Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Might Be Giants Science & Engineering Festival Setlist

Review to come.


SET ONE (41 minutes) -
Now That I'll Be Gone Intro* / Meet the Elements > Clap Your Hands > I Am a Paleontologist / Alphabet of Nations / Seven / Doctor Worm / Seven Days of the Week (I Never Go to Work) / Mammal / Science is Real / Older / Alphabet Lost & Found / Pirate Girls Nine / The Famous Polka

SET TWO (45 minutes) -
Stompy Intro > Damn Good Times / Birdhouse in Your Soul / Roy G. Biv / Number Three / The Mesopotamians / You're on Fire / Fingertips / Spiraling Shape / Why Does the Sun Shine? / Why Does the Sun Really Shine? / Istanbul (Not Constantinople) / Particle Man

Friday, April 25, 2014

Daytrotter a Day #48: W. C. Lindsay

Daytrotter a Day #48: W. C. Lindsay (Released 04.17.14)

I liked the color palette used in the illustration, so I gave this a try.  There's a lot going on in "Tree," where Lindsay tosses in every sound but the kitchen sink.  He ends up with something close to that cluttered, loud indie pop that Grouplove has been able to exploit so well.  I did like it better than Grouplove, however.  Then he started rapping a little on "Kids These Days."  Any respect I had was lost by the time I got to "Little Ghost," a blatant attempt to cash in on the success of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Daytrotter a Day #47: Arlo Aldo

Daytrotter a Day #47: Arlo Aldo (Released 04.17.14)

On "Highway," Pittsburgh's Arlo Aldo create a strange, dark country mood with David Manchester's deep voice, some not-particularly-accomplished guitar-playing, and eerie organ tones.  "House & Home" is slightly brighter, but David's baritone is still at the forefront.  It feels like he's leading the backing female vocalists wherever he wants them to go.  I'm not saying this band is a cult or out to commit mass-murder, but I get a Charles Manson vibe from them.  Hey, Manson did write "Look at Your Game, Girl."  I'm not really into it, but I'll give them credit for being unique.

Daytrotter a Day #46: Thomas Function

Daytrotter a Day #46: Thomas Function (Released 10.28.09)

Ever wonder what the Rolling Stones would sound like if they couldn't play guitar, and Mick Jagger had no low-range?  Probably not, but here it is.  The coolest thing about this band is the little face on the guy's arm in the illustration.  In "Picking Scabs," Joshua Macero squeals, "Are you gonna buy a record or what?"  I think we all know the answer to that one, Josh.

Daytrotter a Day #45: Thomas J. Speight

Daytrotter a Day #45: Thomas J. Speight (Released 01.30.14)

Dear aspiring singer-songwriters, how many goddamn songs do we need about willow trees?  His guitar-playing is fine.  His voice is okay.  But willow trees?  Really?  The woman accompanying Speight has a better voice than he does.  I'd rather listen to her, expecting that she'd write better lyrics.  In "Better Off Without You," Thomas finally realizes he's better off without his ex.  I guarantee she's better off without you too, buddy.

Daytrotter a Day #44: We All Have Hooks for Hands

Daytrotter a Day #44: We All Have Hooks for Hands (Released 09.07.12)

They sound a lot like Page France.  I'd rather listen to Page France.  Unless they actually did all have hooks for hands.  That'd be impressive.  Wait, the singing is getting much worse.  Like grating.  I'm gonna rescind the Page France comparison.  They're more like cats in heat.  My ears!  My fucking ears!

Daytrotter a Day #43: Ocote Soul Sounds

As soon as I pressed play on "Pirata," I got an Antibalas/Budos Band vibe.  Which totally made sense when I googled the band and found out it's the brainchild of Martín Perna, Antibalas member and Budos collaborator.  So it's good.  Definitely more Latin-sounding than Afrobeat, but if you dig Daptone, give this a spin.  The sax in "Primavera" is wicked.

The Next Round - Episode 14: Jon Langford

While Jon Langford may not be a household name, he's been making critically acclaimed albums for over 35 years.  He's a founding member of UK punk legends, the Mekons, and alt-country live favorites, the Waco Brothers, both of which are still together.  He's also found time to be a prolific solo artist, having recently released his sixth solo LP, Here Be Monsters.  Guess what?  It has also garnered heaps of praise from the critics.  In this two-round chat before his show at the Bell House, Jon explains how the album got its name and how his work as a visual artist played a significant role in the record's creation.  Things get political during beer #2, just as you'd hope from a true punk rocker.

