Blondie and the Romantics enjoy the fruits of their labor

Live Review: Blondie with The Romantics at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Atlanta, 9/23/11

The punk/post-punk/new wave movement has been littered with bodies since it changed the musical landscape in the late seventies and early eighties. There are few bands who have withstood the test of time and still remain relevant. Very few. Blondie appears to be one of the lucky ones. The relevance is underscored with the new release Panic of Girls this month, a near-return to Blondie’s early eighties glory.

Sixty-something rock veteran Debbie Harry showed real vim and vigor and exhibited why she became famous in the first place. Many songs were off the new record and fell smoothly within the realm of Blondie’s early work. Along with Harry, guitarist Chris Stein and drumming wonder Clem Burke remain from the original line up. Burke, who is clearly a Keith Moon devotee, tore through those drums like he was 20 again, CBGB shirt and all.

And Harry sang like her 20-year-old self. It’s one thing to do reunion tours. It’s a whole other thing to do these tours behind a new album of original material. Good material. All the old favorites were on the set list, including “Atomic,” “Call Me” and “Rapture,” which led seamlessly into a full-on cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right.” This was a surprise to many in the audience and sounded incredible. The encore consisted of two of their biggest songs, “The Tide Is High” and “Heart Of Glass.”


The Romantics proved yet again why they were MTV and Top 40 darlings in the early eighties. The sing-along hits were all played. “Talking In Your Sleep,” “Rock You Up,” “She’s Got Everything” and the big one, “What I Like About You.” Lead singer Wally Palmar tours with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band when on hiatus with The Romantics. Brad Elvis raised the bar for the Romantics hits with his precision drumming skills. Often referred to as the “four-handed drummer,” Elvis entertained fans with his hijinks behind the kit. But the real draw is his efficient use of the space-time continuum on those skins. One must see it to believe it, but this dude’s one of the best drummers in the country. Like Burke, Elvis is a dyed-in-the-wool Moonie (Keith, that is), and would fit right in on the next Who tour (listen up, Pete and Roger).

It was a night to reminisce and be nostalgic of an era that changed music. To see both bands still performing at the same level – or maybe higher – is reassuring.

Chromeo nearly brings down the house in Atlanta

Live Review: Chromeo at the Masquerade in Atlanta, 9/22/11

Please don’t tell Dave-1 or P-Thugg that disco is dead. And if it was, Montreal’s Chromeo have revived it bigger than the Frankenstein monster. The electro-funk duo got together in 2004 and has been filling dance floors and bursting eardrums ever since. Having been compared to a swath of such 80s icons as Klymaxx, Sylvester and even Hall & Oates, Chromeo play familiar sounds but with a cutting edge. Check out this amazing collaboration with Daryl Hall from Live from Daryl’s House.

The duo is made up of Dave-1, the charismatic frontman who sings and plays guitar, looking like he just stepped off the set of Miami Vice. P-Thugg is the DJ synth master who looks like your plumber with shirt unbuttoned and belly hanging out (speaking and singing ONLY through the talkbox – think Frampton Comes Alive). It’s an unlikely duo, both visually and musically. Maybe that’s why it works. The fans believe it works. Before the duo even took the stage, the crowd was chanting “Chromeo, ohhhh-ohhh!” sounding like a 21st century remix of The Wizard of Oz munchkins.

Touring in support of their latest release, Business Casual, Chromeo have brought back 70s funk with an 80s synth feel and a 2011 attitude. Contemporaries Hot Chip, Holy Ghost!, Cut Copy and LCD Soundsystem would all concur. “Hot Mess,” “Night By Night,” “Fancy Footwork,” “Bonafied Lovin” and “Momma’s Boy” each brought down the house. This is not music you’ll hear on your local Top 40 radio station because it does not fit within the constraints of that music. When someone says, “Think outside the box”, they’re talking about Chromeo.

The floor at the Heaven Stage (upstairs) of the Masquerade was giving several inches as hundreds of crazed Chromeo fans jumped up and down in unison. If the floor survived this show, it will be intact for eternity.


