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That's All, Folks!

Wednesday, Nov. 21st, 2012 | 05:13 pm

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That's all, or at least that's all for here.  Blog postings are being moved over to Water Dissolves Music, a new site with (hopefully) fewer problems.

It's been fun.  See you over on the other side.

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Rocktober: Damien Jurado and Sharon Van Etten at Terminal West, Atlanta

Sunday, Oct. 28th, 2012 | 03:36 pm

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On Saturday night, Rocktober provided the dream match-up of Brooklyn's Sharon Van Etten and Seattle's Damien Jurado, singer-sogwriters and folk musicians from opposite coasts, at Atlanta' Terminal West.  

I had spent a couple hours writing a very detailed and heartfelt review of both sets, including some observations of the artisitc trajectories of both performers' careers over the years that I've seen them, but for some reason the LiveJournal user interface deleted all of my words except the sole sentence above as I was editing the text.  Where the hell did all my words just go?  (You can tell I've had a lot of problems with their interface in the past by the numerous typos that have appeared in previous posts.)  Since I have neither the time, energy, nor desire to try to recreate what I had previously written, I have only the following pictures with which to leave you while I look for a new host for this music blog, plus a short statement to say that it was a wonderful evening that fully lived up to its potential.

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Sharon Van Etten

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Rocktober: Hundred Waters at 529

Saturday, Oct. 27th, 2012 | 02:09 pm

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The third Rocktober night in a row at The 529.  The third night in a row of not getting home until well past 1 am.  The third night in a row of hearing interesting and rewarding, sometimes incredible, music.  

The headliner this time around was Gainesville's Hundred Waters.  But first there were the opening acts, starting with Atlanta's electronic duo, Qurious.  

Qurious at the Earl, April 29, 2011
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We previously saw Qurious at The Earl back on April 29, 2011, when they opened for Adron.  The comparisons to Animal Collective were apparent back then and could still be heard last night, although they eventually departed from the AC template to explore musical terrain more of their own creation.  Their songs typically consist of treated vocals played over washes of electronic sound with both digital and analog percussion.  They kept their keyboards and stage lights covered with fabric, so that their instruments appeared like some sort of large, internally illuminated organisms, not at all unlike the glowing crystals that Animal Collective had on stage during their short Summer 2011 tour.  To heighten the effect, the club kept the lights way down low, basically leaving the small audience in the dark.  As a result, I have no pictures of their set and have to resort to the recycled picture above from 18 months ago.
Qurious were followed by Atlanta's Dark Room, who we previously saw at The Drunken Unicorn back on March 20, 2102, when he opened for Polica.  The lights weren't any brighter for Dark Room's set than for Qurious, so once again, I have to resort to recycling pictures.
Dark Room at Drunken Unicorn, March 20, 2012
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Dark Room's music is closer to hip-hop or dubstep than the space rock of Qurious, with fat, thumping bass lines and various samples looped over the glitchy, broken beats.  The songs don't have an identifiable structure and Dark Room seems more interested in the texture of his music than the composition, so it seems odd when a vocalist takes to the stage to sing along on a song or two.  The audience at The 529 was quite small at this point, and for most of the set consisted of the couple from Qurious, another couple who were obviously friends of Dark Room's and were recording the set, his singer, and myself.  I point  this out not in any pejorative sense but as a comment on the courage and determination of Atlanta's independent musicians to create their own music even when the rewards of fame and profit might seem very remote indeed.

Although headliners Hundred Waters include three electronic keyboards in their lineup, their music isn't as overtly electronic as the two openers.  Their music might be described as avant-folk or orchestral pop along the lines of Julia Holter (with whom they've toured), although they've toured with EDM acts like Skrillex and are signed to his OWSLA label.  

In any event, the band lined up on the 529 stage with three keyboard stations at the fore - to the left were singer Nicole Miglis and backup singer/percussionist Samantha Moss and to the right were multi-instrumentalists Paul Giese and Trayer Tryon. Drummer Zach Tetreault took the back of the stage.  The house lights came on, just barely, and the band began their hard-to-classify mixture of slightly jazz-tinged folktronica, baroque melodies, synthesized flourishes, and nearly math-rocky tempos.  Ms. Miglis occasionally played flute, apparently unaltered or treated by all of the electronic equipment on the stage, and each band member individually contributed something identifiable to the sound at one time or another. 

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The audience was only slightly larger for Hundred Waters than it was for Dark Room - I think I counted about 15 people at one point late in their late-night (12:30 am) set.  However, the audience was quite enthusiastic, and singer Nicole Miglis even commented in an approving way on the intimacy of the small venue. They played an interesting set of their enchanting and complex music until almost 1:30 am.

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There are only a few more evenings left to Rocktober and I'll keep pushing on.  I'm not sure how many more evenings my body can take these 1:30 closing times and still maintain even a semblance of a work day, but the rewards are well worth the effort.  I've never heard of anyone on their deathbed complain that they've heard too much live music.

