Archive: July, 2008
|Jay Reatard: Black eye
Monday: The best part about Jay Reatard? His music. In fact, Patrick Rapa sez: "Reatard's catchy lo-fi garage sound is fucking exhilarating." The second best part about Jay Reatard? Press photos, which make more sense when you see video of his live show. With Dark Horse & the Carousels and the Tough Shits, at Johnny Brenda's, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $12.
Tuesday: Philly (by way of Israel) singer/songwriter Noa Babayof enlists Espers' Greg Weeks as producer and a slew of other locals on her U.S. debut From a Window to a Wall. her voice is a cross between Sandy Denny and Nico, says Shaun Brady. With Thinguma*jigSaw, Sharon Van Etten and Meg Baird, at the First Unitarian Church's Chapel, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
Wednesday: Know those bands where you listen to them and wish they had thought of a better name? Love as Laughter is one of those bands. Formed from the ashes of Lync, LaL play indie pop with grander ambitions than being cute. With Coyote and Imaad Wasif w/Two Part Beast, at Johnny Brenda's, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $8-10.
Thursday: With the Summer Organ Series at the Kimmel Center, you finally have a chance to break out all of those "huge organ" jokes you've been thinking about since the damn place opened. Peter Burwasser reports that the programs (last one is next Thursday) will run the gamut from organ esoterica to old, favorite warhorses. God, if I have to hear Fugue on B-A-C-H one more time… Tonight's soloist is the excellently-named Felix Hell. At the Kimmel Center, concert begins at 7 p.m., tickets are $10.
Friday: Proud papas of the queercore movement the Pansy Division celebrate the premiere of Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band at PIGLFF (BH gave you greedy suckers a preview earlier today). For what PD is calling a "queertastic night of music, film and dance" (is there any better explanation), begin at 7:15 at the Arts Bank Theater then mosey on over to the official after party. Stick around after the set for Sex Dwarf, at the Troc, doors at 9 p.m., tickets are free with a fest pass, $5 with movie ticket stub and $10 on sale now.
Saturday: Mosey on down below the (metaphorical) Mason-Dixon for a night those with 92.5 WXTU programmed into their radio presets. On one bill you get southern pirate Kenny Chesney, the incredibly well-coiffed Keith Urban, well-recovered child star Leann Rimes, and Sammy Hagar. Wait, who let can't-drive-55 Van Hagar in? Lame. At the Lincoln Financial Field, starts at 3:30 p.m., tickets are $30-99.50.
Sunday: LA's Mae Shi finally make a record worth writing home about. Totally weird without coming off as abstract or like a commercial jingle, not to mention catchy as all hell. With the Death Set, at the Barbary, doors at 6:30 p.m., tickets are $10.
I just had the Jonas Brothers in my mouth.
The brothers Jonas, for those who let their subscriptions to Tiger Beat lapse/live under a rock, are a variation on the time-tested, tried and true method of sibling-centric bubblegum pop. Now "Hold On," a song apparently by the vaguely effeminate crown princes of the Disney empire, is the soundtrack on my newly-received Turbo Tooth Tunes — a toothbrush that plays exactly two minutes of music while you clean your chompers.
You heard it hear first, people: The Jonas Brothers want you to have receding gums. The way the toothbrush works, you can only hear the song while you brush. The sound is surprisingly good for it being, you know, a toothbrush. At the same time, though, it's really disconcerting to have the Jonas Brothers reverberate through your skull. Once I got over that initial feeling, and actually tried to brush, the song became all static-y, like the Jonas Brothers decided they were really into the Jesus and Mary Chain. I always thought of myself as an excellent tooth brusher, but it turns out that the sound problems were probably due to my stroke being neither slow nor steady enough. I stopped brushing to catch the chorus but the constant vibration from the sound waves made my teeth hurt. Now the left side of my jaw is just really sore. Screw you, Jonas Brothers.
And with that, let's talk song choice: I would have liked a little more novelty with my novelty toothbrush. Granted, there are several other tooth tunes to choose from (including Neil Sedaka, which should really go over well with the Miley Cyrus-set). So I would like to put it out there to the Hasbro company. If they want my business, they're going to need to step up their game. Why not a song by the Teeth? Man Man's "Gold Teeth" would be an excellent second choice. Then there's Nelly's "Grillz" to demonstrate alternative tooth lifestyles. Or, as warning to those thinking about skipping their dental hygiene routine, they could go with Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Upsetter's "Bad Tooth." Got any better suggestions? Give 'em to me below.
|Algonquin, July 2008|
I'm not a chick-lit aficionado by any means, but every now and then I do crave some fast-paced, eighth-grade-reading-level, Sex and the City-inspired literature. And that's exactly what I got.