Opening the show was Sammy Bananas, who’s DJ skills were only topped by his saxophone skills. That’s right, he’s working the turntables, filling the dancefloor, dropping some wicked beats – then out comes a saxophone. Not a saxophone file played from his Mac, but a REAL saxophone. It was a welcome surprise and the crowd went batty.

On deck were Mayer Hawthorne & The County, providing “blue-eyed R&B” to a happy throng of dancers. Imagine the best R&B/Soul music fronted by this young white dude who sounds like Smokey Robinson (but with more confidence). Hawthorne most definitely wanted all eyes on him as he is a first-class showman and wanted no fan to miss a second. “Okay Atlanta, let’s put the phones away and act like the show is happening right now!” he said, with a touch of sarcasm. The band acted like they were the headliner, and got the love and respect as such from fans.

Elbow bring unapologetic optimism to Atlanta

Live review: Elbow at Centerstage Theater in Atlanta, 9/20/11

A band like Elbow only comes along once a decade, or so. This is a special thing, this band. Another one of those special things would be R.E.M. After hearing the news Wednesday that they were calling it quits, one cannot help but speculate that Michael Stipe was in that packed crowd at Centerstage the night before in Atlanta. Witnessing that special thing called Elbow. And he summized that yes, there is one greater than us. Why go on?

The irrepressible and eternally glass-is-half-full Guy Garvey brought his British quintet back to Atlanta last night. The fans were there. The love was there. It was a terrific evening of music. The unbelievable story here, is that Elbow is not yet a household name in America. Despite the sonic perfection that they have created on each of their five studio albums (and a hundredfold playing live), they haven’t cracked the U.S. yet with that one career-defining song. But the rest of the world is a bit more musically evolved. “We used to be cool,” said Garvey. Only a cool person would say such a thing. For their previous release, 2009’s masterpiece The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow won the prestigious Mercury Prize. Nominated again this year for Build a Rocket Boys!, they just missed.

Garvey had a chat with the fans, asking for a regional or traditional song he could sing. Someone yelled out “Freebird!” People booed. One young lady got Guy’s attention and her recommendation was the “chop chant” from the Atlanta Braves. While chanting this, one must move the arm up and down, as if weilding a tomahawk. I’m sure the Cherokee and Creek were turning in their graves. Anyway, Guy ran with this, did a little call-and-response with the fans, and it morphed into the chant from “Grounds For Divorce.” It was such a perfect transition that either this girl was a plant in the audience or Guy Garvey is a musical genius. It is definitely the latter. This was one of the more upbeat rockers played Tuesday night, and at times the crowd’s voices overpowered Garvey’s.

To make a short list of highlights would be unfair to the band and the fan. Let’s just say there were no “low-lights.” Garvey’s magnificent voice paired with his wit and charisma made every song the best song. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Elbow’s inception, and the audience sang to them as they indulged in a round of shots. Over the course of those twenty years, they have amassed a bit of a cult following. Suffice it to say, everyone knows the songs. Between fans singing/yelling the lyrics, and screaming song requests, Garvey politely shushed them once or twice. “We’re taking no requests at this time, thank you.” he quietly stated. But these songs make you happy. And each band member plays at an advanced level, making the songs – many orchestral in nature – that much better.

Towards the end of the evening, a fan shouted, “Play something unapologetically optimistic!” Garvey responded, “That’s all we play! Everything we’ve ever done is unapologetically optimistic!” In fact, after returning for the encore, the band played “Starlings,” “Station Approach” and possibly the most beautiful and uplifting song in Elbow’s repertoire, “One Day Like This.” The song begins after and alcohol-induced fight the night before. It goes on to discuss growing old together. Garvey sings, “Cause holy cow I love your eyes / And only now I see the light / Yeah, lying with you half awake / Oh anyway, it’s looking like a beautiful day.” With victory in his voice and the surge of violins, you are compelled to sing along, “So throw those curtains wide / One day like this a year would see me right.” I challenge you to find a mightier song.


Opener Glasser showed off her minimal set and Bjorkian ways. Her set was clearly a complement to that of the headliner’s, but a thankless job nonetheless (most openers are). Her voice, however, was rich and powerful, and when she let go, it soared. Garvey would later admit that having her on the tour makes them hip and cool.

