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INSIDE: PLAYBACKSTL’S OFFICIAL 2005 TWANGFEST PROGRAM

bloc party profiles: lapush, the hold steady, xiu xiu reviews: eels, cinderella man, cannes film festival previews: the oranges band, eric johnson, jewish film festival

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JUNE 2005

PLAYBACK

-TALK

Welcome to the Party!

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passage can find PlaybackSTL at the NXNE festival, so pick us up with pride (and read our festival wrap-up in July). Locally, we’re sponsoring Lapush’s CD release show at Creepy Crawl June 10 (also with Ultra Blue and the fabulous Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s from Indianapolis; look for more on this rising young band in next month’s issue) and Marah at Off Broadway June 13. If this is your first time reading PlaybackSTL, welcome! You have just joined thousands of other fans of music, arts, and entertainment seeking an independent (read: non-corporate), intelligent voice. You can pick us up the first of each month in more than 350 locations around the St. Louis metro area, as well as 130 locations nationwide. (For location and other information, please visit www.playbackstl.com/scream.) We have big plans for PlaybackSTL, so look for changes—some subtle, some not so much—beginning next month. In the meantime, we encourage you to send us your feedback: Let us know what you like, what you don’t like, what else you’d like to see. While you’ve got that pen in hand, how about subscribing to the magazine? That way, we know we can count on your support as we become a bigger and better resource for you. Plus, you won’t miss a single issue! Subscriptions are $25 a year (12 issues) and include a free T-shirt and CD; be sure to specify your T-shirt size when ordering. summer...and welcome to the evolution of PlaybackSTL.

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Not Just St. Louis Anymore Hello PlaybackSTL: I’ve checked in on your Web site regularly since you put one of my favorite bands in the world, HEM, on your cover. That meant a lot to me (and many other HEM fans, I’m sure), and I’ve told several people here about your magazine as a result. I really like what you do, especially the funnier stuff, like “Fish in a Barrel.” Hysterical! I hate Bono, too. Mike Harms | Boston, MA In that case, Mike, you’ll really enjoy this month’s column, with completely bogus (but creatively so) spycam photos. Just turn the page...

No Means Hell, Yeah! About that Nomeansno show at the Creepy Crawl previewed by David Lichius in April... They came. I saw. They conquered. That show was great. Man, I never thought I would get to see those guys live. I, too, am grateful. Conleykids | via e-mail Lichius agreed; relive the experience by reading his concert review online at www.playbackstl.com.

Screamin’ to the World Thanks for making a quality publication that highlights St. Louis’s musicians and culture. Matthew Obrecht | Modern Red LETTERS POLICY All letters to the editor are subject to publication. Letters may be edited for clarity or space. Letters are of the opinion of the writers and do not necessarily represent the beliefs of PlaybackSTL.

MOLLY HAYDEN

Summer’s here...what’s not to celebrate? To begin with, we’ve got one of the country’s largest Americana music festivals, Twangfest, right here in our hometown of St. Louis. In addition to our customary in-depth coverage, we’re pleased this year to provide you with the official program of Twangfest 9. See our special center insert, wherein the tireless Bryan A. Hollerbach has gone all out to bring you capsule bios on each of the festival’s performers. For the past two months, he’s done nothing but eat, drink, breathe, and sleep Twangfest—but, trust us, it’s worth it. And there’s more twang... Sid Andruska had the chance to interview one of her heroes, Big Sandy (he of the Fly-Rite Boys), and J. Church caught up with Neko Case, Twangfest headliner (and official program guide cover model). For additional in-depth T9 interviews, be sure to check online: www.playbackstl.com/twangfest. Sure, we’re all a-twitter about the twang, but it isn’t the only thing rocking our world these days. By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the much-hyped (and deservedly so) Bloc Party. The rapid rise to fame of this British foursome has them on everyone’s stereos this summer; their Vice debut, Silent Alarm, is pure danceable genius. Jim Dunn had a chance to talk to drummer Matt Tong about friendship, making music, and keeping the egos in check. In June, too, we continue our tradition of helping to bring you fine shows each month. In addition to Twangfest, we’re involved with the St. Louis Jazz Festival and the fine folks at North by Northeast. Those of you lucky enough to attend this annual Toronto rite of

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CONTENTS FISH IN A BARREL .............................3

TAKE FIVE ..........................................27 The Love Experts

PROFILE Lapush ....................................................5 The Hold Steady ......................................6 Xiu Xiu ...................................................7

PAGE BY PAGE..................................28

PLAY BY PLAY.....................................8

DELIRIOUS NOMAD ..........................31

Eels, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Annie, Colleen, Full, George Jones, Graham Parker, Riddle of Steel, Sleater-Kinney

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? .............32

Frieda Arkin, Peter Stamm, Bill Carter, Jennifer Lang

BACKSTAGE PASS............................14

The Oranges Band, Gym Class Heroes, Mega Hurts, Eric Johnson, Tight Pants Syndrome

ZoeJam, The Old 97’s, Lovedrive: A Tribute to The Scorpions

RIYL TOP 50 ......................................36

THREE TO SEE ..................................15 ON THE COVER .................................19 Bloc Party

NOW PLAYING Festival: Cannes|05 .............................. 21 Cinema: Cinderella Man, Layer Cake ....... 22 Previews: Jewish Film Festival of St. Louis; One Woman’s Journey of Faith ............... 23

CURMUDGEON ..................................24 PRETENTIOUS RECORD STORE GUY..25 ELLIOT GOES .....................................25 LOCAL SCENERY ..............................26 KELE OKEREKE of BLOC PARTY dances to his own beats. Interview on page 21. | Photo by Jim Dunn

LAPUSH

And don’t miss our 16-page official program for

TWANGFEST 9! ................... center pullout

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Publisher Two Weasels Press LLC Managing Editor Laura Hamlett Associate Editor/Art Director Jim Dunn Contributing Editor Bryan A. Hollerbach Book Editor Stephen Schenkenberg Film Editor Pete Timmermann Live Music Editor Brian McClelland Theater Editor Tyson Blanquart Editors-at-Large Rob Levy, Kevin Renick Editorial Assistant Kimberly Faulhaber Interns Laurie Hahn, Laurel Schamp, Elizabeth St. John Contributing Writers Sid Andruska, Amy Woods Butler, J. Church, Chris Clark, Jim Dunn, Kimberly Faulhaber, Jason Green, Laura Hamlett, Dan Heaton, Bryan A. Hollerbach, Preston Jones, Byron Kerman, John Kujawski, Sarah Lenzini, Rob Levy, Dave McCahan, Brian McClelland, Matt Meyer, Sean Moeller, Larry O’Neal, Angela Pancella, Kevin Renick, Aaron Richter, Stephen Schenkenberg, Pete Timmermann, Anne Valente Cover Photograph Roger Sargeant, Courtesy Press Here Publicity Contributing Illustrator Carlos Ruiz Advertising Sales Jim Dunn • 314-630-6404 Jim@playbackstl.com Print/Web Design Bigfatcat Design • www.bigfatcat.net Distribution Two Weasels Press LLC PlaybackSTL is published monthly. Current circulation is 18,000. © All content copyright PlaybackSTL 2005. No material may be reproduced without permission. For advertising rates and submission information, please check our Web site at www.playbackstl.com or send e-mail correspondence to contact@playbackstl.com. Submit calendar information to events@playbackstl.com. Manuscripts for consideration must be typed and e-mailed to editor@playbackstl.com. We want your feedback! write to contact@playbackstl.com. Subscriptions are available for $25/ year (12 issues) prepaid and include a free T-shirt & CD. Send check or money order and T-shirt size to: PlaybackSTL P.O. Box 9170 St. Louis, Missouri 63117-0170 314-630-6404 Y Y Y Check out our Web site & additional content at www.playbackstl.com


JUNE 2005

FISH IN A BARREL MUSIC NEWS

This month, FIAB obsession (we admit it) Bono spent the night at Bill Gates’ place while in Seattle. Using a combination of dubious e-mail attachments and spyware, our team of paparazzi was able to infiltrate the compound’s security and obtain these “money shots.” Megalomanics: They’re just like Us!

Like “Xanadu,” Only Stroke-ier | During a recent interview, Albert Hammond, Sr., singer/songwriter and father of The Strokes’ wee guitarist Albert, Jr., revealed that his son was a roller-skating champion as a child. The be-afro’ed rocker says he “used to skate in front of, like, 5,000 people.” (Uh, what the hell kind of giant-ass skating rink did they have in his town?) We find it suspiciously convenient for Junior that roller-skating is the newest we-heart-the-’80s hipster craze (next up: Alf reruns.), but we’ll take him at his word. Related query: Does a rocker adopt a pastime because it’s hip, or is a pastime hip because said rocker adopts it? It’s a whole chicken-egg cycle that we can’t quite get our minds around, honestly. We’d rather dream about sharing a milkshake with Fabrizio, the only Stroke we figure doesn’t have mouth herpes. Et Tu, Le Tigre? | Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that Le Tigre is cowriting and producing a track for Paris Hilton’s upcoming album. No matter what the angle is here (profits will be used to fund an album that will end tyranny; it’s an ironic, kitschy challenge; the Hiltons are holding their kidneys hostage), there’s no excuse for encouraging the musical ambitions of anyone who owns a BlackBerry and/or uses Mystic Tan. You leave that shit to The Matrix or Linda Perry, and stick with the self-righteous indignation, please. But since you’re already there, Kathleen, could you please ask the owner of Heiress Records for her take on Cassavetes? Ten bucks says she thinks it has vermouth in it. Oasis Seek Press, Wonderbrawl With Midget | While stumping for their new release, Don’t Believe the Truth, the brothers Gallagher have provided several pearls of rock ’n’ roll wisdom. Noel says the duo will continue to make music together, probably until one of them dies, even though he really “[doesn’t] need the money,

the adulation, or the fame.” That’s whether we like it or not, people. Brother Liam, meanwhile, voiced his hearty support of the minor dust-up between hipster backlash targets The Killers and The Bravery, encouraging the bands to continue their well-publicized feud. (See, The Killers were all, “Endicott’s a phony!” And then The Bravery goes, “Brandon Flowers wears eyeliner and tiny pink jackets!” It was so on.) Noel is also doing his part to spark fisticuffs anew for Oasis, declaring his distaste for Botox-enthusiast Kylie Minogue, who he says “is a very, very nice lady. But her music fucking makes me want to puke.” We might have blamed his favored combination of coke, tea biscuits, and a vigorous two-finger wave. (We bet he feels especially proud of this little outburst now that Kylie’s breast cancer diagnosis has hit the papers. Straight to hell for you, smartguy!) Corgan Concedes (Ping-Pong) Balls to Cure Frontman | Forget you, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs—a newer, far more legendary Battle of the Sexes tennis match has taken place. Billy Corgan (former Pumpkin/producer/superwiener) has voluntarily surrendered his last shred of masculinity by publicizing his table tennis loss to Robert Smith (who sang some backing vocals on Corgan’s solo debut, TheFutureEmbrace—do get a look at that cover photo, won’t you? You’ll thank us later). “He and his sister were 10-year-old champions of South England,” rationalized the erstwhile Zwanian. “There’s something about Robert looking as though he’s come in from a rainstorm and beating you like that.” We get that Corgan is trying to play it cool, but can you imagine the teary pout/whine/poetry-writing session that followed his defeat? Mmm, satisfying. Clear Some Space at Shady Pines | Walking Ab-Lounge advertisement Usher recently revealed plans for an early retirement. The 26-

year-old singer/dancer/Lil’ Jon-enabler won’t be one of those embarrassing old fogies clinging to an active life after 30. “I don’t plan on being a 30- or 40-year-old artist who continues to tour. I do not want to be 38 years old, sweating with my shirt off, running around stage.” God, can you imagine? Going out in public at the age of 38 and actually dancing and stuff? In the words of Marissa Cooper, eww. Dear readers over 29, we implore you, heed Usher’s warning and kill yourselves now. Those last 35 to 40 years of life are pretty worthless anyhow. And Get Some Texturizer for That Hair, Boys | Stereophonics have fulfilled the standard band requirement of covering either “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (for “edge”) or “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” (for—sigh—irony) by releasing the Stooges cover as a B-side. Next on the to-do list: The bass player must write one trite, tuneless track for an upcoming album (preferably about getting drunk on the road, but a raunchy ode to girls will also be accepted), after which vintage white belts will be issued to all band members (except the drummer, who must exaggeratedly roll his eyes about “all that dressing up shit” as he pulls on another pair of cargo shorts). X-Tremely Mature | Billy Idol is boasting that he turned down an offer for an Osbournes-style reality show, saying that, while Ozzy is naturally funny, he would prefer to be known for his songwriting abilities. We’d have so much more respect for this almost self-deprecating statement if his latest single, “Scream,” didn’t contain the following lyrics, to which FIAB has subjected many a horrified car passenger: “Climb up my lemon tree/You are the one, you’re on your knees/You are my little queen...Gonna get x-treme...Have a slice of my lemon pie/One more will get you high...How much you can squeeze?...You love my demon seed...Suck it!...Juice runnin’ down my leg.” And so forth. FIAB is an innocent bunch, so we’re not quite sure what he’s implying with all that lemon talk—it feels vaguely unsettling, like when we saw a few seconds of Cinemax at a friend’s house when we were seven. Look, we don’t want to talk about it anymore, okay? | The above are the opinions of Fish in a Barrel, and not necessarily those of the editors of PlaybackSTL. Just the funny ones. And the ones who have permission to sleep over. Contributors: Kimberly Faulhaber, Sarah Lenzini

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DOING MATH WITH LAPUSH THE POWER OF SUBTRACTION We were five people; we went to four.” So begins Thom Donovan, singer/mastermind behind Lapush, the St. Louis band whose debut album, Someplace Closer to Here, comes out June 7 on 456 Entertainment. We’re discussing math again, but while our chat last summer focused more on addition, this time we’ve turned to subtraction. Less is more, if you will, and Donovan’s about to tell me why. Lapush formed as a project between brothers Thom and Steve Donovan; Thom gave birth to the songs, and Steve gave them a voice. His delicate stylings and far-reaching falsetto were the perfect articulation to this Brit-influenced indie rock band. Brother Steve provided the name (Lapush is a seaside town in Washington, meant to evoke a place as much as a sound) and Thom pulled together some players, adding Kevin Bachmann on bass and Brett Voelker on drums. To round out the live show, Casey Bazzell came in on keyboards. The five made an immediate splash, both in their hometown and touring throughout the Midwest. They self-released an EP, began receiving airplay both locally (101.1 The River, 105.7 The Point) and nationally (Indie 103.1 L.A. and XM Satellite Radio). Then Bazzell’s coursework began to interfere with rehearsals and touring, and subtraction began to factor into the band. “We were bringing in a laptop anyway,” explains Donovan of their gigs. “We just decided to go that route and drop down to a four-piece.” They continued to tour, attracting fans nationwide, before recording and shopping around a full-length album. “We were talking to two or three labels,” says Donovan, “had a couple of offers in; we were starting to negotiate contracts.” And then brother Steve dropped a bomb. Recalls Donovan, “Stephen just called me up—literally, contracts were being negotiated, the whole deal—and he was like, ‘I’m out. I don’t want to do it.’” Lapush still had words and music—but what about the voice? This time, the subtraction seemed, at first, an ending. “The rest of us were fairly devastated,” Donovan admits. “We were excited about the opportunity and had worked really hard. As much as we were sympathetic to the reasons he was leaving, we all felt betrayed.” But Thom was the words, and he had his own voice. “I started thinking,” he says now,

PBSTL PROFILE LAPUSH

| By Laura Hamlett

without a trace of bitterness. “I wrote the singer was at the Capitol tower, he had to wear songs; I had to sing them in the first place. I was a nametag. I think the problem with the majors like, ‘I’m just going to do it.’” Having convinced is that you’re so easily lost in the shuffle.” Now a threesome, the leaner, tighter himself, Donovan now faced perhaps his biggest challenge: convincing the record company. Lapush is poised on the brink of a slowHe called 456’s Jon Rifkind, who admitted, building but measurable success. Their debut “We loved Stephen’s voice; we loved that single, “Say Something,” was number six on record.” Still, 456 offered a compromise: Have the KOTO CMJ Playlist for the week of May 9, Thom re-record three of the tracks with himself and number one on Les Aaron’s “New Music on lead vocals, and the label would give them Sunday” (105.7 The Point). Mid-May, Lapush played two high profile shows in New York a listen. “So I did,” Donovan says. “Five days went City, and Donovan deejayed alongside British by and I didn’t hear anything,” he tells me, music hosts The Queens of Noize and Andy remembering every tick of the second hand. “I Rourke of The Smiths. “Johnny Marr is probwas like, ‘OK, they hate it and they’re not call- ably my number one guitar influence,” gushes ing back; this is it.’ A week later, [Rifkind] calls Donovan. Rourke sued Marr and Morrissey, I me at home and said, “We absolutely love it. remind him, to which he quickly responds, “Yeah, he did. But I’m not going to hold that Let’s do this; let’s recut the record.” And in two weeks, the Lapush of four against him or bring it up.” Listening to Someplace Closer to Here, became the Lapush of three. “I ended up redoing all the vocals. It was a pretty emotional I’m hard-pressed to remember Steve’s voice; process. When I would pull up the tracks with Thom’s is just as fragile, and very unique. The my brother’s voice on it, it was really difficult. songs have a way of reaching deep, insinuatI was so excited to be able to share this aspect ing themselves into your subconscious; just of the dream with him, so I was going through this morning, I woke with “Aurora” running the emotions. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. through my brain. So it’s true after all, this math lesson of There’d be times when I’d be on my knees in the middle of the studio, literally BRETT VOELKER, THOM DONOVAN, and KEVIN BACHMANN are LAPUSH | photo JEN MALER freaking out, going, ‘I can’t do this. It’s too much.’ It was such a weird two-week period.” The advantages to signing with an independent label seem readily apparent. For one, says Donovan, “We’re making the record we want to make, doing the music we want to do.” The label is releasing Someplace Closer to Here as Lapush recorded it, in Donovan’s home studio. Though it was mastered in New York, Lapush stayed on to produce. “On a major label, you’re working with a quote- Lapush’s: Take away two from five and you unquote producer who knows best,” Donovan really do end up with more. scoffs. “These [musicians] explain what they’re | In St. Louis, you can catch an unplugged in-store pertrying to do to a producer who knows best, but formance of Lapush at Vintage Vinyl in University City who doesn’t share their vision. June 6 at 11 p.m.; Someplace Closer to Here then goes on “We have all the resources we need,” he sale at 12:01 a.m. The official CD release show, sponsored continues. “I can phone up the label and I by PlaybackSTL, will be June 10 at the Creepy Crawl, and don’t have to explain who I am; I know everyalso features Ultra Blue and Margot & the Nuclear So one on a first-name basis. The last band I was & So’s; doors at 7:30, $8, all ages. in [Stir] was signed to Capitol; the last time the


PLAYBACK STL

PBSTL PROFILE THE HOLD STEADY

THE HOLD STEADY: BELLY FULL OF FIRE here are ranters who deserve our dismissal and then there’s The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn. He is not the Bible-thumping wacko who uses a corner side as a pulpit and assures us that we’re hurtling straight into a hereafter of hellfire and damnation. He does not proclaim to know the almighty truth, just the truth as he sees it—which ends up sounding like a tropical storm of corroborating contradictions that carry more steam and feel more like reality than any passage from the Old Testament ever could. But he’s not a preacher, finger-pointing all the way there and back, losing his voice to save others from themselves before it’s too late. He’s that keen observer of human behavior who anchors his narratives to the dark side of the funny bone, keeping songs about drug abusers, dirty scoundrels, and the lost as light as they can be without losing the squalor that’s vital to all their existences. He has peers in another line of work, outside an indie-rock world that has quickly come calling since the band released its debut, Almost Killed Me, and followed it up last month with a triple-strength album, Separation Sunday, that’s much more than more-of-the-same. He has more in common with the spoken word–touring Henry Rollins than he does with the Black Flag–touring Henry Rollins. Lewis Black, Dennis Leary, and David Cross come to mind more often than songwriters do when listening to Finn question the born-again in “Cattle and the Creeping Things,” a song as stimulating as it is wowing (similar to Modest Mouse’s “Bukowski”). He sings, “I guess I heard about original sin/I heard the dude blamed the chick/I heard the chick blamed the snake/I heard they were naked when they got busted/I heard things ain’t been the same since,” and the floor drops out from beneath you. You chuckle, you ponder and nod, and realize that there’s a little more to this than trite poetics and a half-cooked mind. “It’s related to comedy,” Finn said of his songwriting. “Most of those edgy comedians deal with a lot of truth and there’s an aspect of fun to it. There’s no good rock, that I like, that’s not funny in some way. I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this and he says, ‘Nick Cave. Nick Cave’s not funny.’ And I said, ‘Nahhhh, Nick Cave’s funny.’ Then, the other day, I read an interview with Nick Cave and he

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Inset: THE HOLD STEADY at SXSW | photo by JIM DUNN

said, ‘I hope people find some humor in my music’ and I had to send it to him right away.” Finn, the former leader of Lifter Puller—a Minneapolis post-punk outfit that had legions of fans in the city and only grew in significance once it was gone—moved away from the land of 10,000 lakes to New York five years ago to try something different and he’s already benefited. The Hold Steady, formed with ex-Puller guitarist Tad Kubler, was the first band that the nation’s biggest weekly newspaper, The Village Voice, placed on its cover in seven years, along with the headline, “We Believe in One Band,” in storybook font. Finn gets invited to Saturday Night Live after-show parties by friends Queens of the Stone Age, where he was a couple Saturdays ago with future tourmate, comedian Eugene Mirman (who has done stints opening for The Shins). The band’s been featured in the highbrowed The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Spin, Rolling Stone, Blender, etc. He’s found everything to be accelerated where he now calls home. “Being in New York is a big difference. Lifter Puller started getting going in 1994 and a lot of this is just growing in music. It’s a small scene and if you spend ten years in it, it makes it a lot easier,” he said. “I would say it was hard to meet with other people [living in Minnesota]. It was very isolated. We couldn’t hammer out the same stuff that we can from here. There’s this national and even international aspect of living here. It just happens quicker here. “When it rains, it pours.” Finn’s distinct delivery, with which he sounds like he couldn’t be madder at the menagerie of ungainly sorts he created and housed in the Minneapolis that he still remembers as home, is persistent in its ire—for bad choices and worse ones, for false beliefs and destructive ways of believing. He could be heard above the roar of an airplane propeller, but settles for coming to the front of Kubler’s vintage guitar riffs, borrowed from the days when there was no such thing as light beer or subtlety. “When we started the band, I wasn’t a singer, obviously, and I just wanted to do something that was similar to my regular

| By Sean Moeller

speaking voice,” Finn said. “I guess it’s ranting. It’s speaking. It’s yelling. It’s singing, some of it, I’d like to think. I’m just kind of wildly proclaiming. There’s not a hell of a lot of melody. We have lovers and haters. I think we’re all pretty honest about that. I think it would be a pretty heartbreaking thing if we believed that everybody liked us.” As an album, Sunday explores, in a very abstract and nontheological way, the different ways people find a religion that fits them. His take of the fluctuating investment in a higher power—whether it be the drug addict getting clean and discovering church as his salvation or those who preach beyond substance—is steeped in the Catholic upbringing he continues to question. “I don’t go to church that often, but growing up, we did everything from being in church on Sundays, not eating meat on Fridays, and going to church on holy days,” he said. “The characters in my songs are involved with very nonreligious situations. They’re wildly swinging between one extreme and another. There’s a lot of that in our culture right now. There’s always that kind of aspect to people.” And his characters are nothing like he is. The drug problems aren’t his. The reckless behavior is someone else’s, too. Sometimes that’s a cause of disappointment for fans expecting a hard-living man seeking instant gratification out of everything with which he gets involved. “I’m a pretty moderate person. I tend to be really predictable,” he said. “I think people really want me to be like the characters in my songs. I had this guy write…and he was young, it was for a college paper…this story about us and he came to a practice. He wrote, ‘Craig Finn was all fucked up,’ and I was dead sober. I guess you believe what you want to believe, but I’ve always been a pretty moderate guy.” He’s just a moderate guy with a belly full of fire, that’s all. | The Hold Steady play an early show at the HiPointe on Monday, June 20; all ages, doors at 7 p.m.


