Monthly Archives: March 2014

MOUNT CARMEL – Get Pure

Album: Get Pure

Artist: Mount Carmel

Label: Alive Naturalsound

Release Date: March 25, 2014

Mount Carmel 3-25

www.alivenergy.com

 BY MICHAEL TOLAND

 It’s frankly amazing how, after decades of punk, postpunk, alternarock, etc., the bluesy hard rock sounds of the 70s seem to be the coin of the realm with the underground youth. Mount Carmel springs from the indie rock mecca of Columbus, Ohio, yet have dick in common with the more well-known proponents of that city’s legendary scene. Indeed, brothers Matthew and Patrick Reed and drummer James McCain don’t even try to be too cool for school – one spin of Get Pure (quite) and you’d think these young men had never heard a rock record made after they were born.

 That’s likely why the trio sounds fresh and unspoiled most of the time – “Back On It,” the instrumental “Bridge to Nowhere” and the explosive opener “Gold” would enliven any classic rock station that would have the balls to play something recorded after 1984. The Carmels even get reasonably romantic and soulful on “Will I.” Not everything evinces that new car smell, though – “Swallow Me Up,” “Fear Me Now” and the blatantly bluesy would-be burner “One More Morning” sound put together from a Me Decade rawk anthem kit.

 Get Pure hits more often than it misses, though, and if it’s not an album you’ll still have on your shelf ten years from now – or even in a year – it sure sounds good blasting out of the car speakers right this second.

 DOWNLOAD: “Gold,” “Back On It,” “Will I”

MAGNOLIA SUMMER – The Hill Or the Climb / CAVE STATES – The Great Divide

Album: The Hill or the Climb / The Great Divide

Artist: Magnolia Summer / Cave States

Label: Undertow Music Collective

Release Date: February 18, 2014

Magnolia Summer

www.undertowmusic.com

 By LEE ZIMMERMAN

Despite its ever-shifting roster, Magnolia Summer has been a staple of the St. Louis Americana scene for the past decade or so, having released four albums and a pair of digital EPs. This latest effort, The Hill or the Climb, comes courtesy of the band’s sole staple, singer/songwriter Chris Grabau, and a pick-up band consisting of Bottle Rockets guitarist John Horton, bassist Greg Lamb and drummer John Baldus, along with others who assist as necessary. Despite Grabau’s insistence that this is the band’s so-called “rock album,” it still holds to the band’s basic MO, one flush with hushed harmonies and an easy country rock sway. “Needles and Pins,” “Slow to a Crawl” and “No One Talks About It Anymore” are ideal examples, further affirming Magnolia Summer’s seductive suggestion. Grabau’s vision of a harder edge is manifest only occasionally – mainly on the upbeat “Yesterday Was a Blur” and in the heavy stomp of “Ulysses Contract” – but it’s all dreamy desire that sandwiches the set – manifest in the songs “The Hill or the Climb” and “Undistinguished Days” –- that provides those paler shades in bolder contrast.

 Cave States, an offshoot of the Magnolia Summer enterprise, finds Grabau and former Wagons leader/current Magnolia Summer drummer Danny Kathriner taking the helm and a similar stance, with a proviso that finds the pair opting for sparer settings and more of a mournful gaze. The acoustic strum of “Loose Shoes” sets the pace, but the lovely and longing “Familiar Ways” and the vacant, hollow-eyed perspective of “The Great Divide” provide both the shimmer and the sheen. Any sense that this is simply an ad hoc collaboration quickly dissipates as those sweet songs roll on, all testimony to the innate, intimate beauty inherent in these grooves. Magnolia Summer may be the day job that Grabau depends on, but with a second album already in the works, Cave States is quickly becoming the other band he can look to bank on.

 DOWNLOAD: “Needles and Pins,” “The Hill or the Climb” (The Hill or the Climb), “Familiar Ways,” “The Great Divide” (The Great Divide)

JUANECO Y SU COMBO – The Birth of Jungle Cumbia :

Album: The Birth of Jungle Cumbia

Artist: Juaneco Y Su Combo

Label: The Vital Record

Release Date: December 10, 2013

Jungle Cumbia

www.thevitalrecord.com

 BY CARL HANNI

 For anyone looking for one of the original touchstones of Peruvian psychedelic cumbia (or chicha), here is a motherlode: eighteen tracks recorded in the early 1970s by the legendary Juaneco y su Combo, from the upcountry Amazon Basin city of Pucallpa. 

