The Head explore ‘Space’ with astronomical results

New Release: The Head, Space (DollarShade Records)

The Head has a new album called Space, and you’re gonna need to hear it. The high-energy Atlanta power-pop trio has come a long way since their teenage years and the debut of Puckered back in 2009. This is a dynamic live band who have recorded what must be the culminating achievement of their career (so far).

Produced by Tanner Hendon and Wyatt Oates of Atlanta’s Madison Studios, Space underscores what The Head is all about: thoughtful and intelligent lyrics, the upgraded and searing guitar of Jacob Morrell, the rabid heartbeat of the band, drummer Jack Shaw and bassist extraordinaire Mike Shaw, whose lead vocals have been amped up to 11 on the new release. It’s tough to talk about the highlights on Space, as nearly every song is a potential hit (whatever that means in the 21st century).

“Delusion” kicks it off in high gear and there’s not much slowing down after that. The band’s long-running affinity for certain groups from the 80s and (mostly) 90s shows through here, with such influences as Ride, Spiritualized, Stone Roses and early R.E.M. “Tea Colored Radio” begins with a Cultish guitar intro that quickly turns into a soaring gem of a tune. Space is full of your new favorite song…just pick one. “Impossible,” “Zoey” and “Lilies” with a nice little love song, “You,” in between keep the middle of the album on point.

Potential greatness lies in track 10. “I Wanna Be Loved” hits on all 12 cylinders, with hints of some of those aforementioned Brit bands. A smart and powerful song. Short of discussing every song on this illustrious 13-track LP, just buy the damn thing. You’ll be investing in a great rock band.

Space is officially released August 4 and available on iTunes and Spotify, with vinyl and CDs for sale at shows and at The Head. The band is setting off on a 39-plus city tour, covering most of America and including their first trip out west and to the United Kingdom. See them live soon!

Five Eight keep on truckin’

Athens, Georgia legends Five Eight are readying to drop their eighth studio album, Songs for St. Jude (Chicken Ranch Records). Produced by Mike Albanese, the 17-song double album illustrates just how relevant the band remains some 25 years after their debut. Don’t believe it? Just listen. Go ahead and YouTube some live Five Eight vids from the early- to mid-90s to realize that the band – especially leader Mike Mantione – has lost nothing from its energy stores. If anything, the band is more of a force today.

St. Jude is a master class in passionate and literate rock and roll, with Mantione emoting his ass off (as usual). There is an unexpected maturation with this new release, which isn’t to say that the new tunes are more sober and evolved than previous releases (Mantione has tackled personal issues in the past). Maybe the band with the punk aesthetic has expanded on their sound. The songs run the gamut from slow burners (“Smoke,” “Sherman Oaks Fire”) to their familiar triple espresso sounds (“Werner Herzog,” “Someday”). In between are pure gems, songs that will become etched in your memory for some time.

Dark and wonderful, “The Hollow” holds dear some genuine Athens DNA, while you may hear whispers of Neil Young in “The Flood,” honoring those affected by Hurricane Katrina. You should recognize the familiar voice of Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood on that track, as well as on the memorable “Song for Jim Gordon.” And is that an ode to Beastie Boys in “Tall Tales”? You be the judge. As for this tightly fantastic four piece – Sean Dunn on guitar, Patrick Ferguson on drums and Dan Horowitz on bass – there is zero shortage on talent and commitment. These guys will show you what a live band should sound like.

Athenian Jack Logan makes an appearance on a couple tunes here. Cowriting and taking lead on “Iron On Sun,” Logan and the band find a phenomenal balance on a memorable track. “I bought a shirt there on the midway / On the front was an iron-on sun / On the back it said, ‘Keep on Truckin’ / On the front was a iron-on sun.” Logan also cowrote and sings on the smooth and fuzzy “Huckleberry Inn.”

The happiest and hookiest of the bunch may be the one-two punch of “Kids” and “Florida.” In another time and place, you may ask yourself, “Why is this not on the radio?” Closing out the album is arguably Five Eight’s most beautiful recording, “Once On The Lam,” a sparse and personal piece of work that should be the closing song at every show. “Once on the lam aren’t we all sorta strays / Keeping a home and a poem for those darkest days / If they return it’s why we burn to belong.”

