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Eleven Magazine Volume 10, issue 5

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DEPT. OF

PERIODICAL LITERATURE ST. LOUIS, MO

Volume 10, Issue No. 5

Front of the book 5 Editor’s Note 6 Where Is My Mind? Connor Low, Todd Snider, Lo-Fi Cherokee

Columns 8 Radius by Craig Goodman Knoxville, TN

8 Introducing by Sam Clapp Jake Leech

10 Behind The Scene by Jarred Gastreich Frances With Wolves

12 Paper Time Machine by Paige Brubeck It’s All in the Eyes, Part I

features 14 If the Good Die Young: ThLife by k.E. Luther 16 Composite Sketch: The Slack Charm of Popular Mechanics by Caitlin Bladt 18 Just Tell Me to Slow Down: Foxing Hits the Gas by Melinda cooper .

June 2014

features (cont’d) Let the Fringe Flag Fly 22 St. Lou Fringe 2014 by grant barnum . eleven’s musicalendar Recommended Shows 24 Bee Thousand 20th Anniversary

Bring On the Night Show Previews and Reviews226 Pointfest, Detroit Cobras, Painted Palms, Foxy Shazam, Diarrhea Planet, Swans, Xiu Xiu, Dave Rawlings Machine

Hot Rocks Album Reviews2 29 PUJOL, Nite Owl, Brotherfather, Pat Sajak Assassins, Steven Deeds, The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, Other People, Stonechat, Curtis Harding, PINS, Sneaky Creeps, The Casket Girls

The Rebellious Jukebox 30 by Matt Harnish . Carte De Visite, Eric Voeks

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The Way Back Page Grad Central 35 by Hugh Scott Jazz At The Bistro

On the cover: foxing makes a stop in STL. L to R: Eric Hudson, Ricky Sampson, Josh Coll, Conor Murphy, and Jon Hellwig. Photo by bryan sutter. Above photo of Nite Owl by Matt Baker, and photo of Conor Murphy from Foxing by Bryan Sutter.


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Photo of Angel olsen at off broadway by Bryan Sutter

Do You Know About:

Eleven Magazine Volume 10 | Issue 5 | June 2014 Publisher Hugh Scott Editor-In-Chief Evan Sult Special assignments editor Paige Brubeck WeB Editor Hugh Scott photo editor Jason Stoff Art Director Evan Sult CONTRIBUTING Writers Dave Anderson, Caitlin Bladt, Curt Brewer, Paige Brubeck, Ryan Boyle, Juliet Charles, Sam Clapp, Raymond Code, Melinda Cooper, Jenn DeRose, Ira Gamerman, Suzie Gilb, Matt Harnish, Jordan Heimburger, Gabe Karabell, Nelda Kerr, Cassie Kohler, Kevin Korinek, Josh Levi, Rob Levy, Bob McMahon, Jack Probst, Jason Robinson, Jeremy Segel-Moss, Robert Severson, Michele Ulsohn, Chris Ward, Robin Wheeler, Rev. Daniel W. Wright PHOTOGRAPHERS Nate Burrell, Jarred Gastreich, Abby Gillardi, Jon Gitchoff, Kelly Glueck, Adam Robinson, Jason Stoff, Bill Streeter, Bryan Sutter, Ismael Valenzuela, Theo Welling, Carrie Zukoski intern Christian Soares

Illustrators Paige Brubeck, Sean Dove, Tyler Gross, Lyndsey Lesh, Curtis Tinsley, Sam Washburn proofreader Tracy Brubeck Promotions & Distribution Suzie Gilb Ann Scott Consultation Clifford Holekamp Derek Filcoff Cady Seabaugh Hugh Scott III Founded in 2006 by a group including Jonathan Fritz, Josh Petersel and Matthew Ström ELEVEN MAGAZINE 3407 S. Jefferson St. Louis, MO 63118 for ADVERTISING INQUIRIES Hugh Scott advertising@elevenmusicmag.com calendar listings listings@elevenmusicmag.com LETTERS TO THE EDITOR deareleven@elevenmusicmag.com We welcome your comments. Please let us know if you do not want your letter published.

HAVE A QUESTION FOR US? info@elevenmusicmag.com ONLINE elevenmusicmag.com twitter.com/elevenmag facebook.com/ElevenMagazine Copyright 2014 Scotty Scott Media, LLC

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Editor’s Note by Evan Sult

Geez St. Louise Like a lot of people, I was introduced to the music of Foxing at last year’s RFT Music Showcase (which will be happening in the Grove this month — check our Recommended Shows calendar). They were young, scruffy, and possessed an undeniable charisma, though singer Colin Murphy barely ever turned toward the audience, instead doubling over and working his handheld sampler as a giant TV showed a Cardinals game directly behind the band. Their collective personality was equal parts shy and confident, and it was clear that they’d won over a crowd who was mostly unfamiliar with their music. So it’s a pleasure to be able to run Melinda Cooper’s feature on their rapidly rising profile on the national stage, and to wish them well on their tour as it spirals around the country. Meanwhile, one of my favorite STL bands released one of my favorite STL albums recently: Popular Mechanics’ Anti-Glacial, a catchy album of bummer gems that would have fit snugly on The Point’s heavy rotation roster througout the ‘90s (and hint hint, Sirius DJs: “Man of the Times” and “7 to 3” could still do the job admirably). Also this month, we got to write about a whole slew of St. Louis releases, including music by ThLife, Pat Sajak Assassins, Other People, Steven Deeds, Nite Owl, Stonechat, and more, including a long-delayed review of Brotherfather, another of my favorite bands making music in this city. Maybe it’s just a good start to the summer, but to me St. Louis seems to be in the midst of a musical rennaissance, with bands releasing albums, heading out on tour (Troubadour Dali’s Ben Hinn is on a five-week European tour doing sound for Golden Animals; Voight-Kampff is just getting back from their own three-week overseas adventure), and making new videos. It’s exciting, it’s vital, and it’s major league, whether the majors take notice or not. Make sure you do!

Every Tuesday in June -Phat Tuesdays ft. Strange Owls Wednesday June 4 Mother Falcon | Family Crest Thursday June 5 William Fitzsimmons Thursday June 12 Hymn for Her FridayJune 13 John Moreland Saturday June 14 The Mahones Friday June 20 The Lonely Bisquits Wednesday July 16 D irty Boubon River Show Friday July 18 D irty River Boys

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Thursday July 24 Alan Evans Playonbrother

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Wednesday July 30 Sundy Best Thursday July 31 Fly G olden Eagle Every Monday: Open Mic every Thursday in April:

located on Cherokee Street in STL 815-535-7908

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WHERE IS MY MIND? This Month in the History of Now

hot neighbor alert

As evidenced by Middle of the Map Fest this year and bands like Cowboy Indian Bear, Schwervon!, La Guerre, Soft Reeds, Oils, and Sneaky Creeps (see review this issue), the Kansas City/Lawrence area has been blowing up with musical talent lately. But recently a new face popped up on the international radar: Hawaiian-born Lawrencian Kawehi, who performs by looping her voice and instruments into mesmerizing musical palaces. She does her own songs, but her strongest suit is creating intricate, incredible versions of familiar songs like Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” A couple of months ago she released a video of herself performing a killer version of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” that got noticed and praised by Courtney Love, and since then Kawehi’s star has been on the rise. Relatively speaking, she’s still getting started, so check out the Nirvana video and hope for an upcoming STL performance. Presumably she’ll be back in the neighborhood soon, though at the moment, she’s on an eclectic June tour that takes her through Sweden, New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Hawaii, before returning to Kansas in August. Eyes out! Evan sult

big star in town

Whether or not you love the music of Big Star (and really, if you don’t it’s probably just because you haven’t heard it yet), mark your calendar for Friday, June 13. That’s whenThe Stage at KDHX (3524 Washington Ave.) will be screening the STL debut of the new Big Star documentary, Nothing Can Hurt Me, which will also include a Q&A session with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and KDHX DJ/man-about-town Christian Schaeffer. Plus, local hotshot Chris Grabau has assembled a bad-ass band that includes dudes from Magnolia Summer and The Feed to play some Big Star songs—and Stephens will be sitting in! Why on earth would you miss this show? Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of, so get on it already!

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Ruby Tuesdays

Since its recent move to their new digs on Grand Center, KDHX has been getting ever more ambitious in its off-air programming. One of their more intriguing series is simply known as Tuesdays at KDHX, in which interesting, free events go down each week at The Stage at KDHX. The first Tuesday of each month features a narrative documentary presentation; the second Tuesday is called 40s and 45s, in which local beers are paired with a hosted record-spinning listening session. The third Tuesday a music documentary is screened, and the fourth Tuesday of each month is something called KDHX Sessions, “discussion-based events that are ways to get

people in the community, and our DJs involved in ways that are less scholarly,” according to Chris Bay, Chief Content Officer and host of the totally excellent, wide-ranging show Gold Soundz on Friday evenings. Last month, the KDHX session was a discussion of “What Is Americana?,” and included an acoustic performance by Fog Lights, the newest project of prolific STL musician Justin Johnson (see also: Pretty Little Empire, Jump Starts, both active bands in town). June also promises some good stuff: Tuesday, June 3 is a screening of True Stories, the film by David Byrne timed to release with the classic Talking Heads album of the same name. Tuesday, June 17 will be a screening of the fascinating documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston. And on Tuesday, June 24, DJ Rich Reese, host of Thursday mornings’ Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst, will be presenting a KDHX session on the invention and rise of power pop as a genre. All of these Tuesday events are free, so it’s a great excuse to go get some free music culture and get all up in your own community’s music conversations. ES


Grand center gets all jazzed up The growth of Grand Center continues unabated with this month’s announcement of a $10 million renovation and expansion of Jazz At The Bistro. Jazz At The Bistro is one of the coolest spots in St. Louis to catch live music.  For years, they have been bringing in the biggest names in jazz for multi-night performances in the intimate space. That space is about to get a major upgrade. Jazz St. Louis executive director Gene Dobbs Bradford and Worldwide Technologies chairman Dave Stewart made the announcement at a press conference on May 13, and showed some beautiful artist renderings of how the new venue will look. The changes are dramatic. For starters, in addition to purchasing the building where the Bistro is located, which has until now been a leased property, Jazz St. Louis has also purchased the building next door. The Bistro itself will be totally transformed: the stage will change orientation to make much better use of the balcony and actually boost the intimacy for the patrons, while increasing the capacity of the venue by almost 50%, from 150 people to 220.  And the new building will be constructed as the Jazz Lounge, which they envision as the perfect spot for a drink before or after a show in Grand Center. The lounge will also feature a jazz video wall, showing performances past and present at the Bistro next door.  But that’s not the end of it. Jazz St. Louis will also be equipping the space with state-of-the-art recording equipment with the ability to stream both in the lounge and on the web. Finally, in keeping with their mission towards music education, the top floor of the building will be renovated into educational and practice spaces for students.    Construction on the space is planned to begin in June and finish up in October of this year, when Wynton Marsalis brings the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra to town for the inaugural performance in the all-new Harold And Dorothy Stewart Center For Jazz. Hugh Scott

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THE RADIUS Each month The Radius features a city within a day’s drive of St. Louis. Whether you’re in a touring band or just want to meet some of our neighbors on the map, use this section to get a head start.

KNOXVILLE, TN by Craig Goodman

485 Miles from ST. Louis, or about 7 hours by car Think Austin in Appalachia, with Knoxville exhorting itself to stay “scruffy” rather than “weird.” A college town draped in school orange and steeped in the music of America’s Old Mountains and moonshine culture, this cultural bastion in East Tennessee reads like Cormac McCarthy describing Dolly Parton. Winters are mild, and the cost of living is even cheaper than the Lou’s—all in all, a great place to retreat to when the Durrrty gets too dirty, and (until recently) a great place to get away from smack.

Knoxville knotables

Daddy Don’t

FINE PEDUNCLE The freakiest, sexxxiest falsetto R&B jams about insects fucking—Brian Eno approved! WHITE GREGG It should be impossible to play this sort of dark Beefhearty skronk, but with Jason Boardman et al., it apparently isn’t.

Photo by matt ward

marina orchestra Good-time dance fun with Vampire Weekend-style African inflections. My boy Josh Duncan shreds the guitar! daddy don’t strips down rock and roll and blows bubbles all over it—literally, courtesy of bubbler Brad Fowler. Maggie Brannon (vox from White Gregg) beats the skins while the adorable Charise Starr handles vox and guitar.

