The Whigs played their hearts out at The Loft on a chilly Texas December Wednesday night, making the stage, the floor and their fans bounce all over the joint. They once again proved why they are My Favorite Band in the Whole World, jamming songs from their two LP's, Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip and Mission Control. They also busted out a few fresh ones from their highly anticipated upcoming record, In The Dark. If those new tracks and their high-energy rock shows are any indication, Parker Gispert, Julian Dorio and Tim Deaux are poised for world domination in 2010. Do yourself a favor and check 'em out live to see what the funk i'm talkin' about.
i've been a huge fan of The Features since i heard the first pounding notes from of their stellar LP, Exhibit A back in 2004. So when i saw that they were coming to the Loft to play with The Whigs, i knew i had to be there to see them live for the very first time. My expectations where high, as their knack for making hook-heavy pop song perfection takes a back seat to no one. Well, they met and exceeded all expectations that night as they charged through their set, playing songs from Exhibit A, the Contrast EP, their 2008 album, Some Kind of Salvation, and even "Thursday," one of my favorites that they first recorded in 2000. Hopefully, it won't be another five years before i get to see them again. Come back soon, boys!
Red-headed siren songstress Neko Case captivated the capacity crowd at the Granada Theater on a gorgeous November evening. She's been on tour in support of her stellar 2009 record, "Middle Cyclone," which makes an excellent holiday gift for that difficult person on your list. Just tell them that Amazon.com has declared this the top album of the year, and it includes 31 minutes of crickets chirping, so shut up and like it.
Skip Matheny and company have been on the road most of this year in support of their stunning LP "Oh Tall Tree in the Ear," and had driven to Texas after seeing Bruce Springsteen in Nashville the night previous. Even if they were a road-weary bunch at the tail end of a long tour, they certainly didn't show it as they playfully and masterfully performed most of the songs from Tall Tree and "One Hundred Thousand Miles" from one of the three EP's they released over the last year. Roman Candle will play a couple more shows, then it's time to give the tour van the rest of the year off and see how many "best of 2009" lists Tall Tree ends up on. i know it will find a cozy spot near the top of The NeffList this year.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit brought their soulful, southern tunes to The Longhorn Saloon in Ft. Worth on 11/13/09. It's funny how songs about heartbreak and loneliness can make a room full of people so freakin' happy. If that isn't a sign of a great songwriter, i don't know what is.
"It's good to be in the South!" Lucero lead man Ben Nichols related to the rowdy Longhorn Saloon crowd. "It's November, and I'm sweating my ass off!" Everyone up front was sweating too as they sang, clapped, swayed and bounced along to the 100+ minute set on that night in the Stockyards. "We may be 500 miles from Memphis, but damn, if you all don't make it feel like home," he said later. The hoots, hell yeahs and devil horns that followed from the Fort Worth faithful drew one of Ben's patented glisten-eyed grins that riled us up even more.
Lucero's latest LP, and major-label debut 1372 Overton Park was released just a month ago, and Ben admitted on stage that he was struggling to get through some of the new tracks. "I'm still learinin' these new ones," he said after what sounded to me like a flawless performance of 1372's opener, "Smoke." It didn't seem to bother Lucero's enthusiastic followers, as they clamored to the front to shout the lyrics they have already committed to memory, "I'm not beautiful, I'm not beautiful" (See the vid below) . Lucero declares that they are Nobody's Darlings, but on that Saturday night, they were more than beautiful, they were perfect.
Whew! L.A.'s own Ready The Jet blasted the denizens of Dallas with a rockin' set at the Double Wide. i'm still trying to catch my breath and will continue to look for the remnants of my face, which they blew off with rock. i'll keep you posted on the condition of my mug as soon as i find it. Holy craps. Here's some pics. There's more here at the flickr.
Pall Jenkins brought his Black Heart Procession to Hailey's in Denton to mesmerize us with his brooding tales of sorrow and deceit. As a long-time fan, there was no way i was going to miss this, and i was not disappointed as their massive musical talent was unfurled before me. i just thought he would dress nicer. More pics at the flickr, of course.