Short of writing a novelette, there is no way to fully explain the greatness of St. Jude. Coming in at just over an hour, each song has its own story, its own power. Layered and complex, this may just be Five Eight’s most outstanding achievement yet. Your mission now, if you choose to accept it, is to buy Songs for St. Jude. More importantly, though, is to experience Five Eight live. You will never hear their music the same again. The biggest irony is the title of the album, as St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. This album is far from it.

Listen to “Kids on Spotify

 

Shearwater soar into Atlanta

Shearwater and Cross Record at Terminal West in Atlanta, 12/13/16

What a year it’s been for Austin’s Shearwater. With their eighth studio album, Jet Plane and Oxbow (Sub Pop Records), the band is getting noticed more than ever. Coming off a successful European tour and now back to the states, critical acclaim and a fast-growing fan base has catapulted Shearwater to the forefront of the indie music scene. Obvious fans of David Bowie, the band covered his entire Lodger album with the AV Club in early 2016.

Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg was energetic and full of joy as the band offered up a terrific set of songs mainly from Jet Plane, but sprinkled with gems like the excellent “You As You Were” from 2012’s Animal Joy. The first single off the new release is the Cold War-inspired “Quiet Americans,” which looks and sounds a bit like the eighties, and was a touch prophetic as months later millions of Americans stayed home on election day. The entire album, in fact, has been called a protest record. Which makes sense if you listen closely.

Jet Plane has such an eighties feel that as “Filaments” kicks in, you may be reminded of the Police’s “When the World is Running Down…” But Shearwater is most definitely not an eighties band. They are Meiburg’s unique conception of an amalgam of different genres, shaped by his very own creative mind. Filling out the band are Lucas Oswald (keys, guitar, backing vocals), Emily Lee (keys, backing vocals), Sadie Powers (bass) and Josh Halpern (drums). All five members raise the bar on musicianship. This is a tight band and sound terrific live.

“Radio Silence” is anything but, with a mountainous build-up and soaring vocals (“In disarray! Disarray-ee-ay!”). Meiburg’s voice is strong and smooth, complementing the music (or is it the other way around?). The encore paid homage to Bowie with fresh versions of “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” and “Look Back In Anger.” Keep your eyes and ears open for the next tour, Shearwater is finally becoming a household name.

Fellow Austinites Cross Record put on an amazing performance. Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski play with a self-described genre of “doomage,” which is slightly misleading because a fan may argue that the sound is more beautiful and uplifting. Their new album, Wabi-Sabi (Ba Da Bing!), is definitely worth a listen.

Atlanta welcomes Dead Can Dance



Dead Can Dance
Dead Can Dance (www.deadcandance.com)

 Live review: Dead Can Dance with David Kuckhermann at The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, 9/5/12

Born of the early eighties growing gothic movement, Dead Can Dance evolved musically until 1996, with the release of their final studio album, Spiritchaser, was released. And that’s the last new music fans heard from DCD – until last month, with the release of Anastasis (PIAS). The ensuing tour gave hardcore fans a dose of the new stuff, as well as some classics.
The duo, made up of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, were joined by a full band. But there was no doubt about who to watch. Perry and Gerrard stood stoically through each number, barely uttering a word between songs, except to give a few thank yous (and that was just Perry – Gerrard only smiled). The bulk of the crowd was dressed in black leather and all things Goth. There may have been a few holdovers from the DragonCon parade the weekend before in downtown Atlanta.

Visually, the duo seems to be from different worlds. Gerrard, with the golden voice, has the look of a royal deity (there may even have been a pale halo over her head), while Perry looks like Mike from Breaking Bad with a voice you may have heard from a Joy Division show. Together, however, they make magic. Each led their own songs throughout the evening, but even those excellent vocals were transcended when they worked in harmony.
DCD opened the show with the leadoff track from Anastasis, “Children Of The Sun,” a seven minute gem that sounded perfect. Credit should be given to the incredible acoustics at the Cobb Energy Centre, but the band rightly deserves it. With a sound straight out of the Middle Ages, DCD seem to have mastered that Renaissance and European folk sound.
A highlight was the Tim Buckley classic, “Song To The Siren” during the second encore. This song was woven into Perry/Gerrard fabric and became their own.