 As has been well documented in the last few years on several outstanding compilations, chicha was a remarkably infectious blend of 60s psychedelia and surf music – complete with Farfisa organ and fuzzed out and wah-wahed guitars – and traditional, indigenous music from the Andes and the Amazon Basin, wedded to the percussion heavy cumbia groove imported from Colombia. It was largely party music, aimed squarely at working class laborers looking to blow off steam on weekends. From the late 1960s until late 1970s, a huge number of sides were cut and released locally, regionally and nationally, largely within Peru and perhaps neighboring Colombia. It was a lost music until a few enterprising archivists recently saw it for what it was, and brought it out of the past into the 21st century.

 The Birth of Jungle Cumbia documents most of the early recordings of the multi-generational Juaneco y su Combo, who originally played more traditional polkas and rhumbas before electrifying in the mid 1960s. Dressed in a eye-popping melange of traditional Amazon garb and bright psychedelic threads, Juaneco y su Combo look like a confederation of psychedelic brujos beamed on from the outer reaches of the Amazon basin. Led by the son of the original band leader Juan Wong Paredes (Juaneco), and featuring the fluid playing of the legendary guitar player Noe Fachin Mori, omnipotent organ lines and insistent percussion, Juaneco y su Combo’s music has the flawless syncopation and mid tempo abandon that is the calling card of jungle cumbia. 

 Although one of the originators of a style that quickly spread throughout the country, the band, alas, was touched by considerable tragedy. In 1977 a plane crash killed more than half the band members, including Noe Fachin Mori. The rest added more members and continued on, but the original spark was lost.

 Beautifully packaged with extensive liner note and striking graphics, The Birth of Jungle Cumbia is a class project all the way, and absolutely essential for anyone interested in the foundation of jungle cumbia.

 DOWNLOAD: they are all equally great!

PROFESSOR LONGHAIR – The Last Mardi Gras

Album: The Last Mardis Gras

Artist: Professor Longhair

Label: Real Gone Music

Release Date: March 04, 2014

Prof. Longhair 3-4

www.realgonemusic.com

 BY JASON GROSS

 My girlfriend has a theory that even the worst people have some bit of good in them and this album might be proof of that.  Albert Goldman made a career late in his life as being a scummy hatchet man, penning well-selling, sub-tabloids bios of dead rock stars (Lennon, Elvis) but one positive thing he did with his otherwise disgraceful life was to produce this 1978 live album (originally coming out in 1982) from this New Orleans legend.

 Henry Roeland Byrd, aka Professor Longhair (a great moniker for sure) started his career around the 1950’s, cutting R&B sides for small labels, which featured his rollicking piano and wonderfully scatter shot voice.

In the seventies he experienced a revival as an elder statesman, feted by no less than Paul McCartney for a special concert on the Queen Mary (which later came out as a live album) and recording the classic <Crawfish Fiesta> with Dr. John, which came out shortly after Byrd passed away in 1980 at age 61.  (Also worth seeking out is the documentary that he starred in with Allen Toussaint, <Piano Players Rarely Ever Play Together>).

 During the eighties a raft of nice archival albums of studio and live material came out, including the original version of this particular album, which Atlantic Records issued as a double record.  In the liners, Goldman crows about how much trouble and care he put into making sure Longhair got everything that he needed for this date, done at Tipitina’s, the club named in honor of a Longhair song and also done on the occasion of the famous NOLA celebration (hence the album title). Along with a pair of saxophone players to provide the bouncy, buoyant atmosphere and Byrd’s trusty conga player Alfred “Uganda” Roberts providing the bottom, Longhair rolls out several of his classics in a great, playful mood- the Big Easy standard “Big Chief,” Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” (where you can hear the Prof yelling ‘blow, blow, blow!’ at the sax player there), the Prof’s own hilarious originals “Bald Head” (one of his original 50’s singles) and “Her Mind Is Gone” plus R&B classics like “Cry To Me,” “Mess Around” (a virtual master class in barrel-house playing) and “Stagger Lee.”  The Prof is masterful and commanding on piano, letting his fingers fly at fast speeds, and his strained, roving voice is delightful, matched by his sweet, easygoing whistling that sometimes accompanies it.

 Grab up <Crawfish Fiesta> pronto to hear a music legend, not to mention a Hall of Fame inductee.  But not long after that, do yourself a favor a scarf up this live album after that.

