Monday, July 31, 2006


I went to see Rancid play at Mississippi Nights on Saturday, July 30. It was the second of two shows; the first show had been a sell-out and the show I attended was a near sell-out. Very few bands that aren't Bob Dylan or Willie Nelson play two consecutive nights in St. Louis, which is a damn shame, as bands like Wilco would sell out two and even three shows in this town.

My timing was perfect as I walked into the venue about 10 minutes before the band took the stage. I would have loved to see opener and St. Louis punk stalwarts Ultraman play, but my hangover from the Silver Jews show was working overtime to make sure I was running behind Saturday night. I had time to make it to the bar and make it through one beer, though, before the band took the stage. The crowd went crazy when the house lights went down and the video that would projected onto a white bedsheet for the length of the show was fired up. The band took the stage and immediately tore out of the gate with a great one-two punch of "Roots Radical" and "Journey to the End of the East Bay". It was hard not to get caught up in the energy of the band and the crowd; the band encouraged dancing on several occasions and the crowd always obliged. The band relied heavily on material from their first three records, and the crowd appreciated this fact. There were at least seventeen times as many mohawks at this show as there had been at the Silver Jews show the night before (mohawk count: 1, the owner of which I knew), and wasn't even counting trendy faux-hawks.

I get caught up in "indie rock" and tiny little obscure bands that write great pop hooks, but I forget how much fun I can have at a show like this. This show truly made me happy - be it the adrenaline or the nostalgia. I got into music through punk rock (like many kids) at the time of Nirvana and when Green Day made it big. ...And Out Come The Wolves is, to this day, one of my favorite all-time albums. I can listen to it from beginning to end, without ever wanting to skip a track. The '92-'95 time frame was a great time for my musical development. Not only was I getting in to contemporary bands like Rancid, NOFX, and Hagfish, but I was discovering classic bands like the Descendents, Circle Jerks, Misfits, and, yes, Operation Ivy. I haven't followed past Rancid setlists or read any reviews of their shows on this tour, so I was completely surprised and excited when they busted into the Operation Ivy classic "Knowledge" right before the encore, causing the crowd to erupt into a collective ecstatic seizure.

The band came back from a quick break to play acoustic versions of Op Ivy's "Sound System" and the recent Rancid "hit," "Fall Back Down." It was nice and interesting, but I'll be damned if I didn't want "Sound System" to thrash my face and "Fall Back Down" to kick me in the Jimmy, so their acoustic versions were slightly bittersweet. They were good, but you wanted them to be... better. All in all, it was an incredible show, and I know I will make a concerted effort to see them the next chance I get. My only complaint was that the show was a mere 75 minutes long.

Here are some pictures and a short video of "Ruby Soho":

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Silver Jews

I went and saw the Silver Jews at the Duck Room last night. I thought it was a great show, even though I wasn't at all familiar with their latest album, Tanglewood Numbers. It was a very high-energy from the beginning and David Berman was chatty and personable, even if he did look like a walking skeleton. The St. Louis show was the first in their rare tour of America and served as a warm-up show for their performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Definitely check them out if you get a chance...

Jennifer O'Connor proved a capable opener. She had a great voice, but I kept thinking that the trio's arrangements would benefit from more elaborate instrumentation.

Here are some pictures from the show:

Silver Jews

Silver Jews

Silver Jews

Silver Jews

Silver Jews

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Good On Paper

As this blog grows and reaches more readers, I get more and more emails and myspace friend requests from bands asking me to feature them on the blog. They are apparently under the mistaken assumption that I have some sort of clout in the blogosphere, but I do what I can to get the word out about bands I like, so when I discover a band that catches my ear, I'm happy to talk about them.

Good on Paper contacted me via myspace, if I remember correctly, and although I usually am hesitant to give unsolicited friend requests from bands an unbiased listen, I went to their myspace page and listened to their songs with an open mind. I am glad I did, as this young band can write a song or two.