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VENUES

These hills have hosted many generations of breeding experiments selecting for musical proficiency against a background of toil and tragedy. Them old-timey sounds are free at the Visitors Center (301 S Gay), or walk through Market Square to hear buskers play traveling songs. The local rock scene is neutron-stardense, and the gravity pulls in acts that prima facie shouldn’t stop here. The center of this system is drummer-mensch-impresario Jason Boardman, whose Pilot Light (106 E. Jackson) is the only venue you really need to know. Most nights $5 gets you in to hear great bands in the company of anyone here you’d want to meet. It’s cash- and beer-only, Creepy. so run across the street to Urban (109 N. Central) for a shot and a smoke during intermissions. The Poison Lawn (5426 Neubert Springs) is another option for shows, generally loud and/or weird, but you’ll need a knowledgeable local guide to actually find it. Preservation Pub (28 Market Sq) is a three-band-nightly spot, although usually this means jam bands mixed louder than being able to smoke indoors can compensate for. Community centers Groundswell Collective (1512 Magnolia Ave) and The Birdhouse (800 N. 4th) also host shows; it looks like the former may not for the near future, though. Sassy Ann’s (820 N. 4th) is a great place to give or receive a dancefloor fingerbang, and Club XYZ (1215 N. Central) has absorbed all the local drag shows and gay-clubbing.

FOOD/COFFEE/BOOZE

Knoxville can be cruel to its culinary mavericks (r.i.p. Nite Owl and Harry’s), but it isn’t quite a food desert. Locally focused Knox Mason (131 S. Gay) has a lovely drink menu and a fine brunch. For a sure thing, however, Bistro at the Bijou (807 S. Gay) has an all-day Sunday brunch that’ll do you better than church, but their step-up comfort food is always good—just don’t bring kids.

Batshit-crazy owner Martha Boggs also owns Dazzo’s (710 S. Gay), where the Grandma’s pizza is fantastic. If you happen to catch them open (call ahead!), Palavah Hut (1931 Magnolia) has great Liberian food, or get the Parisian crepe at The French Market (526 S. Gay). The house-cured meats at North Corner Sandwich Shop (2400 N. Central) are pretty damn sublime, as is pretty much everything at Tomato Head (12 Market Sq). To find the kool kids by day, loiter in the cozy salon ambience of Old City Java (109 S. Central); I’ve not found a better croissant than theirs even in France. The baristas at K Brew (1328 N. Broadway) are lab-tech sommeliers, hipping you to tasting notes while pouring and siphoning through Pyrex Rube Goldberg wet dreams. If you enjoy a well-made cocktail go to the Public House (try a Golden Ticket with a collard kimchee hotdog), or the Peter Kern Library in the boutique Oliver Hotel to gawk at the creepiest fucking painting anywhere.

OTHERWISE

Knoxville is outdoorsy; the Smokey Mountains surround it, and the Appalachian Trail skirts it. Get out when the weather is nice (most of the year!) and check out Ijams Nature Center, or Cade’s Cove an hour to the south. In hot times you can find everyone going to the myriad swimming quarries, many of which boast fantastic diving cliffs. Shops like Rala (323 Union Ave)feature handmade crafts, including Kevin Bradley’s world-class letterpress print work, and Nostalgia (1401 McCalla) and Retrospect (1121 N. Central) pre-filter the coolest everything found and made, from crafting and thrift to the estate scenes. Hot Horse (108 E. Jackson) is another Jason Boardman enterprise, right next to the Pilot Light; they sell records, instruments, clothes, and more. I once found an Abner Jay record at Raven Records (1200 N. Central), Lost & Found Records (3710 N. Broadway) is also well-liked, and McKay’s (230 Papermill Pl) has acres of new and used everything.

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INTRODUCING

New bands in their early days by Sam Clapp

Jake Leech

Jake Leech works alone, so he’s hard to pin down. He’s an ambient artist who’s always working on his songwriting. He makes electronic music with the aim of singer-songwriter intimacy. Maybe strangest of all for a latter-day knob turner, he plays electric guitar. How did Jake Leech the band—and Jacob Leech the dude—come about? Leech started playing music as a young teenager. His high school band, Zebras In The Backyard, played a few shows, jammed, and disbanded, as high school bands do. In short order, Leech got a laptop, and the solo era began under the name Kid Counselor. Times changed, and last year he decided to drop the alias entirely. Leech released Brightest Night to Memory, an ambient record, last May, but now he’s at another crossroads, beginning to write more straightforward songs while planning a move to Columbia, MO, to steep awhile in creative isolation. I met up with Leech on a warm April day in DeMun to talk about his musical history, the pitfalls of playing alone, and what’s coming up next for the project.

Photo by Jason Stoff

Eleven: Do you ever think about how people will receive your music? Jake: Oh yeah, all the time, and it drives me nuts. I think that’s why it takes me forever to really put something out. Like when Brightest Night to Memory came out, I just needed to throw it out there because I just couldn’t hold onto it. Because I think about that all the time. There’s this quote I have saved on my computer that says like, “The first time people see your performance, your art, your whoever you are, they shouldn’t automatically go, ‘Oh, I get it.’” You

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kinda want people to say, “I’ve never seen this before.” And that doesn’t mean your art needs to be super esoteric or something. But I was really trying to use that as a mantra, like, “What can I do that’s new but still somewhat understandable?” Yeah. But I definitely think I let myself think about that too much. If I’m bringing something to the creative forefront, to the table, to the palate of the world, or whatever, I definitely want to bring something that’s not too obvious. How do you decide what technology to use when you play live? I’m trying to figure out the best way to use the loop pedals and Ableton Live, but I think as much as I can I just need to get over the hump and just ask people, like, “Hi! I need a drummer. Can you drum for me?” I feel like at some point, at the end of the day, no angst against electronic musicians, there’s just much more going on with physical humans onstage. It just feels like more fun to me, to have a bass player and a drummer, and we’re feeling it together, and I don’t have to carry the entire thing by myself. And even if you mess it up, even if you totally beef it and ruin the set, you get to go

eat pizza with two people afterward. Totally. There was one show in particular, actually it was at Foam, and all of my equipment failed me. I used this extra keyboard, and other loop pedals, two of them. I just should not have done it — I hadn’t practiced enough — and if only there were other people there to carry the weight. But it’s like being a comedian. You should bomb at least once and grow from that. And realize “Hey, I’m still alive! It’s still good. Nobody hates me!” And just start over. So you’ve been going totally on your own power for a while now. How do you look at the way music fits into your life? I would love to be a touring musician, but I can say that music will always be a hobby for me: it will always be something that I care about. I had this art teacher in middle school, who was a photography teacher, and he will remain nameless, because this was a thing I didn’t appreciate. But somebody said, “Oh, Mr. Bla-bla-bla, do you still do your own art?” He was like, “No, I realized I had to pay the bills, huh huh huh.” What kind of message is that, in general? But also for kids! I kinda want to rebel against that. Just to show that you can have a career doing something that’s not music and have kids and a family and still pursue music all of the time! There’s no reason that you shouldn’t be doing it. Check him out for yourself: facebook.com/jakeleechmusic jakeleech.bandcamp.com


Behind the Scene Bands in Their Native Environment

Photographs by Jarred Gastreich

FRANCES WITH WOLVES Frances With Wolves is the ghostly musical collaboration of Leanna Kaiser and Andy Kahn. The sounds they make are like songs set free in the afterlife. Tendrils of melancholic musical information drift through the room, occasionally condensing into squalls of noise or nostalgic song memories before dissolving again into the ether. They both play multiple instruments onstage, and Kaiser’s heavily affected voice occasionally winds through the music as well. Kahn also plays in Troubadour Dali, and both members are artists in other media with a long history in the city’s music scene. Kaiser departs St. Louis in the fall for a filmmaking program at Cal Arts in Los Angeles.

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What’s your source for inspiration? Andy: I draw inspiration from numerous sources. Dreams, movies, paintings, friends, television shows, newspapers, magazines, books... Leanna: Crippling anxiety. And dreams. Mostly anxiety dreams. Can you recall a personal experience in your life where you just sort of fell out of rhythm and did something differently? Leanna: I’ve always felt like I’m on a different planet, so on a general level I’ve always been out of rhythm. But, if you’re asking if I’ve fallen out of my own rhythm, then certainly. Andy and I occasionally stay on some farmland in the Ozarks and just walk/ wander around for hours with no idea where we’re going. We stumble upon all sorts of weird shit that people have forgotten and left behind to rot. Those are really freeing moments and they also open your eyes artistically, when you can escape your own habits and feel like a different person for a few hours. I feel a real true mystical connection to the Ozarks. It seems kind of like an evil place to me and I think I belong there.

You’re moving to LA soon. What’s something you’ll miss about St. Louis? And what’s something you won’t miss? Leanna: I’m moving to LA to go to film school. I’m going to miss my friends, a lot. They are all incredibly talented musicians and artists and probably the best people in the world, although a lot of them have moved on too (looking at you, J Levi). I’ve been involved in the music scene here since I was 15 (holy shit that was 12 years ago), it’s been such a hugely formative part of my life. I’ve watched all these bands grow up and break up and reform, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of all that, that camaraderie. It’s different now, we’re all a little introverted now I think, but I remember going to Dynamos and Berlin Whale shows at the Lemp and the energy was just unbelievable and everyone was having the best and most epic night of their lives. Nothing was more important than that show and that room and those people standing next to you. I miss that so much. I don’t know if that still exists here, honestly, maybe that feeling just gets older and then it’s gone. But I hope I can find it again in California.

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PAPER TIME MACHINE Curated by Paige Brubeck

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It’s All in the Eyes, Part I Last month The National Poster Retrospecticus came through St. Louis. The gig poster show that takes the approach of a touring band – arriving in a city, setting up for one night, then packing up and heading to the next city – made its stop at Soulard’s Mad Art Gallery. After hours of trying to take in the 300+ posters, basically displayed edge to edge, four rows deep on each wall of the gallery, I decided that the “best” one was a Ty Segall poster by the designers Doublenaut from Toronto. I say “best” in quotes, because of course art is subjective, and in a room full of rock posters by over 100 different artists, each poster is going for something completely different. Regardless, I couldn’t get enough of that Ty Segall poster. It was so engaging from a distance, and with the text large enough, you could easily read the band name from a distance. I’d definitely cross the street to find out more, I thought. With all great design, technique, and execution of the many gorgeous posters on the walls that night, when my eyes scanned the room I somehow ended up lingering a few seconds more on that strange green face looking right back into the room. Or blind to the room. What is it about taking the eyes out of a face that makes it so compelling? The trick of messing with the eyes has been a staple of rock posters for ages, and no matter how many times it’s done, there’s always more ground to cover. It still remains fresh. As for that Ty Segall poster: I didn’t buy it at the show and now regret that (especially when I finally by chance heard Ty Segall’s music on a Pandora channel and realized what I’d been missing!) Then I was sure, that poster was the best.

4. The Locust, Moving Units, Fast Forward March 8, 2003 First Avenue | Minneapolis, MN Designer: Patent Pending 5. The Strange Boys, The Hollywood Blues April 10, 2009 Spanish Moon | Baton Rouge, LA Designer: Scott Campbell

1. Ty Segall, Boom Bip  October 2, 2010  The Capri | Marfa, TX Designer: Doublenaut

6. The Dead Weather July 25, 2009 The LC Pavilion | Columbus, OH Designer: Aesthetic Apparatus

2. Iron Boss, Bible of the Devil, Gassoff August 10, 2004  The Hi-Pointe | St. Louis, MO Designer: Art Chantry 

7. Isis, Keelhaul, Circle Postbanhof | Berlin, Germany July 12, 2009 Designer: Damien Tran

3. The Meat Puppets September 12, 2007 The Earl | Atlanta, GA Designer: Methane Studios

8. Archers Of Loaf, Constant Lovers September 9, 2011 Neumo’s | Seattle, WA Designer: Patent Pending

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“If the good die young I’ma live forever” St. Louis rapper THLIFE is coming for the gold

Photo by K.E. Luther

by K.E. Luther Marcus Barnett is the poster child for today’s globalized music scene, a hybrid rapper with the Midwestern earnestness of Kanye West, the streetwise attitude of Eazy-E and the pop culture mysticism of the Wu Tang Clan. As a college sophomore, Barnett released a home recording that propelled him into the local spotlight, landing him the number one position on STLMixtapes.com. After that initial success, Barnett took a few years to learn the business and to hone his craft. Then on April 11, Barnett released his first solo EP under the name ThLife. Entitled ThLife Is Forever, the album features six bass-heavy tracks that sound great coming out of a car window while still providing enough lyrical substance to impress the underground hip hop crowd. The single, “Punk Bitch,”

