Friday, October 22, 2010

Concert Review: Deerhunter at the Beachland Ballroom

Posted By on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Moody music maker
  • Moody music maker

At a Deerhunter show, you live and die by Bradford Cox’s guitar. While the other three members of the band hold each song steady, Cox submerges the atmosphere in rushing distortion and sporadic soloing, all laced with incredible skill.

When the Atlanta-based band played the Beachland Ballroom last night in support of its fourth album, Halcyon Digest, it played a set list heavy on new tunes, but mixing in older favorites like “Don’t Stop.”

As Deerhunter ripped through their opening song, “Desire Lines,” Cox lifted his guitar straight up into the air, picking a soaring riff while rhythm guitarist Lockett Pundt held the vocals. Cox took over the mic for most of the set, with Pundt reappearing later in the night for “Fountain Stairs.”

Halfway through the set, “Memory Boy” and “Rainwater Cassette Exchange” were rendered short, punchy, and rhythmic-based, striking a contrast to “Don’t Cry,” where the pace changed several times and crescendos hit the audience like sledgehammers. At the end of the song, Cox proudly told the crowd he wrote it as a tribute to Cleveland’s Pere Ubu.

At times, the guitars felt like weapons, Cox moving his hand impossibly fast across the bridge, turning a ‘60s surf vibe into something scarier and more ambient.

But Deerhunter also released the audience into a relaxed trance, closing with an extended version of “He Would Have Laughed,” a tribute to Jay Reatard from Halcyon Digest.

The contrast between clean and dirty sounds, in terms of both feedback levels and melodic succinctness, was a constant reminder that Deerhunter can't be pinned down. While most of the crowd walked out of the ballroom dazed from the show’s intensity, Cox remained onstage to talk with fans. —Danielle Sills

Did you go to the show? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments.

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What to Do Tonight: Thirty Seconds to Mars

Posted By on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Yeah, their music kinda sounds like that
  • Yeah, their music kinda sounds like that

Heavy on special effects and Hollywood heroes, but light on actual substance and imagination, Thirty Seconds to MarsThis Is War sounds like the soundtrack to a summer action-movie dud. The leading man is Jared Leto (better known for his TV and movie roles in My So-Called Life and Fight Club), who pilots this sonic space cruiser. The band’s third album is their modern rock opera, retrofitted with ultra-sleek electro production by alt-rock wizards Flood and Steve Lillywhite. Using laser-fitted guitars, symphonic violins, Auto-Tuned vocals, and lots of children’s choirs, Thirty Seconds to Mars make a futuristic concept album about battling the hardships of fame. “To the right, to the left, we will fight to the death, to the edge of the earth/It’s a brave new world, from the last to the first,” Leto howls on the title track. The result is 12 big-budget snoozers with names like “100 Suns,” “Search and Destroy,” “Stranger in a Strange Land,” and “L490.” It sounds like U2 and My Chemical Romance — if those bands scored shitty Syfy channel movies about hipsters whose vacuous music turned kids into CD-buying zombies. Maybe their live show will tie it all together (a big stage production with jetpacks, guitar sabers, and Scientology booths, perhaps?). But more likely the band’s clichéd radio rock will fizzle into the atmosphere, crashing back to earth without the safety net of studio trickery. Thirty Seconds to Mars, with Neon Trees and New Politics, play House of Blues at 8 p.m. Tickets: $29, $26.50 in advance. —Keith Gribbins

Going to the show? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

What to Do Tonight: Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Put them in, coach. Bingham and the Dead Horses wait it out on the bleachers
  • Put them in, coach. Bingham and the Dead Horses wait it out on the bleachers

The songs on Ryan Bingham’s new album, Junky Star, were written before the 29-year-old singer-songwriter won an Oscar in February for “The Weary Kind,” the plaintive theme song from Crazy Heart. The tales of hopelessness, the songs of desperation, the stories about families barely surviving this tough, hard world — all of them were in the can before Bingham and producer T Bone Burnett walked onstage to accept the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Not much has changed for the New Mexico native, who now lives in Los Angeles. The two albums before Junky Star — 2007’s Mescalito and last year’s Roadhouse Sun — were filled with similar dust-blown songs that borrow heavily from Steve Earle’s playbook (Bingham’s twangy rasp is also borrowed from Earle). The albums that come after it will most likely remain firmly rooted in the same aching heartland too.

The shiny award he picked up for Crazy Heart — a movie about a wrecked outlaw country singer, which also earned star Jeff Bridges a statue — may have boosted his profile a bit, but Bingham says he’s still the outsider looking in — just like so many of his characters. “With all of my songs, I always keep in mind that if I’m going to keep doing this for the rest of my life, I better enjoy singing these songs when I’m 70 years old,” he says.

Bingham’s best songs — Mescalito’s “Southside of Heaven” and “Bread and Water,” “The Weary Kind,” a handful of cuts on Junky Star — have a timelessness that makes them hard to pin down. They could have been written in the 1940s or 1970s. Or even in the past decade. That’s certainly something the mostly stuffy and graying Oscar voters picked up on (Bingham’s appearance was the Academy Award’s most leftfield showing since Elliott Smith performed on the 1997 broadcast).

