Monday, December 29, 2008

January 2009 in Washington DC

An asterix indicates that this show/event is HIGHLY recommended.

Black Cat

Jan 17th Andy O's Birthday Bash, Back Before Dawn, Gist, Left of Avalon
Jan 20th Nappy Roots
*Jan 24th Black and White Jacksons with Ra Ra Rasputin, Four Fins Of The Rocket,Loose Lips

930 Club
*Jan 1st WU-TANG CLAN featuring Raekwon • Ghostface Killah • Inspectah Deck • RZA • GZA and Masta Killa w/ Cappadonna, DJ Mathematics

Velvet Lounge
Jan 15th Skeletonbreath (mem. of O'Death/Rad Racket), Whistlin Charlie, Bama (of Family Hemerlein), Armida & Her Imaginary Band, Andrew Bucket

*Jan 16th Velodrome Dance Party. Italo Disco, No Wave, Post-Punk featuring DJs Ed Porter and Scott Bauer. Special guest performance by Exactly

Jan 31st Beatnik Flies, Sister Ex, Dollar Bin

Rock and Roll Hotel
Jan 16th Middle Distance Runner with Mobius Band, The Black Hollies and The Nunchucks.

Jan 24th Via Audio w/ Modern Skirts

Solly's Tavern
*Jan 23rd Mittenfields with the Carribean.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Forgotten Greats of Liverpool, England: The Teardrop Explodes

In the spring of 1977, Julian Cope formed Crucial Three along with Ian McCulloch (later of Echo and the Bunnymen) and Pete Wylie (Wah!). The group rehearsed regularly, but they never actually got around to performing live.
Around 1978, the Teardrop Explodes came into existence. The initial lineup of the group included Cope on bass, drummer Gary Dwyer, Dave Simpson on keyboards and Mick Finkler on guitar. Simpson would soon be replaced by Zoo Records founder Dave Balfe, and Finkler was exchanged for Alan Gill.

The Teardrops quickly became popular because of their ability to fuse post-punk and disco rhythms with swirling pyschadelia. And like Echo and the Bunnymen, the influence of the Doors is quite noticeable. But what really set the band apart was their employment of a horn section. Like fellow Scoucers the Pale Fountains, they were huge admirers of Love’s use of Herb Alpert-style trumpets on 1967’s “Forever Changes.” This wild combination of sounds and styles was successfully blended into their debut album, “Kilimanjaro” which was released in 1980. (Interestingly enough, “Kilimanjaro” features a wild version of a song called “Books,” a joint composition with Ian McCulloch. This song is also featured on Echo and the Bunnymen’s first album, “Crocodiles.” Download both and decide which one you like better).

"Reward" (A single that was added to reissue versions of Kilimanjaro):

"Sleeping Gas" (Very rare video featuring live footage and shots of the band on tour in the USA. Embedding disabled by the fine people at Universal Music Group. Ugh....)

"Ha Ha, I’m Drowning" (Live on UK TV):

"Treason (It’s Just A Story)":

The group’s second album, “Wilder,” is a bit of a grower. While it does contain some of the horn driven bombast of “Kilimanjaro,” it also features more quiet and introspective songs and even a few synth driven numbers. It was a strong second album, but it failed to recapture the spark that made their debut so exciting. The hooks are not as strong and “Wilder” ultimately bewildered much of the group’s audience. Behind the scenes, the group was falling apart. In addition to several lineup shuffles, creative tensions were at an all time high. When the group reconvened to record a third album, Balfe and Cope argued incessantly about the direction of the group. Despite recording nearly an album’s worth of material, the sessions were abruptly terminated and the band was dissolved. These songs were eventually released as “Everyone Wants to Shag the Teardrop Explodes.”