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includes a video that casts Barnett as an assassin who turns on his corrupt employer, a fitting metaphor for a young artist trying to work his way to the top. With summer right around the corner, Saint Louis is bound to hear more of ThLife coming out of speakers all across town. Shortly after releasing the album, Barnett left for California, where he is a rising star in the West Coast rap scene. The following interview was conducted by email. Eleven: ThLife is an unusal stage name. What is the significance of that word? ThLife: I know that it’s a “cool kid taboo” to come up with your own name and whatnot, but I came up with ThLife after a crazy fight that I got into with about three or four bouncers at a nightclub. I ultimately lost, but I smashed a bouncer’s face in and knocked out some of his teeth with my fist. I had to go to the hospital… to have my

hand stitched back together. I realized they could’ve killed me if they wanted. I remember saying to myself, “I need to stop bullshitting and give a one hundred and fifty percent effort towards my music.” Hip hop is “the life” for me, but everyone has a different meaning of what “the life” is for them. In order to live that perfect life, something needs to be sacrificed—time, money, social life, love life, sleep, food, etc. I am willing to sacrifice everything to live “the life.” I just chose a cool way to spell it. On your album, you talk about the people who doubted your success. You are only twenty-five, but you obviously have a history in the music industry. How long have you been performing? It started with poetry. I had this sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Neu. She would make us write and perform poetry every Friday. She was the dopest teacher I’ve ever had and I hated

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school. When I got to middle school, people would freestyle on the bus, have cyphers and battles in the lunch room. That carried over to high school. I recorded a bunch of stuff on my laptop with the cheapest microphone I could find. This was my sophomore year when I was going to Mizzou. I put it on STLMixtape. com when they first started their site…and I had the number one mixtape for like five or six consecutive weeks. I didn’t even have any artwork, [and] the quality was trash due to the mic I had. But the content was good enough to hold that spot at number one for a little while. Tell me about the violence in your lyrics. Are those images drawn from your real life or are they intended as provocation, a way to wake up the audience? I grew up in the actual city of Saint Louis. I never had any friends of my own that I hung out with outside of school when I was young. I was always with the older kids in the neighborhood causing random chaos and destruction. My brother was shot twice, he’s still alive like nothing ever happened though. I would say about ninety percent of the lyrics on ThLife Is Forever are things that I’ve actually done. [But] I like to make people think at the same time. Like at the end of “Rydaz” I say, “I go for ya king and give him the blues / no BBs, this a bullet point

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message and you’ll get CC’d.” I want people to realize all of the levels on lines like those. It may seem like “murder, murder, kill, kill, death and destruction” on the surface but it’s deeper than that. Your music also talks about the drudgery of office work. Have you ever worked in a corporate environment? I worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in a call center. That sucked. I worked in the University Bookstore. That really sucked. I worked at AT&T on the technical side. It was cool because I would be by myself most of the day working on a pole somewhere. All of those jobs sucked though because I was only using them to get a paycheck to fund my music. I guess if it wasn’t for those jobs I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing with my music now. Catch-22. Songs like “Pilluminati” and “Rydaz” contain some quasi-mystical references. Do you believe in the Illuminati and other conspiracies? On a more serious note, what do you like to read? I believe in a few conspiracies, like the moon being a space station. I believe there are secret organizations that no one knows about. It’s more to this world than we know. The best book I’ve ever read was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I want to read all religious books, like the different versions of the Bible, the Koran, etc. I believe that all

religions are connected somehow. I’m not religious myself, it’s just a lot of mystery around it that I want to learn about. Finally: now that your music is garnering attention on the West Coast, what does your day to day life look like? Where do you live? Does your work represent a neighborhood, a city or a larger group of artists? I live in downtown Saint Louis. I was never a part of a gang or had a neighborhood that I claimed. My parents kept me away from that life the best they could. I’m cool with everyone. But it wouldn’t be right not to mention KReam Team, the duo that produced the majority of the tracks on ThLife Is Forever. Shout out to Khris P. and Lou Swang for that. They’ve helped me a lot. I got introduced to that movement through Khris P. [of the SandLot Vandals]. We went to high school together. I’ve been asked about being with them a lot recently. It must’ve been because of the Vibe magazine [article] where they were talking about KReam Team and both of our names came up in the same sentence. They basically said that what I put out last year was potential crossover music. I plan on gaining fans from every town on Earth. There are rappers who are content with staying underground or local. I am working for more than that. This is what I love.

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by Caitlin Bladt Oh, to speak on one’s feet to beat on one’s brain the popular mechanics are at it again a tenement filled with sideshow freaks assembled to downgrade - Guided By Voices, “A Big Fan of the Pigpen” It’s a clear spring morning on the patio of Mokabe’s on South Grand. A jazz duo plays inoffensive brunch music while groups of people sip coffee and three-fourths of the St. Louis-based band Popular Mechanics trade stories about the weird people they’ve met on public transportation.

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“I mean, you meet some fun dudes sometimes,” singer-songwriter-guitarist Dave Todd says diplomatically. “I don’t know if I’d call it ‘fun,’” guitarist Andy Brandemeyer responds. “I don’t know, it depends,” Todd says. “There was a dude on a train one time that had a sack of underwear. Just like a Schnuck’s plastic bag of underwear.” “I mean, if you’re bringing just one article of clothing on laundry day,” drummer Tim Pinkerton chimes in, “it should be underwear.” Todd, Pinkerton and bassist Rick Addis have been playing under the moniker Popular Mechanics since 2008 or 2009. Todd doesn’t quite remember

the exact date but he knows the band got together sometime during the Obama administration. Brandemeyer joined the band this year when Todd drunkenly invited him to try out after a show. “I don’t think I was that drunk when I asked you,” Todd says. “You were pretty drunk,” Brandemeyer says firmly. The original band members picked the name, Todd says, because they liked the sound of it. Unfortunately, because of potential copyright issues with the longrunning magazine of the same name, they don’t think they can put it on any merchandise. That doesn’t bother them too much. “If we did do t-shirts and stickers and


Illustration by Paige Brubeck. Photos by Bill Streeter.

Mechanics on duty: Popular Mechanics performing at this year’s Lo-Fi Cherokee. L to R: Tim Pinkerton, Andy Brandemeyer, and Dave Todd.

buttons it would be a lot of free advertising for the magazine, that’s for damn sure,” Brandemeyer says. “I like to think the magazine is free advertising for us,” Todd responds. Popular Mechanics seems like a project that could only come from the close-knit St. Louis music scene. While this is the first incarnation of the band, each of the members has played together in other groups over the past ten years—at times, taking each other’s spots. “I think we all played in bands together, but not consecutively,” Todd recalls. Their long friendships and musical history are discernable in the music— there is an ease in their positions within the band and there is an audible sense that they are all having fun. With the addition of Brandemeyer, the band firmed up its sound— melodic rock music that is heavily indebted to early alt-rock. Popular Mechanics’ songs occasionally sound ripped from the early ‘90s, with Todd’s plaintive vocals sometimes slipping into the petulant, self-deprecating sarcasm that marked that era. Likewise, the often downer lyrics are buoyed by catchy, hook-heavy melodies set over thick guitar chords and driving drums. The band says their distinctive sound came about naturally from Todd’s songwriting. “When it started, Dave just had a handful of songs that he’d mostly written by himself,” Pinkerton says. “Rick and I have known him and played together so it was pretty easy [to see] what the whole thing was and what the direction was.” “This is pretty different than the other stuff we played together,” Brandemeyer says. “All of us are into a whole bunch of different types of music. There have been

different variations on the style but it’s always been kind of punk-based. But Dave is the sole writer for this band in general, for riffs and the lyrics and all that jazz. So this is all pretty much his doing when it comes to the overall sound of the material.” Todd says there was no “grand design” for the band’s sound, he just followed his instincts. “Sometimes something just sounds really nice,” he says, “and you just try to find out what makes it sound so nice and go wherever it goes.” Popular Mechanics released their first album, Time and a Half, during the summer

of 2010. The album garnered them a positive review in the Riverfront Times and quite a few well-earned comparisons to ’80s alt-rock legends Hüsker Dü. “Our first record was a lot of relationship songs — not necessarily always romantic ones,” Todd explains. “I love a good love song and a good breakup song, but it’s really hard to do and not sound incredibly trite.” With their new album, Anti-Glacial, the band took a couple of years to write and record songs, having to work around the increasingly busy schedules that come from working full-time jobs. Then they stepped into the studio with producer Jason Hutto, STL’s own master of late-20th century recorder grot and foxy feedback

squalls. The result is an album that feels like it shares a lineage with the sullen, reluctant pop noisemakers of the last twenty years. Hints of Kurt Cobain, Mudhoney and the whole ‘90s Sub Pop aesthetic – if not the daily radio revelations of that era – keep the album roaring, and smart-dumb lyrics (“Ooh, Leatherman, run your fingers through the hair of time / Ooh, Leatherman, I see you staring at the ass of my mind”) keep the mood sardonic. Hutto’s touch reinforces the aesthetics of the classic power trio (never mind the actual numbers), heavying up the already heavy riffs, crashing up the drums, and giving the bass guitar the whole nether region to rule over. “We figured we’d keep recording until we had ten songs that felt like a record,” Todd says. “I think we’ve gotten really good at being efficient and making the most of those couple of hours that we get to spend together.” “I was actually surprised it came together as well as it did, because it was over such a long period of time,” Pinkerton says. “Usually songs that you wrote two years ago you’re kind of done with them but we weren’t.” While Brandemeyer had yet to officially join the group, the professional painter contributed an oil painting of the band for the inside cover. Instead of just printing that piece on the cover and calling it good, though, the band had a more ornate presentation in mind. They screenprinted a minimalist geometric pattern onto plain white jackets, and then cut shapes out of the cover that teasingly reveal fragments of Brandemeyer’s painting underneath. The whole thing is both impressively intricate and intimate in scope, making the most (Continued on page 33)

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Just Tell Me to S Foxing is the first STL band to break nationwide since Pokey LaFarge signed to Third Man. So who are these guys, and what are they up to?

by Melinda Cooper Foxing has been averaging 500-600 new followers on social media every month. Pitchfork recently reviewed their latest video, and last month they came in second only to 50 Cent in an MTVu Countdown. Up until a few weeks ago I’d only ever heard their name, and I’ve been playing music in and around St. Louis, as well as attending shows, for probably 15 years by now. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a show with zero knowledge about a band and then been able to experience that little rush

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of discovery after a knockout set. Imagine my surprise when this was exactly the case a few weeks back as I walked into a packed house for the Foxing show at the Firebird. As it turns out, this was the kick-off of what looks like a pretty serious 28-day schedule with fellow touring bands, Adventures and Seahaven. I grabbed a drink and dug in with the rest of the crowd. Onstage I saw a trumpet, extra percussion, guitars, pedals, sampler, nice rigs, etc. There was quiet with yelling, then straight up screaming with guitars swelling and slowly pulling back into enough negative space to nearly be able to process what happened. It wasn’t the clear-cut


Slow Down loud-quiet-loud that I’ve become so used to hearing, but more like large, smooth swells of clean channel noise, going from frenzy to freefall before disappearing completely. Frontman Conor Murphy’s vocals whined and wailed and told us all we have to pay attention right this minute. And it worked. The crowd pushed forward, seizing up in one collectively climbing wave of heads and arms, and then finally relaxed as the drums finished the final beats of closing single, “Rory.” I felt like I was in the midst of a comfortably panicked emo altar call. Actually, I’m not familiar enough with Emo to be able to plainly label this band as such. But I can tell you that in the first five minutes of the show I wrote a note to myself that said “The Sea and Cake, Sunny Day Real Estate, and a tongue-in-cheek version of Spandau Ballet.” I’m standing by this description, so take it however you like. I’d pay solid cash if someone told me that’s what I’d be seeing. All five members of Foxing are from around here: guitarist Eric Hudson and singer Conor Murphy are originally from St. Charles; guitarist Ricky Sampson grew up in O’Fallon; drummer Jon Hellwig is from Webster Groves, and bassist Josh Coll was born elsewhere but has lived in St. Louis for a long while. They started the band while they were still in college and still underage, thought they’ve all been playing music in and around town for roughly a decade. It’s been pretty crazy for Foxing so far. Right out of the gate there’s been outside interest in their music. In November 2013 they released their first album, The Albatross, on hardworking Michigan-based label Count Your Lucky Stars, and put out a split 7” on STL/Memphis label Carucage before Triple Crown announced the re-release of The Albatross just last month. They’ve been out on tour for large chunks of the last year, and they’ve been gathering fans, on Facebook and in person, by the many hundreds every month. We met up outside after their set to talk about the tour, the label hype, and all the huge things happening for them while I intermittently wiped spatters of rain from the tape recorder that sat on the hood of my car. Eleven: How do you all know each other? Jon: Josh and I were in a band called Hunter Gatherer. We found each other on Craigslist and took it from there. I’d seen Ricky before with his other band, Badger Hunt. Josh: We just kind of found our collective through knowing each other. Hunter Gatherer was an all-instrumental band. I didn’t feel like it was limiting per se, I just had a desire to do something that had vocals. We had been friends with Ryan Wasoba for a long time and he recorded [Conor and Eric’s band]. They recorded an EP and I really liked it, and Conor’s voice, so I contacted them. We had met before though. Ricky: So Josh messaged me and said he wanted to make folksounding music but with Aphex Twin drums and I thought that was

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awesome. Then we got into the first practice and that is not at all what it sounded like. I’ve been told post hardcore/ emo, but do you feel like you’re representatives of any specific genre, location, or group of any kind?