JUNE 2005

PBSTL PROFILE XIU XIU

XIU XIU OFFEND IN EVERY WAY n infant screams. The child’s blood-curdling screech pierces the outside of my headphones, and everything falls into place. I’m sitting in a coffee shop and taking my first listen to the soon-tobe-released fourth full-length album from cathartic rockers Xiu Xiu. In my hand is a copy of Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart’s answers to a list of questions I posed to him via e-mail several weeks ago. I’m trying my best to make sense of the new album, La Foret, and Stewart’s responses, and the screaming child has just illuminated what I’ve been missing. The child feels unhappiness, and it howls. Stewart feels unhappiness, and he howls. Neither one cares what others will think of the noise. It’s pure, uninhibited human expression, something that fills every second of Stewart’s music. But despite it’s unquestionably human qualities, Xiu Xiu is not music for everybody. “It is pointless and impossible to try and make people like you by being appealing,” Stewart says of his musical style, which bathes in the jarringly candid and occasionally tugs at that giant blinking lever labeled “Taboo.” It feels odd that I’ve connected with the man through e-mail, the only form of communication easily available to him while Xiu Xiu treks through a European tour. Here I am, trying to dissect the mind of an artist whose emotional regurgitation makes most emo acts look like plush novelty dolls, and I’m sifting through spelling errors on a printed e-mail. There’s no human voice, no physical presence. It’s nothing but words on a page and a baby screaming. But Stewart offers some context. He’s writing from Torino, Italy, in an Internet shop that caters to Romanian and Albanian migrants. In the past weeks he has traveled from Austria

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| By Aaron Richter

to Hungary to Serbia to Slovenia to Italy; he ate a blood orange for breakfast and has plans to head into the studio later in the day to record under the name XXL in collaboration with an Italian band called Larsen. First he’s headed to a cathedral to see its collection of guillotines. It’s the kind of day that could lead Stewart to write a song, even if the events are miles away from Xiu Xiu’s typical sorrow and sadness. With potentially offensive but agonizingly honest lyrics creeping through La Foret, songs about eating the president and personal sexual disgust are never off limits. Stewart’s singing voice alone jumps from a near-death warble to a shriek shot straight from the adrenal gland. “It is not so much that we want to make sad music but that we want to make music about the intense points of our real lives,” Stewart says. “My life has been really hard and really awful in the past two years, and lives around me have, as well. It’s is not so much a catharsis. I don’t feel cleansed after playing or anything like that, but it is a way to clarify and examine what have been and are overwhelming feelings and events.” As a follow up to Xiu Xiu’s most-accessible Fabulous Muscles, La Foret sees the band taking a different approach to songwriting. Due to a hectic tour schedule, the band hasn’t been able to keep with its steady recording habits. Xiu Xiu worked on the new songs for about two months in early 2004 and wasn’t able to revisit them until December, when the album’s deadline was fast approaching. The process forced the band to be more spontaneous.

La Foret, which means “the drill” in French, continues cautiously on the pop-influenced trail of Fabulous Muscles, but veers onto the experimental and orchestral tangents that characterized Xiu Xiu’s first two albums. Using sound dynamics to its advantage, La Foret will linger on a single acoustic guitar strum or let a wall of clattering percussion pummel down like rainfall. Light “do-do-do-do” harmonies are complemented with a blast of electronic distortion. Familiar sounds are auctioned off for eerie clacks and clangs. Even with its infatuation with dissonance, the album presents a sound that is unmistakably human, like the sound of (bingo!) a wailing child. As the mother carries the screaming infant out of the coffee shop, I realize the impact of my inability to follow up on Stewart’s responses. I’ll never know what he meant when he wrote about the pain of the past few years. But then again, these holes connect me to the music. They force me to interpret it, to embrace my shocked-and-appalled self or to brand Xiu Xiu a disgusting menace. The choice is, after all, exactly what Stewart wants. “It is not up to us to decide what people get, if anything, from [our music],” Stewart says. “Music that has meant the most to us has been music that has been as open as possible, and we want to try to maintain that circle.” | Xiu Xiu plays Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center on June 29.

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PLAY BY PLAY MUSIC REVIEWS

EELS: BLINKING LIGHTS AND OTHER REVELATIONS (Vagrant) Mark Oliver Everett, who performs under the nom de plume “E” and assembles ad hoc groups of musicians under the moniker Eels, has never been one to revel in the obvious. E’s acclaimed discography is littered with those on the fringes of society; Eels often craft gorgeous, enveloping pop songs about alienation, suffering, and loneliness—the 1998 masterwork Electro-Shock Blues found E sorting through the broken shards of his life, reeling from the death of his sister and illness of his mother. However, a distinctly upbeat vibe surfaced in subsequent Eels albums (Shootenanny! was downright perky)—although nothing could’ve prepared fans for the stunning, somber achievement that is Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. This double album is a turbulent psyche smashed open and laid bare, a dizzying, majestic symphony of synaptic firings meant to disorient and amaze. It’s a staggering wide-screen alt-pop masterpiece, an early contender for year-end best-of status, that requires 33 songs and two discs to convey its full weight and importance—layer upon layer of emotion is stripped away until E is left exposed and vulnerable. One gets the feeling that he needed to spill everything, rip it all out, and leave it for the listener to sort out. A selfish gesture on the surface, perhaps, but through his uncertainty and disgust, listeners are treated to some of the more astonishing compositions created thus far in 2005. Blinking Lights is precisely the kind of sweeping, theatrical, and cathartic album that’s been quietly suffocated and micromanaged out of existence, for fear that today’s music fans have little interest in musicians’ thoughts and feelings—unless, of course, we’re talking about the banal lowlights of Newlyweds or The Osbournes. Make no mistake—much of Blinking

E AND BOBBY JR. PHOTO CREDIT: PAXTONX.COM

Lights is dour, dark, and decidedly grim; this is the most oppressive and relentlessly downbeat record Eels has made since the aforementioned Electro-Shock Blues. But E interjects occasional, fleeting doses of levity (“Whatever Happened to Soy Bomb,” “Going Fetal”) and startling instrumentals (“Theme for a Pretty Girl That Makes You Believe God Exists”) that are haunting in their unadorned beauty. Limning his compositions with Paul Buckmaster–vintage orchestration, E builds an album wrapped in confrontational yet bittersweet remembrances—from the packaging featuring photos of his family to cuts like “Son of a Bitch” and “Mother Mary,” Blinking Lights also functions as an ersatz apologia to E’s relatives: All is forgiven, it seems, by the stormy conclusion of “Things the Grandchildren Should Know” at the end of the second disc. A musical variation on primal scream therapy, Blinking Lights is a long, loud exclamation into one man’s personal abyss before pulling back and finding the good in everyday life. Thankfully, Eels continue to effortlessly play the role of wounded artists taking it on the chin, baring it all so we don’t have to. | Preston Jones RYAN ADAMS & THE CARDINALS: COLD ROSES (Lost Highway) Afflicted with a sort of shambling profligacy, singer/songwriter Ryan Adams has struggled with artistic ADD for his entire career. Flitting from faux ’80s shoegazer rock to bleeding-heart drunk ballads to earnest folk-tinged country rambles, Adams doesn’t want for inspiration or fulfilling record contracts. This year alone will see no less than three fulllength Adams releases—the first of which, Cold Roses, is a double album. Like I said, a dearth of material isn’t one of this troubadour’s worries. However, consistency can be a problem. Adams, while seemingly gifted with the ability to fire off a full-length record while waiting in line at Starbucks, struggles with burying his gems amid piles of filler that, if trimmed, would yield instant classics.

Quick and dirty efforts like 2002’s Demolition or his 2000 solo debut, Heartbreaker, stun with their naked simplicity, while the breakthrough 2001 album Gold meanders towards its conclusion, undermining beautiful cuts like “La Cienega Just Smiled” with needless sentimentality such as “Touch, Feel & Lose.” Unfortunately, his almost-great albums, like this 18-song, double-wide beast, tend to fall into the category of bloated near-misses; Cold Roses is a frustratingly irregular pair of discs that tantalizes with the possibility of tremendous highs and often delivers maddening lows. Like a double shot of Whiskeytown buffed to a high studio shine, Cold Roses evokes vintage Grateful Dead and Harvest-era Neil Young from the opening strains of “Magnolia Mountain”— another undeniable characteristic is Adams’ relentless synthesis of his heroes. A musical Quentin Tarantino, Adams regurgitates the tunes of his youth and fashions a pastiche all his own; considering the quality and depth of his recreational listening, it’s little wonder that Adams manages to be both prolific and substantial. Guest artists like Rachael Yamagata and Emmylou Harris pop up on various tracks to lend vocals, instrumentation, or occasionally both—Adams’ high, wounded tenor blends seamlessly with the weathered voice of Harris on “Sweet Illusion” and Yamagata’s husky alto threads through the album’s first single,


JUNE 2005

“Let It Ride,” to chill-inducing effect. Adams, who vacillates between a petulant prima donna and a garrulous barroom poet, revisits the stark country rock of Heartbreaker throughout much of Cold Roses—he borrows liberally from his alt-country days and doesn’t break much new ground (an argument which could be leveled against much of Adams’ catalog, truth be told), but what is offered is solid, if occasionally uninspiring. If it seems as though I’m wavering as to the quality of Cold Roses, let me clarify: Adams, in my estimation, is incapable of making a lousy record. He’s a gifted musical chameleon whose mastery of synthesis and gift for blending breathtaking couplets with gorgeous instrumentation makes his obvious missteps all the more aggravating, particularly when held up next to his breathtakingly beautiful masterpieces. You can call Ryan Adams a lot of things (most of which have been lobbed his direction at one point or another in his career), but lazy certainly isn’t one of them. Ever restless, Adams refuses to sit back and coast but rather insists on pushing himself and, by extension, his fans, with ever-differing works that either hearken back to past glories or suggest an even more heavenly future. In this era of airless pop songs and precisely calculated careers, that devil-may-care attitude counts for more than you’d think. | Preston Jones ANNIE: ANNIEMAL (Big Beat) Thumb your nose at Britney Spears all you want ya’ll, but the girl’s got some damn fine songs. Her career was (past tense, because we can safely say it’s over now that she’s got that bun in the oven) plagued by the idea of Britney Spears: pop princess, manufactured for the record-buying public. No matter how dope her songs were, especially when she took some Xtina cues and got a lil’ dirrty, there was always the idea of Britney looming in the background to brand Britney the Artist as trash, unfit for consumption by those with any taste. But enough about Mrs. Federline. A new pop princess, a Norwegian belle known as Annie, is soon to emerge, though probably not with the same magnitude. Already touted last year as a pop genius by those with fat enough wallets to shell out for Scandinavian import

copies, Annie’s debut, Anniemal, is set for a domestic release on June 7. The vexing puzzle is how Annie is able to cram so much delicious pop, so often superficially scrutinized as being fake or inauthentic, into an album that everyone can enjoy without the urge to call it a guilty pleasure. Granted, it’s too good for anyone to feel guilty about listening to it. Such is the case with the childish beat of “Chewing Gum,” as it bounces below Annie’s conversation lyrics about her own free-spirit dating habits. The song squirms in sexy confidence, and Annie’s angelic whisper holds unexpected power and sultry grace. She exerts even more vocal strength on “Always Too Late,” which rumbles with a thunderous tympani and a darker groove reminiscent of Timbaland’s production work. Despite an opening beat that rips almost directly from Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat,” the nearly eight-minute album capstone, “Come Together,” churns itself into a disco fire-starter more than worthy of Napoleon Dynamite–style choreography. But nothing comes close to the brilliance of “Greatest Hit.” Complete with built-in handclaps and bongo drum breakdown, the song is pure hedonism bottled in three and a half minutes. There’s nothing apologetic about “Greatest Hit.” It’s infectious joy that doesn’t need to be scrutinized because of its cornball lyrics or its (come on!) built-in handclaps and bongo drum breakdown. Annie’s style is begging for shallow criticism. Blonde hair, dance moves, processed vocals: check, check, check; it’s all there. Who cares? The mass public could be devouring this album, and the cynics could be thumbing their noses. So why hasn’t Annie been lumped with the brand of pop people are so quick to judge because of appearances? It’s Annie’s ability to escape this labeling that is so amazing. With proper major-label backing and big business radio play, Anniemal would be a chart-topping smash to be torn to bits by the Kompakt-devoted hipster elite. As is, it’s refreshing to see good pop music appreciated because it’s good pop music. Enjoy it while it lasts, ya’ll. | Aaron Richter COLLEEN: THE GOLDEN MORNING BREAKS (The Leaf Label) You have to have some very unique personality trait to make the kind of music that graces The Golden Morning Breaks, the sophomore release by Colleen (the recording entity of one Cecile Schott). You may eat like the rest of us, continued on next page

LOCAL MUSIC Tuesday thru Saturday 6/4: Kapital, Mechanically Separated, Holy Frog 6/15: The Half Shells, Lust of

Youth, Jonny O & the Jerks OPEN MIC of ay first Tuesd with 6/21: Something to Fight th the mon LILLEY for, Pillarity, Park City T T A M host 6/29: Ecitone, Late, Farewell Address

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sleep like the rest of us, do your chores and pay your bills like the rest of us. But you are most certainly not like us. There’s no way we ordinary folks could make such beautiful, pastoral music. And frankly, we cannot imagine how you did it, but we humbly thank you. The Golden Morning Breaks is instrumental music conceived from a variety of sound-making devices—guitar, cello, keyboards of some sort, and less conventional instruments like a 19th-century harmonicon (a glass glockenspiel), harp (maybe), wind chimes (maybe), and other devices capable of generating lush, heavenly tones. It’s difficult to summarize the results, though. Some might consider it ambient music, but it’s so warm and enveloping, it demands you pay attention rather than just let it spin in the background (although you can certainly do that). It’s an aural travelogue, this album, but it’s a journey through dreams and hidden yearnings—a trip to places that are not on any map. “Floating in the Clearest Night” utilizes harp and other stringed instruments to evoke some serene, placid waterscape, but one you perhaps traveled through time to see. “The Heart Harmonicon” most likely uses the rare antique mentioned above to produce an impossibly delicate sound, like being suddenly miniaturized and hopping across a field of ice crystals without breaking a single one. It’s breathtakingly lovely. “The Happy Sea” features recognizable keyboards, sort of, to create a luminous bit of cinematic ambience. You could imagine such music being used in some European art film, and that’s no dig; it’s just to try to explain the “otherness” of these sounds. “I’ll Read You a Story,” a sweet title, does evoke a kind of childhood reverie—again using the harmonicon but in a more sparse manner. The title cut offers the sort of relaxing, new-agey vibe that practitioners of yoga and meditation are especially fond of, but there’s enough musical quirkiness to still prove engaging. And not enough can be said about the 10-minute-plus “Everything Lay Still,” an ethereal soundscape reminiscent of Iceland’s Mum (actually, several tracks are). With all sorts of tinkling, droning, churning instruments contributing to the mix, it’s the most outstanding

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track in which to utterly lose yourself, and feel the awe that Schott must have experienced conjuring this magic. If Erik Satie had been alive to make music with today’s technology, he might have conceived of something like this. And artists like Mum, Björk, and Brian Eno would recognize a kindred musical spirit in Cecile Schott. But the mysterious mix of sounds and the impossible delicacy on display reflect a unique aesthetic indeed, one that can defrag your tensions and restore a sense of bliss. With The Golden Morning Breaks, Colleen has crafted a thing of shimmering, fragile beauty. | Kevin Renick FULL: DESPERANDUM (Mad Peeps) Full is a sneaky band, indeed. From their sparse Web site to the cryptic aliases beneath which each band member operates, they seem intent upon us learning absolutely nothing about them. Maybe this adds to the mystique of the band, which is fitting for the sound that they produce: ethereal, otherworldly, and altogether enigmatic in its refusal to adhere to a tangible genre. Everyone knows that people love classification. As humans, we make sense of things by putting everything in its right place, boxing and packaging neatly until an otherwise chaotic world is brought to an order we can readily absorb. Music is no different, as we understand a new band’s sound by comparisons to what we already know. While Full doesn’t completely escape that tendency, with inklings of trip-hoppy Portishead, jazzy Tortoise, and even a little high-voiced Tori Amos echoing throughout their latest album, Desperandum, they do manage to defy classification better than any band I’ve heard in quite some time. Perhaps this is the reason that Full has been asked to perform alongside acts as diverse as DJs in dance clubs, metal bands in rock venues, and jazz trios in bistros. The six-member ensemble includes within its repertoire a wide range of instruments, both electronic and acoustic. As you listen to the album, it’s at first disconcerting to hear a trumpet blast amid a mellow blend of vibraphone and soothing, soprano female vocals. But as the album settles in, this all becomes a second-nature part of a well-integrated whole. The drumming is allur-

ingly unpredictable, complimented by an aural smorgasbord of other percussions. These play off of grounding bass lines, surreal vibes, and beautifully ghostlike vocals that, at times, sound like reverberations from cathedral walls. The melodies are infectious, inducing a quick surrender as your mind lets go of its frenzied attempts to box and label. Without the distraction of a need to classify, there is only mainlined aural input. And what blissful input it is. Desperandum marks Full’s third full-length release, a junior effort following their freshman debut in 2000. Again, due to the band’s elusive nature, little is known about their beginnings other than that they originated from Detroit and recently relocated to Seattle. The band plans a West Coast tour in June to accompany the national release of the new album. For lack of a better word, this is groovy music for sure, far more invigorating than the languid doldrums of its closest comparison, Portishead. Less droopy and more dreamy, Desperandum is the perfect companion for a laidback summer night. | Anne Valente GEORGE JONES: MY VERY SPECIAL GUESTS (Epic/Legacy) Although a careless glance might identify it as a reissue of a 1979 album of duets, My Very Special Guests from George Jones effectively constitutes something far more—and fans of classic country music should cheer its appearance in inverse proportion to the degree to which discographers may grumble. More specifically, although the Epic/Legacy double disc includes the original’s 10 tracks, it adds another 27, all also duets, assembled from 15 other releases. As a result, with a run-time total of 110:17, the label is touting My Very Special Guests as “the most definitive duets disc” in the Possum’s catalog—and that claim seems all too easy to believe. Possibly excepting contributions from Elvis Costello and members of Dr. Hook, the original exhibited depth without much breadth, featuring several of the usual suspects from classic country: Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck, Tammy Wynette (almost inevitably). Perhaps predictably, the double disc extends that trend; a George Jones–Diamanda Galás duet, in other


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words, will have to await a later compilation. Still, additions to the Jones guestbook definitely rival earlier entries: Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Ralph Stanley. A particularly pleasant surprise, on “Our Love Was Ahead of Its Time,” comes with the inclusion of Deborah Allen, a fine vocalist from the ’80s and ’90s all but forgotten nowadays. Moreover, B.B. King’s unmistakable growl redeems the otherwise unbearable “Patches,” and on “We Sure Make Good Love,” Loretta Lynn finds a far more robust duet partner than the one with whom she customarily worked earlier in her career, prompting speculation about what sort of magisterial music might have been recorded had she teamed regularly with Jones instead of Conway Twitty. In consequence, My Very Special Guests may well provoke envy in even Willie Nelson, who himself knows a few things about duets (and—surprise!—also appears here). | Bryan A. Hollerbach GRAHAM PARKER: SONGS OF NO CONSEQUENCE (Bloodshot) Popular music’s obsession with the nine day’s wonder abuses with singular savagery the “angry young man,” often transforming him, all but overnight, into just another grumpy geezer. Happily, over the course of almost three decades, Graham Parker has remained if not young, then certainly angry, as well as indifferent to the numskull vagaries of the music biz—as illustrated by his latest CD, Songs of No Consequence. In a bit of latter-day op art and a blizzard of fonts, the covers to the

12-track Bloodshot disc bristle with song titles and snatches of lyrics from within, hinting at Parker’s main focus here. Preoccupying him is one of the preeminent causes of modern malaise: a surfeit of signals doubling as raw noise. Backed by The Figgs—bassist Pete Donnelly, lead guitarist Mike Gent, and drummer Pete Hayes—he deconstructs that malaise on such songs as “Chloroform,” “Suck ’n’ Blow,” and (a gimme) “Ambivalent” with a voice as adenoidal and a viewpoint as splenetic as ever. “When I woke up this morning/there was nothing in my head,” he sings on “Dislocated Life,” another aptly titled track. “I could have been just born then/or I could have been dead.” Almost predictably, Parker also skewers the so-called media, the enablers (to use a dismal modern phrase) of much of the malaise. “In a fictitious world/you can invent the rest,” he snarls on “Vanity Press,” the CD’s opener, and five tracks later, again on “Dislocated Life,” he adds, “The media was the message/and the message was a mess.” Parker may have expatriated from Britain to Woodstock, but he’s obviously not become some sort of fiftysomething flower child. Songs of No Consequence, in sum, tours a landscape at once markedly luxuriant and markedly barren—and in so doing, it reaffirms that among the cool breezes of contemporary pop music, Parker remains a howlin’ wind. | Bryan A. Hollerbach RIDDLE OF STEEL: Got This Feelin’ (Ascetic) Their name is a Conan the Barbarian reference, their album title brings to mind a Boston song, and their band-portraits-and-lightningcontinued on next page 11

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Every Monday at midnight: DJ Dirty Dan | Every Wednesday at midnight: Hump Day Sonic Meltdown w/Al Swacker | Every Thursday at 11: The Freaky Fun Fetish Show | Every Friday & Saturday: The Vintage Vinyl All-Stars DJ spin

6/1 - EverythingLost, Scene of Irony, The Fix, The Paul Bearers 6/2 - Hope & Suicide, My Beloved Hatred, Small Town Tragedy, Rend, When Sorrow Fails 6/3 - Murder Happens, Spatik, Missile Silo Suite, Lye 6/6 - Self Against City, Lux Courageous, Oxford Collapse 6/8 - Robbie Hart, Anchondo, The Primetime Heroes 6/9 - Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, The Oranges Band, Aloha 6/10: PlaybackSTL presents Lapush (CD release), Ultra Blue, Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s 6/9: Ted Leo & The 6/12 - Nashville Pussy, TBA (18 & up) Pharmacists 6/13 - Streetlight Manifesto, Gym Class Heroes, Whole Wheat Bread, Red Light Runners 6/17 - Bane, Evergreen Terrace, Cursed, Verse 6/22 - Nekromantix, The Henchmen, The Pubes, Ded Bugs, The Scared, The Deficit Nashville 6/26 - Himsa, The Agony Scene, Full Blown Chaos, The Esoteric 6/12: Pussy 6/27 - Methal Orange, The Map Says We’re Fucked, Secretary, The Shroud Complete schedule on page 33