Opening the show was the remarkable hand pan and hang drum artist David Kuckhermann. For those unaware, the hand pan looks like an enclosed steel drum and sounds similar to the island instrument. He also plays other types of drums and tamborine-type instruments. But it’s so much more, especially in the hands of Kuckhermann. He set out to mesmerize the crowd for roughly thirty minutes. The angelic sounds drifted throughout the Energy Centre and no one wanted this dream to end.
The limited banter he had with the audience was appreciative and polite, in his thick German accent. Kuckhermann also creates instructional DVDs which have become highly popular around the world. He has also release his first studio album entitled The Path of the Metal Turtle.
Setlist
Children Of The Sun, Anabasis, Rakim, Kiko, Lamma Bada, Agape, Amnesia, Sanvean, Nierika, Opium, The Host Of Seraphim, Ime Prezakias, Now We Are Free, All In Good Time

Encore 1

The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove, Dreams Made Flesh
Encore 2
Song To The Siren (Tim Buckley cover), Return Of The She-King

Encore 3

Rising Of The Moon

..

The Head: Power pop punks



The Head (photo by John Boydston)

 Live review: The Head at The EARL in Atlanta, 8/2/12

The phrase “support local music” has not been uttered recently. It needs to be. Those bands that sell millions of albums every year had to start somewhere. Usually, there’s a grass-roots movement to garner exposure for some local group that you feel “has it.” Well, Atlanta’s The Head “have it.” Last night’s turn-out was less than stellar, though. Sure, it was a Thursday night. Yes, it had just rained like hell. Okay, the Olympics are on, I get it! Still, none of these excuses could justify missing such a great night of rock music.

The Head, consisting of twin brothers Mike (bass, lead vocals) and Jack Shaw (drums, vocals) along with Jacob Morrell (drums, vocals) have a recipe for success. They just need more taste-testers. This power pop trio has an energy level exceeding Red Bull 5. Their songs are expertly crafted with smart lyrics and terrific musicianship. What’s not to love? With two full-lengths under their belts, 2009’s Puckered and last year’s Hang On (produced and engineered by Don McCollister), The Head has a proven track record. “Tony” is the latest single and is about as close to a perfect song as you’ll find.

Are you ready for the zinger? The Head offer up all their music for free via their website. Now, if and when you actually see them live, you can grab everything they’ve recorded (in a variety of CD and vinyl formats) along with free t-shirts. All they ask is that you leave your email. Gotta build that fan base.
Among the standout tracks were “Separate Bodies,” “Only One,” “Tony,” “I’m Lost” and “Gotta Fall.” Some of the band’s influences that bleed into their music are The Stone Roses, Pavement, Big Star and even Carole King (their words!). There are definitely some 60s influences ingrained in these tunes. Put The Head on your list of must-see bands. It’s worth it.
Opening the show was Atlanta’s power indie rock collective Summer Dare. These guys complemented the evening well with a bit harder edge, but still heavy-hooked, catchy stuff. Summer Dare also supplied fans with their self-titled EP for free. This is the only way to go. They also provide the EP as a free download on Bandcamp or their Facebook page.

Paul Melancon hit the stage next, with a bevy of musicians and sweet sounds. Obvious influences include The Beatles, E.L.O. and Neil Finn. Indie pop was meant to sound like this and Melancon has cornered the market with his sound. It was a lively set of harmonies, wit and talent. Sitting in on drums was Pete McDade (Uncle Green/3 lb. Thrill), who had the skins turned up to 11. It’s unclear whether he’ll play any more shows with Melancon, but it was a match that worked.
Melancon’s self-depracating humor kept the crowd giggling in between songs, but once the music started, they were swaying and tapping their toes. One of the foremost local singer-songwriters of the indie-pop persuasion, Melancon has released two widely lauded solo CDs. You can pick up Slumberland and/or Camera Obscura on the Music page of his website, iTunes or CD Baby.

