Category Archives: Music News

Video Exclusive: Nextgen Jazz Quartet, Birdland, NYC 10/28/19

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

The Nextgen jazz quartet, composed  of both current and former NEC students, made their NYC debut at the esteemed Birdland jazz club. Ye Huang and his crew of musicians laid it down hard for the capacity audience, and once they hit their stride, were untouchable. It’s been a long road for the band to get to this stage, having recently come off a tour in China.

Just like when I reviewed the album earlier this year, I can tell that each musician has a virtuosic streak running through their veins because a few times the band seemed to pulling in different directions. That said, when it gelled as it did for much of the concert,  the energy and elation felt in the room was palpable. I offer up a Chris Mondak tune for Blurt readers  to get a sense of what I experienced that electric evening here in Manhattan. Watch the video, below.

Incoming: TX Levitation Festival Nov. 7-10

Official poster, above, tells you everything ya need to know, fellow headz! Below, check out some images from our previous coverage, by John Boydston.

By John Boydston & Fred Mills

In most places across the U.S., early November does not bring music fests; the festival season typically wraps up by September. Not so in Texas, where the annual psych-O-delick gathering known at the Levitation Festival reigns supreme. (Below: the late, mighty Roky Erickson, the event’s patron saint, from the 2015 gathering.)

This year it takes place November 7-10 in Austin (in the Red River Cultural District, which will be familiar to any punters who have ever been to SXSW), and with everyone from event founders the Black Angels, krautrock legend Damo Suzuki, festival stalwarts the Flaming Lips, and power merchants High On Fire, to slightly less-unhinged (but still majorly intense) artists like Angel Olsen, Kurt Vile, Chelsea Wolfe, and David J on the bill over the course of the weekend, it’s safe to say that some major cranial expansion is in order. Plus some random opportunities for major physical expression.

We’ll be on hand, with Levitation fest veteran and longtime BLURT shutterbug John Boydston telling the tale in words and images. For the time being, check out the just-announced set times for each day, along with details on how to order tickets, right here. (First photo below: ye old Blurt editor’s favorite psych band on the planet, the Rain Parade.)

Oh, and don’t eat the brown acid, kids. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top will not approve.

 

Massive Attack 9/27/19, NYC (REVIEW + VIDEOS)

Dates: September 27, 2019

Location: Radio City Music Hall, New York City, New York

A sold-out performance at Radio City Music Hall cemented the UK group’s reputation once again.

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

On September 27th, I witnessed the greatest concert of my life. Massive Attack, who I’ve been waiting to see for over 20 years, came to NYC and performed their massively influential Mezzanine LP.

In front of a sold-out audience, Massive Attack played the album out of order while including a mix of the most unexpected cover songs (including “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, “10:15 Saturday Night” – see the Bauhaus and Cure classics, below – and “I Found a Reason”) peppered throughout. With the band saying nothing to the audience during the entirety of the show, we were exposed to a carpet bombing of devastating, gut-wrenching visuals that, in conjunction with the music, left me reeling.

It was the case of developing on themes of political repression mated with the ceding of our lives to technology over the past 20 years that caused tears to well up in my eyes. This was art at its highest and most powerful level. These were no random images. Each one was part of an elaborate theory that we the people are losing out and that the smear of materialism spread over us to make us seem like we’re advancing is just smoke and mirrors.

If lead singer Robert Del Naja is provocateur Banksy – as the rumors have it – then this was one of his finest moments as an artist, essentially shredding the trauma of the past 20-odd years in front of our eyes, just like that painting at Sotheby’s in 2018. As a close mate of mine and I made our way out the exit, I knew my life had changed in a substantial way. With the crowd dispersing into the rush & rumble outside, my thoughts turned to the unity that was built between all of us in attendance, which comforted me that there’s still hope to turn things around.

I managed to film some additional video for our readership to enjoy – check the material, below.

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Bevis Frond 9/26/19 Oxford, England


“We’re All Fronds on This Bus”: indeed, live at Oxford’s storied Jericho Tavern, the wheels went ‘round and ‘round until the ecstatic punters were ready to be wheeled out themselves. Below, watch clips of “Lead On” and “Olde Worlde” (pay attention to the extended spoken intro for the latter, incidentally).

BY NIC LINTON

Last Thursday I had the rare opportunity to catch up with Nick Saloman and his band of merry men, at the Jericho Tavern in Oxford. The venue, which I could have easily mistaken for a broom cupboard, turned out to be the perfect choice for an intimate evening in with The Bevis Frond.