Set List (thanks to Setlist.fm):

1.The Birds
2.The Bones of You
3.Mirrorball
4.Neat Little Rows
5.Grounds for Divorce
6.The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
7.Great Expectations
8.The Night Will Always Win
9.Puncture Repair
10.The River
11.Lippy Kids
12.Weather to Fly
13.Open Arms

Encore:

1.Starlings
2.Station Approach
3.One Day Like This

Identity Fest steamrolls through Atlanta

Live review: Identity Festival at Aaron’s Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, 8/23/11

The shaking ground you felt and that thumping you heard last Tuesday was not a result of the earthquake. It was a special collection of electronic artists and DJs cranking it up to 11 on the volume dial. Lakewood Amphitheatre was host to the Identity Festival, a loud and raging affair sponsored by Skullcandy. It was also hot. For those not in the covered seat area for the main stage, it was even hotter. The Advent Stage was located in the parking lot. And with Atlanta temps hitting the mid-90s, it was a cooker.

One of the early acts to hit the stage was Afrobeta. Hailing from Miami, the avant-dance duo are Cuci Amador and Tony Smurphio. Sadly, their set was scheduled a bit before the students and workers of Atlanta stormed Lakewood, so a smattering of fans were present. Their energy and enthusiasm were there, as well as some very danceable music. But it was early. “Hey Atlanta,” Cuci yelled, “Do you guys party? Maybe? After the valium wears off?” This comment could have resulted from frustration, but it was fair. Later, Cuci told the Atlanta Music Examiner, “No, we weren’t upset! We’re new and not many people have even heard of us. It’s great to be on this tour. I just like messing with people.”

The Afrobeta set was a spirited one, featuring the new addictive single, “Play House” from the forthcoming Under the Streets (Aug. 30 on Do IT). A true highlight of the set was their electronic and excellent cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium.” They should put this one on a record.

The New York collective Hercules and Love Affair offered listeners some wonderfully wild songs. Again, playing to a small audience can be challenging, but they performed as if to a crowd of 20,000. Touring in support of their impressive new release Blue Songs (Moshi Moshi Records), the group inspired much dancing, sounding at times like a modern day version of Erasure (but with tremendous vocals).

Holy Ghost! brought there electronica-meets-eighties sound to the festival. While still playing to a somewhat thin crowd, these New Yorkers showed us why they’re one of the hottest bands out there today. The band – headed up by Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel are out on the road with the Identity Fest playing terrific selections from their latest self-titled release (DFA Records) including “Do It Again,” “Static On The Wire,” “Hold On” and the terrific “Wait And See.”

They took the small crowd in stride and played through the oppressive heat. You can catch them later in the fall in Atlanta at the Masquerade, according to lead singer Alex Frankel.

The Crystal Method, headed up by birthday boy Scott Kirkland along with Ken Jordan are pretty much the granddaddies of this tour, having been around since the early nineties. But by contrast, these guys had more energy than many of the newer artists combined. By the time they took the stage, the largest crowd of the day had gathered and more approached in a zombie-like state once the Crystal Method started their noise.

This is when the festival became a full-on rave. It’s good to know that these fortysomethings can still cause high school heads to explode. It was a mad house, in a happy sort of way. One of the highlights had to be their very first single, “Keep Hope Alive” from 1994. Between inviting 20 people (mostly female) onto the stage to take part in a light saber battle and jamming while wearing a storm trooper mask, Kirkland definitely had a great birthday. “I wasn’t born in Atlanta, but I met my wife here,” Kirkland said, further bonding with his erratic fans. As far as they were concerned, he was a native.

Many more bands graced the stages of the first annual Identity Festival, including DJ Shadow, Steve Aoki and The Disco Biscuits. Hopefully, next time it’ll be on a weekend and the masses will come.

Dntel and friends jam at the EARL

Live review: Dntel, The One AM Radio, Geotic at the EARL in Atlanta, 8/21/11

Jimmy Tamborello is the one-man-band known as Dntel, now touring in support of his recent EPs, After Parties I & II (Sub Pop). Tamborello is not new to the indie electronic music scene. Maybe best known for his collaboration with Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard on the Postal Service album Give Up, he has been a well-respected DJ/artist for nearly 20 years.