San Jose's The Mumlers are touring on the heels of the release of their album Don't Throw Me Away. They stopped by Hailey's, opening for fellow Californians The Black Heart Procession where they won over some new fans with songs from that record and 2007's Thickets & Stitches. i was hoping for a longer set, but i think they did play all of the dozen or so instruments they had scattered up on the stage, so i did get my money's worth in the end. :o] There's a few more pics at my flickr here.
Took a road trip to my old hometown of Columbia, MO and caught The Decemberists at a packed Blue Note. They played their 2009 record, The Hazards of Love straight through brilliantly then came back on stage for some favorites from their previous couple of records. It was very deece. There's a couple more pics on my flickr page here.
All of these tunes, and five others can be found on their 2009 record "Good Enough For You" which is my favorite jam of the summer. These Fort Worth fellas bust out the smart, punchy, head bobbin', hand clappin' power pop that will have you clicking the "repeat" button.
BTW, the music you hear during the first 30 seconds of the trailer is "Whatever Gets You By," track 1 from The Features' 2009 album, Some Kind of Salvation, which i can't recommend highly enough. That tune is not in the movie, though. :-(
Back to the film...Bateman is supported by an excellent cast that includes Kristin Wiig, J.K. Simmons, Mila Kunis and Ben Affleck. David Koechner and Gene Simmons add to the chaos as two more pains in Joel's ass. As a big fan of Mike Judge's past film work, i came to the screening trying to temper my expectations. i knew in my head that Extract probably wouldn't attain the zeitgeist-skewering genius of Office Space, or the social insight of the criminally under-appreciated Idiocracy. The fact that the film stars three of my favorite actors in Bateman, Wiig and Simmons also makes it difficult to not judge this film on a generous curve. Having said that, i'd say that Extract made the grade. As comedies go, it doesn't lean heavily on juvenile jokes, nor does it insult the audience's intelligence with gross-out gags. Instead, most of the humor plays on the audience's empathy for Joel. As the events unfold, we are wincing and thinking, "What else could go wrong for this poor guy?" and laughing the whole time.
Writer/Director Mike Judge stuck around for a 20-minute Q&A after the screening to talk about the origins of Extract, Beavis & Butthead, casting Gene Simmons, drug use in the movies, and more: Part One:
Dude, i saw one of my favorite artists of all times rock out at Longhorn Saloon in Fort Worth. He busted out some new ones, including a cover of America's "I Need You" which is available on his new EP "American Bread." It's a collaborative effort between Bobby and David Vandervelde, available on Village Records on August 11, or at one of Bobby's shows. You should get it. And go see him. Or both. There's a bunch more pics up at my flickr here.
Jason Molina and his mates in Magnolia Electric Co. played an emotional set at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios in Denton, TX on July 24, 2009. Everyone in attendance was treated to an especially powerful mix of old favorites from the band's catalog and several new songs from "Josephine," M.E.Co.'s latest record that was released on July 21. This night's set was the first weekend show since the release of the album and coincided with what would have been former bassist and good friend Evan Farrell's 35th birthday. Farrell, who also was a member of Japonize Elephants and Rogue Wave died in a house fire on December 23, 2007. Farrell left behind a wife and two sons.
"Molina's concept album["Josephine"] is an honest-to-God effort on the part of Magnolia Electric Co. to pay tribute to the life and spirit of fallen bassist Evan Farrell (R.I.P. December 2007), as the ideas for Josephine were being pieced together. Molina said each tune is a good faith attempt to make real Evan's hopes for the record. And in doing so, Evan's spirit becomes part of the concept. The loss of Josephine becomes the loss of Evan. Molina's familiar lyrical allegories are still in tact. But here, in what is no doubt the strongest set of songs Molina has written since the inception of Magnolia Electric Co., those classic themes take on new meanings. Molina has approached the universal loneliness before, but never in such a focused, directed manner as found on Josephine." - Secretly Canadian
These Denton rockers plowed through a heart-felt, blistering set to celebrate the release of their second album, Foreign Lands, much to the delight of their pumped, dedicated followers. Here's some vids featuring crowd surfing with a cigarette (don't try this at home):