With alternating male and female vocals, music that squarely falls into the ever-expanding "genre" of indie-rock, and hooks-o-plenty, this L.A.-based band earned itself some ink space on my little corner of the Internets. The band recently recorded its self-titled debut EP in January of 2006, with the help of Earlimart’s Aaron Espinoza. I'm a fan. Give 'em a listen. They compare themselves to Pavement and Velvet Underground, but I'll let you make that judgment call for yourselves by offering the below mp3's for your downloading pleasure.

Good on Paper - The Message
Good on Paper - Escape

You can get more information on the band and listen to more of their songs on their MySpace page.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Black Angels

Austin's The Black Angels, a band mining the same quasi-psychedelic territory as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (get it? They both like black, ok?), are playing at Off Broadway on August 3rd, with St. Louis' own Tone Rodent. Good Times.

Here's a song to convince you to go:

The Black Angels - The First Vietnamese War

Double Bonus: New M Ward (whose new album, Post-War is out Aug. 22) and a My Morning Jacket cover, via My Old Kentucky Blog:

M Ward - To Go Home
My Morning Jacket - West End Girls
(Pet Shop Boys cover)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Joan Jett & EODM

On Friday, October 27, Joan Jett will be playing with the Eagles of Death Metal at Mississippi Nights. She will actually also be playing at the Warped Tour at the UMB bank pavillion tomorrow, along with NOFX, et al., but the Mississippi Nights should should be better and more intimate and will definitely be cooler. Ms. Jett recently released a new album, called Sinner, which features a bunch of new songs, as well as a great cover of the Replacements song "Androgynous".

Bonus: The Futureheads - Let's Dance (David Bowie cover)

Friday, July 21, 2006

the paper chase review

I've been wanting to post my reivew of the paper chase's new CD, Now You Are One Of Us for quite some time now, but I haven't been able to bring myself to it. Part of the reason is I am busy and I procrastinate, but the bigger part is that the CD just does not excite me. As a huge fan of the band, I am really having trouble getting on board with this disc. They have really worn out the "ooh we're scary because we were traumatized as kids and are now mentally unstable story lines." I could have pulled the songs titles out of a hat filled with various combinations of the band's previous song titles. Listening to the CD, I was able to predict nearly every key change and chord progression. Singer John Congleton literally sounds tired on the very first track and maintains that sense of non-urgency throughout the album. It's still good, but by far my least favorite of all of their albums. Indie Workshop summed up my thoughts very well in their recent review of the CD, available, here.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Drams

The Drams, the new project of Brent Best, formerly of Slobberbone, is releasing its Matt Pence-produced debut CD, Jubilee Dive next Tuesday, July 25. The band features Best, former Slobberbone members Jess Barr and Tony Harper, and former Budapest One members Chad Stockslager and Keith Killoren. I caught them live last fall at Off Broadway and was quite impressed. Building from the template established with Slobberbone, The Drams have expanded thei sound, adding more explicit pop hooks, keyboards, and more complex vocal harmonies. They are heading out on tour next week, but, unfortunately, will not be coming through St. Louis on this leg.

Here are the tour dates; check them out if they are coming through your town:

