Friday, March 30, 2007

Page France

Some blogs seem to specialize without coming right out and saying it. We here at Rockist try to be upfront about our tastes and distastes, and it will surely come as no surprise to you when I tell you that none of us really care for Snow Patrol or John Mayer, for example. With occasional exceptions, we tend to steer away from sub-genres ending in "-ica" or "-core". If you've been keeping score, a couple of us are particularly fond of a certain subset of rock music...two words...both begin with a "p"....

Other blogs are less overt about it. You Ain't No Picasso, for example, clearly loves indie pop. That guy (Matt, I believe is his name) uncovers new indie pop bands like they're just napping on his front porch. It's pretty uncanny, really, and while serving up another blog's microwaved leftovers isn't our favorite thing to do, Maryland band Page France deserve a mention on here.

Sometimes indie pop -- the twee stuff, especially -- drives this particular Rockist crazy. Theoretically, I should love the off-kilter production, the spontaneous, giddy energy, the hooks that just keep coming. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don't. For example, the latest stuff coming out of Architecture in Helsinki sounds like stoners locked in an elementary school music room on a 90 degree day.

But back to Page France. I do really enjoy them, quite a lot. "Junkyard" is my favorite, acoustic driven and kinda loping. Reminds me of a tune I blogged about not so long ago, "Louise", by Mazarin. "Hat and Rabbit" opens with a possible twist on a Dylan lyric, and is a little more lo-fi than the others and has that boy-girl vocals thing that is quickly becoming a little too popular in indie pop. If one singer is not particularly good, and the other singer is not particularly good, then the two together will probably not be particularly good. Let's call this the Young-Whitten Theory, named after the attempted backup vocal attempts of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten on Neil Young albums. But I digress...there's something affecting about their lightweight songs, something crisp and fitting for this time of year.

Page France hit the Black Cat in DC on April 19. They've got a pretty extensive tour lined up too, so if you're coming to Rockist from Minneapolis, Chicago, Kentucky, Boston, NYC, etc., they're heading your way.

Page France - "Junkyard"
Page France - "Hat and Rabbit"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

David Vandervelde: The Moonstation House Band

If you know the Rockists then you know that we love bands that ape Big Star, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys. Our love for Power Pop is unadulterated and undeniable. Though slightly less public, our love for the glam-rock of the 70s is equally as intense and equally irrational. Unlike Power Pop, Nu-Glam doesn't have entire collectives devoted to it, though there are still a number of notable devotees. The Darkness are usually the first band that come to mind, though The M's are probably our favorite. Our favorite until now, that is.

David Vandervelde's debut, The Moonstation House Band, has got to be one of the best albums of the fledgling (and probably, nay definitely, made-up) Nu-Glam genre. He's got the swagger and overt sexuality to make Jagger blush and his Bolan-cum-Bowie vocal delivery is delightfully delicious. Album opener "Nothing No" is the clear standout and will be released June 19 as a single. "Can't See Your Face No More" is my personal favorite and has been on infinite repeat lately; it showcases the biggest hook - monstrous even - on the entire album.

If there's anything that fails on this album, it's the few throw-away tracks (unfortunate that there are any, as it's only eight songs long) like "Corduroy Blues" and the aptly-titled "Moonlight Instrumental". But we'll let it pass as this reverb-soaked debut from the 22 year old Vandervelde is about as good as it gets. Our friends over at Daytrotter describe it as "every bodily fluid known to man personified into music". I think that's about right.

Catch David Vandervelde on tour as he's supporting Richard Swift and Spoon in the upcoming months. DC locals can see him with Swift at the Black Cat on April 19.

David Vandervelde: "Nothing No"

David Vandervelde: "Can't See Your Pretty Face No More"

David Vandervelde (from the Daytrotter Sessions): "Fuckin' Around"

*photo courtesy of David Vandervelde's myspace page

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Life Is Over: Updated

Not really, but the one show that I was really planning on seeing (two of the Rockists had +1's, I might add) has been canceled. Well, actually only one third of it has been canceled, but it was the one third that I was dead set on seeing.

