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Mar 112014
St. Vincent performig at The Tabernacle in Atlanta - photo by @jordanivy

photo by @jordanivy on Instagram

I got an enewsletter from St. Vincent (customer retention!) with tour info. Of course Orlando dates were nowhere to be seen, but I did see a weekend date at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. On the mind-numbing drive up 75 (maybe not as bad as I-10 through the panhandle) I realize that this may be the first time I’ve gone out of my way for a female artist. By “out of my way” I mean making a trip out of it. There is a short list of bands I will travel anywhere I can afford (two towns over) to see. Radiohead, the Pumpkins or anything Billy, The Black Crowes, Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse, Placebo, My Morning Jacket, and maybe a few others make that list. I think I can add Annie Clark to that list.

She is just a powerhouse – and easy on the eyes, ya know what I mean? Huh-huh? She is a brilliant songwriter and singer producing some of the most intense and intelligent indie pop out there. She hit what I thought was a sort of apogee with her last album, Strange Mercy, but Annie’s collaboration with David Byrne, Love This Giant, is mindblowing. That experience with Byrne – writing, recording, and performing – seems to have energized her and pushed her to new levels. Her eponymous 5th album is her best yet.

What makes me go ka-ka-cuckoo for her is that beyond her aforementioned strengths she is a true axeman (woman). She is deceptive in her shredding prowess. Annie reminds me of Prince in a weird way. Don’t gasp! Stick with me. She can easily stand toe-to-toe with other rock artists in the songwriting category, but she takes it a step further than pop sensibility because at any moment she can just take over a performance on the merit of her soaring, screaming ax. Not many people that aren’t in a jam or metal band do that. Take the Smashing Pumpkins for instance. Maybe you are a casual fan or remember a few songs you liked and decide to see a concert. What you are really going to get is the Billy Corgan Guitar Clinic. Annie can do that.

On Saturday night at The Tabernacle she played with all the charisma and precision she is known for. It was parts pop diva-ship, performance art, and rock show. The moments when she stomped a pedal and stepped in front of the mic or climbed her lighted staircase, Miss Clark would unload scorching six string fury on our faces and the crowd howled in recognition of the awesomeness. She owns it. The rest of the band was stellar and mostly electronic working synths and samples, and “manipulating 0s and 1s.” They were precise, adding the technical touches and textures that make her albums so rich. Her drummer was obviously fantastic as he locked down to a click-track and played with drum machine accuracy, but I felt like he needed to open up. I wanted the drums to be more assertive and propulsive. I wanted them to make the funky sections a little dirtier and the rocking sections a little more explosive, but you can’t complain about perfect time.




Mar 042014

The Bright Light Social Hour onstage at The Social 3.3.14The Bright Light Social Hour were back Monday night and in rare form as usual. I guess it’s not “rare” then, but anyway. I thought, “I love these guys live, but I’ve seen them three times on one album! What could I get out of it?” Well, as I hoped, TBLSH focused on brand new music this go around. There was a big audience for a Monday night and I can’t help but think my previous reporting on the band is solely responsible for the groundswell of support they are enjoying. I want mention in the fucking liner notes of the next album! Well, it might have something to do with the power of their live shows, strong social media presence, and thousands of other bloggers and fans, but whatevs.

The new stuff seemed to get more psychedelic at times and more straightforward rock at others as compared to the anthemic funk rock of their debut. The new guy on keys, Edward Braillif , also adds a sort of techno/electronica feel in places, which can work really well at driving the songs up to swirling crescendos. Eddie B also fills in with rhythm guitar on occasion. I caught part of their set on the lawn at Rollins last year and realized AJ Vincent (old keyboard guy) was gone. Apparently, they parted ways with Vincent due to “creative differences.” That guy was no slouch either, but had a more retro vibe – which I don’t think hurt them at all.

Well, the new music was pretty good. I caught one of the songs:


More Bright Light Social Hour:

The Bright Light Social Hour Unleash on The Social in Orlando – 5.11.12

Interview: The Bright Light Social Hour Are Coming to Town

Bright Light Social Hour at The Social 12.29.12