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Rocktober: Poor Moon (Lesson 2, Part 2 - Live at 529)

Friday, Oct. 26th, 2012 | 07:45 pm

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As previously stated, one of the objectives of Rocktober is to learn the difference between the bands Moon Duo, Soft Moon, and Poor Moon.  We haven't heard Soft Moon yet, but based on the Rocktober performances by Moon Duo and Poor Moon, there should be no mistaking these two bands from one another.

But before we get to that, and speaking of "and now for something completely different," the opening band last night at Atlanta's 529 was L.A.'s Eyes Lips Eyes.  I have to be honest here - at the beginning of their set, I found myself for some reason trying real hard not to like them.  Maybe it was singer Tony Hello's Roger-Daltry-meets-Robert-Plant (with traces of mid-60s Donovan) long, curly hair or maybe it was his pink, tucked-in, Tom Jones tuxedo shirt, maybe it was their L.A. origins, but something dug deep down inside of me and resolved not to like these guys.

So as you've probably guessed by now, by the end of their set I was jumping up and down and cheering them on?

They play a kind of dance-oriented, guitar-driven, pop-rock that sounds straight out of the 80s, but they play it with such exuberance and gusto that it sounds fresh again.  Plus Tony Hello's a madman, jumping up and down on stage, banging on a garbage can lid, and dancing in the audience, that it's hard not to want to play like a kid again with him.  

How can I describe their music?  What is it you'd want to hear when you're, say, in a convertible driving southbound on US 19 somewhere between Thomaston and Americus, Georgia, top down, pants off, resolved that you're not going to let the speedometer drop below 80 mph no matter what?  What do you want to hear when you're snorting a line off the ass of a $500-an-hour Beyonce Knowles lookalike while an outlaw biker gang is knocking down the door?  What do want to hear when the ripcord on your parachute just failed but you somehow landed on top of one of those giant eagles that carried Frodo and Sam out of Mordor and is now taking you off to the Land of the Midnight Sun?  That's the kind of music Eyes Lips Eyes plays.

Eyes Lips Eyes's music couldn't be further from the orchestral, Southern Gothic, slightly jazzy swing of Atlanta's Little Tybee.  Perhaps they were energized by the performance right before theirs, or maybe I was more receptive than before after getting all revved up with Eyes Lips Eyes, but for whatever reason, while they played in their own inimitable fashion and sounded nothing at all like their on-stage predecessors, last night Little Tybee played one of the most enjoyable sets I've heard from them yet. Mention was made of a new album coming out soon and many of last night's songs were from the forthcoming album, so maybe they're more in touch with their muse than usual, but for whatever reason, whether it was them or me, I really enjoyed their set.


All of the preceding was more than enough for a pleasant setup for the headliners, Seattle's Poor Moon.  Not that a good setup was necessary to enjoy this fine band.  A side project of members of Fleet Foxes, the band employs the same pleasing harmonies and classic song structures.  The band, led by Christain Wargo and Casey Wescott of the Foxes, is officially a quartet, although they had six persons on stage last night, including two multi-instrumentalist on vibes, guitar, percussion, etc.

Their feel-good music is hard to resist, but a special bond seemed to emerge, and was mutually recognized, between performers and the audience last night.  At the end of their set, following a lovely, near a capella rendition of Birds, the audience literally wouldn't let the band off the stage. The 529 doesn't have a "backstage," and the only way off for a band is to walk out into the audience, but they formed a solid wall roaring their approval and admiration, until the band provided a three-song encore.

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Fun trivia fact: Poor Moon is named for a Canned Heat song.  Another Fleet Fox, Father John Misty, aka J Tillman (who plays on the Poor Moon album), ended his encore last week with a cover of Canned Heat's On The Road Again

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TEEN, Hospitality at 529; Generationals at The Earl

Thursday, Oct. 25th, 2012 | 07:10 pm

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Well, amazingly, it more-or-less worked, and not surprisingly, not quite in the way I expected:  I was able to attend simulataneous shows at The Earl and at 529 and still catch much, but not all, of all six performers at the two venues.

(It's also somewhat surprising that I've goten to the 25th day of Rocktober and only been to The Earl once before last evening during the month.)

Anyhow, the headliner at 529 was Hospitality (above) and the headliner at The Eral was Generationals.  I got to both clubs relatively early, paid my admissions ($10 at each), nad let the doormen knew what I was attempting.  They were both sympathetic to my cause as it turned out.

Music starts earlier (and ends earlier) at The Earl than at 529, and at about 9:15, the first band of the evening, Orange County's J. Thoven, took The Earl stage before a very small crowd.  I had not heard them or heard of them before, and as it turns out, I liked them quite a bit.  A three-guitar quintet, they have a sort of indie folk-rock sound, not at all unlike fellow Californians Milo Greene, and like that other band, there is apparently no "J. Thoven" in the band.  They had a fun, pleasant sound, and I even wound up buying their EP, City Maze, for my future listening pleasure.

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A second band took the stage at The Earl before the first band at 529 began.  Maus Haus was another mystery to me as well, another band I had neither heard nor heard of.  It turns out that they are a psych-rock quartet from San Francisco.  They played an energetic set of their hard-to-classify music, and while I liked them, after about 5 or 6 songs into their set, I wandered back to the 529 around 10:15 pm to hear the opening act there.