I received an email today from Dean of Memphis Industries stating:
Hi Robb,

Ok we have some bad news and some (potentially) good news for you...

Firstly, unfortunately Field Music have had to curtail their American tour, basically a personal issue within the band has meant that they wont be playing in DC on the 31st. we wont be able to get you in for this show and we are very sorry for this...

However, we do have Tokyo Police Club playing at
Nightclub 9:30 this Thursday (the 28th) - would you fancy doing a bit of Team Memphis'ing at this gig instead, we could potentially get you and a friend in for this gig to collect names.

Let me know your thought as soon as you can.


Other than misspelling my name (and getting the day of the week wrong), Field Music canceling was probably the worst thing (knock on wood) that Dean could have told me this week (or month, for that matter). Next thing you know I'll get a phone call saying my degree is worthless, Green Lake evaporated and the girl I like is a lesbian.

What could the "personal issue" be? Two thirds of the band are twin brothers. Maybe a small scuffle. Did Peter get the bigger helping of mashed potatoes than David? Or is it something worse? Might Field Music be breaking up sooner than expected? They're still playing the Boston and New York shows tonight and tomorrow. What's the deal?

Any hypotheses?

UPDATE: Thanks to G.H., we have a little light shed on the subject. Via an email he received:
...wanted to let you all know that Field Music will not be playing Rock & Roll Hotel on March 31. It has just been announced that the band have been offered a performance spot on UK television that is too good to be passed up, and will be cutting their US tour short by a couple of dates, including this DC show...

So apparently some stupid TV show is more important than pleasing their fans in the bedrock of democracy. Communism is making a comeback...

Friday, March 23, 2007

This Week in Video

The National
"Start a War"

R.E.M. has been my favorite band since the 4th grade. Since TRS didn't do anything for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, I figure this is the next best thing. The quality is crappy, but what do you expect? This video is only 2 years younger than the eldest Rockist.
"Moral Kiosk"

The band with the longest name ever is also the best band from Springfield, MO. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is turning into a TRS staple.
"What'll We Do"

The Hold Steady came out with the second video to Boys and Girls in America this week. G.H. wanted me to mention how this video is the perfect distillation of rockist ideals, but I wanted to mention that I don't quite care for this video.

"Stuck Between Stations"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Broken West - Rock and Roll Hotel

G.H. was on the hunt for a new power pop group to replace TRS Deities, The Bigger Lovers. One blistery cold January day, G.L. Naut and I received an email entitled “the new bigger lovers” (which was actually his second stab at it, after a failed attempt with Cabinessence). I opened the link whilst G.L was berating the replacement band’s name (“retarded” was the term used, I believe) and I saw one word that made me know I would fall in love with this band: “Ghettotech.”

Actually, The Broken West (formerly The Brokedown) isn’t Ghettotech (people tell me they were being sarcastic) as their Myspace page used to indicate. They aren’t even Regional Mexican. They are straight up Power Pop and catchy as hell at that.

While their music isn't as glorious as TBL's, they do quite a few things right. Songs like "Hale Sunrise" and "Baby on My Arm" mimic the driving beat refrains with tensed falsetto vocals sprinkled on top. There is a wanting and strained emotion that comes through in the lyrics, even if the words themselves lack something.

As the balance of TRS can attest to, I despise some of TBW’s lyrics. Two songs on their recent release start with "If you wanna" and have “come on over” in the first line. I literally get the shivers when I hear them, but don’t let this dissuade you from the LA band’s upcoming shows. It seems as though these guys can rock on stage. "To hell with lyrics!" I say. Make yourself a vodka and vitamin water and check out the songs below.

Be warned, this Friday’s show has 4 bands… who the f is Whale Etouffee?

