I had the honor of seeing Parisian band En Attendant Ana two Friday nights in a row: first in Boston at O’Briens Pub and then at the Hi-Tone in Memphis as part of Gonerfest 15 Night Two. I’m writing this post because I believe them to be the best live band that I’ve seen in a LONG TIME.
I saw a lot of bands at Gonerfest 15, including some true OG favorites like Oblivians and Carbonas. I love these guys and thought their sets were amazing. I was familiar with the songs they performed. I’m new to En Attendant Ana, having only briefly listened to their most recent album Lost and Found. I liked it a lot, but seeing them live was a transformative experience. Perhaps you can relate to a band that blows your mind even if you can’t name a single song. Hit after hit, hook after hook, there is no downtime or stagnation over the course of the set. There is a constant stream of musical euphoria and that larger-than-life feeling of music-as-inspiration. A pop band with a noisy rock ‘n roll sound. The trumpet adds a layer of character that works brilliantly in this group.
Check out all their music and, if you can, go see them perform. I don’t think larger festivals and bigger shows are far out of reach. En Attendant Ana would easily blow away and bring something fresh and exciting compared to what a lot is bandied about as “pop” these days.
Boston’s very own Rene Chambers has a debut record to show the world. Kremlin Bats is an 11 song digestif, fruitful and satisfying. Enrolled part-time, at least, in the Mickey Bliss school of rock and roll with R. Stevie Moore as adjunct professor, Rene Chambers (Rene as in a nominal combination of the just retired Bruins national anthem guy Rene Rancourt and Herb Chambers) produces a mostly one man show of late night synth-obsessed observations. Midnight hours, neon signs, okay that’s just two examples. But the barely removed Chambers with his slightly British affectation offers us dark, but danceable new-new wave nuggets. The ultra crisp production makes for a luxurious listen, possibly ushering in a new kind of Vegas lounge performer right here in Boston.
We all know that Memphis, Tennessee has/had the greatest bands. STAX. Goner Records, Jay Reatard, The Oblivians, NOTS, The Barbaras, Girls of the Gravitron, Yesse Yavis. I’m forgetting a lot. I know, I’m sorry. So what about the contemporary group called Model Zero? Dang, I don’t even know if they’re around anymore. First and last I heard of them (until now) was at Gonerfest, outside of Memphis Made. Their stuff clicked with me – drum machine + real drummer, a variety of dance punk, but like if Giorgio Murderer was less bare bones and got funky on us. I remember hearing “Japanese Death Poem” live and being like “yup, I’m in.” Except it was one and done. Until I decided to do an ole search. An ole Googling of “Model Zero Bandcamp,” because I was craving for more of this group. They had to have recorded something right?
That’s a four song tape with my favorite damn one on there. If the members of this group catch wind of this post, please keep doing what you’re doing. I’m not a freaking barometer of what is cool and in fact I hope the opposite, but let me tell you that you’re one of the most exciting groups going right now and that is based on very limited, limited information.
It has a nice ring to it. One of our favorite local musicians – Ryan Major (you may have seen him singing and slinging guitar for our beloved Barbazons (RIP)) is fronting his own group these days and they are called the Love Strangers. Dude knows his history of rock ‘n roll and pens catchy numbers. The Love Strangers feature familiar players such as Travis Hagan (drums), Rob Sutherland (bass/vocals, and Scott Jones (guitar). They recorded with Caufield Schnug (Minidresses) and the result is this fun AF debut Strange Lovers. Mister Major, who I often visually liken to Lee Hazelwood and Jared Swilley, has taken a deeper dive into the world of country, more so than ever before. There were hints like ‘Two Whiskeys’ from the last Barbs album, but this EP goes further into that realm. What a realm.
I plug the cellie into some nice speakers, blast this, pick up an instrument or go behind the kit, and I’m off. Possibly the hallmark of a pop song is being able to joyfully anticipate what is to come. I feel that listening to this and for that, let me reiterate these are all remarkably well written and performed. There is plenty of grit and for lack of a better word, sleaze. Boozy, sing-a-long, is this Boston or North Carolina? Johnny Thunders. Speaking of which, there are plenty of clippityclank solos and reverby axe hijinx, in case you are wondering.
If I can choose anyone to deliver mythical rock ‘n roll odes to the road, women, and beer, I am choosin Ryan Major and the Love Strangers. Cheers.
This recommendation of Montreal’s The Submissives comes through via our pal Hugo of Time Warp Week Ends. Hugo’s taste in music is top notch (after all, we met at Gonerfest while waiting for Nots to kick off opening ceremonies). I asked him what’s the good stuff up in Montreal? He pointed us in the direction of The Submissives. And what a recommendation. Hugo used my initial reaction – dying guitars and stoned vocals – in his year ender, and I like what he had to say in one of his write-ups so here:
“Dolly Parton on sizzurp, the Shangri-La’s on methadone. This is drug-related, in a cool creative way. And the disheveled retro visual aesthetic is effortless and strong.”
Much has been written about The Submissives, which started as a solo recording project and has blossomed into a live band consisting of some seasoned and some amateur musicians. Amazing.
PERHAPS they are more prevalent than I THOUGHT. Truly bizarre groups. I love ’em so much (usually) – those possessing that anything-is-possible vibe. Out there, out here, there’s a whole lot of rock ‘n roll, hey experimental, whatever, where you can just close your eyes and that’s it. You got it.
