Sunday, November 27, 2005

Boulevard Broke the Dream


Muse meets the Killers meets Modest Mouse with a smidge of The Cure thrown into the mix. It took me a few songs to put my finger on the exact influence I heard in Boulevard's music, but I managed it. The five-piece band from Athens opened up the show last night at Smith's Olde Bar for James Hall, who I didn't even bother to stay for since I was so satisfied with hearing Boulevard and then leaving when the Julia Dream came on.

It's no secret that I like a band with some stage presence, so I wasn't disappointed in the least when the curtains opened in sync with the first taps of the drumsticks and Boulevard came out with their pretty eyeliner donned faces and upbeat sound. They utilize a keyboard on all of their songs, which is beautifully present throughout. Even better is that the keyboard player, Stephen James, somehow managed to work the entire stage (and room for that matter) from his little corner with many twirling dance moves and animated facial expressions. About halfway through the set, front man Benji Barton shed his guitar and grabbed the mic to concentrate on belting out the tunes for the rest of the show. This was a great move considering his mastery of the pelvic thrust, booty shake, and "do me" look to make the ladies swoon.

By the end of the night, thanks to my cohort Greg, I had a copy of their record Vice & Daring in my hands, and we listened to it in the car while in route to the next bar, making sure to repeat my favorite track, Marie, over and over. Its super catchy tune and lyrics you can sing along to make it stand out from the rest, and you could tell the band was having a feel good time while playing it. Boulevard will be having a CD release show at the Drunken Unicorn on December 9th, and I highly suggest you get your ass in gear and make it out, then be sure to purchase the album.

Download the Marie mp3 here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hot Hot Heat on a Cold Cold Night.

Hot Hot Heat

It's pretty much freezing outside. It seems that winter is finally upon us...until it freakishly turns 75 next week, as it usually does here in Atlanta. Tonight was the Budweiser One Night Stand with Hot Hot Heat at the Coca-Cola Roxy. Supposedly you had to win tickets from 99X to get in, as in, they could not be bought by the general public. My friend Jay had an extra, so I went along for the ride.

There were two opening bands, but we only went in for Hot Hot Heat. I am fond of this band that hails from Canada, so I was excited to finally see them live for the first time. The lights throughout the show were quite impressive. Sometimes it's all about the visual. The last time I visited the Roxy was back in May to see Better Than Ezra, which was amazing. The show I saw tonight was somewhat mediocre. The venue is a good size, and the sound there is always good, so those two factors weighed in nicely. There was also a good bit of space to grind up on your redneck boyfriend if you happened to be the trashy chick who was standing in front of me, so that's always desirable to have when you're viewing a group that gets so much play on the radio.

I have to say that I wasn't completely impressed with the lack of energy exhibited by lead man Steve Bays. Sure, he walked around and tried to work the crowd, but the swagger most seasoned front men possess wasn't present until the very last song, which appropriately happened to be Goodnight Goodnight. I will give him credit for his style, though, since for some reason I couldn't help being envious of his pants. He also does this great thing with his tongue while he sings that kind of reminds me of a lizard.

When they played Island of the Honest Man there was a lot more energy than in some of the other songs. It seemed to me that the whole band just really felt more on a couple of songs than all of them, which I personally think should be shown throughout the entire show. Even when they performed the newest hit heard on the radio, Middle of Nowhere, it appeared that they were just going through the motions. This could be because they've been touring for a while (almost an entire month straight), and the luster of performing has worn off, so this is something I hope they try to perfect before they come back to Atlanta.

The stage show was well displayed, with backdrop art from the new album Elevator that dropped a couple of times during the show. The band gave a shout out to Butch Walker, who was in attendance, before playing a song described as the only "bitter break-up song" of the night, a phrase I have heard Butch toss around before. At the end, red and white confetti shot out from the stage close to where we were standing, and I must say that this gesture made me smile. It was fun, I just hate it for whoever has to clean that up now.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Kill and the Radio Star.

Kill Gordon and Sovus Radio

Last night was another one of those nights that I get excited about because two of my favorite local bands played together at 10 High. The fact that I can walk there made it that much better, and allowed for an extra PBR or four.

First up for the night was The Poles from Asheville, NC. I have heard wonderful things about this band, but honestly, it's just not my style of music. I quietly sat back and listened to their set while waiting for Kill Gordon to go on, but I couldn't get into it. The feelings of those around me were mixed, some liked them, some didn't. When they finished up, Kill Gordon took the stage.

