Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rockist Crossword Puzzle: The British Invasion

We were kicking around new ways to liven things up around here, and one of the ideas was to make a Rockist Crossword Puzzle every so often. Here's my first shot at it: email your completed puzzles to therockistsociety@gmail.com and maybe we'll think of some kind of prize to give you. Exciting, huh? Just click on the puzzle above -- it should give you a bigger screen that you can print out and do with what you like.

*If any of you readers are more tech-savvy than I, also feel free to drop us a line and tell us a better way to do this.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Round One to Jason Isbell

Been talking about how I'm gonna blog about this for a while now, but last week I managed to catch both Jason Isbell and his new band the 400 Unit and then Isbell's former mates, the Drive-By Truckers, on Friday.

A few things have been written about the Truckers' set, most agreeing it was a decent showing but not quite up to what die-hard fans have come to expect. Last summer's 31 song marathon/death march/rock-and-roll-salvation was so intense, such a sweaty mess of a rock concert, that I don't remember much of it at all. I think they covered "Moonlight Mile" and I remember being in a headlock...

But this time it started out with their new acoustic thing -- The Dirt Underneath -- and just didn't quite sound right. The guitar's were tinny, the pace kinda dragging, and Jason's absence notable. For the past few albums (since he joined the band), he's always come across as the pop classicist in the group -- something his new solo disc proves. His songs had more polish, more melody, and I've said this before but if a member of the band was gonna make a million dollars penning some radio country hit, it'll definitely be him. The Truckers missed that strong melodic presence in their set and, if I'm being totally honest, John Neff just isn't the guitarist Isbell is.

Either way, after Isbell had done everything but burn the place down earlier in the week, the Truckers had quite a challenge on their hands. Jason's a rare breed: not many solo artists are bold enough to play 2 hours plus sets with a brand new band on their first solo tour. In that span, he ran through the highlights of his debut, with the exception of "Shotgun Wedding", and touched most of his best Truckers' tunes too. And then he also covered "Psycho Killer", "Keep Your Distance" by Richard Thompson, "Into the Mystic", and "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy. Not all of those were perfect -- "Keep Your Distance" with its delicately picked guitar part was damn close -- but they showed off a range and a confidence I didn't quite expect.

So the Truckers may still have the pedigree, the name, the reputation, and while I hear things ended amicably, you have to think they're looking over their shoulder while Isbell starts blowing up.

Jason Isbell @ RnR Hotel - Setlist:
Down in a Hole / Grown / The Assassin (P. Hood) / Hurricanes and Hand Grenades / Never Gonna Change / Goddamn Lonely Love / Chicago Promenade / Brand New Kind of Actress / Decoration Day / Dress Blues / ("old Muscle Shoals song"?) / Outfit // When the Well Runs Dry / Keep Your Distance (R. Thompson) / Danko/Manuel / Psycho Killer (Talking Heads) / Try / In a Razor Town // Into the Mystic (Van Morrison) / Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy)

Jason Isbell - "Dress Blues" (live)
Jason Isbell - "Jailbreak" (live)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The National On Letterman, Tour

Here's a Rockist Society favorite, The National, on Letterman Tuesday night performing the lovely "Fake Empire". DCers take note as they are coming back in September for a two night stand at the 930 Club. If it was anything like the last time they were here, it's not to be missed.

The National @ 930 Club
September 5, 6

Breaking News: Wes Anderson loves the Kinks

That was a joke. Anyone who's spent anytime with Wes Anderson's pleasantly quirky catalog knows the guy loves pastoral, loping, acoustic pop from the 60s and 70s. I could give examples, but I won't.

The Kinks pretty much invented/perfected this template on a series of albums running from 1966's Face to Face (the underrated one) to 67's Village Green Preservation Society (the overrated one) to 68's Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire (all conveniently re-released with bonus tracks these days). Songs like "Picture Book" have seen the light of day through commercials, but the real gems remain buried in there. Every Kinks fan has his/her favorite, but if you haven't given "Little Miss Queen of Darkness", "Drivin'", or "Days" a few spins, you'd do well to track them down.

Maybe Ray Davies attention to minutiae -- the guy's penned multiple songs about having an afternoon tea, for example -- that fits so well with Anderson's films. Maybe it's the tragic characters, maybe its the way the camera focuses on individual characters in their moments of crisis -- think about Davies's character studies. Either way, his affinity for the Kinks is beyond doubt, and I'm damn thankful for that, which is why I was pretty excited when GL sent me this trailer for his newest film, The Darjeeling Limited.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

...And The Winner Is

Results from Sunday's slugfest at the Rock and Roll Hotel are in and the winner of GL Naut's Favorite Band (Of The Moment) Award goes to...Blitzen Trapper! Yessir, the Portland, Oregon group brought it hard and did not disappoint. With six members, three sets of guitars, and three synthesizers they barely fit on stage, but that didn't keep them from banging tambourines and dancing all over the place. Shoegazers they were not, that's for sure. As I had mentioned in my preview, I was a bit concerned about their eclecticism, though to be honest it was a breath of fresh air. Their stoner-countryish stuff still stood out in my opinion, but the spazzed-out "Miss Spiritual Tramp", album opener "Devil's a-Go-Go", and space-oddity "Sci-Fi Kid" were extremely fun in a live setting. AND, they had an attentive and energetic crowd at their disposal, which made their set that much more enjoyable.

