Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shana Falana and Mozam @ the Flying M Coffee-Garage (6/27/12)

Keesha Renna of Vagabond Promotions tipped me off to this show.  She didn't book it, but she was excited about it all the same and sent me a link for Shana Falana's Reverb Nation page.  After I listened to a couple of her songs, I got excited too.

Not a lot of folks showed up for this one; I counted fourteen or fifteen people, including me.  That was too bad, but at least those people gave this music the warm reception it deserved.

Shana Falana went first this night.  She came armed with a guitar, some recordings and loops, drummer Michael Amari and a tone poem projection show.  I've always had a soft spot for a certain type of shoegaze music, and damn if this New York-based musician didn't hit it just right.  It helped that Falana sang like an angel descended to earth (one with a great sense of humor to boot), that even her slowest material had a strong beat, and that a big chunk of her set's songs rocked hard enough and smart enough to satisfy the part of me that loves the Pixies and PJ Harvey.  Wave upon wave of melodies, harmonies, riffs, hooks, textures and beats washed over the small audience until the only thing to do was surrender to the sheer rapturous beauty of it all.  The music meshed perfectly with the images on the screen to create a truly hypnotic experience.  This was one of the best performances I've seen so far this year, and I highly recommend Shana Falana to fans of Le Fleur, Dark Swallows, CAMP, Tartufi and Youth Lagoon.

Local experimental duo Mozam closed out the night with a much mellower but equally hypnotic set.  Instead of overpowering my defenses like Shana Falana, Trevor Kamplain and Christopher Smith's Brian-Eno-goes-trip-hop music snuck around them.  Textures, samples, synthesizer hooks, guitar riffs and funk-beats built upon and played off each other.  Before I fully realized it, they had me in their grasp.  Some ultra-distorted vocals here and there added to the whole subliminal effect of this music.  Very cool stuff.

You can find info about Shana Falana and Mozam on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Bridgeport, The Country Club and the Roy Kay Trio @ Neurolux (6/26/12)

Due to Wilco and Blitzen Trapper performing this same night, attendance was kinda sparse for this week's Radio Boise Tuesday at Neurolux.  I opted to check out the latter show because 1) I haven't listened to Wilco all that much (I know, I know, I will at some point...), 2) I didn't really have the money anyway, and 3) I was intrigued by the flyer I'd seen of the Roy Kay Trio dressed up as 40's/50's country stars (sequin shirts, etc.).

I spent about an hour or so hanging around Neurolux, drinking water and reading The Turnaround by George Pelecanos.  Incidentally, if you like gritty, realistic mystery/suspense stories (Dennis Lehane, The Wire, like that), check out some of Pelecanos's stuff.  I've read his other two most recent novels and thought they were fantastic--100% bullshit-free in terms of both style and content.  I just have to share a brief passage from The Turnaround about John D. Macdonald and then I'll get to the music:

He had started on the usual stoner lit, Heinlein, Tolkein, Hermann Hesse, and the like, and moved on to mystery and pulp.  He became infatuated by the Travis McGee books by John D. Macdonald, though even at the age of nineteen he recognized them as the ultimate male fantasy, write large.  No job, no family ties, life on a houseboat, the freedom to kill your enemies, the convenient death of lovers, allowing you to move on to the next Playboy-quality piece of ass... But the writing was clean and addictive.

Damn.  Right on the money.

First up this night was Bridgeport, the project of local musician Steven Palin.  His music had a good beat when he performed solo, but it really blasted off when The Ratings Battle/Godcrotch's Josh Gross and The Maladroids' Christian McKenna joined him on drums and bass.  Throughout his set, his gentle, boyish tenor provided the perfect vehicle for his super-catchy folk-pop melodies and lyrics of romance just starting up or just turning sour.

On one song, Palin brought up my friend Keesha Renna to sing harmony (which she did quite well).  As usual, the quality of this picture sucks, but I do think it conveys the cuteness of the moment.

After Bridgeport came The Country Club, a local trio featuring Sun Blood Stories' Ben Kirby on bass.  They sounded a little rough at some points, but punk and Neil Young fan that I am, that didn't bother me unduly.  Mostly, I was grateful for the chance to hear some old-school country waltz and boom-chicka-boom live.  Ben Kirby provided steady Marshall Grant-style support and chipped in with some good harmonies, Dave Manion's guitar workouts indicated that the man knows his Merle Haggard records, and Jonah Shue's weathered, nasally singing put the humourous, finely detailed lyrics across quite nicely.  I'd put his original (I think) doing-time song "Plastic Flowers" up there with John Prine's "Christmas in Prison."   Also, I had to give them bonus points for covering not just Hank Williams but Lefty Frizzell.