“The first band we were in, we made this goofy list of all the things we wanted to happen. One of them was to be on MTV. It was a complete joke. And now our video has been on MTV.”

Josh: I don’t feel like it’s an insult to say any genre when it comes down to it. When someone says emo, or hardcore, and they buy the record, or don’t because of that – well, great. Whatever helps someone make an informed decision either way. Although I don’t think about it as being an emo band, I think that we’d all be lying if we said we weren’t indebted to Midwest sounds. Midwestern emo came from the Midwest. Post-punk came from the midwest, Chicago, here – it’s all around. So you feel like you’re repping where you’re from pretty nicely? All: Yeah. [We stop for a visit with Stephen and Graham, who ask about the tour and wish them all well. There’s a little conversation, hugs all around, and well wishes for their travels. If you’re from around here, you know that these two gentlemen keep watch for the best bands, and best shows in town. It’s nearly like a blessing to see them at your show, already familiar with the music, and getting a little video.] I’ve not heard or seen you guys before tonight. My first impression, and what I can really appreciate from your set, is that it’s chock full of dynamic variation without anyone stomping on a distortion pedal. That’s quite a feat. What are a few pieces of gear you currently use that you couldn’t do without?

to a pad so it becomes an instrument and not just samples. Jon: I love the rims. If my drums didn’t have rims – well, first of all they wouldn’t work. It’s basically a running gag now to see how many times I can throw the rims in there. I don’t feel like a lot of drummers use the entire kit. I don’t want to say that I do more than most, but I do like to explore. Josh: I play a five-string bass with a high C-string. I tried going back to a four-string but I use that high C pretty often. Eric: I just like reverb a lot. I spoke with some of your local fans a few days ago in an attempt to better prepare myself for our talk here tonight. They

Josh: We contacted our label really fast and ordered more records. Ricky: The way I think about it is that I enjoy doing what I do, and I feel like people make mistakes. As in, people liking us could be a mistake. We’re like Justin Bieber.

Conor: As far as all that stuff goes, it’s so weird how these things happen. The first band Eric and I were in, we made this goofy list of all the things we were going to do in the upcoming year and all the things we wanted to happen. One of them was to be on MTV. It was a complete joke. And now our video has been on MTV. Yeah, but not just “on” MTV: you were #2 to 50 Cent in the MTVu countdown. Conor: Yeah! It’s the weirdest thing. But all of these things just kind of happened one by one. It’s not like they all happened at once. So we were able, in some ways, to prepare for them as each one happened. We’ve been able to deal with it with a level head because everything has been stair-stepping. Ricky: We didn’t start the band with this intention. There was no ethos in the beginning of like, “This band is going to be huge.” There were no delusions of grandeur. It’s one of those situations where we recorded and we were almost done with the first record when we signed to our first label. We were convinced that no one was going to like it and that it would go relatively unnoticed. And we honestly owe all of this to people on the Internet, word of mouth, and to our first label. The people that found our band and liked the band went crazy about it. That’s exactly what the people I talked with said too. I asked them if they thought it was because you’d gotten an agency, or used a promo company, or a label and they said they felt it was probably only because of two things: traveling and networking.

Ricky: Josh and I use the Line 6 Echo Park a lot for delay right now, and all three of us have an MXR Carbon Copy. We’re definitely a delay band. Previous page: Foxing’s Conor Murphy and crew onstage at the Firebird on The Echo Park has this auto swell May 8, celebrating the re-release of their debut album, The Albatross, on that sounds like an ebow. I had one Triple Crown Records. Photo by Bryan Sutter break on our last tour and had to Josh: Yeah our label didn’t have any immediately go out the next day and loaded me up with some great information. PR budget, and that was fine. This all came get another one. There are other pedals you They said that they stopped in at from people giving it to other people. might lose and just get around to it, but not a random bar to get a drink at the RFT this one. Conor: Which is kind of a weird thing with Showcase last year and caught your set. being from St. Louis. Here it’s always about Conor: I have a Dr. Sample 303. That’s Fans ever since. They told me you sold out word of mouth. You go to a show and people what we use for piano and drum samples. of all your vinyl the night of your record are like, “What bands have you been listenI think it’s the best piece of gear to replirelease at the Firebird last year, how the ing to?,” and that’s how you find out about cate because it’s really just samples. It’s video for your song “Rory” scored a review what local bands are around, or seeing such better replication than playing with a on Pitchfork, and various other victories, people who open for bands you already like, keyboard for that stuff. all in about a year’s time. How the fuck do etc. But for us it doesn’t seem to have been Josh: Yeah, and what’s cool about the way you respond to that? What did you do? a word of mouth thing in person as much as Conor uses it is that every note is dedicated

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it’s been on the Internet. Ricky: I think the way you react to stuff like that is, while it’s really humbling, at the same time it is fleeting. Those kinds of things don’t make us who we are and they haven’t changed the way we interact with each other or anybody else. It wasn’t like we went into this dark room with some guy at a table saying “Hey, I’m going to make you a star,” and then these things happened. It’s like Conor said: it’s all a series of stair steps. We’ve had huge highs and lows. It’s amazing what you can get with people just being sincere and feeling passionate about the bands they love. All: Yes. How did the jump from Count Your Lucky Stars to Triple Crown happen? Eric: Well, essentially our record came out on Count Your Lucky Stars and our manager, Joe, helped us out. Josh: Joe actually wasn’t our manager at the time. He was just a guy who hung out with us. Eric: Yeah, and he said “Let me see what I can do.” Then we started getting emails from Fred at Triple Crown and talking with him about working together.

MELT

WA F F L E B AR

Josh: After the record came out we had

been contacted by six different labels, but we didn’t feel a lot of pressure to make a quick decision. But yeah, it was word of mouth again, because even with Fred [from Triple Crown] – and this is what we’ve been told – Joe had told him about the band, our booking agent had also told him about us, and he said he would listen when he had the chance... Then Fred was in a meeting in New York with our record and he was with six or seven people before the meeting telling him “ you have to hear this fucking band.” So that’s kind of how it happened. It’s a weird thing, you can’t predict that and you can’t create that. We were fortunate enough to have people who happened to be in a room with this guy who vouched for us.

we paid for food and alcohol; rent and utilities would be paid for by the band; and then we’d tour a lot. I would also have a big dog.

This is something I consider all the time and I’m curious to hear what you have to say about it. If you could be living exactly as you wanted to live – music, job, location, tour, etc. – how would you live?

Jon: I’m never expecting music to be the breadwinner for me, but it would be really nice if I could live comfortably off of that. But I’m currently a bartender and I love my job. I’d like to keep doing that for the walking-around money.

Conor: I think the answer would be different for everybody. If I could live comfortably I’d be using music to pay for rent and utilities. I wouldn’t want to be lazy in any way. Josh and I have plans to work on music videos. The last video and the one we just finished working on helped us get into a system of how we do things. In a perfect world we would be doing music videos for bands we really like and that would be how

Eric: I just want to live as simply as possible. Music doesn’t really have to pay for anything. I just want to find contentment. Ricky: All I want is a small one-bedroom apartment I’ll live in alone, a quarter pound of weed, and all my regrets in a journal. Josh: Mine would be fairly similar to Conor’s. Just the idea of being able to say that music is your job is what I like. For music to pay for rent and for tour would be amazing. I would like to be able to say that I have my band and my life and these two things coalesce.

Josh: So many people would like to be able to say that they do what they love for a living and can’t. Like they may do it as a hobby, but for us to be able to say, “I play music,” and not have it be one of those things... To be able to go to my girlfriend’s house for dinner and not have it be like, “When’s he going to get a fucking job?” Yeah.

Tuesday, June 10 // BAR ONLY SHOW // 8PM Rhythm of Cruelty, Trauma Harness, Self Help. Cover $7 June 11 - 15 // Melt 1 Year Anniversary Week Wednesday, June 11 // 7PM Waffle Eating Contest. Prizes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd Thursday, June 12 // 8PM Cherokee Nights. Singer/Songwriter Showcase Dutch Courage & Chris Helmick. Face Painting by Laura Coppinger Friday, June 13 // 9PM Animal Children Saturday, June 14 // 9PM Supper Club w/ Grant Harbron & Trevor Matthews Thursday, June 19 // 5-11PM Fundraiser for Baby Sebastian & Grace Hill Medical Center. Live Music. 15% of Melt proceeds go to Sebastian & Grace Hill Friday, June 20 // 8PM Free Show. Bliss Hippy & one local act (TBA) Saturday, June 21 // 9PM Bagheera Wednesday, June 25 // 8PM Open Mic w/ Suzie Cue Thursday, June 26 // 8PM Singer/Songwriter Showcase TBA Friday, June 27 // 9PM Hey Rocco, All My Vices & Grafted Saturday, June 28 // 9PM Antithought, Dissention, Perfect People, Hollow Breath. Cover $5

2712 Cherokee Street // 314.771.6358 elevenmusicmag.com | ELEVEN | 21


Let the Fringe Flag Fly ST. LOU FRINGE takes over Midtown this month

photo by Kathryn Powell

by Grant Barnum “So what is it we’re looking for?” I ask her. She’s rummaging through some boxes in a factory-converted storage warehouse on Olive Street. Lit only by a dying cell phone, I can barely make out the shapes of theater art and stage props around us — dancing, lively ghosts watching her expedition as curiously as I am. In a turquoise polka-dot dress and pink tights, she considers a roll of duct tape before dropping it in a box, shoving that aside, and moving on. “Something useful,” she says absently. Her answer floats through the quiet gloom. She’s focused, collecting supplies as carefully as an artist gathers paint. It is the night of March 20, and Em Piro is resisting exhaustion to finish preparations for Alice in Fringeland. The play will be presented in five acts, and each will be performed by a different performance group, in a different style.  In addition to her role with this show, Piro is the executive director of St. Lou Fringe Fest, so she’s used to being in the middle of a creative whirlwind. When she rushes back to the Kranzberg Arts Center where the play will take place, she is immediately surrounded by a frenzied symphony of players. Ventriloquists relocate trap cases to save space. Actors adjust wigs and corsets as Phillip, the production designer, tweaks the soundboard. Tables are moved, chairs rearranged. Felecia Whalen, co-producer of the event, excitedly displays

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St. Lou Fringe 2014 Wednesday, June 18 - Sunday, June 22 Midtown St. Louis

a themed painting of Alice and the Caterpillar depicted in positions reminiscent of Princess Leia and Jabba the Hutt. At one moment, everyone stops to watch Phillip pour boiling water into a cooler full of dry ice. As the stage is devoured by tentacles of eerie fog, Piro uses her hands emphatically to describe the “bubbling” sound to a deaf performer. Every detail of this group’s atmosphere is experimented with and critiqued, always with exuberant enthusiasm. The stage backdrop is a cleverly swirling circle of white rabbits; quaint teapots and white roses with droplets of red paint decorate the VIP tables. Piro poses playfully (despite a lack of sleep this week) for Phillip’s lighting tests before stepping off the stage to listen to one of Felecia’s ideas. “That’s brilliant,” she says. “I love it.” Twenty-four hours later, the room ignites in a shoulder-to-shoulder, sold-out blaze of radiance. Sassy burlesque dancing, poignant spoken word, and a vivacious drag queen are among the many delights offered to the audience, and they’re hooked on every scene. Of course, the event is a huge success. The entertainment is equal parts engaging, hilarious, and quirky.

