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Matthew Berlyant: October 28, 2007

  1. Yo La Tengo with Jack Rose – First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia, PA) – October 22, 2007

    Billed as “The Freewheelin’ Yo La Tengo” tour, this show was held in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church instead of the basement. This was appropriate as they played a stripped-down, unplugged set that covered most of their over 20-year career, ranging from “The One to Cry” (a cover of a song by THE ESCORTS on 1990’s Fakebook) up to selections from their last album, the excellent I Am Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (try not to laugh when you read that). They also threw in some cool covers, including a scorching version of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND’s “I Heard Her Call My Name”. The encore featured DANNY RAY THOMPSON of the SUN RA ARKESTRA, where they played SUN RA’s “Rocket #9” and their own “Autumn Sweater” to close the show.

    Opener Jack Rose warmed up the crowd nicely with his JOHN FAHEY-inspired acoustic-guitar wizardry.

  2. The Avengers with Pansy Division and Witchhunt – First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia, PA) – October 23, 2007

    What a great triple bill! This Avengers lineup has grown tighter and is playing even better now than the two previous times I’ve seen them in the past year. I hadn’t seen Pansy Division in 14 years and as much as I liked them back then, they sound better now with a 2nd guitarist (JOEL READER) and drummer LUIS ILLADES, both of whom also play with The Avengers as well. In any case, they made me smile, laugh, dance and sing out loud. You can’t ask for anything else, really.

    I only caught the last song Witchhunt played, but it was so good that I bought one of their CDs after their set. Unlike the more melodic bands that followed them, they played crust punk in the vein of BORN AGAINST or NAUSEA (the dual male/female lead vocalists) and sounded like something out of ABC-NO-RIO in the early ‘90s.

  3. Damo Suzuki’s Network – The Rotunda (Philadelphia, PA) – October 25, 2007
    Here’s a unique premise. Damo Suzuki, one-time vocalist of German legends CAN, is touring the U.S. backed by completely different bands in each city. Furthermore, none of the bands he’s played with on this tour have ever played with him. Thus, no one knew how the collaboration between him and Philly institution BARDO POND would come off, but I’m happy to report that it was fabulous. They played for almost an hour and a half straight, without stopping, at times digging as deep into psych-rock mind expansion as any of their recorded work and blowing minds in the process. It should be mentioned that this was the early show and later that night, Damo played with STINKING LIZAVETTA at the Mill Creek Tavern.
  4. Jens Lekman with Victor Sjoberg and The Silver Ages – First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia, PA) – October 26, 2007

    What a difference a year makes! Supporting his excellent (yet divisive amongst fans) new album, Night Falls Over Kortedala and backed by his all-female band, Jens put on a masterful performance that made jaded indie-rockers sing and dance along! And how can you not, with songs as catchy and danceable as many of his are, though always with an undercurrent of melancholy in the lyrics.

    Victor Sjoberg warmed up the crowd with a short DJ set before Jens came on and The Silver Ages are an eight-member acappella band comprised of members of Philly bands like THE CAPITOL YEARS and THE A-SIDES. I enjoyed their set, which came off like BEACH BOYS backing tracks. They also joined Jens for his encore.

  5. Tony Conrad with Faust – Outside the Dream Syndicate (Table of the Elements)

    As the name implies, this 1972 recording found Conrad, who had previously been in THE DREAM SYNDICATE (the mid ‘60s avant-garde outfit, not the later LA band led by STEVE WYNN, obviously) with LA MONTE YOUNG, ANGUS MACLISE and JOHN CALE, doing something completely different. Faust are more controlled here than they were in general and the result is repetitive, factory-like and percussive. In fact, it’s almost a blueprint for what KRAFTWERK and other groups in their wake would do later. The 2-disc 30th Anniversary version features several bonus tracks.

  6. Billy Bragg – Workers Playtime (Go! Discs/Elektra)

    To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of this album, but I pulled it out after Bragg’s excellent show here last week. Containing several of his best songs (namely “She’s Got a New Spell,” “Must I Paint You a Picture” and “Waiting for the Great Leap Forward”), this 1988 album was the first time Bragg had recorded with a full band. With a few tracks like the acappella “Tender Comrade” that don’t quite work, this isn’t his most consistent album or the easiest listen straight through, but for the aforementioned songs alone, it’s a must.

  7. Jens Lekman – Oh You’re So Silent Jens (Secretly Canadian)

    I’ve written about this collection many times here previously, but let’s just say that it makes a fine soundtrack to a cold, damp, rainy day.

  8. The Trashcan Sinatras – “Leave Me Alone” (remix)

    Remixed by COLIN DAVIS and MARK WALK, this excellent track from their last album Weightlifting (my favorite album of 2004) gets a trip-hop makeover which works well to its advantage. You can download it (and a comparatively weakerbut much more deconstructed remix of the same great album’s “All the Dark Horses”) here along with many other Trashcans (sorry, I refuse to call them the Trashies as I always thought it was an awful nickname) rarities.

  9. Glenn Branca – Symphony No. 5 (Describing Planes of an Expanding Hypersphere) (Atavistic)

    Recorded in the early ‘80s but not released until 1996, this is equally as complex, jarring and monumental as his earlier, better-known albums like Lesson No. 1 and The Ascension and thus should be required listening for any Branca fan. Furthermore, this piece features longtime Big Takeover contributor TIM SOMMER on bass.

  10. The shutdown of Oink’s

    Last but certainly not least, this is another Pyrrhic victory for the clueless music industry. The more they keep shutting down these file-sharing sites, the more will spring up in their wake. What about all the people who were exposed to things they otherwise would’ve never heard if not for this site? The rare, hard-to-find and long out-of-print albums that frequently showed up?

    Sure, they might scare some people away from downloading for a while (or perhaps, permanently, until they can get the music they want without the fear of the repercussions of these types of sites being shut down), but I believe that the unlimited download (perhaps for a set fee per month) model is the business model of the future.


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