It was a no-nonsense affair complete with something old, something new, and plenty of psychedelic guitar heroics. No introductions were necessary, the raw energy of the music spoke for itself. Great to see such a quintessentially English act previously described as unsung heroes, literally singing their hearts out to such a warm reception.

Track Premiere: GospelbeacH “Let It Burn”

There’s probably no sweeter SoCal sound circa 2019 than this band – review of 2017’s “Another Summer of Love” is here – as the title track from their upcoming album, “Let It Burn,” offers ample evidence. (Photo credit: Chuck Harris) RIP the amazing Neal Casal, one of Blurt’s heroes.

BY JOHN B. MOORE & FRED MILLS

It should come as no surprise to even the casual visitor of this site, that GospelbeacH is a Blurt favorite. So much so that many of you know to come here for regular song premieres from the band – late last year we offered up a track from their 2018 gem Another Winter Alive, for example. And their 2017 offering wound up on many of our contributors’ best-of releases for that year, with editor Mills observing, “The band’s debut album, 2015’s Pacific Surf Line, wasn’t shy about its Cali worship; two of GospelbeacH founder Brent Rademaker’s other groups, psychedelic warriors The Tyde and mystic Americana wranglers Beachwood Sparks, have shared similar sentiments. But Another Summer of Love is a remarkable achievement unto itself.”

We don’t like to disappoint, (the feckless leaders in D.C. have that role handled) so here’s a first listen of the song “Let It Burn,” the title track off the band’s soon to be released new LP. The song boasts a cameo by the brilliant, late Neal Casal who passed away just weeks ago.

“‘Let It Burn’ became a secret little mantra in my head while dealing with some heavy changes in my life, mainly loss. Letting go wasn’t good enough I had to burn those negative feelings before they killed me,” said singer-songwriter-guitarist Brent Rademaker. “Trevor [Beld Jimenez] and I came up with some verses to my open C-minor tuning and we cut it live with a cool flat dry 1970s production by Jonny Niemann. The great Nelson Bragg orchestrated the perfect So-Cal harmonies.

“Little did I know I would need to call on that mantra again, when just months after finishing the album we would lose our dear brother Neal Casal. Neal’s otherworldly guitar playing weaves this whole song perfectly together and the outro solo that closes the whole album says more to me than any lyric we could’ve written. Neal made GospelbeacH legit, when we told him we were making a “rock” record he just shook his hand and shushed me up, plugged in and played his guitar…no second takes.” Hesaid,  “Just let it burn.”

GospelbeacH’s Let It Burn will be available October 4th on Limited Edition Colored Vinyl (grab it here, as I did – Ed. Mills) CD, digital and streaming formats via Alive Naturalsound Records.

Here’s a Band to Die For: Mercvrial

Check out a couple of crucial tracks, below.

By Fred Mills

Cue up sound of palm vigorously slapping forehead. It is a poorly-kept secret that we music writers sometimes let our mail tubs get to the point of overflowing before we finally get around to opening the packages – which, typically, are overflowing with music, much (most) of it dreck, but once in awhile, utterly captivating.

Such is the case with Mercvrial – which I assume is pronounced “mercurial” – and their 5-song mini-album The Stars, Like Dust, which just this week I belatedly discovered in the aforementioned mailtub.  They’ve been described, variously, as dreampop, neopsychedelia, and shoegaze, compared to Flying Nun- and Creation-era artists as well as our own vaunted Paisley Underground scene here in the States. So be it.

But why not simply check ’em out, below – our brothers over at The Big Takeover premiered a couple of tracks earlier in the summer, and they basically do the talking for the band that you need to hear. If you like what you hear, reach out to the band at the above link or via email (mercvrialmx[at]yahoo[dot]com) and demand more. I know I plan to. (And to David Mercvrial – thanks for reaching out to me in the first place. Looking forward to hearing you guys in the future.)

Just Out: Tracy Shedd “The Carolinas” Album

By Fred Mills

Way back in 2013 we enthusiastically covered NC-by-way-of-Arizona songwriter Tracy Shedd, who had just released her remarkable album Arizona. (Additionally, check out a review of it here.)

