“There was a bit of irony involved when we ventured to NYC’s most carnivalistic of venues, Spiegelworld. The magnificent, wood and canvas tent that sits oh so awesomely on Pier 17 derives its name from a Dutch word meaning mirror tent; an appropriate reference as it’s a place plump full of plenty of aesthetic allusion and deception. But The Dodos, the band who sold out the venue, are none of that. Theirs is a craft that offers absolutely nothing to hide behind. Theirs is a brand of boozy, electric roots that’s elemental, yet completely unique unto them.
Combining Meric Long’s whiplash strokes on a couple of visibly bullied, acoustic guitars, Logan Kroeber’s explosive barrage of stout and strong percussive rhythms – themselves bashed out on drums that most closely resemble a set of marching quads, and newcomer Joe Haener’s ornamental fills of swelling vibraphone (plus the occasion thwack! on a metal garbage can), The Dodos set power and pulse to Long’s beseeching vocal melodies. The results are powerhouse highlights like “Red and Purple,” “Fools,” and “Jodi.” “
We’re just in that sort of mood today. So how about a metal round up? Last week, Thursday and Envy unleashed a weighty split on Temporary Residence, with Rickley and co. reminding us why Full Collapse was such a hit, and the manic-metaloids of Envy offering up three hefty love letters to dynamics and decibels. And, of course, how could we not mention the new Cynic? Fifteen years after the landmark Focus, these Florida prog-hounds are back with Traced In Air , and dare we say, they may have gained a step or two in their time off. Dawn of Winter slow it down on “The Music of Despair”, while superduperHOLYSHITgroup Bloodbath (you gonna argue with members of Opeth, Katatonia, Hypocrisy, and Edge of Sanity?) get deadly on “Slaughter The Will To Live.”
David Bazan — one of America’s foremost living songwriters (yes, I will get down on the fisticuffs tip over that one) — released a single last week. It’s called “American Flags,” and, whaddayaknow, it’s ultra-poigniant considering we elected a new President. Coincidence? I think not. Buy it at iTunes. To these ears, the track seems to flirt with the electronic-minded moments of 2004’s Achilles Heel, or the outright synth-pop of DB sideproject Headphones. But, as it did in Pedro The Lion, and as it’s done on all the solo stuff, the anchor of his milky tenor (not to mention that propensity toward depressing-as-shit-but-keenly-insightful lyricism) waves the Bazan flag proudly.
Far from the subtle story-telling of his early work, “Flags,” like Heel ‘s state-as-cheating-spouse track “Arizona,” gets down on personification — singing from the perspective of the stars and bars itself. Sounds heavy-handed, but we promise it’s not. Oh, and the single comes with another song called “Please, Baby, Please,” which is a demo of his long-overdue follow-up to Heel. And if you can’t wait for that, check out the vid above, taken from DB’s new DVD, Alone At The Mic. A smattering of footage can be found here — some interview-y stuff, along with stripped-down performances of “When They Really Get To Know You,” “Options,” and “Transcontinental.”
The funktastic Sharon Jones is at it again! Not only did she just wrap up a tour with our other soul slingin’ faves the Menahan Street Band, but her June performance on Austin City Limits just aired this past Saturday on PBS. Don’t fret if you missed it, because you can watch the entire performance and interview right here.
So what’s in store for Ms. Jones? A short midwest jaunt next month, followed by a tour of the land down under, complete with a performance at the legendary Australian festival The Falls. And the beat goes on!
“This is not ‘neo-soul’; this is the real deal” – Newsweek
“One of the 10 Most Exciting Artists Right Now” – Entertainment Weekly