The Seattle-based Roy Kay Trio closed out the night's music.  These guys emulated that spartan 50's rockabilly sound so well that I could half picture them recording for Sun Records back in the day.  Their playing was tighter than Colonel Parker's cummerbund, their harmonies recalled the Everly brothers and their original songs held up fine against their cover of Hank Williams's "The Blues Come Around."  Roy Kay's confident, friendly croon fit the songs like a glove, Robin Cady flawlessly slapped out the beat on his stand-up bass and Mike Geglia's stunning guitar solos might have gotten a thumbs-up from James Burton himself.

Happily, a fair amount of folks headed down to Neurolux after Wilco finished in time to catch the Roy Kay Trio.  Mr. Kay mentioned at one point that it had been a couple years since they'd last played in Boise.  I hope that they'll come back around sometime soon.

You can find info on all of these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Naomi Psalm and the Blue Cinema, Tacos!, Junior Rocket Scientist, An Airbag Saved My Life and The Violet Lights @ Tom Grainey's (6/24/12)

This post is something of a landmark: it's my 50th in the three-month history of this blog.  That's far more than I'd initially planned on writing when I started back in March (within this timeframe, anyway).  I've written this quite a few times, but it bears repeating: thank you so much to everyone out there who's reading HCTD.  Thank you as well to all of the bands and musicians that I've seen so far.  Even if I didn't like your music, I applaud your efforts to create something and recognize the guts that it takes to get up on a stage for anyone to see and hear.  "Great or small, you furnish your parts towards the soul."

This show would've attracted my interest from its size alone.  Six bands in one night: three on the main stage, three down in the Basement.  Not only that, among these six bands was The Violet Lights, a Los Angeles-based garage/new wave duo who played the Red Room this past winter.  I saw them, liked their music and have been keeping tabs on them since then.  Also, I recently had the chance to meet Travis and Jenn of ORRiginal Promotions, who set this show up.  They struck me as good people and passionate about the local music scene, so I wanted to give them a little support.

Contrary to what some of my photos may suggest, a substantial group of people came down to Tom Grainey's this night (if you sell Rainier for 50 cents a can, they will come).  However, most of them opted to hang out on the patio.  I can't blame them for that: it was pretty warm inside and lovely outside.  Hopefully, those folks got to overhear some of the music.

Starting off the night's music was Naomi Psalm and the Blue Cinema, a local singer/songwriter and her backing band.  Andrew Crisp of the Boise Weekly likened Naomi Psalm to Sarah Mclachlan, and that possible comparison occurred to me too (Psalm lists her as an influence on her Facebook page as well).  However, her thoughtful, sometimes playful lyrics and well-groomed folk-pop melodies reminded me more of Jonatha Brooke (if you don't know her, check her out; done some pretty good stuff).  Her mild, pleasant, acoustic guitar-centered music would sound right at home on an adult contemporary station between Natalie Merchant (another influence her FB page cites) and KT Tunstall, but she had one heck of a secret weapon in Rob Hill's fluid, funky bass.  Between songs, Psalm engaged in some friendly stage banter and cracked a charmingly bad joke.  A good start to the evening.

After Naomi Psalm finished her set, I headed downstairs and caught most of the set by Tacos!, a stoner-metal duo from Seattle (that's the location listed on their Bandcamp page, anyway).  Donovan Stewart's screamo vocals and Sabbath-esque riffs and Lupe Flores's thrashing, stomping drums were respectably brutal but somehow not as intimidating as other examples of their kind that I've heard.  Maybe that's why I liked them.

I headed back upstairs after Tacos! wrapped up and watched local indie-rock group Junior Rocket Scientist, who were much more on their game than they were when I saw them at the Red Room last month.  The dominating presence of Brian Anglin's Peter Hook-y bass in the mix underlined its function as the glue that holds together the harsh, Pixies-ish guitars, catchy tunes, synth hooks and propulsive drumming.  I couldn't really hear the lyrics, but the music sounded so good that that didn't bother me too much.

