Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tater Famine, Stoneseed and Jan Summerhays @ Neurolux (1/29/13)

I'd heard of Stoneseed--I'm friends with them on Facebook, as a matter of fact--but I'd never actually heard their music before.  On top of that, I'd never heard of either of the other acts on this bill before.  This gave me all the reason I needed for checking this show out.

I counted about thirty-five people when I got down to Neurolux.  A few more people showed up as the night went on, but not too many.  Not bad, all in all.  Given the rootsy slant to the night's music, the Atomic Mama and Joy Division songs on the PA system felt a bit incongruous, but hey, I wasn't gonna complain.

Local musician Jan Summerhays opened the night.  I remember thinking that this lady's gently urgent strumming and breathy, tender vocals would've been better suited for the High Note Cafe or an Idaho Songwriters Association showcase.  All I really meant by that, however, was that I wanted the people behind me to shut up.  In any case, Summerhays's lovely folk melodies and haunting, thoughtful lyrics ensure that I'll keep an eye/ear out for her from now on.  Gentle and tender, yes.  Weak or fragile, no.

Stoneseed played next.  Ty Clayton's strong baritone drawl and sure sense of rhythm, Lindsey Hunt Terrell's sultry harmonies and moaning violin solos and Bennett Barr's smooth, steady djembe earned some big cheers from the crowd.  Their bluesy tunes and conversational lyrics felt as lived-in as their groove.  Maybe there's something to be said for blindly accepting friend requests after all.

Tater Famine closed out the night.  This Santa Cruz trio admonished themselves throughout their set to keep their language radio-friendly.  However, that was pretty much the only concession that they made to gentility.    John Dodds's nasally snarl and fierce strumming, Matteo Brunozzi's ripping mandolin and Laurenzo Burman's fat, pounding basslines winningly fused bluegrass and punk.  Between their brawny, rough-and-ready music and lyrics and their loving but not overly reverent take on Americana, they shot right to the part of me that loves the Pogues.  The only shortcoming of this set was that there weren't more people there to dance.  At least a handful of folks had the right idea.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Treefort 2013 Lineup Announcement (Round 3)


I was already pumped about the upcoming Treefort Music Fest, but then the Treefort people unveiled their latest batch of acts today.  Some of these artists will be part of a three-night showcase organized by Doug Martsch of Built to Spill.  To see all of the latest acts, click here.  Here are some of the groups that I'm excited about:

Camper Van Beethoven--I had to do a double-take when I saw this name.  I can't say that I've listened to them much, but I know enough about these indie-rock-meets-world-music pioneers to be amazed that they're coming here.  HUGE catch.

Quasi--My two favorite living rock drummers are Charlie Watts and Janet Weiss.  Charlie Watts, in case you didn't know, plays drums for the Rolling Stones.  Janet Weiss, in case you didn't know, played drums for one of the greatest bands of the past twenty years, Sleater-Kinney.  She currently plays drums for Wild Flag (whose lineup includes her old S-K bandmate, Carrie Brownstein) and this group here.  Beyond stoked.

The Mallard--I found myself at a loss trying to describe this band back in July.  The best I came up with was a combination of Gang of Four, Richard Hell and the Voidoids and White Light/White Heat-period Velvet Underground.  If they bring it like they did at the Manor, people might need oxygen afterwards.

El Ten Eleven--From what I've heard, their last performance at Neurolux was pretty extraordinary.  I'm glad that I might get the chance to see them here.  I might need a snowplow to get through the crowd, but such is the nature of music festivals.

The Thermals--I've been hearing good things about this group for a while, and what I've listened to by them bears it out.  Smart, quirky, solid tune sense, strong beat, fond of distortion.  Should be a lotta fun.

Built to Spill--Yeah, you probably saw this one coming.  Still, they haven't won Best Local Band in the Boise Weekly for five of the past six years for nothing.

Finn Riggins--Yeah, you probably saw this one coming too.  Still, not only are they one of my top 5 Idaho bands, they're a BIG part of what made Treefort possible.  Show some love, people.

