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    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Track Reviews (The Black Keys, The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem)

    by: David Edscorn

    This spring/early summer is going to be a powerhouse season for new music. Among others , The Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady, and The Black Keys will all be releasing albums then, and all three debuted singles this past week. Here’s some thoughts on and a link to each:

    The Black Keys “Tighten Up” (Brothers, May 18)- This track finds the Akron duo teaming up with Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley) again to do production (he produced all of 2008's Attack and Release, but only this song on Brothers). It’s a strong track, with plenty of Dan Aurbach’s sinewy guitar lines and soulful vocals (the lyrics are typical blues futile-love fare, but good) and Patrick Carney’s relentless drumming. Danger Mouse adds in some whistling at the beginning, soulful organ stings, and his characteristic bright production. The result sounds like it could have belonged on Attack and Release, which I have to say disappoints me slightly. I like that album alright, but I really prefer the stripped down rough edges of the band’s previous works. We’ll see how it fits in with the rest of the album.

    Listen at:

    The Hold Steady “Hurricane J” (Heaven Is Whenever, May 4)- The Midwestern bar-rockers have said that their new album will be “less anathematic,” but it’s hard to see this from the new single, which features an extremely catchy chorus and the most anathematic bridge I’ve heard in a while. There are of course the familiar themes and self-references (“I see the crowd you’re hanging with and those kids don’t seem positive) and a new character, Jesse, that might actually be an old, previously unnamed character (the references to bars and harbors seems to point towards the girl in “Certain Songs” from Almost Killed Me). Besides having definite appeal to longtime fans, this might also be the most accessible THS song yet. Craig Finn manages to sing most of the song (his voice is also a big clearer and his vocal chords seem to be missing a little of their normal whiskey coating), the rhyme scheme actually makes sense, and there’s a recognizable song structure. The best Hold Steady song ever? Maybe not, but it sure is fun to sing along to.

    Listen at:

    The Gaslight Anthem “American Slang” (American Slang, June 15)- These blue-collar Jersey boys have only been together for less than five years, but they’ve already managed to put out two excellent albums and a strong EP, and now their third is on the way. The lead single and title track shows the group embracing a sound that’s a bit more of their own (and a little less tied down to their influences) in a way that’s both familiar and excitingly fresh. There’s another sing-along chorus, and a return of the church bells heard on “’59 Sound.” Also intriguing is the cover art, which features black and white photos of locations around NYC and New Jersey, as well as some vintage recording equipment, a straight razor, a root-beer float, and an image of brass knuckles. It’s all at once nostalgic and a little sinister, and reminds me (along with the “American Slang” lyrics such as “they cut me to ribbons and taught me to drive” and “here’s where the angels and devils meet”) a little of “The Navesink Banks” off Sink or Swim where the singer “carried faith and a switchblade tucked beneath my coat” and “ran with dirty angels.”

    Listen at:

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Concert Review - All Get Out w/ Weatherbox and Junior Astronomers

    Tremont Music Hall - March 10,2010

    Charlotte, NC

    By: Alex Mayfield

    What does it take to make a fantastic show? In my opinion, there are certain aspects to a performance that can make it better than the rest. I really enjoy seeing high energy shows. I like when bands take time during the set to mingle with the crowd. I love when the band seems like they would rather be playing that show than be anywhere else in the world. When you take these three bands (that most of you probably haven’t heard of) that is exactly what you get.

    The crowd on this Wednesday night in Charlotte seemed a little small (50-60 maximum), but for some reason that didn’t seem to matter at all. A lot of bands have a hard time feeding off such a small crowd, but this was no problem for opening act Junior Astronomers. These Charlotte locals seemed like they would be excited to play no matter how small the crowd. They showed their ability to be loud and in your face and they were excellent. With somewhat intricate guitars, a hyper bassist and a lead singer who leaves everything he has on stage, Junior Astronomers proved that they will be something to be reckoned with. As the finished up their set, Weatherbox took to the stage to follow up Junior Astronomer’s fantastic performance.

    Weatherbox, a band out of San Diego (which I’m pretty sure translates into “A Whale’s Vagina) started off the show with a solo performance by front man Brian Warren. As the set started as haunting and captivating, the band joins in to bring a slightly more reserved feel to the show. Though not as hyper as Junior Astronomers, Weatherbox put together a show that was incredibly entertaining. Though the songs are powerful, the highlight of the night happened to be when Weatherbox stopped in the middle of their final song to crack some jokes. The main reason Weatherbox is entertaining is because they are engaging to those that watch them and it works in their favor. As they finished up their set, it was time for All Get Out to step on stage.

    All Get Out has a style that is loud and gritty and the songs that they write are in your face, demand for your attention. I challenge every one of you to find a band that puts more energy and effort into every song that they play. I have never seen a band more engaging in my life. Whether it is drummer Gordon Keiter walking on top of his set, Guitarist Mel Washington flying around the stage, Bassist Mike Rogers moving with every note, or lead singer/guitarist Nathan Hussey screaming his lungs out, there is always something to be impressed by. Which brings me to their finale, a combo-finish of songs Let Me Go and Your Girl My Gun Her Ghost proves to be one of the most moving, powerful songs I have ever heard live. All Get Out is incredible and they put on shows that should not be missed. I highly recommend seeing anyone of these three bands when they come anywhere near you. You will not be disappointed.

    Photos From: