Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Sonic Parthenon Playlist: Late April 2009

Army Navy - "Saints"
It's really come to be that today's Indie rock was yesterday's radio hit. In another time and place, this easy California power pop number would have stood atop rock radio. Today, it's an Indie cut. Go figure. Macho men may not dig it, but it's a sweet sound to be passed around, that's for sure.

Metric - Fantasies
The first big candidate for album of the year, Fantasies proves that Metric is indeed making its mark as one of THE bands of this decade. It's one of those fine tuned affairs, well-crafted mixes of rock and dance, and it provides endless loops of melodies to treasure. "Help, I'm Alive", "Sick Muse", "Satellite Mind", and "Gimme Sympathy" are hits tried and true, "Collect Call" is the slick, sensual pop ballad to think about, and it all culminates in the anthem-ready "Stadium Love". This one will be on all year.

Knight School - "Pregnant Again"
If BBQ or Biram were into the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, this is what it would sound like. Thanks to Oh My Rockness for alerting me to this one, it's been a frequent diddy to hum these last couple months.

The National - "So Far Around The Bend"
Dark Was The Night - the AIDS charity comp produced by the Dessner brothers in the National is a large box of contemplative, impressive Indie sounds (especially the Justin Vernon tracks) but the Dessners and their bandmates run roughshod over their friends with this one amazing single that is as good as just about anything this band has produced and that is a high mark to follow.

Bob Dylan - songs from Together Through Life
"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" is really all it takes to prove that the old man is still living high off his Time Out of Mind rebirth as a bluesman.

Funeral Party - "Car Wars"
Remember a band called the Music? This band sounds just like that band. You'd have thought the 80's dance-pop revival of the last couple years would have kept the Music in the scene but they turned rock with "Freedom Fighters" and then disappeared. These guys also sound like the Rapture. Remember the Rapture? I miss those guys.

The Redwood Plan - "Something to Prove"
A deliberately cheesy anthem song made special by an oddly-voiced female who enunciates every word so succinctly, she sounds like a quaint woman not really involved in the rock scene but discovering the inner Joan Jett inside her.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sonic Parthenon in Toronto: Quintron & Miss Pussycat @ The Horseshoe Tavern

Quintron & Miss Pussycat; Psychedelic Horseshit; CATL
@ The Horseshoe Tavern
Toronto, ONT - April 18, 2009

The Louisiana machine that is Quintron & Miss Pussycat is part art house spectacle, part dance/garage madness. Imagine some junk yard greaser with a penchant for mad scientist gizmo-theatrics and a taste for some hot beats and that's Quintron in a nutshell. Halfway to steampunk with his assortment of contraptions on stage (which doesn't even include Miss Pusscat's getup), the focus would be all visual if it wasn't for the solid, booty-shaking beats crossed with bluesy roars. While I could personally do without the long trippy puppet-show at the beginning, it was certainly one hell of a good time. I just wish I had brought my dancing shoes.
Too bad you can't see Quintron's lightbulb, rotating, record player electro-device to the left.

Psychedelic Horseshit has an apt name. Which wouldn't be entirely true except that each song began with a lot of rock n roll promise before devolving into a god-awful mess.

CATL were THE band of this Toronto trip. Straight-up hard rocking garage blues, this trio belted it out equally on the vicious slide guitar and the 60's organ. Playing on the crowd floor lent a juke joint vibe, and this band proved that no matter how many times this genre can exhaust itself, there's always someone to come around and give it a good, swift, needed kick in the ass.

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Sonic Parthenon in Toronto: BBQ; The Box Elders @ Rancho Relaxo

BBQ; The Box Elders; Pirate Rock; City Sweethearts
@ Rancho Relaxo
Toronto, ONT - April 17, 2009

Mark Sultan modified his one-man band moniker by adding a couple band members to his routine but he is still the heart and soul of his own music. By adding a little extra juice though, the ol' Montreal salty dog brought out the oomph in his compositions, and sort of secretly reminded all those in the know about the truth regarding that duo he's in (the secret being: he's the better songwriter, but don't tell the hipsters).
BBQ @ Rancho Relaxo
Photo by Christina Wozniak

The Box Elders sounded to me like another rehash of the Black Lips, but with better vocals and more refined devotion to the 60's garage they are culling from. But don't listen to me: this Omaha trio had the crowd in the palms of their hands.
Pirate Rock are not good. Next.
City Sweethearts are a typical Toronto garage punk scene band. No more, no less.
The scene at Rancho Relaxo
Photo by Ivy Lovell

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Neko Case; Joan as Police Woman @ Nokia Theater

Neko Case; Joan as Police Woman
@ Nokia Theater Times Square
New York, NY - April 14, 2009

Neko Case's voice trumps every single word used for positive description. No word that currently exists in the English language (and possibly any other language for that matter) would adequately describe the woman's voice. And for her to maintain that voice live, as she does on record, only amplifies the measure. That being said, this isn't entirely her show. Neko essentially co-hosts the set with background singer Kelly Hogan, whose own pipes just about match the star's. Though perhaps this sharing of the spotlight isn't too surprising. After all, Neko used to have her backing band's name in the sales pitch (the Boyfriends), and she continues to team up with the New Pornographers. But even with all the spotlight sharing, Neko's captivating songwriting and that voice...oh that voice...radiate more brilliantly than the woman's red hair.

Not to be outdone however is Joan Wasser. Unlike her Bowery Ballroom headlining show last fall, Joan as Police Woman shrunk her band to a trio of fine gentlemen, stripping her songs to the bare essentials. This especially worked on the soul and R&B numbers, showcasing Joan's deceptively fun voice as it frolicked amidst the smooth yet titilating vibe of the music.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bishop Allen @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Bishop Allen; Team B; Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
@ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY - April 4, 2009

Bishop Allen began their show with a 60's pop vibe, slightly California-ish via the Byrds, and slightly Herman's Hermits. The middle of the set felt a little broader in scope, with dashes of Britpop sprinkled about. In total, it felt like what a quintessential Indie pop band should sound like. The band's level of professionalism is something to behold, as they hit all their marks with relative ease. Whether it was "Click Click Click Click Click" or "Like Castanets" or new winners like "The Ancient Sense of Common Things", there was a great sense of polish to the whole affair. But it was far from sterile, as the band's purity shun through.

Team B did themselves a great deal of service with their horns and eclicetism but a lot of their set ran a bit dry.

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band were a little loud for the enviorns and some of the pounding became a bit weary, but at other times they hit their stride. Nice matching vests too. The drummer is 14?! Crazy.

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