Band of Horses was pretty damn good. I must say I was jaded by seeing MMJ the same week as I always regarded BoH as My Morning Jacket Lite. They were not as powerful or explosive as MMJ and lacked the overall stage presence and unpredictability a true rock show delivers, but they sounded great (so did Ben Bridwell’s voice) and moved through an impressive set list. When you see them live you realize how many good songs they have in only 3 albums. The songs they played from the new album Infinite Arms were delivered very polished and precise, including one of my favorites “Factory.” The new album is very pretty, almost too pretty. I described it as all pretty and no gritty, but live they had a little more “edge.” Another reason the Thursday night show didn’t stand out is because I was lucky enough to catch them at one of their early shows at The Social before the meatheads started showing up.
My Morning Jacket is a stellar live band and they didn’t let the crowd at the St. Augustine Amphitheater down. Jim James and company grooved, rocked, funked and jammed through an eclectic set of songs from It Still Moves through Evil Urges and sprinkled in 3 or 4 new songs. They exploded with ear-splitting volume on the opener, “One Big Holiday” and shook the foundations of the quaint little amphitheater. MMJ has the ability to move from serene to explosive on their albums and do so with even more force live. Jim James is the type of frontman that takes over the show with his voice and his guitar, making the attack more visceral. He howls and screams and snarls, all while shredding his axe, playing with distortion and effects, and brandishing the guitar boldly in the air or slinging it around madly. This is a musical rock ‘n roll frontman at his best – non-verbally declaring “this is my guitar, this is my dick, suck on it.”
“Run Thru” (interlude jam)
As for the venue, the St Augustine Amphitheater is truly a hidden gem. It is old and mainly supports the elderly community in the area with plays and shows, but recently someone brilliant has had the idea to bring rock bands in. It is small (around 5,000 at the most) and intimate, yet twice as loud as anything at the lame Ford Amphitheater. The night was made better with easy entry, easy parking, a laid back staff, full liquor, decent beer, and easy exiting. It is close enough to the beach to get a consistent sea breeze moving though the place. MMJ played under a full moon and the slightest sprinkles of rain came at two different moments. The moisture held the fog from the fog machine lower and thicker, lingering on the stage and in the crowd. This worked with the lights and added to the some of the psychedelic jam outs. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band opened the show and joined MMJ on the encore for three songs including covers of New Orleans native Al Johnson’s “Carnival Time” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up.” At times it seemed the breeze was choreographed with the music and James filled the air with an expansive howl, a gentle wind would rise up and blow through the crowd carrying thin wisps of rock fog and marijuana smoke into the night air.
“Highly Suspicious” with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band
“Move on up” with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Curtis Mayfield cover)
Canadian music collective, Broken Social Scene have their 5th full-length release, Forgiveness Rock Record due out May 4th (leaked much earlier) and have honed and elevated their sound under the production direction of John McEntire. They have a revolving cast of talent to help flush out their giant sound. At any moment BSS can have as few as 6 members or as many as 790 (somewhere around there). Although the music is meant to be lush and grand, at times the “too many cooks” approach seemed to distract from the great song at the core of the composition. McEntire’s work on Forgiveness Rock Record seems to have blended the multi-tier talent pool into a more cohesive musical experience.
“World Sick” opens up the album with gentle, ambient pop like you would expect from BSS, but more focused, even if the song is nearly seven minutes long. The delicate feeling intro gently builds until the song fades back to a soft hum. The feeling of a “collective” moves to the forefront in “Chase Scene” an eighties style dance song that sounds like it could be blasting from the library of Shermer High School while kids in detention dance. The song embraces all the elements of the band with multiple percussion instruments, synth, strings, dueling guitars and harmonized vocals.
Forgiveness parades genres and instrumentation back and forth from song to song. The sadly sweet “All to All” is a total 80′s electronic pop track with heavy synth and drum machines while “Art House Director” flaunts stacks of saxophones and “Highway Slipper Jam” uses whistling, strings, and slide guitar among other things to lend a touch of country to the ambient layers of breezy pop. “Meet me in the Basement” adds a climactic instrumental just past the midway point while “Sweetest Kill” offers a cool BSS interpretation of Chill Wave.