Also known for astute covers of excellent songs, Melancon posts a video of a cover every Monday on his website. Check out his triumphunt version of E.L.O.’s “Mr. Blue Sky.”

Now, get out there and support your local bands!

BoDeans bring new album (and line-up) to Atlanta

Live review: BoDeans with Heather Luttrell at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, 6/20/12
Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas were the songwriters/musicians/singers who made up the sound of Milwaukee’s BoDeans going back to their first album from 1986, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. The distinctive vocals from Neumann and Llanas (especially Llanas) encapsulated the sound of the band. Sadly for fans, Llanas left BoDeans in 2011. Neumann carried on – now with total creative control – and released American Made earlier this month. The sound leans less toward roots rock and more to a country rock sound.

The absence of Llanas is a blow to that unique BoDeans sound, but Neumann has done a fine job in setting a high bar and delivering a very good album. And to see this band live is an enhanced experience. Everything sounds better when they’re onstage. “Good Work” got things rolling in a quick way, followed by “Flyaway” from the new album. This track is currently getting video play on CMT. On “Stay,” Neumann explained that he wrote this one for his two daughters and explained how he asked them to stay young, since he was constantly on the road and missing out on their lives. This is a bittersweet song for any parent. (“Why must you say goodbye? / Why don’t you stay a while?”).

The evening was a mix of old favorites and new sounds from Made. Strangely, they complemented each other. On the hit “Fadeaway,” Kurt showed off his exceptional guitar work on a song that has evolved with a hint of reggae. On the fantastic “Good Things” (from the debut), the listener may be reminded of Springsteen‘s “Badlands.” Maybe.

BoDeans have managed to stay relevant in a world of everchanging musical genres and overnight Internet sensations. The sound was tight and beautiful, and as a live act, BoDeans are hard to beat. The encore was a short two songs. First, “Still The Night” thrilled the fans. When Neumann sang, “If I can hold you tonight, I might never let go,” many female fans appeared to concur. “Closer To Free” finished out the evening. The tune that became the theme song for the TV series Party of Five was also the band’s biggest hit. It was a barn burner and everyone knew the words. Although not a sold-out show, the energy in the house said otherwise.
The band is covering the U.S. through early October. Catch them in a town near you: TOUR.

Atlantan Heather Luttrell had opening slot duties and wowed the crowed with her powerful and soulful voice. You may remember her as a contestant from the 2005 reality show Rockstar: INXS, in which she was aiming for a spot with the legendary 80s band. The fact that she lost out to J.D. Fortune is possibly a good thing, as this opportunity may have boxed her in (and according to the merch guy, “Do NOT ask her to play any INXS!”).

Her vocal stylings were more along the lines of a countryfied, folksy Janis Joplin. During her acoustic set, Luttrell was accompanied by her father, who stood next to her playing slide guitar. (“The whole ‘Daddy’ thing isn’t as weird when people find out he’s really my Dad.”) It was a good sound and local fans were supporting her in force.

Watch Heather sing “Georgia On My Mind.”

Keep an eye out for this talented songwriter. Check her tour schedule HERE.

Atlanta warms up to The Cult

Live Review: The Cult with Against Me! and The Icarus Line at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 6/17/12

For fans of 80s music, The Cult should definitely be on the favorites list. Not just a rock band, but not heavy metal. Somewhere in between, with a Doors-like mysticism. Leader Ian Astbury could very well be chanelling Jim Morrison. The Cult‘s post-punk/gothic rock sound set them apart from other groups of the 80s. Rolling out of London in 1984 with their first major label debut Dreamtime, The Cult gained fame quickly and eventually conquered America.

Touring in support of their ninth studio album Choice of Weapon (Cooking Vinyl), the band is enjoying the fruits of its labor from the past three decades. They have definitely not lost a lot, with Astbury’s vocals close to what they were in the heyday, and the band tighter than ever. Granted, only Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy remain as original members, with John Tempesta and Chris Wyse rounding out the rhythm section.

