Live Picks: 09.20.2012 – 09.26.2012

09.20: Babes + Prom Date + Benjamin Booker – The Big Top

09.21: Big Rock Candy Mountain + Bantam Foxes – Circle Bar

Since they first bust on the local scene with their 2009 debut EP Hey Kid, the New Orleans music community has rarely agreed about anything the way we’ve agreed about Big Rock Candy Mountain. Rising from the ashes of nearly a half-dozen bands spanning nearly every sub-genre of the city’s storied but then-still-nascent independent scene, BRCM’s hyper-modern perversion of classic alternative tropes made them early and obvious torch-bearers of local rock’s next iteration.  As a band’s band with an inspiring and wide appeal, they have remained in every noteworthy discussion and on every short list worth its salt, even as their most recent studio gestation period resulted in a lengthy stretch of live inactivity.

Nevertheless, whenever we hear from Big Rock Candy Mountain, they easily demonstrate why they have been held in such universally high-esteem.  A high-powered mix of dazzling synth work, face-melting guitar solos and a brain crushing rhythm section explode in a live setting as a barrage of space-age freakouts and ethereal prog-pop interludes, offering something about as close to the platonic ideal of “awesome local indie band” as you are likely to find for miles.

But the sparse live schedule hasn’t been for naught: when lead man Michael Girardot was not on the road with emerging national superstars The Revivalists or in the studio with greatest band in the universe Rotary Downs, the Big Rock gentlemen have been writing and recording their own full length album.  They storm back to the stage on Friday with a complete set of new songs in the can and an extra long set to both debut them all and dig into their canon of old favorites. Local rock and roll trio Bantam Foxes open.

09.22: Sun Hotel + Habitat + Young Jesus + Native America – 3712 Upperline

09.23: Caddywhompus + Sun Dog + All People – The Big Top

09.24: Eternal Summers + Bleeding Rainbow – Circle Bar

09.25: Mac DeMarco + Michael Girardot’s Macrofuns + Julie Odell  – Circle Bar

09.26: G-Eazy + Hoodie Allen – House Of Blues

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

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Live Picks: 09.13.2012 – 09.19.2012

09.13: The Tangle + Dresden + The Stairwells – Circle Bar

09.14: Baby Bee + King Rey + Sports and Leisure – Parish @ House of Blues

09.15: Today The Moon, Tomorrow The Sun + Coyotes + Alexis and The Samurai – Circle Bar

09.16: Jack Donovan + Chris Rehm + Andrew Landry – Mudlark Theater

There has never been anything secret about our love for Breezy’s, the coffee-shop turned apartment turned multipurpose art space that spent the summer of 2011 as the undisputed king of New Orleans DIY live music venues.  Under the tutelage of talent buyer/promoter Mike Twillman and owner Micah Burns (and with the help of a constantly expanding motley crew of supporters) a deceptively unassuming Freret-area home with a legendary bohemian past felt like the nexus of the city’s burgeoning independent rock explosion, even if only for a brief moment in time.

The building’s crumbling walls and ceiling seemed to be held together by the heavily patinated concert posters, newspaper clippings and photographs that covered them, which gave the venue a strangely imprecise aura that beautifully juxtaposed the fresh and exciting programming it hosted.  And whether you credit its easy-going proprietors, the eager young crowds it attracted or diverse music scene it served, Breezy’s grew into an under-the-radar institution unlike many others that came before it or have come since.  It seemed exclusive without being exclusionary, underground but also accessible, and outsider without an overt preoccupation with being edgy.

But even after just one visit to the mystical funhouse at the corner of Soniat and LaSalle, anyone would have guessed the days of Breezy’s original spot were numbered. It was just too good, with a mission too pure to exist in a city as corrupt and morally bankrupt as ours. (Also, almost every aspect of the enterprise was probably completely illegal.) So while it only took six months for the powers that be to shutter Breezy’s first incarnation, the quintessentiality of the concept of Breezy’s became apparent almost immediately. After a short but notable stint in a Pigeontown backyard, Twillman and Burns have taken a broad leap towards sustainability by moving Breezy’s underground spirit into a legitimate commercial space: Breezy’s on Freret, in the heart of the revitalized Freret corridor and just blocks from where it all started, is due to open in a matter of weeks.

This Sunday’s afternoon matinee at Mudlark Theater – a cherished DIY institution in its own right – is part of a final push to bring Breezy’s on Freret up to full speed in time for the jam-packed fall concert season.  While donations will be accepted at the door, the event’s main goal is to raise awareness of the team’s Kickstarter campaign, which (if successful) will allow the new rock club to open with a professional grade soundsystem in place. Music will be provided by the Breezy’s mainstays of Chinquapin Records and will feature stripped down sets from Habitat‘s Jack Donovan, High In One Eye‘s Andrew Landy and Caddywhompus‘ Chris Rehm plus a promised host of special guests.