After Junior Rocket Scientist, I went back downstairs to check out the Oklahoma City-based rock group An Airbag Saved My Life.  Take your band name from a Radiohead song and you'll instantly raise a red flag with me.  But hey, what the heck, I'll try anything once.  And in the case of this group, I'll be more than happy to try them two or three more times.  Between their fog machine, their hallucinatory recordings and guitar sounds and their ultra-syncopated, jaw-droppingly powerful drumming, this group would have made the show worthwhile all by themselves.  Standing inside the small concert space in Grainey's Basement, AASML's massive sound enveloped me and the other ten or so people there to hear it.  Dissonant but tuneful, moody but hard-rocking.  Stunning.

The Violet Lights were up next on the main stage.  Their set had a couple of missteps and technical difficulties, and their recorded bass, guitar and drum tracks sounded too quiet.  But those aren't reasons to shoot a group down, especially one that makes music so tough, clever, catchy and danceable.  Their songs had at least two or three hooks apiece and hid just the right amount of dirt under their well-manicured nails.  Joel Nass worked the aching yowl in his voice for all that it was worth and carved out some sharp riffs on his electric and acoustic guitars.  Meanwhile, Amber Garvey complemented her partner effectively with her low, breathy singing, cool demeanor and concise keyboard parts.  I hope that The Violet Lights come around again sometime.  And get the chance to turn up the volume a little.

One more word about those technical difficulties.  A few songs into the set, Joel Nass's mic went out.  The sound man fixed it quickly, though, and the incident did create this little Kodak moment:

Now if only my phone's camera didn't suck.

Unfortunately, I missed the sixth band of the night, whose set had already wrapped by the time that The Violet Lights finished.  Apologies to Icarus the Owl.

You can find info about all of these groups on Facebook or elsewhere online.  Also, for any touring bands out there, you can look up ORRiginal Promotions on FB and contact them at

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pickwick and Grand Falconer @ Neurolux (6/22/12)

I've been looking forward to this show since I first heard about it.  One of my favorite Treefort groups returning after a mere three months?  Of course I was gonna check it out!

I got down to Neurolux at a little after 7:30 pm.  Even though showtime was advertised as 8 (which, in rock and roll time, translates into 8:30-40), it seemed prudent to get there well ahead of time.  Boy, was I right: the place was jam-packed by the time that Pickwick hit the stage.  The large audience was fantastic, though I wished that the people closer to the bar had shut the hell up during the opener.

Local band Grand Falconer opened the show.  On their Facebook page, they list their genre as "Indie/Folk/Rock."  The "folk" part comes not so much from their songcraft as from their choice of instruments (acoustic guitar, banjo, accordion, cello).  Take those out of the equation, you'd have a straightforward indie-rock band.  A very good one, I should add--ethereal melodies, warm lead vocals, pensive lyrics, gorgeous three-part harmonies, driving bass, Edge-y electric guitar, steady-rocking drums.

After Grand Falconer came Pickwick.  I wrote in my Treefort Top 10 post how their recorded material had started to leave me cold after a few listens.  Seeing them live again makes me think that my problem had to do not with their songs as much as with their EP's slightly chilly production.  From their playful, self-deprecating banter to their transported, Mussel Shoals-worthy groove, there definitely wasn't anything cold about their stage presence.  And good God almighty, what a singer that Galen Disston is!  It's not just the faultless pitch, the spine-tingling power or the dreamy falsetto, it's the brain that puts it all together.  The man can find the sweet spots to a song, and he knows how to hit them just right.  He proved himself worthy of the Marvin Gaye and Al Green that played on the PA system before the show.

By the time that Pickwick played their encore, my skin felt sticky from all the body heat.  The crowd had grown positively ecstatic: they danced, clapped, screamed, waved their hands in the air.  Disston shook and jumped and shouted as the band hit overdrive.  This was easily one of the greatest shows I've seen this year.  I only wish that I could've gotten some pictures of Disston jumping off the stage and crowd-surfing.

You can find info about Grand Falconer and Pickwick on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summercamp 2 @ the Red Lion Hotel Canyon Springs in Twin Falls (6/16/12)

Being unemployed does have its advantages sometimes.  For instance, when I get invited to a mini-festival out in Twin Falls, there's nothing to keep me from hopping into my faithful Toyota Camry and heading out to the highway.  Of course, it helps to take along a couple of very good friends who are more than willing to chip in for gas.

