Month: July 2013

Baby I’m (Not) Bored – Review of Surf’s Up Spicoli, Tijuana Panthers, & LE Yikes SURF CLUB at TT the Bears

Tijuana Panthers

Tijuana Panthers on stage at TT the Bears last night. (GIF – D.Hixon)

Surf’s Up Spicoli, Tijuana Panthers, & LE Yikes SURF CLUB
TT the Bears, Central Square, 07/30/13

If you’re reading this chances are you missed out. Tijuana Panthers were part of a great bill last night at TT’s along with LE Yikes SURF CLUB (more on them tomorrow) and Surf’s Up Spicoli. The crowd was thin at the beginning and damn near barren at the end – but the lack of a people didn’t deter any on the performances as each band brought it.

Surf's-Up-Spicoli (Photo - D.Hixon)

Surf’s-Up-Spicoli (Photo – D.Hixon)

Surf’s Up Spicoli came out of the gate sprinting as guitarist Andy Baker and bassist Mike Blasi played off of each other with deft and aggressive surf licks that left me swaying with a smile, while drummer Liz Walshak provided a steady backbeat. You’ll certainly hear more here on this talented Boston based trio. Great band.

Long Beach based Tijuana Panthers were on next – they’re currently touring the East Coast with LE Yikes SURF CLUB in support of their excellent new album Semi Sweet. It must have been quite the contrast to be at an uninspired TT’s after just playing to a raucous crowd with No Age back in Santa Monica – but the Panthers showed nothing but enthusiasm as they ripped through a set that bounced with perfect pop. You can hear some of their new album below, which is highly recommended.

Last up was Philly’s LE Yikes SURF CLUB who unfortunately had to deal with some van issues in NYC (something to do with a series of tubes) – therefore they got off to a later start then they would have preferred. Sans sound check the gents threw caution to the wind and played probably the most ferocious set of the night, and any aggression aimed at car troubles was taken out in their music – and those who stuck around were treated to a strong and boisterous performance. Their APOCOLYPSOS 12″ is due to come out this Fall via Grizzly Records – and will certainly be a must buy.

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New Music: Atlantic Thrills – Day At The Beach

Atlantic Thrills

Get sun soaked with Atlantic Thrills.

Summertime in New England should consist of the following:

  • Fried Seafood
  • Too Fast Cars with Rolled Down Windows
  • The Red Sox on the Radio
  • Ice Cold ‘Gansetts
  • Sun Worn Skin
  • Sandy Hair
  • Atlantic Thrills

Providence, RI’s Atlantic Thrills first single, “Day At The Beach” – is a surge of sunshine whose jangly guitar & raspy vocals are as fulfilling as a clam cake. It’s best played loudly while driving down RT 1 South on your way to Narragansett.

You can purchase the 7″ for “Day At The Beach” via Almost Ready Records.

Recommended If You Like: Harlem, Garage Surf, Block Island, Nobunny

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I Was There – Review of James Murphy at The Sinclair

James Murphy on stage at The Sinclair. (GIF - D.Hixon)

James Murphy on stage at The Sinclair. (GIF – D.Hixon)

James Murphy DJ Set
The Sinclair, Harvard Square, 07/26/13

The ability to walk away from something good before it becomes bad is something most of us don’t have the foresight or control to do. But on April 2nd, 2011 James Murphy did just that in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden crowd – and as the last white balloon careened to the Garden floor, James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem went out on top.

A year earlier I was lucky enough to see them play at the Orpheum Theatre and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to my fair share. I felt like I was seeing The Talking Heads at their peak – and was amazed at how much their records came to life on stage. I was bummed when I heard he was breaking up the band, but was also relieved to know the name wouldn’t be cheapened by sub-par singles or albums.

The crowd reacting to Murphy. (Photo - D.Hixon)

The crowd reacting to Murphy. (Photo – D.Hixon)

James Murphy has come to epitomize cool over the past decade, fashioning himself into the ultimate taste maker. He very well may have been the first guy playing Daft Punk to the rock kids at CBGB’s – and if people found him crazy then, they now just find him crazy good. This was brought to the forefront this past Friday at The Sinclair as a ravenous crowd ate everything he played up, dancing deep into the early morning.

