Friday, June 13, 2014

Coast To Coast With Waxahatchee

08 JUNE, 2014
Katie Crutchfield announced a final show for Waxahatchee before a well-earned summer break that will find room for the recording of a new LP in addition to plenty of Mai Tais. We've had the treat of watching the band progress from trio to quartet and witnessed the evolution in their sound. But lest one forget, Waxahatchee started as Katie, and this special show took place at New Windsor, NY's Storm King Art Center, an outdoor sculpture garden an hour north of NYC in the bucolic Hudson Valley and featured Katie performing a veritable History Of. Unlike recent full band shows, this solo acoustic outing put the focus on American Weekend, the lo-fi classic that was her first recorded effort under the Waxahatchee moniker. Opening with the first two tracks: "Catfish" and "Grass Stain", before dropping in "Blue, Pt. II" and "Tangled Envisioning" from last year's Cerulean Salt. Sandwiched in between A.W.'s "Michel" and "Magic City Wholesale" was an enchanting new song. Moving over to piano, she essayed old favorite "Noccalula", before turning in another new cut, pausing to comment on her lack of piano chops. One of her strengths is making the most of perceived weaknesses, and an indelible gift for melody is her saving grace. In the case of "Noccalula", the conversational nature of the lyrics teamed with the simplicity of the piano lines reminds one of Neil Young's solo piano ventures. Back on guitar, she pulled out a track from her Great Thunder project with Keith Spencer. Finishing up with a devastating trio from American Weekend, she rolled through the ghostly title track, spun out a heartbreaking "Bathtub", and closed with "I Think I Love You". Look out for a new Waxahatchee LP later in the year, and for Katie Crutchfield to hit the road for a solo tour, followed by a full band outing.

More scenes from the Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, NY:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bob Mould: Beauty and Ruin live

03 JUNE, 2014
To celebrate release day and kick off the tour for Beauty and Ruin, Bob Mould landed in LA, pulled his rhythm section, (the law firm of Wurster and Narducy), in from Europe, and proceeded to lay waste to Amoeba Hollywood wth a 10 song set that continued this year's trend of "Instores Requiring Earplugs". This is something of a golden age for Mould, (no pun intended), in a career that's seen its share of blinding light and fallow moments, and the latest rise can be traced back to the moment the rhythm section snapped into place. In the smoke-filled hard bop days of the mid-50's, under Miles, the trio of Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Jo Jones was known simply as The Rhythm Section, and a case can be made for bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster as the indie rock equivalent. Narducy's roots stretch back to Mould producing Jason's band Verbow back in the 90's. When Mould saluted his own Workbook with a 25th anniversary show at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall in February, it was the Verbow combo of Narducy on bass and Alison Chesley on cello accompanying him, returning the gift. Along with his Split Single project, he joined Wurster in Superchunk as bassist on their most recent tour. While we're not quite ready to ordain him Philly Jon Wurster, (geographically correct though it may be), the powerhouse drummer from Superchunk has gone on to sit in with a number of bands, always raising up whatever situation he's dropped into. The combination of the two has, to say the least, rejuvenated Mould's sound, keeping up with his fiercest guitar tangents, but most importantly, adding a swing and buoyancy to songs that could easily turn leaden. Once the foundation was laid, Mould has worked backwards and forwards, rewriting his own history one blast at a time, revisiting his older songs while turning in new work that ranks with his best.
With no other show on the schedule save an appearance on Conan, the band was fully locked in and focused. Kicking off with "The Descent", from 2012's Silver Age, the die was cast as they moved on to tracks two through six from Beauty and Ruin, in that order, with "Little Glass Pill" setting up the sideways blowtorch pop feint of first single "I Don't Know You Anymore", clearing the decks for the full throttle punk charge of "Kid With Crooked Face", and it could have been the mid-80's all over again, or '94. At every station, Bob Mould has been there in the background, and while not a household name, it's hard to swing a dead cat without coming across an indie band that doesn't owe some small debt to the man. "Nemeses Are Laughing" and "The War" set up the conceptual thrust of the LP, and just when a normal instore would have petered out, Mould never looked back, tapping into the Sugar songbook for a volcanic take on "Hoover Dam", before returning to the business at hand with new tracks "Tomorrow Morning" and a hard charging "Hey Mr. Grey". Finishing things up, he dusted off another Sugar gem from Copper Blue, "If I Can't Change Your Mind". As much as the guitar shock and awe that preceded, the song was a potent reminder of his gift for melody. Beauty and Ruin is out now on Merge Records, and the band is on tour this summer-they'll return to Los Angeles in September for two nights at the Roxy.

The Descent
Little Glass Pill
I Don't Know You Anymore
Kid With Crooked Face
Nemeses Are Laughing

 The War
Hoover Dam
Tomorrow morning
Hey Mr. Grey
If I Can't Change Your Mind

Monday, June 2, 2014

On The Road With Chasms

30 MAY, 2014
Huddled in the shadows of the San Luis Obispo airport lies The Compound. The control tower light carves out the night sky, momentarily throwing the industrial surroundings into stark relief. For a band that courts the shadows, there could be no finer setting. Recently we caught up with Chasms on their home turf of San Francisco as they shook off the dust and prepared for the next step. The next step for Chasms is a forthcoming LP release, Subtle Bodies, that cherry picks their EP's: When It Comes and Riser, and adds a stunning new track. It's available to pre-order at Sleep Genius, and is the impetus for a series of Southern California shows to spread the word, with the duo joining All My Sisters to play shows in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Monica, leading up to a full-fledged release bash at the Milk Bar, back in The City, in mid June. Tonight in SLO was the second stop, and found them already in mid-tour form, cranking out their set with verve, surrounded by a small but vocal crowd. What started as a noise-based communion, (or should that be Based Noise), is evolving into something special. Highlights can be found below, including a stellar take on the title track of the Riser EP. May their road be smooth...

After the set, the scene evolved into a full-fledged house party, and after a week on the road myself, it was nice to feel like I was at home. The Compound, to fill in the gaps, is the hideaway/studio space of Some Ember, who have an LP of their own out, and it's been occupying a lot of my earspace lately. A special shout out to their hospitality, and we'll look forward to catching up with them in the future.