The Thermals – Now We Can See (Kill Rock Stars)
Although the year is only a third over, right now this is my contender for album of the year. While I liked 2007’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine a lot, I’ve found myself listening to this one at least once a day since I got it. I’m not sure why it’s made more of an impact upon me. The fundamental style is the same, often times recalling the harsher end of melodic, guitar-based indie-rock (think TED LEO, who singer HUTCH HARRIS sounds quite a bit like on occasion, fronting SUPERCHUNK). The lyrics this time around seem to be more personal and less overtly political and almost every single is instantly memorable and hummable.
King Khan & The Shrines – What Is?! (Vice)
This is a reissue of their 2007 album on their new label Vice (it originally came out on the Hazelwood label) and like last year’s excellent, career-spanning compilation The Supreme Genius of King Khan & The Shrines (which contained no less than 4 songs from this awesome album), it’s a corker. If this album has a weakness, it’s that it’s a bit front-loaded, with the best songs being the familiar ones from the compilation (“Land of the Freak” and “I Wanna Be a Girl”, for example). However, elsewhere we find songs in French (” Le Fils de Jacques Dutronc”) and “Cosmic Serenade”, a psychedelic tribute to KING KHAN’s well-publicized love of SUN RA. Overall, this is some of the best garage rock made since the days of Nuggets, the comp which it often evokes, and I don’t say that lightly.
The Anvil Experience – Trocadero (Philadelphia, PA) – April 17, 2009
I have to be honest here. I’m not much of a speed metal fan (with a few notable exceptions) and I find ANVIL’s music extremely cheesy and pretty much unlistenable, so I won’t comment on the performance other than to say that it was great to see them having so much fun up there. Nevertheless, we went to this screening/performance combo mainly to see the acclaimed documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil and on that end, it was well worth it. The movie really makes you empathize with their struggle to gain attention and acclaim for several decades, no matter what your musical preferences are. At times, it’s hysterical and yes, SPINAL TAP-worthy, but more often that not, its warmth and humanity make it bittersweet and moving.
Deep Wound – Deep Wound EP (Radiobeat)
Before DINOSAUR (who later had to change their name to DINOSAUR JR), there was this short-lived hardcore band from 1983, who put out this speedy, energetic, fun and massively influential 7” before folding. Featuring LOU BARLOW and guitar and J MASCIS on drums, this bears almost no resemblance at all to what would come later from either of them (“Lou’s Anxiety Song” aside). It did, however, influence oodles of speedy hardcore and power violence bands in the next few decades to come.
T.S.O.L. – Divided We Stand (Nitro)
Although others have cited this as similar to 1982’s incredible Beneath the Shadows, I don’t think there’s too much of a resemblance there, a song or two aside. It is, however, a great, speedy punk record not a million miles from THE JOYKILLER with absolutely great lyrics. It’s not Dance with Me or Beneath the Shadows, but it’s quite good nonetheless.
Flight of the Conchords with Kristen Schaal – Tower Theater (Upper Darby, PA) – April 18, 2009
Even though we had absolutely GREAT seats (in the 2nd row), I still can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Why? Well we’ve only gotten to watch about half of the new seasons and just about everything they played was from the current season, which is nowhere near as funny (nor does it contain nearly as many great songs). We did get “Business Time” and maybe one or two others from the first season, but no “Inner City Pressure,” “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room,” “Boom” or other classics from the first season made me disappointed!
Cordero – World Cafe Live (Philadelphia, PA) – April 18, 2009
Cordero play an enjoyable, if a bit hard to describe, blend of indie-rock with traditional Latin influences with lyrics sung mainly in Spanish. Full disclosure: CHRIS VERENE, the band’s drummer and the husband of singer ANI CORDERO, is a friend of mine.
Jukebox Zeros – Rock & Roll Ronin EP (Rankoutsider)
It’s fitting that the Jukebox Zeros’ new label is run by PAT TODD (THE LAZY COWGIRLS) as the sound of the record reminds me quite a bit of not just their label head’s band but also THE HUMPERS/HEARTBREAKERS/early REPLACEMENTS school of punk-based rock and roll (or is it rock and roll based-punk?). Anyway after a few plays of this, you won’t care. With songs like “Science of Rock And Roll” and “Surfin’ Armageddon” (inspired by the title of a book by GEORGE TABB), you know you’re in for a good time. Also of note is THE RAMONES tribute “1-2-3-4” and a cover of ELO’s “Rockaria!”.
Jay Reatard/Sonic Youth – “Hang Them All”/”No Garage” EP
To celebrate Record Store Day, I made sure to pick up a copy of this split 7” by two of Matador’s newly-signed artists. Jay Reatard, as usual, dominates the proceedings here with another great song that could’ve easily fit on one of the six Matador singles that he released last year. I can’t wait for the new album.
I’m also really looking forward to Sonic Youth’s upcoming Matador debut, but honestly their track on here is just an OK instrumental throwaway. I hope the album is better.
Spectrum – Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia, PA) – April 23, 2009
My first time seeing Spectrum, SONIC BOOM’s post-SPACEMEN 3 band, was well worth it. As advertised, Spacemen 3 songs were played, but more than that, it was an over-the-top, extremely noisy trip to the outer limits of psychedelic noise-pop. By the end of the night, half the crowd was covering its ears as feedback screamed out of the speakers.