Lasts all week long.
Gregg Turner Plays The Hits – Winning Coffee (Albuquerque, NM) – Thursday, September 13, 2012
The dismal coffeehouse lighting, the sparse crowd, and the restrained, somewhat unrehearsed energy of this former Angry Samoan made Turner’s important message easier to overlook, while amplifying it for those who chose to pay attention. Something about the terrifying ethereality of rock ‘n’ roll, or the way rock ‘n’ roll is always dying, or the hilarious morbidity of those old innocent teenage love songs: These might have been among Turner’s themes. Among the “hits” on his setlist were covers (“Eve of Destruction,” “Hang On Sloopy”), mock covers (“Why must I be a necrophiliac in love?”), and weirdly quaint urban musings in the manner of Lou Reed’s Transformer (“The Pharmacist at Walgreens”). No imagined alignment there: Another one of Turner’s songs is called “I Dreamed I Met Lou Reed.”
In addition to Turner’s misleadingly gentle guitar, Britt Alexander played drums and Billy Miller played autoharp, as he used to do for Roky Erickson. After a half dozen songs of muted playing, Turner decided to “let Billy loose” for an extraordinary “I Walked with a Zombie,” complete with spoken word passages and amazing autoharp solos. The band even played Erickson’s “Starry Eyes,” despite a supposed injunction against doing so. I guess Turner eyed the small gathering and decided no one was likely to make a deal of it.
Sad Baby Wolf with Canyonlands and Deadtown Lovers – Low Spirits (Albuquerque, NM) – Friday, August 31, 2012
Former Shins members Marty Crandall and Neal Langford now play in Sad Baby Wolf, in a shoegazing mode that has little to nothing in common with their previous band. Crandall has the perfect voice for such an enterprise, it turns out, the way he favors fullness over nuance, never straining and continually cutting through and surrounding every anthemic guitar chord.
Canyonlands have too many members, some of the time, half the band wanting to be Thee Oh Sees and the other half aiming for something more fragile and esoteric, like Women relocated to a more reconcilable desert setting. But some of the time all that fragmented energy works in their favor and they arrive at sounds startlingly huge and detailed. If they can do that with a bit more regularity, they’ll be really great.
Deadtown Lovers, like previously noted locals Phantom Lake, are a band in its most ideal form, but for a slightly different reason. Remarkable here is the way all four members share vocal duties, breaking a song down to its smallest melodic units and assigning parts accordingly. This was done most effectively on a cover of Wire’s “Ex Lion Tamer” (a: there’s great danger; b: Danger!).
Bob Mould – Silver Age
Is Mould’s move to Merge Records, home of Superchunk, Wild Flag and Imperial Teen, responsible for him becoming another veteran artist making excellent rock music about the ecstasy of making rock music? Or was he already on that trajectory? Silver Age is the first of his nine solo albums on which I can’t really identify a distinct era of his life. But maybe he wrote his autobiography last year to effectively close the book of his life, and now in his new silver era, he kicks out the jams in whatever previous style his present whim dictates, and with the unblocked energy of the perfected life.
OMBRE – Believe You Me
A successful melding of two musical minds, it’s been called. I’m only familiar with one of those minds, the great Julianna Barwick, and while some of OMBRE’s songs strike me as diminishments of her awesome talent (she sounds bored on “Weight Those Words,” resigned to humming the same melody ad infinitum), I guess that’s what collaboration sometimes requires. But other times, she weaves her voice into itself as carefully as she did on her own The Magic Place, and her ambient musical backing consistently registers with a pleasingly vague topography.
Sebadoh – Secret EP
Secret: Still got it.
Azealia Banks – Fantasea
Fun and free.
Waxahatchee – American Weekend
Just by being really good, this works as a sort of punk rock fuck you to so much bad ukulele music. The small and quiet details of Waxahatchee’s songs could easily be backed by ukulele, one imagines, but instead we have splintered guitar chords and the captivating voice of this one-woman show, Katie Crutchfield, a weaver, not just a collector, of the personal. “You got married when you were 15,” she sings on “Rose, 1956,” but even if it seems like we’ve heard this kind of detail in a hundred other songs, with no kind of relevance breathed into it, and even if this one isn’t as ambitious as EMA’s “Grey Ship,” which traces an entire sad family history, starting with great grandmother on the prairie… well, even so, Crutchfield earns the moment with the poetry that surrounds it.
El Perro Del Mar – “What Do You Expect,” “Innocence Is Sense,” “Walk On By”
Over the past year, El Perro Del Mar offered a couple preview tracks from what promised to be some kind of leftfield masterwork, called Pale Fire. Both songs are little sample-based urban symphonies, the first a bit blunt (“Look at the street!”; “This community has been neglected by the government”), the second perfectly cryptic and unsettling, its refrain all the better for being indecipherable. I hear something like “Find the east ferry, ah!” which is about as evocative as any half-articulated phrase one might imagine in its place. Well, now Pale Fire has been officially announced, and neither of those songs is on it. Instead we have the more familiar “Walk On By,” whose lyrics about “solitude my best friend” (didn’t Lykke Li coin that, by meaning it so triumphantly?) and melancholy vibe suggest that Pale Fire will make a fine addition to the El Perro Del Mar songbook, as it’s already been known.
DIIV – “How Long Have You Known,” “Sometime”
New apartment anthems. That’s the first place these two formerly generic and nice dream-pop tunes suggested they might be useful on their own terms: I had not heard them before. Guitar patterns upon guitar patterns, repetitive and elaborate and as teasing and evocative as the best of Lotus Plaza.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Mother’s Milk | Depeche Mode – Violator | Everything But The Girl – Amplified Heart | Concrete Blonde – Bloodletting
Last four albums played in my old apartment, and excellent cleaning music, from the collection of a friend who lived my current phase of life in the early to mid 90s (jealousy ensues).