Barbara Suter's debut novel follows Maggie Barlow, a thirtysomething actress who's still doing children's theater to pay the bills. Poor Maggie is truly a shit show. She can't make it 24 hours without half a bottle of bourbon. She walks onstage as Snow White, cigarette still in hand. She's a sex addict and she's borderline insane. Seriously — she has visions of her former pianist reincarnated as a 1-foot-tall fairy godmother in drag. What kept me reading, for better or worse, was Maggie's charm and personality, which initially sheds light on this ridiculous life of hers.
That light quickly fades midway through the book when Suter throws in a few unexpected dark turns. First our heroine is nearly raped, only to be saved by a dog (I guess there's a Toto/Dorothy parallel there somewhere) and then the novel ends with a bizarre death that no one sees coming and a convenient romance no one finds realistic. While these events separate the book from the run-of-the-mill pretty-in-pink paperback, they feel disjointed and out of place. Dorothy on the Rocks is a step above most chick-lit, but it's still best if read with a cocktail.
Just got finished reviewing the Pansy Division doc, Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, that's screening at this year's Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (and followed by a live performance by the band). I'm gonna make you wait for Thursday's paper for my review, but for now, check out this snippet from the film, the completely catchy "20 Years of Cock" that the band's working out for a new album.
On this installment of Local Support, Jon Solomon plows through his prodigious collection of Philly-area CD-Rs and 7-inches that he's stockpiled over the past fortnight. As per usual, it's a veritable hit parade of crisp Greater Philly flavors with which you probably aren't yet familiar (but ought to be).
|Photo | Diana Lee|
Scope it: The decidedly masculine Women see us off with the frenetic punk thrust of "Own The Night," into the claustrophobic squall of melodic synths and feedback of Carolee's "No One Face." Brown Recluse Sings makes an earthy mélange of classic melodies, warm harmonies, unadorned acoustic and drums, which is elevated by spacey swells of meandering electric guitar. Aderbat provides deceptively nuanced horn arrangements and heartfelt croons, while Prowler stalks the dance-punk sound of James Murphy at his most playful, their "Beware Delaware" driven by a cha-cha jungle beat.
The War On Drugs give us "Show Me The Coast," a mesmerizing alt.country yarn that's all starry nights and winding roads. Lettuce Prey sounds like a post-puberty Tobin Sprout, half-buried under a comfy bed of tired guitars and sleepy shakers. Likewise, The Sweetheart Parade is perhaps akin to Johnny Cash brandishing a keyboard. The Low Numbers sound like if heroin rockers Autolux spent a week (just a week) in rehab and got a tan, while Scary Monsters offer up a winsome folk anthem for reviving lost flames — extra style points for the "This Will Be Our Year" quote.
|Brown Recluse Sings|
|Photo | Alison Leigh|
Light, jazzy instrumentals take a turn for the sinister when Lefty's Deceiver decides to add some haunting harmonies and violent guitar to "Radio Kilkenny." The Trolleyvox do the boy-girl vocal thing right with "Town & Country," and Bridge Underwater craft a unique marriage of east Asian synth licks and emphatic cocktail kit drumming — as unlikely a combination as the band's name implies.
Young Gene Buffalo's cinematic synth drones at first suggest Stars Of The Lid, but a slow rise of vocals, driving bass and meteoric guitar leads eventually take "Power Lines" far beyond wallpaper music. The Get Quick's "Talk About You Today" sounds like a summery adventure through the coolest suburb ever, Excelsior cranks out a punky jam of spitfire drums, fuzzed-out bass and hemmorhaging guitar, while Stellarscope's post-punk prog gently lulls the podcast to a close, hypnotic polyrhythms leaving us all wide-eyed and zonked out.
Been nice having you. We'll see you again in two. (Weeks, that is.)
The War On Drugs - "Show Me The Coast" - Wagonwheel Blues
Lettuce Prey - "Hermeneutic Spiral" - Today's Missile
The Sweetheart Parade - "Delilah (No Git Intro)" - Communion
The Low Numbers - "Josef Albers" - Telekom
Scary Monster - "New Country" - Makeout Party At Werewolf Club
Lefty's Deceiver - "Radio Kilkenny" - 45:00
The Trolleyvox - "Town & Country" - Leap Of Folly
Bridge Underwater - "More Tools" - Four Songs
Young Gene Buffalo - "Power Lines" - S/T
The Get Quick - "Talk About You Today" - How The Story Goes
Who: Kitten Disaster (Kathryn Doherty-Chapman, Tara Hoffman and Marko Moskov)
What: A loud, mostly instrumental rock trio making its live debut (after a year and a half working out their sound in a Kensington practice space). Doherty-Chapman describes the Kitten Disaster sound thusly: "It’s sort of like if Sonic Youth’s kids married Yo La Tengo’s kids and they made a band with Pinback’s kids."
When: Saturday, July 12, 10 p.m.,
With: Spec 9 (Stephanie from Ports of Call goes solo)
Where: The Green Rock Tavern, 2465 E. Lehigh Ave.
Why you should go: You like feel-good indie rock.