Subscribe on iTunes to never miss an episode, download directly, or stream below:

Like Jon Langford on Facebook for tour updates and more info.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The World/Inferno Friendship Society Music Hall of Williamsburg Setlist

Review to come.


Tattoos Fade / This Packed Funeral / Just the Best Party / Brother of the Mayor of Bridgewater / Second Chance Saloon / Everybody Comes to Rick's / Sandra Interlude* > Trying to Tell Me Something* / Me v. the Angry Mob / The Disarming Smile / Jake & Eggers / The Politics of Passing Out / The Naughty Little Rat Makes New Friends / Let's Steal Everything / I Am Sick of People Being Sick of My Shit / American Mercurial > Thumb Cinema / Paul Robeson

The Models & the Mannequins / I Wouldn't Want to Live in a World Without Grudges / Cats Are Not Lucky Creatures > So Long to the Circus

Heart Attack '64 / Your Younger Man / My Ancestral Homeland, New Jersey / Zen & the Art of Breaking Everything in This Room

Ben Taylor City Winery Setlist

Review to come.

RACHEL ANN WEISS - 04.21.14 - CITY WINERY (37 minutes)

Carry You / Maybe / Dark is Coming / Valerie / Never Meant to Love You / Dear Love / Undercover Lover / Ballad of Joshua David Paul

BEN TAYLOR - 04.21.14 - CITY WINERY (1 hour, 28 minutes)

Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe / Boyfriend / Wicked Way / Whatever You Like / I've Known the Garden / Does He Love Me / You Are My Friday* / I'll Be Gone / A Question of Wonder* / Fire & Vain > Lady Magic > Fire & Vain / The Breakup / Nothing I Can Do / You Must've Fallen / You Can Close Your Eyes / One Day You'll Be by My Side* / Marked Man

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hollis Brown Gets Loaded at IND Music Offices

As I waited in line for an hour at Kim's and then two hours at Turntable Lab, I was beginning to wonder if Record Store Day had jumped the shark.  It's obviously the biggest day of the year for independent shops, but having patrons turn in a checklist at the counter instead of thumbing through LPs seemed to take a bit of the spirit away.  Fortunately, TTL hadn't run out of any of the releases I wanted, so I left there pretty satisfied.  Unfortunately, neither store had Hollis Brown's tribute to the Velvet Underground, Hollis Brown Gets Loadedlimited to just 500 copies.

I headed to IND Music's offices in Williamsburg to go to the band's record release party in hopes of purchasing one there.  Sadly, RSD's rules prevented anyone but indie shops (and consequently, eBay scalpers) from selling the LP, so I was thwarted again.  But wait!  For a dollar, I could enter the raffle to win a copy.  I put in a Washington.  While I waited, I got treated to a live show from the Queens quintet.

The boys drifted into "Train Round the Bend" while they were still being introduced, eager to play some VU songs.  Unlike the last time I saw them at Front Row Cube, the weather outside was perfect, so only die-hard, respectful fans were in attendance.  Additionally, the band had obviously taken the time to make sure everything sounded great in the lower-level bar, and it showed on "Gypsy Black Cat" and my personal favorite, "Highway One."  Following "Cool It Down," Mike Montali said some thank yous while keyboardist Adam Bock (not Michael Hesslein) hurried to take a swig from his flask before they went for a "Ride on the Train."  The song ended beautifully, with Montali singing alone over Andy Zehnal gently nudging the crash cymbal with his mallets.  Zehnal left his sticks behind completely for the next tune, adding an authentic Latin cadence to "Mi Amor."  "Wait for Me, Virginia" brought the short set to a close with a loud, soaring solo from guitarist Jon Bonilla.

Time for the raffle.  Didn't win.  I got a text message from a friend in New Orleans, who was finding most of the RSD releases for me that I hadn't located in New York.  "Hollis Brown?" I questioned.  "Not yet," he replied.  Then I went to the rooftop restaurant above IND to tape a podcast episode with Montali.  It'll be out in a few weeks, so stay tuned for that.