We spent a pleasant couple of hours driving down I-84 and listening to the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. and Leonard Cohen's Live in London.  We arrived with enough time to say hello to Cameron Andreas of CAMP, who organized this shindig, have a beer and then head over to the conference room.

Here's a picture of my companions.  The pretty lady is Keesha Renna of Vagabond Promotions.  The guy over to the right is Brent Massey.  He's a gentleman, a scholar and a fine judge of whiskey.  No, seriously, he is all of these things.

photo by Keesha Renna

photo by Keesha Renna

As the bands played, the projection on the wall seen above showed A Clockwork Orange, Night of the Living Dead, 2001 and some trippy, swirly stuff.  The crowd started off at about twenty and built as the evening progressed.  Not a huge audience (Cameron Andreas speculated that most of the folks who would've come were down in Utah at Warped Tour) but big enough and as enthusiastic as you would've liked.

First up was Bad Carb, a Twin Falls-based hardcore group.  A couple of folks in Boise recommended that I check these guys out.  Now that I have, I can understand why: they had solid tunes and guitar riffs, a sturdy rhythm section and effectively snide, Darby Crash-esque vocals.  Their G.G. Allin cover stood out, but only because it didn't sound as good as their originals.  Not bad at all.

After Badcarb came P36, a Boise-based, metallic punk band.  Their good arrangements and tight groove rendered their straightforward music worthy of the mosh circle that a couple of dudes in the audience formed.  I kinda wondered why they saved their most impressive soloing for the "Rock You Like a Hurricane" cover, but what the hell.  Stroke of genius: their cover of Pachelbel's "Canon in D major," into which they inserted quotations from Chumbawamba, Men at Work, Green Day, Snoop Dogg, Kid Rock and I can't remember who else.

After P36 came Third Base, which featured the bassist and drummer of P36 and Jason Rucker from the Boise punk band The Useless on guitar.  This set was just pure trashy fun: covers of Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher," Peaches's "Fuck the Pain Away" and Danzig's "Mother," originals with titles like "WTF BFF" and "Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus."  Rucker's guitar playing sure wasn't no joke, though.

Next up was Boise-based hip-hop duo Dedicated Servers.  Their nerdy, geeky vibe reminded me a little of the Beastie Boys.  More importantly, so did their music: lyrics that didn't bother with any bling or gangsta b.s., steady flow, spartan but catchy beats.  They got the crowd chanting, dancing and clapping to the beat.  Word.

CAMP played after Dedicated Servers.  Between the dimmed lights, the cosmic projection show, the immensity of the sound and the smallness of the room, this was the most powerful set by this Twin Falls group that I've seen/heard so far.  The psychedelic distortion of Cameron Andreas's guitar washed over the crowd, the drums sounded downright thunderous, the bass rumbled underneath everything and the keyboard filled in what little sonic space that there was left.

The enraptured audience danced like maniacs.  The homecourt advantage undoubtedly helped, but really, the music was that good.

One-dog act Hedtriip closed out Summercamp 2 in fine fashion.  A strobe light flashed and the last 20 or so minutes of 2001 (basically, everything after Dave Bowman turns off Hal 9000) played as Hedtriip cranked out his industrial-strength dance rock.  The crowd went even wilder: they cheered, screamed, shouted, danced.

The only sour note of the night had nothing to do with the music.   When my friends and I went out to my car after the show, we found that it had been egged a little.  We stopped at a gas station a few blocks away and cleaned it up pretty well, though.  Yay teamwork!

photo by Keesha Renna

You can find info on all of these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Cameron Andreas for letting us come down and crash for the night.  Special thanks also to Keesha Renna and Brent Massey for the photos, snacks, gas money and wonderful company.

James McMurtry and Jonny Burke @ Neurolux (6/20/12)

I owe Like A Rocket's Speedy Gray big for this one.  He talked to me about James McMurtry one night and urged me to listen to some of his stuff.  I looked the man up on Spotify, played a handful of songs and was blown away.

