show to me. I still have not seen the Surfers despite them being one of my favorite bands. But then again, some might say that I have too many favorite bands, thus making it impossible to actually see all of them. Dammit. They could be right.

Anyway. Between the chatter of the Butthole Surfers, a Killdozer t-shirt and the open praise of Scratch Acid on stage, I finally got it. That right there sums it up and it’s all you need short of seeing the video and pictures that are about to be put down below. Throw in some harmonica and some songs that are as good as any song Neil Young might have written (just disguised under layers upon layers upon oceans of feedback), and you’ve got the brothers and sister Hunchback.

The Begin-Agains crashed open the show. Their second show ever. I don’t have video from this show of them, but I’ll put some up from their first show a couple weeks earlier. Already starting to tighten up a little bit. Amazing, youthful pop punk. Worthy of Plan-It-X or Lookout!. Next up were the Drowsies and they were the absolute best I have ever seen them. Toting two cases of Cheerwine on stage with them (I guess this is their Faygo), they slammed through some of the best, fastest, catchiest punk in the area. Still representing from the school of the Descendents / Dead Milkmen. Brilliant. Easily one of the best east coast pop punk bands and I’m not saying that from a biased perspective. Music school dudes playing pop punk, how can it not end in something classic sounding?? Hunchback followed them and then the Ergs.

Photos & Video….

Begin-Agains:

Drowsies:


(sorry for the dark video, it didn’t compress so well to youtube)

Hunchback:

(again, became too dark once uploaded)

The Ergs:

(dark again, but i guess you can still hear it at least. anyone know of a solution?)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go unpack the Gentleman Jesse LPs that just showed up from Douchemaster Records. I’m anticipating this to be one of my top 10 for 2008. It’s been a long week and a half waiting for this to show up on my doorstep.



In Case You Missed It.
July 17, 2008, 2:42 pm
Filed under: In Case You Missed It, New Music | Tags: , ,

I’m gonna break up the “This Past Weekend” series real quick to babble about an album that was released this year. Since the day I got it into stock, this album has kept a close watch over my stereo. It couldn’t really have gotten closer at hand at any moment. Sadly, I have not found it on vinyl yet, so the CD will have to do. I ordered about three in, two for stock and one for my stereo.

Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances (Troubleman Unlimited)

Titus Andronicus came into the shop by way of one of my usual garage distributors, just snuck right in here. In my flirtings (really infatuations/obsessions) with punk and garage 7″s, I’d stumbled across the label Shake Appeal Records. Tossing on this random 7″ one day, I was greeted with a noisy, playful sound. It was something close to the Black Lips’ first couple albums – ramshackle, reckless and perfectly sloppy. In a sense it was the sound of people having fun writing and recording and accidentally creating an amazing song. For some reason we don’t get enough of that these days or the purity and rawness involved. Thus began my love affair with the Titus Andronicus recordings. I played the 7″ for some buddies and welcomed them into my addiction, causing me to feel a little more secure in my infatuation.

When the new full length finally eked out, I was pretty excited to get my hands on it. The full length is a lot like the 7″, which is always a welcomed occurrence as it doesn’t happen too often. Sometimes the production varies and sometimes the songs are less adventurous. But this hit it. There’s noise, there’s darkness, there’s literary-quality lyrics, there’s drive, swing, depth and movements that just wander. It’s a phenomenal rock album. So far there are some comparisons to Bright Eyes, and while I understand where the references come from, as the singer sings with a similar waver in his voice, it does not go much farther than that. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, just dispelling it. I personally still love Bright Eyes. The drums are large, the guitars ring through even the quiet parts and eeriness pervades through each murky, grand track.

Fully worth checking out if you’re in the mood for something fun and sloppy, yet secretly brilliant and meticulous. It bridges the realms of indie rock and garage with even a bit of psych in it, if you need a gateway album. Go see ’em live too. It’s gonna be one of the better shows you’ll see this year. They’ll actually be at BCHQ in August.

While playing this today, a customer commented “You shouldn’t play this in here.” As I could feel my temperature rising and my face reddening, I was able to squeeze out a simple, non-confrontational – “Why do you say that?” “Because it could really get into your head.” Phew, diffused. I bit my lip. I laughed it off and tried to joke it out. I think he meant it was an annoyance to his shopping experience, but I took it as a compliment to the band and recording and simply agreed with him. At the end of the day, I want this stuck in my head, that’s the point. It’s not meant to be heard and forgotten.