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bolts album cover is a dead ringer for the 1976 Kiss classic Rock and Roll Over. Those unfamiliar with St. Louis’s Riddle of Steel might be inclined to write them off as some kind of dopey jock-rock band, while fans of their last album, 2003’s prog-rock-heavy debut Python, may worry that the band has lost it. Luckily, neither of these is the case. Riddle of Steel’s second full-length, Got This Feelin’, is an amazing achievement, an album that succeeds as simply a phenomenal, straight-ahead rock album, despite sounding absolutely nothing like conventional rock music. “The Lovers of Nothing” opens the album with chirping guitars so drenched in echo that they hardly even sound like guitars anymore, and almost every track on the album features bizarre tunings and guitar effects. But where Got This Feelin’ truly rockets ahead of the pack is in the strength of the songwriting. This time out, Riddle of Steel is writing concise tunes that still never sacrifice their individuality, with Python’s lengthy, proginspired instrumental passages replaced with catchy, memorable hooks. Despite how different the album sounds on the surface, its songs are built around a classic-rock framework that gives the album an accessibility few indie rock records can match. One reason why Got This Feelin’ maintains its accessibility is the addition of Traindodge drummer Rob Smith. Smith is much less prone to math rock-style freakouts than former drummer Dave Turncrantz, but still has the massive chops necessary to anchor the album, especially on tracks like “Baby Bird,” which finds Smith beating his drums with Dave Grohl–like fury, perfectly complimenting a dirty, bluesy guitar riff worthy of Joe Perry. The album loses a bit of steam with “Invisible Hands,” a quiet ballad that, despite layers of shimmering guitars worthy of Billy Corgan, feels strangely out of pace with the rest of the record. Got This Feelin’ roars back to life on its second half, thankfully avoiding the all-too-frequent curse of front-loading an album with all its best songs. The frenetic “This Is a House of Lies” kicks back up the energy, the low key, bass-driven “Detroit Flu” provides a great groove, and the atmospheric album closer

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“Aquiline” is sure to please fans of Python. Jimmy Vavak takes only one turn on lead vocals, but his contribution, in the form of the raging “The Sunshine Strangler,” is a doozy. A savage, full-on rocker, the song breaks midway through for an extended instrumental passage, as Vavak’s plodding bass slowly builds tension until the song re-ignites into a sea of guitars and Vavak’s urgent scream. All the band’s strengths come together on “Our Guitars Are Haunted,” easily the brightest of the album’s many highlights. Bursting out of the gate with a sea of crashing cymbals and thrashing guitars, the song takes a right turn with a brilliant angular guitar riff that blares like a siren as Elstner and Vavak trade off on vocals, a method the two use sparingly but to brilliant effect. An anthemic, wordless chorus leads into a lilting, gorgeous bridge that explodes once again into the manic verses. The song structure is ingenious, juxtaposing what could effectively be three songs into one cohesive whole that never feels overly busy in its brief four-minute run. The production is also excellent for an independent release, with all of the instruments given equal weight in the mix. The drums pop and crack with authority, Vavak’s low-end will rattle your speakers, and Elstner’s voice, in particular, has never sounded better. With Got This Feelin’, Riddle of Steel has created a timeless yet thoroughly original rock album that must be heard to be believed. | Jason Green SLEATER-KINNEY: THE WOODS (Sub Pop) I would try to be as eloquent in this review of the new Sleater-Kinney disc, The Woods, as Rick Moody (yes, that Rick Moody) was in the band’s new bio, but the simple truth is he is of a different universe. Sleater-Kinney falls in that category, as well. Someday, we will all be sitting around the fire at the PlaybackSTL retirement village and talk about how lucky we were to have had a band like S-K in our midst. S-K’s lucky-number-seven album is a significant step forward for the band. They have flirted with a variety of styles over the years, but kept their hearts fully on their sleeves. This album brings those styles (and those hearts) together in a sound that is Sleater-Kinney—confident, strong, sweet, assured. The album opens with a

fairy tale, “The Fox,” sung with a yelp by Corin Tucker. Appropriately enough, this song gives The Woods the feel of the Grimms’ tale: dark and haunting, but with a sharp vein of truth. Never has Tucker’s Dolly Parton hyperdrive voice sounded more amazing. It seems to be drilling through your stereo, your speakers, your walls, your whole neighborhood. Even when the album takes a sweet turn— for example, the song “Modern Girl” (the story of a TV purchase)—the words, sung perfectly by Carrie Brownstein, are so enticing, the music both intricate and simple. The song settles and sticks with you. This effect is felt even more powerfully when the album takes a dour turn with “Jumpers.” California sunshine is painted bleak, the Golden Gate beckons, and things “are not OK.” The Woods gives us rock ’n’ roll muscle in the sense that it is smart rock made by smart musicians who are in full control of their powers. This album also proves that those of us who felt Brownstein was the new Pete Townshend have an ally in that belief with… Brownstein herself. Go no further than “Let’s Call It Love”: 11 minutes and 1 second, much of it filled with guitar interplay between Brownstein and Tucker that has as much impact as their wordplay on other songs. Admittedly, this is the part of the album that might be a bit hard to accept. Guitar solos are so Grateful Dead, but much like the rest of this amazing album, it pulls you in with its awesome sonic power. It is easy to say that this is the most accessible album Sleater-Kinney has done, but I don’t think The Woods is the threesome working their way closer to us; rather, it is us moving closer to them. This album shares S-K’s inner angst with the state of the world, the state of themselves, and the state of maintaining a sense of balance in ever-rapid times. Their angst is ours, and this album will burn with our summer desires, angers, and despair. We are lucky to have them in our midst. | Jim Dunn


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CONCERT REVIEWS

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Zoe Campground, May 12–14 For three days in May, the Deadheads had a home. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Jerry Garcia was supposed to be alive still, not as an ice-cream flavor or a subversive, ironic necktie, but an in-the-flesh, breathing, strumming, just-barely-singing icon. At least, that’s what the tie-dyed and macraméd crowd at ZoeJam seemed to be yearning for. They still have their pipes, bongo drums, and business acumen for financing their nomadic lifestyle by selling the few things they need themselves—think peasant skirts, stir-frys, and pot—but what they do not have any longer is a regular home. Deadheads around the nation used to know where they would be resting their heads each night (or early morning), and if it wasn’t in the same spot for more than a week at a time, at least it was on the same faded old Mexican blanket covering the same floor of the same old VW bus, in the company of the same fellowtravelers. Albany in July, Palo Alto in August. The Grateful Dead touring schedule gave structure to their lives, much as trade shows and sales trips shape the life of a salesman. But since Garcia’s death in 1995, the Deadhead’s way of life has been in jeopardy. The impulse is alive and well, not only for the denizens who can boast of 30, 40, 100 Grateful Dead notches in their belt, but also for a whole slew of people too young to have ever seen the band live. Today, however, they seem to be the new Lost Generation, living a life as tentative as the Yanomanis of Brazil. One event last month, however, supplied these floundering music fans with a place to be. ZoeJam, a music festival that took place at a campground 150 miles south of St. Louis and featured over two dozen bands performing on two stages, made a valiant attempt at HOT TUNA at ZOEJAM | photo by MOLLY HAYDEN

jump-starting a movement more often associated, in this part of the world, with bluegrass music and Civil War reenactments. What the promoters of the event (and KDHX and the entire clientele of Pop’s Blue Moon) were hoping for was a 10,000 strong camping and reveling audience, a laudable ambition but perhaps one that will need a few years to grow into reality. What they got was a lot of outstanding music, superb acoustics (if the ground vibrating under your sleeping bag at 3 a.m. is an accurate indicator), an excellent support staff, and perfect, early May weather. George Clinton highlighted the festival, but other favorites, such as Naked Groove, Blueground Undergrass, and The Greyhounds, rounded out the schedule. ZoeJam featured a huge assortment of bands whose fans enjoyed an unparalleled chance to experience them up close. An enormous bonfire capped off Saturday night’s performances, staving off the chill air of the late night and affording the too-scant audience a place to congregate. The scene could have come straight from a Walpurgisnacht bacchanal in the Harz mountains: bodies twisting and gyrating to the sounds of music around a fire, under the canopy of a clear nighttime sky. But, miraculously enough, this occurred right here in Missouri. Let’s hope that next year’s ZoeJam, should promoter Josh Grigaitis have another go at it, gets the chance to be more than just a place for an old hippie to rest his head. | Amy Woods Butler

Old 97’s Mississippi Nights, May 2 The Old 97’s are for lovers. Okay, so the Dallas-forged alt-country-pop-rock-cowpunk quartet is better known for wittily crafted songs detailing the mythos of love and its duplicitous double life. Still, it didn’t stop a

young couple at the front of the pit during an encore at the band’s May 2 show from announcing to singer Rhett Miller that they’d just become engaged. Miller was genuinely excited for the couple, despite having just sung and played two dozen signature songs about doing anything not to feel so jagged, about nightclubs stealing his youth and true love, about wishing the worst on a former love interest, and about the streets of his hometown being paved with hearts instead of gold. “I believe in love,” Miller sang in “Rollerskate Skinny,” “though it don’t believe in me.” Back again where they kicked off the current tour a year ago to promote their debut New West Records release, Drag It Up, the Old 97’s—singer/guitarist Miller, bassist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples—indeed appeared a bit jagged and a little less fresh than last year, but locomotivated through a breezy two-hour set on their whistle stop tour to a packed club with the house volume controls set on 11. While the set list echoed last year’s performance, a few welcome substitutions of catalog classics from the early days of the band’s 12-year career infused the show with old familiar steam. And Old 97’s fans are a faithfully fervent bunch, whether that entails writing the band members’ first names of their stomachs down in the pit, displaying handwritten signs to the band, shouting along to the lyrics of “Designs on You,” or—why not?—proposing in front of the stage. Maybe that couple would one day be able to tell their children, “We got engaged right in the middle of ‘Great Barrier Reef.’” Hammond’s soulful West Texas balladry and crooning spelled Miller for a few moments and added nice splashes of Lone Star mythology during “West Texas Tears,” “Crash on continued on page 17


JUNE 2005

Three to See Here are just three of the great original St. Louis bands that play around town on a regular basis. Check them out as soon as you can. Thanatos Eternal | Those who are ignorant about St. Louis will sometimes travel here and make the claim that people in this town are behind the times. Artistically speaking, this couldn’t be any further from the truth, and bands like Thantatos Eternal are a great example of just how innovative our local musicians can be. This three-piece brings an overwhelming amount of creativity to the stage, mixing heavy guitar and keyboards to create a sound they can truly call their own. Elements of pop, metal, and industrial music can be heard in the mix, and lead singer Brian Long has no problem putting his guitar down to give the audience a taste of his violin. The melodies are strong, the rhythms are hard-hitting, and the keyboards are consistently memorable. As if that wasn’t enough, Long’s comments to the audience, often on religion and politics, tend

to become a topic of discussion for audience members after the show. Rusted Shine | Rusted Shine is a local guitar rock band that has improved consistently over the last couple years. The group’s recent CD release party at Mississippi Nights was a huge success and serves as a great example of the type of first-rate shows one can expect

from them. Lead singer John Shanahan takes center stage with a relaxed approach. He often speaks between songs, addressing large audiences as if they were friends of his, watching him perform in his own backyard. As far as the music goes, the musicians

are hardly rusty. The guitar sound is super solid—often a wall of distortion with heavy guitar chords—and Shanahan’s vocals sound perfect in the mix. Despite the high volume, great melodies can still be heard; Rusted Shine has even been known to do acoustic shows from time to time. This is certainly a band to watch out for. Ghost in Light | Ghost in Light is a great band to go see for anyone who enjoys the lighter side of indie rock. This four-piece performs seated, but the sensational guitar melodies are more than enough to hold a person’s attention. The smooth guitar sounds are complex and catchy, played in a way that is nearly flawless. Lead singer/guitarist Jason House sings impressively well; his unique vocal style is truly haunting. It’s certainly a nice change from the countless artists who sing into the microphone like they’re impersonating Bob Dylan. You don’t get a mosh pit or a theatrical show from a band like this, you get a listening experience—and the experience is well worth the trip to a club. | John Kujawski 15

LIVE MUSIC FIVE NIGHTS A WEEK • PITCHERS ARE ALWAYS $5

SHOWS NOT TO MISS IN JUNE!

EVERY MONDAY IS OPEN MIC HIP-HOP (tell a friend to tell a friend!)

fri 6/3 ~ Dynamite Concerts: Riddle of Steel CD Release sat 6/4 ~ Reigning Heir, Bitch Slap Barbie and The Charmers sun 6/5 ~ The Wee Beasties and BOB wed 6/8 ~ The Good Looks and The Phonocaptors thurs 6/9 ~ Dynamite Concerts: Forever Never Came mon 6/13 ~ Dynamite Concerts: EARLY SHOW (7) Tight Phantomz wed 6/15 ~ Supagroup sat 6/18 ~ Tripdaddys mon 6/20 ~ Dynamite Concerts: EARLY SHOW (7) The Hold Steady

THE HOLD STEADY

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JUNE 2005

Backstage Pass the Barrelhead,” and “Smokers,” allowing him to showcase a seldom-seen talent: yodeling. Hammond yodeled away to a cover of “Rolling Stone From Texas,” by indigenous Texas warbler Don Walser, and lead guitarist Bethea sang his ’50s-styled “Coahuila” from the new record. Despite the longtime friendship and camaraderie of this band, Miller is its irrefutable centerpiece. And since he traded his short hair for long, eyeglasses for contacts, and acoustic guitar for electric, he’s effectively become the coolest guy in the nation, despite a certain anonymity among pop music’s mainstream acolytes. Being endowed with otherworldly songwriting prowess only further lionizes him to his adoring constituents, as evidenced on his solo record The Instigator, the opening track of which he performed alone during an encore. Shelving a few of the newer songs made room in the set for more selections from the band’s watershed 1997 release Too Far to Care. So along with set standards “Time Bomb,” “Great Barrier Reef,” and “Four Leaf Clover,” Miller and Company lavished their fans with “Niteclub,” “Melt Show,” and “Streets of Where I’m From.” Miller’s conceit that “love is a big fucking lie” is just a part of his own mythos, as Hammond pointed out, holding up his wedding-ringed finger: “There are four of these up here on stage.” So long live love, long live songwriting convention, and long live The Old 97’s. | Larry O’Neal

Lovedrive A Tribute to The Scorpions Stratford Inn Bar, May 14 Just inside the lobby of Fenton’s Stratford Inn hotel, a bench sits under a wooden bower

from page 14

lined with plastic flowers. A stone path wanders all of 15 feet from the bench to a burbling fountain. Behind the bench and fountain, a trompe l’oeil wall mural depicts a lush garden. The green idyll sits amid the white commercial tile of the hallway, under a drop ceiling. The attempt at verisimilitude is at once cheap, dated, and hilarious. The same could be said of tribute bands. Rather than wax on about what’s sad about them, I’ll just direct you to the uproariously funny 2001 documentary film Tribute—see it if you get the chance. Still, unless you’re some kind of hipster asshole who prefers irony to actual pleasure, you can have a blast at a tribute show. Manalishi, a Judas Priest cover band, tore the cover off Pop’s about a year ago. The various KISS tribute bands always give you your money’s worth. And Lovedrive, a new band paying tribute to the German metal legends The Scorpions—of all bands—offers a sterling rendition of their idols’ greatest hits. Paying tribute to The Scorpions is a little weird. They’re not a visual band, they don’t have a flamboyant lead singer, and as far as metal goes, they’re generally considered second fiddle to groups like Sabbath, Motörhead, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, etc, etc. Some would even throw them in with other European-metal second-fiddlers Krokus, Manowar, Accept, Helloween, and so on. In any case, The Scorpions have been around for more than 30 years, and their huge catalog has plenty of gems. Lovedrive disgorged “Coming Home,” “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” “Loving You Sunday Morning,” “Blackout,” “No One Like You,” “Can’t Live Without You,” “Dynamite,” “Big City Nights,” “Another Piece of Meat,”

“Falling in Love” and a bunch more, for well over two hours of tunes from every decade of Scorps music. The lead guitarist used that freaky mouth-tube vocoder for the long guitar solo in “The Zoo.” Also, the sparse crowd at the Stratford dug out their lighters for “Still Loving You,” that rare metal ballad that doesn’t suck. Any tribute band’s success lies largely with the ability of the lead singer to imitate the real deal. Lovedrive’s frontman sounded great, very much like The Scorpions’ Klaus Meine. Between songs he joked around in a thick, virtually unintelligible German accent, so it was a bit of a shock to meet him after the show and hear his actual, plain-old American voice: “I’m from the south side of Chicago,” he admitted, “but I grew up hearing my German grandma talk like that all the time.” Lovedrive makes no attempt to look like The Scorpions, which would be pretty pointless, as there’s nothing remarkable about the band’s actual look. Musically, though, the rhythm guitarist keeps things moving like the propulsive Rudolf Schenker, and the lead guitarist nimbly runs through solos on the high end of the fretboard like Mathias Jabs. Lovedrive is firing on all cylinders; they need nothing but a bigger audience—that, and the lead singer should memorize the lyrics. It was kinda obvious the way he was reading them from cue cards attached to his monitor. | Byron Kerman

17


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TWANGFEST 2005

NINE MEANS â&#x20AC;&#x153;YES!â&#x20AC;? A Dispatch From the Sports Desk | By Bryan A. Hollerbach In this, its ninth year, Twangfest has become a triple-threat operation. In addition to its two customary venues, that is, St. Louisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual four-day jamboree of Americana music will close at the Pageant this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;with Neko Case, one of the fieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hottest performers, no less.

JON DEE GRAHAM | photo by TRACIE GOUDIE

According to custom, Twangfest 9 will run from Wednesday to Saturday, June 8 to 11, opening at the St. Louis Brewery Tap Room and rocking the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill for the next two nights before concluding at Joe Edwardsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; acclaimed odeum due east of Delmar and Skinker. Beyond Case, T9 will spotlight more than a dozen acts ranging from indie rockers like Milton Mapes and Richmond Fontaine to country traditionalists like Moot Davis and The Cool Deal featuring Pete Anderson, from plebeian poets like Brent Best (lately of Slobberbone) to powder kegs like The Supersuckers, from relative newbies like The Townsmen to grizzled vets like Jon Dee Graham. Without succumbing to the temptation to be all things to all people, in short, the bill boasts a pleasing diversity. To longtime attendees, because Twangfest has always qualified as a four-star sonic smorgasbord, that diversity should come as no surprise. Not so T9â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pageant connection. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d discussed using a larger venue for some years now,â&#x20AC;? explained festival spokesman Mark Wyatt by e-mail, â&#x20AC;&#x153;since some acts

we wanted to book were too popular and cost too much to make it feasible to book them at the Duck Room. We always decided against it, because it was too big a financial leap for us to make, and frankly, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not real experienced with the logistics of larger venues.â&#x20AC;? Then circumstances changed through the intervention of St. Louisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s celebrated community radio station. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When our new partner KDHX (theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been supporters from the beginning, but they stepped up their participation this year) told us Neko Case was available for the fest,â&#x20AC;? Wyatt stated, â&#x20AC;&#x153;we thought weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d need to have a bigger venue than the Duck Room, as her popularity has just exploded over the past year. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pat Hagin, who we work with at the Duck Room, suggested that we use the Pageant, which he also manages, for the show. We worked it out with him so that it made sense for both of us, got what we think is a killer line-up for that night, and there you go.â&#x20AC;? Wyatt concluded, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Pageant is a lot bigger venue than the Duck Room, but the programming is exactly the sort of thing weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always wanted to pull offâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;so we think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth taking the shot.â&#x20AC;? Indeed. Lest his use of the first person plural tempt unwary readers to question whether Wyatt has a mouse in his pocket, incidentally, mention should be made of his cohorts on the Twang Gang, the festivalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s volunteer board of directors gathered from throughout the Midwest: from Columbus, Matthew Benz; from Des Moines, Maggie Jones; from Kansas City, Amy Silvers; from Nashville, Christopher Knaus; and from St. Louis, Marie Arsenault, Kip Loui, John Wendland, and Rick Wood. Wyatt himself hails from Bexley, Ohio. All nine of the Twang Gangstas prefer to let the festivalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s music speak for itself. In that regard, but for their collective reticence, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d likely urge readers to buy tickets to the event. For opening night, such tickets, available only at the Tap Room door, cost $8 each; for the second and third nights, $18 each at Blueberry Hillâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s box office or through MetroTix; and for the closer, $20 each at the Pageant box office or through Ticketmaster. (Those interested in a sweet four-night package deal should visit the festivalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Web site, www.twangfest.com.) The Twang Gang might also mention that T9 will continued on page T6

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TWANGFEST 2005

BELLYING UP TO THE T9 SIDEBAR Hey, there! Pull up a stool, and have a Schlafly or a PBR. (Don’t worry—they grow on you after the fourth or fifth one.) What? You say that even with four nights of programming and 14 musical acts, you still can’t get your fill of Twangfest action? Well, bud, consider this your lucky day—’cause T9 promises other fun: | Friday, June 10, from 1 to 5 p.m., the festival again hits Maplewood’s Saratoga Lanes at 2725 Sutton Ave. for Twangpin. Five bucks—cheap at twice the price—buys four hours of bowling and billiards. (Damn, did I just say billiards? What kinda poncey nonsense is that? I meant pool, of course.) Also included: background noise by the Bowling Stones. (Who comes up with these band names, and why haven’t they been pimp-slapped?) | Saturday, June 11, from 1 to 4 p.m., Barry Mazor’s again emceeing Twangclips, this year at the Schlafly Bottleworks at 7260 Southwest Ave. Mazor’s a senior editor for No Depression. Little dude. Real intense. Anyway, for the third year running, he’s gathered a bunch of vintage film and video clips of musicians who could’ve played at Twangfest if Twangfest had been around when they were playing. It’s free—and fascinating. | From an hour before to an hour after Twangclips, Undertow—you know, the ones doing that cool Love Experts EP I spun for you—and KDHX are hosting a gratis barbecue at the Bottleworks. Glossary, Waterloo, Adam Reichmann, Diesel Island, and Steve Dawson are all performing there under a tent. That’s a damned fine line-up—and again, there’s barbecue involved. I mean, how do you define no-brainer? | Lucas D. Chalutier

Ticket Information June 8 | Schlafly Tap Room | $8 Available at the door night of the show only

June 9–10 | Duck Room at Blueberry Hill | $18 each night Advance tickets at Blueberry Hill Box Office, through Metrotix online at www.metrotix.com, or by phone at 800-293-5949

June 11 | The Pageant | $20 Tickets available at The Pageant Box Office, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 314-241-1888

Friend of Twangfest You can get tickets for all four nights and three venues of Twangfest—and avoid service charges! Become a Friend of Twangfest for $100, and receive tons of goodies and heaps of accolades along with your festival passes. E-mail friends@twangfest.com for details.

NEKO CASE: NOT YOUR TYPICAL ALT-COUNTRY CROONER The stress and strain of being a professional musician is nothing to scoff at. Between traveling hundreds of miles to play late-night gigs, writing material, collaborating with other musicians who have conflicting schedules, and having a personal life, an artist must produce something tangible in order to keep the fan base and record company happy. “And it is difficult in that you better have serious stamina for being in that recording studio for however many months it is,” states Neko Case, reached by phone in the recording studio. The Twangfest artist is as busy as any musician, if not more so. Consequently, it has been over six months since she’s produced an entry for her official Web site. In the mid-’90s, Case began playing drums in the punk rock bands Cub and Maow. Since the demise of the latter trio, she has averaged over one recording project per year. The altcountry singer/songwriter has released five solo albums and recorded with several other artists, including The Corn Sisters and The New Pornagraphers, whose third CD is slated for a 2005 release. Her last solo effort, The Tigers Have Spoken, (Anti-, 2004), was a live venture. Case continues her musical evolution with another, yet-untitled, solo album. “I actually just got [The New Pornographers

| By J. Church

album] in the mail the other day. We’re supposed to go out on tour in September, October, or so. You can’t put them out at the same time, because that could create a conflict of interests. We wouldn’t be able to go on tour. Obviously I can’t be in two places at once.” Case generally controls all aspects of the recording process— including songwriting and instrumentation—except when it comes to production, a task she shares with co-producer Darryl Neudorf. “It’s weird; people think that if you did it along with someone else, you didn’t do any of it or something,” notes Case. “You know, it’s weird the way the politics of that kind of stuff works. You could just handle this job by yourself, but he, as the engineer, has a lot of input on how it sounds. That’s production.” Differentiating herself from the conventional country crooner (you know the one: that long-haired Madonna figure with a wimpy voice), Case belts with forceful aggression. The early punk contribution shimmers under the surface. Reflecting on the early influence, she surmises, “I don’t know if I really feel any less aggression, to be honest with you.” The new product, considered to be a

I don’t know if

I really feel any

less aggression, to be honest with you.

