Photoset // Brass Bed + Big Rock Candy Mountain + Au Ras Au Ras: 05.04.2012

Au Ras Au Ras + Big Rock Candy Mountain + Brass Bed performing at Siberia on May 4, 2012.

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Live Picks: 04.26.2012 – 05.02.2012

04.26: Vox and the Hound + Gold and the Rush + The Jonesbirds + Sports & Leisure – The Hookah

04.27: Givers + Habitat – One Eyed Jacks

It’s practically a no-brainer that on a week which neatly serves as a backdrop to the first three days of Jazz Fest, that the New Orleans late night music calendar will be bursting at the seems with dynamically talented musicians of every genre vying for the attention of those festivalgoers with the gumption to take the entire experience to its logical extremes. As a consequence, many artists – finding themselves pulling two performances a day (one at the Fest and one after) – are running on the very same kinetic energy as those brave and untiring audiences.

But perhaps no doubleheader of Jazz Fest’s first weekend has the potential to be as thrilling as that of GIVERS, a Lafayette-based indie pop group that really needs no introduction in this area of the country. As anyone even casually aware of the national indie rock zeitgeist knows, the past two years have seen this young band on a creative and touring tear through every section of North America and parts of Europe and as a result they’ve virtually become branded by their pitch perfect live endurance. Lighthearted, upbeat and masterfully instrumental, the five-piece – led by male/female vocal duo Taylor Guarisco and Tiffany Lamson – perfectly embodies the balance between uproarious stage spectacle and the joy of audience enthusiasm-inspired accessibility.

On Friday night, after a 3:45pm set at Jazz Fest’s Gentilly Stage, GIVERS will be making their way to One Eyed Jacks for an evening with local on-the-rise experimental noise pop trio Habitat, presented by SimplePlay Productions and WTUL.

MP3: GIVERS: “Saw You First”

MP3: Habitat: “Miracle of Deafness (Live from Bedroom Sessions)”

04.28: Empress Hotel + Mahayla + Bantam Foxes – Circle Bar

04.29: Billy Iuso & the Restless Natives – Sandpiper Lounge

04.30: The Bruisers + O.L.D. + Bunny & the Playboys – Circle Bar

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

Preview // 2012 Community Records Block Party

By the end of April, just as the rest of the country is getting their festival engines started, a triumvirate of consecutive noteworthy weekend events will have already swept through New Orleans, satiating the diverse tastes of locals and flooding the streets with music lovers from all over the world. This past weekend’s record setting French Quarter Festival did well to entertain fans of oppressive downtown crowds and bands you can probably see almost any other weekend of the year, while the looming Jazz Fest – with an old-bro jams heavy lineup that somehow includes Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys, The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett – is pretty secure in its standing as the marquee event of the season regardless of how much FQFesters boast about that event’s swelling attendance.

But in it’s fifth year nestled between April’s two behemoths, local DIY powerhouse Community Records’ annual Block Party continues to fill the broad niche inhabited by garage, punk, ska, and noise fans of all ages and is becoming not just a local institution but something of a tourist destination.  This year’s event features 26 bands from all around New Orleans and locales as far flung as Michigan, Rhode Island, California and Indiana, drawing carpoolers and couch surfers to town from all over the country for what has grown into a nationally recognized event (while an extensive and tightly-packed pre- and post- party schedule has transformed the one-day celebration into a truly weekend-long affair).

During the twelve hours of non-stop music on Saturday, here are two acts to look out for:

Matt Wixson’s Flying Circus – 4PM, outside

A Detroit area native who manages to act both as a DIY go-to-guy in his own community and an artist who wears more hats than his fan base can keep up with, perhaps no performer at Block Party is as unique a case study as Matt Wixson. One of the few (only?) ska artists who seems to embody the internet age’s obsessive collage culture, Wixson’s recorded history plays like a blogged stockpile of old Toots records and a few beat up Dan Pothast CDs owned by a 90s pop culture apologist who’d be working from behind a laptop at home if not for his obvious guitar skills.