Packing little more than a Mac and a synth, Dntel brought heavy atmosphere to the EARL, performing many well-known songs from his repertoire, including “(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan,” “Rock My Boat,” “Dumb Luck” and “Roll On.” During the show, Tamborello rarely looked up from his instruments, except to acknowledge applause with a glance and a finger wave. He seemed to be in the zone. Known for having guest stars sing on many recordings, he welcomed members of the opening acts to the stage to play guitar or sing at different points. All were talented and heightened the quality of his presentation.


On deck were fellow L.A.ers The One AM Radio, who brought their lush sounds to Atlanta. The trio, made up of Hrishikesh Hirway, Fontaine Cole and Scott Leahy, offered up a plate of delicious electronic indie pop (with one foot in the 80s). Musicianship, vocals and lyrics were all top-notch and most likely had many in the audience scratching their heads saying, “How have I not heard of these guys?” This was minimal gear night at the EARL, as The One AM Radio also created awesome sounds using next to nothing but raw talent. Hirway has singlehandedly made this group what it is since it’s beginnings at Yale University back in 1999.

For some indie pop flavor, watch “Credible Threats

Opening the show was the Will Wiesenfeld project Geotic. It’s actually a side project, because he has become associated with his main project, Baths. Wiesenfeld was alone on the stage with only a guitar and some pedals as the small room at the EARL slowly filled. Once in, though, listeners stood mesmerized at what this kid was doing. Ambient and atmospheric, the music was rich enough to fill the room and then some. On the self-released Mend from earlier this year Wiesenfeld must be asking himself, “Where are all the labels?” Or not. Whatever the case, this is some terrific sonic therapy for what ails you. For free downloads (donate, you slackers!), go to: Geotic.
.

Death Cab for Cutie thrill Atlanta

Live review: Death Cab for Cutie w/Frightened Rabbit at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, GA 8/11/11

Ben Gibbard played like a man possessed Thursday night for Atlanta fans. Maybe that’s why Death Cab for Cutie began the show with the eight-minute, stalker-inpsired “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Gibbard sang, “You gotta spend some time, love / You gotta spend some time with me / And I know that you’ll find, love / I will possess your heart” like it was the first time. Fresh and fantastic.

This night was also Gibbard’s 35th birthday, would could account for his stratospheric level of energy. This, in turn, lifted the crowd’s excitement level to almost similar heights. It’s a beautiful thing to be witness to someone who is so in love with his career. The band is touring in support of their eighth studio album, Codes and Keys. The fans even interrupted the show to sing a loud “Happy Birthday” to the singer. He was happy. In between blistering versions of “Crooked Teeth” and “Long Division” was the new “Doors Unlocked And Open,” which gets an easy vote for being great; a song that truly has all the ingredients of a hit. The quartet is rounded out with Chris Walla, the multi-instrumentalist/producer of many Death Cab creations. He took on the guitar, bass, keys and backing vocals. The rhythm section was a force, with the unassuming Jason McGerr on drums, who looks like the dude in the next cubicle until he gets those sticks in his hands (then he becomes cool). Nick Harmer is a monster on the bass and may be confused with a skinnier, more demonic version of Zach Galafianakis. And he plays that bass like a jackhammer.


“I Will Follow You Into The Dark” (Live in Atlanta)

While the highlights of the show are too numerous to list, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” is surely close to the top. The Romeo and Juliet-like beauty was the sing-along of the night (“If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied / Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs / If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks / Then I’ll follow you into the dark”). It’s the ultimate love song.

With the new release, the band has evolved to new heights while maintaining some of the old magic, as heard in the title track, “Codes And Keys.” Gibbard plays a beautifully choppy piano and sings his well-known insightful lyrics. This is a band that really has yet to be fully discovered by the average American radio listener. Soon, though. The set list pulled songs from nearly all Death Cab albums. During “We Looked Like Giants,” Gibbard jumped on a hastily set up drum kit facing McGerr’s kit. And the drum-off was on. Gibbard showed another musical skill and was not a slouch about it.

“A Movie Script Ending” (from 2002’s The Photo Album) was another top choice for Death Cab fans. The band returned for a rousing encore ending with the gripping and beautiful “Transatlanticism.” With it’s haunting and repetitive chorus of “I need you so much closer,” this was an apt ending to a special night.

