Live Picks: 03.31.2011 – 04.06.2011

03.31: WTUL Annual CD Release Party featuring Debauche + The Bills + The Madd Wikkid – The Big Top

04.01: 2011 DMC New Orleans DJ Battle featuring DJ Swamp + DJ Fatfingaz – Howlin’ Wolf

What do you think of when you hear the term “DJ”?  “Disc jockey” means different things to different people, with legitimate and accurate definitions encompassing everyone from the girl who slangs deeps soul cuts at crowded dance party to the guy who introduces Tears for Fears on your local AOR station.  The DMC World DJ Championships shine a light on another kind of DJ: the ones who scratch.

Started in 1985 in London, the DMC Championships have become the premier showcase for some of the most outrageous and flamboyant turntable tricks by the most skilled and experienced DJs from all over the world.  Friday night’s event is the first step for New Orleans hopefuls looking to show off their wares, with the winner advancing to the US Finals in NYC in August.

04.02: Alexis Marceaux + Sun Hotel + Butter and Jelly – One Eyed Jacks

04.05: The Residents + Consortium of Genius – Republic (cancelled)

04.05: The Wailers perform Uprising + Duane Stephenson – Tipitina’s

04.06: Broken Water + Firebrands + Halfys – Fair Grinds Coffeehouse

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks

Rotary Downs Premiere Music Video for “Promised Land”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/21493734 w=635]

 

Greatest band in the universe Rotary Downs has had a busy few months.  Since once again rocking the Bingo Tent at last fall’s Voodoo Music Experience (and capping the Halloween weekend off with their annual throwdown at d.b.a.), the boys won an Offbeat “Best of The Beat” Award had two tracks from the 2010 masterpiece Cracked Maps and Blue Reports added to the latest edition of Rock Band, and have been hard at work putting together a dazzling addition to their growing collection of music videos.

“Promised Land”, filmed, edited and directed by Nathan Tape, is the band’s fourth full length music video.  In a day and age when according-to-Hoyle music videos seem to be a thing of the past, Rotary Downs continues to showcase an almost preternatural ability to craft compelling visual accompaniments to their experimental indie-pop.  This dreamy, stop-motion project features a cameo by GIVERS’ Tiffany Lamson, who contributed backing vocals to Cracked Maps.

Big Blue Marble: The Big Blue Marble

self-released, 2011

I’ve been saying “We need more Big Blue Marble” since I first saw them live over a year ago.  Though I suffered from heavy tinnitus for over two weeks afterwards, there was another sensation that also lingered from that show: my appreciation for a band comprised of subdued personalities and a seemingly shoegaze ethic that allowed its slicing, jarringly loud noise to speak for itself.

That live performance, it would seem, marked a noticeable change in the band’s sound, as its stage show that night was one of the loudest, grittiest, most straightforward rock performances I’d ever experienced. That noticeable change – or rather, different musical angle – seemed at odds with what their currently-available studio offerings, 2005’s Stars in Suburbia and 2007’s Natchez, had to offer. Those records leaned much more indie rock and, though great releases in their own right, came nowhere as close to dislodging one of my eardrums as that 2009 concert did.

The Big Blue Marble, the band’s semi-self-titled third full length album has finally reduced to writing the bridge between indie and rock that they seemed intent on gapping over a year ago, though it also goes much further than that. As it turns out, the tunes that Big Blue Marble has been playing live recently are anything but straightforward. Instead, the band treats listeners to a host of new influences as it veers away from indie and toward the many varied subgenres of 1970s rock n’ roll.

Opening track “Motorboat” begins with a prototypical combination of Rolling Stones guitar riffs and Dylan-esque vocals that amounts to a much-more-listenable, mid-tempo version of “Smoke It” by the Dandy Warhols before diving headlong into New York Dolls territory for a bridge that thoroughly lays modern art school turds to waste. “Sorry Charlie” presents an even  more interesting marriage of classic southern rock lead and punk rock rhythm, ripe with seamless tempo changes and massive walls of noise.