I hustled over to Rough Trade only to find out that at 5pm, there was still a long-ass line. I waited for another 45 minutes or so, hoping that it hadn't sold out.  I finally got to dig through their RSD crates, and I found it!  It was under B, so I guess they didn't get the "band, not a man" memo.  Completing my shopping there, I got another text from my friend in NOLA.  With his help, I'd gotten everything on my list except for the Of Montreal Jigsaw Puzzle 7".  Even though I'd spent the majority of my day waiting in line, it was all worth it.

HOLLIS BROWN - 04.19.14 - IND MUSIC (32 minutes)

Train Round the Bend / Gypsy Black Cat / Highway One / Cool It Down / Ride on the Train / Mi Amor / Wait for Me, Virginia

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The White Buffalo Kicks Ass at Irving Plaza

The White Buffalo (Jake Smith) released one of my favorite records of 2013: Shadows, Greys, & Evil Ways.  A concept album telling the knotty narrative of two young lovers named Joe and Jolene, Smith could have performed the album straight through, almost like a musical, for his Irving Plaza set.  Instead, he chose a discography sampler, highlighting tunes from every single one of his releases, and left no one disappointed.

Social Distortion's guitarist Jonny Two Bags opened the show.  Kicking off with "One Foot in the Gutter," Two Bags offered up a slightly rootsier sound than his punkabilly main outfit.  He segued right into the 
b-side "How Many Hearts (Will You Destroy Today?)," which exemplified his knack for melody.  At the very end of "Avenues," Jonny accidentally hit his guitar's headstock against the mic with a loud clunk.  "That new guitar needs some love taps anyway.  It's too damn shiny," he reasoned.  As the set proceeded, the tunes began to blend together.  The power trio configuration wasn't exactly serving the fleshed-out arrangements found on his debut LP, Salvation Townso it was a blessing when they were joined by pedal steel player Todd Beene and Chuck Ragan on mouth harp for "Alone Tonight."

In an interview before the show, the White Buffalo told me that he was battling a cold, but he assured me it would be fine.  After hearing him growl the refrain in opener "When I'm Gone," it was immediately obvious that it wasn't affecting him at all.  If anything, it may have added a pinch more gravel to his husky baritone.  When Smith started strumming the chords to "Joey White," I was giddy with anticipation all the way to that first awesome bass slide by Tommy Andrews.  Andrews was the star of "Every Night Every Day," a barnburner driven by his bouncy bass, not to mention his on-point backup vocals.  Each tune followed the next perfectly, from the contemplative country rock of "One Lone Night" to the gentler "Darkside of Town" to the rollicking chorus of "The Bowery."  Jake dedicated "Love Song #1" to his wife, and "Good Ol' Day to Die" featured a nice drum solo from Matt Lynott.  Chuck Ragan emerged for "BB Guns & Dirt Bikes" to supply a bit of harmonica and and share backup vox with Tommy.  "The Whistler" was met with cheers from the audience, and proved that Smith's powerful voice extends to his whistling ability.  Nearing the set's end, the celebratory "Joe & Jolene" preceded the yearning "Don't You Want It," as the only numbers played in order from Shadows.  Jake claimed his time was up, but he didn't put down his six-string.  The White Buffalo charged into a fiery incarnation of "The Pilot," leaning forward into the mic to give emphasis to his wishes. Smith's voice is so strong that he can take commonly used phrases like "young, dumb, and full of cum" and make you think he invented them.  So when he declared that he'd like to spend his life "kicking ass and taking names," the crowd roared its approval.  Now go see him live, or you deserve to have your ass kicked.

JONNY TWO BAGS - 04.18.14 - IRVING PLAZA (32 minutes)

One Foot in the Gutter > How Many Hearts (Will You Destroy Today?) / Forlorn Walls / Clay Wheels / Avenues / Then You Stand Alone / Alone Tonight (feat. Todd Beene & Chuck Ragan) / Hope Dies Hard

THE WHITE BUFFALO - 04.18.14 - IRVING PLAZA (1 hour, 3 minutes)

When I'm Gone / Oh Darlin' What Have I Done / Joey White / Every Night Every Day / One Lone Night / Darkside of Town / The Bowery / This Year / Into the Sun / Love Song #1 / Good Ol' Day to Die / BB Guns & Dirt Bikes (feat. Chuck Ragan) / The Whistler / Damned / Joe & Jolene / Don't You Want It / The Pilot

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Revivalists Return to Brooklyn Bowl

I saw the Revivalists at Brooklyn Bowl in November, and they called it their best show of the year.  Truth be told, had it not been for some issues with the drum inputs on the recording, the show was going to be released as the live album included in the re-release of City of Sound (That night's "Upright" made it onto the compilation in case you were wondering.)  So when the NOLA band returned to Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday, expectations were astronomically high.  That made for a strange energy in the room, especially when co-headliner Moon Taxi's "we've got one more song" turned into four or five, with guitarist Trevor Terndrup taking his six-string for a trip around the entire venue, from the bar to the bowling lanes.  The series of fake-outs and showboating made it seem more like the end of the night instead of the middle.