Openers Frightened Rabbit earned their keep that night. Sadly, the band was totally unknown to most of the crowd, but surely gained some warm bodies for their fan club after that performance. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, they are doing that whole Brit/folk thing, with hints of Mumford & Sons (minus the banjo, plus some soul) and Arcade Fire (every once in a while).

Leader Scott Hutchison led the impassioned performance, supporting their latest release The Winter of Mixed Drinks. They were a grand complement to Death Cab and fans young and old realized that they just got a two-for-one concert.

Set List:

I Will Possess Your Heart
Crooked Teeth
We Laugh Indoors
Photobooth
Doors Unlocked And Open
Long Division
Grapevine Fires
Codes And Keys
What Sarah Said
I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Title Track
Little Bribes
You Are A Tourist
The New Year
Some Boys
Soul Meets Body
A Movie Script Ending
Cath…
We Looked Like Giants
Marching Bands Of Manhattan

Encore:

Stay Young, Go Dancing
Title And Registration
The Sound Of Settling
Transatlanticism

(Thanks to the bloggers at Death Cab for Cutie News for the set list)

The Wooden Birds in Atlanta

Live review: The Wooden Birds at the EARL in Atlanta, 7/17/11

Andrew Kenny and his Wooden Birds just wrapped their tour promoting the new release Two Matchsticks (Barsuk Records), a well-received and wonderful record. Upon their arrival in Atlanta, Kenny gushed over the EARL being one of their favorite rooms in which to play, even though it was barely half-full. Atlanta’s loss. The Wooden Birds proceeded to put on a terrific show, with energized renditions of the album tracks from the new release.

Kenny has been around awhile and understands the ins and outs of playing clubs on Sunday nights and it apparently does not faze him. He was in the brightest of moods and carried on all evening with fans. Best known for his previous success with the American Analog Set, Kenny also recently worked with Broken Social Scene. Matchsticks is the follow-up to the Birds’ 2009 release Magnolia, also on Barsuk.

The Wooden Birds began their set with “Folly Cub,” then onto the single, “Two Matchsticks.” The sound was rich and full – richer and fuller than the record, with Leslie Sisson and Matt Pond adding much to the mix. Many songs were treated to duet and/or harmonizing by Sisson and Pond, which beautifully resonated throughout the room. The band covered most of the new release and several from the first. Kenny also traveled back to the AmAnSet days more than once, as in the closing song, “Aaron And Maria” from 2001’s Know By Heart. The bonus, here, is that the song transitioned into the Jackson Browne classic “Somebody’s Baby” (Remember Fast Times at Ridgemont High?). It was a seemless transition and a great surprise.

To listen or buy music by The Wooden Birds, visit their website at www.thewoodenbirds.com.

The evening began with a short set from the “modern classical” Takenobu, an Atlanta trio playing violin, cello and drums. A superb lo-fi strings experience going on here which will surely get exposed when they get sufficient exposure.

Listen to “Fight To Make It Up”

Up next was the Atlanta outfit Lily and the Tigers, a self-proclaimed folk/gothic/indie band. The short and sweet “Goin” was performed first, an acapella, bluegrassy thing, which led into “Khatmandu.” While the sounds were mellow, the group sounded smooth with singer Casey Hood exuding an Edie Brickell feel. This set provided a nice complement to the opener and headliner.

Listen or buy songs at amazon.com.

The Handcuffs: Worth the wait

Album Review

The Handcuffs: Waiting for the Robot, (OOFL Records) due 9/6/11

“Testing, testing / May I have your attention / We are The Handcuffs / This is a test” Chloe Orwell sings through her bullhorn on “This Is A Test.” The good news is: they passed the test. Hell, they aced the test. The dynamic duo of Brad Elvis and Orwell are set to release record number three as The Handcuffs. The record is entitled Waiting For The Robot and is a thrill ride from the get go. Robot is the follow-up to Model for a Revolution (2006) and Electroluv (2008). Songs from both have been plastered all over TV and radio, some of which you may have heard. Influences are wide-ranging, with an iced blend of sixties, seventies and eighties sensibilities poured all over 2011 Chicago. It makes for a highly listenable concoction.