Though he’s been known at different times to belt out numbers at the top of his lungs over an acoustic guitar, provide pounding keys to already-earsplittingly heavy skacore bands and craft the strangest punk mash-ups you’re likely ever to hear, the project he’ll be bringing to Clio Street on Saturday, Matt Wixson’s Flying Circus, is an exercise in archetypal genre blurs and splices as he and his merry backing band delve both parodically and reverently into political discourse, protest music, drinking hymns and middle American angst.

MP3: Matt Wixson’s Flying Circus: “They Can’t Fix Me”

Brunt Of It – 6PM, outisde

Of every punk/ska hybrid one may to encounter in a lifetime, Brunt Of It‘s drive to perfect the energy of old school punk will likely always stick out. Where contemporaries of their 15+ year history have tended to take their punk roots into thrash or metalcore territory while relying on ska’s metered upstroke and sinewy brass to create some semblance of melodic balance, this Boston-based act seem to do the exact opposite. With punk spiritually culled from the likes of Dead Kennedys, Brunt Of It’s ska roots often emerge warped and textured, making for strange concoctions of rocksteady and hardcore: where you’d expect Flaming Tsunamis you get Screeching Weasel, and where there might otherwise be a few pieces of pedestrian 3rd Wave Ska bacchanalia, there are horns and rhythms rife with a discordant intensity few ska acts can achieve.

Returning to Block Party after a year off in 2011, Brunt Of It will prove to be one of the highlights of the entire event. Expect a massive, sweat-drenched circle pit and some microphone-induced forehead bleeding.

MP3: Brunt Of It: “Art School Dropout”

The 5th Annual Community Records Block Party takes place on Saturday, April 21 at The Big Top, 1638 Clio St.  Tickets are $20 at the door, $14 in advance or with a clothing or food donation on the day of the event.  Gates open at 11:30AM and the music goes non-stop from noon to midnight.

Community Records Block Party on Facebook

The 2012 Jazz Fest Lineup Is Out!

As if fighting on one side of the “War On Christmas” or the other isn’t stressful enough this time of year, The New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Foundation just released the lineup for the 2012 Jazz Fest, setting off an almost inevitable debate about The Current And Future State Of Music™: Local Edition that has become as much of a yearly tradition as the purchase of ridiculous BayouWear leisure shirts adorned with piano keys shaped like fleurs-de-lis (or vice versa).  But regardless of whether you see last night’s announcement as a beacon of hope or a harbinger of disaster, we’ve got another pretty solid festival on our hands.

Top tier headliners for the 2012 Jazz and Heritage Festival include Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers, Foo Fighters, John Mayer, 2010 Voodoo alums Florence + the Machine, “Best New Artist” Nominee Bon Iver and – in accordance with their 4+ year long (and counting) love affair with New Orleans – My Morning Jacket. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Iron & Wine, Jill Scott, Herbie Hancock, the heart-stealing Grace Potter and the venerable Levon Helm – owner of 2010’s best performance of the fest and appearing this year with Mavis Staples – are also on the enormous multi-weekend bill.

The formidable local talent rounding out the first weekend includes Empress Hotel, The Revivalists, Dee-1, Sasha Masakowski, GIVERS and Meschiya Lake; while the second weekend features Feufollet, Supagroup, MyNameIsJohnMichael, greatest band in the universe Rotary Downs and Honey Island Swamp Band along with two of the most can’t miss homegrown events of the weekend: If Jazz Fest’s “Bounce Shakedown” is anything like this past Voodoo’s “Azzstravaganza” showcase,  New Orleans’ hip-hop aficionados of all stripe and persuasion are in for a spirited encounter with some of the most dynamic personalities making music these days; meanwhile, after their ripper of a set at last month’s Chingdig, Lafayette’s Brass Bed heads into their Jazz Fest debut just about as highly recommended as a young band can be.

Jazz Fest 2012 takes over the Fairgrounds (and the city) April 27 – April 29 and May 3 – May 6.  Weekend packages and discounted single day tickets are on sale now.

MP3: The Band: “Chest Fever”

Jazz Fest Lineup 2012: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Artist Roster Announced :: OffBeat