The seven Revivalists began their set with "Soul's Too Loud."  One thing that wasn't too loud was Rob Ingraham's saxophone, buried in the mix to the point of inaudibility.  The soundman didn't appear to be too attentive, David Shaw having to tell him on the mic to 
"Plug the acoustic in, my man."  "Sunny Days" featured a guest sax solo from Lucas Ellman of Chicago funk outfit, the Heard.  The stint required the sound technician to reassess the woodwind levels, and we could finally hear Ingraham, leading to two of the night's best performances back-to-back: "When I Die" and "Bullet Proof Vest."  One of my favorite Revivalists songs is "Catching Fireflies," but unfortunately for me, a drunk asshole decided he'd like to take up residence where my toes were.  I nudged him off, which he wasn't too happy about, shouting, "Push me again, motherfucker!"  I held my ground, but I resisted getting violent, assenting to the song's lyrics: "I'm a peaceful man today."  "Criminal" sparkled as usual, with bassist George Gekas huddling close to steel guitarist Ed Williams for most of the final number.
"Last time we played this here, we had a very special guest," announced Shaw, reemerging for the encore.  I braced myself for "Whipping Post," as they had performed the Allman Brothers song with the assistance of 10-year-old guitar prodigy Brandon Niederauer.  So I was surprised when they slinked into "Forgot About Dre," which they've played with Warren Haynes in the past.  Rob took the Eminem role, throwing back to Shaw with each "forgot about Dave."  When the tune came to its particularly crunchy finish, the crowd continued cheering for one more song.  It wasn't in the cards, however, as Biz Markie fired up the turntable, and the Revivalists became the latest victim of Bowl Train's too-early start time.

I had a few beers with Ed, Michael, and Andrew before the show.  Listen to the interview here.

THE REVIVALISTS - 04.17.14 - BROOKLYN BOWL (1 hour, 37 minutes)

Soul's Too Loud / Stand Up / Concrete (Fish Out of Water) > Not Turn Away > Common Cents / Sunny Days (feat. Lucas Ellman) / When I'm Able / When I Die / Bullet Proof Vest / Strawman / BTBD / Catching Fireflies / All in the Family / Criminal

Forgot About Dre

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Daytrotter a Day #42: Old Lights

Daytrotter a Day #42: Old Lights (Released 06.28.13)

Different band than Old Light.  Better band than Old Light.  While they're not really breaking any new ground, they do what they do well.  David Beeman's voice sounds very familiar, but that just means you don't have to spend any time getting used to it.  "It Was You" is a nice slice of '70s guitar pop before "Pretender" chugs forward with jittery energy.  "We Laid Down" mixes things up with its insistent piano and "Cable Cars" will get your head nodding.  Download this one.

Daytrotter a Day #41: Old Light

Daytrotter a Day #41: Old Light (Released 06.04.13)

I can't tell if this band is a joke or not.  All the members wear eyeglasses and most pair that with some sort of strange facial hair.  They pretty much only release albums on cassette.  The vocals are reminiscent of Mike Gordon, but with even more warble.  Old Light's saving grace is their understanding of simple guitar grooves.  "Bait & Switch" has a proto-punk flavor and "All Over" is total jangle pop.  If they are a joke, they're not that funny.  If they are a band, they're not that great.  But at least they weren't painful.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 13: Soulive

Alan Evans of Soulive and Playonbrother is my guest this week. We had a great chat backstage just prior to the second Wednesday of Bowlive V.

Subscribe on iTunes, download directly, or stream below:

Unfortunately, I came down with a debilitating cold after the show, and neglected to post a review of the concert. So here goes:

Even if the Allman Brothers Band calls it quits (apparently just a rumor, by the way), New York music lovers have nothing to fear.  With Bowlive having just celebrated its fifth year, the unstoppable organ trio of Soulive have proven that they are quite capable of handling the mid-March NYC concert scene.

