A Spanish straight ahead rhythm and blues/garage rock band that sounds a lot like the early Rolling Stones. They sing in English and cause a total storm simply because of their soul and danceability. Every person in the band was active, bouncing around the stage and rushing up to their mikes for vocals, which was more amazing because they were performing for the seventh time in 4 days. Yet, they had so much energy! . They even have logoed tambourines they throw to the crowd!
DEER HUNTER (Pier 54, NY, under the Kennedy Expressway, Metro).
One of the most innovative and challenging indie pop bands today. Deer Hunter’s music ranges from arty electronica to pseudo dance to shoegaze to psychedelia to chiming driving guitars, they are hard to classify but whatever genres they choose to meld their sound is appealing. They are a rare indie band that can sound just as good outdoors as indoors.
NO AGE (Red Fez and Barbarella, Austin, Millennium Park and Lincoln Hall)
This LA punk duo became a trio this year, adding keyboard/noise effects which takes a lot of the load of guitarist Randy Randall’s shoulders. Though their music seems to be becoming a little more melodic and riff-driven, there is still a good deal of harmonic distortion and noise for those that enjoy that type of thing, and the wry anger of drummer/singer Dean Spunt and Randall still come through loud and clear, if only a little less distorted. Ended their last show after asking the crowd whether they wanted a new song or a cover, with a raucous cover of Black Flag’s Six Pack—showing their lineage.
WILD FLAG (High Dive, Seattle; Doug Fir Portland)
See first post on this blog.
GRAND TRINE (Friendship Cove, Montreal)
This is a really great three piece grungy garagey fuzztoney, punky band from Montreal, that I lucked into (thanks to my daughter). The venue was cool too, I guess perhaps the only “underground” club which was literally above an automobile repair shop and came with a second floor lounge with foosball table, couches, refrigerator and awesome roof-top space. But back to the band, that stomped through original punk and the band was really great and hopefully they will do some US shows. They did the best cover of Strychnine I have ever heard and right up there with the Sonics’ original. Seriously, check them out on My space. http://www.myspace.com/grandtrinemtl
BEACHES (Submerged, Maggie Mae’s)
5 piece girl band from Australia that play pulsing psychedelic and surf guitar (three guitar onslaught), loud, driven and droney. Vocals lovers will not be too taken with them as they seem to just be adding a variety of spacious vocals, and the lyrics are pretty simplistic, like Pylon, but their sound is pervasive and hard to get out of your head. At times they sound like Warlocks, Velvet Underground, Black Angels. This was the only new band I liked so much I made a point of going to see them again. I’m not the only one, as the LA Times music critic called them his “discovery.” For real drone see. http://vimeo.com/10382368.
ROYAL BATHS (High Dive, Seattle; Doug Fir Portland).
It is good to honor the best opening band you see in a year. Royal Baths opening for Wild Flag. This San Francisco band relies on chiming, droning guitars with ethereal psychedelic-talk echoes/vocals. Anyone who likes Crystal Stilts or Jesus and Mary Chain should like them.
The final farewell tour for this Smiths-sounding pop band. Fun, jangly and just a wee bit chaotic.
ZOE KEATING (Central Presbyterian Church, Austin)
She calls herself an avant cellist and I can’t disagree. She lays down a track by bowing, strumming, plucking and/or beating her cello, records it and then plays over her backing track. Her sound is so beautiful, lilting and repetitive, fitting somewhere between Philip Glass and Glenn Branca and she can really take you away on a meditative journey.
VANDERMARK 5 (Elastic) POWERHOUSE SOUND (Hungry Brain).
Ok. He does not quite qualify as “new”, but every performance of Ken Vandemark in his groups seems new to me. Jazz is definitely not an art form that I get into, but when Vandemark is playing you can just about throw out genre rules—although the name powerhouse sound can definitely give you an idea of the full force and impact of their music—it is not for the squeamish. He is clearly one of the greatest saxophone players around and the creative, explosive and improvisational work he does with both these groups and strong musicians like cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm is totally worth experiencing.
Another guitar and drum outfit, way more accessible and poppy than No Age. High pitched emotive and screaming (but not emo) vocals over a crescendo of pounding drums and power chords you can’t help but not your head and feel their fun and power. Go see them for yourself January 1 at Schuba’s.
WARPAINT (Do Division Festival)
2009’s best opening act opening for School of Seven Bells at the Empty Bottle, this 4 piece girl group from LA plays long, subdued building textured songs with intricate guitar interplay and atmospheric vocals. They were disappointing as an opener for the XX in a large hall, but see them if they come back and play smaller venues again.
As far as performances go Annie-Claude of this Montreal band is the winner hands down. She is a combination of Iggy Pop and Linda Blair, possessed by rock and roll. She lords over the audience, literally ordering the crowd what to do as well as confronting individuals—some of whom challenge her back. All the while her band plays electro punk and Stooges grooves. Depending on the song she might quiver, roll her eyes, stare vacantly or intently into member’s of the audiences eyes, making one worry or get excited about what she would do next. On one song she made everyone lie down on the floor. , while she walked between us; on another she made everyone leave the room and go to a balcony, having one member slap the hands of the people she was sending out to exile. Both exciting and unnerving.
EXPLODE INTO COLORS (Cheer Up Charlies)
An experimental band from Portland that, unfortunately, recently broke up. Made up of a drummer, percussionist, six string bass and saxophone, the combination plays a herky/jerky funk post-punk sound reminiscent of New York No Wave bands and dance bands like ESG and the Ze Records crew.