That energy and the carefree feel of the night took a sharp nosedive, though, as David Vandervelde and company came on stage. After the first song, "Cute Pretender" - from the new Nothin' No EP, the majority of the crowd took off, leaving maybe 20 people or so to revel in the bluesy sounds of the Moonstation House Band. But that reveling was rather short-lived, as a noticeably perturbed Vandervelde cut the set after about six songs. Only at one fan's insistence did he return and play the infamous Stones cut, "Cocksucker Blues". I loved it, as I knew I would, but it was rather disheartening to see a mostly empty venue.

This is not a new or unique situation; many musicians, fans, bloggers, etc. have commented on the lameness of DC concert-goers. They talk through sets, they don't cheer, they come late and they leave early. I mean, this isn't a Nationals game folks! It's Rock and Roll! I know giving tours of the Capitol is hard work and you have to deal with constituents, like, all day, but come the eff on people. You learn about new bands by sticking it out and, oh, I don't know, actually listening to them.

Blitzen Trapper - "Wild Mountain Nation"

The XYZ Affair: We Told You So

Remember what we've been saying about The XYZ Affair? How they appear to be on the cusp of a real break? "Catchiest guitar hooks", "soaring performances", "the kind of stuff major labels kill for"?

Dedicated blog readers will have already seen the band's video for "All My Friends". Featuring some of your favorite forgotten stars of your Nickelodeon days, it's popped up on a number of blogs -- including Stereogum and Oh My Rockness. Then we/I suggested them for DCist's Unbuckled show earlier this July, and that was a huge hit. And today they're featured on Spin.com as the Band of the Day, complete with a glowing writeup that very much echoes and even kinda mimicks our own praise.

Here's that video for "All My Friends". Classic.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lucinda Williams w/ Charlie Louvin @ Wolftrap

My girlfriend and I spent this Sunday in the pleasant Virginia suburb of Vienna, making my first visit to Wolftrap Center for the Performing Arts. Lucinda Williams -- someone we've been trying to see for a long time -- was there, along with country music hall of famer Charlie Louvin. A quick recap for you all:

We got there an hour before the music started (and it starts right on time) to stake out our claim on the lawn. No video screens out there, but most places have a good view of the stage and we were lucky enough to grab a plot right behind the back of the pavilion. Pleasant evening, and thankfully Wolftrap lets you bring in whatever food and drink you want into the lawn area. Lots of Trader Joe's bags, microbrews, red wines, gourmet cheeses.

Charlie Louvin went on first and played a decent opening set. It was short, but, hell, the guy's at least 80. He talked about a song he and his brother had written about the war...that is, about World War II. Yeah. He's that old. But he's still in good voice, and even played "The Christian Life" -- always been a favorite from the first time I heard it on the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

The crowd was full for Lucinda Williams, who largely eschewed the slower, dirge-like material on some of her recent releases for a more rockin', upbeat set. She had a cracking band, and if anyone knows the name of her guitarist, please let us know. Four tunes off Car Wheels on a Gravel Road were a welcome surprise, but I also liked some of the new stuff including the nostalgic "Mama You Sweet" and the resigned, melancholy "Fancy Funeral." Williams is occasionally prone to some real lyrical clunkers, but she comes across as nothing but genuine -- unassuming and truly happy to be playing her music for such a big crowd. Later in the set, "Honeybee", a new song, had a little punk thing going on, hinting at a possible new direction.

She came back and closed with a couple covers -- Willie Nelson's "Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and Fats Domino's "Honey Child" -- before playing a delightfully spare and pretty ballad, "Knowing" (a "love song", as she called it) to close the night. All in all, a strong performance from one of my personal favorite songwriter in contemporary country music.

Rescue / Pineola / Car Wheels on a Gravel Road / Crescent City / Mama You Sweet / Fancy Funeral / I Lost It / Still I Long for Your Kiss / Righteously / Where is My Love / Honeybee / Joy (with Led Zeppelin tease during the solo) / Unsuffer Me / Get Right with God / Everything Has Changed // Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys / Honey Child /Are you Down / Knowing
Lucindai Williams - "Pineola" (live from Berkeley)
Lucinda Williams - "Which Will" (Nick Drake cover)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Here Come the Truckers

One of our true favorite bands -- one of those bands that just seems to nail down that whole thing we're always babbling about here on Rockist -- the Drive-By Truckers just so happen to be rolling through town tonight, July 20, my birthday. Pretty freaking great. They'll be at the 9:30 Club, and it's sold out. Hopefully you're ahead of the game. I'd link to some tickets on sale on Craigslist, but my work blocks me from using Craigslist at work because it includes "Personals and Dating." Damn shame.

