Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bob Mould; Ted Leo @ Webster Hall

Bob Mould; Ted Leo
@ Webster Hall
New York, NY - April 29, 2016

Backed by his usual dynamic duo of Narducy and Wurster, Bob Mould began his return to the New York stage with two whips of Sugar - "Good Idea" and "Changes" (later, "If I Can't Change Your Mind" made an appearance) setting the tone for hook-infused ramshackle outbursts of that Mould sound that has spanned three incarnations and is perhaps in its most steady state over the course of all these years, leading up to his new record Patch the Sky from which among the items came "Voices in My Head", his latest gem. Recent classics such as "The Descent", "Hey Mr. Grey", "I Don't Know You Anymore", and "The War" joined the new crop as well as "Something I Learned Today", "Divide and Conquer" and in the finale, "Makes No Sense at All". That last one was of course paired with "Love is All Around", the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show. That Minneapolis connection is thematically more appropriate than you may realize - everything Bob Mould does with his music is something like that. Love all around. An aggressive, raging, thrashing kind of expression of love. But love all the same.

Ted Leo opened proceedings with just his electric guitar, playing new tunes for his project with Aimee Mann, the Both, and perhaps some new tunes ripe for some new Pharmacists recordings, we can only hope. His catalog was also on full display including "Colleen" and "The Ballad of a Sin Eater". Ted joined the headliners for the beginning their encore, taking the drumkit while Wurster took the mic and led the crowd in a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the best and most important album of all time, The Ramones' self-titled debut and the gang did it with "Beat on the Brat". 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Avengers @ Grand Victory; TacocaT @ Mercury Lounge

The Avengers; Les Sans Culottes; Youthquake
@ Grand Victory;
Brooklyn, NY - April 8, 2016

TacocaT; Boyfriends; Daddy Issues; Ian
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - April 12, 2016

Rock n roll was long a boys' game, even when a Patti Smith or a Joan Jett took the bull by the horns and destroyed (however briefly) the male lock on rock n roll swagger. But with each generation it is more and more clear that (what's left) of rock n roll has become the equal playground for male and female (and as you'll read soon, other genders). Perhaps one could even make the case that the best rock n roll today is being made by women (in some cases, as you'll read soon, FOR women) at more a consistent clip than is currently being made by men.

But this point had to come from somewhere. The Avengers were there at the beginning. When the band came out of San Francisco in the late 70's, they put their ferocious sound behind the voice of Penelope Houston and now decades later she continues to lead that pugnacious stampede. Their anthem "The American in Me" has never been more appropriate than in these times (except when it was just as appropriate every year in between its release and today). Hearing it at the climax of their show at the Grand Victory was exactly the kind of gut-punching magic needed.

One of today's sets of the best and the brightest are the Seattle happy warriors called TacocaT. With pointed songs about life as a young woman today, they do the most remarkable thing in this plastic era by being authentic, sincere and true. It certainly helps that their messages come wrapped in little gifts of punk and power pop. And though the Lower East Side is certainly not their stompin' grounds, it's like they lived here all these recent years with their new smash hit (currently 5 weeks at #1 on this writer's weekly countdown of new songs), "I Hate the Weekend", a sweetly made middle finger to what here in Gotham we might call the "B&T crowd" but of course extend to the rest of the plastic phony brigades that killed the heart of the city from their 1% lofts. When TacocaT are not telling it like it is straight out, they dish out things like the tribute "Dana Katherine Scully", another way to send the message that this is not your uncle's rock n roll world anymore.

At the Avengers show, I saw old favorites Les Sans Culottes who have not changed. At all. At all. Opening the night were Youthquake, a hardcore-lite act led by a trans...gender? (not clear on all the terms these days) that actually has absolutely no bearing on the band's sound and style which is the biggest thing to point out if something needs to be pointed out at all, which it doesn't.

Meanwhile at the Mercury Lounge, I thought I had another example of these new times when I thought I found a woman putting on make-up in the men's room. But no it was the bass player dude in Boyfriends, Seattle tour partners of TacocaT. And this group - the one all-male act on either of these bills - sell it in fine style with their direct replications (in all the good ways) of Television, Joy Division, the Strokes, the Rapture, etc. A perfect set. Another fine set came from Daddy Issues, a grunge-inclined trio with excellently written songs and a cover of "Boys of Summer" which I did not see coming. Ian are another trio who should keep at it. 

Pity I didn't see Bleached at Music Hall of Williamsburg in between these well timed shows. They are another big example of this new dawn. We're finally all in this together.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Early 2016

Laura Stevenson - Torch Song
Bob Mould - Voices in My Head
White Denim - I Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was in)
The Thermals - Hey You
Weaves - Tick
David Bowie - Lazarus
The Gods Themselves - Tangerines
The Bird and the Bee - Recreational Love
Sudakistan - Concrete Jungle
Danny Newcombe & The Sugar Makers - Known World
Eleanor Friedberger - False Alphabet City
Giuda - Roll the Balls
Khruangbin - People Everywhere (Still Alive)
Barrence Whitfield and the Savages - I'm a Full Grown Man
Hugh Cornwell - Live and Breathe It
Sleep State - Shook Up
Britt Daniel - Run Through the Jungle
Keep Shelly in Athens - Fractal
Kalil Baxley - Chasing James Deen
Gary Calamar - Looking for a Job
Eleanor Friedburger - False Alphabet City
Salad Boys - No Taste Bomber
Luke Top - Lucky Penny
Dressy Bessy - Lady Liberty
Soldiers of Fortune - Campus Swagger (featuring Stephen Malkmus)
Lissie - Don't You Give Up on Me
RJD2 - Peace of What
Julien Baker - Everybody Does
The Foghorns - Ain't I a Man
War & Pierce - Any Day Now
Tommy Stinson - Not This Time
Phoebe Bridges - Killer
Lucius - Born Again Teen
Wild Nothing - Life of Pause
Beach Skulls - Santa Fe
Allen Stone- Voodoo

David Bowie - Blackstar
Giuda - Speaks Evil