PHOTO COURTESY ANTI-

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PLAYBACK STL | TWANGFEST Nine Means “Yes!” boast various subsidiary events (see sidebar on page T5). Otherwise, hereafter appear the traditional idiosyncratic capsule bios of the 14 acts on the T9 bill, arranged, as always, in chronological order. The festivities start at 8:30 on opening night and at 8:00 on subsequent evenings, with sets lasting at least an hour:

Wednesday, June 8, Tap Room

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Milton Mapes | As an inspiration for an indie-rock song, few subjects could rival for improbability the tweedy, tonsured Victorian Brit behind The Jungle Books. Austin’s Milton Mapes has embraced the improbable, howMILTON MAPES | photo by JESS FARR ever, with “When the Earth’s Last Picture Is Painted,” the penultimate offering on the band’s new nine-track CD from Undertow Music, which takes its title and chorus (kinda) from “L’Envoi” by Rudyard Kipling. That the song in no way intrudes tonally on the disc in question, The Blacklight Trap, testifies to the artistry of the band, whose haunting, evocative music has drawn comparisons to that of Neil Young. Composed of Britton Beisenherz (bass, piano), Cliff Brown, Jr. (keyboards, guitar), Jim Fredley (guitar, mandolin), Roberto Sánchez (percussion), and Greg Vanderpool (vocals, guitar, et al.) and formed in 1999, Milton Mapes is named after Vanderpool’s grandfather; based on its two predecessors and The Blacklight Trap, they’ve also been making a name for themselves with discerning listeners. Jon Dee Graham | Describing a CD as exemplary constitutes a nondescription sans explanation. To wit, of what does the disc serve as an example? That said, Jon Dee Graham’s ten-track Escape From Monster Island, reissued by New West Records in 2002, ranks as an exemplary piece of work, and to use another slippery phrase, it exemplifies the finest of roots music, hypnotic in its intensity, invigorating in its mix. Graham—who, like T9 fellows Milton Mapes and The Meat Purveyors, hails from Austin—previously played with such ’80s bands as The Skunks and The True Believers and teamed with the former frontman

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of X on Meet John Doe. At one point, famously, he also grew disgusted enough with the music biz to quit it for a construction job. Graham has a pan like a weathered plank and a voice to match—raspy, raw, and enthralling in its rough-hewn beauty. Last year, New West released his fourth CD, The Great Battle, including among its dozen tracks the ebullient “Lonesome Valley” and the mordant “Robot Moving.” The Meat Purveyors | The Twang Gang self-evidently flipped their collective lid by scheduling The Meat Purveyors to play at a Hausbrauerei, an act tantamount to having Dracula ramrod a blood drive. It will come as a major surprise if, before the night ends, the demented Austinites in question haven’t taken the Tap Room’s brewmaster hostage and barricaded themselves beside the copper. Prior to that, of course, the quartet (guitarist Bill Anderson, lead vocalist Jo Stanli Cohen, upright bassist and backing vocalist Cherilyn DiMond, and mandolinist Peter Stiles) should treat listeners to the frenzied fusion of bluegrass and punk featured on five Bloodshot CDs, including their latest, Pain by Numbers. On such songs as “Circus Clown” and “Paint by Numbers,” The Meat Purveyors resurrect Bill Monroe and boot the poor bastard into the mosh pit, to exhilarating effect. On first seeing and hearing them, in fact, those who believe bluegrass begins and ends with “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” may well wet themselves.

Thursday, June 9, Duck Room Rough Shop | In personnel matters, the music scene can resemble a kaleidoscope, with glass fragments of every shape and color end-


TWANGFEST 2005

SLOBBERBONE

lessly reassembling. St. Louis’s Rough Shop (whose members previously played with such Twangfest veterans as Nadine and One Fell Swoop, among other bands) involves an especially resplendent reassembly. Drummer Sean Anglin, keyboardist Nate Dahm, multi-instrumentalist Andy Ploof, bassist Mike Tiefenbrun, guitarist Anne Tkach, and multi-instrumentalist John Wendland have teamed to make music, with results nothing short of magical. Predictably, they nail the instrumental details; because all but Dahm and Tiefenbrun sing, though, Rough Shop really shines on vocals. The sextet’s currently discussing their first full-length with various labels, and they plan to issue a five-track EP for T9. Grab it! A similar sampler in Rough Shop’s press kit—including such splendid songs as “Wonder What It Means,” “Good Intentions,” and “Soundtrack of Our Lies”—proved positively addictive. Richmond Fontaine | “I don’t care anymore who was right/and who was wrong and who was left and who was leaving,” sings Willy Vlautin at the start of the title cut to Post to Wire, Richmond Fontaine’s 16-track 2003 release from El Cortez Records, and the sentiment seems emblematic. Over the course of half a dozen or so CDs, the Portland quartet has repeatedly explored lush soundscapes of loss and longing, with characters running from tenuously defined woes to hopes even more tenuous. With Vlautin, who provides lead vocals and guitar, Richmond Fontaine comprises multi-instrumentalist Paul Brainard, bassist Dave Harding, and percussionist Sean Oldham, and in addition to lovely instrumentals like “Twyla” (from the 2002 El Cortez release Winnemucca), their work includes such memorable songs as “Montgomery Park,” with its locomotive delivery, and the rhythmically rococo “Hallway” and “The Longer You Wait” (all three from Post to Wire, which also

features bizarre and bittersweet epistolary interludes). The Supersuckers | Because The Supersuckers reportedly took their name from a porn novel, one might expect them to lack a degree of delicacy. In that, they don’t disappoint; the quartet performs with all the finesse and politesse of a 1,900-pound Brahma bull trying to buck some hapless rodeo hero into the stratosphere. Formed in Tucson and transplanted to Seattle, the band currently comprises guitarist Dan Bolton, guitarist Rontrose Heathman, drummer Mike Musburger, and vocalist/bassist Eddie Spaghetti. Marie Arsenault of the Twang Gang clarified the “Big Show” reference in the T9 schedule: “They essentially do three different sets—a country Supersuckers set, an Eddie solo set, then end with the big rock set.” Examples of the badass barrelhouse music The Supersuckers have recorded for the past 13 years—including such signature songs as “Born With a Tail” and “Creepy Jackalope Eye”—grace a brace of Mid-Fi Recordings from last year, Live at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle, Washington and Live at the Magic Bag, Ferndale, Michigan.

Friday, June 10, Duck Room Matthew Grimm & The Red Smear | With song titles like “Kill the Poor,” “Slut,” and “Hey, Hitler!” and a press kit one page of which focuses solely, if jocularly, on disclaimers, Dawn’s Early Apocalypse might tempt the unwary to picture its creators, Matthew Grimm & The Red Smear, as latter-day punks, long on attitude and short on polish—an assessment both entirely right and entirely wrong. ’Tude certainly permeates the ten-track disc in question, currently extant only as a pre-master advance CD, but it scarcely qualifies as a DIY goof. An Iowa City resident who previously co-founded New York roots rockers The Hangdogs, Grimm sounds something like Michael Stipe and writes electric lyrics by turns gloriously polemical and profane. (“I’m not as cute as the other guys,” he assures an interlocutor on the hilariously prurient track that provides the disc’s title, “but I know my way around your thighs.”) The Red Smear,

meanwhile, constitutes a mutable cast of thugs and hooligans intent on aural vandalism. The smart money’s on this act as the festival’s sleeper. Nora O’Connor | Copy editors and other fussbudgets may sniff that the title to Nora O’Connor’s Til the Dawn lacks a necessary apostrophe, but the CD otherwise qualifies as nothing to sniff at. The nine-track Bloodshot disc ranks as her name-label debut, following a 1996 self-release that the doe-eyed Chicagoan now more or less disavows. Beyond the originals “My Backyard” and “Tonight,” Til the Dawn showcases her dulcet, assured voice on material ranging from the lounge languor of “Love Letters,” a Victor Young–Edward Heyman composition made famous by Ketty Lester, through the lovely ache of James Mathus’s “Bottoms” to RICHMOND FONTAINE the country kick of Matt Weber’s “OK With Me” and includes sonic contributions from such friends of O’Connor as Andrew Bird on violin and labelmate Kelly Hogan on backing vocals. On the CD’s issuance last August, critics across the board generally complained about just one thing: the comparative brevity of Til the Dawn. T9 attendees can learn why. Moot Davis and The Cool Deal Featuring Pete Anderson | As sometimes happens with Twangfest, Friday’s lineup embeds a gratis double bill with Moot Davis and The Cool Deal featuring Pete Anderson. More specifically, in 2003, Davis—a youthful trad country artist transplanted to Nashville from New Jersey—released his eponymous debut, including among its ten tracks (all Davis originals) such twangy gems as “Jug of Wine,” “Whiskey Town,” and “Thanks for Breakin’ My Heart.” Issuing Moot Davis was Burbank’s Little Dog Records, its owner (and that disc’s producer) one P. Anderson, Esq., who had recently ended an affiliation with Dwight Yoakam stretching back to 1984’s Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. More significantly for T9ers, the intense-looking fiftysomething Anderson qualifies as a guitar virtuoso whose own latest solo CD, Daredevil (Little Dog, 2004), presents ten instrumentals that make riveting listening. A Detroit native himself transplanted to California, Anderson should team with Davis to make their shared set T9’s honky-tonk highlight. Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys | In a radio continued on next page

NORA O’CONNOR

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Bloodshot Records at Twangfest The Meat Purveyors June 9 at Euclid Records, for a special in-store performance, and later at Schlafly Tap Room. Buy their PAIN BY NUMBERS now!

Nora O’Connor June 10 at Vintage Vinyl, for a special in-store performance, and later at Blueberry Hill. Her debut solo TIL THE DAWN is out now!

Out now & coming soon from Bloodshot Records: Scott H. Biram, “Dirty Old One Man Band” Devil in a Woodpile, “In Your Lonesome Town” Graham Parker, “Songs of No Consequence” The Waco Brothers, “Freedom and Weep” The Detroit Cobras, “Baby” And Bloodshot’s 10th Anniversary album!

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PLAYBACK STL | TWANGFEST Nine Means “Yes!”

from previous page

landscape all but homogenized into nullity by classic rock and its ilk, rockabilly acts (like their bluegrass brethren) often operate below the radar. Nevertheless, thankfully, they continue to keep the faith, and one of the most noteworthy of such acts will take the stage at T9: Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. Since the mid-’90s, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Big Sandy (né Robert MOOT DAVIS “Rusty” Williams) has conspired with a shifting cast of musicians lately comprising guitarist Ashley Kingman, steel guitarist Jimmy Roy, drummer Bobby Trimble, and standup bassist Jeff West to play righteous rockabilly inflected with sounds from Western swing and other subgenres on such releases as the Dave Alvin–produced Jumping From 6 to 6 (Hightone, 1994) and It’s Time! (Yep Roc Records, 2003) and such songs as “Let Me in There, Baby” and “Feelin’ Kinda Lucky.” In short, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys almost single-handedly redeem all of the tofu-brained excesses of their SoCal environs.

Saturday, June 11, Pageant The Townsmen | Barring unforeseen complications, less than two weeks before T9, The Townsmen should release their second CD—kinda. Last spring, the Columbus quartet—vocalist/guitarist Jeff Clowdus, vocalist/ multi-instrumentalist David Holm, bassist Ed Mann, and drummer Brad Swiniarski—issued Dim as a Glimmer on Bluehouse Records. Completed at the same time as its 10 tracks, however, were another 11, which the band chose to hold instead of collecting everything on a potentially suicidal double disc. Their press kit included a CD-R of the new release, bearing the handwritten and likely provisional title “Townsmen II.” Like its successor or symbiont, Dim as a Glimmer features appealing roots rock like the kicky “Travel On” and the jangly “Back 2 Back”; lovely harmonies enliven “Standing Sideways With Grace,” meanwhile. Potential attendees to the festival’s THE MEAT PURVEYORS final night thus shouldn’t let the band’s name fool them; though nominally plain vanilla, musically The Townsmen rank as pop Häagen-Dazs. Brent Best | Brent Best has a voice like sorghum molasses. In that regard, of course, when taste (both figuratively and literally) has nowadays seemingly narrowed to the menu at McDonald’s, that means he may not please everyone. So it goes. For roughly a decade, Best performed with Slobberbone, a band one can only hope never shared a bill with Best’s T9 fellows The Supersuckers. That quartet from Denton, continued on page T15


TWANGFEST 2005

SHOWING THEIR ROOTS: BIG SANDY & HIS FLY-RITE BOYS By Sid Andruska In the fall of ’99, after spending over two decades listening to punk and goth music, clinging to bands like D.I., D.O.A., The Dead Kennedys, T.S.O.L., 45 Grave, and others whose names were either acronyms or code for something vague and bizarre, I decided enough was enough. Shelving my collection, I rallied around a genre of music new to me called rockabilly—more specifically, a band out of Orange County, Calif., called Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, who were (and still are) part of a large and vivacious retro-rockabilly swing movement that originated on both coasts in the late ’80s. Once known as Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Trio, the band’s now a gang of five: Robert “Big Sandy” Williams on vocals and acoustic guitar, Ashley Kingman on take-off guitar, Jimmy Roy on Sho-Bud steel guitar, Jeff West slappin’ standup bass, and Bobby Trimble banging away on skins. Wooing me with his tenor, sweeter than a maraschino cherry, Big Sandy induced a craving for the simpler things in life: backyard barbecues, four-day weekends, a Friday night fish fry, in addition to good beer and swing dancing (lots of it). It’s the stuff my dreams are made of. Yours too, possibly—but you’ve got to hit Twangfest 9 to hear Big Sandy and his mates play live as the

T9 headliners Friday, June 10, at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room. You’ll be sold, just as Morrissey was when he tracked them down in the early ’90s. Afterward, he asked Big Sandy to join him on tour. “We had a weekly gig back then, that’s when we were Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Trio,” recalls Williams. “We used to play every Thursday night, and we missed one [show]. We had gone up to Northern California, up to the San Francisco area to do a show… And when we came back the next week, the owner was like, ‘Oh, man, Morrissey and his band were here to come check you guys out, and you guys blew it, man!’ And I was like, ‘That’s a drag,’ but then Morrissey showed up again that night.” Big Sandy toured with Morrissey for 20 dates in 1992, playing to arena-sized audiences for the first time. “We were just starting to get into the clubs in L.A., and all of a sudden, we were playing in some stadiums and sports arenas,” says Williams. “That was a pretty big leap for us. But [Morrissey] went out of his way to make us feel comfortable, and I had some good conversations with him along the way. He had some good advice on how to work with the audience.” continued on page T11

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TWANGFEST 2005

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys Prior to the Morrissey fling, Big Sandy hit Europe in ’91 after receiving rave reviews of the band’s first album, Fly Right With Big Sandy and The Fly-Rite Trio (Dionysus, 1990). Jump-starting their career, they were invited to play at the Hemsby Rockabilly Festival in England, an annual event currently in its thirty-fourth year. Since then, not only have they played sold-out events like the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender and the weeklong Green Bay Rockabilly Festival, but also they’ve graced the stage at the Grand Ole Opry and made an appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. However, the chance to play alongside legends—including Ruth Brown, Janis Martin, Wanda Jackson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and George Jones—is what Williams and his bandmates relish most. “Definitely George Jones is my favorite country singer,” confesses Williams. “We got to play with him a few years ago, and that was pretty amazing. That’s been another cool thing along the way; we’ve had the chance to play with so many of our idols. Just something I never dreamed would’ve happened.” With melodies rooted in R&B that echo 1950s rock ’n’ roll, Big Sandy’s music encompasses more than just one genre; elements of 1940s Western swing, hillbilly boogie, and doo-wop are woven into each album. Williams points out, “I think we’re basically just a rock ’n’ roll band, but like our roots are showing a little bit more. Some of those influences (hillbilly, Western swing, honky-tonk, and blues) show through a little bit more with us than they do in more contemporary bands.” Their two most recent albums, Night Tide (Hightone, 2000) and It’s Time! (Yep Roc, 2003), reveal a dynamic synergy of blues grooves and Western boogie with a distinct rockabilly tempo. New material is in the works, and Williams hopes to grab studio time this October to record a new album. Drawing from a deep well of personal experience, Williams’ lyrics reflect varying degrees of truth, but in the case of “Back Door Dan,” the X-rated version from the remastered CD Rockin’ Big Sandy (Hightone, 2004), they’re not to be taken literally: “With ‘Back Door Dan,’ that’s just like a fun song [chuckles]. It’s funny, songs like that, people want to hear. Songs like that don’t mean a whole lot to me; they’re just kind of throwaway—it’s fun to do. Some songs hit closer to home than others, like on the last record, ‘Wishing Him Away’ and ‘How Did You Love Someone

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Like Me?’ People end up wanting to hear the more rockin’ songs… We get a lot of dancers at the show; they want to hear the things that move.” When it comes to classifying their music under any one genre, especially a modern catchall like “alternative country,” Williams reflects, “I think it’s all connected. We have a

little more literal interpretation of some of that music than some of the other groups do. We used to be a little more caught up in trying to recreate some of the older sounds, like a little more literally than we do now. And some of the other groups are on the other end of the spectrum; they’re simply inspired by some continued on page T13

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TWANGFEST 2005

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys of that music, and they do something that’s completely their own. I kind of want to head towards that, and I feel like we’re kind of in between two worlds somewhat.” Growing up in Orange County, while other kids were headbanging to heavy metal or be-bopping to ’80s pop bands, Williams lost himself in his family’s collection of vintage vinyl: “I was lucky enough to be brought up in a house full of records… I was moved by music at a really early age; [my parents] gave me all of their old records, and I would just sit in my room listening for hours and get lost in my own little world. My mother had a lot of doo-wop and blues records, and my dad had rockabilly, rock ’n’ roll, and country. I used to go to the public library and read everything I could about the history of rock ’n’ roll; I wanted to know where the music came from, like all the different styles that fed into it. And it led me on a lifelong journey… I ended up playing it myself, but that was almost like an afterthought.”

Williams started playing guitar after high school. One day, he came across a clever advertisement promising a free guitar with the purchase of advanced lessons. “So I went for that,” recalls Williams. “I just learned a few basic chords, and that gave me something to mess around with at home to try to come up with my own little songs. And around that same time [after high school], I met some guys at a party… I was hanging out with them afterwards, and we were all drinking and passing the guitar around, and I nervously strummed through a couple of songs. The guys in the band thought it was all right and said, ‘Hey, you should hang out with us and come to our next rehearsal.’ They worked me into their band, in the beginning singing a couple of songs as a guest, and then I ended up becoming their lead singer.” When you find your passion, you’ll know it, or so the saying goes. For Williams, once he began performing regularly at parties and small venues, the accolades he received made him realize he had found his calling: “I was

from page T11

nervous as hell, but I got a taste of [performing], and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is what has been missing from my life.’ Up until that point, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school. I was going to college, but [with] no direction at all. All my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do, and I just felt completely lost. Once I got a taste of performing, I knew this was it.” When Williams eventually formed his own band, though, he shunned the idea of using his own name in the band’s name. Williams recounts: “Wally [Hersom] was our bass player at the time and suggested to use the Sandy name, which was the patch on the jacket I used to wear, and the name kind of grew out of that. It was the jacket I had gotten from my Uncle Santiago; he was a mechanic in the late ’50s. I guess his boss told him that Santiago was too long to embroider on the patch, so they were going to abbreviate it as Santy—and they misspelled it. That’s how the Sandy-thing came about. That’s something [my uncle] is really proud of, too; he goes around telling people he’s the original Big Sandy.” Known for recreating an authentic, oldschool sound from the ’40s and ’50s using vintage instruments and recording equipment, Big Sandy has relaxed somewhat, concentrating more on producing music he and his bandmates are passionate about, instead of losing themselves in the details. “My views on that have changed throughout the years,” says Williams. “I feel we used to knock ourselves out a little bit too hard…trying to imitate every detail. And maybe you lose something when you take that approach, like you forget about the spirit of the music. Hopefully people can tell we’re all up there having a good time.” “Good time” is an understatement, really. During one of their most requested songs, “Tequila Calling,” it’s become a tradition of sorts for someone in the audience to bring up a shot or three of tequila for Williams. On one occasion, it was a pint’s worth. Feeling obliged (how can you turn away free booze?), Williams sucked it up, literally: “I drank the whole thing in one big gulp and somehow got through the set!” So when Big Sandy gets that wistful look in his eye and begins the refrain, “Listen, I can hear tequila calling,” that’s your cue. If the spirit moves you—and if it doesn’t, you have no pulse—be sure to maintain the tradition and fork out a few bucks; shots of Cuervo or mescal will do.

Neko Case

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PHOTO: VICTORIA RENARD

As Bryan A. Hollerbach predicts, “the peripatetic powerhouse should close the festival in high style.”

“North American record” by Case, possibly won’t be completed until “next springish.” Why the postponement? “Deadlines get moved a lot. You can’t really tell what’s going to happen, if you’re gonna have more ideas or if there’s going to be technical problem in the studio. Like, a while ago, we had the city turn the power off for the entire block. And when they turned it back on, they didn’t ground it, so it was just freestanding electricity… We were without the studio for about a week.” When asked about her expectations for this year‘s Twangfest, Case affirms the indications of her fatigue. “You know, honestly, I’ve been in the studio, and only in the studio. I haven’t even thought about going on tour. I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get out of here.” A short tour will take Case and her band to Arizona, Texas, and Indiana. “We’re going to head out to the [bass player’s] family farm and go to the church picnic. Which I’m really excited about, because I want some pie from Indiana.”

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ROBBIE FULKS Georgia Hard ROBBIE FULKS is back with a new album aimed at country fans who wonder where their music went. You won’t hear these songs in chest-thumping car commercials. Georgia Hard hearkens back to the old-style country of Shel Silverstein and Roger Miller; it’s rude, funny and soulful.

BIG SANDY & HIS FLY-RITE BOYS It’s Time! It's Time! contains 14 tracks that range from pure spitcurl-and-denim rockabilly to Texas Swing to doo-wop. It's music to jump to, music to dance to, and music to listen to with the windows down and the wind in your hair. LIVE AT TWANGFEST: Friday, June 10, The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, show at11:30!

