Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Black Mountain

Black Mountain/Blood on the Wall - Local 506 - Feb 17, 2008

Drinks at Carolina Brewery beforehand (while transfixed to a Duke loss on TV) wasted the Blood on the Wall set. Attestation to the band - after hearing three songs live, the only merch I left with was their latest record. They're on the rise. I wish I still lived in Brooklyn.

After a short transition, Black Mountain appeared in all of the glory I expected. Canadian lads (and lass) representing their country like they were The Band. Bearded lead singer/guitarist Stephen McBean backed up his 70s psychedelic/hard-rock-influenced-with-a-red-bandana-in-my-worn-out-blue-jeans-backpocket with the chops he has exhibited on the band's two full-lengths. Moments of his performance shuttled me back to Cameron Crowe's 'Almost Famous' [one of my favorite film music biopics - fictitious or otherwise - (please watch D.A. Pennebaker's 'Don't Look Back' if you haven't before - my absolute favorite music biopic/documentary)] despite my best efforts to resist. Though McBean is widely regarded as the leader of the band, the performance was driven by Moog synthesizer extraordinaire Jeremy Schmidt, drummer Joshua Wells and bassist Matt Camirand. The latter two providing the structure for Schmidt's and McBean's winding melodies. Amber Webber - the female complement to Stephen McBean - stood front and center on the stage and though her straight-out-of-highschool appearance could have discounted her presence, whenever she sang she might as well have been channeling Grace Slick from Jefferson Starship/Airplane. The band is very tight and they know what they are doing. Though they surely have many tags and have found themselves in many critics' pigeonholes, it is obvious they enjoy their work and will have a bright future, public be damned.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bon Iver et al.

Bon Iver/Megafaun/Heather McEntire - Local 506 - Feb 18, 2008

Heather McEntire of Bellafea opened up the night. 3 chicks and an acoustic guitar. You know where I'm headed on this one.

Megafaun: These guys toe the line between pretension and pure fun. They come prepared with all the alt-country accoutrements - banjo, slide guitar... plus some extra cow bells for those playing along at home. The most interesting portion of the night was their version of Roy Acuff's "Wreck on the Highway" as a hopped up gospel song, complete with 3 part harmony (sort of). Soon after they digressed into weird psychedelia and I stopped paying attention.

Bon Iver: (That's bohn ee-vair for the uninitiated. We're here to help.) Justin Vernon gave a convincing delivery of his highly lauded album, For Emma, Forever Ago at The Local 506 tonight. He began the night with the first track off the album, "Flume" and continued to play the album in its entirety, in order. He followed the crowd favorite "Skinny Love" - and there is no doubting it is a fantastic song - with a rousing version of "The Wolves," complete with crowd participation on the chorus. The night was capped off with "Stacks" and you could hear the buzz of the speakers over the hush of the crowd. He maneuvered his way through the quiet lows on the album, while surprising me with just how heavy he could go on the more rockin' parts ("Creature Fear," for example.) I had already heard the album prior to the show, so I think some of the novelty had worn off; however, I think he surpassed my expectations in playing these songs live. He has a unique set up - two mics, one with the reverb cranked up to 11 - which he uses alternately to produce a little more drama to his performance. I'd say it worked admirably. He was backed up by guitar and drums, which filled out the sound nicely. He made a lot of references to friends in the crowd and connections to Durham, so we'll give him an extra nod for some familiarity with the Triangle. Bottom line: buy the album - release date is Feb 19 - catch a show if you can.

Edit: Live clips from the show.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Notes from the latest parlour....

Parlour #3 brought us a bounty of great tunes, ranging from 70s prog rock to Russian folk electronica. Here is the list....I didn't catch a couple of the song titles but I tried to link as many as possible.

Brian Jonestown Massacre- Oh Lord

Samurai (a prog rock band from the 70s)- Saving It Up For So Long

Rosebuds (playing at the Cradle May 6th)- Get Up Get Out (m4a)

Cloud Cult (at Local 506 April 21st)- Chemicals Collide (m4a)

Louis- My Own Good (m4a)

Best of Ivan Kupala (Russian folk inspired world music)- song #10 on the album, the name is Russian so there is no way to write it

Hammer No More the Fingers (local punk, indy band)- Bossman

Schooner (at the cave on March 1st)- Pray For You To Die (m4a)

The Never- Antarctica

Bull City - Game

Martha Wainwright

Black Mountain

Love is Chemicals- Half Way Out The Door

The Brokedown - Down In the Valley

Twilight Sad

Sunset Rubdown

I believe the next meeting is in March. Date to be determined. Happy listening...

Paris of the Piedmont

A musical homage to our lovely town:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

what's burning for me

I have been on a 'Soft Bulletin' kick for the past two months or so. The album has been on my Best Of list since it came out but it had been forever since I revisited it. Then back in mid-December I was walking around Ballard in Seattle after an interview, the sun was going down, it was rainy and I stopped into a little cafe for a coffee and heard 'A Spoonful Weighs a Ton' on the stereo and just sat and listened while I warmed up. Luckily, the barista had the entire album on - not just the radio or a mix - so I sat some more and some more until it was over. I think I've listened to the record probably 15 times since then and find myself singing the songs during the day. Right now the particular one in my head is Suddenly Everything Has Changed. Enjoy. And if you don't have The Soft Bulletin let me know. You need it.