09.17: Black Taxi + Aerial Attack – One Eyed Jacks

09.18: Beach House + Dustin Wong – Tipitina’s

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

News Briefs: Survivor Series Edition

As the hottest month of the year finally comes to a close, nonstop rain and monsoon weather has attempted to dampen the collective mood of all New Orleans art and entertainment fanatics. Naturally though, the city’s music culture seems to only get denser and more exciting as the summer trudges along:

Hometown hip-hop hero G-Eazy, currently criss-crossing the country on the 2012 Vans Warped Tour, just announced the details of his fall tour. He’ll be joining forces with fellow buzzed-about indie rapper Hoodie Allen for a month of shows that will take him through the midwest and across the great plains. The tour kicks off with a September 7 gig in Columbus, Ohio and begins to wind down at our own House of Blues on September 27 – just a day after he plans to drop Must Be Nice, his highly-anticipated follow-up to last year’s The Endless Summer.  G released the latest sample of his new album, “Plastic Dreams” featuring Johanna Fay, this week.

After unleashing the Art Boonparn-helmed video for “(I’m Gonna) Love You Back To Life” in May, local garage punk legend King Louie Bankston returns with another clip, this one for “Another Girl”, in which his band of Missing Monuments hauls their gear over to a few Greater New Orleans Area parking lots, covered in blood (per usual). Both songs can be found on the three-song (I’m Gonna) Love You Back To Life 7″ EP, available now via Hozac Records.

This year, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has not cut a single corner in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of their iconic home.  Their memorable set at the 2012 Jazz Fest – closing down the Gentilly Stage with a handful of special guests – amazingly does not even rank as their most star-studded show of the year. That honor rests with their January performance at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, where they were joined by The Del McCoury Band, Ed Helms, members of GIVERS, Tao Seeger, My Morning Jacket, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), King Britt, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs (just to name a few).  Thankfully, this acclaimed performance was caught on tape and will be formally released on September 25 under the title St. Peter and 57th. The version of “St. James Infirmary” that will appear on the live album, featuring Jim James and Trombone Shorty, premiered on Pitchfork this week.

Caddywhompus, at this point one of the most road-ready bands in the Crescent City, is embarking on their most ambitious tour to date. With a kickoff two-night run in Houston, including a headlining show at Fitzgerald’s with Limb, the noise pop duo will trek up to the Midwest and over to the entire eastern seaboard, performing everyday for 41 straight straight days, after which point they’ll round their summer with their second appearance at Denver, CO’s annual Goldrush Music Festival.

After a 2012 first half that saw them widen their presence in and around New Orleans and even find a showcase at South by Southwest Festival in Austin, uptown-area party rockers Chilldren have released their debut EP, Slug Life. The six-song release finds this hip hop trio beginning to showcase their talent beyond sweat-drenched, energetic live performances with some seriously impressive beats and noticeably expanding rhyming techniques.

Chris Rehm: [i found an] Elephant Ring [and gave it to you]

Chinquapin Records, 2012

Even in an insular music culture like that of New Orleans, where there is rarely any attention – nary even lip service – paid to industry conventions like album cycles, public relations pushes or award banquet back-patting, the “solo ambient album” as an objet d’art tends to escape the honest and centered attention of even the most attentive listener. With few exceptions, the simple act of stating that a particular artist has made an ambient record has an almost automatic consequence of marginalizing the work as something extraneous, or maybe even parallel to, but ultimately less important than that artist’s ordinary output. And whether by design or defect of progressive rock’s cult-maintaining mainstream alienation, in the context of modern indie rock most ambient artists are ostensibly satisfied with endlessly building upon their own unheard, un-vetted and un-critiqued recordings, as if ambience is a musical phenomenon that only exists to perpetuate its own existence. The best we the audience can hope to glean from such music is an understanding of the innerworkings of an artist’s personality because, though released for consumption by the general public, it is music ultimately made for the musician’s piece of mind, not ours.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to pay attention, in the off-chance that you’ll hear something greater than a collection of basement-esque, masturbatory noise exercises. Chris Rehm – known to most as one half of Houston-by-way-of-New Orleans noise pop duo Caddywhompus, is no stranger to the ambient compulsion. Hailing from a Clutch City community nationally revered for its experimental noise culture and now living and playing among a group of New Orleans musicians in Chinquapin Records who spend nearly as much time speed-releasing minimalist electronica as they do crafting perfectly gestated indie rock, he can routinely be heard eschewing his guitar in favor of pedals and knobs.