Death Songs--Try to imagine Skip James gone indie-rock.  That's kinda what Nicholas Delffs sounded like when he played the VAC last March.  Should be a good one.

Wolvserpent--I may well be the only hipster-ish individual in town who hasn't seen this mega-heavy duo yet.  Might need to man up and brave the maelstrom.

Brett Netson and Snakes--Hey, I got no problem with wild-ass guitar noise.  And judging from their Red Room set last month, Snakes can definitely hold up their end of the deal.

The Hand--One part Fun House, one part Bleach.  RAWK.

Dark Swallows--Glad to see that this local group is in the lineup again.  Always liked them, and they've been getting even better.

Tartufi--Geez Loueez.  Like I've said before, this group oughtta just buy a house here.  But seriously, they love Boise, and Boise loves them right back.  On both sides, the feelings are justified.

Earth--These droners have a helluva history.  Slim Moon, founder of the Kill Rock Stars label, was one of their original members.  They were signed to Sub Pop back in the 90's, and Kurt Cobain played with them now and again.  Might be a good warm-up/cool-down for Wolvserpent.

Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt--The name alone would've gotten me interested in this group.  Then I read this New York Times write-up on them and gave some of their stuff on Bandcamp a listen.  Should be interesting, at the very least.

Karaoke from Hell--"Isn't that name a little redundant?" I thought at first.  Then I read this Portland Monthly article on them and thought, "Wow, this could actually be a lotta fun."

That's all for now.  Again, to see the full lineup to date, got to  Two more months!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Rich Hands, Meth House Party Band, 1d and Rollersnakes @ the Crux; A Seasonal Disguise @ the Red Room (1/26/13)

I had fond memories of the Rich Hands' performance back in July, so I jumped at the chance to see them again on this joint Duck Club Presents-Manor bill.  I was also looking forward to seeing Meth House Party Band, who hadn't played a gig since last year's Evil Wine Carnival, and Rollersnakes, a local act I hadn't encountered before.

I counted about twenty people when I got down to the Crux.  The crowd would build to about fifty as the night progressed.  Not bad at all, considering that there were three other shows going on around town.

Rollersnakes kicked off the night.  I may not have heard of this duo before this night, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for them from now on.  Nimble drumming, catchy surf-metal riffs, pretty smart lyrics.  Their stage presence was a little on the wooden side and their groove came slightly unglued at points, but some more gigs should loosen them up and tighten them up.

1d played next.  Their bash bash bash, riff riff riff and bark bark bark had the same glimmers of promise--a sharp noise solo here, some rubbery bass there--that I saw at the State of Confusion show last September.  Those glimmers didn't seem as bright, however, considering that I could only make out one lyric: "F*CK YOU!"  I wonder when/if they'll take the hint from their "Rise Above" cover and recognize that more often than not, great punk rock requires intelligibility.  At least the younger guys in the crowd got into it: there was plenty of cheering, moshing, stomping around and grabbing the mic to sing.

Meth House Party Band played next.  If you're gonna be indecipherable, this is the way to do it.  Their poppy tunes and snarled vocals sounded so playful and articulated that even when I couldn't quite understand the lyrics, I was willing to take it on faith that they made sense.  They sounded a little ragged in spots--their guitar player told me that they hadn't played live since the Evil Wine Carnival--but overall, I was more than happy to hear their viscous basslines, manic drumming and terse, noisy solos again.  The crowd seemed happy to hear them too: there was quite a bit of playful jostling, moshing and crowd-surfing during this set as well.

The Rich Hands closed out the night at the Crux.  Their groove sounded more tight-assed and their songwriting just a touch less distinguished than I remembered.  Still, their simple tunes, peppery drums, buoyant basslines, jangly guitar and rough vocals proved immensely enjoyable a second time around.  The original song that they busted out for their encore sounded like some lost 60's pop classic, and they punked up Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover" very nicely.  Maybe some Motown would help make 'em a little more limber.  Anyway, the ladies in the crowd took this set as an opportunity to get their kicks in.  I mean that literally: a handful of them kicked, danced, leaped and ran around.