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Nine Means “Yes!” Texas, released four CDs, among them 1996’s Crow Pot Pie (reissued by New West Records, 2003) and Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today (New West, 2000); recorded such songs as “Engine Joe” and “Live on in the Dark”; and toured extensively, including a Twangfest visit three years ago. Slobberbone disbanded recently and, to all appearances, amicably, with Best pursuing a solo career (albeit with no official recordings yet). He’ll bring his own distinctive brand of twang to the festival in the company of a full band, according to a T9 source. The Bottle Rockets | Few bands have done justice to a name as thoroughly as The Bottle Rockets. Since forming in semi-rural Festus, Mo., in the early ’90s, they’ve alternated between sizzle and fizzle, between pyrotechnic dazzle and confounding darkness, crafting memorable music despite sporadic label lapses and roster changes reminiscent in their frequency of Wilco. At the moment, happily, the band’s apparently poised for an A-1 display. Recently, vocalist/guitarist Brian Henneman (the band’s mad and sometimes maddening mastermind) has seemed both figuratively and literally lean and hungry, an alt-country Cassius readying to take a stab at something beyond Midwestern lassitude. Subsequent to the release of their latest CD, Blue Sky (Sanctuary, 2003), New West Records reissued much of The Bottle Rockets’ catalog, and Henneman and longtime drummer Mark Ortmann welcomed to the fold guitar ace John Horton. At deadline, moreover, further personnel changes were occurring—so expect the unexpected. Neko Case | Neko Case sounds like a maddened goose, knows zilch about music, and looks like a burlap bag overstuffed with potatoes—in the Bizarro world, that is. In the real world, the petite redheaded belle

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possesses a daunting musical background ranging from gospel to punk and a voice as clear and bright as the surface of a mountain lake at sunrise. In less than a decade, she’s released three notable studio fulllengths from Bloodshot Records, among them the extraordinary Furnace Room Lullaby from 2000, as well as sundries like the lo-fi EP Canadian Amp (Lady Pilot, 2001). T9 attendees can preview Case’s performance by spinning The Tigers Have Spoken, her latest CD; issued last autumn by Anti-, Case’s new label, the 11-track live disc rings with jubilant verve as she and such cohorts as pedal steel wizard Jon Rauhouse play originals like the title cut, covers like Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Soulful Shade of Blue,” and the traditional “This Little Light.” Bet on it: The peripatetic powerhouse should close the festival in high style. THE BOTTLE ROCKETS


SONNY LANDRETH

RECKLESS KELLY

GREG TROOPER

Grant Street

Wicked Twisted Road

Make It Through This World

THE DUHKS

GREY DELISLE

The Silent Majority: Terry Allen’s Greatest Missed Hits

The Duhks

Iron Flowers

Album Available July 12th

TERRY ALLEN


JUNE 2005

ON THE COVER BLOC PARTY

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here is a defining scene in Sunset Boulevard wherein director Cecil B. DeMille is commenting to an assistant about the eccentricities of his faded star, Norma Desmond: “A dozen press agents working overtime can do terrible things to the human spirit.” So too it goes with bands these days. The publicity machine is pretty much the first thing that starts running, and is the last to be turned off. Bloc Party is no stranger to hype and, for better or worse, the recipients of loads of it. Matt Tong, the band’s drummer, has felt it and is quick to dismiss it…mostly. “We’ve been around long enough as music fans to realize there really is no substance to what you read (in the music press). That is a constant of what we do.” He pauses to consider, then adds, “Maybe there is slight pressure there to justify some of that hype. We’ve never really made any grand claims of greatness.”

So Here We Are Greatness, though, has come quickly to them. Formed in London in 2003, Bloc Party—Kele Okereke (vocals, guitars), Gordon Moakes (bass), Russell Lissack (guitar), and Tong—released a series of very well-received singles and EPs which quickly worked their way up the U.K. charts. In a short amount of time, they found a U.S. label (Dimak) to release their self-titled EP last fall. Soon after, Vice Records came calling, releasing Bloc Party’s full-length debut, Silent Alarm, in late March. Before it hit the streets, even, Alarm was garnering favorable reviews.

Last fall, following a brief U.S. tour, Bloc Party returned to the full, 10,000-megawatt attention of the U.K. press. British press tends to pay more attention to their musicians—not always in a kind way, mind you (for proof, type Pete Doherty’s name in a Google search)—so the record-buying public knows the meanings of all the songs, the political mindset of the musician, what he had for lunch, who he is screwing, and what flavor of chips he likes. The band soon found themselves the subject of cover stories in NME and the like, and featured in publications as diverse as the London Times and a variety of fashion magazines. They were seen as serious musicians intent upon their craft. In the ever-growing U.S. music press, attention has focused on “what’s new”: White Stripes: out. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: in. Strokes: way out. The search for who’s in goes on daily. In the last few years, the buzz has grown noticeably around bands from Great Britain. Led by Franz Ferdinand, the wave is unmistakably accented to the north and south of London. At this year’s South by Southwest, the normal Texas twang was eclipsed by the din of European accents. Bloc Party, as part of its official American debut, performed five times over four days, and each time, the crowd’s reaction was ecstatic. More impressive was the fact that the band had not yet released its album in the United States yet.

American Kids Tong has a philosophical view on the whole process. When I congratulate him on

the band’s great showing at SXSW and the U.S. tour that followed, he demurs, “I really think we were a bit too stiff at SXSW, personally, but we feel like we’ve done it now. So it’s cool.” After the series of Austin concerts, the band did a three-week tour of the U.S. and Canada—exhausting, but serving as an initiation for the band. “I’m not going to lie to you,” Tong confided. “It was pretty hard going the first time. We were so exhausted when we started out and we didn’t really know what to expect.” The band is used to large and growing crowds in the their native United Kingdom. Still, many European bands with dependable followings come to the States and have to start the process of fan-building all over again. Bloc Party, though, was genuinely impressed by the audience reaction here in March. “We were playing much bigger venues and to more people than we really ever thought we would on our first tour of the States, and more than most bands could ever really hope for, I suppose. I think a lot of people who came to see us hadn’t really heard anything before, so to that extent, maybe people weren’t quite as rapturous as they are in Europe.”

She’s Hearing Voices Bloc Party’s storming of the American shores has been helped along by generous acknowledgement from the U.S. press. By far their largest show as SXSW was an appearance at the Spin party at Stubb’s. For such a young band, this is the time when you starting hearing the voices that say, “Party, you’ve made continued on next page

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BLOC PARTY: Kele Okereke, Russell Lissack, Matt Tong, and Gordon Moakes

PLAYBACK STL

On the Cover: Bloc Party it, people love you”—but not according to Tong. “Basically, we are so busy at the moment, that even if we wanted to indulge in [the hype], it is just not right. It’s just not possible right now. We’ve got far too many other things to construct. Just the business of keeping our heads screwed on tight and focused on future tasks keep us busy.” “Heads screwed on” is an apt phrase, considering the amount of time the band had between recording initial tracks in their rehearsal space to releasing a major label debut—just a little under two years. As I wondered what pressures had confronted them when signing on to a major (though Tong corrected me that Vice was thoroughly an indie…yeah, maybe, though one with a very imposing distribution partner in Atlantic Records), Tong came right to the point: “We made it pretty clear that we were going to make the music that we wanted to make…There’s never been a situation with someone from the record company coming in and overseeing. There’s absolutely no way that we could work under those circumstances. That’s never going to happen.” And it probably won’t now, especially since this album is doing really 20

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well. Currently, Silent Alarm still resides in the Billboard Top 20 after reaching as high as 7. Tong also revealed the band is nearly halfway through writing a new record. “We are hoping to have the new single from the next album out by the end of the year. We hope to start recording on the new album when we have some free time.”

Positive Tension I mentioned to Tong that he was my second drummer interview this year. “Who was the first gentleman?” Tong inquired. I told him about our January interview with Sam Fogarino of Interpol (with whom Bloc Party had toured in Europe); ironically, both Tong and Fogarino were the last to join their bands, and both had been credited with helping to shape their band’s sounds in positive ways. Once again, Tong was gracious. “I don’t know; in my case, at least, you’re still limited, really, in regard to the melodic content of the song, and that doesn’t really add anything when it comes to that recording. I was simply the first person that Kele met that he could actually relate to on a really basic level. Most of the other drummers came through adverts. They had a kind of uninspired quality. I did what I’ve always done as a drummer; it kind of worked in this band, and I learned a lot from playing with them. My style altered, as well, playing in this band. “It’s very hard to pinpoint what makes this band this band. I would certainly say a lot of elements were clearly in place before I joined them. I was very lucky really.”

This Modern Love There was a moment in the interview in which I mentioned to Tong that the band seems very comfortable with each other, almost like close friends. He started to respond with an explanation about how those friendships are tested, especially when they are all tired. Suddenly, a loud voice rose up behind him and said, “True. I hate you all!” The drummer seemed a bit taken aback. “Did you hear that?” he asked. “That’s Kele, the singer. Kele, in fact, hates all of us and attempts at an imminent solo career are under way.” Tong turns back to the subject and adds seriously, “I’d like to think that, when this ends, we will all be able to look each other in the eye. I feel so sad, you know, whenever you see some crummy music documentary on TV of a once-great band and they have nothing good to say about each other…It breaks my heart.” Though Okereke was joking, there was certainly a genuine intent from Tong to let fans know that the catapult which has rocketed them into a high orbit in the music world was not, like Icarus or Norma Desmond, going to send them crashing back to the ground any time soon. As Tong said in parting, “We’ve had a few people concerned about us…We haven’t actually gone nuts yet, at least. The more we do this, the more we see these rock clichés really do come in to play. That’s half the challenge: the fight against that. We are doing our best. It has just been a massive adjustment for us. We are far busier than we ever expected. I think once we kind of accept that and let go of a few things, at least for the time being, it will become easier. Essentially, we are just trying to be friends as much as possible.”


JUNE 2005

CANNES | 05 JOURNAL:

NOW PLAYING

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

FLOWERS + RACCOONS = HEAVEN By Pete Timmermann, Film Editor While many of the critics I’ve been talking to here at the Cannes Film Festival claim that this is the best lineup of films the festival has had in years—known festival quantities in competition include art-house favorites Lars Von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Wim Wenders, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Atom Egoyan, Michael Haneke, David Cronenberg, the Dardenne brothers, and Jim Jarmusch, and that doesn’t include the only slightly lesser-knowns, or any of the directors in the festival’s many sidebars—it has been my experience that this is only in theory, and not in practice. As compared with last year (my first at Cannes), the lineup is very disappointing, with only two films being of high quality, and a smattering of others being almost great but ultimately flawed (plus some good ones that I had already seen before). Despite my general disappointment, I will focus only on the ones that I liked here. The two films that did not disappoint me in any way were the new Jim Jarmusch film, Broken Flowers, which stars Bill Murray and is set to open in St. Louis in August, and Carlos Reygadas’ Battle in Heaven, which was picked up by Tartan for distribution in the States, but God knows when you’ll actually get to see it. Of the two, Battle in Heaven has a very slight edge as my favorite film in the festival. The majority of critics here hated Reygadas’ (Japón) film, on account of the fact that it is borderline nonsensical and has potentially offensive imagery. And while I am not surprised by this reaction, it is certainly the most cinematic thing I’ve seen here, and, by extension, the most entertaining. Reygadas has an incredible eye for shot composition, location, unknown actors, and classical music, so no matter if the film follows its plot or not, it is completely riveting. When it is following the plot, it involves a man named Marcos who kidnaps a baby for the purposes of ransoming it back to its parents, only to have it die, and then be racked with guilt. Plus, he is not-so-secretly obsessed with his boss’s pretty daughter, Ana. Marcos Hernández, who plays Marcos, has a great, completely expressionless face, and his performance (specifically, his touching relationship with Ana) carries the film. Besides, I’m a sucker for things that offend people. Much more accessible than Heaven is

Broken Flowers, which many have called Jarmusch’s most commercial work to date. While this may be true, it might be misleading to his longtime fans, because he does not in any way compromise his singular style as a means to reach a larger crowd. Bill Murray plays Don Johnston, a cad who finds out he may have impregnated a woman 20 years ago, and goes on a search to find out if this is true. Murray again does a version of the kind of work he’s made a comeback with since Rushmore, but it still works, successfully con-

tinuing his hot streak for seven years running, while Jarmusch has made his best film since 1986’s Down by Law. Also good, but not quite as good, are these: the new Cronenberg, A History of Violence, starring Viggo Mortensen as a small-town diner owner who gets roped into defending his family after he kills two men trying to rob his establishment; Haneke’s Hidden, which concerns a man (Daniel Auteuil) who keeps finding Lost Highway–style tapes of his house on his doorstep and tries to find out who is doing it; the Dardenne brothers’ The Child, which is a typically Dardennian story of two teenagers who have a kid of their own—that is, until the father decides to sell it on the black market behind his mother’s back; and the HsiaoHsien, Three Times, which tells three similar stories of love, but sets them in different historical situations (1911, 1966, and 2005, to be exact). Also, Sin City is in competition, but you already know how good that is.

There were also highlights outside of the festival’s main competition, including the new Woody Allen film Match Point, which everyone but the British (interesting, since it is set in London) seem to agree is Allen’s best film in 20 years. Oddly enough, it has yet to find a distributor in the States, despite Wood’s name (and Scarlett Johansson’s) being on the film. Regardless, you’ll see it soon, I’m sure, and I’m also betting right now that Johansson gets an Oscar nod for her performance. Additionally, my favorite film from Sundance, Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, played here in the International Critic’s Week sidebar, and if I had seen it for the first time here, I’d be saying right now that it is my favorite film of the festival (it opens in America in June). Seijun Suzuki, the director of such classic ’60s-era Japanese B-movies as Branded to Kill and Youth of the Beast, has a new film starring Zhang Ziyi called Princess Raccoon, and it might just be his best work to date (and yes, I realize that that is a bold statement). And finally, in the Un Certain Regard program, I saw a Hungarian opera called Johanna; it concerns a nurse who has sex with her patients and thereby miraculously heals them, and is loosely based on The Passion of Joan of Arc. As of right now, I’ve seen 37 films in 10 days, which is far less than I would have liked to have seen, and maybe about 3 percent of the total number of films playing here. Point being, although I was largely disappointed with the majority of the films this year, I could just have been seeing the wrong ones. In this regard, no festival will ever be able to top the experience of Cannes, because despite popular opinion, quantity can sometimes be better than quality. | Read Pete’s complete Cannes coverage on www.playbackstl.com, featuring daily journals and a wrapup on the final days of the festival.

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PLAYBACK STL

NOW PLAYING CINEMA

CINDERELLA MAN (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

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Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) stood among heavyweight boxing’s rising fighters of the late ’20s, but similar to countless talented Americans, his star fell drastically with the onset of the Great Depression. Five years removed from earning thousands of dollars per bout, he found himself fighting to earn enough money for such bare essentials as milk and electricity. Stripped of his boxing license and nursing a broken hand, Braddock struggles to obtain low wages performing manual labor on the docks. This story would go nowhere without a final chance for the hero, and our underdog does receive a last-minute opportunity to fight a highly ranked heavyweight contender. Can Braddock overcome tremendous odds and reach the top again? His chances are very slim, which of course provides the essential setting for the type of rags-to-riches tale that Hollywood craves. Cinderella Man offers a compelling depiction of America in the early ’30s, when Braddock’s remarkable success inspired working-class boxing fans to believe again. Directed effectively by Ron Howard, this conventional Hollywood drama avoids nearly all of the pratfalls that could doom a promising story. Braddock’s home life with his wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) remains believable and only veers slightly into overly sentimental territory. Once again, Crowe proves his capability to transform into almost any character type and make it convincing. Even more impressive is the energetic work from Paul Giamatti as manager Joe Gould, who enlivens the story whenever he appears. Giamatti takes a possibly one-note character and skillfully weaves complexities into his personality. This film’s definitive highlights are the extensive fight scenes, which place us directly into the action and showcase the skills of each boxer. The ultimate showdown with the larger-than-life heavyweight champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko) sidesteps the obvious

comparisons to Rocky, which leads to a unique experience. The countless flashbulbs and upclose footage reveal the brutal nature of boxing without resorting to unnecessary blood and gore. This bout also benefits considerably from a clever performance by a nearly unrecognizable Bierko (The Thirteenth Floor) as the villainous Baer, who has killed several fighters in the ring. His past dominance even causes the generally uncaring promoter (Bruce McGill) to ask Braddock for a legal waiver prior to the bout. Throughout this lengthy 144-minute script, writers Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman weave intriguing details that lend authenticity to this gripping tale. Cinderella Man’s sentimental outlook may alienate some viewers, but it succeeds grandly in the realm of the classic Hollywood drama. | Dan Heaton LAYER CAKE (Sony Pictures Classics, R) Layer Cake is the kind of film that will keep you guessing right up to the very end. That is, oddly enough, both the major strength and major flaw of the movie. It begins with a series of short scenes that set the backstory of a careful yet clever London drug dealer whose name and background are mysteries to all. Played by Daniel Craig (the English actor probably best known to American audiences as Connor Rooney, Paul Newman’s murderous son in Road to Perdition), XXXX, as he is called in the credits, is set to retire from his criminal life only to be dragged into two final deals. The first is unloading a large shipment of ecstasy stumbled onto by a gang of moronic thugs. The other is to find the missing daughter of crime boss Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon). Of course, nothing goes well, and by the end of the film, there is a staggering body

count and even more staggering number of double crosses and plot twists. And therein lies the problem, because while the plot twists keep one guessing as to what comes next and who is working with and/or against whom, they also makes it nearly impossible to follow just what the hell is going on from beginning to end. Coupled with some very thick accents that are, at times, unintelligible, the end result is a very confusing hour and 40 minutes. Not that the film is all bad. Not at all. There are some very good performances. Craig is outstanding as the man who has kept himself out of trouble by adhering to strict guidelines in terms of avoiding the drugs and violence associated with his line of work, only to be cornered into violating nearly every one of those principles. And Meaney captures the focus of every scene he’s in as the mostly understated associate of XXXX’s who shows only flashes of the horrible violence of which he is capable. Still, these and a couple of other top-notch performances are not enough to save the film. First time director Matthew Vaughn has worked since 1997 producing Guy Ritchie’s films, most notably Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. That influence is apparent in the pacing, cinematography, collection of quirky criminals, and, most obviously, the violence. But what Layer Cake is missing that the other two films possess is the sense of humor. Perverse and twisted as it may be, it is the sense of sick fun that makes Ritchie’s films stand above Layer Cake. But even if that humor had been present, the truth of Layer Cake is that it all feels very much like it has been done before. And done better. | Dave McCahan


JUNE 2005

Jewish Film Festival | By Byron Kerman The annual Jewish Film Festival of St. Louis offers a week of films about mahjongg, mixed marriages, Hollywood vs. the Holocaust, and Yiddish rock bands. Of particular interest: Sentenced to Marriage, a documentary on the trials of Israeli women seeking divorce in that male-dominated theocracy; Paperclips, a doc on kids in rural Tennessee gathering six million paper clips to symbolize the Holocaust dead; and Dummy, a quirky film starring The Pianist’s Adrien Brody as a misfit ventriloquist (is there any other kind?). This year’s guest of honor is Elliot Gould, who was ubiquitous in the ’70s, when he was typecast as a wiseacre in such films as MASH and Robert Altman’s art-house take on Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye. He experimented with swinging in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and took up arms in Jules Feiffer’s ultraviolent black comedy, Little Murders. His fuzzy ’70s moustache and sideburns were memorialized by the fine Jewish lads of the Beastie Boys in their “Sabotage” video, too. These days, Gould is more readily recognized for his role as high roller Reuben Tishkoff in the Ocean’s Eleven remake and its sequel, and for his part as father to Monica and Ross on Friends. But chances are that the Jewish Film Fest audience is most curious about one of Gould’s smallest roles: his eight-year marriage to “Yentl,” aka Barbra Streisand. | The annual Jewish Film Festival of St. Louis takes place June 26 to 30 at Plaza Frontenac Cinema. Call 314-442-3299 or visit www.jccstl.com for more info.

ELLIOT GOULD IN OCEAN’S TWELVE. PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROTHERS FILMS.

One Woman’s Journey of Faith A documentary getting a special St. Louis screening explores an area that will be controversy-free in, oh, 500 years or so: the meeting place of sex and religion. In Good Conscience: Sr. Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith profiles the cofounder of a ministry for gays and lesbians whose work came under Vatican censure. Note to the Vatican: Most of the rest of us know that it’s a bad idea—and guaranteed bad PR—to pick a fight with a nun. In Good Conscience will be screened at Nerinx Hall (530 E. Lockwood in Webster Groves) on Sunday, June 5, at 3:30 p.m., with a reception and Q&A with Sr. Gramick following. The documentary—and the nun—are being brought to town by The Catholic Action Network for Social Justice. Read Angela Pancella’s interview with Sr. Gramick online at www.playbackstl.com. 23

PLAYBACKSTL WANTS TO SEND YOU TO ROCK SCHOOL! Pick up your free pass for the June 9 advance screening at these locations: FIFI’S ON GRAND 3190 S. Grand, 314.773.2234

SUBTERRANEAN BOOKS 6275 Delmar, 314.862.6100 Rated R for language. Passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. While supplies last. No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) admit two (2) pass per person. Passes are limited. Employees of participating sponsors are ineligible.


PLAYBACK STL

CURMUDGEON BY ROB LEVY

The world is being turned asunder…seriously. There’s much more to it than loads of bad summer tours, crappy new releases,

THE SHINS

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and global warming. What’s distressing is that more people care about crappy stuff like Britney’s reality TV show and the Michael Jackson trial than the environment, health care, poverty, or the war on illiteracy. At first, I feared I was just being silly, but then when I heard that that Val Kilmer is planning to make a record I knew that Western Civilization as we know it is over. When Audioslave played in Cuba last month, they had honor of being the first American band to perform there since Castro came to power. Peaches and Basement Jaxx have remixed and reinvented Daft Punk’s latest single, Technologic. It is a true tragedy of celebrity when an artist has to tour to celebrate the anniversary of their only good record. I am talking about Alanis Morisette, who is currently mounting an acoustic tour to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Jagged Little Pill. That’s just wrong. Director Tim Irwin is shopping his documentary about The Minutemen, We Jam Econo, to film festivals across the country. Irwin’s film chronicles the band from 1980 to 1985 and features interviews with members of Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Andre 3000 will produce, write, and take to the stage in a to-be-titled musical collaboration with Avenue Q’s Jeff Whitty. The life of Dusty Springfield will soon be immortalized on film, with Wicked star Kristin Chenowith in the title role. Death Cab for Cutie has signed with

Atlantic Records. The band is also the subject of a documentary film, Drive Well, Sleep Carefully: On the Road With Death Cab for Cutie, premiering at the Seattle International Film Festival this month. Also going under the lens is Wilco, who are re-teaming with director Sam Jones for a live concert DVD. Wilco will begin recording their next album this August. Why in the hell would anyone sleep with Paula Abdul? Live Aid II seems to be a go. The July 2 concert is taking place in Hyde Park with U2, Madonna, Coldplay, and Oasis headlining. August sees the return of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who will follow the release of their third album, Howl, with a U.S. tour. Once-departed drummer Nick Jago recently returned to the band. Kraftwerk are marking 35 years as a musical entity with a new live double-CD entitled Minimum-Maximum. Each year, I am amazed at the poor level of live acts scheduled at Six Flags. I guess I should take solace in knowing the wackos who like this crap are off the streets one more day. Goldfrapp’s new album, Ohh La-La, is coming out this August. Shouts out to organist Stan Kann, who is celebrating 55 years in town at the Fox Theatre. If you’ve never seen him, you’ve missed something grand indeed. Simply put, no one does what Stan does anymore. This wizard of the Wurlitzer practices a lost art that, sadly, has been relegated to the scrapheap of popular culture and forgotten for its charm and elegance. The Shins have covered the The Postal Service’s “We Will Become Silhouettes” for The Believer’s latest CD compilation Graham Coxon is hard at work in London finishing his next album, with Stephen Street again behind the knobs. GOLDFRAPP

THE FUTUREHEADS’ ROSS MILLARD | photo by JIM DUNN

Smog has put the finishing touches on their eleventh album, A River Ain’t Too Much to Love. Ferocious Mopes is the title of the second album from the grossly overlooked Say Hi to Your Mom. Anyone who loves the offkilter lyricism of The Postal Service or The Flaming Lips will dig this. Speaking of the Lips, the band has recently recorded a cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” for an upcoming Queen tribute album. Interpol, Jem, and The Arcade Fire have all contributed new material for the second soundtrack to Six Feet Under. Trent Reznor is suing his former manager for $400,000 in back royalties. A reformed Devo will be touring this summer. Kylie Minogue has been diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer and has begun treatment. As a result, she has postponed some Asian dates on her world tour. Super Furry Animals have finished recording their seventh album, Love Kraft. The album is due out here in early fall. Bebel Gilberto is releasing a remix CD, Bebel Gilberto Remixed. The disc includes reworkings of her material by Thievery Corporation, Steve Hiller, Telefon Tel Aviv, and Tom Middleton. The Futureheads are mounting a short U.S. tour before returning the U.K. to play some festivals and work on their next record. Finally, it is good to see Gang of Four getting their due. Their American tour has been selling out like mad and the band has inked a deal with V2 Records to release a new album. No word yet on what it will be called, but it is believed to combine both remixes and new recordings of older material.


www.scifiorpolysci.com

JUNE 2005

Elliot Goes

by Bosco (with illustration help from Carlos Ruiz)

St. Louis never saw such bedecked ferrets as when Twangfest 9 hit town...