That Bloody Baron! I'm not the biggest fan of Steampunk - in fact I didn't even know what it was until about a year ago - and I think BoingBoing has run that ship into the ground, but I will admit I've been quite addicted to Dirk Valentine, which puts you into the role of Britain's main man, spy, and "esoteric fighting." I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most people would consider running around with a gun that fires chains esoteric ... well, that and wearing an oversized green hat while doing so. In the game, the year is 1897, and Baron Battenberg is just going around ruining everything with his steam-powered war machine. It's up to Dirk to stop him with said chain gun. It's a basic side scroller, and I'm guessing that I liked it so much based on the fact that it reminded me of the NES' Bionic Commando, which still has a special place in my heart. Any game that can remind me of those days in my parents' basement trying to rid the world of a certain German dictator lookalike is good in my book. Check out Dirk Valentine here.
|Your move, Bill Murray|
Every Monday, the Showdown tells you who to see and where to see ‘em.
Monday: Producer, rapper, film score composer, movie star, chess master: RZA does it all. Check out alter ego Bobby Digital as he tours behind his new record, Digi Snax. Deesha Dyer reports it's a reintroduction to the Wu-Tang sounds of old and that's never a bad thing. With backing band/album collaborators Stone Mecca at the Troc, doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $25.
Not really in the mood for Bobby D? A "frisky quickie between a Cambodian pop chanteuse and California surf-rock boys" more your style? Never fear, Dengue Fever is here. With Chicha Libre, at Johnny Brenda's, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
Tuesday: The Chapin Sisters drive Shaun Brady to attempt suicide but, like, in a good way. Plus, look at these credentials: you got daughters of Harry and Tom and the spawn of Wes Craven. With Margillian, Pepi Ginsberg and Hacienda, at the Green Line Cafe (45th & Locust), doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $7-10.
Wednesday: Boris — "ambience in these hands never equates to complacence." Need we say more? Some of the craziest shit you will ever see at a concert. We promise. At the First Unitarian Church, dorrs at 8 p.m., tickets are $13.
Thursday: Have you ever heard the Clash's "Rock the Casbah" sung in Arabic? Now you have. Need a little more of the Franco-Arab Dylanesque folk hero Rachid Taha? He plays the Kimmel Center, at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $20.
Friday: Time to bang your head on the punk rock with the now-legendary Circle Jerks, hardcore kids Dillinger 4, hometown heroes Paint It Black, the far-too-cute Matt & Kim, Tel Aviv-ians Monotonix and French Revolution enthusiasts Team Robespierre. Not to mention stand-up comics and art by Space 1026. Phew. At the Starlight Ballroom, doors at 6 p.m., tickets are $17.
Saturday: The folk princess and rock god join forces and make beautiful music together: Robert Plant and Alison Krause re-imagine roots with the help of fantastically moniker/all-around smart guy T Bone Burnett. At the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $55-80.
Sunday: You've got four days to catch the XPoNential Fest — Thursday (don't miss Blind Boys of Alabama and Jim Boggia), Friday (ditto Alejandro Escovedo, the War on Drugs, plus I got to give it up for my high school classmates the Brakes), Saturday (check Dean and Britta and O'Death) and today. So why does Sunday get the pimp-age while all the others wallow in Showdown obscurity? 'Cause Shelby Lynne's got sass to spare, my friends, and what else could you ask for on your music-filled Sunday?
Looking for El Dorado
Finally! After years of hoping and waiting, someone finally went ahead and combined my love of two of the best games ever: Risk and Trivial Pursuit. It's about time.
Conquiztador is a fun little multiplayer game that puts three players on a map of the US, each answering trivia questions to gain more territory, attack the opponents, and defend their own turf. The questions range from multiple choice to very short answer (just a hint: none of the "none of these are correct" answers is ever correct), but for some reason they seem to lean heavily towards sports, and I apparently know more about pitchers hitting home runs than I thought.
The game needs some tweaks and a little more exposure - for instance, you'll run through the day's questions pretty quickly and there aren't a lot of people playing so you wind up playing the robots often - but it's great fun when you attack a home base and knock a player off the map.
Play Conquiztador here. And if you seem username billypilgrim, let's play a round.
If we have learned anything from Conor Oberst's example, it's that more brooding one-man folk acts should be wary of crossing the line separating heartfelt from overwrought.
It's refreshing, then, to see that now-Philly-based Soltero has taken as much to heart with his/their latest release, You're No Dream, recorded in the wake of songwriter Tim Howard's recent move from Boston. The largely acoustic album (Soltero's fifth full-length) finds Howard returning to his lo-fi solo roots with a quiet, minutely studied collection of songs about dislocation and wary almost-love.
Howard overlays his innocent, haunting melodies with vivid visual snippets and wraith-like vocals that veer imperceptibly from hope to deflated weariness. It is this weirdly lucid sense that characterizes the record, which, with its wistful ukulele and stark, almost tribal percussion, seems to exist entirely within the phantom space between sleep and wakefulness.
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