Alice In Fringeland was just one of several events this group has organized in the past few years. Although their radical concepts have pushed limits, none will compare to the spectacle happening this month: St. Lou Fringe 2014, happening from June 18 to 22 throughout the Midtown district. Five days. Six venues. Thirty-five acts. Over 100 shows, all performed side by side within a half mile of each other. Most radically, says Piro, the acts have been selected blindly, without unbias. This way, there will at all times be the chance audiences can be blindsided by performances conventional methods wouldn’t have selected. After festival attendees pick up and don their button passes from Fringe Central Station at 3554 Washington, they can experience tightly choreographed, rapid-fire performances spanning everything from comedy, to puppetry, to cabaret, magic, dance, burlesque, rock musical – even a didgeridoo performance. Amateurs and professionals alike will take the stage, without any unified theme to constrain them. Both locals and artistic representatives from as far as both coasts will be seen by audiences of every age. St. Louis Fringe should entertain all kinds, goes the operating theory, because it will be created by all kinds. Where did this idea come from? In Scotland, small theater groups turned up to perform around the fringes of the 1947 Edinburgh International Festival.


structures” battered by recession and racism – exactly the sort of environment Fringe has the power to help. “We intentionally chose an area which was developing,” says Piro, “because we wanted to contribute to the growing vibrancy of the neighborhood by bringing cultural programming there. We wanted patrons to feel like they were a part of something bigger.” St. Lou Fringe is also finding creative ways to make a name for itself internationally. “Executive Transvestites for Fringe” is a campaign designed to attract the attention of comedian Eddie Izzard, whose hilarious perspectives on culture and world history complement his cross-dressing persona. Izzard performs every year at the historic Edinburgh Fringe Festival — and will coincidentally be onstage in St. Louis at the Fox during our festival. Right across the street from the fest, in fact. “We want him to know we appreciate his work and what he stands for,” says Piro. “We’d love to just get on his radar, and let him know he’s welcome.” Speaking of welcome, Em is calling out all performers in St. Louis to help create the atmosphere of the festival by busking on site. “Anybody can come with anything they want at any time and start being noticed!,” she declares. Strauss Park will feature music and

a variety of shows where audiences can meet and compare experiences. Performing there will be various musicians including locals Kid Scientist, Psychedelic Psychonauts, Aye Sir Owl, and Apollo Mudd. Darian Wigfall, who also takes charge of sponsorship relationships with the festival, will represent Florissant-based VerseutilitY Media Group by performing in an indie-pop musical called Sleepwalker with singer/songwriter Laren Loveless. “We’re going to play some swing music,” he says. “I back him up with break beats, and we’ll have a horn section. Laren’s got both elements.” If you like to feel your music, the St. Louis Osuwa Taiko drum group will be appearing several times over the festival, performing A Journey to Japan. Also, several local producers will help add the musical flavor this year. Christopher Limber is producing Riffs: Jazz in a Set of Ten as a cabaret act. 1900 Park will perform Eric Barnes as a storytelling singer/songwriter, and Grand High Productions will present A Goofball Rock Recital as an original rock musical. St. Lou Fringe is an alliance of eccentric, prolific genius. It’s all made easily accessible, yet it’s connected to a spine of international performances. Who better to shine a global light on the boldness of St. Louis than these brave performers?

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Though uninvited, they staged their shows anyway, earning audacious popularity (leave it to the Scots to set an example of such punk-rock badassery). After nearly seven decades, the idea has spread across the world, and major cities all over North America now hold Fringe Festivals annually. But not all Fringes are created equally. Piro, who kickstarted the St. Louis chapter two years ago and helped increase the attendance by a couple of thousand last year, explains what makes our city’s chapter different. “In Canada,” she says, “you can’t call yourself a Fringe Festival unless you meet certain criteria. In my opinion, Fringe needs to be accessible: an accurate reflection of the cultural voice of the city. We choose to be unjuried. We think that’s an outlet that isn’t available otherwise. Lots of interesting new partnerships and explorations of form are starting to organically evolve from our Fringe Festival. I wouldn’t say that’s the case for Indianapolis, for Chicago, for Kansas City, for Minneapolis, or any of the other Midwestern Fringes. I don’t think they’ve had quite as much dabbling into genre crossovers: acts that we can’t fit into a category.” This event is also about revival. The midtown area around Locust Street where Fringe takes place is full of empty “ghost

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TUESDAY, JUNE 10 THE FLAMING LIPS, Morgan Delt at Pageant

TUESDAY, JUNE 3

THE KICKBACK, Quiet Company, Driver Friendly at Firebird

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11

PINK SOCK, Totally Gay Cop, Band Named Q at Bonerville

UNKNOWN HINSON at Off Broadway

CHVRCHES at The Pageant

Chicago up n’ comers The Kickback are rolling strong: they just recorded their new album with Jim Eno from Spoon, and they’ve got an urban rock classic in their

SUNDAY, JUNE 8

MONDAY, JUNE 2

RECOMMENDED SHOWS

JUNE 2014

POPULAR MECHANICS, KARATE BIKINI, HUMDRUM, SLEEPY KITTY, & MORE • SATURDAY, JUNE 21 AT OFF BROADWAY Don’t get me started on Guided By Voices. One of the first records that really opened my eyes to the actual independent rock scene was 1994’s BEE THOUSAND. The recording is god awful, but Bob Pollard’s songwriting style embraces the shaggy elegance like an acid-tripping Brian Wilson. So when I heard that St. Louis musicians are getting together to perform every song from that now 20-year-old haggard little masterpiece, I immediately had questions. How exactly are the guitar/drums duo of Sleepy Kitty going to embrace the noisy full-band tremble of “Hot Freaks”? What in the hell are the walls of guitar in Popular Mechanics going to do with “Echos Myron”? Is Humdrum going to remix “Kicker of Elves” into nothingness? Exactly how long is Karate Bikini’s version of “You’re Not an Airplane” going to be, considering the original is 30 seconds? All these questions and more will be answered to full satisfaction, I trust, especially considering the man behind the event, the venerable Matt Harnish of STL’s own decades-old little-band-that-could Bunnygrunt, is a bigger GBV fan than most. And that’s saying something. Oh and after the album’s done — because all 20 songs take about 30 minutes or so — we’re also getting treated to some other GBV hits courtesy of Matt Harnish’s Pink Guitar, This City Of Takers, Town Cars and The Humanoids. C’mon c’mon, the club is open! JASON ROBINSON

GUIDED BY VOICES’ BEE THOUSAND

MUSICALENDAR

ILLUSTRATION BY TYLER GROSS, GROSSILLUSTRATION.COM


TWANGFEST: THE DREAM SYNDICATE, Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Magnolia Summer at Off Broadway

LIZZIE WEBER at Gramophone Sandwich & Bottle Shop

RFT SHOWCASE: 50+ BANDS ALL ALONG THE GROVE, plus a show featuring Pokey LaFarge and So Many Dynamos

SATURDAY, JUNE 7

ALLAH-LAS at Firebird

MACY GRAY at Lumiere Place

DC’s Br’er works the exact space between pop and apop, which makes this bill—Eric Hall’s sound explorations, DNF’s lush classical pop charisma, and especially The Nightingales’ (aka Frances With Wolves + 2) warped beautiful song dreams—such a summit on

BR’ER, Eric Hall, Dots Not Feathers, The Nightingales at Blank Space

TUESDAY, JUNE 17

BROKEN BELLS, Elf Power at The Pageant

MONDAY, JUNE 16

KING KHAN AND THE SHRINES, Red Mass, The Sueves at Off Broadway

SUNDAY, JUNE 15

PAINTED PALMS, Shy Boys at 2720 Cherokee

APOP RECORDS 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION feat. Humanbeast, Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck, Sofia Reta, Self Help, Black James at Plush

A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION at The Fox

MARGOT AND THE NUCLEAR SO & SO’S, Jake Bellows, Kate Myers at Firebird

THEE FINE LINES at Heavy Anchor

SATURDAY, JUNE 14

SPANISH GOLD, Clear Plastic Masks at Old Rock House

JOHN DOE, Jesse Dayton at Off Broadway

ANIMAL CHILDREN at Melt

THE POTOMAC ACCORD, The Mhurs at Foam

TIDAL VOLUME (EP release), C’est La Vie, Flood Logic, Red Letter Day at Firebird

TWANGFEST: CENTRO-MATIC, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Tristen, Beth Bombara at Off Broadway

AS UNSTABLE AS: ELECTRONIC AND PERFORMANCE ART presented by Kevin Harris, feat. Kevin Harris, Wonder Koch, Leanna Kaiser, Brett Williams, Marianne Laury, Michael Meihaus, Zachary Zimmerman, Dr. Mabuse, Perverted at Kranzberg Art Center

FRIDAY, JUNE 6

WILLIAM FITZSIMMONS, Leif Vollebekk at Gramophone

STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES, Mastersons at The Pageant

HOMEBOY SANDMAN at Blank Space

TWANGFEST: RODNEY CROWELL, Tom Hall & Alice Spencer, Shannon McNally at Off Broadway

MS. LAURYN HILL at The Pageant

THE PAT SAJAK ASSASSINS, Tennis Lesson, The Leads at Heavy Anchor

MAXIMUM EFFORT at Bad Dog Bar and Grill

DIARRHEA PLANET at Off Broadway

SUNDAY, JUNE 22

CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD at The Pageant

FISTER, Black Fast, Valley at Firebird

A SALTY SALUTE III: 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RELEASE OF BEE THOUSAND with Matt Harnish’s Pink Guitar, Popular Mechanics, Sleepy Kitty, This City Of Takers, Town Cars, Humdrum, Trauma Harness, Humanoids at Off Broadway

SATURDAY, JUNE 21

NASHVILLE PUSSY, CATL & The Yawpers at Old Rock House

THE O’JAYS, Chaka Khan at The Fox

SCARLET TANAGER (record release), Letters To Memphis, The Lovejoys at Off Broadway

FRIDAY, JUNE 20

EDDIE IZZARD at The Fox

Besides his role in The Union Electric and Defeated County, Glenn Burleigh is both a key recording engineer around STL and a booster of the scene’s self-sufficiency and depth. But he also just busted his leg falling off a ladder, and Obamacare is most definitely not doing the trick. Thus, as always, it comes down to the community to take care of our own. Do the right thing.

BENEFIT SHOW FOR GLENN BURLEIGH with Pretty Little Empire, The Union Electric, Langen Neubacher at Heavy Anchor

THURSDAY, JUNE 19

Scan this QR Code, or go to ElevenMusicMag.com for a listing of club addresses. Check out our expanded calendar of events at calendar.elevenmusicmag.com, powered by

Discussed this issue Comedy show

LEGEND

MUSICALENDAR

BLONDIE BRUNETTI, Googolplexia at CBGB

MONDAY, JUNE 30

S.L.U.M.FEST 2014 feat. Tef Poe, Rockwell Knuckles, Nato Caliph, Seymour Awesome, Scriptz N Screwz, This’ll, Loop Rat, and 50+ more at Plush

WHISKEY WAR FESTIVAL feat. Jake Leech, County Graves, The Maness Brothers, TOK, Beth Bombara, Thin Dimes, Whiskey War Mountain Rebellion, Old Capital Square Dance Club, Werwulf, Carriage House, The Barn Mice, Miss Molly Simms, and more, VFW Post 2866 in St. Charles

SATURDAY, JUNE 28

HOME BODY, 18andCounting, Adoptahighway, Abnormal at Foam

MOON JR, Lords And Kids, The Old Souls Revival, MusicEmbryo at Firebird

FRIDAY, JUNE 27

DUBB NUBB, The River Monks, Bobby Stevens, Googolplexia at Heavy Anchor

HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR at The Luminary

THURSDAY, JUNE 26

DAVE RAWLINGS MACHINE at Sheldon

THE OLD 97’S at Ready Room

PETER MURPHY, Ringo Deathstarr at Firebird

FRIDAY, JUNE 13

ELECTRIC SIX, Yip Deceiver, Other People at Firebird

SWANS, Xiu Xiu at Ready Room

TUESDAY, JUNE 24

ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD, Cheap Girls, Dog Breth at Firebird

FRIDAY, JUNE 18

THURSDAY, JUNE 5

JEREMY MESSERSMITH, Big Scary at Off Broadway (and 4pm instore at Vintage Vinyl)

FOXY SHAZAM, Larry & His Flask at Firebird

how our brains experience music. Consider this a must see. ES

TWANGFEST: CODY CHESNUTT, DeRobert & The Half-Truths, Theresa Payne at Plush

DETROIT COBRAS, PUJOL at the Demo

THURSDAY, JUNE 12

SYLVAN ESSO at The Luminary

JON AUTRY & THE NAVAL AVIONICS, The Chainsaw Gentlemen, Con Trails at Heavy Anchor

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4

PETER BROTZMANN TRIO at Lemp Arts

pocket, “Rob Our House,” that should ring true to anyone in STL. Ouch—but true. ES


Live Music

BRING ON THE NIGHT = STL band (current and/or honorary)

David Macklovitch of Chromeo onstage at the Pageant on Wednesday May 7.