Elvis is a local legend, having been the drumming force behind The Screams, Big Hello, and The Elvis Brothers, before forming The Handcuffs with Orwell. He’s been called a “four-handed drummer” due to his powerhouse skins skills that drive each song. Orwell’s sultry and powerful voice is the perfect complement to that thumping. Describing the sound of The Handcuffs can be difficult, but to put it simply, they sound like The Handcuffs. That is, a glam-pop-rock inferno that dresses as loud as it sounds (and just as sharp). Having been compared to the likes of the Ting Tings, Sparks and T-Rex, the ‘Cuffs offer so much more.

Mike Hagler (Wilco, Neko Case) has returned to produce alongside the Elvis/Orwell joint to create a terrific set of 13 songs that have the sheen, but doesn’t ignore those dark and dangerous places. Ellis Clark (guitar), Alison Hinderliter (keyboards), and Emily Togni (bass), help to bring a full sound to those witty and intelligent lyrics, written mostly by Elvis.

“Dirty Glitter” kicks off Robot with a caffeinated shot of the Brad-Elvis-human-drum-machine and Orwell spouting seductive lyrics about being kissed “down to the floor.” Good start. “Miss You On Tuesday” is a pop treat including every ingredient in the recipe for a hitmaker. The record flows with an energy that is fueled, again, by Orwell and Elvis. The full band feel is priceless here, though, with Clark, Hinderliter and Togni stepping up to complete a five-piece that should be touring the world right now. These three musicians are talented and seasoned and fit perfectly into the Handcuffs’ scheme. And the guitar and bass on “Ooh Baby Baby” is as funky as it gets on Robot.

Listen: “Miss You On Tuesday”

“Eight Down” is a half-ballad that would sound wicked on a Cheap Trick album (listen up, Rick and Robin…maybe you should cover it some day). Elvis does a very rare and better-than-average singing stint with Orwell on “Baby I Love You” (“Put a gun in my hand, put a gun to my head / You’ve got to believe everything I’ve said is true / Baby I love you”). A clear standout is “Everybody Waves Hello,” which amps up every aspect of the Handcuffs’ talents and showcases that Brad Elvis humor by not stating the obvious (“Everybody took off their clothes / Then everybody put ’em back on / In between everybody had a good time / In between everybody had a great time”). Just think Waitresses squared and you’ll get the vibe.

On the closing track, Orwell hits near-perfection with “The Scary Side Of Me.” Discussions of love and hate and which one we should use radiate throughout this song. “I know the scary side of me,” Orwell swoons, “A side I hope you’ll never see.” A beautiful song to learn, especially in today’s America.

Overall, Waiting for the Robot is an outstanding offering from The Handcuffs, and any fan of glam or pop or rock or a combination of the three will find this thing irresistible. Listen to it twice through and you’ll have more than one favorite new song. For more information on the new album and tour dates, go to: thehandcuffs.com.

Hospital Ships release stellar new album

Album Review

Hospital Ships: Lonely Twin (Graveface) 2011

Lawrence, Kansas-based Hospital Ships have set sail with a stellar new album. The band’s second release, Lonely Twin (Graveface), finds Jordan Geiger exploring places he may never have been (and never thought he’d go). With this meloncholy and whispy release, Geiger sounds like a seasoned veteran, yet there is a freshness and beauty to most every song. Born and raised in the mid-Missouri river town of Boonville, Missouri, Geiger is a small town boy with indie rock aspirations.

Opening track “Love Or Death” is a psychedelic trip back to 1967 Beatles and sounds like an outtake from Sgt. Peppers. “Galaxies” offers up just enough sadness to make you take notice. The cello and keys add emotion to Geiger’s excellent lyrical style on this wonderful song. His voice brings visions of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie), and that’s a good thing. It’s not a difficult task to join Geiger in this “mood.”

With “Carry On,” the band emotes a near country feel, singing, “We will laugh til we cry and we’ll drink til we’re drunk.” On “Anyone, Everyone,” Geiger asks “Do you love, do you love anyone?” The songs evolves into a feedback jam before echoing out.

