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November 28, 2006

Akron/Family Tours!

Filed under: Akron!,News — ihggy @ 12:10 am

hey guys, this is some real news!

you’re all gonna see them play right?

copied/pasted directly from their myspace page:

Dec 7 2006 8:00P
casbah
Dec 8 2006 8:00P
the Echo
Dec 9 2006 8:00P
Howie and Sons
Dec 10 2006 8:00P
12 galaxies
Dec 13 2006 8:00P
Lucky Bar
Dec 14 2006 8:00P
Richards on Richards
Dec 15 2006 8:00P
Neumo’s Crystal Ball Reading Room
Dec 16 2006 8:00P
Holocene
Feb 8 2007 8:00P
cornell university
   
Feb 10 2007 8:00P
wesleyan college
Feb 11 2007 8:00P
hampshire college red barn
Feb 13 2007 8:00P
middle east up stairs
Feb 14 2007 8:00P
europa club
Feb 15 2007 8:00P
johnny brendas
Feb 16 2007 8:00P
university of richmond commons
Feb 17 2007 8:00P
duke university coffee house
Feb 18 2007 8:00P
grey eagle music hall
Feb 20 2007 8:00P
e.a.r.l.
Feb 21 2007 8:00P
edgar’s underground at clemson university
Feb 22 2007 8:00P
satellite ballroom
Feb 23 2007 8:00P
rock & roll hotel
   

November 20, 2006

The Dirtbombs Pt. 1: Singles

Filed under: Artist Profile,Music — ihggy @ 12:45 pm

The “garage rock revival” hype that happened earlier this decade with bands like The Strokes, The Hives, The Vines, and The White Stripes was basically a whole bunch of bullshit. Sure the bands were mostly pretty good, but they weren’t saving rock and roll or anything. Bands have been playing punk-fueled garage since the original wave in the mid-sixties. In the seventies bands like the the Stooges, the Dictators, the Rubber City Rebels, X, and especially Aussie bands like Radio Birdman, the Saints, and the Scientists carried on the tradition of combining classic Berry-style r&b and Nuggets-punk’s raw energy. Groups like Gun Club, The Gories, The Fuzztones, Wild Billy Childish’s The Milkshakes/Thee Headcoats, and, to an extent, Minutemen and the Meat Puppets brought the sound into the eighties and nineties.

Detroit’s The Dirtbombs, formed in the mid-nineties as one of many projects featuring ex-Gories frontman Mick Collins, were one of the major forerunners of the latest wave. They are quite possibly the hardest-rocking garage punk band I’ve heard. Their line-up, which features two drummers, two bassists (one playing clean and one playing hell fuzz), and Collins on guitar and vocals, is an unstoppable rhythmic force, and makes for an extremely physically exacting and exciting live show. Collins’s unique mix of rock and roll, punk, and soul gives the band a sound that is more visionary than revivalist (Mick Collins himself has claimed the Dirtbombs are not a garage rock band. I understand what he means, but I’ll continue to make the comparison.)

If You Don't Already Have a Look

The Dirtbombs began as a singles band that intended to release around 15 7″ EP’s and disband. In the liner notes to their 2005 singles comp If You Don’t Already Have a Look, Collins writes that “all of the best albums are compilations, anyway. Why? Because they’re made up of SINGLES, duh.” I think that he’s right. If You Don’t Already, a 52-song double disc set (one of originals, one of covers), is the band’s strongest record. It’s a sprawling affair, capturing the band in several different stylistic phases over the past ten years. “I’m Saving Myself for Nichelle Nichols (No. 3)” is pure punk, “High Octane Salvation” is psychobilly blues, “Encrypted” has a 90s lo-fi indie sound, and “They Hate Us in Scandanavia” is about as close to pop as the band gets.

If I had to pick one song to represent the band’s set on the originals disc, though, it would be “The Sharpest Claws.” This song features everything that makes the band great — guitar noise, fuzz, huge fucking bass riffs, ENERGY, and skilled concise songwriting — and turns it up full-blast. You cannot play this song loud enough. There is no way you hear this song and don’t immediately have the desire to listen to it again.

The covers disc is similarly all over the place, which makes sense considering the D-Bombs cover everyone from Lou Rawls to the Romantics to the Bee Gees. My favorite on this disc is their version of ESG’s “My Love for You.” It rocks as hard as any Dirtbombs tune, and retains the upbeat minimalist appeal of the original version. It’s easy to tell that the band has fun playing it.

It’s really exciting that the Dirtbombs are capable of creating such a diverse record out of the standard garage punk formula. Rock and roll isn’t dead, it never was dead, and it’s never gonna need to be saved as long as we have bands like this pushing the limits of the genre while sticking steadfast to its most important elements.