<<REVIEW

Pointfest

Saturday, May 10 Verizon Wireless AmphitheateR I have never gone to Pointfest for the same reasons I avoid Six Flags at all costs—it’s hot, it’s sticky, people are too close to you, and the music is absolutely awful. One year my friend was really excited about seeing AFI at Pointfest and ended up with second degree burns all over her body because she “wanted to get a little sun.” Another year, a friend broke her leg a few months before the event and used her walking cast to smuggle eight warm flasks of vodka into Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. She also got horrifying sunburns. All in all, I could not think of one single reason why I would want to go sit outside at

26 | ELEVEN | elevenmusicmag.com

Photo: Ismael Valenzuela

a giant stadium in May to listen to Coheed And Cambria. This year’s lineup made me rethink that. Twitter blew up the day 105.7 The Point announced the bands, from bliss (“best day of my life, oh my God”) to utter disgust (“I think I’m going to vomit, never listening to the Point again”). I was somewhere in the middle. While the mere thought of the band Blue October does make me want to throw myself through a window, I am a huge fan of The Orwells and The Head And The Heart. And while I couldn’t quite remember any songs by Band Of Skulls or Morning Parade, I knew I liked them well enough. And besides, I thought, maybe it won’t be as sticky and sunburny and touchy as I thought. Friends, it was exactly as sticky and sunburny as I thought. But there was a


Live Music refreshing amount of personal space for most of the day, which allowed me and my friend to enjoy the bands we really wanted to see and move out of range the second Blue October started playing. Not being maniacs, we didn’t try to be there for every second of the day. What I heard as we walked across the vast wasteland that is the Verizon Wireless parking lot, was Hollow Point Heroes screaming the word “fuck” exactly as much as you would think a band called Hollow Point Heroes would. It didn’t bode well for the rest of the day. Luckily, The Orwells are reliable fun, even though their 30 minute set was way too short. ††† was very entertaining despite their ridiculous name, as was Airborne Toxic Event. I eventually remembered the words to about half of Band Of Skulls’ songs, buried somewhere in all of the other useless information I have from their 2007 heyday. And The Head And The Heart made me feel a lot of feelings, despite some guy behind me yelling, “You fucking suck!” Which is just so rude. After that, things went downhill quickly. As previously stated, Blue October provided the perfect bathroom break and a journey up to the lawn to locate a sitting spot for the main attractions. And this, of course, was where the personal space issues began. One bikini’d girl in front of me kept passing out in the grass with her lit cigarette very close to my feet. To our right was a man in a baseball cap emblazoned with the Confederate flag and the word “HEROES,” while to our left was a group of men who looked like the Nazis from the final season of Breaking Bad but with lots of nipple piercings. However unpleasant this experience was, it sometimes is really nice to have all of your preconceived notions totally fulfilled. Would I have preferred to be absolutely blown away by Pointfest, spending the next months telling everyone who would listen to me that it really is so much better than you imagine? Probably. But was there something truly satisfying about seeing people with insane sunburns in the outline of their nipple rings sing along to every single AFI song? You bet. You do you, Pointfest. Caitlin Bladt

>>PREVIEW

Detroit Cobras, PUJOL Thursday, June 12

The Demo On the one hand you have a band from Detroit whose claim to fame is digging up old forgotten soul records and recording them with heavy guitars, whose last release was in 2008 and was — get this — a compilation. And on the other hand you have the freak-punk weirdo offshoot of a vibrant rock scene in Nashville, a place known historically for country music. Put these polar axes of garage rock’s current status together and the result will probably be a shit-ton of pogo-jumping drunk sweaty 20-somethings and a slurred “BEST SHOW EVER” diagnosis three songs in.  Detroit Cobras have made a career elevating unknown bands’ best songs to something gritty and glorious by taking the obscure and making it more vivid and palpable via the tools of old school garage rock n roll. PUJOL has distilled lead singer Daniel PUJOL’s sense of humor and wit into biting songs whose hooks are their greatest weapons. They’re on different ends of a fairly narrow spectrum — the Cobras’ Bo Diddley meets The Stooges vibe, versus PUJOL’s Guided By Voices as produced by The Strokes — but they’re a perfect fit because both seem to realize there’s futility in taking rock n roll too seriously. Case in point: Detroit Cobras’ compilation of previously recorded stuff was called Original Recordings which, obviously, they weren’t, and PUJOL’s new album is called Kludge which, y’know, implies they kinda half-assed it (though they did nothing of the sort — see also our review of the album on page 31 of this very issue). Whichever band you go for, stay to hear the other. You might find you’re in good company. Jason Robinson

>>PREVIEW

Painted Palms, Shy Boys

Saturday, June 14

2720 Cherokee Cousins Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme formed Painted Palms in San Francisco back in 2009, after several years of passing music back and forth that each had made on their own. In January of this year, Polyvinyl Records released their debut album, Forever, a sprawling sonic landscape of tunes. Painted Palms fit in lovely among a label lineup that includes bands like of Montreal, Generationals, and Starfucker. Earning many comparisons to the work of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, and drawing on similar Beach Boys influences, Forever is chock full of great vocal harmonies, solid songs, and tons of reverb. Prudhomme’s vocals are drowned in echo, as are plenty of other musical flour-

ishes — passages of the album sound like they were recorded inside a large cavern, with no light at the end. When playing live, Painted Palms is a group effort to match all the psychedelic sounds from their record. The foundation of 2720 Cherokee will likely be shaking to the sounds of opener “Too High,” with its celestial swirl of electronic drums and synth. The Beach Boys/“Strawberry Fields” harmonies come out in full swing on the title track, on top of a stellar guitar lick. With hits like these, this band is going places, and now’s definitely the right time to catch them — they’re only going up from here. Opening the show is Shy Boys, another family band (brothers this time, along with their roommate) that released a debut record this past January. Their brand of jangly indie rock falls into that mellow lo-fi sound that will please fans of bands like Pure X and early Real Estate alike. Jack Probst

>>Preview

Foxy Shazam, Larry And His Flask Tuesday, June 17 Firebird Foxy Shazam’s lead singer Eric Nally wants to be Freddy Mercury in a bad way. From the mustache to the falsetto to the extrastrength emotion to the silly songs about asses, it’s hard to tell if the Mercuryisms are a tribute or an obsession or just Nally’s way of letting himself achieve Rock Godhood. Obvious comparisons to Queen aside, Foxy Shazam owes plenty to the mighty T-Rex as well, blasting out radio-friendly arena rock like the title track on their most recent album, Welcome to the Church of Rock N Roll. Here is the song that defines Foxy’s ethos, extolling the virtues of being in a rock band and taking the piss on selfrighteous rock stars in the next breath. Listening to that record, you do catch yourself wondering exactly how much of the band’s stance is a front and how much is real. Even the cynic in me got caught with a tear in my eye by the end of “Forever Together,” which is about how his kids miss him when he’s on the road. Foxy’s latest record, the unsubtle GONZO, piles on the horns in a welcome return to their debut album’s style, and makes more of an effort to drop in funk, as on second track “Poem Pathetic.” Funky rock n roll that doesn’t take itself too seriously, except when it does. Sincere or otherwise, I like it. Jason Robinson

>>PREVIEW

Diarrhea Planet Sunday, June 22

Off Broadway Don’t let the gross name fool you or the sixguitar assault scare you, the boys in Diar-

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Live Music

Moses Sampson at the Pageant on Thursday, April 24.

rhea Planet only want you to have fun. At their last STL appearance, the Gramophone barely survived the night, people who didn’t have tinnitus yet left with a bad case, countless boatloads of beer were consumed both onstage and off and, despite or because, we were all the better for it. Hailing from Nashville, TN, DP is a band in search of a good time, a bracing slap in the face with a fully loaded guitar, all done with a smile and a wink and a great sense of humor. I mean, you named your band Diarrhea Planet, you had better be able to take a joke. Not only can they take ‘em. they can make ‘em pretty great too: one of their better songs is “Ghost With a Boner,” and their latest album, I Am Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, and features a switchblade stabbing someone’s hand through a pile of money. It certainly helps that they’ve got the chops (like, music school training) to back up their bluster, driving a freight train of heavy guitar riffs, jet-engine bass noises and jackhammer drums... you get the point, right? Shit is loud. Shit is fun. Bring earplugs. Drink beers. Go crazy. Jason Robinson

>>Preview

Swans, Xiu Xiu Tuesday, June 24

Ready Room Michael Gira and his Swans have made it clear that they are not here to create a comfortable listening experience. From their raw and noisy origins in the ‘80s No Wave scene to the patience and refinement they have added to their arsenal since reuniting in 2010, the band has always

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Between singing harmony and flatpicking with long-time partner in crime Gillian Welch, Rawlings finds time to sit in with bigwig names, produce critically acclaimed albums, and write future bluegrass classics. His signature band, Dave Rawlings Machine, makes a scheduled stop at The Sheldon later this month, fresh from playing the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado. Welch will be part of the backing band, along with some additional heavy hitters you don’t want to miss, including guitarist Willie Watson of Old Crow Medicine Show. Watson just released a solo album on Rawlings’ own label, Acony Records (which Rawlings also produced, of course). Also in the band is double-bassist Paul Kowert, from pugilistic Photo: Jason Stoff bluegrassers Punch Brothers. But the most important backing player you will commit specialized in crafting new ways of chalhari-kari for missing is the indefatigable lenging and brutalizing audiences. Their John Paul Jones on mandolin. This might newest release, To Be Kind, is no excepas well be the Led Zeppelin of bluegrass and tion. Surprisingly groove-oriented bass Americana. and drums are punctuated by the swells, The show is set to break hearts and blow massive crescendos, and biting vocals that minds, with Rawlings’ own branch into the we have come to expect from a Swans genre as a  lead, playing hits from his 2009 record. This is all executed with the kind of album, A Friend of a Friend. And expect nuance and maturity that has marked the to hear signature tunes from all of these band’s post-reunion material. Coming in at amazing musicians; I wouldn’t be surprised two hours and one minute, To Be Kind is a to hear a life-changing cover of “Going to savage auditory experience and is some of California” at this show. Gira’s best work with the project. It prom In addition to his explosive flatpicking ises to translate into a formidable evening. style, Rawlings has proven himself a terrific Swans’ 2012 Firebird set was a mere songwriter in his own right, focusing on a six songs but amounted to two ear-splitting type of bluegrass that sounds more lumiand sweaty hours of minimalist drone and nous than his work with Welch, with more gargantuan swells, creating a grueling physupbeat progressions and happy-go-lucky ical experience in addition to the pounding singing. Finding early traction in his career auditory one. Swans want to punish you: by co-writing “To Be Young” with Ryan rumor has it that their contract stipulates Adams, which became a sort of siren call that venues’ ventilation systems be turned for the indie folk and bluegrass movement, off at all shows. Rawlings appears to have no intention of This time around, they will have San slowing down now. The man breathes new Jose’s Xiu Xiu in tow, and it’s hard to life into a genre and makes it his own in a imagine a more appropriate opener. The way that only the greats can, barnstormbrainchild of experimental singer-songing the solos and high lonesoming the writer Jamie Stewart, Xiu Xiu crafts bizarre harmonies. and noisy songs that come from a place While fans wait to see if Rawlings will almost as dark as Swans’. For the masochist put out another album, they can tide themin all of us, this is a lineup not to be missed. selves over with this series of shows, which Geoff Naunheim passes through St. Louis and concludes in Nashville. The last time Rawlings was in St. >>Preview Louis at the Pageant, picking with Gillian Dave Rawlings Machine Welch to a sold-out crowd, they played right Wednesday, June 25 after a strong storm that cut the power, but The Sheldon not the show. Expect the same unstoppable Dave Rawlings is, in fact, a machine. And a excitement and intensity for Dave Rawlings well-oiled one, at that. Machine. Kevin Korinek


Album Reviews

HOT ROCKS

= STL band (current and/or honorary)

PUJOL Kludge

Saddle Creek

The man called it Kludge, which implies a sort of half-assed build-your-wings-onthe-way-down approach and sometimes, on Daniel Pujol’s latest razor-sharp garage-punk missive, you can kinda hear why. The record starts in an uncharacteristically subdued and minor key with “Judas Booth,” a frank discussion of a “real bad year” that almost did Pujol in: “I’d been having trouble connecting with that funny feeling I might call god,” he sings, “but I think I did a real good job — of convincing myself not to blow my brains out against the wall…it was a full-time job.” It’s a startling way to kick off the record, black at first but slowly lit with hard-won experience.