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Probably owing to the later hour if nothing else, the audience was a little larger at 529 than at The Earl for their opener, Atlanta's The Joseph War.  Leading a small combo, guitarist/singer/harmonica-player Joseph War was already on stage and well into his set by the time I got there.  I had time to hear him finish the song he was playing and to perform his last set-closing number and that's about it, so I don't really feel qualified to say too much, other than I liked what I heard, which appeared to be heartfelt, slightly anthemic folk rock songs (although I may be totally wrong).  He humbly announced that he believed warm-up bands shouldn't overstay their welcome on stage and that he was therefore making his set deliberately short, and that was pretty much that.  I hope to get a chance to hear him play some more someday.

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Maus Haus were still playing by the time I got back to The Earl, and I was able to hear about two or three more of their songs before they warpped up their set.  I stuck my head back into 529 during the break, and although TEEN, then next band at that club, were sound-checking, they hadn't stated their set as of about 11:00 pm.  Returning to The Earl, I got in just in time to see New Orleans' Generationals take the stage.

Generationals have a clean, driving style of pop rock which they play to perfection.  The band consists primarily of two singer/guitarists, Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner, and on stage they were backed by drums and bass.  Their stage set included some sort of illuminated magic eye and a few lit-up triangles, which were effective in transforming the usually dark appearance of The Earl stage into something quite different.  

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Generationals sounded great, but after about a half-dozen songs I got curious about TEEN and The 529, so I left and headed back there (for like the fourth time now).  Teenie Lieberson, formerly of Here We Go Magic, was on stage leading her all-female band, TEEN, through their set of ambitious and exploratory rock music.  At times sounding a little psychedelic, at others more pensive, the band played a very satisfying set of hard-to-classify music.  They lean toward the synth-rock side of things, with one Moog player in addition to Ms. Lieberson switching back and forth between electric guitar and keyboards.

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I didn't hear nearly as much as I would have liked before they wrapped up their well-received set.  I got back to The Earl was saw the end of Generationals, including a three-song encore that culminated in my favorite song of theirs, Trust, which put a big smile on my face.   Grinning, I went back, for the final time, to The 529 just as Amber Papini of Hospitality announced on stage, "Let's do this."

I don't exactly know why I love her music as much as I do, but I'm a big fan of Hospitality.  Maybe it's Papini's sweet and vulnerable voice, maybe it's the great hooks she works into all the songs, maybe it's the overall quality of the songwriting, but whatever it is, it all works for me.  Further, after running through some of the highlights from their first album, she announced that they were going to perform a few new songs, usually the part of the set where the performer risks losing the audience's attention, but every one of the new songs she played sounded polished and fully realized, and felt every bit as enjoyable as the familiar songs from the band's lone album.  She has a real talent for songwriting, crafting little pop gems that are just plain fun to listed to.

This is the seconf time I've seen Hospitality, the previous time just around the block at The Basement, and Amber APpini seems to be growing more confident as an on-stage bandleader.  Although she was always the frontperson, she seems now to almost be the band, really just relying on the rest of her quartet for backup.  If she continues on this trajectory and with her great songwriting abilities, Hospitality really should be a great band to follow into the future.

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The Solution

Wednesday, Oct. 24th, 2012 | 05:40 pm

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Since way back in August, I felt conflicted about this evening: should I go to 529 and see TEEN and Hospitality, or should I go to The Earl and see Generationals?  I finally resolved to do both, imaging that I can walk between the two close clubs and catch most, if not all, of the sets by all three bands.

Now, the promoter for both shows, Atlanta's OK Productions, has finally made it official, and announced via Facebook and Twitter that the sets will be staggered at both clubs so that one can see everything (and so they can sell more tickets). 

Everyone wins!

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Poor Moon (Lesson 2, Part 1)

Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, 2012 | 05:50 pm


One of the goals of Rocktober was to learn the difference between the bands Poor Moon, Soft Moon, and Moon Duo.  We met (well, we heard) Moon Duo at 529 earlier this month, and unfortunately may remember them not so much for their great performance, but for the fist fight that broke out between a slam-dancing girl and some drunk bro.

Here's a video (above) by Poor Moon, who are apparently a Fleet Foxes side project and, unlike Father John Misty, sound like it.  Even before seeing Poor Moon at 529 on October 25, I can tell there will be no confusing them with Moon Duo.

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Octrocktober 2012

Monday, Oct. 22nd, 2012 | 01:52 pm


The nice folks over at Sub Pop Records have put together this little sampler for the CMJ festival in New York, cleverly titled Octrocktober 2012.

Update (10/26/12):  Well, that didn't last long.  Let's try this and see if it works better.



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Sunday, Oct. 21st, 2012 | 06:54 pm

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Lost Lander (or, "Dude, I Was There!")

Saturday, Oct. 20th, 2012 | 06:42 pm


The Portland band Lost Lander at the Doug Fir Lounge during MFNW on September 7, 2012. Based on the camera angles, it appears that the videographer was standing right next to me.

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