Coralcola opened up for Murphy, representing New England well – spinning an eclectic set that concluded with a rare and all time favorite of mine, Units “High Pressure Days”. This led perfectly into James’ set as he started off to a loud roar that reverberated throughout The Sinclair. He was getting away with playing things most us wouldn’t even dare spin, but James Murphy can do things us mere mortals can’t – such as taking a tribal twist at the halfway point – only to turn everything on it’s head – finishing the set with some gnarly & deep house.

The spirited crowd willfully let James take them wherever he wanted, and I was supremely impressed with how much of a master he is with his taste and choice in music. I also realized that while Murphy left on top with LCD Soundsystem – he’s now just riding on top of a different crest – because apparently this is James Murphy’s world, and we’re just living in it – but thankfully, it sounds pretty damn good.

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Half Angel, ALL Light – Review of The Men and METZ at The Sinclair

The Men at Sinclair in Harvard Square.

The Men at Sinclair in Harvard Square. (GIF – D.Hixon)

The Men and METZ
The Sinclair, Harvard Square, 07/26/13

I’ve been appreciating The Men’s records the past few years, and with this years release of New Moon, they went from a band I liked, to a band I love. Reviews were initially mixed on New Moon because it wasn’t as heavy as previous releases, leaning more towards Crazy Horse era Neil Young than the punk they were known for. What some considered disappointment, I looked at as evolution, and if last nights show proved anything, it’s that The Men have Frankensteined a style that’s unique to them.

METZ were a force on stage.

METZ were a force on stage. (Photo – D.Hixon)

While New Moon is still a rocker, there are acoustic guitars and harmonicas present throughout the album, however, none of these made it last night as they plugged in with the volume set to loud. You could tell from the very beginning that their set would be heavy, and when opening for METZ that’s to be expected. A swirl of feedback beckoned the beginning of their show, and from there The Men took off into a loud and hazy psychedelic flight. Fuzzed out distortion ruled their set as dueling guitars squelched and competed with some innovative lap steel. Meanwhile, Bassist Ben Greenberg provided a playful backbone – and what stood out most from the set was their pure passion on stage and their ability to get lost together. Every note wasn’t perfect, but every note came from a place that was genuine. The highlight for me was a raunchy rendition of “I Saw Her Face” – which bled well past 10 minutes, featuring a slow build up that eventually let loose into a frenzied free for all.

After The Men finished their set the crowd got a chance to catch it’s breath, but not for long, because METZ took the stage with an undeniable immediacy. The band’s been given some comparisons to Bleach-era Nirvana, and that description isn’t too far off, albeit a little too much praise for my liking, but still, I can see where it comes from. Their music is more hardcore than punk, and what makes them stand out is their ability to have Pop undertones filter from the aggressive nature of their music – which definitely sets the stage for them having some crossover appeal. I really enjoyed watching them, and found myself dancing in a pit for the first time in quite awhile, guarding my recently purchased Men record with a fervor – however, I’d take going to a Men show over METZ. METZ certainly has the hype now, and their songs definitely have a lot more immediacy, but with songs playing off of a Pixie-like hard/soft formula, the diversity in the music lacked from song to song, whereas The Men traded singers with nearly every song, and could transition from a slow burner to a ferocious melt down in a succinct manner. Either way, on night like this you just can’t go wrong with either band, and admittedly METZ likely brought the best out of The Men – which is what a complimentary bill should do. Killer Venue. Killer Music.

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New Music: King Krule – Easy Easy

King Krule

King Krule has one of the most talented and unique voices I’ve heard in years.

It’s impossible to listen to King Krule (Archy Marshall) without being thunderstruck by the powerful, mournful, and expressive baritone that arrests your ears. The fact that Marshall’s only 18 makes it even more impressive, as the range of emotions he expresses in a single croon far surpass his years. It’s not surprising that Rodaidh McDonald helped co-Produce the record, as the spareness and negative space are instantly familiar with the work he did with the XX.

King Krules debut album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, will be released by True Panther on 08/27/13 – and the UK native will be playing three North American shows this September, the closest being in NYC.

