Live Picks: 09.06.2012 – 09.12.2012

09.06: Coyotes + Aerial Attack + Cozy – Prytania Bar

09.07: Yeasayer – Republic

09.08: Native America + Donovan Wolfington + ArchAnimals – Thermos

If I were to pick one concert line-up that accurately represents the personality and attitudinal makeup of New Orleans’ DIY Indie culture, it would have to be one that showcases three bands who seem to be philosophically conjoined at their hips if disparate in their styles of music, and it would have to take place at an unseen, untested pop-up venue – in true underground fashion. And though such concerts take place almost daily for the majority of the year, a summer of hard touring, recording and traveling by local musicians has found these events occurring relatively less often of late. Fortunately, three of the city’s most talented groups of heatseakers have gotten back on the horse for the kind of casual, off-the-beaten-path show that local live music fans have come to crave over the last couple of years.

The tandem of Donovan Wolfington and Archanimals has enjoyed both a warm introduction to New Orleans and a steadily growing level of popularity since the beginning of the summer. In addition to often being found on the playbill together locally, Donovan – a five-piece emo punk outfit – and Archanimals – a southern rock-influenced noise rock trio – recently co-headlined a regional tour, and they both spent the second half of the summer laying down tracks for their respective full-length records, due later this fall.

Meanwhile, the lore of Ross Farbe’s one-man-turned-three-man Native America project has nearly begun to precede it by now. What was once considered a side project which had he and bassist John St. Cyr’s splitting time with Sun Hotel (and which, up until Country Club’s hiatus/disbandment, had drummer Ray Micarelli doing the same) has, for a time now, been a genuinely potent entity in and of itself, with some even going so far as to declare this noise pop act the best that New Orleans has to offer. With virtually no recorded material on which to crutch themselves (a full length is perpetually imminent), Native America has made their name solely on their live performances, which tend to lean heavily on distortion and rhythmic nuance.

This Saturday night, the bands get together for an early show at new venue Thermos, which can be found on the corner of Plum and Leonidas and which might be a house or possibly a bar, maybe even a parking lot.

MP3: Native America: “Winedrunk Potluck”

MP3: Donovan Wolfington: “Spencer Green”

09.10: I Was Totally Destroying It + Faun Fables + Kara Mann – Circle Bar

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

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.

Random Notes: Memorial Day Edition

With the three day weekend coming up, there is plenty of local news to sink your ear teeth into. This Memorial Day make sure to party, be safe and do something awesome like these guys.

Earl Scioneaux III, better known as The Madd Wikkid, also known as the man behind the knobs for recent recordings from Luke Winslow-King and Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns, is embarking on a bold and unique brass band tribute to French electronic impresarios Daft Punk. For the endeavor known as Brassft Punk, which will find him teaming up with a laundry list of the Crescent City’s most talented horn men for renditions of classics like “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and “Around The World”, Scioneaux has already launched a Kickstarter campaign to meet his fundraising goal by June 15. More information on the project can be found here.

This week Caddywhompus front man Chris Rehm quietly began streaming his newest solo record, [i found an] Elephant Ring [and gave it to you]. The 8-song ambient/acoustic epic captures Rehm when he’s arguably most comfortable, molding minimalist low-fidelity recordings into vast and sweeping stereo-perfect aural experiences. Elephant Ring sees official release via digital download on May 29, but until then hear it at chrisrehm.org.

Donovan Wolfington and ArchAnimals, two sibling New Orleans rock bands currently vying for the title of “Hardest Working Musical Act Under Drinking Age”, have joined forces for a regional tour, firsts for both young groups. The two-week trek, which begins on June 4, will take D-Wolf and AA through every crevice in the state of Texas before passing back through New Orleans on their way to a wrap-up show with Caddywhompus in Lafayette on June 15.

 

Live Picks: 03.22.2012 – 03.28.2012

03.22: Fort Wilson Riot + Pals + Glish – Circle Bar

03.23: Habitat + Donovan Wolfington – Ampersand

Even the most avid New Orleans area concert-goer could be excused if he or she has never stepped foot inside Ampersand, the former Whitney Bank turned plush downtown discotheque.  Sure, we’ve all heard of the place – home to the infamous Electronic Takeover pool parties, NeonGlow raves and many an all-night rager featuring the likes of Diplo or Paul Oakenfold reveling in the unbridled enthusiasm of this city’s young beatnuts and techno fans – but it’s not exactly the kind of venue frequented by those without an inclination towards the house and dubstep DJs who keep the place packed every weekend.