After the Rich Hands finished, I swung by the Red Room in the hopes of catching at least part of the show down there.  I counted about forty people when I arrived.

I missed Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars and CAMP, unfortunately, but I did manage to catch all of A Seasonal Disguise's set.  This night's lineup featured Jumping Sharks' Reggie Townley on guitar and Z.V. House's Cerberus Rex bandmate Jake Hite on drums.  Thanks to the new personnel, the band sounded fuller and heftier than they ever have before.  Hite's drumming provided a Gibraltar-like foundation for the ever-smoother keyboard, bass and xylophone.  Meanwhile, Townley's howling distortion and elegant soloing served as an ideal foil for House's gnarled, forceful guitar work.  Very impressive.  Very promising too.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Duck Club Presents.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hi Ho Silver Oh, Charlyne Yi and LeAnnimal @ Neurolux; Bugman's Burkeback Mtn. Benefit/Drunk Tank Extravaganza @ the Shredder (1/25/13)

I'm a sucker for interesting names, and Hi Ho Silver Oh and LeAnnimal interested me.  With names like those, of course, the risk is that the groups will prove so cutesy-poo that they'll make my dinner come up.  Still, I'd never seen any of the acts on this bill before, so I swung down to Neurolux.

I counted about thirty people when I arrived.  The crowd would build to about forty by the time that Hi Ho Silver Oh played.  Pretty modest for a Friday night, but there was a lot of other stuff happening around town (see below for an example).

LeAnnimal opened the show.  These days, it seems like you can't throw a rock without hitting a fluttery-voiced songstress who comes bearing some lullaby melodies and some oddball, sweet-and-sour lyrics.  Still, this local musician had enough smarts and shy, spunky charm to get over.  Maybe she could just work on not banging the mic with her guitar and ukulele.  And maybe she could go easy with the lyrics about the Lost Boys too.

Charlyne Yi played next.  It was the smirk that did it.  That little touch of self-satisfaction, of saying, "Look how cute and funny I'm being!"  That was what pushed me over the line from thinking, "Well, this is kinda funny and the drummer's good and the riffs are decent and this girl ain't no kinda singer but I'll roll with it" to thinking, "I paid money for this shit?"  I should add, though, that most everyone else in the crowd seemed to feel that they got their five dollars' worth.  A bunch of people stood close to the stage and danced and laughed and clapped along to Yi's tone-deaf, excruciating cover of "Georgia on My Mind."

Hi Ho Silver Oh closed out the night at Neurolux.  It's nice when your patience gets rewarded.  This Los Angeles group's mix of sinuous basslines, bouncy drumming, glittering dual guitars and ringing harmonies was worth much more than the $5 cover charge.  Their pop-tunes were as tasty and their beats as danceable as you could want, but they could churn the sludge and crank out the distortion too.  This was their first time in Boise, they said.  Hope it won't be their last.

After Hi Ho Silver Oh wrapped up, I headed over to the Shredder to check out the benefit for Jason Burke a.k.a. "Bug," a local musician/scene regular who injured his back in a sledding accident.  I was happy to see over forty people there showing their support.  I caught a pretty good set by local punk trio Radillac and a pretty great one by Hotel Chelsea, but honestly, the music was beside the point.  Hopefully, Bug's gonna get a nice chunk of change from this shindig.  On that note, if y'all have some money to spare, click here to send some of it Bug's way.

Hotel Chelsea's bassist Mikey Rootnote did not appreciate getting antagonized by a hot-pants-wearing, well-into-his-cups Adam Showalter (a.k.a. local mock-gangsta act Sword of a Bad Speller).  However, I'm sure he appreciated Showalter getting dunked in the water tank set up behind the Shredder.  Showalter still stuck around afterwards to groove out to Hotel Chelsea's set.