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PLAYBACK STL

LOCAL SCENERY

EDITED BY J. CHURCH

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Modern Day Zero joined Velvet Revolver on the second leg of the Electric Wonderland Tour. PlaybackSTL got the exclusive from lead singer Rock Davis: “Through various connections, a high-level Velvet Revolver crew member ended up with a copy of [MDZ album] Coming Up for Air and flew in from L.A. to see our Mississippi Nights show in April. He liked what he saw and heard and approached VR about us opening. The most humbling fact is that every band member had to listen to and approve of MDZ for us to get on this tour, which means that Slash, Duff, Scott, [and] everyone actually listened to [the album] and liked us enough to give us a shot.” www.moderndayzero.com On the first weekend in May, 12 bands participated in the PlaybackSTLsponsored Midwest Music Summit Showcase at Gearbox at Lil’ Nikki’s and left quite an impression on MMS Executive Director, Josh Baker. The two-night event included Bagheera, Brain Regiment, Camp Climax for Girls, The Domani International, Jon Hardy & the Public, Lord Baltimore, Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s (Indianapolis, In.), Miranda Sound (Columbus, Oh), Missile Silo Suite, SevenStar, Tiara (Columbus, Oh.), and Wydown. To see the final tally on who will be representing STL, go to www.midwestmusicsummit.com A.D. Thurston, guitarist/songwriter for Missile Silo Suite, and Aymee Jones, vocalist for Ruby Armada, are engaged. The gift registry will be at Guitar Center and Vintage Vinyl (wink, wink). Wydown has just released the EP Message From the Yes Man, produced by J. Christopher Hughes. The release party, a PlaybackSTL-

WEDNESDAYS IN JUNE AND JULY CONCERTS START AT 7 P.M. FREE ADMISSION AFTER 5 P.M.

The best of local jazz, blues, bluegrass, pop, and rock-n-roll. Pack a picnic and your lawn chairs. Please, no pets or cooking. REGULARS, PLEASE NOTE: This year’s concerts take place on the Linnean House Lawn.

4344 Shaw Blvd • St. Louis, MO 63110 • (314) 577-9400 • www.mobot.org

sponsored event, will feature Gooding, Red Eyed Driver, and The Pala Solution July 13 at Off Broadway. In somewhat related news, Ally Nisbet, guitarist/vocalist of The Pala Solution, has ventured into another realm. He recently opened a new restaurant, The Scottish Arms, in the Central West End. Movie Star Kiss has announced its CD release party on August 13 at Cicero’s. Signal Hill Transmission and The Lab will be supporting acts for the all-ages event. Recently, MSK was the featured artist on XM Radio Unsigned. www.moviestarkiss.com The Dean Evans Band is searching for a bass player and drummer. Candidates must be available to tour and pursue music full time. www.deanevansband.com This year’s Bread and Roses event will take place on the weekend of August 26 and 27, at the Regional Arts Commission. Submit visual art, spoken word/poetry, or music online. www.stl-jwj.org/breadroses In the realm of the recently released: All four Nadine CDs are now available though iTunes; NoLuvEntertainment has released 90 Days of Hell, a 33-song double disc, available at Vintage Vinyl, Slackers, and www.noluvent.com; 3JC’s Down is available at Slackers or www.threejc.com. ArtDimensions has officially opened ArtD Complex, located on the third floor of the St Louis Centre. The ArtD Complex features multiple exhibit spaces, a classroom, artist studios, an artist resource center, and a live performance area. On June 3 from 7 to 10 p.m., Wayne St. Wayne’s first-ever (and free) art exhibit takes place at Dressel’s Pub. He will be joined by artists Craig Downs, Steve Truesdale, and Cindy Royal, with a performance by The Celestial Theatre to round out the evening. Prior to the Fifth St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase (July 17–21), Cinema St. Louis (www.cinemastlouis.org) is hosting a trivia night June 17 at The Heights. www.cinemastlouis.org St. Louis area natives make big: Ludo was the featured artist on ManiaTV!, an Internet TV network reaching one million viewers. Bowling for Soup’s next radio single, “Ohio,” was cowritten by Ted Bruner. Berry and Caleb Engstrom will be playing the Cornerstone Music Festival (www.cornerstonefestival.com). Go to www.livejournal.com/users/rocketparkboy and you can re-live the Brian Andrew Marek/Bottle Rockets meltdown as it happened. After being hired as the new bassist and playing just two shows with the band, Marek was unceremoniously replaced. And he’s pissed. The 48 Hour Film Project will return to Mound City June 10, Greg Gibson of KDHX TV 21+22 reminded us. If you dig blitzkrieg filmmaking—writing, shooting, and editing a seven-minute movie in one crazed weekend—visit www.48hourfilm.com for details. On June 18, Cape Girardeau’s Rock Solid performs here for the first time when the band hits the Red Sea. “If you like it fast, hard, and relentless, you need to represent,” none other than Steve Carosello of The Love Experts assures your friendly neighborhood Local Scenesters. Speaking of The Love Experts—and God knows, everyone should be—the quintet has scheduled the release party for their new Undertow Music EP, Cuba Street: June 11, also at the Red Sea. Opening for them that evening will be Waterloo, so planning what to do that Saturday night should qualify as a no-brainer for fans of local music. | Additional reporting by Bryan A. Hollerbach and Brian McClelland.


JUNE 2005

STROLLING DOWN CUBA ST. WITH THE LOVE EXPERTS

TAKE FIVE

THE LOVE EXPERTS

By Kevin Renick “The Love Experts” is such a great name for a band that it’s hard to believe no one’s used it before. But the moniker’s firmly affixed to the St. Louis quintet of Steve Carosello (the band’s lead singer and songwriter), Dominic Finocchio (guitar), Dave Collett (guitar), Steve Scariano (bass), and Bob Trammel (drums). Befitting such a fortuitous appellation, Carosello and his bandmates not only clearly love their rock, but play it with expertise, indeed—all of them having been involved in music profession-

| photo TOBY WEISS

ally for many years. Cuba Street is their debut recording for Undertow, and the six-song EP is about as lean and no-nonsense a set of tunes as any fan could want. The Love Experts seldom perform live; Carosello explained, “I’d much rather someone mark their calendar in anticipation of our show than feel they could miss one, ’cause we’ll be playing again in a couple of weeks.” Long-time fans of the band will view this release as a godsend. Perhaps a lyric from the catchy “Your Shining Hour” could sum up the sentiment: “It’s your shining hour/The one that you’ve been waiting for.” We solicited a few thoughts from the genial Carosello. Cuba Street is amazingly tight and free of self-indulgence. Is this economy of purpose an overall aesthetic, or was it just to do with this particular EP? In choosing the songs, the intention was to provide a good cross-section of different styles and moods for the first-time listener. These were chosen from our set list to have a certain flow from beginning to end. You guys have all lived and breathed music for many years from a variety of angles. How do you think knowing your

rock so well affects the creative choices you make when recording? Bryan Ferry has a lyric, “All styles served here,” which remains, for me, an admirable goal. When you have this kind of encyclopedic background as a resource, it hopefully gives you the kind of license to allow an endless degree of stylistic choices. Many bands struggle to achieve a good balance in their sound. On Cuba Street, you do have that balance; every performer contributes equally and a lot of attention was obviously paid to the sound. I’ve always felt the first challenge in a creative leadership situation is to identify and apply the strengths provided by all participants. Everything needs to service the song itself, but taking any particular chord sequence and set of lyrics, the possibilities should be fairly infinite. Attempts are always being made to fine-tune things in ways that make the most of the particular strengths being brought to the table by those people. Who are the musicians that are influences or heroes to you? There’ve been so many that the best list THE POSSESSED will inadvertently omit several personal giants. People whose exceptional talent combined with real vision without borders, like Bryan Ferry, John Cale, Paul Simon, and Australia’s Phil Judd would be good examples, though you wouldn’t necessarily hear strong veins of specific influence in Love Experts’ music. You wrote the songs and you’re the vocalist; you also produced Cuba Street. Was it difficult for you to wear the producer’s hat when you had so much creative energy already invested? Every song is fairly well-formed in my imagination from the earliest stage. That’s not to say space isn’t provided for allowing the “happy accident” and other modifications springing from everyone else’s creative input. The shaping process is a particular favorite of mine, so I feel the producer’s hat never really comes off, except perhaps in live performance. In the studio it comes down more to editing and quality control to ensure that the goal of each song’s purpose and impact is met. | Catch The Love Experts’ CD release performance at the Red Sea on June 11.


PLAYBACK STL

PAGE BY PAGE

BOOKS

FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES

28

FRIEDA ARKIN: HEDWIG AND BERTI (Thomas Dunne Books; 258 pgs; $23.95) Family, war, loss, and loneliness shape this slim but substantial story in Frieda Arkin’s first novel in 36 years. Told with humor and peopled by characters that may seem more real than our own aunts and uncles, Hedwig and Berti is a tale about the consequences of history and the devastation historical events can wreak upon lives, long after the events themselves have faded into dim memories. The story begins in 1939 with the arrival of Hedwig and Berti Kessler, married first cousins of a once prominent German-Jewish family, on the London doorstep of their cousin Harry. Everywhere people are talking of the horrible plight of the Jews in Germany and Eastern Europe, but Hedwig remains stubbornly and inexplicably mired in a thoroughly teutonic version of an idyllic past. A huge woman likened to a Valkyrie, with plaits of white hair wrapped round her majestic head, Hedwig is resolutely German, more Prussian in her militant stubbornness and pride than any Aryan. In London, she dreams of her life at the family villa in Charlottenburg, where she had lived under the welcome influence of a rigid and proud grandfather. When Hedwig’s brother, who was removed to America under mysterious circumstances as a child, exhorts her to flee Germany, the old Grossvater insists that there is no danger for his family. Nothing is intended for them, not their kind of people. Agitators, loiterers, traitors, Communists, and others who would debauch the Fatherland: maybe. A new Germany is being built, a thing that some find hard to realize. But even a gift of 25,000 Reichsmarks to the Nazis, given out of a sense of solidarity rather than fear, cannot keep Hedwig’s adored grandparents from being swept away by the brownshirts. Set adrift by circumstances she can neither control nor comprehend, she and Berti lead a transient life, drifting from London to New York to Kansas. Berti, her gentle, diminutive husband, is pulled along in her imperious wake, along with two boxes laden with family history and treasures. Even after a dark-haired, temperamental daughter is born, Hedwig remains stuck in her idealization of the past, revering relatives who have long

since disappeared while remaining incapable of appreciating the few living family members with whom she passes her days. This is a troubled tale, but one full of the richness of life. It is the story of living among people, and the frustrations of being unable to live with them. The characters are tormented not so much by the circumstances of their lives as by their own personalities. Again and again, Hedwig, Berti, and daughter Gerda collide against one another, and against those who

pass in and out of their lives, mute with the inability to fulfill needs that have been twisted and engorged by senseless acts of history. Amid the tragedy, however, are smatterings of hope and even happiness, as the characters learn to live the life they are given, rather than the life for which they yearn. | Amy Woods Butler PETER STAMM: UNFORMED LANDSCAPE (Translated by Michael Hofmann; Other Press; 161 pgs; $18) This brief Swiss-authored novel—first published in 2001 and now translated into English—is one of quiet power and understated tension. In a small fishing village on the northeastern coast of Norway, a young woman named Kathrine inspects border-

crossing boats and passively floats through a love life that’s produced two marriages, one young son, and no love. The novel’s atmosphere is a product of the natural world, in which snow and darkness and wind need not be detailed, only named; they stand for themselves. Like the heroine of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s film Blue—which this novel brings to mind—Kathrine departs from her known life, seeking a soloist’s liberty. There is a trip to Paris, a potential lover, a funeral, and the meeting of new people. This includes, of course, herself. “She got dressed, and went to the washroom,” goes one passage of the journey. “She was astonished to see herself in the mirror. When she looked in her eyes, she saw the fear she had almost forgotten she had.” | Stephen Schenkenberg BILL CARTER: FOOLS RUSH IN (Wenner Books; 400 pgs; $14.95) California native Bill Carter had to learn how to live after he had lost what he was living for. He found his best teachers in Sarajevo during the recent war. Fools Rush In explains what brought him there and what he got out of it. It records, in language stark and never overwrought, what life was like in a besieged city—how residents hunted for water while avoiding sniper fire, how musicians filled a bunker with rock ’n’ roll. In this memoir, Carter and his adopted Sarajevo discover together what’s left when everything else is taken away. Readers get the message, not from preaching or abstraction, but from Carter’s gift for relaying stories. He doesn’t say, “My friends could not give up hospitality,” he recounts how they force a can of tuna fish on him from their dwindling supplies. Surprisingly plentiful moments of humor are all the sort of surreal you only find in the midst of war. They are related in an understated style in which laughter and tears are close cousins. The overflowing-toilet incident, for example, shouldn’t be funny, but Carter apparently learned the art of black humor from its world capital. No one can go through a siege unscathed. You will descend with Carter a bit into madness as you befriend his friends, and Sarajevo continued on page 36


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In Shaw Park, Clayton, Missouri. STL JAZZ Lawn Seating Pavilion Seating Listening Lounge

$20.00 $35.00 $75.00

each day each day each day

jazzfest.com, Tickets are available online at www.saintlouis Borders Books & Music and at the Festival. For more information, please visit us online or call 314-863-0278. Presente d and Produced by Cultural Festivals and the Sheldon Concert Hall. Featuring: Los Hombres Calientes The Summer Storm with Peabo Bryson, Brenda Russell, Norman Brown & Everette Harp Dave Douglas Quintet Jane Monheit Roy Hargrove and the RH Factor Also Performing: Jonathan Whiting Trio Carolbeth True Trio The Hot House Sessions


JUNE 2005

DELIRIOUS NOMAD COMPILED BY BYRON KERMAN

AUDREY II & FRIENDS AWAIT YOUR FINGERTIPS AT THE MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN’S CARNIVOROUS PLANT SHOW & SALE JUNE 4

Fridays this summer: Chuck-a-Burger Car Cruise (314-428-5009, www.chuck-aburger.com) Third Sunday: Adam Rugo African Drumming Workshop at the Ethical Society (314-494-2506, www.ethicalstl.org) June 1: Sandcastle Beach opens at the Magic House (www.magichouse.org) June 1: Strange Brew: Cult Films at Schlafly Bottleworks features The Road Warrior, sponsored by Webster Films (314-968-7487, www.webster.edu/ filmseries.html) June 3: Martini Madness benefit at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (314-535-4660, www.contemporarystl.org) June 3: Bug CD release party at Gearbox at Lil’ Nikki’s (bug@tokyo.com) June 3: The Nomi Song, biopic on experimental opera-rocker Klaus Nomi, and League of Ordinary Gentlemen, doc on rebranding professional bowling, open at Tivoli Theatre (www.landmarktheatres.com) June 3-5: DieCon gaming convention at Gateway Center in Collinsville (www.diecon.com) June 3-July 1: Ambivalent Domain photography by Steve Brown & Jay Fram and sculpture by Andy Van Der Tuin at Mad Art (314-771-8230, www.madart.com) June 4: Trailnet sponsors Change Your Mind Day outdoor Buddhist sitting & walking meditation at Old Chain of Rocks Bridge; bring a seat cushion (www.trailnet.org) June 4-5: Art & Air outdoor art fair with live music, art demos, & food sales at Lockwood & Big Bend (www.artandair.com) June 4-5: Lafayette Square House Tour (314-772-5724) June 4-Sept. 5: Circus Sideshow interactive exhibit at St. Louis Science Center (314-289-4444, www.slsc.org) June 5: Make Tracks for the Zoo 5K Run/Walk & 1-Mi. Fun Run in Forest Park (314-781-0900, www.stlzoo.org) June 5: New Belgium Brewing Tour de Fat Bicycle Ride & Festival at Forest Park World’s Fair Pavilion (www.trailnet.org) June 5: Collectors Choice IV art raffle at St. Louis Artists’ Guild (314-

727-6266, www.stlouisartistsguild.org) June 5: Taste of Clayton with Taste Jr. for kids, chefs’ demos, & fireworks in Shaw Park (314-290-8474) June 5: Paperback Book Sale at Jewish Community Center (314-4325700, www.jccstl.org) June 5-24: Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Gretry’s Beauty & the Beast (314-961-0644, www.opera-stl.org) June 6: Final season of Six Feet Under begins on HBO (www.hbo.com) June 7: River City Rascals season begins in O’Fallon, Mo. (636-240-BATS, www.rivercityrascals.com) June 9: Moving Arts Dance featuring music by former Jefferson Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico at UMSL’s Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center (314.516.4949, www.touhill.org) June 9-26: Circus Flora presents Tzigan in Grand Center, adjacent to Powell Hall (314-534-1111, www.circusflora.org) June 10: Willie Nelson tribute Almost Willie at Stratford Bar in Fenton (636343-5757, www.stratfordbar.com) June 10-11: Bud Light Rockin’ on the Landing at Laclede’s Landing with free outdoor music on several stages (www.lacledeslanding.org) June 11-12: Central West End Art Fair & Taste (314-361-2850, www.thecwe.com) June 12: St. Louis Jaycees Soapbox Derby on The Hill (314-421-0006, www.stljaycees.org) June 12-Jan. ’06: The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden opens at Mo. History Museum (314-746-4599, www.mohistory.org) June 12: Stan Kann Celebration at Fox Theatre featuring screening of documentary on Kann and 1920 silent The Mark of Zorro with Kann organ performance (314-534-1111, www.metrotix.com) June 14: “Fear Factor: Stinky Cheeses” class at Whole Foods (314-968-7744) June 17: Steve Davis “Memories of Elvis” show at Chuck-a-Burger (www.memoriesofelvis.com) June 18: DiMBy Soulard Artistic

More listings online at www.playbackstl.com/Events

Adventure with acrobats, caricaturists, mimes, musicians, painters, sculptors, and jewelry makers in Soulard Market Promenade area (314-614-2225) June 18: Barri Bumgarner discusses and signs end-of-the-world sci-fi book 8 Days at Borders Sunset Hills (314-909-0300) June 18: Fathers & Children for the Arts in the Park Father’s Day event in Forest Park at various locations (314-535-0017) June 19: Juneteenth Celebration with live music & dance at Mo. History Museum (314-746-4599, www.mohistory.org) June 19: The Shaggy Dog screened outdoors at Suson Park; bring lawn chairs (314-894-3089, www.stlouisco.com/parks) June 19: Adopt-a-Stray at Queeny Park (www.adoptastraystl.com) June 20: River Styx Hungry Young Poets reading series (314-533-4541) June 20: Hummingbird Gardening talk at Eckert’s – Belleville (www.eckerts.com) June 21: St. Louis Jewish Book Festival presents breakfast with “Miss Manners” (Judith Martin) at Neiman Marcus at Plaza Frontenac (314-442-3175) June 22: Nekromantix at Creepy Crawl (www.nekromantix.com) June 23-25: Soulard Putt Putt Pub Crawl (www.puttputtpubcrawl.com) June 24-25: Gateway Men’s Chorus concert at Edison Theatre (314534-1111, www.metrotix.com) June 24-Aug. 30: Christina Shmigel Chinese Garden for the Delights of Roaming Afar exhibit at Laumeier Sculpture Park (314-821-1209, www.laumeier.org) June 25: Humane Society of Missouri Garage Sale at 2400 Drilling Service Rd. (www.hsmo.org) June 25-26: PrideFest & Parade in Tower Grove Park featuring Jen Foster, Dea Delaria, & Ari Gold (314-772-8888, www.pridestl.org) June 25-26: Fiesta in Florissant (314837-6100, hispanicfestivalstl.com) June 26: REI sponsors Old Chain of Rocks Bridge 76th Birthday Bash & Bicycle Ride with cake & ice cream on bridge (314-918-1004, www.trailnet.org)

Until you’ve put wheels on a horseradish root and watched it roll down an inclined track, they say you haven’t really lived. Remedy that at the “Root Derby” at the annual International Horseradish Festival in Collinsville. Most of the world’s horseradish is grown in the mysterious Metro East, where it is fed to area strippers and racehorses to make them strong for the journey ahead. The festival celebrates the potent root with Bloody Mary and cooking contests, live music, crafts, and, naturally, plenty of spicy food for sale. (www.horseradishfestival.com) I am forced to type this plug for the annual Carnivorous Plant Show & Sale at the Missouri Botanical Garden with my left hand, because a large, hungry specimen known as “Audrey II” chewed off my right. She ate the whole thing, green thumb and all—but she sure is cute. Check out the snapping flytraps and acid-filled bladderworts that Mother Nature made in her cruelest hour, on June 4. (314-577-9400, www.mobot.org) PEZ collectors are the perfect examples of obsessives. Do they sit around all day eating 31 PEZ? To paraphrase Jerry O’Connell in Stand by Me, “Definitely not; definitely not cherry-flavor PEZ.” Do they snap back the little heads on their PEZ dispensers again and again, trying to annoy cats and the elderly? Nope, that would devalue them. There’s absolutely nothing practical about hoarding hundreds of the colorful plastic gewgaws, and yet the dealers and guests at the National Pez Convention at Marriott West wouldn’t have it any other way. (June 8-11, 314-4160333, www.pezconvention.com) Steve Davis fills out his stretchable white Elvis jumpsuit beautifully, and with his mutton-chop sideburns and Foster Grants, he can turn any day into a Las Vegas spectacle of song, excess, and burnin’ love. The seasoned Elvis impersonator belts out “CC Rider,” “Suspicious Minds,” and dozens of other gems with his backup musicians at the “Memories of Elvis” show at Chuck-a-Burger. (June 17, www.memoriesofelvis.com) David Sedaris’s June 21 appearance is—get this—scheduled to happen at way-too-small-tohandle-this Left Bank Books. How will they cram Sedaris’ hundreds of local fans into the Central West End refuge? Answer: They won’t. Only the first 100 fans to buy books will receive a VIP ticket to the reading. But the bookstore has promised to rig up a PA system so the rest of us can clog the intersection of Euclid and McPherson avenues to hear Sedaris’ wry wit, live (314-367-6731, www.left-bank.com), and anyone who buys a book can wait in what should be a very long line to meet NPR’s first superstar.


