Posts Tagged ‘ Music ’

Midtown Music Festival: Everything I Hate About Everything

I am a firm believer in sandwich criticism, where the negative is squished between the positive. This will be a Katz’s Deli Pastrami Sandwich of a post.

Eating murdered cows is less ethically dubious than Music Midtown.

The Highlander is a good midtown dive bar, with decent drink prices and generous shots. I thank it for providing me with a fortified buzz and a respite from the Midtown Music Festival’s corporate assault.

For fifty-five dollars, concertgoers had the pleasure of seeing Midtown’s spacious Piedmont Park transformed into a corporate bordello, with hooha logos animated on the jumbotrons flanking both stages, plastered on makeshift billboards, and adorning every piece of free schwag lugged around by knuckle-dragging mouthbreathers. The jumbotrons were especially insidious, being too small for audience members far away to see, but perfect for flashing consumerist propaganda in between shows. Continue reading


[LIVE] Phantogram at the Drunken Unicorn, 9/29/2010

This isn’t exactly timely, but I’ve had some computer issues.  Better late than never, right?

Phantogram played a very sold out show at the Drunken Unicorn a couple of weeks ago.  They will definitely be on a bigger stage the next time they pass through Atlanta, and they more than deserve it.  Check out a few more pictures after the jump.

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Review: Grinderman – Grinderman 2

No one really expected or needed Grinderman to turn into a real band. Their 2007 debut was an enthusiastically received record that absolutely nailed what it set out to do, but it never felt like anything more than a diversionary side project. The whole thing sounded more like an exercise than an album, with most of its pleasures stemming from the strength of its basic concept: Nick Cave doing his literate, leering lech routine over dirty Stooges guitar blasts.

The fact that it seemed like a one-off probably helped it’s case, too. Fans and critics both seemed to love the idea of Cave and a handful of Bad Seeds cutting loose. Would it have gotten the same treatment if it was a straight Seeds album? Not with half-baked songs like “Depth Charge Ethel” or the title track eating up the relatively short running time. Sure, “No Pussy Blues” is a flawless single, and “Get It On” and “Love Bomb” are almost as good, but there’s too much filler to shower the record in unqualified praise. As much as I enjoy the album, I would have probably told Cave to stick to his day job, especially when that day job is still capable of such incredible peaks (I might be lonely here, but I’d put Dig Lazarus Dig!! among the 5 best Bad Seeds records, and I say that as pretty huge fan).

I would have been very wrong. Grinderman 2 takes what was great about the first album and applies the careful song construction that’s always been a Bad Seeds hallmark. They now practice nuance disguised as blunt force.

Here’s the difference between the two albums: the Grinderman of the first album would have probably kept a song like “When My Baby Comes” in a holding pattern, staying in the slightly skewed blues mode established in the first minute or so. It would have been around 3 minutes, and it would have been a pretty good track. The new and improved Grinderman instead starts adding Warren Ellis’ violin to the mix, allows it to be unequivocally pretty, then at the halfway point blows the track up into a lumbering, psychedelic stomper that sounds like being caught in a windstorm. It runs 7 minutes, and it’s an awesome track.

The humor and attitude that made Grinderman so appealing is still there, it’s just packaged better. They’ve made a legitimately great album this time out, one that’s as good as anything else released this year. Let’s hope we get another one in 3 years.

This week’s shows (9/27/2010-10/3/2010)


Monday (9/27/2010): Tonight’s best bet is probably math-rockers Tera Melos at WonderRoot, with local openers Vegan Coke and Thy Mighty Contract.  If that’s not your thing, there’s also Japanese cult heroes Guitar Wolf at the Drunken Unicorn with Hans Condor and Charges.

Tuesday (9/28/2010): I never really got into either Pedro the Lion or David Bazan‘s solo stuff, but the pretty solid Mynabirds are opening his headlining stop at The Earl.

Wednesday (9/29/2010): Two killer Wednesday night lineups calls for a tough decision.  Electro-rockers Phantogram headline Drunken Unicorn, with support from Josiah Wolf (member of WHY? and brother of bandleader Yoni).  Wolf recently released his first solo album, and it’s not too far removed from the last WHY? album.  It’s a more direct singer-songwriter affair with no lingering traces of hip-hop, but it’s definitely cut from the same cloth.  If you’re not making it out to that show, you should probably be headed to The Earl, where Brazillian tropical garage-rockers Garotas Suecas headline.  Local favorites The Selmanaires and awesome Nashville band Cheap Time open.