The band played through most of Weapon including “For The Animals” and “Lucifer.” These songs rock more than you think they might. Needless to say, fans were treated with the reason they were all there, with such gems as “She Sells Sanctuary,” “Fire Woman,” “Rain” and “Love Removal Machine.”

At times, Astbury wanted more from the crowd, yelling, “Get up off your fucking asses!” He almost came off as an angry Gene Simmons. After throwing a tamborine into the crowd, he seemed to be motioning to get it back several times the rest of the evening. Not sure what became of it. In the end, though, he was very appreciative of the fans and told them so.

Listen: “For The Animals”

Opening the show was the loud and proud sounds of The Icarus Line. Clearly inspired by acts such as Black Flag and The Stooges, lead singer Joe Cardamone aspires to be a 21st century Iggy Pop, with no shirt and skinny jeans. Iggy never screamed like that, though. This was one loud set, with Cardamone doing plenty of strutting and spitting. It was raw and raucous.

Middle band Against Me! was the real surprise of the evening, with an exceptionally tight sound and a set of terrific songs. You may have read in the news about frontman Tom Gabel‘s recent transgender process to become Laura Jane Grace. On this night, he simply wore eyeliner and very high heals, along with what appeared to be an all-leather outfit. Standard rockstar garb. Gabel’s voice, though, was the attraction. Falling somewhere in the neighborhood of Cheap Trick‘s Robin Zander, this thing is one powerful instrument. The band tore through a victorious set, including “Thrash Unreal,” “Stop!,” “New Wave” and the excellent “I Was A Teenage Anarchist.”

Besides the obvious talent of Gabel, 21-year-old drummer Jay Weinberg was the heart of the band. He ripped through each song like a veteran and kept the intensity dial on 11 (incidentally, Jay is the son of drummer Max Weinberg, of the E Street Band).

Listen: “I Was A Teenage Anarchist”

To catch this tour before it heads to Europe, go here: Tour info.

Punch Brothers bring a little bit of fantastic to Atlanta

Live review: Punch Brothers and Jesca Hoop at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, 4/21/12

If Wilco can be called the American Radiohead, then surely Punch Brothers can be considered the Bluegrass Radiohead. Not that all bands must be held to the Radiohead standard, but when a band evolves, takes chances and goes all experimental, the comparison is allowed. Even Punch Brothers basic song construction, in some cases, sounds a bit Radioheadish. Leader of the group Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, The Goat Rodeo Sessions) also exhibits a thing for Thom Yorke’s group. “Kid A” is featured prominently on the new Who’s Feeling Young Now? (Nonesuch) and the boys have covered a number of their songs live.

The wonderful “Don’t Get Married Without Me” kicked off the set. Thile (prounounced “THEE-lee”) and the rest of the “newgrass” quintet seem as close to virtuosos a five-piece can get. Rounding out the band are Gabe Witcher (violin), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (acoustice guitar) and Paul Kowert (stand-up bass). These guys are all rock stars and not the traditional kind. No drums, no electric guitars, no synth. Just five dudes standing on stage, playing the strings. Total rock stars. If you don’t believe it, check them out. Thile does the solos like Eddie Van Halen, just in a purer form. And with a mandolin.

All five Brothers had established careers playing with other people and got together in 2006. The name was taken from the Mark Twain short story “Punch, Brothers, Punch.” Using a Twain title is perfect: likeable and pervasively honest, just like the band. Various members of the group joked and chatted with audience members throughout the evening, but it was the music that mattered.

World class original music is their specialty, but they are also known for all those covers. This evening was no different, as the band played some great tunes from the likes of Beck, Radiohead (of course), Gillian Welch and The Cars (see set list below). For the finale, a wonderfully emotional cover of The Band’s “The Weight” (it had only been two days since the passing of Levon Helm). This was a tribute by Punch Brothers, but as you see in the video, the entire audience was involved.

Watch “The Weight”

It was a lively evening and Punch Brothers are now known as one of those collectives that create a hybrid sound. This was their fourth trip to the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta and the first to sell out. It appears that their sound – however experimental it may be – is a refreshing change from the status quo that you get on the radio hour after hour. Please, see them live.

