Monday, August 29, 2011

A band called Wandas disappoint

The Wandas - Self-Titled
-out tomorrow
2.5 / 5

We like "Do or Die." We enjoy "Forever and Ever." And, if we were to liken their sound to anyone, it might strangely come close to Wilco's "Summer Teeth;" an alt-country feel, Tweedy-ish tone to the vocals, light and poppy (which is a good thing). But, ultimately, we're going to draw the line in the sand and say, unfortunately, The Wandas' self-titled release isn't our bread-and-butter. Why not, you may ask? Ask away: because, unlike "Summer Teeth," these songs are tragically straightforward, lacking the interesting lyricism or sonic departures that made Wilco a groundbreaking band. And, while The Wandas certainly shouldn't be Wilco, they still should be something different, a unique fish in the sea. With a song like "Mr. Mister," we're going to say we were hoping for something far more challenging, or uplifting, or angular and personal; perhaps all of the above, even. These songs simply come off too one-dimensional, too musically bland, and not terribly insightful. Sorry folks, but take a pass!

Still, go listen to "Do or Die" and possibly "Forever and Ever."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hallelujah just short of revelation

Hallelujah - Self-Titled
-out now
3 / 5

The Brooklyn octet, replete with a female choir, is self-described as "psychedelic gospel music for atheists." And as self-described "punkedelic anarchists," their description strikes a chord with us. Either that, or it's just the pure infective energy of "Old Time Sickness," which, we'll let you know right now, you can DL for free (see bottom of post). We dig that one something monster, as well as the rockabilly of "Taking It To the Grave." Though you do get songs like "Skinny Women," which just feels too apathetic and dull, we'd put this album as a whole just shy of a recommendation. Add to that the great price, though, and for five smackers, you can hardly go wrong with a couple solid songs.

Grab the first few songs for free here. Or just buy the album if that's your thing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This Sh!t's for Free!

Remember that Soft Collapse album the guys were giving away for free? Yeah, earlier this year? Well, here's their punk project, and you can get it right here.
Again, it's one of those 'pick your price' deals. Right away, we're going to kindly remind all y'all that music doesn't pay that much, unless you're Bono or Robert Plant. And also, that bike on the cover? They totally trashed it for this album.
So that last one's a lie, but if you like hard guitar and yelling, then maybe this is the one for you; just check out that opening track. And if you like it, why not pay what you think's a fair price? 'K, enough of that, hope you guys enjoy,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Missed Typhoon on Letterman?

So, you managed to miss these guys on Aug 4th. (Not a problem, we did, too). Here's to not having to miss an awesome, huge (13-man) band that, we're hoping, will blast away when they come up with their new full-length.
Oh yeah, that link's right here. And if you need to get your fix now, check out their latest EP, "A New Kind of House." Peace!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Newport Folk Fest 2011 - Sunday Report

 These guys' album has been stuck in my head the past week or so (photos courtesy of Marc Brigante):

Three clues: that's both of them, they're heavy but acoustic, and stationed in RI (currently). That's Brown Bird right there, and if you couldn't tell, well, I couldn't either; MorganEve cut off her hair! Thank god David pointed her out to me, or I never would've known. Their album isn't out until October, but if I were to take a guess, I'd say the audience liked it. And that's putting it blandly; there was a definite mosh-pit going on during "Ragged Old Town," and I grooved the heck out of "Bilgewater." A butterfly passing by landed on David's hair during "Town," though I'm pretty sure he didn't notice; I think that betokens more good luck for their album "Salt for Salt."

This next act we caught at the Narrows in Fall River, MA way back in aught-nine. The crowd then was appreciative (and I got a signed tee), but tragically small; this time around, they finally got the recognition they deserved:
Trampled by Turtles! Quite possibly one of the most brilliant names in the industry (and check out how they came up with it), you can see Dave S., Tim on the now- patched- up bass, and Dave C.'s arm on the left. These guys... well, let's just say if you like the kind of bluegrass playing that puts blisters all over your hand, these guys are the masters of that. Dave joked about the weather being conducive to breaking strings, but honestly, guys, if you're playing 16-th to 32-nd notes at, it must've been over 200 bmp, then yeah, expect to break some strings. And to re-tune after every song. That's like complaining about changing tires during the Indy 500. After their incredible performance of "Wait so Long," the crowd demanded they come back for an encore, which set the whole stage off by 10 min for the rest of the day. Jeez, what show-offs.

Elvis Costello. 'Nuff said.

A snap of the Civil Wars:

Joy was sweet as pie when I met her in the morning, and John Paul was just as nice when I caught him on the way to this set. Do we like the Civil Wars? I don't know, maybe a little. Tiny bit. We could only stay for a brief glimpse of this soulful duo, and I could hardly tell you what song it was they were playing, because they kept cracking each other up. But I know it killed me to have to cover the other acts during their performance, though "Barton Hollow" had my attention on the ride back.

Now these guys:

These guys were nuts. These guys were crazy. On the Quad Stage in the Fort, they didn't have the largest crowd at that stage, but theirs' was the most pumped; everyone knew who these guys were, and they were on their feet before they even picked up their instruments. Middle Brother, a collaboration of Taylor (Dawes), Matt V. (Delta Spirit) and John J. McCauley (Deer Tick - all D's) took it all out with material from their self-titled release this year. Why were these guys our pick of the weekend? I have no idea. Let's just say Matt V. jumped it up a notch (should be in the NBA, that guy) and was dancing with a lucky lady in the audience. No small feat, considering those four-foot photo barriers (how did he even get back?). These guys know how to party, and we're going to go out there and say we liked them first. We're not the huuuugest fan of guest Jonny Corndawg (not pictured), but he's pretty damned congenial and unexpectedly polite. All that crazy facial hair kinda threw me off. And he mistook me for a Trampled by Turtle'er, which doesn't hurt. I don't think I have that much beard, do I?