Links:
Official Dirtbombs site.
“The Sharpest Claws” on Youtube.
Order Dirtbombs records from In the Red.

(I’ll be back later this week or maybe next week to talk about the way the Dirtbombs approach albums.)

November 17, 2006

Akron/Family Pt. 5: WNYC Session

Filed under: Akron!,Music — ed the portal @ 10:19 am

Akron/Family doesn’t ever stop making music. Around the time Meek Warrior was being released, the band was busy arranging songs for a new album. A couple weeks later, they gathered at the New York Public Radio studio to record the new songs live on the radio. Fortunately, this recording found its way onto the internet for consumption.

Listeners will be quickly drawn in by the simply melodic guitar of “Untitled 1.” More spoken than sung, the coarse vocals seem to narrate the bodily exhaustion derived from the assiduous touring and recording schedule Akron/Family have imposed upon themselves. After a couple verses, however, the members of the band all begin to sing together telling their bodies that, “I won’t be laying down for you no more.” It seems as if all this band wants to do is push on and continue to make more and more music for us without ever taking much of a break. Indeed, they seem to promise to do so as the song ends, “If I’m down, I’ll quickly get back up again,” and proceed to deliver six more songs to the waiting ears of anyone listening.

“Love is Simple” and “Untitled 2” follow and maintain a relatively leisurely pace. However, the intensity of the pounding echoes of beating drums gradually increases through “Untitled 2” and near the end of the song, as they seem to be approaching a climactic break into an anticipated five minute journey through genres, the beat suddenly ceases. From here, the band takes a brief foray into the rural south with the hillbilly guitar twang and hoot-and-hollering vocals of “Sophia.” Halfway through the song however, they turn to a bluesy moaning of the name Sophia before reverting to the original twang and holler to drive the song to a close.

What follows next is the return of the Akron/Family of chanting in unison and wandering multi-part songs. “Ed is a Portal,” like its predecessors, marches through disparate arrangements with stunning ease and fluidity to produce a song that’s just really fucking good. I have trouble putting this any other way. Like many of the bands songs, its complexity prevents a straightforward description. In fact, most of this (or any review of Akron/Family music) could simply be replaced with a brief qualitative statement of, “Listen to this now, it is amazing.”

The session then draws to a conclusion with “Phenomena” and “Untitled 3.” In the former, the band provides somewhat of a warning that “Some might think this isn’t the right sound.” While certainly true (not everyone is going to like this band), I and many other will find it hard to identify any sound in the music of Akron/Family that is wrong. With the performance of these new songs, the band has succeeded in getting me very excited about their music. The stunning work ethic and schedule that the band maintains while continually pumping out quality music that continues to improve is surely something will thrill you and leave you wanting even more. Fortunately, their tireless touring schedule and the supposition that a new album will appear sometime early next year won’t keep anyone waiting very long. The only thing I hope for is that Akron/Family can keep up with their own pace.

November 16, 2006

Akron/Family, Pt. 4: Meek Warrior

Filed under: Akron!,Music — tmonk @ 6:29 pm

Akron/Family’s self titled 2005 debut showed that they were a band capable of writing those soul penetrating songs that stuck with you long after you thought you were done with them. The Akron/Family & Angels of Light split album proved they had both the desire and ability to really explore music, extending past the freak-folk pigeonhole and delving into their own home-brewed, acid-drenched, floor-stomping goodness. By exhibiting their other-worldly work ethic through constant touring, relatively long and energetic shows, and a fall 2006 release date for yet another album, the question holding the world on the edge of its seat was this: can these boys keep it up?

Meek Warrior answers this question with a booming, four voiced harmonization of, “Well, duh!” And no song personifies this alleviation of doubt better than “Blessing Force,” the album’s opener. Pounding drums romp and roll, guitars enter warning us of the coming of a being or group of some importance and suddenly they arrive, in the oh so majestic vocal guise of rabid chipmunks preparing for winter. After a bit the guys do what they do best, give the people what they want. All instruments cut off (the obligatory handclaps obviously exempt) while the entire band leaps into a four part, multi-layered round, chanting the song’s title with some oohs and ahs thrown in for good measure. From there the song progresses into Eastern-tinged grooves capable of satiating any George Harrison-esque fetishist, to all-enveloping noise, finally ending with some good ol’ free jazz horn skronking.

From there the album takes a turn for the understated, more intimate side of the band. “Gone Beyond” features the album’s first prominent appearance of an acoustic guitar. Again the lyrics consist of repeating the song title over and over, though this time in a more restrained fashion. The subtle nature of the song is welcome after the album’s thunderous opening segment, though before you know it “Gone Beyond” manages to slip in its own quiet climax. “Meek Warrior” opens with wind chime percussion and continues to bounce along to various strings and woodwinds for its duration.

