Friday, October 14, 2005

When Memphis and Detroit Make Brooklyn Their Own

The Detroit Cobras; Reigning Sound; Hell on Hells
Brooklyn, NY - October 13, 2005

Continuing this year's stream of Detroit bands refusing to go away, the Detroit Cobras defy the odds and continue to pound out good old time rock n roll. The Sinatras of garage (they've only written 1 original song and do old obscure covers), the Cobras are led by the jailhouse chanteuse (and I mean that totally as a compliment) Rachel Nagy, who maintains a sensational voice live though she doesn't go nuts with it (the constant booze and cigs don't help though, it should be said). Maribel Restrespo is the able lead guitarist and the rest of the band are just some good playing guys they string along...except on this night. The loud, raw Memphis-basedReigning Sound are led by Greg Cartwright, and while a few Reigning Sound songs get a bit overdone and bland, it is all made up for by earnest heart-pounding playing and other excellent songs. Cartwright is a madman on vocals and his "Tennessee Rose" Grestch. And so it was perfect when Greg returned to play guitar with the Cobras. Truly a fun time had by all. Mwahaha. Openers from Phoenix, Hell on Hells sport a gimmicky 50's bad girl look but they play fun punk garage. They have a Little Steven played ditty, a cover called that goes along the lines of "You Ain't So Cool (sha la la)"...they were good, satisfying openers.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

AYE CAPTAIN!: The Decemberists In Concert

The Decemberists – Webster Hall – New York, NY – October 4, 2005

Colin Meloy is the most unlikely frontman in music today. The literary, articulate, creative writing master’s guy with his bushy hair and glasses (yes he has the Rivers Cuomo look) with his unnervingly off-key yet on-target frail voice does not seem like the kind of guy who gets animated on stage. But after the crowd surfing, the taking of some audience member’s cellphone for his own use, and the ability to get the packed crowd to all sit down in the stifling heat of Webster Hall, all indicate that Cap’n Meloy has a few tricks up his sleeve. In true Decemberists fashion, all these antics take on a sense of the theatrical, especially when accompanied by props and quirky outfits. Summoning David Byrne as much as Bob Dylan and Wes Anderson, Meloy meshes it all together for one unique brand of leadership. Portland’s Decemberists, one of the current vanguards of indie-pop, take full advantage of Meloy’s musings – love and the human spirit, generally set in Marine and Sea-themed stories. The lush, gorgeous music of the Decemberists, Celtic aura always hinting at a folk-pop sound, is as unique as the frontman. The Decemberists are a polished, professional band but they are far from droll or by-the-book. The ability of the band to surprise in the midst of the polish is their trade. Even after rollicking renditions of “July, July” and “Sixteen Military Wives”, the Decemberists defy expectations and take it to the next level: Meloy crowd surfing to “Hava Nagila” and then making everyone sit (including the band) to the tune of “Smoke on the Water”, all in the same polka song. You are not going to find this anywhere. Special guest John Wesley Harding was a welcome treat, just a little bit of icing on the cake that is the Decemberists’ practicing their craft.


Labels: ,

Monday, October 03, 2005

When Good Bands Happen to Good Shows

White Stripes to play Daily Show

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 01, 2005

There is Still Fire in the Disco

Electric Six; The Crimea, Outrageous Cherry, Peelander-Z
@Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY – September 30, 2005

The first time I saw Electric Six it was in Philadelphia’s little bitty Balcony, which couldn’t have held more than 30 people and the band was great fun. Now in a venue more fit for their sound, the Six rocked even harder and Dick Valentine grooved like the New York-livin’ boy he’s become (he’s got a new song in his arsenal, a song emphasizing the music connection between Detroit and New York…he knows the score). Electric Six is a band meant to be seen in a large hall on a weekend night and they proved it this night. Playing all the better tracks off “Senor Smoke”, and delivering all the goods from “Fire” (except Electric Demons in Love I think but I did get quite drunk), as Valentine still does his calisthenics, and insane-nerd looks and waving at people not there, it could not have been a more complete night. I particularly liked Dick’s strip down from nice suit to boxers to play “Jimmy Carter” (and the only time he’s playing an instrument) in the middle of “Improper Dancing”. But Dick’s (or Tyler Spencer’s, if you wanna get like that) strongest suit isn’t the antics or the ability to write stupid lyrics and get away with it. It’s his voice. He sounds as smooth, slick, and alive as he does on his records. A deep bass-y grumble that is polished and full of Satanic groove, it’s a voice unlike any other.
Electric Six doesn’t play here enough. But would it ever be enough?

Penultimate act The Crimea were a Coldplay-ish type deal that were inappropriate for the night and weren’t even that good. One song had good use of the harmonica, the rest was all blah.
Outrageous Cherry, fellow Detroiters of Electric Six, offered psychedelic 60’s pop, harking back to the Loving Spoonful and their ilk. Some of the songs misfired but some hit the mark, especially their Little Steven-played success “Pretty Girls Go Insane”. If Outrageous Cherry had a problem it’s that they were too nice, sandwiched in on a night of bombastic acts.
Which brings us to the band that started the night off. The ridiculous Peelander-Z. A gimmick to say the least, this Japanese trio (a quartet if you count the prop girl) dresses like Power Rangers out of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and spend more time hamming it up for the crowd than playing actual music. Coming out to a Japanese disco-children’s theme song, you’d think this band would be perfect for the night. But when they do play, it is boring punk metal hardcore, with songs that barely have any lyrics. How bland was the music? When the band had random people from the crowd come up to play the instruments, I couldn’t tell the difference. After awhile of this madness, I decided to go downstairs to get a drink. When I came back, two of the band members were doing human bowling balls down the middle of the floor. I…uh…yeah.

Labels: , ,