7/21/06 Denton, TX - Dan's Silverleaf - Brent Best solo / opening for Joe Ely
7/23/06 Dallas, TX - Barley House - Brent Best solo
7/25/06 Tower Records In-Store Performance - Dallas TX 7pm
7/27/06 Denton TX - Dan's Silverleaf
8/1/06 Kansas City MO - Mike's Tavern
8/2/06 Lincoln NE - Duffy's Tavern
8/3/06 Iowa City IA - The Mill
8/4/06 Minneapolis MN - 400 Bar
8/5/06 Chicago IL - Subterranean
8/6/06 Columbus OH - High Five
8/7/06 Wapakoneta OH - Rhythm & Brews
8/8/06 Newport OH - Southgate House
8/9/06 Cleveland OH - Beachland Ballroom
8/10/06 Boston MA - TT the Bear
8/11/06 Brooklyn NY - Southpaw
8/12/06 Philadelphia PA - The Fire
8/13/06 Hoboken NJ - Maxwell's
8/14/06 Arlington VA - Iota
8/15/06 Raleigh NC - Pour House
8/16/06 Athens GA - Tasty World
8/17/06 Atlanta GA - Smith's
8/18/06 Gainesville FL - Common Grounds
8/19/06 Orlando FL - Back Booth
8/20/06 Tampa FL - Skipper's Smokehouse
8/21/06 Tallahassee FL - Beta Bar
9/25/06 San Francisco CA - Bottom of the Hill
9/26/06 Redding CA - Billy Bombay's
9/28/06 Seattle WA - Tractor Tavern
9/29/06 Boise ID - Neurolux
9/30/06 Salt Lake City UT - Ego's
10/2/06 Denver CO - Bender's Tavern
10/4/06 Albuquerque NM - Launch Pad

In the meantime, you can download the first single from the album by going here.

You can stream several of their new songs at their MySpace Page.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tilly and The Wall

Sometimes it seems like I can never say 'no' to going to a show, but, tonight, I did not go see Tilly and The Wall with Now It's Overhead at the Creepy Crawl. Now, the problem is, I didn't even tell you about it. And that's because I just realized they were playing today. I have failed you and I apologize. I am sure it would have been a good show, but I was just too busy. They have a tap-dancer, for God's sake. Right up my alley. Here's some songs:

Tilly and The Wall - Bad Education
Now It's Overhead - Wait In a Line

Here's a picture from the show at the Creepy Crawl:
(Thanks to Glodeck for the photo)

Off Broadway

Off Broadway's got a pretty solid lineup this summer/fall. Check it out. The Black Angels, Califone, Gentlemen Callers, Miles of Wire, The Trip Daddys, Bunnygrunt, Gumbohead, Bugs Henderson, The Living Blue, Tight Pants Syndrome, the Sex Robots, Finn's Motel, Ghosts In Light.


Calexico will be playing at Mississippi Nights on Saturday, September 23. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it, as I will be in Las Vegas for a bachelor party, but you should definitely try to check it out.

Calexico - All Systems Red
Calexico - Across The Wire (acoustic)
Calexico - Cascabel (live)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pictures From Waterloo at Lucas School House

Here are some pictures of Waterloo's show at Lucas School house on July 1, 2006. On the last song of the set, they invited Fred Friction, Cat Pick, and singer Mark Ray's wife onto the stage to join in.










Friday, July 14, 2006

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are playing at the Duck Room on Thursday, September 14. The TFSP are a family of three -- father, singer, and keyboard player Jason; mother and slideshow projector Tina; and 12 year-old daughter and drummer Rachel -- that play songs based on vintage slide collections they've found at estate sales, garage sales, and thrift stores. Tina projects the slides behind the band as Jason and Rachel bust out vaudevillian-inspired pop songs. Its shtick, to be sure, but there is a heavy amount of performance art involved in the whole thing. One way or another, it's highly entertaining. I saw them two years ago or so at the Mad Art Gallery here in St. Louis and about three years ago opening up for the Polyphonic Spree at one of their annual Christmas shows, and I highly recommend catching the show.

Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players - Middle America

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Your Standard Life

I just found out about a new mp3 blog that's also based out of St. Louis, called Your Standard Life. It's a top-notch blog, so you should be sure to check it out. He and I have similar tastes in music, but looking back through his posts, we rarely post on the same bands, so we compliment each other nicely. It's great to see as many outlets like Your Standard Life coming out of St. Louis as possible. I have a ton of St. Louis-related links on the left side of the screen (<----) and, taken as a whole, they let you know that St. Louis is definitely home to a lot of smart and creative people.