As hinted at by the title, much of this album is based around clashes of interest between the faint and bold, the soft and loud, the folk and rock. The previously mentioned “Blessing Force” along with “The Rider (Dolphin Song)” almost serve as two Greek columns, supporting the rustic log cabin roof of the shorter songs. “Blessing Force” shifts dynamically between segments whereas “Gone Beyond” is mostly repetitive. “The Rider” is comprised of feedback driven guitars and obnoxiously rocking group vocals while the final track “Love and Space” gives each band member’s voice a chance to shine individually. “No Space In This Realm” is perhaps the quietest track on here yet while the music is turned down, the lyrics totally barrage your senses with “screaming clocks with whirling arms/and booming bling and car alarms,” along with multiple other attempts at lyrically simulating practically any and all humans senses of perception.

Guest spots on the album successfully supplement the existing songs. Hamid Drake steps in to show the rock kids why he’s been involved shredding the skins with guys like Fred Anderson, Peter Brötzmann, and Pharaoh Sanders for the last 30 years. The horns supplied by some of the Do Make Say Think/Broken Social Scene guys, while usually never taking center stage, are woven into and made a completely necessary component of a majority of the songs.

As of now, these guys show virtually no signs of slowing down. Between west coast December tour dates with fellow Young God Lisa Germano, a live demo recording in New York, and potentially another release for early 2007, Akron/Family fans have no reason to stop salivating. While they definitely are one of the more prolific acts around, it seems their love of music is too great to release any sort of half-ass genre-splicing bastardization of their influences. In the immortal words of “The Rider,” “a true spaceship has no destination, only direction.” So while even these guys probably have no idea what exactly they’ll be doing in the foreseeable future, you can be sure we’re all going to have one hell of a time following them wherever they lead (assuming we can keep up).

November 15, 2006

Akron/Family Pt. 3: “The Lyric” and the 2006 Tour CD

Filed under: Akron!,Music — RadioFly @ 11:31 am

2006 Tour CDI am not going to mention the lyric. When you spin Akron/Family’s 2006 Tour CD, you’re going to dig the whole thing but this one lyric will physically jump out of the music and into your brain and you’ll never forget it for the rest of your life. At that moment, you will undoubtedly come to fully appreciate Akron/Family if you haven’t had the fortune of doing so yet.

Tour albums are, by their very nature, a mixed bag. Bands know that only their hardcore fans buy tour albums and as a result, most bands fill their tour albums with half-assed alternate versions and live takes that are indistinguishable from their studio counterparts. Akron/Family, however, isn’t anything like most bands.

The album opens with a few examples of the (not freak) folkier side of Akron’s live sound, recalling their debut. The finger-picking and banjo on the brief “Stoop Consciousness,” meanwhile, identify that song as the natural forebear to Akron’s recently recorded WNYC demos. Then, just as listeners have settled into the folky ambience, Akron/Family decides to scare away the Iron & Wine crowd by going Merzbow on “H.F.S.” and “Ed Match.” Though not as abrasive as pure noise, Akron can distort guitars with the best of them. Meanwhile, underneath the guitar are subtle sounds that have no discernable origin. Amazingly, Akron manages to outdo themselves as far as creepy, disorienting music is concerned on “Leary Jam.” Gone is the harsh distortion, replaced by a cacophony of voices, bells, and generally otherworldly sounds, making for the rare song that is legitimately disturbing.

Amidst the aforementioned auditory onslaught of those three songs, Akron breaks out into one of the most fun pure indie pop songs of the past year—“Mic Check” (this is the song with the lyric, by the way). No doubt that you’re wondering why exactly this band has grown so popular with us. Maybe it has something to do with how effortlessly Akron/Family can switch between polar-opposite genres like noise and indie pop. The rest of the album does its best to convey the band’s multi-genre live show. High lights of that experimentation consistently persist until the album’s very end, from “I’m Really Glad the Lights Went Out” and its jangly guitars to the dreamy, almost neo-prog of the two “Onward” songs (albeit neo-prog that doesn’t take itself seriously). “And He Laughed So Hard” represents the band’s trademark harmonizing, clapping, and chanting. That Akron/Family manages not only chants, but also punctuation in their name without reeking of pretentious indie kid may be their greatest feat—besides their music, that is.

On this tour CD, more than any other Akron release, we see exactly why their music is so exciting. This patchwork tour album is more enjoyable than the overwhelming majority of official releases this year. And, yet, all of these songs and styles only hint at what Akron/Family can do. No other band, least of all one so prolific and diverse as Akron, could write such beautifully irreverent lyrics as those found on “Mic Check.” You want to know why? No other band this brilliant is having this much fun.

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