Next time people think about talking smack about Josh Gross, they should consider this: the man was willing to strip down to his boxers and get dunked in water in the middle of winter to help raise money for an uninsured convalescent.  That's gotta count for something.

You can find info on the groups in this post on Facebook and elsewhere online.  And again, if you'd like to contribute to Bug's recovery fund, click here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

JamesPlaneWreck, Black Bolt and Stepbrothers @ Neurolux (1/23/13)

The past few days have been a little rough for me.  I'd been getting over a cold, which kept me from checking out the Coven show at the Shredder last Saturday (woulda been a great headline, though--"Boise Music Blogger Headbangs Himself to Death").  I was feeling better on Tuesday, but not quite enough to check out Krystos and Antique Scream at the Red Room.  Thankfully, I felt fit as a fiddle by last Wednesday, which meant that I could go down to this show at Neurolux featuring Black Bolt, a punk/garage-ish band that I hadn't seen in a good long while, and Stepbrothers, a local act I'd never seen before.  And of course, JamesPlaneWreck's presence on the bill didn't hurt either.

I counted about twenty people including the musicians when I got to Neurolux.  The audience would build to about thirty.  Not bad, considering that it was a Wednesday night and miserably cold outside.

Stepbrothers opened the night.  BANG! BAM! SCREECH! went their instruments during their soundcheck.  "We're writing a song now," one of them quipped.  I got the feeling right about then that I was gonna like these guys. Their twangy, tuneful basslines, thrashing drums, manic riffing and charmingly caterwauling vocals proved me right.  Their songs and arrangements were so sharp and their deadpan banter so funny that their oh-so-familiar pop-punk whine didn't bug me in the least.

Black Bolt played next.  These guys seemed to have tightened up a notch or five since I saw them at the Venue last May.  Their buzzsaw riffs, stinging leads, rail-greasing basslines and quick, clipped drumming all felt much more assured, which made their rowdy, catchy punk-tunes hit harder.  I'm on the fence about the guttural growl that leader Dustin Verberg adopted for his singing: it didn't do the songs any favors, but it was a nice change of pace from that pop-punk whine.  Then again, it didn't hurt the songs either, which I thought said good things about both the songs themselves and Verburg's brains.

JamesPlaneWreck closed out the night.  These guys were clearly in a good mood--Shane Brown and Aaron Smith joked around with each other and with the audience between songs (I heard shouts of "Bon Jovi!" and "Freebird!" from the crowd).  When they played, however, it was all business (well, mostly).  Their growled vocals, grinding riffs, twangy leads, rubbery bass and powerhouse drums all sounded in fine, thunderous form.  I swear, the out-of-staters at Treefort are not gonna know what hit 'em when this band plays.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Black Soul by Gayze (2013)

"Record collectors shouldn't be in bands."  As I listened to Black Soul, the debut EP by the quasi-local project Gayze, I thought about this Joe Carducci quote.  I thought about it because Black Soul feels so self-conscious.  The whole thing comes across as an objet d'art made by collectors for collectors.

How else can one regard these fourteen minutes of sun-bleached tunes, fuzzy surf-guitar riffs, chunky acoustic strumming, unwavering 4/4 beats, trash organ and muffled, studiously detached, predominantly incomprehensible vocals?  This group--whose membership on record consists of David Wood and Gabe Rudow from the Boise band Teens and Cody Mauser from the San Antonio band the Rich Hands--seems hell-bent on making their record sound like some dusty, worn-out seven-inch that you stumbled across at the Record Exchange.  The shoe seems to fit even better when you consider that the only physical copies of Black Soul currently available (as far as I know) are 250 clear vinyl seven-inches.  If that doesn't scream, "COLLECTOR'S ITEM!", I don't know what does.