The Broken West (w/ The Walkmen, Farraby Lionheart, Whale Etouffee)
3/23/07 – Rock and Roll Hotel
*a source tells us that this show is almost sold out

The Broken West (w/ The Long Winters)
4/03/07 – Rock and Roll Hotel

The Broken West - Big City

The Wrecking Crew: Inside the Great Rockist Paradox

Papa Rockist sent me an article a few weeks ago that I just got around to reading. It's from American Heritage, it's by Kent Hartman, and it's about the Wrecking Crew, who are to 60s pop in California what the Funk Brothers are to Motown. Basically, a bunch of session musicians formed this loose-knit group they played on more famous albums and singles than I have time to name here. For example, you probably didn't know that the entire backing track of "Mr. Tambourine Man" (with the exception of Roger McGuinn on the 12-string) was laid down by session musicians. Ditto "Good Vibrations" (and most of Pet Sounds), "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "California Dreamin'", "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'". The list goes on, and, frankly, it's absurd. Drummer Hal Blaine (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Class of 2000) has played on -- wait for it... -- 40 number one records and 350 top tens. Think about that for a second.

So why are these guys the "Great Rockist Paradox"? On one hand, most music folks don't know this. Before this article, I knew who the Wrecking Crew was, knew they played on some hits, but couldn't tell you their real story. So, essentially, it's information for music geeks, for pasty males in basements combing through bargain bins to know and love get the picture. It's knowledge that, essentially, rationalizes loving the Monkees. Now you can listen to "Last Train to Clarksville" and not necessarily hear it as some studio crap, but be able to picture that impossibly tight band of LA's finest finally clicking perfectly after hours tinkering with the arrangement.

But it also subtracts from the authenticity of Rockist sacred cows like the Beach Boys and the Byrds. It also brings those bands down to the level of pop icons, somewhere closer to the pre-fab boy-bands and teen stars we tend to hate. If Rockism is all about valuing the authentic relationship between the song and the performance, then clearly there's a major disconnect.

Luckily, the one thing any good Rockist values more than anything else is having knowledge to lord over their friends, family, and co-workers, and the Wrecking Crew are a goldmine.

*Note: The irony is not lost on this author that the very same morning he finally found and began to read the article on the Wrecking Crew that he's had in his possession for two weeks now, he actually did get in a wreck on the way to work. No word yet on how Rockists are supposed to feel about irony.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Introducing: Impossible Hair

Ahh, Silver Spring, MD. Home to a seemingly endless supply of traffic, chain burrito shops, and Quizno's. But last week Impossible Hair -- Silver Spring's finest export since my buddy brought home some leftovers from Chevy's last month -- impressed a small contingent up at the Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights.

They deal mainly in that timeless, lo-fi angsty pop that heavily populate our respective record collections. Haven't found any mp3's to share yet, but their myspace page has a good sample of stuff. I recommend both "Find It" and "My Little Brother". Both have shades of GbV, the Soft Boys, and, you know, all the other British and/or faux-British bands you're supposed to like. Word on the street is that they're in the studio right now laying down tracks for their debut full-length, and it's being produced by another Rockist favorite.

If you care to check them out, they're doing a benefit show for Darfur (a favorite Rockist cause) at Guapo's up in Tenleytown, DC on March 29.

Impossible Hair - Stream various songs

Thursday, March 15, 2007

This Week in Video: SXSW Edition

New York punk funkers The Rapture blew into La Zona Rosa yesterday, playing on the same stage as Peter Bjorn and John and The Pipettes. The video and sound quality isn't that good, but the music gets my head nodding faster than a rattlesnake on a whiskey jar.

"Get Myself Into It"

Native boys Ghostland Observatory play, well... I have no idea where they played this yesterday. I also have no idea what the song title is. It sounds good, though, dontcha think? Go to their myspace page and check out "SAD SAD CITY." But before you do that, check out the guy to the left of the camera...

unknown title

More to come tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Shins - Live at DAR Constitution Hall

James Mercer has a rep for being at best studious and at worst a hermit. As a someone told me, when the Shins are playing live, it sorta looks like he wants to curl into a ball and go to sleep the whole time.

Thankfully, Monday night's show at the DAR Constitution Hall (aka "The House that Molly Pitcher Built") found the band lively and comfortable in front of a sold out crowd. Their banter was game and quirky, referring to the audience as "delegates" and joking about the IMax 3D Constitution movie they went to see earlier in the day.