Broken Social Scene creates another lush and creative “indie” rock album with subtle twists and turns from track to track that lean from dance to art house to rock n roll and back. On Forgiveness, the sum of the various talented parts come together to support and bolster each other with elegance instead of repelling each other in a chaotic din.
When The Big Pink debuted last year I would have said please gouge my eye with a tainted pickle fork if I have to hear another indie pop duo. You got the White Stripes and Black Keys on the garage rock side to a slew of bands on the indie side like The Sounds, The Kills, MGMT, Crystal Castles, Sleigh Bells, and on and on. England’s The Big Pink seem to do the electro duo genre justice – able to create large, lush sounds in layers with instrumentation and massive amounts of synth.
Record Store Day (It’s like Christmas, but based on something tangible and rational) is an event to revive the beloved perusal of vinyl, cd’s, posters, and random rock related chotchkies. Remember that? The sad thing is I can’t think of many record stores anymore. Sonic Boom (is that what it was called?), CD Wharehouse, Peaches, Murmur – all gone. I know where I will go: Park Ave CD’s. I will go and relive my childhood tradition of staring at album covers and realizing I don’t have enough money to get everything I want. So join me, won’t you?
Independent record stores all over the country will have exclusive and special deals – from be able to pre-order the new Pumpkins EP, Teargardern by Kaliedyscope: Songs for a Sailor. I know one of the deals at Park Ave will be a Bouncing Souls 7″ vinyl. Only 500 will be pressed and distributed and Park Ave CD’s is one of the few places to get it (or wait in line for it).
If you don’t take my word for Record Store Day, listen to my boy Josh Homme:
The White Rabbits shot their “Percussion Gun” right in the face of an Orlando audience at The Social on Friday, the 9th of April. From what I gathered, the turnout for this show was smaller than their last cramped appearance, but the crowd here was dedicated Rabbit fans and not just indie buzz seekers. Here We Go Magic opened the show and I was surprised by the last third of their performance. It took on a bigger, more experimental shoegaze feel than the indie pop of the first portion.
White Rabbits charged through a set evenly peppered with material from Fort Nightly and It’s Frightening. The crowd fed off the energy of their percussive drive with attention on multi-percussionist Matt Clark. The rest of the band showed their diversity as they traded instruments throughout the show. They saved heavy ammo for the exit, hitting the crowd with “The Plot” and “While We Go Dancing” toward the end and closed with “Lioness” and “Percussion Gun.” It was a decent show, although it didn’t live up to the “oh my god, they are so good live hype.” I’d give it a “meh” on the awesome scale.
The fourth song is out, only 40 to go. The next thing is the first EP entitled Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Volume 1: Songs for A Sailor. This will be available for pre-order on April 17th,¬† National Record Store Day. It will be in a limited edition collector’s box along with a 7″ vinyl, artwork, and a hard-carved wooden obelisk “hewn in the shadow of Machu Picchu.” Snazzy indeed.
This is to be the first installment in a series of entries for The Coolest Song Ever! … Right Now dedicated to The Elevator Drops – the best band you’ve never heard. It makes no sense to me that this band never enjoyed any commercial exposure at any level at all – ever. I’ve described them as Bowie meets Devo meets Zeppelin electro glam pop (throw in some shoegaze for good measure) with their outlandish outfits, excellent drumming, walls of synth and guitar, psychedelic or oddball concepts and themes (they seem to have an obsession with Blade Runner style future transport), insanely bombastic live performances – and all of this churned together and spit out with excellent musicality, originality, and pop sensibility. This song is “Car II” from their ’94 debut album Pop Bus. Just to demonstrate a touch of their quirkiness; “Car II” is the second song on the album and the seventh song is “Car” for no apparent reason or visible tie-in.