The band tore into "So Live!" to start the set, but lamentably, Neal's clavinet wasn't working.  Thankfully, Eric Krasno's muscular guitar was enough to fill the void until the issue was solved.  Sometimes Krasno sits back and plays fluttery, melodic stuff, but this wasn't the case during "Dig."  This was white hot funk played with "Fuck with me, I dare you" attitude.  That's not to say Kraz was the only one hitting it hard.  Alan was pounding his kit with enough power that he busted right through one of his toms during "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," the second part of a Beatles medley beginning with "Eleanor Rigby."  The drum was switched out seamlessly, and then Evans relinquished his throne to special guest Joe Russo.  It was interesting to note the differences in their technique, Joe playing the pair of Krasno tunes, "76" and "Up & Out," with a more pronounced bass pedal stomp than Evans' syncopated style.  The band invited Jon Cleary and Mark Rivers out to finish the set with its only vocal performance, Cleary's blue-eyed soul singalong "When You Get Back."
For set two, I relocated to the VIP area beside the stage.  With no house speakers facing me, the sound wasn't as clear, but the view was ridiculous.  It was as if I were a member of the band or at least a documentarian capturing the onstage workings of a show.  From my vantage point, I was able to see just how much work Neal does.  We all know he can lay down a phat bassline with his left hand while delivering a smoking Hammond solo with his right, but he was also operating a cluster of pedals on the floor with his feet.  Once Susan Tedeschi joined them, he assumed the role of the bandleader, clapping out the tempos of songs so that everyone would be on the same page.  I'd never listened to Tedeschi before, an oversight that I've been delightedly correcting ever since.  I had no idea she could churn out the Family Stone-style funk of "Butterfly" and then turn around and nail the troubled blues of "It's So Heavy."  At one point in the set, I looked back between the amps to see Russo on congas, proof that when Soulive's onstage, you just wanna join in.  They reinstated Jon Cleary for a cover of Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman," the set-closing highlight of the night.

After a brief huddle, the band (minus Alan, who let Russo take over) returned with another special guest, Tash Neal of the London Souls.  Following a gospel-inspired take on "Turn on Your Lovelight," the show wound to its end with Junior Wells' "Little by Little," allowing all three guitarists to trade licks into the night.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Daytrotter a Day #40: Citizen

Daytrotter a Day #40: Citizen (Released 04.10.14)

Emo garbage.  On "Figure You Out," singer Mat Kerekes insists, "It's not so bad."  Sorry, Mat, it is.  If you had another t in your name, maybe the girls wouldn't walk all over you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Daytrotter a Day #39: Mister Suit

Daytrotter a Day #39: Mister Suit (Released 04.01.14)

I know why this was released on April Fool's Day.  This has to be a joke.  It sounds like a tone-deaf guy making demos for Lady Gaga with a broken guitar.  I've never had an ear infection in my life, but I imagine this is what it's like.

Daytrotter a Day #38: The Pizza Underground

Daytrotter a Day #38: The Pizza Underground (Released 04.08.14)

I like the Velvet Underground.  I like pizza even more.  But two good things does not a great thing make.  As their name suggests, the Pizza Underground is a VU cover band that only sings about pizza.  "Sticking to You" is obviously about cheese and "Pizza Hours" is about keeping the pizza box closed.  By the second song, the concept is thinner than a New York slice.  What makes "Weird Al" Yankovic such a talented parody songwriter is that he lampoons a variety of topics.  He knew that after "My Bologna," he didn't need to get right to work on a follow-up about the same processed meat.  So the Pizza Underground end up confined to lyrics about crust, toppings, sauce, cheese, and temperature.  The most inspired pun resides in their parody of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" with the line: "You just keep the oven on."  Oh, and Macaulay Culkin is in the band, inevitable proof that it's all gone downhill since Richie Rich.

Daytrotter a Day #37: The Tambo Rays

Daytrotter a Day #37: The Tambo Rays (Released 03.27.14)

The Tambo Rays may sound exactly like the Drums, the Blank Tapes, or anyone else in the tide of sunkissed, jangly indie rockers out there right now, but it's sunny outside, so they get a pass today.  If I was at a party on a Brooklyn rooftop and someone put this on, I'd drink my beer and be totally fine with it.  But then if they were like, "We should go see these guys tonight!" I'd say, "Let's just chill here."