KG went right into it opening with In the Know, which immediately set the rock mood for those of us up front and center. There was definitely a lot of dancing and hair slinging from the crowd throughout the set. The band demanded attention with Pop Song, which is one of my favorites from Kill Gordon, by belting out "you're alright for a white girl." Lead man Kyle Gordon has a firm stage presence and rockstar quality that is to be admired by anyone who gets up in front of a group of people. On the last song, staying true to their form, Kyle began flailing around the stage with his guitar, which was missing a couple of strings from the first song, only to fall over the pedastal set up for the drums and squirm around on the floor like a fish out of water before getting up and throwing his guitar down. Cyrus, the bassist, followed Kyle's example next by chucking his guitar and knocking over one of the cymbals. Needless to say, it was definitely an ending that the crowd went wild over.

Sovus Radio accepting the 2005 Open Mic Madness Award from Josh Rifkind in October.

Finally Sovus Radio set up and took over for the rest of the evening. Surprisingly, the crowd was still pretty packed at this late hour, which is usually not the case. They have definitely built a much larger fan base since I first saw them in the spring, and it's easy to see why. Decked out in thrift store threads and silk scarves that any wearer of plaid pants would envy, they played with their psychedelic style to pleased onlookers. Everytime I hear Sovus Radio, whether it be live or on their stellar demo, I feel like I should either be lying in bed writing a masterpiece of a novel, or sitting in a room of red lights and smoking massive amounts of dank. The sound is definitely trippy in the best way possible. These guys have their own style, and it works so well that people keep coming back for more, and this is why I love them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

You Can't Blame them for Being So Good.

Blame Game

Today I walked up to Criminal Records in anticipation of hearing Blame Game, a band I have read much buzz about in publications such as Southern Performer and Creative Loafing. They were voted as Best Overall Musical Act in Atlanta in the Creative Loafing this year, so that was one reason I wanted to check them out. Another reason being that I work with the mother of one of the guitarists, George Asimakos.

The In Store performances at Criminal Records are normally set up outside in the summertime, but during the fall they get moved inside to the back of the store, where the space is cramped, however, the sound is quite good given the situation. After meeting up with a couple of people from the office, we settled into a nook by the front counter of the store and got a face-rocking 35 minute set.

The only way I can describe this style of music is "glorified jam session." This is the kind of music I would throw into the CD player and put on repeat while having party guests over, considering the majority of the album is instrumental. There were hardly any vocals during the entire set. In fact, the whole thing was comparable to one very long song. I say this because the band never stopped playing in between songs. They segued into each track without any pausing whatsoever. The talent is more than evident in these four guys. There were a couple of instances where the drummer put down his sticks and picked up a saxophone for a couple of bars, adding to the jazz-like feel of the sound. As I was listening, I picked up possible influences of Jimi Hendrix, but in a much more updated sense, far from that of Lenny Kravitz.

Blame Game has a tendency to move through their list by layering each instrument to where the listener can pick up every one of them and appreciate what each member is extracting. It's similar to being on a musical roller coaster. One second you are slowly moving along with long and drawn out notes, and the next you are whirling forward at lightning fast speed on quick, clean beats. It's absolutely uncanny how these guys display the obvious talent they have.

Criminal Records only had one copy left of their recent release Honey and Salt from StickFigure that came out in June. I suggest taking a listen to these guys if you like music, because this, my friends, is indie music at it's finest.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Deep Inside the Concourse...


Tonight I realized that it is painful as hell to wear heels and walk to a venue where you plan to stand for three hours. I'll tell you what wasn't painful, though, and that was the Snowden performance I got to see at the end of a long walk to the Drunken Unicorn.

I've really been digging the new tunes they have posted on their MySpace site, and I've heard them a couple of times at the past couple of shows, but after spending my day catching up on them, I was very ready to hear them performed again.

Tonight was a different kind of show in so many good ways. The smoky and dark room of the Drunken Unicorn was almost bare before Snowden went on, but by the time they took the stage, it was hard to find a good spot to view from. There was definitely an anxious crowd as they all settled into their normal positions, and the veterans in the room were surprised to find an added body to the foursome. That added body was Kyle Dreaden of Jil Station, who has been rehearsing with Snowden on the side.

People are normally skeptical of a change in the show they're used to seeing, but personally, I think it's a keen move on the band's part to explore other ways of presenting music, and from asking around, everyone agreed with me. Kyle was there to give added support to Jordan Jeffares on the keyboards and on the majority of the vocals, and judging from the reaction of the audience, it was a good move. Fresh off a mini tour through Philidelphia and New York, I think this was the best performance I have seen from Snowden, granted I've only seen them about four times total. The sound was perfectly on target, making it easy to pump the energy from the drunk group dancing (we'll just call it dancing) up close toward the front of the stage. I saw this group as I entered the venue, and they weren't even aware there were bands playing tonight, so I know by the end of the night, Snowden had at least six new fans, though from the murmur, I found out that the number is higher than that.