Recommended If You Like: The XX, Joy Division, Strong Vocals, Emo Elvis

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Recommended Album: Can You Jack? Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1985-95

Can You Jack? Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1985-95

Can You Jack? Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1985-95

Me spinning some records in Musica Musica. (Photo - J.Booton)

Spinning some records at Musica Musica. (Photo – J.Booton)

Earlier this Summer I was traveling around Italy taking in the beautiful art, vistas, food, and of course – the record stores. When I found myself in Perugia I stumbled into a great store called Musica Musica which had a killer selection of House, Italo-Disco, R&B, and Soul.

I purchased some gems there, and after speaking to the owner in broken Italian she encouraged me to get behind the decks where I spun records for quite awhile, a true highlight of my trip. One of the records I bought at Musica Musica was a re-press of Can You Jack? Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1985-95.

I missed out on the heyday of house and electronic in the late 90’s as I was going through a punk & rock phase (still am actually…), but have since gained friends who’ve helped turn me on to those scenes. Can You Jack? goes back to the origins of House, Acid, and DJ Electronic Music – specifically to Chicago, which is basically the Mississippi Delta for House.

What I love so much about this compilation is that it not only showcases the originators of the format, but also provides a booklet with a vivid history surrounding the origins of House, which for me, was beyond fascinating and valuable. If Steve Dahl’s Disco Demolition Night night announced the end of Disco, it also marked the beginnings of House. Afterwards dance music became the music of lepers, but certain DJ’s in Chicago took experimental and left-field music from acts such as Kraftwerk, added some drum machines to their decks, and invented the new format of Acid and House. Pretty damn punk rock if ask me, especially when dancing in clubs was so frowned upon, especially in Chicago.

That’s why I recommend Can You Jack? so highly, not only does it still sound contemporary (which shows you how ahead of the curve those DJ’s were) but it serves as a history lesson. Electronic music, which has become so popular in 2013, is only that way because current acts are standing on the shoulders of Giants. A favorite off mine is Tyree’s “Acid Crash” which is featured below – and it still sounds weird, experimental, hard, and foreboding after all these years – and all was done without the aid of a computer. Pretty damn impressive indeed.

You can buy Can You Jack? Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1985-95 via Soul Jazz Records.

Recommended If You Like: House, Electronic, Acid, DJ Pierre, Phuture

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Recommended Song: Thee Oh Sees – Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster

Thee Oh Sees

Thee Oh Sees

Some songs were made to be played back as loudly as possible, and “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster” is one of those songs. It’s a fuzzed-out psychedelic stomp whose hard/soft approach assists in placing the mundane in the rear and the now in the foreground, setting your Z-Axis on a plane of rock.

The San Fransisco based Thee Oh Sees are currently on tour in Europe. “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster” is off of their latest LP Floating Coffin, which is available via Castle Face Records.

Recommended If You Like: Eat Skull, Ty Segall, Fuzzed-Out Psychedelia

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Endation Shoot First Video For “Staab”

Endation on Set for "Staab". (Photo - D.Hixon)

Endation on Set for “Staab” at Studio 52. (Photo – D.Hixon)

I first heard Endation at the Benefit for the Victims of the Boston Marathon at TT the Bears in April and the two-piece had a huge impact on me. After the bombings weird became the new normal, leaving my psyche scrambled and daily view skewed. Other bands played before Endation that night, but it wasn’t until they plugged in that I was yanked from my thousand yard stare state and smacked back into reality. God Bless Rock & Roll.

Leah & Michael complete a shot. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Leah & Michael complete a shot. (Photo – D.Hixon)

Since that night I’ve developed a soft spot for Endation, and when the opportunity presented itself to help with their first Music Video it was a no-brainer. The video was for “Staab” – the opening track off their stand-out album The Absence of Everything. Anthony Conley (vocals & guitar) informed me the song’s about having no control, however, they certainly had control of their vision for the video. Directed by the talented Michael J. Epstein and produced by Sophia Cacciola – their skillful, fun, and adept work made the possible real, as a group of great people converged at Studio 52 in Allston for the shoot.

I won’t give too much away, but there was blood, rock & roll, a wraith-like creature, and a mental hospital vibe. I also got to die twice, which was the least I could do, given Endation brought me back to life in April.

Michael gives direction during a hallway scene. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Michael gives direction during a hallway scene. (Photo – D.Hixon)

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