September 2, 2009
JezebelMusic.com @ Cake Shop
August 26, 2009 | Prince Rainbow, The Bright Lights, The Sugarplums
Rachel Shallue, lead singer from Baltimore’s The Sugarplums, has the smallest feet on the East Coast. An attempt to fit more than two lemons inside one of her shoes would be futile. Shallue positioned these tiny shoes parallel to the front of the tiny Cake Shop stage platform while she sang leads and harmonies with her drummer. The Sugarplums’ sound reflected their name, but not in a naïve way; the vocal lines pranced in front of the reverberating guitars and were interesting, poppy, and pleasing to listen to. The Plums were tapped into that K Records jangle sound; they inspired me to get reacquainted with some Saturday Looks Good to Me and Beat Happening, bands with modest guitar hooks, romantic vocals, and stories about being drunk at summer pool parties.
After the Sugarplums concluded, I started to notice that a lot of folks hovering around the stage were wearing bright stripes: Prince Rainbow. I’d secretly wished that they were half Prince and half Rainbow Family Gathering, but I was not disappointed with their instead melancholy plucked guitars and tambourine beats. From Philadelphia, they ferry a shimmering sound into dark bars that is made original with their vocal layerings – a floaty female voice on top of echoey male voices, all bathed in reverb. Each song seemed a tender dalliance; “45 Days” has a key change between verse and chorus that encourages staying under the covers all day. In any case, these Rainbows are still fashioning their sound and it will be interesting to see how they differentiate themselves from the other twee indie popsters in the future.
The Bright Lights. They differed from Prince Rainbow by about one hundred decibels. The bassist had this toxic dumpster distortion going on, and his cables were failing, causing that disagreeable atomic cat hiss sound. And the bassist and guitarist were both covered in dust, like they had just come from a rugby match during a drought – it made them look really tough, like cavalrymen. Anyway, they had a stalwart bloc of fans out to see them, and The BLs played thundering, yet vaguely surfy guitars. Overall, their sound was familiar, owing likeness to Guided By Voices and early Replacements, yet the Knights had a heavier brawnier edge that I preferred. The last two songs picked up in intensity, with the bass player rising up on his toes, and the prominent longhair in the crowd propellering his arms even harder than he had been before. The dust kicked up and some microphone stands got kicked over. It was good to see this Brooklyn band inspire Wednesday night grunge reverie in Manhattan.
by Thomas Wilk
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compiled by Max Sebela
Madonna’s Stage Collapses In Marseille; 1 Dead, 7 Injured [Billboard]
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The Hills’ Spencer Pratt Announces Rap Career; Spin Conducts Interview That Simultaneously Enrages, Confuses, and Destroys Mind [Spin]
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compiled by Max Sebela
June 19, 2009
ART OF SONG
2003 | K Records
To me, the best songs are the ones that give listeners the option to take them as far as they want intellectually. Consider “Thunder Road,” the opening track on Bruce Springsteen’s in-every-household Born to Run. You can take the Boss’s breathtaking “Hey what else can we do now except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair?” at face value and get plenty out of it. The song is plain awesome and demands attention, even if you disregard the lyrics. But if you feel like digging a little deeper, under the rock-bliss surface of “Thunder Road” lies a narrative, artfully written in colloquial, plain-Jersey language, with a focus on youth and longing. Similar things can be said about “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys, “Unsatisfied” by The Replacements, and more recently “First Night” by The Hold Steady – songs that never lose their pop sensibility, as deep as their intellectual intent may be.
So what does this have to do with Phil Elverum, and the culmination of his Microphones moniker, Mount Eerie? This an album so deeply rooted in concept, philosophy, and intention that it begins with three minutes of heartbeat (last heard ending his preceding album, The Glow Pt. 2) followed by ten minutes of building drums, meant to symbolize “the growing up time our main character spends before being born” (published by Elverum in “Headwaters: An Attempted Explanation of Mount Eerie” – that’s right, he published an illustrated explanation of every sound and word on the album; Tool fans don’t even get that). Mount Eerie is an album seemingly as dense and alienating as they come.
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