Anyway, the set was solid, if predictable. They did all the favorites -- "Caring is Creepy", "New Slang", "Kissing the Lipless" -- and opened with the first four tracks from their latest, Wincing the Night Away. Of the new material, "Turn On Me" was the best; of the entire show, "Saint Simon" stood head and shoulders above the rest, the perfect combination of nuance and enthusiasm, Mercer's voice delightfully strained over that bit, "Mercy's eyes are blue/ As she places them in front of you". The big venue hurt the crowd atmosphere a little bit -- only the orchestra section stood up -- but on the whole, it was a polished, uniformly strong performance.

One more thing -- opener Viva Voce were absolutely worth catching. Playing their first ever show in front of an entirely seated audience, as they commented a couple times, the husband-wife duo banged out some excellent Velvets-inspired drone-and-squeal rock, the best of which were the title track from their recent album, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, and the oddly rousing "We Do Not Fuck Around".

The Shins - "Turn On Me" (live on Letterman, w/ Anita Robinson of Viva Voce)

Friday, March 9, 2007

More Oranges Band and Spoon News

Just received two bits of great news from the Oranges Band:

1. Lead singer Roman Kuebler will play a solo set this coming Wednesday (March 14) at the Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights (DC). Minimum two Rockists will be in attendance. I'll be the more enthusiastic of the two.

2. Spoon has recently announced a short series of tour dates, and the Oranges Band will open up for their Baltimore show at Sonar on April 21st.

I know we're blogging the hell out of these guys lately, but they're one of my personal favorite bands and a bunch of real nice folks. Plus, everyone loves Spoon. Speaking of which, my fellow Kentuckian over at You Ain't No Picasso has tracked down a few new live Spoon cuts from they're working on for an upcoming '07 release:

Spoon - "Target"
Spoon - "Rhythm and Soul"
The Oranges Band - "OK Apartment"

Have a good weekend. I'll be sobbing about the Kentucky Wildcats bowing out early of the tournament formerly known as the Wildcat Invitational.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Oranges Band to open for Dismemberment Plan Reunion

Everyone in DC's talking about the Dismemberment Plan reunion these days. How they got tickets, how they didn't get tickets, how they didn't even know that tickets were on sale, how they just want tickets sooo badly.

Do I like the D-Plan? Yes. Would I like tickets? Sure. Did I try to get them? No. Did I think about trying to get them? Not really. Would I pay 15 bucks for them? Sure. Would I pay 25?

Normally, no. But I ran into Roman Kuebler of the Oranges Band at the Ottobar on Tuesday and he informed me that the band will be opening up for the Friday night D-Plan show, April 27th. Now that's a dynamite double bill in my opinion. None of us are most likely getting tickets, but for all of you going, don't miss the opening acts.

*Also, in the most random reunion in recent memory, 60s San Fran Psych-Sludge-Blues group Blue Cheer are back together and will be hitting the Black Cat on April 17. If Frijid Pink announce a show at RnR Hotel this spring, we'll really be in trouble.

*Just announced: Canadian pop-Yep-Rockers Sloan to the Black Cat on May 13. Tickets on sale Saturday. Touring in support of Never Hear the End of It, a soon-to-be Rockist Listening Session selection. Stay tuned.

This Week in Video: Upcoming DC Shows Edition

Last week Battles released the video to the first single on the upcoming Mirrored. It makes me want to punch my computer screen... in a good way. Check out their show with Mary Timothy Band and The Twilight Sad at the Black Cat on 3/23.


Memphis Industries posted a brand spankin' new Field Music video yesterday. If you know anything about me, you know I love this band more than waffles, and I sure love waffles. Be SURE to catch what might be their LAST U.S. SHOW EVER (Davey Brewis has mentioned a "hiatus" after the tour) at the Rock and Roll Hotel on 3/31. They're playing with Menomena, who you shouldn't miss, either.

"She Can Do What She Wants"

Here's Menomena's latest video.