Fans of The Flaming Lips, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes should dig the hell out of Lonely Twin. To call the Hospital Ships’ sound chilled-out pop is not really a fair statement. In fact, Geiger has created a sound and a feeling of sonic ecstasy that pulls you in and keeps you warm for forty minutes.

For most of the album, the pace is consistent and measured. Then there’s “Reprise,” clocking in at just over two minutes. With it’s high energy, fuzzed out guitar and punk-like repetetive lyrics, it will more than likely get your foot to tapping. Fast.

Jordan Geiger and the band have evolved since the first release Oh, Ramona from 2008. The band has reached a level of maturity that usually comes several albums into a musical career. Maybe he’s gained that maturity from his lengthy resume of bands, inlcluding Minus Story, Shearwater, and The Appleseed Cast. He recently recorded a session for National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert series which is set to air soon.

Hospital Ships are preparing to tour with fellow Lawrence band The Appleseed Cast. Catch them in a city near you:

July 29th: Austin TX @ Waterloo Records (instore)
July 29th: Austin TX @ Mohawk Inside w/Paper Hotel + White Hotel

With The Appleseed Cast:

Aug 18 – Norman, OK @ Opolis
Aug 19 – Dallas, TX @ The Loft
Aug 20 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk
Aug 21 – Houston, TX @ Fitz
Aug 22 – New Orleans, LA @ Republik
Aug 24 – Orlando, FL @ Social
Aug 25 – Miami, FL @ Boiler Room
Aug 26 – Tamoa, FL @ State Theater
Aug 27 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
Aug 28 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Goose
Aug 29 – Nashville, TN @ End

Company of Thieves steal the show in Atlanta

Live review: Company of Thieves / Ben Deignan / Sleeper Agent at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, June 18, 2011

Chicago’s Company of Thieves know how to entertain. On the road with their
sophomore release Running from a Gamble, this outfit also knows how to rock. Leader and happiest-person-on-the-stage Genevieve Schatz puts the E in energy by immediately and excitedly conversing with the crowd. “It’s been way too long since we were here last!” she yelled. The fans agreed. With a voice reminiscent of Bjork, Nina Diaz (Girl in a Coma), and a pinch of Edie Brickell, it succeeds as a powerful instrument.

Finally reaching the stage at around 11:40, the band roared through a loud and tight set, pausing frequently to check on the audience and discuss old times (“Who was at Vinyl the last time we were here?” was answered with several claps and yelps). Playing selections from Gamble as well as their 2009 debut Ordinary Riches (both on Wind-Up Records), crowd faves were clearly “Oscar Wilde,” “Pressure,” and the new and awesome “Death Of Communication.”

Throughout many comings and goings of band members, Schatz is currently joined by bandmates Marc Walloch (guitar), Chris Faller (drums), Marcin Sulewski (bass), and Eitan Bernstein (keys). The five seem to get along famously and that comes out in their music, which is free and soaring. Company of Thieves are gaining attention with this release and have on their resume opening slots for OK Go and The Hold Steady, as well as appearances at Lollapalooza, Live From Daryl’s House, and Last Call With Carson Daly.

Catch the band on the road through the end of August: tour dates.

Kicking off the evening was the Kentucky band Sleeper Agent. These youngsters woke up the crowd and primed them for a high energy show. This six-piece from Bowling Green just came off a performance at SXSW and an opening slot with Cage the Elephant and are showing their younger fans what punk was all about. The show was raw and intense and the kids had a blast. They will soon be the headliners.

The on-deck slot was reserved for Atlantan Ben Deignan, whose passion for his music was flowing over. The charismatic singer was on from start to finish and fans were dancing right along with him. With a powerfully melodic voice, he’s an amalgam of Justin Timberlake, Rob Thomas, and Adam Levine. Furthermore, he displayed the moves and mannerisms of Prince and James Brown while going all Stevie Wonder vocally once in a while. Not bad for a white boy. Still waiting for that big record label break, Deignan has released a CD and a brand new DVD, Keep On Keeping On, which will surely promote his great talent.

Deignan covered Kanye West’s “Stronger” and did not disappoint. Not to be shortchanged, his band is a force to be reckoned with. Nothing short of a powerhouse, these guys could give the Roots and run for their money.