In a way, Black Soul makes me think of the change-up that Bob Dylan made when he released John Wesley Harding back in 1967.  At a time when things seemed to be falling apart and the center could not hold, Dylan put out an album that was all about Tradition and The Good Ol' Days: black-and-white band portrait on the cover, overwhelmingly acoustic instrumentation, lyrics that seemed to cry out for historical footnotes, jes' plain folk melodies.  Conversely, in a time when proponents of so-called Traditional Values (laissez-faire capitalism, fundamentalist Christian dogma, etc.) usurp, pervert and otherwise squander our resources, liberties and opportunities, Gayze releases a record that, from its acid-dropping cover art to its hazily menacing undertow, evokes a period in our nation's history when it felt as if everything was on the table and the future was out there for the taking.  In both cases, an idealized past seems to be invoked to compensate for--or, at the very least, distract from--an unsettling present.

But enough of this academic noodling (and, admittedly, rather reductive political analysis).  Bottom line: is Black Soul worth your time?  Well, there are certainly worse ways to spend fourteen minutes.  Aside from a few megabytes, it literally doesn't cost you anything to stream the record or download it via Bleeding Gold Records' Bandcamp page.  Also, as a guy who grew up listening to "Dead Man's Curve," "96 Tears," "Pipeline" and "I'm Waiting for the Man," I do find said fuzzy riffs and sun-bleached tunes pretty groovy when I give them a play.  Given their built-in obsolescence, however, I can't imagine that I'll play them that often.  As for buying the vinyl, if you wanna slip these guys a few bucks, good on ya.  But caveat emptor if you wonder what it'll get you on eBay in ten years.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Flashlights, Shades and Lamont Kohner @ the Riverside Hotel (1/18/13)

Even if I had written about any of these acts before, I'd have still gone to this show.  For one thing, this gave me the chance to check out the Riverside Hotel's Sapphire Room, which I'd heard had fantastic sound but was pretty hard to get into.  Much more importantly, what self-respecting Boise music blogger would miss the Treefort 2013 Launch Party?

I counted over forty people in the lobby when I arrived.  I'd count about sixty inside the Sapphire Room when the show started, and there'd be many more people there by the end of the night.

The Sapphire Room turned out to be aptly named: it had low blue lights and gem-like domes on the ceiling.  I walked around before the show and scoped out the jazz albums on the walls (Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, etc.).  Pretty darn classy.  I had to laugh, then, when I saw the crates loaded with PBR tallboys behind the bar.

Hey, you gotta cater to your crowd, right?

Lamont Kohner a.k.a. local musician Patrick Benolkin kicked off the show.  His sinuous, moody, tripped-out beats helped set the tone for the rest of the night.  They got some help from some typically inventive and mysterious antimagic montages.

Up next was Shades.  I was glad to finally get to see this local chillwave group again, especially since their music sounded about as good as I remembered.  Smooth 80's synthesizer beats and riffs, chiming guitars, charming tunes.  What really gave the whole package liftoff, however, was frontman David Mikkleson's enthusiastic stage presence (did some mild strutting and headbanging) and plain but pleasant tenor moan.  The lyrics weren't Cole Porter, but these days, I'll settle for a notch or two above coherence when it comes to younger groups.  Besides, the music did exactly what it was supposed to do: it got the people dancing.

Denver electro-pop duo Flashlights closed out the night.  I know that all dance music is supposed to be about sex on some level or another, but damn--this stuff actually felt like gettin' it on (or preparing to or, at the very least, hoping to).  It helped that their singer knew enough not to put his clean, strong, politely soulful vocals through any undue shows of prowess.  It helped too that their layers of steady beats and glimmering hooks had an enticing softness and airiness to them.  When combined with antimagic's tailor-made montages (pulsating lights, sparkling squares, clouds, dancing 80's ladies), Flashlights' music worked a fresh angle on disco's inevitably broken promise of endless pleasure.

Not long into their set, Flashlights invited a couple of ladies onstage to dance.  At the end, the stage was overrun.  A sign of things to come at Treefort, perhaps?

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Duck Club Presents.  Special thanks also to whoever picked up my bar tab.