"Wet and Rusting"

Ted Leo played at the Operation Ceasefire concert in '05 right here in our nation's capital. It would have been sweet to see. You know what else is sweet? Ted's cutoffs. Hopefully he rocks them on 3/29 at the 930 Club.

"Sons of Cain"

The Long Winters wrapped up some shows overseas and are touring all across the US. This video was shot in February in Mallorca, Spain. Man, I wish I was a rock star... TLW are playing at the Rock and Roll Hotel with another TRS favorite, The Broken West, on 4/3.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Update: New Wilco Track

We just stumbled across this diddy today. Hopefully we'll be able to get the complete Sky Blue Sky album before it's released in May.

note to RIAA: just kidding

note to everyone else: no we're not

Wilco - Impossible Germany

The Hold Steady - Ottobar - B'more

Last night the Rockists (+5) braved the cold and crowds to see The Hold Steady in our neighbor to the north(east). Time to triple-team this bitch!

Rob: Let me first say that I hate crowded bars/shows. The show was sold out, and quite, at that. Also let me say that I don't enjoy seeing the same show twice. THS aren't known for mixing it up at shows. In fact, I think it would be safe to say they have opened up with "Stuck Between Stations" at every show since the end of summer '06. When my fellow Rockists and I saw THS in October at the same venue, it was an amazing show. The bar was half full and it was the night before Boys and Girls in America was released. It was probably one of the best shows I had seen in 2006.

Last night was the same exact show, except the venue was packed (it was hard to even get my hands up to clap) and it wasn't the usual crowd I was used to being around at the previous THS shows. F-ing pseudo teenie-boppers. But I did enjoy myself. For the first time, I liked their old songs ("The Swish," "Killer Parties") better than the stuff off of Boys and Girls and it was great to hear them include them into the show towards the beginning. One other thing, if you end up making the trek up to Ottobar, be sure you visit the upstairs bar. It's quite chill (although much more smokey than downstairs) and last night it was 2 for 1 drinks. Bonus.

Let's hear from the Gs.

GH: This is was Hold Steady show #6 for me, and the first where I've doubled up on either a venue or a city. Ottobar is still great -- it sounds good, the drinks are reasonable, and the upstairs is pretty sweet. We caught Tad Kubler (lead guitar), Bobby Drake (drums), and Galen Polivka (bass) shooting some pool beforehand. That was sweet. They asked if the Rockist Society would be interested in exclusively putting out their next album. Just kidding.

As for the actual concert -- good but not great. They always put on a consistent performance, but this one lacked a cutting edge or just a touch of magic -- err, a funny bit of chemistry? -- that made our last trip to the Ottobar so great. Rob's right: this set is starting to sound a little too familiar, and, for a band that tours as much as they do, you'd think they'd want to change it up too. "Stuck Between Stations" is still great, and we all know I love "You Can Make Him Like You", ditto "Southtown Girls". And I bet "Guys Go For Looks, Girls Go For Status" from the encore (the b-side on the Chips Ahoy! 7") sounds good on record, but it was a little flat in concert. Whoa, look at me -- complaining about the greatest band in the history of all-time. Just a little journalistic integrity, folks.

Final verdict: if you haven't seen them yet, you really ought to. Even an off night has the power to convert the skeptics.

G.L. First, some comments on the venue: I really like the Ottobar, this was my second time there and I'll welcome any opportunity to head back. For some reason it reminds me of the Black Cat, though it's better in almost every way - the sound is great, drinks are cheap, and the staff are fairly pleasant. Oh yeah, the upstairs bar had two for one drinks. Charm City? More like Crunk City!

But on to the show. I guess I was slightly disappointed by the setlist - it was a pretty Boys and Girls heavy show, which in itself isn't that bad, but they played everything we heard last time. They did end with "Killer Parties" much to my and GH's delight, though i was hoping for a few more "deep cuts", namely "Sweet Payne". That being said, they were incredibly animated (albeit slightly less drunk, or at least less visibly so) and it should be noted that at one point bassist Galen Polivka took out his wallet and started throwing dollar bills into the crowd. Talk about getting your money's worth...