Californian Jesca Hoop warmed up the crowd very nicely with a guitar and an exquisite voice that can be compared with no one elses. She has toured with Elbow and Peter Gabriel and exhibits a powerful presence while remaining somewhat grounded in her banter. With a very dry sense of humor, her opening gig was almost a conversation with fans. Very funny and very effective. New fans were made that night.

Touring in support of her upcoming release The House That Jack Built (June 25), Hoop has built a following with her sensual and personal style of performing. Thile joined her onstage for a sweet duet, and she returned the favor by joining the boys for a song. Before she had a chance to begin, though, Punch Brothers sang her a rousing “Happy Birthday.” She was embarassed. And happy.

Punch Brothers Set list
Don’t Get Married Without Me, New York City, Next To The Trash, Flippen, Who’s Feeling Young Now?, Clara, Missy, The Blind Leaving The Blind, Sexx Laws (Beck cover), Train On The Island, Hundred Dollars, Kid A (Radiohead cover), Wayside/Back In Time (Gillian Welch cover), Happy Birthday (w/Jesca Hoop), Just What I Needed (The Cars cover), Watch ‘at Breakdown, Rye Whiskey.

Encore:
Patchwork Girlfriend, Movement And Location, The Weight (The Band cover).

Kaiser Chiefs predict (and get) a riot in Atlanta

Live review: Kaiser Chiefs with Walk the Moon and Transfer at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 3/10/12

Ricky Wilson, the bold and brassy lead singer of Leeds natives Kaiser Chiefs, seemed a tad pissed as the show kicked off in Atlanta. Maybe this was because the Tabernacle did not sell out. After all, the band had been hailed as the next Jam when they released their debut Employment in 2005. Maybe it’s because Wilson and the boys really want to exude that punk rock attitude, so pissed is how to do that.

Whatever the reason, they cheered up themselves and warmed up the crowd quickly. The energy level was locked on 11 the entire evening. Touring in support of the new release Start the Revolution Without Me (B-Unique), the band performed songs from all four albums, but relied on the brilliant Employment for much of the evening. The show kicked off with the wicked “Everyday I Love You Less And Less,” and Wilson was all over the stage (and off it, some). With a history of injuries from jumping off the stage, he surely was being careful. Like when he climbed the rope ladder into the balcony and walked through the shocked crowd while singing his song and prodding those jammed on the floor to scream.

Wilson and the band were very chatty between songs and showed off that dry English sense of humor. “Next time we return to Atlanta,” Wilson yelled, “be sure to bring your friends.” Kaiser Chiefs gave it 110% to the adoring fans, who made it sound like a sold out Tabernacle. It was a fantastically supercharged concert and no one left wanting more. Except they could have played more. That’s all. One of their most popular tunes, “I Predict A Riot” brought down the house with its return-to-mod feel and a tip of the hat to the Jam. Paul Weller must be proud.

For the final song, the group played their first single from 2004, “Oh My God.” Wilson jumped off the stage and singled out one young lady, singing, “Oh my God I can’t believe it / I never been this far away from home” as if he was simultaneously living the moment and wanting to flee.

It was a quick one, with a total of 17 rapid fire songs that sounded flawless. Though the band has yet to repeat the success it had with the first album, they’ve still got the hunger and skill to keep going for quite a while.

With Wilson, the band is comprised of Andrew White (guitar), Simon Rix (bass), Nick Baines (keys) and Nick Hodgson (drums). The band was tight and loud and missed not a beat. Hodgson on drums was reminiscent of Keith Moon or Brad Elvis in appearance, clothing and drumming style. Which means he killed it. As the show ended, the very British Hodgson exclaimed, “You make me proud to be an American. All of you.”

San Diego’s Transfer opened the evening with their fresh, progressive rock sounds. This band is clearly ready to move to the next level. All they need is a little more exposure. That will be gained with this tour and a few important stops, including SXSW.

Cincinnati’s Walk the Moon delivered some nice power pop as a segue to Kaiser Chiefs. Their huge hit from last summer, “Anna Sun,” paved the way for the band to get some massive exposure around the world. You may remember the exciteable and overly happy video that went viral in a very short time. Their unsigned career got a jolt of caffeine with that single as well as calls from agents and labels.