 DOWNLOAD: “Bald Head,” “Cry To Me,” “Boogie Woogie”

 

 

CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN – Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart + Key Lime Pie

Album: Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart + Key Lime Pie

Artist: Camper Van Beethoven

Label: Omnivore Recordings

Release Date: February 04, 2014

Camper Van Our Beloved

www.ominivorerecordings.com

BY STEVE PICK

They just seemed so goddam confident on stage. Camper Van Beethoven knew they were good from the beginning, but by 1989, they carried themselves on stage as if they felt life would never be better than this. Part of it was the natural strut of frontman David Lowery, who has never seemed unsure of himself, but most of it was the sheer craft and emotional heft of the music. Camper Van Beethoven was a group of five musicians proudly converging into one perfectly tuned unit.

Except, to read the liner notes to the newly reissued (via Omnivore; www.omnivorerecordings.com) Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart from 1988 and the following year’s Key Lime Pie, and to remember how little time they had left as a band, they weren’t anything like in tune with each other. Violin player and co-focus on stage Jonathan Segel was gone shortly after the tour finished; David Lowery, bassist Victor Krummenacher, lead guitarist Greg Lisher, and drummer Chris Pedersen apparently had multiple ideas for the direction the music should go from there. A final album was cut with session violinists and a final tour was undertaken with a new member, Morgan Fichter, and it was all over.

In retrospect, it makes sense that a surplus of musical ideas would be way better than a surfeit of same. With every member of the band contributing to the songwriting together, there would be no single identifiable Camper Van Beethoven sound so much as there was a CVB attitude. Music could be fun and serious at the same time; the band would be without ego, even if in reality it took five egos fighting for their own spot in the sun to get there.

Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart was the fourth full-length CVB album, but the first for a major record label. As college radio seemed to be breaking more and more acts into either the big time (R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs) or at least a pretty solid run at mid-size prosperity (Husker Du, the Replacements), the major labels started snapping up the heroic underground acts of the late ‘80s. There was controversy in the fanzine scene of the time, but the bottom line was it became easier to find the music under the aegis of corporate distribution.

While Sweetheart had a few tweaks in the direction of radio-friendly sound (most notably the slightly bigger drum sound than before), it wasn’t a dramatically different record than Camper Van Beethoven had delivered in the previous year’s eponymous release. There were instrumentals and there were vocals, there were ironic views of historical figures and there were devastatingly direct statements of purpose. There were hints of eastern European influences as well as Appalachian folk; there were dynamically vibrant arrangements allowing each member of the band to shine without drawing attention away from the song itself.

Whether introducing ‘80s indie rockers to one of the oldest songs in the American folk repertoire, “O Death,” or finding inspiration in the tale of Patty Hearst’s experience with the Symbionese Liberation Army for “Tania”; whether creating a richly intoxicating pop confection suddenly exploding into musique concrete in “She Divines Water” or roaring a riff-laden heavy folkish instrumental called “Waka,” Camper Van Beethoven were clearly at the top of their game for Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart.

Not that there was anything wrong with the subsequent Key Lime Pie. Fichter was almost as riveting onstage as Segel had been, and the concerts were every bit as intoxicating as they always were. According to the liner notes for both albums (written by long-time superfan Jill Stauffer, who is full of anecdotes and insight), the members of the band were no longer pointing in the same musical direction, and the music was darker than before.

Two superficially similar songs reveal the distance between these two albums. Both “Tania” from Sweetheart and “Jack Ruby” from Pie are based on real life events seen on television, both about people with guns. But “Tania” is light-hearted, albeit with a strong ironic distance from real feeling. There is no sense that what Patty Hearst did had consequences, no feeling that actual human actions took place. That familiar image of Hearst with a gun was seen as a relief from boredom, an achievement of the ultimate goal, the fifteen minutes of fame Warhol had promised. “Jack Ruby,” on the other hand, is about the nature of evil and our complicity with its effects. The good guys and bad guys mingle, the act of Ruby was to murder a murderer, and we cannot ultimately escape from implications of our actions or inactions. Sure, Hearst didn’t actually kill any one, but the SLA did, so her story has plenty of similar implications. They simply aren’t considered in that song.

None of this means Camper Van Beethoven wasn’t tackling serious issues before Pie. Taking the skinheads bowling was a crafty joke, but singing about “Joe Stalin’s Cadillac” was connecting the dots between dictators, fascists, and the general desire for order we all have inside us. There is, however, a dramatically different feel to the songs on Key Lime Pie, a sense that at least for now, hope is not on the table. At the time, Pie felt like a major breakthrough, but in retrospect, it’s doesn’t have as broad a range of musical treasures as the band usually provided.