They're doing a new thing this time around though, calling it The Dirt Underneath. The idea is to get back to their roots by going acoustic and rootsier, telling lots of stories, and -- I have no doubt -- swilling a good deal of Tennessee whiskey. But they're also supposedly doing a half "Rock Show", meaning they'll spend the latter hour plus decimating our ear drums and working the room into a frenzy. Oh, and one other thing...supposedly Stax legend and Rockist HoF member Spooner Oldham will be playing with them tonight.

In honor of their stop in DC, here's my top five lyrics from DBT songs. Feel free to post your favorites in the comments. See you at the show.

"Well, my daddy didn’t pull out, but he never apologized / Rock and Roll means well, but it can’t help tellin’ young boys lies. " - Mike Cooley, 'Marry Me'

"Have fun, but stay clear of the needle, call home on your sister’s birthday. Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus, Don’t give it away. " - Jason Isbell, 'Outfit'

"Something about the wrinkle in your forehead tells me there’s a fit about to get thrown"
- Patterson Hood, 'Heathens'

"Cocaine rich comes quick and that's why the small dicks have it all."
- Mike Cooley, 'Gravity's Gone'

"I’ve lived with your mama for eleven years, through good times and bad times, fist fights and tears / but something comes over me when you come near / so won’t you come over and sip on this beer." - Patterson Hood, 'Bulldozers and Dirt'

Honorable mention (for not being an actual lyric):
"The sun is shining, the pollen count is going down, the ice caps are melting and Big Star's 3rd is out on vinyl. It's fucking great to be alive." - Patterson Hood, webpage update, 4/24/07

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sunday Bloody Sunday: Blitzen Trapper And David Vandervelde Compete To Be My Favorite Band

That's right folks, this Sunday (7.22.2007) there will be a full on free-for-all going down at The Rock and Roll Hotel as Blitzen Trapper and David Vandervelde fight to win the prestigious "GL Naut's Favorite New Band (Of The Moment) Award". You've never heard of such an award, you say? Well, clearly you're out of the loop. Past winners include: Devin Davis, The Clientele, Asobi Seksu, and The Long Winters. Needless to say, such a designation will do wonders for one's career, with Devin Davis the possible exception. Sorry, Dev.

Let's look at the contenders, shall we? Blitzen Trapper seem to have it all going for them right now: their latest album, Wild Mountain Nation, has been garnering rave reviews and they recently signed to Sub Pop. Meanwhile David Vandervelde continues his rise to fame, releasing the Nothing No EP last month and playing the upcoming Lollapalooza festival in Chicago. So here we go.

Why Blitzen Trapper might win:

-Wild Mountain Nation kicks ass, and seems like it will only kick more ass live.

-In a recent feature, lead singer Eric Earley professes his love for Big Star and says his "favorite records no.'s 1 and 2 are Tonight's the Night and Wowee Zowee". Man after my own heart right there.

-Their genre-hopping rivals that of Ween (not really), so it should make for a lively show.

Why they might lose:

-Too ecelctic.

-I've only heard their latest album, which could make air guitarring to earlier stuff difficult.

Why David Vandervelde might win:

-Illegitimate love child of Marc Bolan and David Bowie.

-I know all of his songs, so air guitarring along to each one will be a piece of cake.

-"Cocksucker Blues". 'Nuff said.

Why he might lose:

- I've heard all of his songs. All 10 of them.

-I've seen him before, may ruin element of surprise.

So there you have it folks, the stage is set for an epic battle royale, cage match, vicious cock fight, or what have you. Who do you think will win? Leave your predictions in the comments.

Blitzen Trapper w/David Vandervelde @ The Rock and Roll Hotel

Sunday, July 22, 2007



Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Our apologies at TRS. It's been a little hectic with one going to Italy, one getting a new job, and one being lazy (ok, playing a lot of tennis, I'm just keeedeeeng!). The one in a new position is yours truly. Love the job, but a slight (read: huge) downside is that I don't have internet access... shoot, there goes my blogging time.

So, in honor of my Pentium II and shared office, here are a few tunes.

Elvis Costello - "Welcome to the Working Week"

Field Music - "Working to Work"

Huey Lewis & The News - "Workin' For A Livin'"

R.E.M. - "Finest Worksong"

The Deadly Snakes - "Work"

And, because the gov is paying my company waaay too much money...

World Leader Pretend - "Your Tax Dollars at Work"

(Did you notice that most songs about work are derogatory? I know I've said this before, but I wish I were a rock star.)