Here's a bit of James McMurtry's history.  He's the son of Larry McMurtry, a guy who's written a few books you may have heard of: The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove (he also co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain and won an Oscar for it).  John Cougar Mellencamp co-produced his (James's, that is) debut album, Too Long In the Wasteland.  My favorite music critic, Robert Christgau, named McMurtry's song "We Can't Make It Here" the best song of the 2000's.  After reading his C.V. and listening to his music, no way was I gonna miss his show at Neurolux.

I got down there a song or two into the opening set.  The substantial crowd was comprised mainly of older and much less arty folks than your typical Neurolux show, but I could see a few hipster types sprinkled about.  I found it refreshing to see the ironic plaid-and-mustache crowd mixing with the straight plaid-and-mustache crowd.

Austin, TX-based singer-songwriter Jonny Burke opened the show.  Armed with only a couple of guitars and borrowing James McMurtry's dummer, Darren Hess, Burke sang his smart lyrics in a nice, raspy, punk-schooled sneer.  He cites Townes Van Zandt, Chuck Berry and Richard Pryor as influences on his Facebook page, and you could hear them all in his songs.  A very good start to the night.

After Jonny Burke came James McMurtry and his backing band.  When they're back at their homebase of Austin, these dudes apparently have a weekly gig at the Continental Club.  That would make sense, considering how tight and sharp their playing was, and would be one more feather in that famed city's cap.  Between McMurtry and Tim Holt's terse guitar solos, "Cornbread"'s stalwart basslines and Darren Hess's unflashily expert drumming, they sounded like Friday night in the honky tonk bar of your dreams.  The real star of the show, however, were the sardonic, supremely detailed lyrics.  McMurtry's deadpan baritone pushed his words front and center, and they definitely rewarded close scrutiny.  There wasn't a remotely weak song in the whole pack, but my personal favorites included a solo acoustic "prototype" about all the things that make an unnamed ladyfriend so special ("She can change her own fuses, she can fix her own car... She don't scare easy, but she can be pushed too far."); "Hurricane Party," a clear-eyed dissection of an aging wastrel ("Some insurance man biker's yelling out for one more beer,/ But a part-time pirate just can't get much respect around here."); and most especially the aforementioned "We Can't Make It Here," a righteous litany of the myriad ways in which our country is fucked right now (wars in the Middle East, jobs getting shipped overseas, mounting debts, etc.).  He'd stopped playing that last song for a while, McMurtry said, but he decided to dust it off because he still found it all too relevant.  No lie there.

You can find info about James McMurtry and Jonny Burke on Facebook and elsewhere online.  And if you talk to Speedy Gray, ask him about the time McMurtry played the restaurant he was working at.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last King Outlaw, Lakefriends, Like A Rocket and James Plane Wreck @ the Red Room (6/19/12)

Oy.  Is this what they mean by saturating the market?  In addition to this Atypical Tuesday at the Red Room, there was the Radio Boise Tuesday at Neurolux and a Vagabond Promotions bill at the Shredder.  I suppose that all of these show-going options speaks well of the health of the live music scene nowadays.

I opted to check out the Red Room show for two reasons: 1) I was curious to see how Like A Rocket would go over with the Atypical Tuesday crowd; and 2) I'd never seen the three other bands on the bill.  This show was somewhat sparsely attended (an atypical Tuesday indeed), possibly due to the other shows mentioned above.  The crowd certainly wasn't bad, though, or unreceptive to this night's music.

First up was Last King Outlaw, a reggae trio based here in Boise.  I suppose that it's kinda redundant to commend a reggae group for its groove.  Still, it must be written that the slinky, sinuous skank of Melissa Thomas's bass and David Weatherby's drums greatly pleased the ears of this Barrett brothers fan.  Leader James Thomas's bluesy guitar danced like a butterfly and stung like a swarm of multicolored bees.  His singing wisely eschewed aping Toots Hibbert or Bob Marley and came across instead as just a man speaking to the people.  Ditto his lyrics, which featured plenty of Jah-worship and Babylon-dissing but avoided caricature.

Next up was the Caldwell group Lakefriends, which featured Fountains/Deaf Kid's Matt Stone on guitar and Art Fad/Cat Massacre/Deaf Kid's Jacob Milburn on drums.  Maybe listening to Last King Outlaw spoiled me, but this band's mix of bright, tuneful guitar riffs, simple basslines and hyperactive drumming sounded a little stiff and awkward.  The different elements never quite seemed to mesh together.  However, that could simply mean that they need some more time to blend.  As it stood, the different parts were appealing enough without altogether forming a whole.

