This Week in Baseb -- er, Rockin'
The Jazz Mandolin Project
I sit here meekly cobbling this column together on a steely Monday morning, wading through a fog of DayQuil, Emergen-C and hot toddies (note to my editor on that last one: not really!) as I attempt to beat back a brutish case of the sniffles. I’m pretty sure it stems from a week of, well, too much rockin’. A week so packed with music that, as a friend accurately observed, “This week, half of Burlington will be late to work every day.” And how. I was late at least three times, and I mostly work from home.
A brief recap: It all started last Tuesday evening at Club Metronome, where our new friends, MSR Presents, had put together a nifty little midweek show with former Pedro the Lion front man David Bazan, and Omaha’s the Mynabirds. I arrived in time to catch about four or five songs by the latter, and found myself wishing I could, once and for all, break my habit of operating on “musician time.”
(For anyone who has never been, worked with or dated a musician, the equation for calculating MT is basically this: Take whatever time said musician is supposed to arrive, add to that the amount of time it should take to get there, adjust for weather, traffic, crappiness of said musician’s vehicle, degree of sobriety, etc., and voilà — musician time.)
Anyway, I’m grateful for what I was able to catch. The Mynabirds’ soul-tinged, alt-country-rooted tunes sounded even better live than on their excellent new(ish) record What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood. Also, I’m a sucker for sultry, dusky-voiced blondes who play the piano. Ahem.
But the star of the show was Bazan, who, backed by an ace band and pulling equally from his most recent solo album, Curse Your Branches, and choice cuts from his PTL back catalog, stunned the relatively small but attentive crowd. Bazan’s writing and delivery have a unique vulnerable-yet-masculine nature. It’s fascinating, especially in person. Plus, you gotta love a guitarist who looks like he’s flipping off the crowd when he plays power chords.
The following evening was, for my money, the week’s marquee event: Broken Social Scene and the Sea and Cake at the Higher Ground Ballroom. This show held particular intrigue for me. One, the last time I saw a BSS-related show live was Kevin Drew’s uninspiring/borderline shit-acular show at Ira Allen Chapel a few years ago. And two, in last week’s column, I pretty much called out the indie-obsessed masses in this town who incessantly complain about the perceived dearth of indie rock at HG and then rarely show up when the club delivers the goods. I’m happy to report redemption, on both counts. The crowd was sizable, energetic and appreciative. And BSS? Well they just rocked, hard, and for two and a half hours. And not a single person bitched that Leslie Feist didn’t show. Amazing!
It took most of my reserve not to swing into the ’noosk for Beach Fossils at The Monkey House on Thursday. I’ve really been into their most recent, self-titled LP. But I needed to save my strength for the following evening and the Seven Days-fueled local-rock showcase at Nectar’s, Burlington Bands 101. (Also, it was Oktoberfest at American Flatbread. Sue me.)
BB101 was, in a word: rad. In two words: fucking rad. The joint was full from beginning to end, all the bands tore it up — especially Maryse Smith and her merry band of … um, bandmates. I’ve been telling you this for months: Watch out for Smith. You’re welcome.
Most important of all, the benefit show lent a helping hand to the deserving crew at Burlington’s beacon of low-power-radio eclecticism, the Radiator. What’s more, I managed not to (completely) humiliate myself emceeing the show. Bonus.
Sadly, this is where my aforementioned phlegmy malaise enters the picture, steamrolling me Saturday and keeping me from trekking to The Monkey for the Farm CD release. Hope you all went, or have at least checked out Farm’s latest record. It is probably my favorite local release of the year — and it’s in the running to be among my 2010 favorites generally. Really. (Scary thought: The time to think about 2010 “best of” stuff is closer than you think.)
Despite copious amounts of medicine, chicken soup and fluids — OK, hot toddies, but whiskey is a fluid, right? — I found myself again sidelined and unable to catch MSR’s Sunday encore with the Tallest Man on Earth and S. Carey. But imagine this, if you weren’t there, either: 200 people sitting on the floor at Metronome, hanging on the tallest Swedish songwriter’s every, aching word. Wow.
This brings us up to today, Monday, and LCD Soundsystem and Sleigh Bells at Memorial Auditorium. Although for you, dear reader, “today” is actually Wednesday, which means this should be a review, even though, as I’m writing this, I haven’t actually gone to the show yet. And, given my persistent cold, it’s unlikely I will. Still, that won’t stop me from offering this Back to the Future-ish review: The show was a lot of fun. I think both bands played great, but I can’t be sure since I couldn’t, you know, really hear anything other than an echoing blob of cacophonous sound. On the plus side, I got really sweaty, which helped with the sick thing.
What a week.
- This week ain’t too shabby, either, come to think of it. And a highlight is certainly the welcome return of Jamie Masefield’s acclaimed Jazz Mandolin Project this Thursday at Metronome. In a recent JamBase interview, the virtuosic mando-wizard hinted at a new album on the horizon, a curious project he referred to as “minimalist electronica.” With mandolins. Stay tuned.
- Speaking of new releases, Ethan Azarian celebrates his latest, a beautifully idiosyncratic country album, Cross’n Over. Join the fun this Saturday at the Rose Street Artists’ Cooperative Gallery and in Burlington. I’ll try to find space for a proper review before Azarian and his wife, Melissa Knight, move back to Austin in November.
- It’s a big week at The Monkey House, featuring interesting, nationally touring indie acts almost nightly. The marquee show is probably Twin Sister on Friday. But don’t be afraid to come back Saturday to catch Allston, Mass., psych-gaze outfit 28 Degrees Taurus, with BTV rockers Reverse Neutral Drive, and (apparently) Portland, Maine’s answer to Nose Bleed Island: Have Fun, the Band. And don’t overlook Scout Niblett (from the “other” Portland) on Monday — thanks, Angioplasty Media! Or, and I’m really pumped on this one, Jagjaguwar signees Women, with the awesomely named DD/MM/YYYY. Go go, Gadget, immune system!
- Band Name of the Week: the Ginger Snaps. OK, so this band doesn’t actually exist … yet. But in my travels over the last week or so, I have run into local guitarist Bob Wagner a couple-three times. Great guy. Not a shabby axe man, either. Anyway, over a beer or four at Honky Tonk Sessions, he filled me in on an idea for a new band that is so stupid it’s brilliant. So, I’m putting out a call to arms. Raven-haired Bob and I are now accepting applications for our new outfit — an all-star, all-redhead band, the Ginger Snaps. To be considered, you must first and foremost be (duh) a ginger. You must also be comfortable with our gigging/practice schedule: always after dark and, even then, preferably indoors.
- Dept. of Corrections: Last week’s Immortal Technique spotlight incorrectly stated that Tech had been released recently from prison. He wasn’t. That would have been his longtime cohort DJ GI Joe. Apologies to both Tech and Joe. Knowing truly is half the battle. The other half? More thorough fact checking.
And finally, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.