PLAYBACK STL BAHA ROCK CLUB

at CREEPY CRAWL June 9, 7 p.m. | all ages TICKETS: $10 | CALL: 314-851-0919 The orange is that one fruit that seems to be made in the sun’s image; The Oranges Band, with its latest and immaculate Lookout! Records album The World and Everything in It, seems to be made with the same solar criteria as a guiding principal. It’s an album good for humidity—late evening drives to Dairy Queen for a cone (with the windows down and fat summer bugs dying messy deaths on the windshield) or the generally lazy life of July. It’s enamored by the majesty of summer—the great white waves and surf and that carefree existence. Lead singer Roman Kuebler wrote most of the lyrics in the dead of winter, freezing his ass off in Baltimore, but all that 32 shows in the tales of salad days and long ago-lived innocence is a romantic warmth that sparkles with the illusion that it can last. “I was connecting to the old looking-forward-to-summer feeling. I used to live down by the ocean when I was younger and I have really fond memories of that. A wistful, pensive thought process comes into that,” Kuebler said. “Summer’s so idyllic. That’s how art portrays it. It has a long history with summer. The weather’s so warm and everything’s great. Winter’s got something, too, but it doesn’t speak to me like summer does.” There are more than enough times in the album when a current of sticky harmonies (“Ride the Wild Wave” as evidence) flushes right over you that you may just start to forgive Mike Love for fucking things up with The Beach Boys (how can you not hate someone who hated Pet Sounds and fanned our man Brian Wilson’s inferiority complex? We should still be sore, all these years later). Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady—the coolest New York band that people are starting to know—was obsessed with this record the first day he got it. And that could have been for any number of reasons, but it was likely for the way Kuebler made him feel, through the languor in his light voice: a sunburn, a long stretch in a hammock, and the fleeting thought of something good without ever leaving the house. | Sean Moeller

305 N. Main St. | St. Charles, Mo. 63301 636-949-0466 | www.baharockclub.com Mon: Karaoke | Tues: Original bands | Wed: Big Daddy Rob | Thur: Big Daddy Rob 6/3: Jagertyme 6/4: Deep Six 6/10: Electric Sky 6/11: Knucklehead 6/17: RIP 6/18: Project 3 6/24: Self Inflicted 6/25: Uncle Billy & Mandown

2438 McNair Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-773-8225 | www.bluescitydeli.com

BLUE NOTE 17 N. 9th St. | Columbia, Mo. 65201 573-874-1944 | www.thebluenote.com 6/5: Regina Carter Quintet 6/10: Chevelle & Dark New Day 6/11: Shaman’s Harvest & Supernauts 6/16: Theory of a Deadman, Submersed, Breaking Point 6/18: Mindless Self Indulgence 6/22: 9th St. Summerfest w/The Bel Airs, Chump Change 6/23: Otep, Index Case, Days End & Devil Inside

GYM CLASS HEROES

700 S. Broadway | St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-436-5222 | www.bbsjazzbluessoups.com 6/1: Vince Martin & Wailing Wall 9:30p 6/2: Leroy Pierson 7p; Carey Bell Blues Band 10p 6/3: Leroy Pierson 7p; Arthur Williams Blues Masters 10p 6/4: Larry Griffin & Eric McSpadden 7p; Bennie Smith & Urban Blues Express 10p 6/5: Kim Massie Band 7p; Brian Curran 11:30p 6/6: Vince Martin & Wailing Wall 8p; Bootigrabbers Delight 11:30p 6/7: Pennsylvania Slim Blues Band 9:30p 6/8: Scott Miller Band 9:30p 6/9: Scott Miller 7p; Anthony Gomes Blues Band 10p 6/10: Leroy Pierson 7p; Billy Peek Band 10p 6/11: David Krull 7p; Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne & Rich McDonough Band 9p; Alvin Jett & Phat Noiz Blues Band 12:30a 6/12: Kim Massie Band 7p; Brian Curran 11:30p 6/13: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8p; Bottoms Up Blues Gang 11:30p 6/14: Vince Martin & Wailing Wall 9:30p 6/15: Cryin’ Shame Blues Band 9:30p 6/16: Leroy Pierson 7p; Rich McDonough Blues Band 10p 6/17: Leroy Pierson 7p; The Bel Airs 10p 6/18: Tom Hall 7p; Pennsylvania Slim Blues Band 9:30p 6/19: Kim Massie Band 7; Brian Curran 11:30p 6/20: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8p; Bootigrabbers Delight 11:30p 6/21: Alvin Jett & Phat Noiz Blues Band 9:30p 6/22: Cryin’ Shame Blues Band 9:30p 6/23: Leroy Pierson 7p; Joe Moss Blues Band 10p 6/24: Leroy Pierson 7p; Soulard Blues Band 10p 6/25: Tom Hall 7p; Bennie Smith & Urban Blues Express 10p 6/26: Kim Massie Band 7p; Brian Curran 11:30p 6/27: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8p; Bottoms Up Blues Gang 11:30p 6/28: Cryin’ Shame Blues Band 9:30p 6/29: Nick Moss & The Flip Tops 9:30p 6/30: Leroy Pierson 7; Rich McDonough Blues Band 10p

BEALE ON BROADWAY 701 S. Broadway | St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-621-7880 | www.bealeonbroadway.com Mon: Shakey Ground Blues Band | Tues: Kim Massie & The Solid Senders | Wed: Rich McDonough Acoustic Blues | Thur: Kim Massie & The Solid Senders 6/3: Piano Slim and the Family Band 6/4: Ground Floor Band 6/10: Rich McDonough Band 6/11: Rob Garland & The Blue Monks 6/12: The Freightliners 6/17: Johnny Fox 6p 6/18: Ground Floor Band 6/19: Malik White Benefit w/Henry Townsend, Kim Massie & many more 6/24: Rich McDonough Band 6/25: Scott Kay & the Continentals 6/26: The Bird Dogs and Scott Kay & The Continentals

w/STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO, WHOLE WHEAT BREAD, RED LIGHT RUNNERS at CREEPY CRAWL June 13, 7 p.m. | all ages TICKETS: $10 | CALL: 314-851-0919 Crazy Town so soiled the genre of rap rock that it was left for dead, for the buzzards and hounds to pick over and everyone else to have a good laugh about the starry-eyed surprise song that had them going that one summer when they were dumber. It is completely fitting that it takes a band like New York City’s Gym Class Heroes to raise it from the tar pits, clean it off, and set it sparklingly back on the showroom floor. With lyricist Travis McCoy, aka Schleprok, who won MC battles on MTV in his younger days, dishing sharp rhymes that take on a concept album feel on The Papercut Chronicles—a landscape of hurting loves and infatuations—the Heroes are spin doctors making it easy to believe in a form of music that’s never done right. But owing as much to punk rock as the glory days of hip-hop (which can still be heard in contemporary times by true believers The Roots), McCoy and company throw Incubus, Jay-Z, De La Soul, Cody Chesnutt, and, hell, Jimi Hendrix into the fires together. What’s made of it all smacks of honest angst and scary potential. | Sean Moeller

BLUEBERRY HILL 6504 Delmar Blvd. | University City, Mo. 63130 314-727-4444 | www.blueberryhill.com 6/9: Twangfest w/The Supersuckers, Richmond Fontaine & Rough Shop 6/10: Twangfest w/Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Moot Davis & the Cool Deal, Nora O’Connor & Matt Grimm 6/15: Chuck Berry w/Lew Jetton & 61 South 6/23: Jonathan Richman

BROADWAY OYSTER BAR 736 S. Broadway | St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314/621-8811 | www.broadwayoysterbar.com Mon: Soulard Blues Band | Tues: Kyle Everett 5p, Big Bamou 8p | Wed: Brian Curran 5p | Sat: Brian Curran 6p 6/1: Lucky Dave & Naked Mike 5p, Oteil & Peacemakers 9p 6/2: Bootigrabbers Delight 5p, Chad Minier Project 9p 6/3: Johnny Goodwin 5p, Thos 9p 6/4: Call Club 6p, Madahoochi 10p 6/5: Gaelic Storm 8p 6/8: Bootigrabbers Delight 5p, Brian Elder Project 9p 6/9: JJ Jones 5p, Tiny Cows 9p 6/10: Johnny Fox 5p, Dangerous Kitchen 9p 6/11: The Zonkeys 5p, Jakes Leg 10p 6/12: Albert & The Einsteins 4p, Tim Sessions 8p 6/15: Roomful of Blues 9p 6/16: Tom Hall 5p, Watermelon Slim 9p 6/17: Kip Louie 5p, Mike Zito 9p 6/18: Call Club 10p 6/19: Tiny Cows 8p 6/22: Damon Fowler Band 9p 6/23: Johnny Fox 5p, Fundementals 9p 6/24: Call Club 4p, Gumbohead 9p 6/25: Morgantown 10p 6/26: Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps 8p 6/29: Baker-McClaren Band 9p 6/30: Johnny Goodwin 5p, Albert & The Einsteins 9p

CABIN INN the City Museum 16th & Delmar | St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-231-2489 Mon: Traditional Irish Jam w/Tom Hall | Tues: Acoustic Jam w. Dave Landreth & Friends | Wed: The Blackeyed Susies | Thur: The Sawmill Band

CAFÉ LOUIS 1309 Washington Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-621-8667 6/3: The Follow w/Tulsami 6/4: Remedy w/Klug’s Mojo 6/10: Conscious Youth 6/11: Studebakers w/Missunderstood 6/17: Elliot Rosewater w/Gentry Morris 6/18: One Lone Car w/Hook,Line & Sinker, Adams Off Ox 6/24: Circa 6/25: Away w/Vega & Berry

CICERO’S 6691 Delmar Blvd. | University City, Mo. 63130 314- 862-0009 | www.ciceros-stl.com Mon: Madahoochi & Friends | Tues: The Schwag | Wed: Helping Phriendly Band | Fri: Jake’s Leg | Sun: Open Mic 6/2: Liquid Groove Theroy w/Thos 6/3: Dave Kalz & Impala Deluxe, Formula Kid 6/4: Lojic w/The Franchize and The Red Army


JUNE 2005

MEGA HURTS w/THE UNBEARABLES at FREDERICK’S MUSIC LOUNGE June 8, 9 p.m. | 21+ CALL: 314-351-5711

6/5: RFT Muisc Showcase 6/9: Simmons, Ryan Montbleau w/John Boy’s Courage 6/10: Jake’s Leg 6/11: Missile Silo Suite, For All I Care & Reigning Heir 6/12: Pro-Vote Benefit w/The Bonobos, The Adversary Workers & The Vultures 6/16: Mountain of Venus and Alabaster Brown 6/17: Jake’s Leg 6/18: Ninekiller, The Breakers and Nashid 6/19: Poetry Open Mic 6/23: Freshwater Collins w/12 oz. Prophets 6/24: Javier Mendoza Band w/The Rouges & Josh Rocha 6/25: The Lab, SevenStar, Amsterband & Walking Bicycles 6/26: Instant Iquana 6/30: Essence of Logic & Big Step

COMEDY FORUM 4141 N. Cloverleaf Dr. | St. Peters, Mo. 63376 636-498-1234 | www.comedyforum.com 6/2: Essence of Logic, threesixtysmile, & Dignan 6/3-4: Kevin McPeek. 6/6: Park City & Eviden 6/7: 8-Minute Dating 6/8: Comedy Open Mic 6/9: Men of Seduction 6/10-11, 17-18: Raven, Psychic Hypnotist 6/22: Comedy Open Mic 6/24-25: Demetrius Nicodemus 6/30: Shotgun Wedding, Something Worth Knowing, Skuf

CREEPY CRAWL 412 N. Tucker | St. Louis, Mo. 63101 314-852-0919 | www.creepycrawl.com 6/1: ZZZ, Scene of Irony, The Fix, The Paul Bearers 6/2: Hope & Suicide, My Beloved Hatred, Small Town Tragedy, Rend & When Sorrow Fails 6/3: Murder Happens, Spatik, Missile Silo Suite & Lye 6/5: The Skyline, Bosio, Failing English, If Not for the Knife & Evident 6/6: As Cities Burn, Lorene Drive, Novella, Sparland 6/7: Self Against City, Lux Courageous, Think Thank Thunk & Daniel 6/8: Robbie Hart, Anchondo, The Primetime Heroes 6/9: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, The Oranges Band, Aloha 6/10: PlaybackSTL presents Lapush CD release w/Ultra Blue & Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos 6/12: Nashville Pussy & The Cripplers 5/13: Streetlight Manifesto, Gym Class Heroes, Whole Wheat Bread & Red Light Runners 6/17: Bane, Evergreen Terrace, Cursed, Verse 6/19: Halifax, A Thorn for Every Heart, Over It, 12 Summers Old & In Place of Brian 6/20: Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Blinded Black, Adeline, Lowercase & Our Great Escape 6/22: Nekromantix, The Henchmen, The Pubes, Ded Bugs & The Scared 6/23: The Coffin Lids, Johnny O & The Jerks 6/24: Like Murder, Head on Collision, Ornament of Disgrace & Divulsion

St. Louis’s own Mega Hurts recently released a split 7” with local pals, Sex Robots. Is this the first step toward world domination? Perhaps. After a mighty belch that seems to shake the living room, guitarist/vocalist/co-founder Cory Hammerstone casually responds, “I designed a virus, yeah.” Drummer Kevin Schneider adds, “Our first step toward world domination will be [a stop in] Des Moines, Iowa. Mark my words. ’Cause that is a whole town of trendsetters.” Bassist Amanda Mueller offers, “World domination will begin through putting our split 7” out, which is being distributed on Interpunk and which will be distributed by Dirtnap.” Hammerstone leans toward my tape recorder and launches a longer, mightier belch, as if speaking in demonic-burpese, “THAAAPUUPRAYNDEEITHUP!” While the rest of the band erupts in laughter, she peeps, “I taste vomit.” As with the Mega Hurts’ music, guitarist/vocalist/co-founder and long-time pop leader of the St. Louis music scene Karen Stephens brings back the focus with, “So yeah, world domination…but pretty much through people we already know.” 6/25: On Broken Wings, From a Second Story Window, Reflux, Ion Dissonance, Lye by Mistake, Akathisia 6/26: Himsa, The Agony Scene, Full Blown Chaos, Esoteric 6/27: The #12 Looks Like You, Methal Orange, The Map Says We’re Fucked, Drowningman, Minor Times, Secretary & The Shroud

DELMAR LOUNGE 6235 Delmar Blvd. | St. Louis, Mo. 63130 314-725-6565 | www.delmarrestaurant.com Tues: Industry Night w/Jim Utz | Wed & Thur: DJ Leon Lamont | Fri: Chris Hansen’s World Jazz Quartet & DJ Alexis Tucci | Sat: C Beyond & Chilly C | Sun: Chart Toppers w/Brian of The Selectors

Sharing drinks with the Mega Hurts in Stephens’ living room, it’s easy to feel the charm of this indie-pop quartet. Hammerstone and Stephens are clearly the co-captains of the band, yet all four of the band members’ distinct personalities shine in their music to make a fun noiseball of power-pop—stinging Rickenbacker guitars, happy jack snare cracks, and bright, magnet-schooled hooks. Kind of like a sunny afternoon orgy between The Monkees, Thee Headcoatees, and The Bangles. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine any serious in-fighting amongst this bunch. “One time we had practice where Kevin wore a beer box on his head,” Stephens explains. Hammerstone bursts with excitement, “Oh, I got pictures!” Stephens continues, “And Cory pulled her underpants down over her pants. So I stuck a drumstick in her buttcrack.” As Hammerstone proudly displays the pictures, Stephens suggests, “That’s the photo we would like you to use in the magazine.” Hammerstone (now switching from burpese to laughese) adds, “Karen fell down crying, she was laughing so hard…’cause she put a drumstick in my bumcrack.” | Matt Meyer

6/23: Open Mic w/Bob Reuter 6/24: Diesel Island 6/25: Dutch Henry w/TBA 6/28: Meryll & Bad Folk 6/29: Elizabeth McQueen & The Firebrands w/Jeff & David Lazaroff 6/30: Open Mic w/Brian Marek

GEARBOX at LIL’ NIKKI’S

5213 Chippewa | St. Louis, Mo. 63109 314-832-2211 6/3: Michael Schaerer Group 6/4: Albert & the Einsteins 6/10: SBB 6/11: Visions Jazz 6/17: Chai Band 6/18: Civil Tones 6/24: Swing Set 6/25: Serapis

1551 S. 7th St. | St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-621-2181 6/2: Red Light Runners 6/3: Highway Matrons, Tone Rodent, Bug 6/4: Western Lands Gearbox 1st Annual Carhole BBQ w/The Black Lips, Thee Fine Lines, Jet Set, The Vultures, The Dammit Boys, Thee Lordly Serpents 6/9: Eight Fingers Down, Johnny O & the Jerks 6/10: Kissinger, Tone Rodent 6/11: Rotten Milk vs. Bubblegum Shitface, Carpet of Sexy, Safety Pin, Raglani 6/16: Ouija Radio 6/17: Bad Folk, Tight Pants Syndrome, Leadville 6/18:Cancer Benefit 6/21: Solace for Now, Neptune Crush 6/24: Kristeen Young 6/30: Bonobos, Dub Kitchen

FOCAL POINT

GRATEFUL INN

FAMOUS BAR

2720 Sutton | Maplewood, Mo. 63143 314-781-4200 | www.thefocalpoint.org 6/4: Glen Goewert 6/10: The Kossoy Sisters 6/11: Switchback 6/17: Jody Stecher & Kate Brislin 6/18: Spencer Bohren 6/24: Rough Shop 6/25: Dennis & Curtis Buckhannon 6/29: Lost Bayou Ramblers

FREDERICK’S MUSIC LOUNGE 4454 Chippewa | St. Louis, Mo. 63116 314-351-5711 | www.fredericksmusiclounge.com 6/1: Dave Golden, Fred Shafer 6/2: Open Mic w/Bob Reuter 6/3: Sun Runners, The Stapletons 6/4: The Transmitters, Paradise Vending 6/7: The Tarbox Ramblers, The 88’s 6/8: The Unbearables, The MegaHurts 6/9: Open Mic w/Brian Marek 6/10: The Sundresses w/TBA 6/11: The Saps 6/14: Instant Iguana w/TBA 6/15: American Ambulance, The Homewreckers 6/16: Open Mic w/Tommy Halloran 6/17: Mad Happy w/Jonathan Toth From Hoth & Polarized Mind 6/18: Les Breastfeeders w/The Highmarks 6/21: Ninth w/TBA 6/22: Kevin Gordon w/TBA

7336 Manchester Rd. | St. Louis, Mo. 63143 314-647-DEAD Wed: Pik’N’Likn’ | Thur: The Roadies 6:30p, Widespread Panic 9:30p | Fri: Michael Schaerer 6p, DJ Stendek 10p | Sat: DJ Stendek 10p

HAMMERSTONE’S 2028 S. 9th St. | St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-773-5565 Mon: Tim Albert | Tues: Lucky Dan & Naked Mike | Wed: Park Ave. | Thur: Rondo’s Blues Deluxe | Fri: Uncle Albert | Sun: Voodoo Blues w/Bennie Smith 4p, Erik Brooks 8:30p 6/4: Rondo’s Blues Deluxe 3p, Fairchild 9p 6/11: One Kindred Soul 3p, Fairchild 9p 6/18: Rondo’s Blues Deluxe 3p, Fairchild 9p 6/25: One Kindred Soul 3p, Fairchild 9p

HI-POINTE 1001 McCausland Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63117 314-781-4716 | www.hi-pointe.com 6/3: Riddle of Steel CD release 6/4: Reigning Heir, Bitch Slap Barbie & The Charmers 6/5: The Wee Beasties & BOB 6/8: The Good Looks & The Phonocaptors 6/9: Forever Never Came 6/13: Tight Phantomz 6/15: Supagroup 6/18: Tripdaddys 6/20: The Hold Steady

JACKSONS 6655 Manchester | St. Louis, Mo. 63139 314-645-4904 | www.jacksons-dogtown.com Thur: Rhythm Rockers | Sun: JackSons’ Five 6/3: Dewayne Brothers 6/4: Honey Vox 6/7: Liston, Neihaus & Crawford 6/10: Powerplay 6/11: Bob Case 6/14: Greenhouse 6/17: The Presentation Band 6/18: Once in a Blue Moon 6/21: Liston, Neihaus & Crawford 6/25: The Hot Flashes 6/28: Greenhouse

O

LEMP NEIGHBORHOOD ARTS CENTER 3301 Lemp Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63118 314-771-1096 | www.lemp-arts.org 6/2: Get a Life, Sayonara, Cross Examination & Sounds Like a Riot 6/4: Weird Weeds & Lost to Metric 6/6: Creepy Aliens, Puppet Show & Born to Die 6/7: Expiered Youth, Give or Take, Not Enough Gold, Sat Night’s Alright for Fighting 6/8: My Luck, Step on It & Burn What Binds 6/11: The Low Budgets, Lester Shy & Shyphonics, The Mad Ahab & The Monads 6/12: The Building Press & The Arch 5/13: Realicide, Mavis Concave, Ultra Vires, Die Fugue USA 6/14: This Is Hell, Another Breath, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, A Fist in the Air 6/18: Undo Tomorrow, Over & Over 6/23: Ahleuchatistas, Capalarry Action 6/24: Sadaharu 6/25: CJ BoyD 6/26: Born to Die, Another Night Another Fight, Index & Dancing Feet March to War 6/27: Oni Gosen 6/29: Xiu Xiu, This Song Is a Mess But so Am I 6/30: Blue Velvet

LLYWELYN’S PUB 4747 McPherson | St. Louis, Mo. 63108 314-361-3003 | www.llywelynspub.com Thur: Irish Music | Fri: Jimmy Griffin & Amy Miller | Sat: Tiny Cows

MAGEE’S 4500 Clayton Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63110 314-535-8061 Mon: Open Mic w/Heather Barth | Wed: Johnny Fox| Thur: Jake’s Leg 6/1: Johnny Fox 6/2: Jake’s Leg 6/4: Dogtown Allstars 6/6: Open Mic 6/7: Racket Box 6/9: Jake’s Leg

33

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at THE PAGEANT June 14, 8 p.m. | all ages TICKETS: $22.50/25 | CALL: 314-726-6161 In the realm of guitarists who like other guitarists, few names strike as much of a response as that of Eric Johnson. Easily one of the best six-stringers in the world, there are maybe a handful of guitarists alive today who can touch his lyricism, sense of melody, and outright “what the fuck was that?”–evoking virtuosity. Rumors abound regarding his ability to hear what type of 34 batteries are in his distortion pedals, what type of connector is used in his cables, and the fact that his guitar is unplayable by anyone other than him due to his idiosyncratic playing style. Whether there is truth to these rumors or not, they do point to the almost mystical status he’s earned as fans try to make sense of the sheer amount of ability the man displays so casually. Johnson is currently touring in support of his latest solo album, Bloom, a collection of 16 new songs divided into 3 sections, grouped together in terms of vibe and style. The “Prelude” section features poppier material, like the Bob Dylan cover “My Back Pages”; the “Courante” section contains the instrumental wizardry for which Johnson is known, like the unbelievable “Tribute to Jerry Reed,” with its faster-than-the-ear-can-hear fills and licks; while the “Allemande” section rounds out the CD with jazzier material. Although the new CD reveals an even more experimental Johnson, giddy with new styles and groundbreaking sounds, he’s not worried his rabid fanbase might not be able to keep up, recently telling PlaybackSTL, “I’m very fortunate to have an open-minded audience whose support of me is strong enough that, if I do something new, it’s still acceptable, even if it’s a surprise.” | Chris Clark Check out www.playbackstl.com for the full interview.