But no see, a band like Listening Woman who I first caught at Hassle Fest a few weeks ago, there’s a complete package involved. Eyes, ears, sense of space. If you have anxiety of like needing to know what’s happening at any given moment or you want some degree of control in your entertainment experience…this is when you pack your bags, and Netflix and chill. Go back to the Cabin. See, at a Listening Woman performance, and I’m no expert, I’ve seen ’em just once, there’s unpredictability and a spectrum of performance style that purposely teases and messes with the spectator. There are conventional components – not your parent’s conventions, unless they live a No Wave life – musicality I’d call it, and a feeling that this eight member (vocalist, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, percussionist, drummer, saxophonist, and effects?player?) crew got together and previously ran through these numbers more than a time or two.
They keep a straight face too while playing. Being the outsider that I am, I don’t know any of the folks in the band. Probably should , they seem like a nice bunch. The other thing, well actually a few other things. The songs can change in like 5 seconds to something new. This is awesome! Another observation is that watching Listening Woman is watching a film or musical. A moving fantasy world. A world you are trapped in. In this way, I can’t help but think back to Memphis circa 2006 to 2011, with Girls of the Gravitron, The Barbaras (like this), and Magic Kids. Pop Dungeons and shit. Might just be my imagination and I’m missing the point entirely. In that case. GOOD.
Every now and again, a mess-around, all-around fun local garage band comes to your attention. They might be new or old or some mysterious combination of those. The Shallow End Divers aren’t fly by night, lets get sauced and record it to 7″ toga wearing ’60s frat boys like The mighty Kegstands but to me they carry on that sweet sloppy casual trick. Yes, a beer or six sounds good to me. These Waltham, Massachusetts trouble makers have been carrying on their jam for well over three years, how could these dudes have fell through them KLYAM cracks? Stranger things have happened.
Sometimes garage is like dull and Shaws bakery cookie cutter throwbacky and all that, but sometimes it just isn’t that. With The Shallow End Divers, It AINT, specially on their most recent single game Dead Man’s Ladder/Forget Your Problems, they fall in that fine camp of rock ‘n roll that is deceptively clean and nicely listenable yet also begs to be heard in a more wayward show setting. Been continuously streaming their 2013 EP Melting Skies and I feel like I’m at King Khan and the Shrines or something, all puppeyed and shit, basking in the ole soul. Doing alright, more than alright, thank you.
Shallow End Divers are good people, I bet right. Setting all the imprisoned free.
I haven’t made a band recommendation in a while, hell I haven’t even written about a new exciting band in a while either. Well, new to me. The band is called Underwater Bear Ballet and they’ve been spinning in my head a lot recently; so hard I got the spins. They’re from Boston and they have some really odd pop flavor in their sound that I struggle to describe.
We’ve been enticed by the band for the past couple months now and lucky for us they have some new recordings. Their previous efforts were marked by noise and that general fuzzy, homemade touch that you know we’ve always welcomed around here. Recently however, the band recorded the Couch Surfing EP at Mystic Valley Recording Studio (Free Pizza, Littlefoot, and many others) in Medford, MA with Alex Garcia-Rivera. This new EP took the old demos and amped them up quite a bit. In spite of our sloppy tendencies, I can say with certainty that these new recordings are an improvement and truly augment the band’s strong songwriting. Still, I can’t put my finger on who or what this band sounds like, but that’s probably a good thing.
Saw URSULA for the first-ish time last night at the Black Lodge in Allston, kicking off what would be a memorable night of rock ‘n roll (as most nights are around the Boston underground in the year 2014). I say first-ish ’cause the <real> first time was at Last Haus, but I only caught maybe the last 5 minutes of the set and being squished back couldn’t really see what was going on. Either way I recognized their “cub scout” demo, thought damn this is it!
Yesterday afternoon I was jamming along to the rest of their bandcamp Demos. I connect with this 2sum maybe because of their noisy, amateur aesthetic. Random but not really. I won’t claim I know their secrets. Whatever so there in the fusty Black Lodge netherregions, URSULA is about to play. Kurt Dorito pops on some Delta 5 who I mistake as The Slits or The Raincoats. Alright so I was close enough in time period and style. The key here is the DIY Spirit, not so much the sound although the conversational-yelling vocal varieties and sustained, head boppable beat is reminiscent of those groups. I recognize some of the tunes from the demo, which come in a couple choice flavors (among others) — the first is like a fuzzy power punk, more structured and the other is more experimental, with some guitar playing that I never knew existed. What I’m saying is the motion is like cutting the strings or using them as percussion. Some funky noises came to be, so sweet!
I always get a little more excited seeing something a little different in live performances. URSULA do it for me, much like a couple other bands on last night’s bill – Miami Doritos and Saralee – go about their business uncharacteristically. Atypical rock ‘n roll. Throw early Fat Creeps on there as well for a bit of a point of reference. Well anyway, go at it, you’ve already got the Demo open, just waiting for me to shut up. I gotchu.
The Panduhs fuck. Fuck it, these panduhs don’t give a fuck if you are feeling blue or if you’ve had a bad day. No, they are going to keep rockin’ and rollin’ in their own little Panduh way. They exist in their own Panduh world. A world fixed on marshmellow pop, Hunxian hooks, and straight up rock ‘n’ roll that celebrates the oldies as well as the modern age. If you dig Beach Boys, Magic Kids, or Peach Kelli Pop you should dig the Panduhs or else. Or else I will track you DOWN. Just listen to the group’s song “When I Grow Up,” in all its Barbara Anne esque glory. A friend of mine said that these songs rub him the wrong way. And that’s just it. I want music to rub me the wrong way, as long as I’m getting rubbed, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong, if I’m getting rubbed (if I’m feeling the magic) then it’s always right.