Which is a shame really, considering Ampersand, like any establishment that caters to the discriminating and devoted fans of electronica, is equipped with one of the most high end sound, light and stage setups you will find in the entire city.  The renovated industrial space is a multi-level funhouse of bars, booths, secret balconies and spacious courtyards, every inch of the place unapologetically over the top and about as far away from anything you will find at more traditional rock haunts as is physically possible.

But just as equally swagged out dance club Eiffel Society did last fall, Ampersand is testing the indie rock waters by letting a few local bands open up their weekly “Vice Club” parties before a DJ hops in the booth. This Friday night’s double feature brings heat-seeking young bands Habitat and Donovan Wolfington out of the basement and backyard and on to the most tricked out stage they’ve played to date, which is sure to add an extra layer of intensity to each’s lush songs and dazzling performances. Rising from the ashes of (New Grass) Country Club, Habitat is singer and guitarist Jack Donovan’s latest configuration of the mountains of talent floating around the Chinquapin Records Universe.  With Andrew Landry and Evan Ctanovtich of High In One Eye behind him, Donovan continues Country Club’s tradition of ferociously mashing up every genre from Americana to post-rock but injects the new tunes with a math-focused progressive streak that makes for some of the most dynamic music currently being locally produced. And with a unique and encouraging amalgamation of unrefined indie pop and noisy proto-emo, Donovan Wolfington (no relation to Donovan, Jack) have quickly risen to the top of the exciting new class of Tulane/Loyola bands on the strength of a slew of basement performances in and around the campus area since late 2011.

03.24: The Dieners + DJ Brice Nice – Circle Bar

03.25: Dead Prez + Truth Universal + Na’Tee + Chels + Melaphyre – Maison

03.27: Ben Folds + Minus The Bear – McAllister Auditorium

03.28: Parenthetical Girls + Whom Do You Work For? – Circle Bar

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

Preview // Cafe Carnival: 02.16.2012 – 02.20.2012

In the last six months, no local venue has made a larger effort to break into a higher echelon of rock club status than hidden-in-plain-sight Garden District standby Cafe Prytania.  More frequent, consistent and eclectic booking in the back half of 2011 slowly but surely elevated the humble establishment from occasional Loyola-band hotspot to a dependable destination to catch up-and-coming local, regional and even nationally touring talent.

The only downside to Cafe P’s rising profile was the unfortunate way the larger, more frenzied crowds brought the shortcomings of the bar’s unusual layout into sharper focus, as a raised stage/dance floor area flanked by awkwardly placed half partitions limited the comfortable viewing area in the otherwise huge space to what felt like only a few dozen square feet. But a much-needed facelift has removed most of the unnatural boundaries keeping the performance area from the rest of the room, and continued improvements to the sound system and lighting set-up are further signs Cafe Prytania is getting very serious about its place in the New Orleans live music pantheon.

And this year’s Cafe Carnival, the bar’s annual string of post-Mardi Gras parade concerts, appears to have gotten an upgrade as well, with a ripper of a lineup  complementing Cafe P’s prime location with what could easily turn into a non-stop five-day party.  A Thursday night funk-fest with Flow Tribe and Naughty Professor sets the stage for the centerpiece of weekend, Chinquapin Records‘ Mardi Gras Chindig. The two-night event that puts local indie-rock institutions Sun Hotel, Caddywhompus and Big Rock Candy Mountain along side heetseeking newcomers Donovan Wolfington will also feature a fresh-from-the-studio Vox And The Hound and serve as one of the last chances to catch the force of nature that is Country Club.  The Revivalists will pack the place out on Sunday night and the now-Grammy Award Winning Rebirth Brass Band headlines on Lundi Gras.

02.16: Flow Tribe + Naughty Professor + Saltwater Grass

02.17: Sun Hotel + Country Club + Vox And The Hound

02.18: Caddywhompus + Big Rock Candy Mountain + Young Mammals + Donovan Wolfington

02.19: The Revivalists + Star & Micey + The Blue Party

02.20: Rebirth Brass Band + Mississippi Rail Co. + Coyotes