Daytrotter a Day #36: Pup

Daytrotter a Day #36: Pup (Released 04.03.14)

Apparently Daytrotter has opened up its network of recording studios to include a place in Brooklyn dubbed the Rat Cave.  I'm not sure if it's just the noise created by the punks of Toronto's Pup, but the quality of this first session blows.  Pup aren't too bad, but they're fairly generic.  They sound a bit like Bomb the Music Industry! but without the charm lent by that band's amusing choices in instrumentation.

Daytrotter a Day #35: Sam Goodwill

Daytrotter a Day #35: Sam Goodwill (Released 11.29.13)

When I pressed play on "Hand to the Good Book," Sam's lilting falsetto reminded me of Bon Iver.  Once the piano entered the mix, I started getting a Coldplay vibe.  Then some background vocals reminiscent of Ben Bridwell showed up.  By the time I got to the scuzzy bass towards the song's end, I realized I should stop trying to compare and just listen.  This served me well on "Facing the Music," which detonates at its midpoint and gets grooving like a motherfucker.  "Hanging Heads" wasn't my cup of tea, but "Bullets," a somber acoustic tune that references Kurt Cobain, was alright.

Daytrotter a Day #34: Quieting Syrup

Daytrotter a Day #34: Quieting Syrup (Released 02.06.10)

Stephen Howard has spent most of his life battling illnesses, and he eventually chronicled these experiences and emotions in a solo album, Songs About a Sick Boy.  His vocals are what you'd expect: untrained, weak, and sad.  But the mix on this session is awesome.  The guitars sound fucking perfect.  Kudos to engineer Mike Gentry for expertly capturing the smidgen of hope that otherwise would make this too depressing to listen to.

The Next Round - Episode 12: The World/Inferno Friendship Society

Before I even owned a turntable, one of the first LPs I bought was Red-Eyed Soul by the World/Inferno Friendship Society.  The band's sound is impossible to describe concisely, but it features scads of horns, barroom piano, violin, anarchist chants, and Jack Terricloth crooning about historical figures like Paul Robeson and Leni Riefenstahl.  It's totally unique and it totally rocks.  I went to Terricloth's local haunt to have a few drinks and discuss things like college shows, Hallowmas, and the band's upcoming album, This Packed Funeral.

World/Inferno are embarking on a mini-tour starting Friday, so check out the dates here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard Rock the Bell House

As a founding member of the legendary UK punk outfit, the Mekons, Jon Langford has been making music since the late '70s.  And he doesn't show signs of stopping either.  Earlier this week, he dropped his sixth solo record, Here Be Monsters, which has been earning great reviews from anyone who listens.  Last night, he brought his band, Skull Orchard, to the Bell House to show Brooklyn how it's done.

Opening act, Meghann Wright, was raised in Hawaii and resides in Bushwick, though she sounded very little like either locale, favoring a sort of soulful alt-country vibe.  After a tune titled "Cocaine," Wright remarked, "That song's about feelings, so this song's about drugs," and eased into a newer number called "Can't Carry Water."  You could barely hear her acoustic guitar in the mix, but her lead guitarist was so good, it didn't matter.  Her best performance was a toss-up between the rollicking "Brooklyn's Most Wanted" and the expressive "I Don't Know Why."  "Hopefully that song made you wanna go home and bang somebody.  If it didn't, then I fucked up," she offered after the latter.

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard kicked things off with the new album's first track, "Summer Stars," sans introductory poem.  Although the Mekons began as a band where no one could play any instruments, it was immediately evident that Langford assembled a crack team of musicians for this group.  Joe Camarillo's drumming especially lent a great deal of power to songs like "Drone Operator" and "1234ever."  Of course, no Jon Langford show would be complete without some choice banter, and it came in droves.  Revealing that earlier in the day he'd been given the gift of Johnny Cash's trousers, he clarified, "I'm not wearing them.  Johnny Cash didn't wear brown corduroys from Target.  He wasn't the Man in Brown Cords."  While Jon was extolling the virtues of a lunch he'd eaten at Rein's in Vernon, CT, one tall crowdmember disagreed, shaking his head and shouting, "Fuck it!"  Without missing a beat, Langford shot back, "Fuck it?  It was an enormous building.  I wouldn't know where to start."  He followed a head-bobbing "Lil' Ray o' Light" with "What Did You Do in the War?" a slow-burning political duet with violinist Jean Cook.  Langford then took things to Australia, first sharing the lyrics of "
Mr. Alcohol & Mrs. Marijuana" by a band he met at SXSW called Dog Trumpet, and then a full-band cover of the Go-Betweens' "Streets of Your Town."

