Concert Review: Thalia Zedek, Uninhabitable Mansions, Big Big Bucks @ Middle East Upstairs (5/7/10)

Artists: The Big Big Bucks, Uninhabitable Mansions, Thalia Zedek, and Ketman (we did not see)
Location: Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA
Date: Friday, May 7, 2010

The Big Big Bucks: They were a decent band and a good start to the show. The guitars were nice and loud, but not too loud. I could sense they had some pop sensabilities, but the songs did not come all the way through as major hooks. One of their jams, “New Socks,” stood out to me as a little catchy and definitely rocking (and not just because they announced its name, Glen!). Alas, there were some technical difficulties, which truncated the group’s set a teeny bit, but they dealt with the mishap with delightful humor and audience interaction. Overall, I liked them and they served as a good act to warm up for the Mansions. I think I am the only one who has ever referred to them that way lol. Maybe not?

Uninhabitable Mansions: Ahh yes the band we came to see! They created some exciting vibes without being over the top in their showmanship; the songs spoke for themselves. I really dug the adorable Annie Hart and her skillful keyboard playing, something I had overlooked previously while listening to their recordings. The group played a relatively quick set consisting of the classic, “Speed is Deceiving,” which was easily one of the best musical performances I have ever seen. I was like in a trance for a few minutes, it was really that outstanding. The vocals particularly stood out to me as they not only sounded extraordinary, but they also did total justice to the recording, which in itself is fabulous and one of the best from 2009. They closed their brief, but invigorating set with “We Already Know,” another classic from their last LP. Okay, I’ve sucked their dick for enough now, better move on before I start deep throating….

Thalia Zedek: Uhh yeah this is simply music I do not have time for lol. They suffered from the Tulsa effect of playing what seems more like a jam session than a performance of songs. The first number was ok and I was a bit interested, but after that, actually by th end of it, my focus was far from fixed! When that shit is broken, I’m mentally finished with an artist. Perhaps, it’s just me and some other musicians would find real meaning and entertainment in their work, but for me there’s nothing fascinating about it. I typically dig exciting, fun, catchy pop music (what I see as pop, i.e. Jay Reatard). So, if you can’t wow me with explicitly “stuck in my mind, sing along” tunes than you should wow me with something else really unique or mind blowing i.e the performances of Deerhunter and Sonic Youth, amongst others, whom have many catchy songs, but clearly they explore further terrirtory outside the pop landscape and do not rely on the hooks and what have you. If you’re band, as in the case of TZ cannot satisfy these two musical needs of mine than you have lost my attention. Now, that does not necessarily mean the band is bad (TZ are probably decent musicians), it just means I have absolutely no desire to listen to them. Alright, alright, I’ve ranted for wayyy too long lol. So, yeah TZ bored the fuck out of me.

Grade: B


“We Already Know”

Uninhabitable Mansions!

I’m very excited for this show. Along with UM, there is Ketman, an extremely catchy rock band from Boston, who have drew comparisons to Shellac and Mission of Burma, Thalia Zedek, a band from Allston that’s hard to describe, but is both on the noisy and soft side, and finally The Big Big Bucks, a powerpop/punk group from Allston as well.

CLYHSY Side Project…

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That doesn’t involve Alex Ounsworth! Shocking…I know. I dig receiving updates via e-mail from these side projects of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Thanks to an update in September, I was informed of Flashy Python. His LP turned out to be one of my favorites. Ounsworth is also releasing another solo album on October 20. I’m really looking forward to that! Now, we have Uninhabitable Mansions. The group is made up of the likes of Robbie and Tyler from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Annie Hart from Au Revoir Simone, Doug Marvin from Dirty on Purpose, and Chris Diken from Radical Dads. Their album Nature Is a Taker is available now for digital purchase! They are also playing at TT The Bears @ 11 PM on October 25 for 10 singles.

1. “The Speed Is Deceiving” – 10
2. “Big Kick” – 9.7
3. “Do You Have A Strategy” – 9.8
4. “Midnight Topography” – 9.6
5. “Maps Not Accurate” – 9.9
6. “The Brain Is A Slow Wave” – 9.7
7. “Static State” – 9.6
8. “This Drift” – 9.9
9. “Ex-Explorers” – 9.9
10. “We Already Know” – 9.9

This album is very Pains of Being Pure at Heart sounding. It’s, in fact, becoming status quo to use Pains as a reference point for bands of this “throwback-pop” sound. What really does it for Uninhabitable Mansions are two things in particular: vocals (lead and backing) and keyboards. That’s not to downplay the good old gui-tar, which is the principal instrument in “Midnight Topography.” Lyrics, which CLYHYS and its well-received side projects like Alec Ounsworth and Flashy Python have always been masters at, are just as beautiful as you could imagine. “Only you could make me believe your masterful eyes which you pass off as business as usual…it’s just just just society’s way,” a voice speaks on “Maps Not Accurate” in a tone only a teeny notch above a whisper. Tracks like “The Speed Is Deceiving”  and “The Brain Is A Slow Wave” are mind-blowing. On many occasions I conjured up sounds of Galaxie 500 — an awesome slow-core band to be compared to. If you have an hour or so of boredom, just play these songs. Sit back and relax. If you fall asleep, that’s fine. I don’t think I’ve felt as much of an emotional connection to any band as I have with UM. And I’ve only known them for an hour. This is the album I’ve been waiting to hear all year.

Grade: 9.8