A running motif throughout The Big Blue Marble seems to be the incorporation of nostalgic genres of rock to demystify the hipster culture of bands that downright mimic their influences in terms of both image and recording technique.   This is best evidenced by “Faubourg Marigny”, as singer David Fera bluntly states, “You’re a sixties reenactor and you’re living in the past…You’re such a tragic hipster, you’re a rock n’ roll clone.”

Unsurprisingly, where Big Blue Marble differs most starkly from the aforementioned rock n’ roll clones is in its undeniably classy recording – devoid of artificially created texture or an adherence to the modern proclivity for lo-fidelity. This, in turn, is The Big Blue Marble’s greatest asset: the album is unmistakably of the modern age, and one would think that the band specifically intended it this way. The result is the band’s most solid – and subtly brilliant – album to date, and possibly one of the best rock records 2011 has offered up.

The Big Blue Marble at Amazon

DYRT90s? // Spacehog: In The Meantime

If only this masterpiece was recorded 20 years sooner, Spacehog might be mentioned in the same sentence as Marc Bolan and Mott The Hoople instead of being mentioned in the same sentence as Deep Blue Something and Eve 6.

Even worse are the comparisons Spacehog must endure to acts such as The Darkness, who’s similarities to the England-via-Brooklyn rockers starts and ends at the misleading shorthand lazy pundits use to describe each band’s perceived songwriting style.  Even though one band predated the other by so many years that they are not even contemporaries, it’s easy to dismiss both acts as similar entries in the “neo-glam” cannon and lump them together in the trash-heap of popular culture’s expired passing fancies.

But while Spacehog admittedly made no effort to conceal just how much the David Bowies and Roxy Musics of the world influenced their unique take on post-Smiths Brit-pop, acts like The Darkness just made empty power ballads that focused solely on the excess of the 1970s glam-rock movement – androgyny, falsetto – and slathered them in a Strokes-influenced penchant for nostalgia simply for nostalgia’s sake.  I guess they were both technically “neo-glam”, but what a difference a decade makes.

MP3: Spacehog: “In The Meantime”

Live Picks: 03.24.2011 – 03.30.2011

Dax Riggs will be performing at One Eyed Jacks on Saturday, March 26, 2011

03.24: The Horns of Happiness + Wee Giant – AllWays Lounge

03.25: IN Exchange Ethical Fashion Show featuring Big History + Royal TeethRepublic

03.26: Dax Riggs + The Unnaturals – One Eyed Jacks

Though his work may immediately escape you, few musicians have been busier or more prolific than Dax Riggs in the past twenty years. A Houma, LA native, Riggs has spent most of the past decade in Austin, TX recording under many different pseudonyms, including Agents of Oblivion, Daisyhead and the Mooncrickets, T-Daks and His White Plastic Soul, and – most notably – Deadboy & the Elephantmen, a band that found Riggs at the forefront of the burgeoning post-2000 Swamp Rock rebirth.

However, with Deadboy wasn’t the first time Riggs was called “influential”. Eight years prior to Deadboy’s 2002 release of If This Is Hell, Then I’m Lucky, Riggs was fronting Acid Bath, whose two records, 1994’s When The Kite String Pops and 1996’s Paegan Terrorism Tactics, would be considered some of the most important sludge, doom, or stoner metal albums ever recorded – the influence of which could be felt as far as upper New England by the end of the 1990s.

As scattershot as Dax Riggs’ career has been since he originally started writing music, the last five years have seen him comfortably settled into his role as a solo musician both in name and songwriting approach. With Fat Possum Records, he has released three records (one of which is technically a Deadboy album he rereleased under his own name) that, at times, further explore the swamp rock territory that he initially happened upon in the early 2000s. Other times, his work touches on subtle experimentation within the post-grunge era – a concept that someone like Travis Meeks only hinted at with Days of the New II – often with moving results.

This Saturday, March 26, Dax Riggs will return to our neck of the woods with a performance at One Eyed Jacks, supported by the brooding surf rockabilly band The Unnaturals.

03.27: The Whigs + Johnny Corndawg – House of Blues

03.30: Lovey Dovies + Dead People + Adults + Opposable Thumbs – Howlin’ Wolf Den

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks