Live Picks: 06.28.2012 – 07.04.2012

06.28: The Flaming Lips – House of Blues

06.29: The Revivalists + Stokeswood – One Eyed Jacks

06.30: The Unnaturals – Le Bon Temps Roule

It can be said that the legacy of modern New Orleans artists is not an adherence to the old guard of our city’s long history, but their ability to fantastically fuse disparate styles of indigenous music to create something wholly their own. Anyone from Trombone Shorty to Rebirth Brass Band to Galactic to Big Sam Williams and His Funky Nation could be obvious proof of such a notion, though perhaps the argument can simply be made by pointing out the exception that proves the rule: The Unnaturals. Though they have virtually nothing in common with the aforementioned brass/funk/soul/R&B hybrids, this instrumental three-piece has a knack for taking genres not inherently New Orleanian and combining them in ways that are wholly applicable.

With classic Dick Dale-esque surf rock at the forefront, guitarist Kevin Bowles shifts seamlessly between west coast and rockabilly while drummer Dano Cardona injects hazy flourishes of 30s-era swing time and bassist Jenn Attaway shreds 50s rock n’ roll rhythms. The result is something undeniably a product of the Crescent City – intense, engaging and, most importantly, fun. On Saturday they stop by Le Bon Temps Roule for one of the venue’s trademark late night endeavors, the Unnaturals’ second in a three-month residency. Though a far cry from Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, expect a crowd no less enthusiastic and considerably more rowdy. At the very least, The Unnaturals’ nuanced west coast Americana milieu can serve as an appropriate come-down from the early-evening Southern Lord Records showcase at the Big Top

07.02: Widowspeak + Dominique LeJeune – Circle Bar

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

News Briefs: Untitled (How Does It Feel) Edition

We can safely say it is both the heat and the humidity. Mad Conductor’s raising funds for an album, D’Angelo’s warming up for Essence and The Revivalists are stepping dat to’ up to the next level.

Enigmatic 90s/00s neo-soul superstar D’Angelo made a surprise cameo at this years Bonnaroo Music Festival, lending his fabeled vocal stylings to a late-night, ?uestlove-led Super Jam including members of the Roots, Parliament Funkadelic and The Time.  The set of covers – including hits by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin – will be a good warm up for his appearance at this years Essence Music Festival, his first official stateside concert in over 12 years.

Community Records punk/hip hop project Mad Conductor is edging closer and closer to a Kickstarter goal they set to fund the recording and release of their second full-length album. With little more than 2 weeks to go, over 100 backers have them 75% of the way to raising the $5,000 they’ll use to create MC Rises, slated for a spring 2013 release. M.C. Devlin and Co. are already hard at work writing and recording, with two new songs from the upcoming album currently streaming on Soundcloud.

Breakout roots-rockers The Revivalists, who have already been on an almost non-stop national tour since the release of their 2010 full-length debut Vital Sounds, have recently signed on with Boulder, CO based booking agency Madison House – an outfit with experience routing and promoting the similarly incessant travels of String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams, Tea Leaf Green and more.  The Revivalists make a quick stop at home for at show this Friday at One Eyed Jacks.

Voodoo Announces More 2012 Acts

Over the weekend, the organizers of the Voodoo Music Experience followed-up last month’s top-headliner announcement with more lineup news, unveiling additional acts scheduled to appear at the annual Halloween weekend event.  Joining Green Day, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Skrillex and bad MF’er Gary Clark, Jr. is a roster of usual suspects, both among local acts as well as nationally touring bands stalking the 2012 festival circuit: Jack White and Avett Brothers will each have almost a dozen fest sets under their belts when they come to town, and the electronic stage will also host ubiquitous EDM poster boys Kaskade and Borgore.

Past-Voodoo performers returning for another City Park go-round include dreamy L.A. shoegazers Silversun Pickups, French DJ team Justice and South African performance-art troupe Die Antwoord; while newcomers include The Features, Awolnation, Say Anything, Delta Rae, digital pioneer Thomas Dolby, and reggae legend Toots Hibbard and His Maytals.  Big History, Royal Teeth and Supagroup join a dependable/predictable collection of standard local fare including The Revivalists, MyNameIsJohnMichael, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Debauche, Anders Osborne, Soul Rebels Brass Band and of course The New Orleans Bingo! Show.

Such a minimally-curated offering should come as no surprise as the spectrum of once unique and differentiated Weekend Music Festivals continue their topical sprints towards the middle, but with Voodoo offering on-site camping for the first time, a lineup featuring at least one mid- to upper- tier jam band seemed like a complete given.

The 14th Annual Voodoo Music Experience will take place October 26-28 at City Park. Tickets – including VIP and camping packages – are on sale now.

Donovan Wolfington: 06.14.2012

Though there’s much one can often glean from seeing a young band at their first show back from their first tour, I wouldn’t have anticipated the strides Donovan Wolfington has managed to make in a mere matter of days, the band’s short tour with pals ArchAnimals taking them only as far as San Antonio. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that the golden era-harkening emo five-piece I saw at Siberia on Thursday evening is a unit markedly different than the one that has been performing in and around New Orleans for the previous six months.

A tightening of the proverbial screws is only natural when a band begins to hit its collaborative stride, and with Chris Littlejohn’s ever-condensing percussion and the increasingly art punk-tinged lead guitar work of Matthew Seferian, D-Wolf has certainly begun to arrive. But that tightening has also drastically changed the sound and feel of emo-infused indie rock that the band has made its bread and butter. Where you could once hear a group of musicians whose creative ingredients may be just a little too varied for their own broth (a penchant for dissonant noise and guttural screams and shouts that often left little room for either Savannah Saxton’s peripheral synth and keyboard offerings or the general glaze of good-natured youth that endearingly hangs on each member’s face), it’s now all there in crystal vision — Christian Baraks dances around like a goofball while hitting every bass note with precision; Saxton is a demure counterbalance but no less obviously a key presence in D-Wolf’s blithe yet intensely heavy mis-en-scene; and at this point singer Neil Berthier could hit notes at will, thought he doesn’t necessarily try, since the charm lies in how arbitrary his delivery seems.

At the very least, this is a band whose desire to maintain their reverence for a decidedly rigid set of genre standards (after all, there isn’t a whole lot that technically separates Braid from Story of the Year, but the difference between the two is mind-bogglingly vast) has begun to intersect with their real-world personal chemistry on stage. But oddly enough, as Donovan Wolfington come closer to reaching the Kinsella bros. paradigm of “good emo” (a la the high-minded Joan of Arc), they seem to be progressively growing distant from any other band with the same modus operendi. Philadelphia’s Algernon/Snowing/1994 collectivists having made “rock n’ roll as fuck” their decided emo personage, the members of D-Wolf seem bent on a different path altogether, approaching emocore from a new angle, if from any angle at all. In the same way that the beloved Ted Leo and the Pharmacists arguably exist for no other reason than to be a totally kick-ass band in the sea of superficial attention-seeking indies and hyper-serious artistes, Wolfington don’t seem overly concerned with selling themselves short stylistically: whether it’s emo, indie or punk, it’s all rock and roll, which is all that really matters if you’ve hit your live stride. Emo’s often-alienating austerity be damned, a Donovan Wolfington live show is currently nothing short of spectacular fun – a kick-ass band just when New Orleans needs one.

Live Picks: 06.21.2012 – 06.27.2012

06.21: Slingshot Dakota + Sirens + Dustin Walkowski + Ryan Leavelle – Hey Cafe

06.22: The Sideshow Tragedy + Mason Briggs – Circle Bar

06.23: Mrs. Magician + Theresa Andersson – Joy Theater

How Bon Appétit Magazine managed to coax the guys from aphotic surf rock band Mrs. Magician into taking a trip across the entire North American continent to New Orleans is anyone’s guess. Hailing from San Diego’s ever-bustling underground music community, this four-piece has spent the last two or so years quietly but steadily gaining the attention of a national audience that had grown jaded to the swaths of Best Coasts and Wavveses whose fun-in-the-sun alternative beach punk has promised much more than those acts can creatively deliver. Right out of the gate, Mrs. Magician’s There Is No God b/w I’m Gonna Hang Out with The Lesbians Next Door and Drop Acid 7″ postured them decidedly against the status quo of west coast ocean vibes with a cryptic sound more approximate to existential psychedelic garage punk.

So it was a refreshing turn to the middle when the highly-anticipated release of Strange Heaven, their full length debut, proved Jacob Turnbloom and co. were more than capable of writing instantly accessible pop while at the same time doggedly avoiding whatever bounty of pop music pigeon holes must exist for anyone vaguely influenced by the likes of Ronny & The Daytonas or the Pixies. The record, certainly bound for a few “Best of The First Half of 2012” lists, hasn’t been Mrs. Magician’s only source of bragging rights over their generational ilk: after being enthusiastically championed by Drive Like Jehu/Rocket From The Crypt/Pitchfork/Hot Snakes/Night Marchers legend John Reis (who, in turn, produced Strange Heaven, delivering hands-down one of the year’s best engineering offerings), the band landed a U.S. tour with of-the-moment art pop act Cults, whom Miss Magish drummer Cory Stier eventually ended up (unofficially?) joining.

Though they narrowly missed the Crescent City by about 66 miles on that tour, the band is now – in true oddball fashion – making their way to Joy Theater on Saturday night. The event, part of Bon Appétit’s three-city “Grub Crawl”, features support from local heavyweight Theresa Andersson and a full service open bar. As such, it promises to be one of the more hilariously off-the-wall concert experiences outside of a Quintron Lundi Gras – fucked out in every awesome way imaginable.

MP3: Mrs. Magician: “Actual Pain”

06.24: Sun Hotel + The Lusitania + Habitat – Siberia

06.25: Simon Lott & Anthony Cuccia Duo – AllWays Lounge

06.27: Duck Little Brother Duck + High In One Eye + Rabbit – Siberia

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

PREMIERE: Two New Live Videos From Coyotes

 

One of the inherent pitfalls of so closely following a college music scene – especially in a city like New Orleans, where the larger institutes of higher learning are swamped with transplanted thrill-seekers trying the cultural, culinary and musical capitol of the deep south on for size – are the relative doldrums that sweep in at the end of each school year.  Like so many other young bands who have spent the previous nine months scorching local stages, cosmic ‘Canyon rockers Coyotes will take a few months off as principal members Duz Mancini and Lucas Cox return to their native Los Angeles and Chicago (respectively) for the summer.

While they will not be back in town until August 25th, ending a mini-tour that begins with Mobile’s Underhill Family Orchestra at the Alabama Music Box nine days earlier, they have left two beautiful live videos behind to get their New Orleans fanbase through the next few months. Filmed by The Greenhouse Collective at the band’s June 2nd House of Blues performance, “Remember To Forget” and “Bird On A Wire” showcase both the spaced-out grit and bouncy ease of a Coyotes live show.

ArchAnimals: 06.14.2012

Before I get lost in the flight of fancy that is to follow, let me begin by saying unequivocally that ArchAnimals are currently the most underrated live band in New Orleans. In a town practically run on a collective desire to hone and perfect a particular style of music designed to embody all that is “the Big Easy”, three young men are, at this very moment, in a precarious position that finds their milieu far from “perfected”, yet more fully realized than it might ever be in the future.

Sure, New Orleans is known for its brass and ArchAnimals are a brassless indie rock band, so the rules ought to be a little different; but even in the city’s underground rock and roll community there tends to be at least a little bit of homogeneity. Many of the newest wave of young college-age musicians that have slowly begun to make themselves known in the New Orleans underground of late – the majority of which are, unsurprisingly, imported talent from Texas and Tennessee – carry with them an ostensible tinge of southern drawl. Coyotes feel like an indie-glossed Gram Parson and Pals bring back the vague nostalgia of loose jaminess, while Gold and the Rush are almost specifically a southern rock band. Yet if I were to try and delineate the arguable influences of Dennis Sager, Christian Baraks and Matthew Seferian, I’d have a difficult time making a case for any singular – or even particular – reference point from which to place the band’s sound, save for Seferian’s revelatory penchant for the staggering balance between form and dissonance originally personified by Archers of Loaf guitarist Eric Johnson.

As baldfaced a comparison as that may be, Seferian’s (and, by proxy, Johnson’s) presence in ArchAnimals gives the fit of a puzzle tailor-made for its own pieces. Until recently, the band appeared to be nothing more than Dennis Sager’s voice and guitar surrounded by any number of musicians present at whatever venue he happened to be performing. Indeed, it’s tough to nail down a solid identity when your band comprises one guitarist, or two, or sometimes three, with the occasional bass or harmonica, and your only consistencies lie in a budding songwriter and a drummer (Baraks) who’s been banging on skins for a mere matter of weeks. Yet, with the addition of lead guitarist Seferian, ArchAnimals have parlayed their already-loose live approach into something more raucous than one can reasonably describe with text. At such a risk, it’s a fairly thrilling – and deceptively simple – broth of a songwriter whose intentional lack of grace in delivery probably couldn’t find better foils than in a drummer whose talent’s infancy frees hims from the constraints of style and formal technique and a guitarist whose systematic purpose is to create noise and antagonize the edges of melody and rhythm.

For nearly a decade, indie culture has seen a rise in lo-fi music that almost perfectly coincides with the reissuing of Pavement’s entire catalog. As a result, an entire generation of contemporary musicians tends to view that band as the reigning kings of college rock (which, frankly, they are), and these musicians’ wholesale emulation of said kings is at least marginally more impressive than their even clumsier attempts to draw influence from the more obscure pockets of 90s indie and noise. In that decade I’ve listened to and analyzed pocket band Archers of Loaf (and particularly their sophomore recordVeeVee) as the kind of perfect blend of simplicity in function, complexity in execution and against-the-grain progressive art rock conceptualism that no future band would ever be capable of doing justice. But (and this really shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering how correct young New Orleans indie rock bands tend to come these days) leave it to a trio of Tulane and Loyola students in 2012 to serendipitously grasp what requires years of intellectualizing from losers like me.