In truth though, Rehm’s solo recorded output has been spottier lately than in the past, the result of both Caddywhompus’ manic creative tear and a mishap that left volumes of unreleased tracks stolen from his tour van last Summer. Aside from split cassingle with Native America and Ghostandthesong, as well as a single contribution to the Chinquapin/Skanky Possum Holiday Jingler in 2011, his recently released [i found an] Elephant Ring [and gave it to you] is the only true taste of a Sean Heart-less Chris Rehm anyone has heard since early 2011’s Worries, etc.  (Okay, holistically his output isn’t that spotty; but compare it to that of contemporary Tyler Scurlock and holy shit pick it up dude.)

As tends to be the case, Elephant Ring is the result of a relatively unfocused culling of tracks that span almost the entire length of Rehm’s New Orleans tenure. What’s surprising, though, is how unfocused the record doesn’t sound. Quite the opposite: as far as bedroom “fuckaround” releases go, it’s arguably more flowing and concise than anything we’ll hear all year, a deceptively gift-wrapped offering that shrouds – while not totally obscuring – the talent for melody and disarming sentiment that makes Rehm one of the most beloved figures in the HOU-NO corridor.

After a pleasant and not altogether unforgettable primer of noise collage and diagetic melody, the album reveals its personality of ripe, affected acoustic numbers with “They All Are”. Meanwhile, on “I Can’t Feel Anything but You Anymore”, a parallax of dueling acoustic guitars that sway in and out of rhythmic unison, Rehm sings an echoed, doubled riff vaguely reminiscent of Bowie’s “Five Years”. Numbers like these, among a record of otherwise traditional noise and ambience, are what remain with the listener long after the record has come to its blistering, otherworldly conclusion with frequency-shattering single “Coming Up Roses”.

Perhaps it’s the presence of bleeding melody seeping from almost every crevice of Elephant Ring that will hold the attention not just of musical aficionados and fellow ambient musicians but of the listening public as a whole. Though sonic meandering tends to be a breeding ground of new ideas and creative techniques, Rehm doesn’t meander here; and if there lacks, in Elephant Ring, any game-changing or wheel-inventing influence, it is more than balanced by a focus of musical identity and the quality of material on display. In short, this record isn’t a traditional fuckaround release in any sense of the phrase, rather a standalone offering devoid of sophistication but masterfully intelligent and accessible. It might not be considered the most groundbreaking ambient record of 2012,  but [i found an] Elephant Ring [and gave it to you] is certainly the most rewarding so far.

[i found an] Elephant Ring [and gave it to you] on Bandcamp

Preview // Free Press Summer Fest

In its fourth year, the Free Press Summer Fest continues to be horrible news for New Orleanians who take pleasure in deriding Houston as our perpetually lame neighbor.  The two day event is returning to downtown’s Eleanor Tinsley Park with one of the summer’s most extensive, diverse and nuanced lineups you’ll find outside of Manchester, Tennessee.  Neo-folk superstars The Avett Brothers, country legend Willie Nelson and original gangsta Snoop Dogg lead a charge of over 120 bands representing the most exciting players of every relevant musical genre.  Rockers include The Flaming Lips, Portugal. The Man, Primus, Maps and Atlases, Jeff The Brotherhood, Girl In A Coma and recently reunited So-Cal punk stalwarts The Descendants; rising hip-hop stars Shabazz Places, Z-Ro, Danny Brown and our own Queen Diva Big Freedia will be there; and the ubitiquous EMD presence includes Afrojack, Pretty Lights, R3hab and renown New Orleans aficionado Diplo.

But what makes the festival most unique is the way they’ve keep a solid focus on local and regional bands even after scoring headlining acts of increasingly impressive stature.  The lineup includes no less than 30 acts from Houston and the surrounding area, in an assortment just as varied and interesting as the schedule of national artists. The highlight may be the appearance of the recently reunited Fatal Flying Guilloteens. With a sonic approximate somewhere between Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu, this Houston-based post hardcore band may be the only of their ilk that could also reasonably categorized as “rock and roll as fuck”. Popping up nationally on labels like Gold Standard Laboratories (R.I.P.) and French Kiss, their calling card became supreme instrumental aggression balanced by a refreshing lack of emotional depth (because, let’s be honest, dead seriousness had completely overstayed its welcome in nearly every “post” genre by the mid-2000s), and to the Southwest region of the country, the FFGs’ freewheeling stage shows became the stuff of legend.

Elsewhere, soul-shakers The Tontons, underground rap technician Fat Tony, one-man noise orchestra Limb, revolving-door indie rock ensemble the Eastern Sea and country/bluegrass impresairo Robert Ellis join New Orleans-based expats Caddywhompus (the members of which are also appearing with their high school mother sauce the Riff Tiffs) at the top of a charmingly expansive undercard of local talent.

MP3: Fatal Flying Guilloteens: “Long Distance Reacharound”