Archive for June, 2009

Here’s A Show To See: Warlocks With the Morning After Girls

Posted in Music with tags , on June 29, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Great news arrived this morning:

the morning after girls announce summer tour and album release party

photo credit: phillip graybill

join the morning after girls at the mercury lounge for a headline show to celebrate the release of their debut album ‘alone.’ on july 16, then they’ll cross the nation for this summer’s tour with the warlocks (dates below)

07/16 – new york, ny – mercury lounge

the morning after girls recall prime-era shoegaze outfits like ride (whose mark gardener made a guest appearance one one of the group’s early eps). where many of their peers put emphasis on volume, the girls know the power of a good, woozy melody. their best moments top churning guitars with clean, aching vocals.” – rolling stone

the morning after girls national tour dates:

07/30 – san francisco, ca – bottom of the hill
08/01 – seattle, wa – chop suey
08/02 – portland, or – doug fir lounge
08/05 – minneapolis, mn – turf club
08/06 – chicago, il – empty bottle
08/08 – cleveland, oh – grog shop
08/11 – philadelphia, pa – kung fu necktie
08/12 – boston, ma – great scott
08/14 – new york, ny – bowery ballroom
08/15 – hoboken, nj – maxwell’s
08/17 – chapel hill, nc – local 506
08/18 – atlanta, ga – the earl
08/19 – birmingham, al – bottletree cafe
08/20 – new orleans, la – one eyed jacks
08/21 – austin, tx – the parish
08/22 – houston, tx – walter’s on washington
08/26 – tucson, az – club congress
08/27 – san diego, ca – casbah
08/28 – los angeles, ca – spaceland
08/29 – los angeles, ca – spaceland


the debut album from the morning after girls, released july 7

recorded in various parts of melbourne, australia, and was mixed and produced by martin b. sleeman and sacha lucashenko, with alan moulder at the helm. as was always planned, martin and sacha relocated to new york city in 2008, and with the inclusion of ej (bass guitar), alex (keys, sounds, percussion), and anthony (percussion drums).

indeed, it is easy to say that life is a constant flow of beginnings and ends, inhaling and exhaling, rising and passing. well, the morning after girls’ voice remains steady and stronger than always, and as you join them on this journey, you will see that there is not a call, nor text, nor an email that you need to attend to. there is simply the true presentation of the bond between your heart, soul and mind.

the general public, which could serve as the group’s mission statement: big, sawing guitars, gauzy synths and searching vocals making for a song that’s hammering and hooky all at once.” – rolling stone

“the general public., is marked by hypnotically beautiful vocals encased in a rising and falling wall of powerfully insistent guitars.” – 9/10 prefix mag

“an onslaught of blissed-out psychedelic rock and leaden, secret machines and jesus and mary chain-esque reverb.” – rcrd lbl
“gorgeous” – village voice

“imagine taking all the majesty of the j&m chain, the mystery of my bloody valentine, the romance of the church, and the effortlessly subversive cool primal scream, and cranking it up to gorgeously thunderous levels in a trashy little lower east side club. now make it go one louder.” – filter mag

“something that harnesses the blood/guts of a traditional rock band facing the monolith of technology with desire and trepidation, taking a wary step in and plunging headlong into a seemingly limitless black hole, is, well…that’s a sound that’s harder to get than might initially appear to be the case,and its valuable when found.” – la weekly

“the morning after girls played the viper room on thursday night as if they were hellbent on being the next psych-rock contenders, and they might be. the new york-based quintet fashioned a glowing wall of sound and decorated it with colorful licks and cool harmonies; think primal scream, or a harder-edged verve, or the dandy warhols if they hadn’t drunk their own kool-aid.” – kevin bronson, buzzbands

Sonic Youth’s “The Eternal”

Posted in Music with tags , , on June 10, 2009 by johnbuckley100

When Sonic Youth’s Rather Ripped came out a couple of years ago, wouldn’t you know there were objections to its conventional structure, as in: no songs that noodled.  That it was accessible was a sign of something: if not selling out, then maybe slowing down, as if the Western Massachusetts air was mellowing Kim and Thurston.  Or maybe it was just a sign that Sonic Youth, like many their age, knew what to do and were playing for keeps. Now comes The Eternal, which shoots for the basket and makes it without so much as touching the net, a three-pointer of coherent songwriting, no noodling, and pulsating bass lines.  Don’t worry, chords are off kilter, and tuned to the usual Sonic Youth algorithm, and seriously, have the ever sounded better?