The Anna Sun EP is out now and can be downloaded directly from their site. They are scheduled to play SXSW, Sasquatch and NYC’s Governor’s Ball as well as a host of other events and TV shows.

Set List:

Everyday I Love You Less And Less, Never Miss A Beat, Little Shocks, Everything Is Average Nowadays, Good Days Bad Days, Modern Way, Listen To Your Head, Ruby, The Angry Mob, Na Na Na Na Naa, Starts With Nothing, I Predict A Riot, Kinda Girl You Are, Take My Temperature, On The Run.

Encore:

Love’s Not A Competetion (But I’m Winning), Oh My God.

Grimes makes Monday fun in Atlanta

Live review: Grimes with Born Gold and Dog Bite at the Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta, 3/5/12


The Drunken Unicorn may not be a place one would choose for a relaxing night out on the town. For the typical music connoisseur, this may be a venue of a less-than-favorable comfort level. First of all, the place is nearly impossible to find, GPS or not. Once you actually get there, good luck locating the entrance. It’s a dark descent down concrete steps into the small doorway. The interior is tiny – almost too small for any band. An annex space is taken up by a nice bar.

Once the show began, the smoky and hot room became very crowded. But when an act is good enough, this is all worth it. Grimes (born Claire Boucher) is a Canadian wondergirl who appears to be master of her domain. The cute and down-to-earth musician handles the gig box – complete with Mac and effects machines – with her left hand, while keeping up on the synth with her right. When not singing, the mic is securely stuck between chin and shoulder. All this plus a dreamy voice helped the mostly male fan club forget about the undesireable venue conditions.

Touring in support of her new release Visions (4AD), Grimes is a consumate performer, constantly talking to the crowd and explaining how this didn’t sound right or sorry for that. Things that no one would notice without her self-deprecating style of pointing them out. The new critically acclaimed Visions provided much content for this too-short set. “Oblivion” and the excellent “Genesis” were big hits. For the more complex tunes, Born Gold joined Grimes onstage.

While the set was short, the scene was intense. It was a good night for Grimes, who is continuing on the tour with a stopover at SXSW and then on to several European dates beginning in May.

Listen to Grimes: “Genesis”

Atlanta’s Dog Bite is the brainchild of former Washed Out collaborator Phil Jones. With his self-described folk/surf/trance sound, the boys warmed up the crowd nicely. After coming off a tour, he had the desire to record more of his own songs. With the absence of the required chillwave computer, he used his guitar and went through the process.

With an amalgam of pop, rock, indie and chill, Dog Bite has a unique and intriguing sound. Be on the lookout for the upcoming LP Velvet Changes.

Listen to Dog Bite: “Prettiest Pills”

Up next was the three ring circus of fellow Canadians Born Gold. This was like no other live experience around. Cecil Frena, formerly using the name Gobble Gobble, put on a mindblowing show that ranks right up there with Cirque du Soleil. Seriously. Beginning with his biker jacket covered in lights (which seemed to be controlled by his movements and read through a Mac). Attached gloves also reacted to motion, and looked like something out of the Iron Man movie.

With a fine release last year entitled Bodysongs (Hovercraft), Frena has crafted some wonderful music that is only surpassed by its presentation. On his Facebook page, he has described himself/his music this way: “I’M A CASKET DANCER, TAPPING OUT TOE MORSE TO THE THIRSTY SILENCE.” That explains it perfectly. If you don’t get it, then you get it.

Frena’s two minions have been trained to conform to the insanity. If they’re not standing on the small stage facing the crowd holding two black hand fans (that would light up frequently) while wearing black masks (ala Black Swan) – they’re walking through the sardine-packed crowd on stilts while playing what looked like a shovel (though it did possess much electronic prowess). Needless to say, it was a show. If you EVER get the chance to see Born Gold, you must do it. Your life really may depend on it.

Listen to Born Gold: “Alabaster Bodyworlds”

Watch Born Gold (if you dare): “Alabaster Bodyworlds”