But he’s also a super-sharp songwriter. At times, Junky Star — which Bingham shares credit with his band the Dead Horses and was produced by Burnett — almost comes off like a declaration of purpose. Its greatest songs, like “The Poet” and “The Wandering,” are laced with cautious hope and down-and-out despair as Bingham and the Dead Horses kick at the trail of brokenhearted with strumming guitars, charging harmonicas, and alt-country fury.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Just In: Cleveland Concert Announcements

Posted By on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM

The Cult, back when they had awesome hair
  • The Cult, back when they had awesome hair

Bears/Harriet the Spy/Kill the Hippies: Beachland Home For the Holidays, Ballroom, $8, Thu., Dec. 23, 8:30 p.m. Beachland.

Big Gigantic: Wed., Dec. 1, 9 p.m., $10. Grog Shop.

The Cult/the Black Riders: Mon., Nov. 15, $32.50 ADV (LiveNation.com). House of Blues.

Danielle Ate the Sandwich: Tue., Nov. 16, 8:30 p.m., Tavern, $8. Beachland.

Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs/Shivering Timbers CD release/Rebekkah Jean: Sun., Dec. 5, 8:30 p.m., Tavern, $10. Beachland.

Carlos Jones & the PLUS Band: Sun., Dec. 26, $10 ADV (LiveNation.com). House of Blues.

Less Than Jake/Supervillians/Off With Their Heads: Wed., Feb. 2, $16.50 ADV (LiveNation.com). House of Blues.

Lustre Kings/Lost State of Franklin/Church of the Lazy Bastard: Tue., Nov. 2, 8:30 p.m., Tavern, $8. Beachland.

Eddie Spaghetti (of the Supersuckers)/Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: Tue., Nov. 9, 9 p.m., Tavern, $8. Beachland.

Michael Stanley & the Resonators Revisited: Sat., Dec. 11; Sat., Dec. 18, $31 ADV (LiveNation.com). House of Blues.

Taproot/Hail the Villain/Battlestar: Tue., Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m., $10 ADV/$14 DOS. Peabody's.

Valencia/Automatic Loveletter/Mercy Mercedes/Call It Fiction/the Mission in Motion: Wed., Dec. 15, 7 p.m., $10 ADV/$12 DOS. Grog Shop.

White Wives (members of Anti-Flag, Dandelion Snow, and the Code)/AM Taxi/the Facials: Sun., Nov. 7, 6 p.m., $10. Pirate's Cove.

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Out Today: Sugarland

Posted By on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 10:30 AM

playback-sugarland.jpg

SUGARLAND
The Incredible Machine
(Mercury)

When did Jimmy Buffett become the patron saint of country music? From Kenny Chesney to the Zac Brown Band, Mr. Margaritaville’s sun, sand, and suds ethos has permeated nearly every corner of landlocked Nashville over the past few years. After occasional dips into Buffett’s pool on 2008’s Love on the Inside, Sugarland come to shore on their fourth album, The Incredible Machine. It’s the duo’s loosest and most engaging record, filled with country-pop songs that rarely reach too far outside of their comfort zone. The group’s best singles (“Stay,” “Already Gone”) twist tender narratives around Jennifer Nettles’ twangy voice. The Incredible Machine’s songs are more direct, a reflection of their big hooks. From the U2-sized stadium stomp of the title track to the front-porch accordion swing of “Stuck Like Glue,” this is the sound of a band finding its footing. And thankfully they’re finding it on solid ground. —Michael Gallucci

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Out Today: Kings of Leon

Posted By on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 9:30 AM

KINGS OF LEON
Come Around Sundown
(RCA)

Fans who were into Kings of Leon before their 2008 breakthrough album Only By the Night may enjoy their fifth CD more if they played the new songs in reverse order. That way, the record starts with the great “Pickup Truck” and winds its way through a few songs featuring the spare-but-dynamic arrangements found on the band’s early albums. But the rhythm section sounds busier and less forceful here, clogging up the Kings’ typically economical songwriting. This sends the rest of the album (besides the country stomp “Back Down South”) straight into Soccer Mom territory. By the time the overly polite, late-era U2 chimes of “Radioactive” show up, you’ll miss the rough, jangling guitars that fueled the Kings’ first few albums. But none of this will matter to listeners who came in once “Use Somebody” became a hit. Still, there’s just enough of the old spark on Come Around Sundown to make older fans hold out for something better next time. —Matthew Wilkening

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Out Today: Die Antwoord

Posted By on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM

playback-die-antwoord.jpg

DIE ANTWOORD
$0$
(Cherrytree/Interscope)

Die Antwoord sound like they come from a place that’s a lot farther away than South Africa. On its debut album, the Cape Town trio spins hip-hop into a frothy blend of futuristic electro beats, outer-space bips and bleeps, and old-school boasting rhymes from a guy named Ninja. $0$ isn’t so much an album of songs as it is a collection of random ideas about what rap music might sound like on Mars. It’s scary, exhilarating, and at times downright baffling. And there’s no better intro to this freaked-out corner of the galaxy than opener “In Your Face,” where DJ Hi-Tek’s stomping beat occasionally stops for wordy rhymes that skitter between English and Afrikkans. In “Enter the Ninja,” chipmunk-voiced Yo-landi Vi$$er’s chorus (“I am your butterfly … Be my samurai”) rubs harshly against Ninja’s speed rhymes. “Yo, what the fuck are you saying?” Yo-landi asks at one point. We have no idea, but you’ve never heard anything like it. —Michael Gallucci

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