BCHQ.
July 17, 2008, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Durham

There was a really flattering write-up on BCHQ in Performer Magazine. They interviewed our word-liaison, Rebekah Meek. She can get ideas across better than most of us. Certainly better than me for sure.

Check it out here – Performer Magazine.

Thanks for keeping it interesting guys!! It’s weird that the place has been there for over a year already.
And again, it’s all thanks to those of you that turnout!!!



This Past Weekend, Pt. 2
July 16, 2008, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Shows

Saturday was soon upon us. As it follows Friday. And starts with grogginess.

Still for Cy. [Updates]
‘Cause readin a blog is just as good as going to a show, no??

Saturday I took the liberty of closing the shop about 45 minutes early. Because I can. And I’m allowed to. Walked the dogs real quick and hopped in the car to head just a mile up the street to the Nasher Museum of Art right here in Durham, NC on Duke’s Campus. The Nasher focuses more on modern art, so it’s just my speed. What an absolutely amazing place to catch a performance. And not just any performance. Les Savy Fav was taking the “stage” and there were rumors of backdrops and video. Oh yes. Back to the Nasher real quick. Go if you have not, it’s free to Durham residents. You might even get lucky and see my dog, Rothko’s namesake. Yes, that’s right, we’re art nerds. We were two of the maybe five Art History majors at our college.

To say the least, I was ridiculously excited to see this band in this setting. I had never seen Les Savy Fav before, but I had wanted to for years. It was a celebration for the closing of an exhibit by Barkley L. Hendricks, called Birth of the Cool. It was a pretty impressive collection. Great portraits displaying amazing personality and character. More on that later hopefully.

What’s the connection between art, Les Savy Fav and Durham? Well, let me just tell you! Harrison Haynes is the drummer for the New York based Les Savy Fav. He resides in beautiful Durham, NC where he and his wife, Chloe Seymore, run the wonderful art space – the Branch Gallery. One of Durham’s many shining assets. This is where the art and music communities of Durham and New York meet and shake hands and something sickly and sweetly awesome takes place. Like Les Savy Fav playing on the lawn of a contemporary art gallery among lawn installations in Durham, NC.

Onto the music:
Watching will do better than my explaining. But if you have not experienced the maniacal post-punk meanderings of LSF, please do. Soon. Here it started at 8:30pm on the dot.

Les Savy Fav:

Also, Syd Butler, Les Savy Fav’s bass player, runs one of the best (and one of my personal favorite) indie labels out there currently. Frenchkiss Records. Who have released amazing albums by the Dodos, the Apes, Fatal Flying Guillotines, Les Savy Fav, Detachment Kit, etc, etc, etc.

=======later that evening========

Sadly I had to leave before the encore performance. However, where that took me was over to BCHQ for the after-show and the rest of the night’s festivities!! I made it there by about 10pm, just in time to catch Colin’s Clawform project. Sadly, because the computer plays a heavy part in his solo band, a few technical difficulties spoiled the fun. Stupid computers.

Next up were Hammer No More the Fingers who unsurprisingly slayed it again. Lately, they’ve been busy recording up north a bit with J. Robbins. Yup, I can’t wait to hear those recordings either! They play a highly energetic and bouncy set deeply rooted in late 90s indie rock along the lines of Ted Leo and Pavement. The sound tonight was a little bit more muddy than normal, which in my opinion, worked awesomely in their favor.

Charlotte band, Yardwork, followed them. This is somewhat of a collective/supergroup consisting of members of Control, Calabi Yau and Des Ark, among others I’m sure. They’re riding the new wave of psychedelic, DIY big band, shout-along, happening-rock. Event-rock? Post-happenin’-shimmy-rawk?? I dunno, what’s a good term for it? It’s all based on a happening it seems. Smiles, shouts, swoops, bounces, 2 drummers, 1 percussionist, guitars, dumpstered instruments, everyone singing, etc. It was pretty cool, I’d definitely be into checking them out again.