Now if we could only get more people to go out to more mid-week shows...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

StLBT - My Morning Jacket

This is a recording of My Morning Jacket's performance at Mississippi Nights last November. I was there and it was great. This is offered both as a bit torrent and in mp3 form. No registration required.

My Morning Jacket - Mississippi Nights, 11/22/05

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

StL Bit Torrents

I am going to start posting links to bit torrents of live recordings of St. Louis shows... If you are unfamiliar with Bit Torrent, check out this site. Here are two to start off with:

Elvis Costello - St. Louis, MO - Aug. 2, 2005
Old 97's - St. Louis, MO - April 19, 1996

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bishop Allen - June

No matter how busy I get at work, no matter how tired I am at night, and no matter how bad I get writer’s block, I know I will always have one easy post each month: recommending the latest Bishop Allen EP. June, the latest in the band’s series of monthly EPs, is for sale on their website and they have, as they are wont to do, made one of the EP's four songs available for download.

Bishop Allen - The Same Fire

Black Crowes/Robert Randolph/Drive-by Truckers

On Friday, June 23, I went with friends to see the Black Crowes, Robert Randolph, and Drive-by Truckers at the UMB Bank Pavilion. I hadn’t been to the UMB Bank Pavilion since Radiohead played in August of 2003. For those of you that don’t live here in St. Louis, UMB (or “Riverport” as I still call it; I still refer to Starplex in Dallas, too) is your standard, bland, corporate amphitheater with a nice big grassy lawn and $8 beers.

My tickets and drinks were free, though, thanks to a generous friend’s employer (or was it my friend’s generous employer?), and it was on a Friday night, so I really had no reason not to go. Drive-by Truckers played first and their set began at the impossibly early hour of 7pm. We got there just in time to hear the last song of their set, “Let There Be Rock.” I am a big fan of Drive-by Truckers – especially their live shows – but this show didn’t seem quite right. Maybe it was the early starting time (and therefore sober status of the audience), the fact that it was still daylight out, or the fact that approximately 1/10 of the crowd was there even by the time their set ended (causing the sound to echo terribly), but it was, for the one song I saw, the worst DBT show I have seen.

I hate to admit it, but we spent the entirety of Robert Randolph’s set in the concourse drinking beer. I’ve seen him before and he puts on a great show, but there is nothing about that venue that makes you want to watch a show, so, combined with the buzzkill that was the Drive-by Truckers’ show, we just got liquored up during his set.

When the Black Crowes took the stage, we made our way to the grass. They sounded great and were full of energy, but the setlist was pretty weak. Now, I’m sure hardcore fans will scoff at me for saying so, because I’m sure some of the songs they played were rarely played, but for us casual, non-obsessive fans, it was very weak. I am certainly not someone that is a fan of musicians who cater to the whims of mass culture and appeal, but if they are going to play amphitheaters that are essentially and ultimately populist centers of entertainment, you’d think they would have taken that fact into consideration when creating their setlist for the night. That’s all I’m saying.

And I’m sure some of this is based on the fact that the three previous times I have seen them, they were great, playing long sets that mixed plenty of the popular with the obscure. I generally always love Black Crowes shows. And I know that at least 50% o the set will be songs that I’m not familiar with. The last time I saw them was on my birthday, last October. The time before was at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Easter Night in 2005. And the first time I saw them was in London in 1998. So I guess I have some pretty strong memories that I am comparing this show against, so my thoughts should be taken with a grain of salt.

Anyway, here are the torrents to all three sets of the evening, so you can decide for yourself:
Black Crowes - Live in St. Louis, 6/23/06
Robert Randolph & The Family Band - Live in St. Louis, 6/23/06
Drive-by Truckers - Live in St. Louis, 6/23/06

Friday, July 07, 2006

Self-Indulgent Musical Memories: UFOFU

[This post is one in a series of posts in which I chronicle various bands from Dallas in the mid-90's, approximately the time I was in high school and the beginning of college, and therefore greatly influenced my current musical tastes. In a ddition to be self-indulgent, hopefully it will expose you to some great bands you might not otherwise have heard.]