MANGIA ITALIANO 3145 S. Grand Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63118 314-664-8585 | www.dineatmangia.com Sun: Reggae Dub Spin w/Gabe & Dino | Mon: Open Mic w/Kieran Malloy | Wed: Eightyfourglyde DJ Spin | Fri: Dave Stone Trio

THE MARTINI BAR 4004 Peach Ct. | Columbia, Mo. 65203 573-256-8550 | www.themartinibar.biz 6/2: Joanna Connor 6/3: JRob 6/9: Chris Duarte 6/10: Bobby Carson 6/11: Hilary Scott 6/16: Mo. Blues Society’s Monthly Jam w/Tost 6/17-18: Kim Massie 6/30: Tablerockers

MISSISSIPPI NIGHTS 914 N. First St. | St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-421-3853 | www.mississippinights.com 6/3: Pat McLellan Band, WIK & Dogtown Allstars 6/4: Centerpointe, Adeline, Our Great Escape, Blinded Black 6/5: Shanti Groove 6/10: Dick Dale 6/11: Lost Parade, Dean Evans Band & 12 oz. Prophets 6/14: Eric Johnson w/Kaki King 6/15: Matisyahu 6/17-18: AmpSTL Local Music Showcase 6/24: Rusted Shine & Side of Fives w/Sofachrome & Field of Grey 6/25: Thos, The Upright Animals & River Gypsy

MOJO’S 1013 Park Ave. | Columbia, Mo. 65201 573-875-0588 | www.mojoscolumbia.com 6/1: Soulshine, Prophet Jones & Echelon 6/4: Bruce Poe Band 6/8: Decadent Nation 6/9: The Meat Purveyors, Pickin Trix & Bejeezus 6/10: Bate Shop Boys 6/14: Comets on Fire w/Warhammer 48k 6/16: Railroad Earth & Tea Leaf Green 6/25: Lemon Tree Brigade 6/30: We Wingate, The Chris Graham Group & Echelon

MOMO’S 630 North & South | University City, Mo. 63130 314-863-3511 Mon: DJ Maz | Tues: DJ Matt | Wed: DJ Rafi | Thur: DJ Darren Snow | Fri: DJ Hamisi | Sat: DJ JB | Sun: DJ Mark & Sarah

OFF BROADWAY 3509 Lemp Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63118 314-773-3363 | www.offbroadwaystl.com 6/1: Redding, Lee Enfield & Gravity Well 6/2: Waterproof Blonde 6/3: Andrew Bird & Crhis Mills 6/4: Miles of Wire, The Breakers & Elliot Rosewater 6/9: Retrospect, Drew Holcomb & Pranklyn Project 6/10: Roy ookbinder 7p, Badfinger w/Barefoot Jones 9:30p 6/11: Red Eyed Driver, Sea of Red, Dub Kitchen

6/13: PlaybackSTL presents Marah, Trailer Park Travoltas 6/14: Deep Fried Pickle Project 6/15: Sam Shaber, Eric Himan 6/16: NSAI’s Songwriters in the Round 6/17: Johnny Dowd & Band, Matt McGaughey Band & Southern Trespass 6/18: SweetMamaGumbo, Captain Howdy 6/21: eKe & Pig Farmer 6/23: Newcomers Home 6/24: Eero, Big Jest w/The Charmers 6/25: The Moaners, Chris Bono, Jon Hardy & The Public

RIDDLE’S PENULTIMATE

THE PAGEANT 6161 Delmar Blvd. | St. Louis, Mo. 63112 314-726-6161 | www.thepageant.com 6/3: The Loop Underground w/Samudio, Toyy, Mascorecords & Treez 6/4: Peter Cincotti 6/8: Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters 6/10: Bob Weir & Ratdog 6/11: Twangfest w/Neko Case, Bottle Rockets, Brent Best & The Townsmen 6/15 & 17: The 48-Hour Film Project 6/25: Spatik w/Eli-Stone, 13 Days & Inimical Drive 6/30: Edwin McCain Band

POP’S 1403 Mississippi | Sauget, Ill. 62201 618-274-6720 | www.popsrocks.com 6/4: Chunks of Meat Fest 6/5: 105.7 The Point Local Show Live Remote 6/6: Fozzy featuring WWE’s Chris Jericho 6/10: Copeland 6/12: 105.7 The Point Local Show Live Remote 6/18: Seether & Crossfade 6/19: Meat Beat Manifesto 6/22: Adema 6/25-26: 105.7 The Point Local Show Live Remote

POP’S BLUE MOON 5249 Pattison | St. Louis, Mo. 63110 314-776-4200 | www.popsbluemoon.com Tues: World’s Most Dangerous Open Jam 6/1: Tim Moody & Collect All Five 6/2: Tom Wood Solo 6/3: Dave Black & Matt Kimmick 6/4: EN2 6/6: Irene Allen acoustic 6/7: World’s Most Dangerous Bluegrass Jam 6/8: Bootigrabbers Delight 6/9: Wayne Kimler Jazz 6/10: Dogtown Allstars 6/11: 710 5/13: Fab Foehners 6/14: World’s Most Dangerous Bluegrass Jam 6/16: Blueground Undergrass w/Dave Black 6/17: Pik’n Lik’n (Breast Cancer Benefit) 6/18: Pat McLellan Band 6/20: Johnny Fox 6/21: World’s Most Dangerous Bluegrass Jam 6/22: Stuart Johnson 6/24: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 6/25: The Birthday Suits 6/27: Open Mic Acoustic w/Shane Maue 6/28: World’s Most Dangerous Bluegrass Jam 6/29: The Recliners 6/30: R&R Jazz Explosion

RADIO CHEROKEE 3227 Cherokee St. | St. Louis, Mo. 63118 www.radiocherokee.net 6/1: Vertonen & Chris Smentowski 6/15: Railers of Kiev, Pearls & Brass, Camp Climax for Girls 6/18: Calabi Yau & Airport Elementary School 6/20: Berry, Unwed Sailor & Caleb Engstrom 6/22: Ari Ari, For the Moment & TBA 6/24: Target Market, I Need Sleep & Finnaly Foreign 6/30: Femme Fatality, Anna Ranger & Ayin

KEVIN RENICK

PARK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

ERIC JOHNSON

6/10: 12 oz. Prophets w/Plum Tucker 6/11: Pat McLellan Band 6/13: Open mic 6/14: Two Tomatoes 6/15: Elwood 6/16: Jake’s Leg 6/17-18: Plum Tucker 6/20: Open mic 6/21: Confluence Benefit w/Bootigrabbers Delight, Celia & Team Tomato 6/22: Johnny Fox 6/23: Jakes Leg 6/24: Bootigrabbers Delight 5p, Scene of Irony 9p 6/25: Mother Nature 6/27: Open Mic 6/28: URI Manor 6/30: Jake’s Leg

6307 Delmar | U. City, Mo. 63130 314-725-6985 | www.riddlescafe.com Tues: Brian Curran w/Folkn’BLUESgrass | Wed: Ptah Williams | Sun: The John Norment Quartet 6/2: Uncle Albert 6/3: Salt of the Earth w/Lynn Reiff 6/4: The Swirl Band 6/9: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 6/10: Keith Doder & The Blue City Band 6/11: The Uncle Albert Band 6/16: Uncle Albert 6/17: The Zydeco Crawdaddies 6/18: The Swirl Band 6/23: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 6/24: Alvin Jett & The Phat Noiz Band 6/25: The Flying Mules 6/30: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang

SALLY T’S 6 Main St. | St. Peters, Mo. 63376 636-397-5383 | www.sallyts.com 6/1: Flea Bitten Bastard, Fail to Succeed 6/2: Alpha-Lymin-Forest, Collect All Five 6/3: B Koolman & the Lot Lizards, Reservation for Two, Eddie Perez, Soul Service 6/4: Kapital, Mechanically Separated, Holy Frog 6/7: Open Mic w/Matt Lilley 6/8: Adam Evolve, Tam Bland, Juvenile Justice 6/9: Sigma, Fool Proof, Lithic 6/10: Morning Vision, Stash Riders, Meteor Pilots 6/11: KRT & Guess 6/15: The Half Shells, Lust of Youth, Jonny O & the Jerks 6/16: Ardentyes, Reminance, Satori 6/17: Fume Screw, Saw Is Family, One Way Conflict 6/18: Black Earth, Salt Vision, Fella 6/21: Something to Fight for, Pillarity, Park City 6/22: Simpliciter, SOMA 6/23: Sleep Walker, Black Letter Day, Proxema 6/24: Trust, Clearview Kills, Copper Mine 6/25: Geoff Koch, Dan (Spent), Matt Lilley, Southerly 6/29: Ecitone, Late, Farewell Address 6/30: Off Brand, Center Pointe, Loco 88, The Silent Game

13375 Olive | Chesterfield, Mo. 63017 314-878-3886 Thur: The Perry Woods Experience | Sat: Jeff Gwantley 6/3: Eddie Randle w/Maury Jannett 6/17: Todd Keller 6/24: Brian Curran & Folkn’BLUEgrass

SCHLAFLY BOTTLEWORKS 7260 Southwest Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63143

SCHLAFLY TAP ROOM 2100 Locust. | St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-241-BEER | www.schlafly.com

THE SHANTI 825 Allen Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-241-4772 Tues: Open Mic w/Heather Barth 6/1: Ravenged Hearts 8p 6/2: Greenhaus 8p 6/3: Tom Wood 9p 6/4: Pick’n Lick’n 4p, Steve Bise 9p 6/7: Open Mic w/Kimmy V 9p 6/8: Ed Belling 8p 6/9: Bob Case 8p 6/10: Troubadoors of Divine Bliss 9p 6/11: Alsop Grossi Haley 4p, Blues J’s 9p 6/14: Open Mic w/Kimmy V 9p 6/15: Bootigrabbers Delight 8p 6/16: Tom Hall 8p 6/17: Pat McClellan 9p 6/18: Pick’n Lick’n 4p, KDHX Tye Dye Party 2-8p 6/21: Open Mic w/Kimmy V 9p


WANT TO BE SEEN BY THOUSANDS OF MUSIC AND ART LOVERS EVERY MONTH? JOIN PLAYBACKSTL AS AN ADVERTISER OR EVEN SPONSOR A WHOLE SECTION. PLAYBACKSTL IS EXPANDING AND WE WANT YOU TO BE A PART OF IT! CALL JIM AT 314-630-6404 OR E-MAIL AT JIM@PLAYBACKSTL.COM.

JUNE 2005

6/22: T-Bone Blues 8p 6/23: Doogie Armstrong 8p 6/24: Scott Rayfield 9p 6/25: Devon Allman 9p 6/28: Open Mic w/Kimmy V 9p 6/29: Margaret & Mary 8p 6/30: Racket Box 8p

SQWIRE’S

THREE-1-THREE 20 Mascoutah Ave. | Belleville, Ill. 62220 618-239-6885 | www.three-1-three.com Mon: Park Avenue Trio | Tues: DJ Rob Gray | Wed: John Farrar 11a | Thur: John Farrar 11a; DJ Kelly Dell, Just J, Andreas Ardesco | Fri: Derek Thomas 11a

6/4: EarthSol

WAY OUT CLUB

TOUHILL PERFORMING ARTS CTR.

2525 S. Jefferson Ave. | St. Louis, Mo. 63118 314-664-7638 | www.wayoutclub.com 6/1: Bricklayer, Fire of 1000 Suns & Goodnight Ghost 6/2: Casey Reid & Mike Tomko 6/3: The Round Ups, Bejeezus & The Choir 6/4: The Misses 6/7: Amino Acids, Sex Robots & The Vultures 6/8: Brant Bjork & Bros w/Miles of Wire 6/9: Saw Is Family 6/11: El Mail Boxo 6/15: Barefoot Jones 6/24: PB Army & Tijuana Hercules 6/25: sisterloveshovel 6/28: Chariot

University of Mo. – St. Louis | St. Louis, Mo. 63121 314-516-4949 | www.touhill.org 6/11: St. Louis Dancers’ Academy 6/17: Women in the Arts 6/25: Ambassadors of Harmony 6/30: All That Tap XIV

VENICE CAFÉ 1906 Pestalozzi | St. Louis, Mo. 63118 314-772-5994 Mon: Open Mic | Tues: Late Happy Hour & Movies

PHOTO: BRIAN McCLELLAND

1415 S. 18th St. | St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-865-3522 6/3: Tom Hall 5p, Stuart Johnson & Blake Travis 8p 6/4: Tom Byrne & Erika Johnson 8p 6/5: Monica Casey 11a, Chirs Griffith 7p 6/10: Pierce Crask 5p, Mo & Dawn 8p

6/11: Tom Byrne & Erika Johnson 8p 6/12: Chris Griffith 7p 6/17: Tom Hall 5p, Isam & Engel 8p 6/18: Ron Sikes Duo 8p 6/19: Chris Griffith 7p 6/24: Pierce Crask 5p, Mo & Dawn 8p 6/25: Blue Monks Unplugged 8p 6/26: Monica Casey 11a, Chris Griffith 7p

The perfect pop song. You can recognize it by the pleasant cerebellum buzz it triggers, kicking your short hairs on end while magnetically drawing your finger to the “repeat” button. Newish St. Louis pop quartet Tight Pants Syndrome’s irresistible sugar-shock gem “Your Buzz Is Safe With Me,” taken from the band’s self-titled homemade demo CD, is exactly that: 2 minutes and 21 seconds of perfect—but not too perfect—pop bliss, packed with gorgeous intersecting harmonies and sticky-sweet hooks. This is pop music made by people with great taste in pop music. Like most great bands in St. Louis, TPS’s members leave an incestuous trail of busted local outfits behind them, including The Fantasy Four, The Tics, Darling Little Jackhammer, and Ambassadors of Death. And while lead guitarist and songwriter Tom Stephens describes his previous bands—bart starr and The Flamerz—as “the worst bands,” he quickly deadpans, “but they were the best worst bands in town.” Ask about their live debut last summer and he’ll describe it as “akin to Moses handing out the ten commandments of rock,” pausing thoughtfully to add, “and John Holmes whippin’ it out for the first time on film.” This unassuming, self-deprecating quality comes across in their live show, which is at turns raw, loud, and exhilarating. Stephens has heard the band described as “classic rock casual” and “stadium pop,” but has trouble determining which description comes closer, eventually settling with, “We’re basically a rock band with great hooks and harmony singing, backed by a kick-ass rhythm section.” While Stephens handles most of the writing and arrangements, the majority of the lead vocals are shared by bassist Joe Scanlon and the sweetest rock chick in town, Marcia Pandolfi, whose vocals on another song from their demo, “Oh, Keith,” lend the track a genuine, giddy warmth. While the “Your Buzz” CD is free, it’s only available at their live shows, so catch ’em at a rock dive near you and ask nicely for your copy. Make it quick—eventually they’ll wise up and start charging for them suckers. | Brian McClelland

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PLAYBACK STL

RIYL

TOP 50 PlaybackSTL and RIYL (Recommended If You Like) give you the real top 50, based on radio play from hundreds of stations across the country. For expanded charts, go to www.playbackstl.com/riyl.

C O

O R 36

WEIGHTED vs. UNWEIGHTED The RIYL Music weighted chart recognizes that some stations are simply more “influential” than others. Stations are assigned a value between 1 and 6; a #1 chart position is assigned 30 points and then multiplied by the station’s weight. For example, an artist charting #1 at a station weighted “2” is assigned 60 points, while a #1 charting at a “5” is assigned 150 points. Once RIYL’s robots have calculated the chart values for each artist, they simply sort by points. Long live the king! The RIYL Music unweighted chart feels that every voice should be heard...and believes every voice is equal. Stations are stations. No favorites, just pure data. A #1 chart position is assigned 30 points while a #30 chart position is assigned 1 point. Once RIYL’s army of robots has calculated the chart values for each artist, they press the “sort by points” button. Voila. Power to the people!

1. SPOON | Gimme Fiction 2. BECK | Guero 3. BLOC PARTY | Silent Alarm 4. OF MONTREAL | The Sunlandic Twins 5. CARIBOU | The Milk of Human Kindness 6. RAVEONETTES | Pretty in Black 7. HOT HOT HEAT | Elevator 8. BEN FOLDS | Songs for Silverman 9. NINE INCH NAILS | With Teeth 10. ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI | In Case We Die 11. DECEMBERISTS | Picaresque 12. SLEATER-KINNEY | The Woods 13. MOUNTAIN GOATS | The Sunset Tree 14. EELS | Blinking Lights and Other Revelations 15. MERCURY REV | The Secret Migration 16. WEEZER | Make Believe 17. THE BRAVERY | The Bravery 18. FALL OUT BOY | From Under the Cork Tree 19. NEW ORDER | Waiting for the Siren’s Call 20. 13 AND GOD | 13 and God 21. ELKLAND | Golden 22. SHOUT OUT LOUDS | Howl Howl Gaff Gaff 23. GARBAGE | Bleed Like Me 24. BRITISH SEA POWER | Open Season 25. PREFUSE 73 | Surrounded by Silence

WEIGHTED 1. SPOON | Gimme Fiction 2. BECK | Guero 3. BLOC PARTY | Silent Alarm 4. OF MONTREAL | The Sunlandic Twins 5. CARIBOU | The Milk of Human Kindness 6. RAVEONETTES | Pretty in Black 7. HOT HOT HEAT | Elevator 8. BEN FOLDS | Songs for Silverman 9. SLEATER-KINNEY | The Woods 10. NINE INCH NAILS | With Teeth 11. MOUNTAIN GOATS | The Sunset Tree 12. ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI | In Case We Die 13. DECEMBERISTS | Picaresque 14. MERCURY REV | The Secret Migration 15. EELS | Blinking Lights and Other Revelations 16. WEEZER | Make Believe 17. 13 AND GOD | 13 and God 18. RUSSIAN FUTURISTS | Our Thickness 19. FALL OUT BOY | From Under the Cork Tree 20. TULLYCRAFT | Disenchanted Hearts Unite 21. THE BRAVERY | The Bravery 22. PREFUSE 73 | Surrounded by Silence 23. GARBAGE | Bleed Like Me 24. BOOKS | Lost and Safe 25. NOUVELLE VAGUE | Nouvelle Vague

26. TULLYCRAFT | Disenchanted Hearts Unite 27. RUSSIAN FUTURISTS | Our Thickness 28. MAE | Everglow 29. BOOKS | Lost and Safe 30. GO-BETWEENS | Oceans Apart 31. YO LA TENGO | Prisoners of Love 1984-2003 32. CAESARS | Paper Tigers 33. ELECTRELANE | Axes 34. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE | Lullabies to Paralyze 35. REDWALLS | De Nova 36. MOBY | Hotel 37. YOUTH GROUP | Skeleton Jar 38. V/A VERVE REMIXED 3 | Various Artists 39. NOUVELLE VAGUE | Nouvelle Vague 40. REGGIE AND THE FULL EFFECT | Songs Not to Get Married to 41. LOVE AS LAUGHTER | Laughter’s Fifth 42. RYAN ADAMS AND THE CARDINALS | Cold Roses 43. NATIONAL | Alligator 44. STEREOLAB | Oscillons From the Anti-Sun [box set] 45. MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE | You’ll Rebel to Anything 46. MIKE DOUGHTY | Haughty Melodic 47. MARS VOLTA | Frances the Mute 48. SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN | Broom 49. HEADPHONES | Headphones 50. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN | Devils and Dust

UNWEIGHTED 26. NEW ORDER | Waiting for the Siren’s Call 27. YO LA TENGO | Prisoners of Love 28. BRITISH SEA POWER | Open Season 29. ELECTRELANE | Axes 30. GO-BETWEENS | Oceans Apart 31. ELKLAND | Golden 32. STEREOLAB | Oscillons From the Anti-Sun [box set] 33. REGGIE AND THE FULL EFFECT | Songs Not to Get Married to 34. SHOUT OUT LOUDS | Howl Howl Gaff Gaff 35. CAESARS | Paper Tigers 36. NATIONAL | Alligator 37. LOVE AS LAUGHTER | Laughter’s Fifth 38. MAE | Everglow 39. V/A VERVE REMIXED 3 | Various Artists 40. MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE | You’ll Rebel To Anything 41. RYAN ADAMS AND THE CARDINALS | Cold Roses 42. YOUTH GROUP | Skeleton Jar 43. MIKE DOUGHTY | Haughty Melodic 44. REDWALLS | De Nova 45. TEAM SLEEP | Team Sleep 46. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE | Lullabies to Paralyze 47. SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN | Broom 48. MOBY | Hotel 49. DOVES | Some Cities 50. MORRISSEY | Live at Earl’s Court

www.riylmusic.com

Page by Page will stay with you long after the last page. But there’s a lot to learn about survival here; Carter may not be the only one who needs these lessons. | Angela Pancella JENNIFER LANG: LEARNING THE ABC’S OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS (J-Lynne Records; 77 pgs; $29.95 e-book/$45.08 print) So you’ve seen one too many bland, uninteresting bands opening up shows at the local watering hole and think you can do bet-

from page 28

ter? Well, then you’re probably looking for a guide that will walk you through the process, explaining the minutiae of how to start a band, get a manager, and, perhaps most importantly, file your taxes. Jennifer Lang’s Learning the ABC’s of the Music Business purports to be that guide, but it falls well short of that goal. There is a load of good information in here, to be sure, especially on matters of finance and copyright, but the book’s dry, boring tone and omnipresent typographical and grammatical

errors make it a chore to read. But perhaps most insulting is the ludicrously high asking price for a book—pamphlet-thin at 77 pages—that is over one-third the length of other, presumably better, publications on the subject. Your best bet is likely to hunt down one of those other books or, better yet, let your good friend Google track down what quality information this book includes for free. | Jason Green


Lunch Monday – Friday, 11:30–5 Dinner (nightly specials) Daily 5–10 Lunch Buffet ($5.95) Monday – Friday, 11:30–2:30

Open ’til 3 a.m. Nightly Reggae Every Sunday Night Dave Stone Jazz Trio Every Friday at 10:30 p.m.

COME FOR THE FOOD, but stay for the eclectic atmosphere featuring beautiful artwork, live music most nights, and the charm that only tradition can offer.

3145 South Grand Ave. 314-664-8585

www.dineatmangia.com

Serving the Finest Fresh Pasta in St. Louis for 20 Years


Gearbox Booked by Suburban Booking. Contact Elvis @ 314-537-5456 or dedelvas@aol.com

JUNE at GEARBOX @ LIL’ NIKKI’S 6/2 RED LIGHT RUNNERS • 6/3: HIGHWAY MATRONS, Tone Rodent, Bug • 6/4: Western Lands Gearbox 1st Annual Carhole BBQ w/THE BLACK LIPS (Atlanta), Thee Fine Lines, Jet Set (Peoria), The Vultures, The Dammit Boys (KC), Thee Lordly Serpents BBQ starts at 3, show at 6; Kopper spins Bug House all day and between bands • 6/9: EIGHT FINGERS DOWN (L.A.), Johnny O & the Jerks • 6/10: KISSINGER (Austin), Tone Rodent • 6/11: Rotten Milk vs. Bubblegum Shitface, Carpet of Sexy, Safety Pin, Raglani • 6/16: OUIJA RADIO (Minneapolis), TBA • 6/17: Bad Folk, Tight Pants Syndrome, Leadville • 6/18: Cancer Benefit • 6/21: SOLACE FOR NOW (featuring members of SALIVA and EARSHOT), Neptune Crush • 6/23: TBA • 6/24: KRISTEEN YOUNG • 6/25: TBA • 6/30: BONOBOS, Dub Kitchen, TBA

PLAYBACK:stl  

Monthly music and entertainment publication published in St. Louis from 2002-2006. Now online.

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