"Seven Views of Jerusalem"(Live on the Old Grey Whistle Test):

"The Culture Bunker" (Live on the Old Grey Whistle Test):

Julian Cope soon went on to have a successful career as a musician and as a writer on music, the occult and ancient British history. Dave Balfe went on to start Food records, which was the home of Blur for most of the 1990s. Other members of the group would also continue make music well into the 80s. Despite a series of reissues and compilations, the Teardrops have yet to receive the kinds of accolades that Echo and the Bunnymen have received.

It should also be noted that there is a long standing feud between Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch. While they were friends and bandmates in the late 70s, their relationship soon became one of acrimony. In fact, the feud continues to this very day. In a recent Spin Magazine cover retrospective on Echo and the Bunnymen, McCulloch stated “There’s a certain group and a certain person I don’t want to talk about. He’s a thief and I always hated his group anyway. I thought they were rubbish. The initials of the group are T.E.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bands to Watch in 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart:
New York band puts a new twist on the buzzy British guitar pop of the 80s. This is the video for “Everything With You.” Kinda reminds me of the Wedding Present’s “You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends.” Speaking of the Weddoes, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will be opening for them in the UK. They’ll be playing at the Black Cat in February.

Like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, I first read about Zarif in the Guardian. It seems as though the UK is chock full of soulful young ladies. Think of her as a less abraisive version of Lily Allen (And that’s not a knock on Lily. I adored her first album and had the pleasure of seeing her perform before she got freaked out by the boredom of touring).

Ida Maria:
I kept seeing Ida Maria's name pop up in Brooklyn Vegan and on other blogs. Apparently she's a very hit or miss performer. When she's on, she's intense and commands your attention. When she's off, apparently she's a bit of a trainwreck. If she manages to hit Washington DC in the near future, I'll make sure to be there so that I can make a proper assessment. Until then, this video for "Oh My God" will have to do.

The Spiritual Machine:
A DC trio who really seem to enjoy throwing darts at the concept of hipsterdom. They successfully manage to mix the braggadocio of funk with the buzzing guitars and heady lyrics of the Fall. They're a fantastic live act and they will crash your after party and totally drink all your drinks.

The Spiritual Machine - The Scene/That Wasn't Me from Jason Mogavero on Vimeo.

And as a bonus:

The Spiritual Machine, Ra Ra Rasputin and Friends - Crosseyed and Painless (live at DC9) from Jason Mogavero on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gallows Destroy Pub. Punk Rawk Idiocy Is Alive and Well.

Gallows, a hardcore punk band from Watford, Hertfordshire, have been getting quite a bit of attention in NME for a recent gig at a pub London’s Old Blue Pub. Singer Frank Carter was instrumental in leading the crowd to tear the place apart, destroying several chandeliers and a few antique chairs. Having been out of the hardcore/punk loop for many years now, I was a little bit surprised to see such wanton acts of old-school violence getting so much attention from NME.

For a number of reasons, violence has always been tied to the punk rock myth. In the UK during the mid to late 70s, punks rioted and spit to express their frustration with a faltering economy and a broken society. In the United States, much of the violence could be attributed to suburban boredom, as many of the influential hardcore groups came from the suburbs of Washington DC, New York and LA. While I do enjoy going to shows and seeing people dance, and maybe shake each other a bit. But seriously, I am bored by punk violence. There is nothing entertaining about seeing someone getting punched in the face while they’re trying to enjoy a show.

Furthermore, violence at shows is pointless because it can lead to the closure of venues. Thanks to Gallows, it may be possible that no other band may be allowed to play at the Old Blue Pub. That’s fine for them, considering that they’ve got a million dollar deal with Warner Brothers. But for all the little bands that may not have a million places to play this is another hurdle. I remember hearing about VFW halls in New York and New Jersey that refused to have punk or hardcore shows after kids did stupid things like shitting in a cup and leaving it for some old vet to find. It’s sabotage, and it’s stupid.

Gallows' "Staring at the Rude Bois (Ft. Lethal Bizzle)"

BONUS: Footage from the infamous North London Poly Riot, where fans destroyed an entire Student Hall during a performance by the Jesus & Mary Chain.