Shedd’s new one, The Carolinas, her sixth, has now officially dropped via NC’s Fort Lowell Records as of yesterday, Sept. 20, and it a dreampop delight. (Yes, folks, it’ll be available on vinyl as well courtesy Science Project Records.) I’ll save the review-style verbiage for later, but here are a few salient details the label has kindly supplied… First, though a couple of tunes… aw hell, let’s make it three tunes… for your sonic edification:

After having Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth sit in on drums for Tracy Shedd during a US tour, Shedd began writing songs for The Carolinas in her new home of North Carolina; combining her indie rock roots of 20-years with recent electronic experience from Band & The Beat.  The Carolinas is Shedd’s most playful, yet proficient, album to date, celebrated by the inaugural release of “Kissing and Romancing”: the superfun and fuzzy shoegaze single with its supercute and funny stop-motion video – followed by the second single “Holding On”: a classic indie pop dance hit in the making, accompanied by an engaging performance video.

Looking forward to some live dates from Shedd? Us too, no kidding!

Video/Review Exclusive: Hater, live @ Berlin 9/19/19, New York City

PHOTOS, VIDEO, & TEXT BY JONATHAN LEVITT

Fire Records band Hater, hailing from Malmö, Sweden, rode into town last night (September 19), for a two-night stand at Berlin here in New York City. With their great 7” “Four Tries Down / It’s a Mess” fresh off the presses, the band sounded like a more sedate Bettie Serveert, mixed with early-era Lush. There was one song where one of the guitarist’s pedal twiddling took on a Cocteau Twins-like smear that sounded awesome.

Ultimately, I think the show suffered because the mix on the PA was poor. Often, singer Caroline Landahl’s beautiful voice would be muffled and/or clipped at the high end. Hopefully, for the second night, they’ll get this right. That said, I was impressed by the band’s music and the feeling these songs evoked. This is definitely a band I’ll be looking to hear more from in the future.

Until then, check out my video and stills from last night’s show down below and also don’t forget to check out Haters’ latest single at their Bandcamp page: https://haterfire.bandcamp.com.

You can also check out my prior review of the single here at Blurt.

2019 Lockn’ Festival Is Now (Aug. 22-25) – Live Stream!

Subject header says it all – and stay tuned for our coverage of this year’s event, right here at Blurt. Ben & Jerry’s and Relix.com are streaming the festival live as well, so tune in here.

By Blurt Staff

Need we encourage you once again?

The above poster to the annual jamming blowout should tell you all you need to know. Meanwhile, check out our coverage from years previous, courtesy our ace shutterbug, Willa Stein:

FOR THE LOVE OF… Lockn’ Festival 2018
MAKE AMERICA LOVE AGAIN: Annual LOCKN’ Festival 2017
Photo Gallery: Lockn’ Festival 2015

 

Pylon Reenactment Society, Harvest Recs’ Transfigurations Fest Incoming

Pictured above: Athens’ mighty Pylon Reenactment Society, playing Saturday night at the Mothlight. Meanwhile, Harvest Records’ Transfigurations  III Festival will run Thursday through Saturday, featurineveryone from Danny Brown and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy to the Oblivians and ESG. Hey kids, this is drugs on your brain…. (Photo by John Boydston)

By Fred Mills

Here at the BLURT western North Carolina outpost, we live for opportunities like this: a slew of utterly amazing outfits – veterans and relative newcomers alike – are descending upon the quiet burg (heh-heh) known as Asheville this week/weekend, and it’s not necessarily hype to proclaim this to be the premier musical interlude of the year.

My respect for the Pylon Reenactment Society  (heirs to the sonic and artistic legacy forged by Pylon and starting back in the early ’80s, when I initially saw the band) knows precious few, if any, boundaries. Let me revisit some past coverage here at Blurt:

Pylon Reenactment Society Part Time Punks Session 12″ review

Everything Is Cool

Back to Athens

Pylon Live album review

Here are the details on the show this Saturday, August 24. Be there, or be… you know. Cubic.

Pylon Reenactment Society -Athens, GA
(Post Punk / Dance Funk / Art Rock)
Crooked Ghost – Asheville, NC
(Dream Pop` / Post punk)
Fourth Mansions – Athens, GA 
(Acoustic music from the mind of Joe Rowe)
The Mothlight
Doors 8 pm. Music starts at 9 pm.
——————————————

 

Meanwhile, glom onto the above poster for our good friends at Harvest Records, located in West Asheville, for their big anniversary party, which takes place at multiple area venues this week. Rather than trying to steer you to any particular show, allow me to simply provide this link to their lineup page – you’ll be glad I did.

Hope to see a lot of my old friends out and about in a few days – it’s gonna be a special time.