Pretty silly weekend, as there are a lot of artists playing two days in a row. Come on, Denton’s not that far from Dallas, is it? Something tells me we may not have this problem next weekend.
The Blurries/Florene/Balaclavas (Pastime Tavern): Florene posted a track entitled “Simply Faux” on their Bandcamp page a few months ago, and it’s some of the most rigidly straight-forward dance music that we’ve heard from them yet. But what sets this track apart from the average “banger” (it’s still really hard to make myself type that word), is that it has a stunted beat similar to what you might hear on a post punk record, as opposed to the house or disco rhythm that I intuitively start tapping after hearing the first bit of music. Florene never quite sounds the same every time I’m exposed to them, and I admire their knack for ceaselessly tinkering with what they’re about, even if most artists who change this much might be accused of just bending to the whim of what’s popular. At their best, they occasionally remind me of a less aggressive Cry Blood Apache, back when the Austin group was still a trio and made a conscious effort to never play the same show twice.
I first came across Balaclavas’s record, Roman Holiday, after Darktown Strutters singer and Pastime booking person Kara Howell named the record as one of her top releases of 2010, and if there’s one thing you can always rely on Howell for, it’s taste. Kara would never steer you wrong, and this record is a perfect mix of PIL-styled nihilism, menacing groove, and cool anti-mood sax skronk. The group has releases on Houston’s consistently excellent Dull Knife Label and Denmark’s Skrot Up, who have released music by locals Dharma and the aforementioned Florene. As neat as that it is, Dallas could still use its own version of Dull Knife, unfortunately. What about the rest of us?
Depressed Buttons/Nadis Warriors/Yeah Def (The Foundation Room at House Of Blues): This is one of those “Free with RSVP” shows and so I decided to investigate the sponsor which, along with Live Nation, turns out to be a Los Angeles-based marketing company called Dub Frequency. Dub Frequency is a great example of the current state of the music industry: a marketing company that works with Coca Cola and AT&T but also owns a boutique record label. Well, at least they aren’t a major corporation. Yet. You usually have to weigh your negative feelings about the brand with the merit of the musical act when it comes to these “free” shows. Depressed Buttons features most of the members of New Wave revivalist icons, The Faint, and that should solve that quickly for many, since I know a lot of you are big fans. This brings to mind that ill-fated Camel-sponsored Ladytron show at Hailey’s years ago, and I have to wonder why so many early late 90’s/early 2000’s acts are so hip to sponsorship. Or maybe I don’t. RSVP: http://bit.ly/evObVo
Hex Dispensers/Mind Spiders/The Blind Shake/Shakedown (Rubber Gloves): I wanted to go ahead and just rename every band so they had “shake” in their name: “Shake Dispensers/Mind Shakes/The Blind Shake/Shakedown.” Sounds pretty believable, doesn’t it? As you might have guessed, these bands are very much into rocking, rolling, shaking, etc. Hex Dispensers get extra points for having covered the Gary Numan classic “Down In The Park,” but that could be a misleading influence, as most of their songs are brash and abrupt, often minor key and melodic punk. Their version of that song supports that. You hate to compare anything to The Ramones but they sound like the Ramones scattered career attempts at being somewhat “serious” (hence the minor key). At least one of their records was recorded by Marked Men member, Mark Ryan, who is, of course, in Mind Spiders, who are releasing a rather anticipated record on Portland’s Dirtnap. This is largely due to his famous past as a Marked Man, but also but it’s also because the record has partly been described as “a little weirdo-in-his-bedroom-with-a-4-track…” according to what the group’s label recently told Punknews.org, and that’s certainly a departure from what The Marked Men are known for. Back in the day this show would have been at the now defunct DIY venue (is there any other kind?) Muscle Beach, so pour some out as I saw many people do there, though often unintentionally. You should also check out The Hex Dispensers’ version of this Occult Detective Club song, “I’m A Ghost,” though that almost seems like a yellow jacket doing an impression of a honey bee. Could you really tell the difference?
X-Tra Spesh with Testarossa (Fallout Lounge)
Sugar And Gold/Yip Deceiver/DJ Trademarx (Jack Daniel’s Saloon): According to a San Francisco Weekly interview, Sugar and Gold describe their “main ingredients” as “electronic pop and classic Euro dance-funk mixed with a smooth, punk R&B style.” Now, the key word there is “smooth” as this band has also been compared to the hyper-sexual dance music of groups like Gravy Train!!!!, however their music is far less jarring and more easily digestible. This could be good or bad depending on how you prefer your lascivious dance pop.
The Hex Dispensers/Mind Spiders (Double Wide)
Criaturas/Wild//Tribe/Dead Line/Collick (Phoenix Project): Criaturas is the female-fronted hardcore act from Austin which features members of the Severed Head Of State, a band name that was always mocked for being so unsubtle but seems even worse lately. That’s not to knock the band’s music and they are highly regarded in Austin. The group plays some of the most historically accurate early 80’s hardcore I’ve come across in some time, and I keep wanting to go back to old records to see what songs these tracks bring to mind. I appreciate the straight-to-the-point nature of the lyrics since they were easy to understand, even with my sadly limited grasp of Spanish. This is the most enticing Phoenix Project lineup I’ve seen in a while.
Yeahdef/Pudge/Ian Bangs (Fallout Lounge): New Hip Hop monthly from Lap Hop enthusiast, Yeah Def.
Warren Jackson Hearne/Chris Welch/Matthew Gray/Kaleo/Kody Jackson/George Neal (Dan’s Silverleaf): Now this is a bill full of convincing acoustic-based singer songwriters. Even Matthew And The Arrogant Sea’s Matthew Gray and Spooky Folk’s Kaleo sound like Black Metal singers compared to some of the lightweights discussed here lately. Maybe I’ve been tough on some of you in the past, but welcome back, fellas, we’ve all missed you. Now show them how it’s done.
1. These guys rock so hard live that it’s surprising their recordings are so stale.
2. These guys rock so hard live that it’s surprising that their records are actually good.
The Monotonix are undeniable as a live act, no matter how 1-D their simple riff and drum setup seems to some. I’ve also heard complaining about the onstage (and offstage) trash throwing and microphone molestation. It’s kind of like what an old blues singer said about The Sex Pistols after hearing about their onstage vomiting (paraphrasing): “These boys gotta get themselves an act.” Well, the Monotonix do have an act, and it’s one that everyone should see at least once, because you won’t soon forget it. Most bands aren’t particularly good at making records or performing live, so at least know they can do one confidently. The ridiculously solid Bad Sports also perform.
Image at top: Criaturas. Photo By Chris Strickland.