Nite Owl

The Nite and Nate Project Monarchy Records

Birthdays can be difficult. On the one hand, I am thankful I made it through another year without a major calamity. On the other hand, I am forced to account for another twelve months of literary procrastination. So I always find myself down to seeds and stems toward the end of spring. But this year was different. A week before my birthday, legendary St. Louis rapper Nite Owl dropped by my house to deliver an advance copy of his latest record, The Nite and Nate Project. Made over a three-year period, the album demonstrates what can happen when a skilled producer, in this case Nate Hershey, pushes a longtime collaborator to achieve his musical best. Hershey, an impressive instrumentalist, stands at the heart of The Nite and Nate Project, creating a sound that is equal parts St. Louis underground and Atlanta strip club sparkle. Most of these tracks could dominate commercial radio, and their lack of exposure says more about the music industry than it does about the artists. But the real attrac-

That’s the thing: for a hard-blasting yeller, Pujol’s lyrics reveal a strangely personal style and sound. Kludge is pure catharsis through music: “The new me and the old me are in a fistfight,” he sings in the warp-speed “Manufactured Crisis Control,” and that fight takes on epic proportion as it sprawls through the whole record, as though it’s the final battle in a gritty video game about a punk beating himself up and the final boss is more of his own demons. Bear with me: this is actually a good thing. It creates a record of extremes, bouncing between sudden bursts of joyful breakthrough and outright paranoia; it’s the sound of a guy figuring out the really big stuff. Stylistically, the band rolls confidently between the hollered pop blasts that won them their formidable live reputation, scattered audio clips that appear like footnoted research for the forthright lyrical content, the balanced alt-country flavor of “Dark Haired Suitor,” before shooting for the moon with longtime live staple “Post Grad,” here getting a Ty Segall-by-way-of-Guided By Voices super lo-fi treatment. There are moments of fleeting joy scattered throughout, but mostly Kludge is a soul-baring blast, making the whole thing relevant and personal in a way few records dare to be anymore. Jason Robinson PUJOL plays Thursday, June 12 at The Demo with Detroit Cobras. tion of any Nite Owl record is the impeccable wordplay. On “Heal the Pain,” an instant classic, Nite Owl delivers a treatise on the power of the human spirit, declaring that “equality is a façade / but if you black then you play against the odds / supremacists will try to ruin this / but Nite will kill them all with an iron fist.” In the process, he creates a new anthem for the Millennial generation — young Americans who know the pain of economic uncertainty yet still believe in the transformative nature of hope. Later in the album, Nite Owl pauses to take stock of his life: everything that he has earned, everything that he still needs, and everything that he will leave behind when he moves on, in body or in spirit. As he admits on “One Day,” “yesterday I said one day I’m gonna leave again/I’m still thinking bout it, you know, probably doubt it/and before you know it I’ll be looking back again…looking for the right opportunity to rap again.” It’s the sound of an artist growing into himself. So this year I received an unbelievable gift—a reminder that, through music, individuals can connect across vast differences in age, race, gender and class. And from now on, I’m spending my birthdays with Nite Owl. K.E. Luther

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Album Reviews

Brotherfather Walk It Off Self release

[Ed note: I’ve been trying to get this damn album—damn fine album, I should say—in the magazine all year. Here it finally is: treat this like a revelation and don’t hold our lateness against ‘em.] Released at the tail end of 2013 [See? I told you. Sorry about that. -ed], Brotherfather’s debut confidently aims to be not just the collective’s introduction but the first of many great albums, delivering 27 minutes of the freshest rock n’ roll St. Louis has witnessed in recent years. Their songs harmoniously combine a humongous range of influences that draw listeners in from numerous entry points: their drum beats are danceable, the vocals charming, the bass parts are arresting, merged with guitar parts that are appropriately rough and paradoxically sweet. The band instinctively employs the founded musical techniques of their predecessors while striving to be singular, even in a music community as disparate and historical as St. Louis. Walk It Off opens with “Bonzai,” a display of their dynamic range, ripping open with an immense, doubled guitar riff that leads into the rich jangle of R.E.M.’s guitars and funkiest drum beats of any dance-punk release on the market. If you haven’t heard it yet, know that “Stick Around,” much like the band, is a

hidden cache of St. Louis treasure. Built around Krane’s Paul Simonesque melodies and wordplay (cut with a distinctly ‘90s sense of stoner self-deprecation), the band avoids the traps of electrified singer/songwriterisms by crafting powerful riffs while consciously leaving plenty of space for the vocal melodies to lead. Krane is a youngbuck St. Louis veteran who crafts challenging yet relatable lyrics that benefits from this start/stop approach to accompaniment. His tenor soars in the sections where the music explodes and finds its more sentimental place atop the group’s gentle growls. “Tear Off Head” is a standout track, a tense number that starts spare and offers arguably the most sympathetic lyrics of this collection. Drummer Dustin Sholtes stylistically travels the map, while John Krane’s silver-tongued lyrics (“If I’m not drunk I won’t be sad / if I’m not sad I won’t be cruel / if I’m not cruel you can’t be mad”) play across a bed of percolated guitar parts and the tight musical pocket generated by Sholtes and bassist Chris Turnbaugh. The vocal and guitar melodies are intrinsically memorable, and the hypnotic bridge passage revs from spareness into a menacing, muscular conclusion, where the guitars take over from the lyrics to complete the narrative arc. “Japanese Bat Bomb” is the slow burning first-person narration of a scientist involved in creating an early weapon of mass destruction for World War II. Low cymbal washes and spare bass undergird one of the cleverest contemporary uses of concrete music, when guitarist Nick Horn ingeniously emulates the sounds of bats and

The Rebellious Jukebox

Life at 45 RPM by Matt Harnish

Whew! Pop tunes & jangling, clean-toned guitars are back this month, after two Jukeboxes filled with Fister, Vacant Grave, Drunks With Guns, & Lumpy & The Dumpers. Enjoy! First up, Belleville kids Carte De Visite bring us the brand new Be a River three-song EP. Two vocal cuts & an instrumental, the songs strum along pleasantly, with assured arrangements & smart choices, like the trumpet that pops in for just a few seconds in “Eyes Like Runny Eggs,” but gets out before you think “Oh, they’re one of those bands that has a guy who plays trumpet.” Ryan Birkner has the right type of earnest but slightly off-key voice that keeps everything from getting too cutesy, too, & I really look forward to hearing more from these guys. Pure pop for then people, St Louis popster Erik Voeks had a handful of critically acclaimed records in the early-mid ‘90s, full of the kinds of clever wordplay & shimmering harmony that make music critics & community/college radio DJs wonder why more people don’t listen to this kind of stuff. On this 1992 45, he gets a little angsty on side A’s “Throw Me a Line,” but it’s side B’s “When Will It All End?” that gets me all wistful & nostalgic for my days of being a college radio DJ & discovering all this great underground pop music & wondering why more people didn’t listen to this kind of stuff.

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falling bombs. The album closes with an impressive version of Cindy Walker’s classic “You Don’t Know Me.” Comparing their version to Ray Charles’ famous rendition, it’s possible to identify how ingeniously Brotherfather’s arrangements transmute a tense, almost dangerous melancholy into musical form. Their home tones are minor, their instrumentation relatively spare, but their artful arrangements lead to a kind of cinematic grandeur — here, the verse re-harmonizations, the freak-out noise sections, and the wholly invented, odd-time crescendo at the song’s end show skills that put this band in the upper echelon of St. Louis talent and creativity. Don’t miss this album; it establishes Brotherfather’s bona fides as some of the city’s strongest musical craftsmen. Curt Brewer

Pat Sajak Assassins

Motherboard Self release

Pat Sajak Assassins, despite the name, is not some anarchopunk band, but that same DIY spirit and infectious anythinggoes attitude has informed their work since 2010’s Approved by NASA. Joining the group of already seasoned prog-rock/ psych-rock vets this go-round is newest member and multi-hyphenate Syrhea Conaway, known best to some as Syna So Pro. Here, her voice and keyboard work serve to amplify the already trippy classic prog experience and elevate some of these tracks beyond their psych-freak roots. Despite some of the oddball trappings like repeated nonsensical vocal phrasings, deeply warped keyboards, and a swamp of guitar effects that make you question if that is, in fact, Matt Derouin’s guitar, Pat Sajak Assassins actually makes fairly straightforward music. Leadoff single “McChe” is a great example, starting with a ticking drumbeat and a sanguine bassline but quickly building up a furious swarm of keyboard sounds, punctuated by oohs, heys, and ahhs timed to the YES-indebted trade off between drummer Harold Covey and bassist Brian Fleschute in the second half. The rest of the album is packed with genre-busting surprises, like the Casio-funk of “Lambda Lambda Lambda” that is way more fun than it is serious, the Primus-meetsgoth-meets-chiptune vibe of “Space Docking,” and even the more straightforward progrock of “Kickman.” No matter what sonic tricks they pull out of their sleeves, it never


Album Reviews fails to elicit a response, because this type of building buzzing frenetic energy pulls you in and drags you around by your ears until you’re both exhausted by the onslaught and ready for another round. Jason Robinson

Steven Deeds The Cavern Self release

Steven Deeds has done something very ambitious: not content to write, play, and record his album as a stand-alone full-length album, he’s also written a fully illustrated companion picture book to tell the whole tale. But then it’s an ambitious narrative, following the life of a slave named Luge, who escapes one kind of confinement for another — but finds a whole other sort of freedom altogether. The Cavern is meant to be experienced in all of its pieces simultaneously, with each of the eleven tracks corresponding to a one-page chapter in the book, each beautifully illustrated in watercolor by Adam Baker and Keith Konya. The story is both literal and metaphorical; Luge evades his human captors, only to fall into a dark cavern, still isolated from the outside world. While the story and pictures are great, it’s the music that is the real star here. The songs are lush and gentle, with a strong lyrical backbone that encompasses a more expansive and abstract take on the themes in the story. The music has a hint of an Americana lilt, but with deep, layered soundscapes. It’s not exactly Son Volt or Pink Floyd, but resides in the space between those two poles, maybe not so far from the realms of Bon Iver and Andrew Bird. Deed’s songwriting is excellent both in form and function, which are equally important in a project like this. It’s easy for a songwriter and author to come across as trite when tackling grand subjects like this, but there is none of that here: the lyrics are emotional and the vocals are especially strong and pleading, perfectly evoking the depth of the question at hand and the very personal, yet absolutely universal quest to answer it. Hugh Scott

The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger Midnight Sun Chimera Music

With the release of Midnight Sun, it’s safe to say that Sean Lennon has broken free of the long shadows of his parents and has established himself, alongside long-term girlfriend and musician/model Charlotte Kemp Muhl, as a fantastic song-

writer in his own right. Right out of the gate, Lennon and Kemp Muhl’s The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger leaves behind most of the indie popness that marked 2011’s La Carotte Bleue and dives headfirst into 21st century psychedelic rock. This is not to say though that the album is without its amazing pop songs. Songs like “Last Call” or the Mark Ronson-produced “Johannesburg” are top-class tunes that were made to be played out of windows on a summer day. This album succeeds in defying the expectations one might harbor for the band at this point, and in doing so, announces that they seem to have come into their own and finally feel the ground under their feet. This makes the record feel more natural, with Lennon and Kemp Muhl writing the best batch of songs they could rather than trying to impress the listener with a quick wit that tries too hard — a tendency that has cropped up in previous releases. As on previous GOASTT albums, a very European flow runs through the songs, allowing the songs to breathe more and enjoy themselves rather than rush straight on to the next track. Many of the songs are cinematic in character and bring a certain sense of imagery with them: “Golden Earrings” and “Great Expectations” have a very film noir atmosphere, while “Don’t Look Back Orpheus” sounds like a broken merry-goround and closer “Moth to a Flame” comes on

like the harmonic end of the world. Perhaps in another life, this album would’ve been the definitive art film soundtrack. Midnight Sun is an all-around great listen. It’s not the type of album that you’d bring over to a party, but one you tell a friend to check out because they’ll be more than pleasantly surprised. So, having fulfilled my end of that arrangement: go get yourself a copy already. Rev. Daniel W. Wright

Other People Hell Is

Self release

Referencing Sartre’s No Exit on both your band name and the title of your first album is pretty ballsy, but the trio of Bob McMahon, Jeremy Goldmeier and A.J. Lane can thankfully back up that highbrow name-checking. McMahon is the main songwriter, and his wry, witty lyrics have staked a middle ground between literate and playful, never lacking in a sense of humor. But the record is bookended by songs written and sung by Jeremy Goldmeier and it’s kind of jarring, since Goldmeier is a throaty, verbose and defiant voice while McMahon’s is more subdued and nasal. The band has a rollicking good time tossing out references to the influences they wear on their sleeves, showcasing sharp power pop guitar lines (“I Don’t Mind”),

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Album Reviews folk-rock breakdowns that would land them in singer-songwriter territory elsewhere (“Fallout”), and jangly garage rock. Standout track “Paparazzi” expertly follows the footsteps of one of society’s more reviled professionals through his day to day over a Kinksy rhythm track: “Stay clean, you’re needed on the scene / she’s put on 30 pounds it must be seen to be believed / once walked the runway with such grace / but she let it all go now get a closeup of her waist.” At only seven tracks long, Hell Is winds up way too short, especially given the catchy hooks and biting lyrics. Which I guess is what the repeat button is for.  Jason Robinson

Stonechat Bacco EP

Float Away, Dangling / Self release

Clocking in at just under seventeen minutes, Stonechat’s new EP Bacco is a mathy, spazzy roller coaster of a record that should delight the band’s fans and win the experimental rock group plenty of new converts. The Collinsville, IL, trio floats through five short tracks with enough technique and spunk to impress without becoming boring, and even manage to drop a heavy riff or two in the midst of the twitchy parts. Just when the soundscapes begin to blur, keyboardist John Beabout does an excellent job of dropping dissonant, spooky intervals to jolt the listener to attention. Sean Ballard’s guitar work and Charlie Nehr’s drumming are constantly complex, tight and busy, which is a lot of fun until it becomes distracting. With so much going on instrumentally, the raspy, shouted vocals sound like an afterthought. The words themselves are not, and if you pick up a copy of Bacco make sure to spend the extra five bucks on the version that includes a set of comics illustrated by Curtis Tinsley. Tinsley’s work never disappoints, and his images for Bacco add a new dimension to Ballard’s lyrics that complete the album. Gabe Karabell

Curtis Harding Soul Power Burger Records

Though this is his debut LP, multiinstrumentalist soul singer Curtis Harding comes with a fully developed musical back story. He sang backup for five years with CeeLo Green, then formed a four-piece called Night Sun with Black Lips’ Cole Harding and Joe Bradley, plus Danny Lee of The Night Beats.