This show was a wake up call for me in that I realized The Hold Steady are, like, kinda popular. Ottobar was sold out and I mean, it was really sold out - like I think I got to third base with the person behind me. As GH and I discussed on the ride home, this, of course, is fine...actually it makes us here at The RS extremely happy, but it's still a weird sensation to see one of your favorite bands go from relatively unkown to playing on Letterman and selling out shows. I won't stop loving them by any means, but is it time to find a new favorite band? Who knows. Maybe it's just the rockist in me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Top Five Hold Steady Lyrics

On account of the Rockist crew trekking to Baltimore tonight to see the Hold Steady at the Ottobar, here are my five personal favorite Hold Steady lyrics:

1. "I surrounded myself with doctors and deep thinkers but big heads with soft bodies make for lousy lovers". - "Stuck Between Stations"

2. "Half the crowd is calling out for born to run and the other half is calling out for born to lose. baby we were born to choose." - Barfruit Blues

3. "i said i'll do anything but listen to some weird talking chick who just can't understand that we're hot soft spots on a hard rock planet. baby take off your beret. everyone's a critic and most people are djs." - Most People are DJs

4. "we didn't see the holy ghost. but the father and the son they seemed like regular folks. jesus rolled his eyes when his dad made jesus jokes. he forgave me for my sins. he said let this famine end and let the 2 for 1s begin." - Sketchy Metal

5. "if she says we partied then i'm pretty sure we partied. i really don't remember. i remember we departed from our bodies. we woke up in ybor city." - Killer Parties

There are a bunch more I had to eliminate. Anybody want to share their favorites?

*picture from the band's myspace page.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Happy Friday

If you haven't already seen this, well, be prepared for the greatest music video ever.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New Wilco Tracks

Three tracks from Wilco's upcoming record, Sky Blue Sky, have been leaked through the intertubes and we're making them available to you, our faithful readers. Seems like they're keeping up with the general sound of A Ghost is Born, though with a slight return to their more alt-countryish roots. Those of you who have had the pleasure of seeing Wilco in the past year or so have probably heard the country-shuffle of "Walken", as it's been in heavy rotation on tour. Sky Blue Sky is slated to be released on May 15th on Nonesuch, though we've heard that the entire album may leak before then. We'll keep you posted. Here are the tracks:

Wilco - Either Way
Wilco - You Are My Face
Wilco - Walken

The Shins: The Rockist Verdict

You've got to be kidding me. Phil Spector gets charged with murder, and all the sudden everyone on the planet is copping his licks all over the place. The Clientele swiped the catchy guitar figure from "And Then He Kissed Me" to great effect on the chorus of "Since K Got Over Me". The Pipettes namedropped Spector in their mission statement. Every band and their brothers are opening songs with that familiar "bum bum-bum thwack" drum part. NYC shoegazers Asobi Seksu are taking Jesus and Mary Chain one further by actually covering ATHKM in concert. If Modest Mouse play the Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" on tour this summer, you'll know we're in trouble. And now you can add the Shins to this list.

"Turn On Me" -- one of the stronger tracks from their latest Wincing the Night Away -- opens with a sort of disfigured version of that same ATHKM guitar lead, then has the temerity to call in the aforementioned drum beat. As for the rest of the album, it lives up to its billing as having a deeper, thicker sound than their previous two efforts. "Sleeping Lessons" is a terrific opening track, megaphone vocals over spacy keyboard patterns before it lifts into an Arcade Fire-like manic finish. "Australia" is strong too, and would've sounded at home on Chutes Too Narrow, but beyond that, there isn't too much to hang your hat on. "Sealegs" is experimental only if you think using a drum machine and synth-strings is way out there, and "A Comet Appears" is a nice closing acoustic ditty, but maybe too predictable.

The production values are certainly higher on this record, and everything does sound good. If anything, what's missing are the clever songs, the unexpected hooks, and their trademark quirkiness. But they've got this craftsmanship thing down.

The Shins - "Sleeping Lessons"
The Shins - "Turn On Me"
The Shins - "Sealegs"
*photo by Brian Tamborello, from Sub Pop page.