Like A Rocket followed Lakefriends.  They delivered their standard solid set, and the two handfuls of people who saw it applauded warmly.  Z.V. House's bass sounded as fluid and propulsive as ever.  Max Klymenko was at the top of his game throughout.  Speedy Gray got off some fiery solos and coaxed Jacob Milburn into coming up on stage and doing the monkey with him.

I really hope that Mr. Milburn doesn't kill me for posting this picture.

After Like A Rocket came James Plane Wreck, a local, four-man outfit.  Their rowdy, punky take on roots rock brought the night's music to a smashing finish.  They backed up their smart lyrics and country-ish melodies with a brawny rhythm section (that's one helluva drummer they've got) and grinding, hacking, slashing guitar riffs.  Their singer's voice more than made up in personality what it may have lacked in range.  There's not a whole lot of info online on these dudes right now, but any Drive-By Truckers fans in the Boise area are advised to keep their eyes out for them.

You can find info about most of these groups on Facebook or elsewhere online.  I couldn't find anything about Lakefriends, but you folks at home can dig up some stuff on one of the dozens of bands that its members are also in.  For info on upcoming Atypical Tuesdays and more, go to

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sunken Houses by The Mighty Sequoyah (2012)

Three lines near the end of Sunken Houses point towards the secret of The Mighty Sequoyah's success:

There is no end to time.
The sun will always shine.
Even if fire destroys the copper mine, we'll be fine.

This is the refrain of "Copper Mine," the album's second-to-last song.  These words--grounded, homely yet transcendent--bespeak a spiritual strength and maturity that pervade the entire album.  These qualities help make Sunken Houses such a fine listen.

Without them, The Mighty Sequoyah's elegiac melodies, celestial harmonies and lovelorn lyrics might sound quaint or insipid.  As it stands, however, this Provo, Utah group's brand of folk-rock bares very little trace of gentility.  Rather than the chamber or the parlor, their music conjures up images of wide-open spaces, deep woods and clear streams.  This is stuff that you can reread Leaves of Grass to.

The band shores up the melodies with warm, clean guitar and fiddle and a muscular rhythm section.  The harmonies evoke a church choir at some moments and a protest rally at others, and the album's clear, spacious production gives the music plenty of room to breathe.  What really puts Sunken Houses over the top, however, is the lyrics' intimations of struggle, suffering and impermanence.  "Stuck beside the river's edge./ None of us will get revenge," the band sings on the lead track, "Medicine Man," while they warn in the title track's chorus, "Nothing in this world can be only/ What on Earth it might appear to be."  These dark undertones add depth and weight to the sweet yearning of such songs as "Porcelain," "Call Me Home" and "Enchanters."

In the end, Sunken Houses reminds me of Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" or "Intimations of Immortality."  This is especially true of the song "Home," about a man mired in big-city oppression who yearns to return to the openness of nature and childhood ("I remember lying in tall grass,/ telling secrets on our backs./ I shared everything I ever had.").  In the album's cumulative effect, The Mighty Sequoyah seem to reach the same conclusion that the great Romantic poet does:

We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind,
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be,
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering,
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

You can find info about The Mighty Sequoyah on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Sunken Houses is available for download on Bandcamp.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Range Life and Desert Noises @ Flying M Coffee-Garage

I'd heard very good things about Maps & Atlases, who were playing this same night at the Neurolux, but I opted to check out this show instead.  For one thing, it had a $3 cover as opposed to Neurolux's $10 cover.  For another, it gave me a chance to check out Range Life again.  For yet another, I'd heard good things about Desert Noises as well from a couple of folks.  Finally, it gave me a chance to write about the Flying M out in Nampa again.

A solid crowd had built up by the time that the show began.  At the door to the concert space, the Flying M had thoughtfully provided a couple trays of earplugs.  I brought my own with me, and they certainly came in handy.

Starting off the evening was Range Life, who played without their female singer.  While I did kinda miss her chirpy vocals, I couldn't complain too much after the other four members had played their tightest and hardest-rocking set yet (that I've seen, anyway).  Leader Ben Turner's boyish sprechgesang sounded twice as confident and just as endearing, and he and his fellow guitarist traded spare, stunning solos throughout (the touches of wah-wah distortion added an extra edge).  Meanwhile, the bassist and drummer got to flex their muscles a bit while keeping the same monolithic beat, and the tunes sounded as indelible as ever.  I also got to hear the lyrics this time around--not too shabby ("I've been known to make my father curse./ I've been known to make my problems worse.").  Very well done.