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And before the album had even dropped, French fashion headliner Hedi Slimane approached Harding to create a video with the Saint Laurent Music Project. And it’s easy to see why: recent frequent comparisons to Stevie Wonder and Al Green are fair enough, but fail to address Harding’s blunt sexuality and raw rock. Now that the album has arrived, Harding’s all set for the light to start shining on him. Soul Power has the grit of funk and the tenderness of gospel, with a classic yearning in songs like “I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” and universal appeals to the human spirit in lines like, “Listen up beautiful people / You’ve got to stand up or die.” The music, especially on songs like first single “Keep On Shining,” plays up the classic soul backing-band chops, horn hits, and backing vox that keeps us dusting off those old Marvin Gaye LPS. I asked Harding about his sense of connection to the soul tradition. “Tradition is important for the younger generation as to not forget where they come from,” Harding said, “but when speaking in artistic terms, you can’t let tradition rule the creative process. If you do that it can stunt your artistic growth. I think that all artists are a continuation of our influences. However, it’s important that we are ourselves while creating.”  As soul meets grunge pop, Harding’s collaborators on the album are technically sharp and still playful. It’s a perfect introduction of soul into the Burger Records realm [see the May issue of Eleven for more on the exploding, awesome Burger Records catalog –ed]. For Harding, Burger “represents youth culture with a DIY mentality,” he said. “As record collectors, they are very into vinyl. We all love the way vinyl sounds as well as how it’s packaged. It refreshing because it stresses the importance of making and listening to records as they were meant to be enjoyed, in their entirety. The same goes with tapes—even the hiss of them is a comfort to my soul.” Nelda Kerr

PINS

Girls Like Us Bella Union

As a foursome, PINS would be good to have in your corner in a bar fight. Rough and ready to rumble, these ladies have a brash swagger that makes their presence known. Their debut, Girls Like Us, is a burst of DIY freshness that sonically and texturally beats you to pulp. Hailing from Manchester, England, a working class city with a rich musical heritage, these sirens of reverb have skillfully suspended time by taking the smeary jangle of the C-86 movement and blending it with the swagger of any of Brooklyn’s latest

big-thing bands. They’ve inhaled some of the rawness of fellow Mancs Joy Division, the spikiness of Buzzcocks, and the experimental daring of Durutti Column, and added their own dose of rich tumult. PINS are built on a harmonious foundation of dirge and darkness. Led by guitarist/singer Faith Holgate, assisted by aggro bassist Anna Donigan, guitarist Lois McDonald and kinetic drummer Lara Williams, their auspicious debut is equal parts Vivian Girls, L7, Dum Dum Girls, Bikini Kill and Runaways. However, PINS sound is richer and more compact, beginning with the indie crackle of “It’s On” before getting to the crunch of single “Girls Like Us.” “Mad For You”’s desperate urgency lurks beneath swelling guitars, and “Get With Me” is a joyous punk-pop confection bolstered by Williams’ percussion, while “I Want It All” and “Lost Lost Lost” offer shades of early Velvet Underground. PINS could have simply cashed in to ride the wave of all-girl bands who co-op Phil Spector’s famous wall of sound with jangly and angry songs about love, loss and misfortune. Instead these ladies know the proof is in the pudding. They make dense, ear-tingling noirish dreamscapes draped in a “do what you want and be who you want” ethos. Rob Levy

Sneaky Creeps Negative Space Self release

Negative Space begins as an alarm, shocking you awake as if every other album you’ve heard this year has been a snoozer. The longest of Sneaky Creeps’ three releases, it’s set up in the old school style — A and B side — and ends with a guitar siren as well. There is so much punk and grunge love here. At times Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger pokes through, minus Chris Cornell’s pretty-boy voice. “Skeleton Key” is built on a lick that could almost be a radio-ready Gin Blossoms bit, if it wasn’t for the Creeps’ trademark yell/talk melody. Perhaps Max Crutcher and Andy Erdrich most approach Johnny Rotten or Henry Rollins in vocal delivery, with something of the whininess of the prince in Monty Python’s Holy Grail who says, “But father… I don’t want any of that… I’d rather just sing!” — if you ran that voice through a megaphone. OK, that sounds like an insult, but it’s actually quite edgy and exciting. Still, Sneaky Creeps has developed a sound that squeaks through the genre boundaries that have so labeled rock of the last several decades. Perhaps this is a reflection of their self-proclaimed “no coast trash rock,” a flavor all their own. Lyrics like


Album Reviews “looking grave as a tombstone” and “I don’t care I have nothing to carry” mimic the turn of phrase that Erdrich’s guitar can take, bending the notes at will or repeating licks, and then running the line up or down the fretboard. Hardcore Midwest love is reinforced on “D.M.T. N.Y,.” where Max and Andy yell together, “Don’t move to New York!” Isaac Ahloe’s thumping bass line leads “Little Known Facts About Ostriches (Trivia)” and “The Transitional,” but cymbals dominate on “Splitting Hairs.” Though I’m more excited about Crutcher’s stick precision on tracks like “No Happening,” both styles combine well on tracks like “Antisocial.” No one can complain about that man; he is a drumming phenom.  Perhaps “No Happening” is the tightest track because it appeared on Sneaky Creeps’ last album, Bell St. Radio, and has now reached its peak. This is where you can really hear the difference in recording styles between these two LPs. Bell St. Radio was recorded in Sneaky Creeps’ shared living room, with just the vocals overdubbed. Negative Space was recorded in an actual studio—tracked, mixed and mastered by Joel Nanos at Element in KCMO. The whole album makes good sense and, if anything, ups the shock voltage, ‘til the whole thing is screaming: WAKE UP! Nelda Kerr

Unconventional workspace for the unconventionally employed

POPULAR MECHANICS Cont’d from page 17 of the elements at hand and creating an interesting play with negative space — not unlike the album’s ten songs. “It was all hand cut out, mostly by Dave,” Brandemeyer remembers. “Me and Tim went over there once and helped him for a couple of hours.” “I think I cut, like, two,” Pinkerton says. In its final, hand-cut glory, the record marks an interesting growth from the band’s freshman album. From the angsty swing of “7 to 3” to the trippy synth sounds and harmonies of “It’s Morning, Good Night,” it’s clear that the two years the band spent writing and recording AntiGlacial have allowed Popular Mechanics to create an all-around richer sound. With the final addition of keys from Chris Schott, Anti-Glacial maintains what made Popular Mechanics’ first album so great while expanding the band’s sound. Looking forward, the members of Popular Mechanics are interested to see how they can develop their sound, but they’re not really looking to “make it big.” The group falls into the unique category of talented, dedicated St. Louis bands that aren’t interested in seeking their fame and fortune outside the Midwest. “The lack of a music industry around here tends to mean that there’s not like a

huge bandwagon that people are hopping on, which is really cool,” Todd explains. “I’m happy just to play good music, I’m not trying to make a living off of it,” Brandemeyer says. “It’s a great excuse to spend time with these guys and still play music.” “I think the amount of touring you have to do to actually get to that point where you could maybe pay your rent is way more than we care to do anymore,” Todd says. “So basically we’re looking to go really nowhere with this band,” Brandemeyer jokes. “But we’re cool with it!” Pinkerton adds. “But hopefully, musically, we’ll change. Hopefully musically it’ll do something else,” Todd says in conclusion. Outside on Mokabe’s patio, the band is discussing their fanbase, which they are pretty sure is dwindling. In fact, at the moment, they seem to be talking in the low single digits. “Our buddy Tony is supposed to be at every show,” Brandemeyer says. “He’s supposed to be our fan.” “But I don’t think Tony really likes us,” Todd replies. “He’s just bored,” Pinkerton says. “He hasn’t been a good fan recently, so we’re taking applications,” Brandemeyer says. “Tell the readers they can contact us for applications to become fans.”

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Silver screen

THE WAY BACK PAGE Alan Partridge Film review by Rob Levy

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If you like your radio DJs insufferably inappropriate and devoid of any morality filters, then Alan Partridge is the man for you. Created two decades ago by Steve Coogan and Armando Ianucci, the character of Alan Partridge has lived through many iterations, first as a BBC radio series, then as three television series, and only now making it to film — as Alan Partridge Alpha Papa in the UK, where his character is far more familiar (and lovingly loathed), and as simply Alan Partridge in the US. In each of these formats Coogan has played Partridge as a crass, self-absorbed, shallow and vain celebrity. Over the last twenty years, Partridge has risen to prominence as a national broadcaster, published his own memoir, killed a guest on live television and had an on-air meltdown in Dundee, Scotland. Even as the role of radio DJ personality has fallen from its once-great heights, our noxious host has somehow held onto his job, remaining relevant in his own mind if no one else’s. Happily, you don’t need to know any of Partridge’s back story to enjoy the movie — just being alive over the last twenty years of changing media landscape should set the stage for you. The story starts quietly enough, with Partridge and fellow DJ Pat Farrell (the reliably great Colm Meaney) co-hosting their show on Radio Norwich, which has been recently purchased by North Norfolk Digital. The new management, no surprise, has some big changes in mind, reimagining their staid station as a new radio product called Shape. Naturally, a pair of brassy old-school DJs don’t fit the vision. Partridge, at Pat’s desperate urging, interjects himself into a meeting with the corporate brass, hoping that, via his help, he can help his friend keep his job. However, when he learns that the new management is deciding whether to sack him or Pat, he casts aside any shred of decency and, in a frenzy of self-interest, makes a presentation that saves his own hide and casts Pat loose. His lobbying works and he keeps his job. When the axe falls on Pat’s job, though,

he retaliates by holding the entire station at gunpoint. Enraged and bitter, he tells the police he will only negotiate with them through his trusted friend Partridge. Blinded by an overwhelming desire to achieve glory and save the day, Partridge enters the station to meet with Pat. It all goes south, of course, when Pat learns about his betrayal. As a dramatic farce, Alan Partridge works on several levels. After all this time, Coogan still relishes playing the character in all his repellent glory. He also uses Partridge as a way to skewer the growing mega media conglomerates that are slowly taking control of mass media. But perhaps the best joy of all is watching Coogan inhabit the role so completely. Beneath Coogan’s uncomfortable humor and narcissistic jibberjabber is a sad and tragic person whose slithering to any depths to be popular only further wrecks his life. Coogan and Meaney work impeccably together, with the latter acting as the straight man to Coogan’s buffoonery. Coogan has added an entirely new dimension to the character, without sacrificing all of the snide, curmudgeonly antics that give him that roadside-accident charm. The duo have somehow turned a tense hostage drama into an absurdist romp that skillfully meshes comedy, genuine love of music, and damn-The-Man rage. Despite his recent amazing dramatic turn in Philomena, it is obvious that Steve Coogan’s comedic roots cannot be supplanted. Created in an era where sports and music DJs were still reigning cultural forces worth a good takedown, for the new film Coogan has had to subtly adapt his take on Alan Partridge, using his character to somehow defend the role of the human DJ — even a loathsome one — in an increasingly digital medium. And somehow it works: for all his many faults, the radio dial is far less stale with Partridge as its protector. His egotism and smugness are just as refreshing onscreen as they sound over the airwaves. Warts and all, I would take a flatulent goof like Alan Partridge over Rupert Murdoch any day of the week.


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