At this point, he could've coasted.  He could've even ended the concert, having already played for an hour.  But what did Langford do?  He pulled out a hat trick of three of the night's best performances.  Starting with a rocking "I Am the Law," Langford next moved to "Are You an Entertainer?" a song he'd recorded with the Sadies.  As the crowd picked up on the chorus, Jon acted out the lyrics, getting progressively goofier and naughtier until Bill Anderson was laughing so hard he could no longer play guitar.  Then he out-Strummered Joe Strummer on "X-Ray Style," Langford's voice nearly a dead ringer for the late Clash frontman.

The set lasted almost an hour and a half, but why stop there?  Skull Orchard returned for a four-song salvo beginning with Procol Harum's "Homburg," followed by a pair of Old Devils tunes, "Luxury" and "Getting Used to Uselessness."  For the final number of the night, Camarillo surrendered his seat to Mekons' drummer, Steve Goulding, and Langford and company barreled through "Memphis, Egypt" to cheers from the room.

I had two beers with Jon before the show, and you can listen to our conversation here.


Vacancy / Cocaine / Can't Carry Water / Left My Heart in Brooklyn (in the Rain) / I Don't Know Why* / Brooklyn's Most Wanted* / Sunshine Through the Rain

JON LANGFORD & SKULL ORCHARD - 04.04.14 - THE BELL HOUSE (1 hour, 47 minutes)

Summer Stars / Drone Operator / Mars / 1234ever / Haunted / Tubby Brothers / Pill Sailor / Sugar on Your Tongue / Lil' Ray o' Light / What Did You Do in the War? / Mr. Alcohol & Mrs. Marijuana / Streets of Your Town / I Am the Law / Are You an Entertainer? / X-Ray Style / Deep Sea Diver / Sentimental Marching Song

Homburg / Luxury / Getting Used to Uselessness / Memphis, Egypt

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Daytrotter a Day #33: White Violet

Daytrotter a Day #33: White Violet (Released 02.17.14)

File this under "OK."  This Georgian indie rock group is pleasant enough, especially on the head-nodding first track "Autumn Grove."  And I'd probably enjoy them as an opening act, but they never really make an attempt to stand apart from the hundreds of other indie rock bands out there with bored vocals backed by alternating jangly and atmospheric guitars.  That's a problem when there are thousands of Daytrotter sessions to listen to… and when you're based out of Athens.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Daytrotter a Day #32: Jared & the Mill

Daytrotter a Day #32: Jared & the Mill (Released 04.02.14)

Do you like Mumford & Sons?  I enjoyed "Little Lion Man" the first few times I listened to it.  Then I heard their album.  Every song followed the exact same structure, building to that final shouting crescendo.  I can only assume that's why everyone jizzes over their live show.  Jared & the Mill sound like a M&S knockoff, even cribbing a bit of the accent, despite hailing from Tempe, AZ.  They're not horrible lyricists, so it's a little disappointing to hear their words set to the aped arrangements.  The band is obviously at their best on "Confessions of an Outlaw" when they trade the Mumford sound for a twangy alt-country growl.

Join in the journey, and sign up for Daytrotter today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Daytrotter a Day #31: Barnaby

Last April, I embarked on a journey called Daytrotter a Day, where I listened to a Daytrotter session each day of a band I had never heard of.  Some were horrible.  Some were okay.  And some made me go out and buy albums.  So why not do it again?

Daytrotter a Day #31: Barnaby (Released 04.01.14)

"Bored" is a good name for Barnaby's new single.  But I don't think he knows that maybe she got bored because of his generic lyrics.  Or his Justin Vernon impression over gentle electric strums.  Barnaby moves to the piano for "Things We Could Do," where he compares his present relationship to a past one.  Unfortunately, he never explains what ended the first one or the things he could do to make this one last.

Okay, we're off to a shitty start, but things are bound to improve.  Get your Daytrotter membership (with free vinyl!) here.