After Range Life came Desert Noises, a four-man band from Provo, UT.  It's kinda unfortunate that I already described another Provo band, The Mighty Sequoyah, as Beatles up top and Stones down below.  I still consider that fairly accurate of TMS, but it would've been even more so of Desert Noises.  Poppy melodies; strong, soulful tenor harmonies; bubbling bass; rolling and tumbling drums; sharp, bluesy lead guitar.  They handled boogie, disco and funk with equal aplomb.  I can't really picture Mick Jagger writing lyrics about Stephen Hawking, though.  John Lennon, maybe.

You can find info about Range Life and Desert Noises on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cerberus Rex and Red Fang @ Neurolux; Stargaze Unlimited and Hedtriip @ the Red Room (6/12/12)

I wrote in my post for last Tuesday about my dilemma over whether to check out the show at Neurolux or the show at the Red Room.  This most recent Tuesday, my dilemma was somewhat alleviated when the start time for this week's Atypical Tuesday got moved back to 9:30-9:45.  This enabled me to see Radio Boise's show at the Lux and then catch at least part of the music at the Red Room.

I was fortunate enough to get to Neurolux before it got crowded.  I staked out a booth with good lighting, silenced my cell phone (just to stay in practice) and watched the people pour in.

I'll bet that Neurolux and Radio Boise made money hand over fist from all the PBR and Olympia that got consumed over the course of this evening.

Local stoner rock band Cerberus Rex opened the night.  Their name, their steady-as-a-tank tempo, their punishing riffs and their howling, shrieking solos all but begged for comparison to Dinosaur Jr.  I'll take Josh Galloway's stand-and-deliver bellow over J Mascis' arrogant passivity any day of the week, however, and Cerberus Rex's dense, swirling dual guitar interplay was all their own.  Galloway's stone-simple, wall-rattling basslines served as the eye of the hurricane of Pat Perkins and Z.V. House's volcanic guitars and Jake Hite's fifty-caliber drumming.  I'm definitely gonna be on the lookout for this band from now on (and I'll make sure to bring my earplugs too).

After Cerberus Rex came Portland-based hard rock band Red Fang.  Their droning, ominous, unstoppable riffs and primal rhythms signified as metal, but their wasn't an ounce of golden god to these guys.  In spirit, their down-and-dirty lyrics, their shouted/growled vocals, their raw guitar solos and their emphasis on groove and songcraft over vulgar displays of virtuosity was much less Iron Maiden and much more Motorhead (with maybe some Melvins thrown in for good measure).  As a guy who's always preferred Motorhead to Iron Maiden, I found this music entirely worthy of the raucous applause, horn-throwing and crowd-surfing that it received from the crowd.  Four horns up for John Sherman's on-target, indefatigable drumming.

After Red Fang wrapped up, I staggered out of Neurolux and headed over to the Red Room with a few friends.  By the time that we got there, local singer/songwriter Ben Kirby's Sun Blood Stories and Twin Falls group Bad Carb had already played.  That was unfortunate, but I'm sure that I'll see and write about those two soon (very soon, in Bad Carb's case--more on that later).

We walked in just in time to catch the set by Caldwell instrumental trio Stargaze Unlimited.  They've played quite a few gigs since they opened for Red Hands Black Feet back in April, and they've apparently been busy recording their first album as well.  All of this hard work seems to have tightened up their groove but good.  Richard Metzger's drumming sounded twice as dexterous and confident, the bright lyricism of Kurtis Beckwith's guitar lines had deepened and intensified and Travis Gamble's solemn bass held everything together even more firmly.  Man, I love being proven right.

Twin Falls-based, dog-faced, one-man act Hedtriip closed out this Atypical Tuesday.  His rousing, hypnotic guitar and his intricate, melodious, body-friendly programmed beats and riffs got the crowd swaying and dancing.  A fine ending to the night.  Look out for this guy when the Twin Falls Invasion hits the Red Room on June 30th.

You can find info about all of these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.  Special thanks also to Keesha Renna for the use of her phone's much less crappy camera.