Camper Van key Lime

Virgin Records obviously pumped more money into the band for Pie [not necessarily as regards the album artwork, however. -Cheapskate Ed.], as the sound is crisper, thicker, and clearer than on previous records. Segel is usually replaced by Don Lax, who does a good job while only rarely insinuating himself into the bones of the songs. He is more likely to merely color the music, though this could have been a conscious decision of the album’s producer, Dennis Herring. At any rate, the full throttle multi-part instrumental commentaries are much rarer behind Lowery’s vocals than they had been before.

 Fichter came onboard for “Flowers” and most spectacularly, the definitive cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” which the band had been performing in concert for years. Camper Van Beethoven had never been afraid of cover material – they’d already released a countryish take on Black Flag’s “Wasted” and an exuberant take on Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome.” It seems likely the record company pushed for “Matchstick Men” as a potential single for radio; it’s easily the hookiest cut on Key Lime Pie. But rather than just doing a straight version of an old rock song, the band turned in a masterful reimagination, with Fichter’s violin taking the catchy riff to new heights. There aren’t many covers which can be said to have replaced the original, but this one just might.

Both reissues are padded with multiple rarities and live cuts, including songs by the Damned, the Stranglers, and the Buzzcocks which clearly show Camper had roots in the emerging punk/New Wave scene before they were old enough to make their own kind of music.  The remastering is terrific, opening up the music and letting it breath in ways the original CDs didn’t quite allow.

DOWNLOAD: “Tania,” “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” “She Divines Water,” “Eye of Fatima Pt. 1”

BOB MOULD – Workbook 25

Album: Workbook 25

Artist: Bob Moulld

Label: Omnivore/Universal Music Special Products/Virgin

Release Date: February 25, 2014

Bob Mould 2-25

www.omnivorerecordings.com

 

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

 

Full disclosure: I have a personal relationship with this record. Not in the sense that I had anything to do with its creation – I certainly do not. Nor that it came along as a difficult or trying time in my life and helped me get through it – outside of having to constantly take my ‘69 Volkswagen Beetle to the shop, I was feeling pretty good about life in 1989.

 

It’s only that for some indefinable reason I’ve never quite been able to figure out, Workbook, Bob Mould’s debut solo album he cut after spending nearly a decade in Hüsker Dü, hit me where I lived, and has been a perennial favorite ever since.

 

Keep in mind when I say this that this is the first Mould music I ever heard. That’s right – I’d read about but never actually heard Hüsker Dü when this LP came out. I read a review of Workbook in Rolling Stone that praised it to the skies and was curious about what a singer/songwriter record from the former leader of a punk rock band would sound like. Yep, I bought it on a whim after reading a review in Rolling Stone and it’s been in my all-time top 10 list ever since. How often do we thank the Old Grey Lady of rock journalism for a personal milestone like that?

 

Which brings us to Workbook 25, which is, as billed, the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this landmark record. Begging the obvious question: how does it hold up after a quarter of a century?

 

The answer: pretty goddamned well.

 

In a sense, the album was a continuation of Mould’s work in the Dü. His lyrics had for years conveyed the idea of listening to deep thoughts and feelings. Whether or not it’s true (and no songwriter worth his or her salt ever confirms or denies for sure), Mould’s libretto always had the ring of personal truths, and that goes double for the songs here. Written and recorded in the aftermath of the breakup of one of rock’s most influential acts, the tracks struggle with the loss of a relationship, alternating between lamenting the causes of the breakup (“Poison Years,” “Lonely Afternoon”) and fortifying the soul for the task of moving on (“Whichever Way the Wind Blows,” “Heartbreak a Stranger”). It’s a situation to which anyone can relate, whether they’ve been in a band or not.

 

Though usually referred to as Mould’s acoustic record, the truth is more complex: a mix of acoustic and electric guitars, with forceful drums and a prominently used cello conjure up a set of rock sonics pretty distinctive at the time. While it was a departure from the Dü, it wasn’t so much of one as to be the equivalent of a bucket of cold water thrown on a copulating couple. There’s plenty of meltdown guitar (“Wishing Well,” “Whichever Way the Wind Blows”) and rock drive (“Lonely Afternoon,” “Poison Years”), not to mention that spectacular sense of pop melody that gave so much of his Hüskers material its buzz (“See a Little Light,” “Dreaming, I Am”). Besides, Mould had been dropping hints on Dü records for years about this creative move: cf. “No Reservations” on the final HD LP Warehouse: Songs and Stories, or “Hardly Getting Over It” and “Too Far Down” on Candy Apple Grey, or even “Celebrated Summer” on New Day Rising. Acoustic instruments went back as far as Zen Arcade, and “Hardly Getting Over It” is practically this album in microcosm.