The vigor of the band was enhanced by the combination of Jordan's mad guitar shredding and Kyle's slick dance moves. It's plain to see how this collaboration came about. During my new personal favorite, Anti Anti, there was a ton of movement around me as well as on stage. I'm sure it had something to do with the change up in tempo that's thrown into the song so beautifully. I'm certainly hoping that I get to see this magnificent alliance happen again, since I walked away with a smile on my face at what I was able to view and listen to for about forty minutes tonight.

Download Black Eyes mp3 here.
Download Good News mp3 here.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

IMO, not Emo.

Repeat is by far the best feature on any kind of music playing device. I get to listen to something all the way through, and just when I'm sad that it's over, it starts again! I use to peruse local bands and listen to samples of their music. I tend to just stick to my local area and my favorite national acts simply because I don't want to get addicted to something I will never get to experience in person.

So, I wanted to highlight a couple of songs I have discovered through MySpace that I just cannot live without. Some of them you can actually download for free. I like free. Here they are:

  • Snowden has a song up right now that I have seen them perform a couple of times, and I'm having a hard time leaving their page because at the moment the song Anti Anti is streaming and I think its brilliant. The changes in the beats of their songs grab me and make me want to move around and jiggle my butt, which, if you know me you would know is an extremely hard thing to do. Go here to listen.
  • Kill Gordon's Pop Song is another one I immensely enjoy. They mixed this with Jordan Jeffares of Snowden, and it sounds so good. It's a very feel good song and just sticks you in a super mood. I can't wait to get my hands on the CD.
  • Sovus Radio's Darling Be My Guest makes me feel trippy in a good way. This song is perfect for some downtime. Ty Thompson's raspy, yet smooth voice has a way of settling me. The background vocals make me feel like I'm in a field of tall grass wearing some kind of hippie looking dress and a big hat. This is definitely one for anybody who appreciates a retro sound. Their MySpace page.
  • As much as I'm not into the super edgy rock sounds, Steadlur has this song that I just love. It starts out with a cowbell, which immediately brings me there. I listen to Guilty As Sin and I think I should be punked out running up and down North Avenue flicking people off.
  • Still Holding On is the song that first attracted me to Rantings of Eva. I have been to a couple of their shows and it's always a good time. I know they're working on a LP right now, which makes me happy, because that means I'll have more of their songs I can listen to. This is some mellowish-rockish stuff. Their MySpace profile.
  • A more punky sounding song I like comes from The Futurists' Last Stand. It's got a catchy chorus and somewhat reminds me of an updated beachy/surf rock song. Their MySpace profile.
  • Here's my exception to the local bands. Jared Scharff calls NYC his home, and I have had the luck to see him play Arlene's Grocery up there. He has four songs up on his MySpace profile that I love listening to either when home or riding around in the car. Stereo is the song that attracted me to him in the first place. At one point you can hear clapping in the background, and I really like it. A lot. The song makes me want to throw my hands in the air and sing at the top of my lungs. My other favorite is Confrontational and I think it's the lyrics and the chorus on this one that gets to me. Raw rock at its finest.
This list is just what I can come up with off the top of my head. It would behoove you to at least check them out. It's only my opinion, but I have been told I have good taste, which, of course, is a compliment I will run with.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What To Do? Where To Go?

I've noticed an overabundance of some good local music this weekend that kind of makes me want to clone myself so that I can attend more than one show at a time.

  • November 10th: Tonight is the LiveX 10 CD release at the Loft. I'm still contemplating this outing. Morningwood will be there. I hate Morningwood. It starts at 7:00 and it's free.
  • November 11th:
    • At the Loft, you have Heavy Mojo performing alongside Family Force 5. I like Heavy Mojo. I purchased their CD It Is What It Is a few months ago, and I really enjoy it to get into a party mood. They pull out a fantastically energetic show as well if you want to check out something like that. Tickets are $5 and the time to be there is 8:30.
    • At 10 High, the Gates of Berlin are apparently going to "rock your panties off" at around 10:00. Guys, get in line for this one. I'd go later, though because Helios is also playing and I have seen them a couple of times and well, I would just go later. There's no price listed anywhere. It'll probably be around $7.
  • November 12th:
    • I will be in attendance at the Drunken Unicorn to see Snowden, Tora Tora Tora, and Sleep Therapy. Of course I have made known that I am a fan of Snowden, but I have also had the pleasure of witnessing Tora Tora Tora and am thrilled to see them again. Show is at 9:00 and you really need to be there.
    • The Tender Idols, Variac, and the Modern Society are going to be at Smith's. If I wasn't so anxious to be at the Unicorn, this is where I would be. This one is listed at 8:00.
    • Another anxiously awaited show is LCD Soundsystem, who will be at Earthlink Live.
    • Super Furry Animals will be at the Loft. If their performance is anything like their website, I'd be interested to see it. I'm kinda drunk right now, and it's not helping me any.
  • November 17th:
    • Mae will be at the Masquerade. I saw them at Warped Tour and this band kicks ass live. It's $12 to get in and you can catch them in Heaven. How appropriate.
  • November 18th:
    • Big show at the 10 High tonight! Sovus Radio and Kill Gordon will be playing side by side again. Don't miss this one. It's a Friday, so you have no excuse. Unless you happen to be...
    • the Earl for the Selmanaires, who are having their 7" release that night. It's $5 and the doors open at 9:00.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sex A La "Mode"