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, UFOFU was formed in 1993. Unfortuately for the world, they put out only one album, 1997's magnificent UFOFU, and a few singles, before they disbanded in 1997. It's unfortunate because they were a great, if unknown, powerpop/punk band from Dallas. The band consisted of Joe Butcher on vocals and guitar, Brandon Curtis on bass and vocals, and Brandon's brother, Ben, on drums. Butcher was around 30, while Ben and Brandon were both under 20 when the album was recorded; Ben may not have even had his driver's license when the band was formed. After the band broke up, the brothers Curtis went on to form The Secret Machines (after pitstops in Captain Audio and Tripping Daisy), and Butcher went on to perform with the Polyphonic Spree.

The band's music was powerpop, to be sure, but songs like "King of Sex," "Pincushion Boy" and "The Thing of It Is" also embraced jazz in a way most blissfully poppy bands could never pull off. I have tried many times to come up with a good musical analogy for the band's music, and the best I could come up with is "Built to Spill meets the Buzzcocks." Brilliantly original, I know, but I do think it captures the essence of the band's music - caffeinated buzzsaw distortion combined with a willingness to embrace multi-part song structures (even in the context of a three-minute pop song) and guitar solos. The band even released a 7" of their version of Built to Spill's "Car" in 1996.

UFOFU starts of with "Legendary Microwave", which establishes Butcher as a great lyricist, who can make seemingly nonsensical lyrics somehow have a very sensible, logical meaning. You hear this again in the acrobatic lyrical roundabouts of "Nothing Always" and "A Chair In A Room." Brandon steps up for lead vocal duties on "Pincushion Boy", "3 Months Gone Bad", and the coda of Nothing Always and the band reveals its trippier, psychedelic side in the codas of "Nothing Always" and "The Skies Magnify Me."

I was fortunate enough to see the band's final show (or the show that was billed as their last show, anyway) at the Galaxy Club in Dallas. They played every song they knew, which at the time, and despite having only released one full length album, was around 30 songs. It was a great show by a great band. UFOFU is an album that I still consistently listen to, and is a CD that I can listen to from beginning to end without ever wanting to skip a song. Here a few songs for you... but do yourself a favor and go out and buy the whole CD.

UFOFU - The Skies Magnify Me
UFOFU - Nothing Always
UFOFU - People to the Air
UFOFU - The Thing of It Is

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens is playing at The Pageant on Sunday, September 24. He has recently realeased a new album of outtakes from the Illinoise sessions, called The Avalanche. I missed his show last year due to work, and have been kicking myself for it since. I will be sure to check it out this fall.

Sufjan Stevens - The Man of Metroloplis Steals Our Hearts
Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Feel the Illinois!

Saturday, July 01, 2006


St. Louis' very own Waterloo released their third full length album last Tuesday, called Out of the Woods. Hazy, melodic, and just a little more rocking than their last album, this is definitely my favorite of their albums so far. They are playing a show at the Lucas School House tonight (that's Saturday, July 1st, for those of you too lazy to look it up). And you should probably go and check them out, because, according to the Riverfront Times, singer and band leader Mark Ray is moving to Portland, Oregon, soon; which isn't to say you won't ever be able to see them again, but it is to say that St. Louis shows will be even more few and far between...

SO, you should be able to catch Gentlemen Auction House at the steps of the Arch for FREE as a part of Fair St. Louis at 2:30, get some food, go to the Cardinals game, and, because the game starts at 6:10, make to the Lucas School House in time to see Waterloo. Well, that's what I'm doing, anyway....

Here's some songs from Waterloo. Listen to them. Realize you have a crush on them. See them live tonight and buy some beers. Buy a CD. Repeat.

Waterloo - Chain of Lakes
Waterloo - Green Grass
Waterloo - Engines
Waterloo - Halcyon Days