Yardwork:

And then…then came the new lineup of Des Ark. Oh man. I’d been waiting for this one. Not only is it based on the amazing DIY-punk/post-punk songwriting skills of Aimee, but flanking her on this campaign were Evan Rowe (Maple Stave, Grappling Hook, etc) as drummer and Noah Howard (Tiger Bear Wolf, Marijuana Wolf, Transit Union, etc) as second guitarist. Two guitars, one powerhouse drummer. It was phenomenal.

Des Ark:

It was also a record turnout at BCHQ and the first time I have been able to pay every single band (out of towners and locals) and the space was able to squirrel away a little more for this month’s rent!

We were out of there by about 2am and I was off for home to rest up swimming in anticipation of the 3rd night of my music binge weekend.



This Past Weekend, Pt. 1
July 15, 2008, 4:47 pm
Filed under: New Music, Shows

It’s been a busy week here in Durham!! It’s really amazing to think that just a year or two ago, I’d travel to Chapel Hill and Raleigh once or twice a week for shows. Durham proper was just dry. Friday – Monday was booked solid with amazing shows and I hardly had to spend much gas money!

This post (and the ones that follow) are for Cy Rawls.

Friday night started with hesitation. With three shows looming ahead of me at BCHQ on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I wasn’t sure if I should start the weekend off with a bang or a bed. My partner was outta town so I had packed as much into the weekend as possible. She obviously doesn’t mind me going to shows, but I needed to create something to occupy my time and keep me busy. Watching her parents’ dogs just wasn’t enough I suppose. What better way to keep myself busy than by spending it with outta town friends?!

So Friday night I went out and I’m glad I did.

Hacienda was playing a friend’s house just up the street. He had a few house shows before and I had unfortunately missed all of them. Newly signed to Alive Records, Hacienda was already starting to get a good little bit of press and praise. And rightly so.

Hacienda @ Craig’s House, Durham.
Friday, July 11th. 12am.

What follows is something I wrote after returning home a couple beers happier. There’s a little bit of editing, but this is pretty much how my blabbing went. I figured it would be better than trying to recall it the next day….

[copied]
I’ve always wanted to live out a scene in Animal House. To experience a truly wild, energetic Friday night party. To experience the – who cares if my hands are in the air and my feet are shuffling backwards as I almost fall over – feeling. I’ve been waiting to really feel the power of a true, original FRAT BAND.

I know. It sounds silly maybe. But then remember what a frat band was in the 60s. We’re talking the Sonics, the Kingsmen and all those other influencial garage bands that broke rock onto the next plain. The ones that started the “punk” movement. The ones that stripped away any civility and politeness that was trying to work itself into rock’n’roll and soothe the masses as opposed the keeping the masses on their feet. They brought it back down to the floor where it belonged.

The idea was – they were the DJ. They were the stereo for the night. They brought the party to its tip-toes or its knees. If you were that good, you controlled the crowd without hardly even trying. Only breaking a smile and a slight sweat as you sent currents through the closest 50 kids. They were you and you were them.

Well.

Thanks to our buddy Craig, his hospitality and his comfy little house, we were treated to this in the form of the best house show I have experienced in about ten years. It did exactly that. The night ended in spilled beer, stale air, raised arms and sing-a-longs as the crowd refused to let the band stop playing. I would not be surprised to hear that they played for a full two hours, playing every song in their repertoire. The night splintered into covers of 60s rock songs, sweat and shakes.

We came for Hacienda. A San Antonio band that we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the near future. They’ve struggled down an interesting path almost putting a record out with Fat Possum, hitting some roadblocks, and then stumbling onto Alive Records – one of the current best rock’n’roll labels – who quickly scooped them up. Alive is about to help release one of the best records of 2008. One more score for the label.

Hacienda is a four piece. Four dudes, mostly brothers, who are truly genuine and appreciate the pureness of music. They’re as well versed in the boogie and rock of the South just as much as they are the twang, melody and harmony of the West Coast. These guys embody the steady, thick and bouncy rhythm of Creedence, the subtlety, beauty and frailty of the Byrds and the drive and swoop of the Stones or the Band.

Actually, to double back on myself, they convey everything that spawned those bands even. They are the 60s garage/pop that birthed the miscreants that became the first boogie, trash rawk generation come back to us 40 years removed.

Stay tuned into these guys. Their album should be out in September!!