Depeche Mode

Sex. The one thing that I was thinking of the entire time I was watching the forty-something Dave Gahan gyrate his hips in an Elvis-like gesture on Saturday night. Sure, the company I was with may have contributed to this thought, but Depeche Mode’s trophy lead man didn’t hurt those feelings whatsoever. I was highly impressed with how good he looks “for his age.” He must be pretty confident with himself considering the fact that he was strutting around in some fitting black pants and was shirtless by the last few songs.

Despite the fact that I felt quite young at this show (a nice change from most of the shows I have gone to recently), I had a stellar time, and this is saying much regarding the slight detail that I had to drive to Gwinnett and sit in a large arena to experience the whole thing. The Bravery opened up to a sparse crowd, which is really a shame. They put on an excellent performance to those of us who were actually paying attention. They sounded great covering their hit An Honest Mistake and the new single Unconditional. I could’ve done without the spastic jumping up and down of the lead singer, but overall, it was a pretty energetic showing of what this band can do.

Shortly after that, Depeche Mode came out. By this time, the arena was packed, except for the seats that were higher up towards the suites, which were also oddly meager in warm bodies. I was distracted a little bit by the man in the row in front of us, who was roughly my father’s age, holding his hands up to the sky and swaying back and forth in some sort of dance to slow songs and then pumping his pelvic region with no rhythm at all during the faster songs, but I chalked it up to the beauty of “the Mode” (as Kyle would say, and did, many times). They managed to play all of my favorites, including Personal Jesus (which incidentally is the most fun to watch when you’re standing beside two young men who cover this song in their band and obviously care for this particular song more than the rest), Policy of Truth, Just Can’t Get Enough, and Enjoy the Silence. Mostly they played songs from the new album Playing the Angel. The stage looked incredible as well. The keyboards were housed in these big, silver, space bubble-looking contraptions that had dots of lights on them that changed colors with each song. My favorite was the pink and purple lights.

All in all, it was a tremendous show. I got out of there early enough to catch Sovus Radio at Lenny’s, too. That was it’s own show in itself. Maybe later I will write about that, but right now, I must be off to the free happy hour. Stay classy, San Diego.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Acting as the Clientele's Clientele

If you didn’t heed my advice and attend the Clientele's show at the Earl last night, then you should be kicking yourself in the ass right now. I have been adamant about the magnificent content of their new album, Strange Geometry, for the past month now, so to get the chance to see them here in Atlanta was a remarkable luxury.

I wasn’t able to catch the first act, but I was able to catch Annie Hayden open up for the British trio with a set that was, as she described it, “quiet.” I was able to carry on a conversation through the entire set, but it wasn’t a bad thing. Her music was very chill and satisfying. I think it would’ve been more appropriate if I had been sitting down at a candlelit table gazing longingly into the eyes of someone of the opposite sex over a glass of wine, but slightly swaying in the smoky air of the Earl with a lager had to suffice, and it did. By the end of this lovely display of indie/acoustic sound, I was partially wishing I was at home crawling into a bed of sateen sheets in some oversized and super comfy pajamas, but in a good way.

After about a 45 minute pause between the bands, Alasdair MacLean came out onto the small stage and picked up an acoustic guitar to start off the recital with an older song from the catalog. He jumped right into it without much warning, and I was amazed to see the crowd (which wasn’t near as substantial as it should’ve been) inch forward effortlessly and cease all chattering completely to witness this threesome’s example of music. Alasdair switched up his guitar before the next song to the most stunning specimen I think I have ever seen up close and played Since K Got Over Me, which the audience was highly receptive to, since it’s the first single from the album. Over the course of the set, I found myself staring impolitely at the guitar, truly and utterly flabbergasted at the noise that was emitting from it. I haven’t ever heard anyone make riffs like that before. As clean as they were, they sounded quite edgy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

They played about three or four other songs off the new album, like E.M.P.T.Y. and I Can’t Seem to Make You Mine, before closing up with an invitation from Alasdair to “couple up for the boy/girl dance” and a slow tune to follow. I think the highlights of the evening rested on the wit exemplified by MacLean, which I was unaware could be displayed so well by a Brit (except maybe for Hugh Grant), and the sheer fact that if I had sat in the back of the room with my eyes closed, I would’ve thought that someone was playing a mixed CD of songs by the Clientele because they were so dead on, something I am wholly fond of.