I’ve dutifully bought my 67 Sonic Youth albums, but lost the thrill sometime after “Expressway To Your Skull.”  There were signs of life post-Goo, but The Eternal isn’t just good late SY, it stands up with anything they’ve done since, well, “Death Valley ’69.”  There are traces of Elastica in “Anti-Orgasm,” and genuflections to Fugazi in “Leaky Lifeboat (For Gregory Corso).”  This will be scored by the cognoscenti as a bummer, but The Eternal would make a good entry point for those not in the know.

Since the early ’80s, Sonic Youth have had a remarkably stable lineup, and even as they’ve evolved from, well, youth to elder statesman status, they’ve not lost a step, nor a scintilla of hipness.  Twenty-eight years and 16 long-players on, they sound like they’re just warming up.  Eternal, indeed.  And thank Heavens for it.

Cracker’s Savory Morsels Served At State Theater Gig

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by johnbuckley100

So they were standing, like the last rock band on the planet… Yes, Cracker marched through Northern Virginia last night, playing the first of their shows that I’ve seen since, oh, the invention of the Internet.  David Lowery’s grown a beard since Camper Van Beethoven played the same venue (State Theater, Falls Church) in January, and if you want to get a sense of the difference between those fraternal twins, consider where he stands when playing with each one.  With CVB, he’s over on stage right, holding down the singing and rhythm guitar chores while Jimmy Page and Yehudi Menuhin keep the notes flying on the other side.  With Cracker, there he was at center stage, because Johnny Hickman’s gloriously lucid lead licks notwithstanding, Lowery is the center of attention.

Sunrise In The Land of Milk And Honey is a superb album, and restores Cracker’s place in the center of my heart — or maybe more accurately, back on my playlist — in a way not dissimilar to how New Roman Times restored Camper Van Beethoven’s relevance and standing.  Watching Lowery work — joestrummering the guitar and straining to hit the high notes while Johnny Hickman, with the ease of Billy Zoom, lets fly his economical licks and amazingly lyrical lines — shows just how much Cracker means to him, how important it still all is, even in the wake of relative critical indifference, to invest everything he’s got in his genially acerbic lyrics, his faux-unsophisticated singing.

They started with the title song and “Hey Brett (You Know What Time It Is)” from the new album, then went right to where it all began — “Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now).”  As a band, they can still kick the milk pail over.  Middle period Cracker seemed to need to thicken the sound, to heavy the bass.  Late period Cracker seems to have rediscovered its punky Americana roots.

After the discursive amusement of Camper Van Beethoven, which mixed LA punk with gypsy music, ska, and ditties from a bar mitzvah in Kiev… to have teamed up with a straigtahead guitarist like Johnny Hickman — a guy who can reel off power chords with the smooth action of a Winchester pump gun sending another shell into the breach — well, it must have been a relief for Lowery, a new lease on life.  All that time he’d been a roots rocker trapped inside the surfer body of a Santa Cruz slacker. And maybe that’s why, 17, 18 years on, they’ve geared up again.  Let’s go for a ride.

As they worked their way through a long, full, career-restrospective set, I was reminded of those mid-90’s albums I haven’t played in years, and how great songs like “Sweet Thistle Pie” really were.  It was those albums — well, maybe it really was Kerosene Hat, and “EuroTrash Girl”  — that brought out a not-young crowd on a Wednesday night, and it reminded us how in their deliberately non-chic way, in their rebelling against a claim of greater relevance, Cracker took the Southern route to understatement, though their greatness really ought not be denied.

Cracker’s show at the State Theater saw a band revived, and their new album shows them still in creatively fine fettle.   In any objective roster of rock’s most charming — and important — frontmen, David Lowery would be on it: he’s John Fogerty with a subversive sense of humor and a manic wit, Jon Langford’s American cousin.  Let’s hope he keeps both Cracker and CVB cranking it up for years to come.

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