Thursday (9/30/2010): Big Boi headlines The Tabernacle.  You may have heard of him.  There’s also some jackass you might have heard about at The Drunken Unicorn.  Local non-jackasses The N.E.C. open that one, along with Jacuzzi Boys (also not jackasses) and Christmas Island (don’t know ’em, so I guess the jury’s still out).

Friday (10/1/2010): I’ll be out of town for the weekend, which is kind of a shame.  There’s a lot going on.  It’s Elephant’s play their final show ever at 529 on Friday, and it’s free.  Deerhunter has a hometown album release show at Variety Playhouse.  And there’s also Ratatat with Dom at the Masquerade.  I’ve heard wildly varying reports about Ratatat’s live show, though, and I’m not so big on the last album.

Saturday (10/2/2010): If I was in town, I would definitely be at The Other Sound Festival in Little Five Points all day.  There’s a bunch of great local bands spread across five stages, including Mermaids, A Fight to the Death, Abby Go Go, Oryx and Crake, and more.  Full lineup is at the end of this post, after the jump.  Saturday night’s also got The Octopus Project, Starfucker, and Spectralux at The Drunken Unicorn, as well as Stars and Wild Nothing at Variety Playhouse.

Sunday (10/3/2010): I’m a longtime fan of The Books, but I’ve never managed to see them live.  My streak will continue this weekend, but anyone who’s in town should go see them at Variety Playhouse with The Black Heart Procession.

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INTERVIEW: Free Energy – “We love this shit.”

Free Energy at Pitchfork Music Festival 2010

Free Energy is unquestionably one of the breakout indie acts of 2010, and for good reason.  Their debut album, Stuck on Nothing, is full of note-perfect pop songs that unabashedly reference every great song you’ve ever heard on classic rock radio.  The live show’s killer, too.

They’re genuinely enthusiastic about what they’re doing as well.  Few bands seem to be having as much fun on-stage.  Honestly, hating this band would be like hating a puppy.

Frontman Paul Sprangers answered some of my questions in advance of the band’s show on Monday, September 20th, at The Earl in Atlanta.  They’re currently on tour with Titus Andronicus, with whom they recorded a tour-only split 7″.  We talked about that 7″, Philadelphia, indie vs. classic rock, and the band’s plans for the future.

Full interview after the jump.

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Reviews: Candy Claws, TV Torso

Candy Claws – Hidden Lands

Hidden Lands opens with it’s murkiest moment, the nearly 7 minute “In the Deep Time.” The track is a bunch of goggy ambience that rarely resembles anything like a song, but it’s an excellent album opener in the sense that it isolates the most notable aspects of the band’s aesthetic and pushes them front and center. It’s all in there: the barely-there vocals, the bubbling keyboards, the notable lack of low end. It’s a gorgeous, carefully constructed mess that acts as a perfect overture.

The rest of the songs are more immediate, but ethereal is the key word throughout. These are ambient pop songs that sound like they’re always on the verge of floating away. There are occasional details that bring the songs back to earth, like the recurring, interrupting guitar part on “Sun Arrow.” But mostly the songs flow gently by, each individual element blending together into an inseparable whole. It’s the sound of watercolors bleeding together.

Candy Claws plays Atlanta this Saturday, September 18, at the Drunken Unicorn.

TV Torso – Status Quo Vadis

TV Torso caught my ear as the odd men out at The Goat Farm festival a few weeks ago, where they were the only non-Atlanta band on the bill. Their performance was good enough to get me to investigate further, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to like this album (EP?) as much as I do.

They sound like fellow Austin band Spoon, but not in a derivative way. Frontman Matt Oliver has a cool, collected rasp that’s unavoidably similar to Britt Daniel’s, and the band’s got a knack for kind of the taut guitar/drums-centric indie rock that Spoon’s been dealing in since Girls Can Tell. They’ve also got Spoon’s talent for making straightforward tunes a bit more interesting in the studio.

These are basic rock songs, but they run longer than they might in other hands, with more unexpected details.  The first few minutes of “Slander’s Stew” follow a familiar indie rock blueprint, but then the track keeps going for a few more, adding layers of guitars and burying the vocals.  It sounds like it’s accelerating out of control and the bedrock of the song is deteriorating.  Elsewhere, “Elegy” pairs bagpipes with a guitar tone that makes it occasionally difficult to tell which instrument is which.

“Slanderer’s Stew” is available as a free download from TV Torso’s Bandcamp page.  You can buy the rest of the album there, too.

More details about this weekend’s Wells St Warehouse Beach Party…

Looks fun.  More details and the full lineup here.