 

The result of all this creative effort is a magnificent collection of finely crafted, emotional, musical tunes that hold up to hundreds, if not thousands, of listens. The textures that color “Brasilia Crossed With Trenton” and “Compositions For the Young and Old,” the moody atmosphere that floats “Sinners and Their Repentances” and “Heartbreak a Stranger,” the bright hope and cathartic fury that power “See a Little Light” and “Whichever Way the Wind Blows” respectively, the singular achievement of “Wishing Well,” perhaps the finest track of his career – all of it comes together to manifest a record that in many ways set the tone for Mould’s career thereafter, while also becoming the benchmark against which his solo work would be judged. Time has been kind to Workbook, and repeated listens over the decades reveal new wrinkles with every spin.

 

Workbook 25 adds the usual bonuses to expand the package, most of them from the forgotten compilation record Poison Years, but that’s not meant to be dismissive. The B-side “All These People Know” rocks like vintage Dü, and shows that Mould wasn’t ready to abandon industrial strength pop-punk just yet. The stupendous live set comprising disk 2 is a real treat. Recorded at the Cabaret Metro in 1989 with the Workbook rhythm section of Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu) and Anton Fier (Golden Palominos, Feelies), plus second guitar from Chris Stamey (dB’s, solo), it presents fired-up live versions of every song from the record, given tougher readings minus the cello, plus “All These People Know” and the unrecorded rocker “If You’re True.” Also included is a righteous burn through Richard & Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out the Lights” and three set-closing Hüsker Dü songs, performed solo acoustic: “Hardly Getting Over It,” “Celebrated Summer” and “Makes No Sense At All,” setlist perennials to this day. (The Metro concert, originally broadcast via Chicago’s WXRT-FM, originally yielded the four live tracks that appeared on Mould’s promotional-only “Wishing Well” 12” EP. The full show was subsequently bootlegged repeatedly on CD.)

 

There remains a contingent of Mould fans who believe that any music he makes that strays from the Hüsker Dü template of loud, power trio rock-pop isn’t worth the plastic it was imprinted on. Don’t believe it – not to take away from his work in that style, but Workbook 25 is his masterpiece.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Wishing Well,” “See a Little Light,” “Heartbreak a Stranger”

DINOSAUR JR., by Dinosaur Jr.

Title: Dinosaur Jr.

Author: Dinosaur Jr.

Publisher: Rocket 88

Publication Date: January 21, 2014

Dino Jr

www.dinosaurjrbook.com

 BY JOHN B. MOORE

 When you think “Dinosaur Jr. biography” the mind doesn’t automatically conjure up a beautiful hardcover, coffee table-worthy documentation of the band. I always pictured a crudely photocopy and stapled, black and white zine, complete with coffee mug rings and cigarette ash, more in tune with the bands chaotic music and even more chaotic relationships with each other.

 But this limited edition, stunningly beautiful [and, at roughly 67 bucks, prohibitively expensive by any music book standards. – Cost-conscious Ed.] oral history of the band is a fitting tribute to the group that influenced Pavement, Nirvana and scores more. The book features historical anecdotes from all three founding members: J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph, as well as George Berz, who took over drums once Murph left the group and Mike Johnson who picked up the bass once Barlow left the band (There is a frank chapter of the book devoted to J’s chickenshit way of pushing Barlow out of the band… or may not, depending on whose side you take.)

 The book starts with the group’s formation in high school, details their rise, implosion and ultimate reunion of the original group almost 10 years ago. More impressive than the classic and unseen photos and crudely designed flyers that are collected here and the striking layout is the honesty and frankness with which the trio discuss their internal relationships: sloppy, combustible and undeniably powerful, much like their music.

 Given all they have been through over the past three decades, the band clearly deserves something as impressive as this massive oral history to document their survival.

 

 

THE SEE SEE – Days Nights & Late Morning Lights

Album: Days Nights & Late Morning Lights

Artist: The See See

Label: Sundazed

Release Date: March 18, 2014

The See See 3-18

www.sundazed.com

 BY MICHAEL TOLAND

 Good psych pop never goes out of style – just ask Tame Impala, Temples and all the other young bands that have popped up in the wake of the Black Angels and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Though the internationally populated See See (boasting members from England, Auckland and Detroit) has been out and about since the late 2000s, it’s only now getting round to releasing its U.S. debut.