So we started this coverage with a bit of the stinky underbelly of the business yesterday. The musicians love it, certainly, but sometimes they come across someone who wants to love it a bit more. If there were budget for a "Man of the Hour" trophy on this blog, it would go out to Taylor of Dawes. No, we didn't really dig his album that much this year, but after overhearing a bit of a social, erm, faux pas on part of another apparently tactless media-type, right after his sweaty, heat stroke-inducing set, we're going to say he had a #@%-load of tact for holding his tongue and not flipping out at the woman in question. (Where was I? Waiting for a signature from the guy... trying not to overhear while he was venting at his fellow band members.) That takes - grandpa word - character, man, and though I probably shouldn't've caught it, well, I felt it appropriate to share that with my readers. So, like, 10 more people know. And after that, he jumped back on stage to jam with this dude:

(Love the photo, Marc!) He played a whole slew of songs from his "Hold Time," and did an encore, but I'm sure you guys can catch all that on NPR. He's a pretty big deal, I'm told.

So, what happened with that signature? He assured me I really wasn't being a dick for asking for it, and maybe we'll reveal where it's going to at the right moment...

So thanks for stopping by! Keep in mind, if you're in the Boston area and are traveling to any big festivals on the East Coast, we'd love to hitchhike with you, as there's no travel budget for the blog. Actually, there's no budget at all. And pay for my room and meals, too. Keep on truckin'!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Newport Folk Fest 2011 - Saturday Report

Myself and the photographer-for-the-day, Dave "Bizarro" Cordeiro - all photos copyright him, by the way - arrived on-site early enough to get the lay of the land before all music broke loose. We stumbled across a drummer bathing in one of the sinks, and were regaled with the typical tales of the touring musician: a pinch of sleep, warnings about body odor, and the scramble to cover hundreds of miles to the next gig.
I wanted to start this with a little perspective. I think every bit of pure fun should have a pound of that, lurking somewhere.
But despite the untold, rather grimy side of the life, this is the Newport Folk Festival, which is all about the more glamorous aspects: hanging out with your crew on a summer weekend; running into the random artist peeking through a telescope or catching their favorite act; and, of course, the music itself, thick and hot as the humid July air. Life is about making decisions, and having a rather limited (and admittedly lazy) staff to cover 21 hours of music this day, we had to make some. No offense intended.
This is where our day started:
This lovely lady with the cat-eye glasses came straight out of the 1950s - perhaps literally - with her rollicking brand of retro Rock-n-Roll. The quartet known as Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside (SOS) took to the Quad stage in the middle of Fort Adams, and we've got to say, she's got bounce and energy in that voice of hers. Remember the diner scene in Pulp Fiction? Tarantino would've died to get her in there, no joke. But not too far into her performance, the power cut on this bobby soxer. What's a girl to do? Strum on her un-electric guitar and keep on singing. Thank god it came back on for "Cage."

Now, these guys caught us off-guard:
Well, gals in the pic. Count that: two violins, one cello. On the left of the stage: two trumpets, a baritone horn. That's six, and not quite half of the baker's dozen that is Portland, OR's Typhoon. We were blown away by the grandeur of their sound, which is orchestral with indie vocals (a bit more straightforward than Sufjan Stevens, but long and well-paced), and can't wait to get their full-length when it comes out. They've got a new EP out now, and if you close your eyes and wish, maybe it'll sound like they're playing just for you. Or you can just catch them on David Letterman August 4th if you have patience enough.
The pics don't really do them justice; they're far cuter and nicer in person. (Call me!)

Here is Gogol Bordello:

And here is the crowd on Gogol Bordello:

I'm not sure we need to add a whole lot more. But just to humor y'all, they play the sweaty gypsy music you'd find pounding from the open windows of a basement bar in rural Europe. It's as intoxicating as the dark liquor they serve there, and Eugene's accent pours just as thick. We were almost tackled by some crazy What Cheer? Brigadiers who, unblamingly, were musically possessed backstage. Moving on.

These fine young chaps are Delta Spirit (well, 2/5 of them). That's lead-man Matt Vasquez with the hair in his eyes. Probably the most direct way to describe them is to say they play rock; pure, loud, unabashed rock. It's our first listen to the remaining third of the collaboration known as Middle Brother, and if you didn't feel the raw power of "Ransom Man" that day, alas, you probably never will. Needless to say, the guys laid it into the crowd after a few songs and Mr. Vasquez shred the bejesus out of "People C'mon" vocally. We'd love to say that was the highlight of our day but to be honest, it really belonged to this lass, and probably always did:
Ah, Gillian Welch, is there nothing you can't do with your plain-Jane vocals and a simple acoustic? She and David Rawlings (you can kinda make out his guitar on the upper left) took out most of their new album, maybe with a few handclaps added ("Six White Horses"), a sprinkle of self-effacement and perhaps some exhaustion in there, too. Having missed some acts we were dying to cover (Pokey LaFarge, Devil Makes Three, most of Tegan and Sara), Welch made that right again, as it was just refreshing to listen to something so simple and uncluttered by the sea.

So, you think you know what 10,000 music-goers looks like.
That's all of them. Can you spot me?
Come back for part two!