 Days Nights & Late Morning Lights compiles cuts from singles and the band’s two prior LPs, but the band hews so closely to its ‘60s-inspired pop vision that the songs sound as if they were cut during one long session. Lead songwriter Richard Olson (late of the promising but short-lived Eighteenth Day of May) seems to pen boatloads of would-be singles at will, such as the sweet ‘n’ shiny “Open Up Your Door” and “The Rain & the Snow,” the more overtly tripping “Keep Your Head” and “Late Morning Light” or the folk-rocking “Sweet Hands” and “That’s My Sign.” The See See jangles far more than it crunches, dusting nearly everything with creamy vocal harmonies. Don’t expect innovation here, but that’s not the band’s goal. Instead, the See See just wants to write good songs and play ‘em well, and it does that just fine, thank you.

 DOWNLOAD: “Late Morning Light,” “The Rain & the Snow,” “That’s My Sign”

BART DAVENPORT – Physical World

Album: Physical World

Artist: Bart Davenport

Label: Lovemonk/Burger

Release Date: February 18, 2014

Bart Davenport

www.lovemonk.net

BY TIM HINELY

It’s hard to believe that Bay Area crooner Bart Davenport has been doing the solo thing for over a decade. I remember seeing him in the ‘90s with his r & b combo The Loved Ones are various Bay Area dives then later with his next band, The Kinetics. Doing the solo thing he has been more in the folk/pop genre and does it very well, in other words, it seems to suit him.

Now based in L.A. and after having released record by bands Honeycut and The Incarnations the past few years, Davenport is back with his 6th solo record and he’s back to the ‘70s soft pop/rock/folk vibe and the record flows and smoothly as Davenport’s creamy vocals (soft as a, say, banana milkshake). Working with Dream Boys guitarist Wayne Faler and a handful of other folks, they crank out one charmer after another. The opening 1-2-3 punch of “Wearing the Changes,” “Fuck Fame” and “Dust in the Circuits” hits like a cool pillow on a soft night.  “One Your Own Planet” gets a bit jazzy while the countdown to the title track might have you thinking it’s gonna rock out but no, more smoove pop.

While Davenport and his crew aren’t doing anything here completely out of the ordinary (for them, anyway) with a batch of songs this strong it might stand as his best. Don’t miss.

DOWNLOAD: “Wearing the Changes,” “Fuck Fame,” “Dust in the Circuits,” “Physical World”

LA LUZ + TELE NOVELLA – 3/20/14, Englewood CO

Dates: March 20, 2014

Location: Moe's BBQ, Englewood CO

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TEXT BY TIM HINELY / PHOTOS BY JD BAMFORD

We arrived at Moe’s BBQ at 9 pm thinking that La Luz were going to be the opener but there was a band playing before them who was not listed in the club’s advertising. Hailing from Austin was the indie psych-pop of Tele Novella and I liked most of what I heard. Songs chugged along with the right amount of melody, and I think I heard words like excalibur and unicorns in the lyrics so maybe we’re dealing with some fantasy-loving folks here—fine with me. I wondered if the tall bassist was the same guy who was in Voxtrot, I was told yes (apparently the band has a member of the band Agent Ribbons, too). These guys are certainly worth of your time next time you see their name on a bill.

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Next up were Seattle’s La Luz who I’d heard had gotten into a nasty van accident recently (my pal asked me if they were still on crutches). No crutches and you would not have known anything happened, as any residual pain these ladies were in didn’t keep them from pushing on and cranking out a terrific set.

Leader/guitarist/vocalist Shana Cleveland has some of the best stage presence for someone so low-key (and love those surfy guitar leads) while the rest of the band (bassist Abbey Blackwell, keyboardist Alice Sandahl and drummer Marian Li Pino) certainly got into it too and seemed to be genuinely enjoying their jobs. They played everything (or just about everything) off last year’s terrific It’s Alive (on Hardly Art Records)  and especially tasty were cuts like “Sure As Spring”, “Phantom Feelings” and the title track. They even parted the red sea of the crowd an encouraged folks to have their own dance contest (I lost).  If they come to your town and your town is flooded, bust out the row boat to get there.

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Photos credit: JD Bamford, http://wellspokin.com/performance (This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.)