Thursday, January 31, 2008

Upcoming Shows

Saturday's loaded. Obscenely Unseen 2 is taking place over at Space Studio from 2pm - 1am, beginning, I believe, with Record Hop. You also have an opportunity to see Boys Named Sue twice and see local bands take over the Loft. Don't forget Mom at And/Or, because there's no hipper place to catch music than an art gallery.

Thursday, January 31

Pleasant Grove @
Doublewide - Dallas - 3510 Commerce St.

Friday, February 1

Boys Named Sue @
Allgood Cafe - Dallas - 2934 Main

Saturday, February 2

Record Hop @
Space Studio - Dallas - 2814 Main, Ste. 201
9pm, Cost $5

Red Monroe w/ The Demigs and Black Tie Dynasty @
The Loft - Dallas - 1135 S. Lamar

Boys Named Sue @
Club Dada - Dallas - 2720 Elm
Cost N/A

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Sword @ Lola's - Jan. 25, 2008

It took a recent Rolling Stone article sympathetic to the Aqua-Net era of metal to remind me just how much I hate hair bands. The article, an analysis of the Rocklahoma festival, was trying to explore the nuances of pop-metal cock rock in the mid to late 80s, playing up the philosophical potential for the whiskey and tits hedonism of bands like Motley Crue, Poison, and Ratt. But the fact is that the whole genre was exactly as shallow as Brett Michaels’ eye shadow and deserved its abrupt ending and its embarrassing comeback attempts. The trend was annoying in its day and hilarious now, but perhaps more seriously, hair metal was an abomination to real metal.

Real metal is made by unpopular kids, the kids with patchy mustaches and skinny arms. The kids who got picked on, who developed morbid tastes in movies and t-shirt art. Basically me. I was, as a teenager, enamored with metal of the Black Sabbath and Cliff Burton Metallica variety, a disciple of the minor scale, a worshipper of twin guitar solos. Real heavy metal was darker and more aggressive than its glitzier counterpart. I felt like it made up for my lack of aggression and power in daily life. The experience was too morose to be called escapism and a little more grounded than fantasy, but there was certainly a cathartic element at work. I could agree with and participate in the power expressed in large, chunky notes even if it didn’t manifest itself in any practical way. It’s the same odd metaphysic that draws any kind of fan to any kind of music. Likewise, real metal was made for people who needed a cathartic. Hair metal was made for preppies. Some people might think Austin’s The Sword are something like a monument to that darker era of metal, a newly dusted album of yellowed photos from the past, but I believe in The Sword‘s present utilization, even if it is augmented by nostalgia.

The Sword are, in every respect, old time metal. Tag-teaming on Friday night with fellow Austinians, The High Cost of Living, The Sword turned Ft. Worth venue Lola’s into a big riff paradise. Like their musical predecessors, there was no pretense with The Sword. With barely a murmur of introduction, the quartet pitched themselves into the popular “Freya,” stopping only for an occasional word of gratitude for the rest of the set. The sight was bewitching: undulating mops of hair, rhythmically agreeing with the heavy footfalls of the music. Occasionally, things would halt and either of the guitars would cleave the noise with a nimble arpeggio. I jumped and threw myself around like a true moron, clutching my newly-purchased t-shirt in my left hand, throwing up devil horns while whooping my praise. The abandon was glorious. I left the venue with a headache and hoarse of voice, beaming with childish renewal.

The next day my neck hurt and still does. It’s been nearly a decade since my neck hurt the day after a show. But the question remains: are The Sword a legitimate band making art people can use or are they just good ol’ throwback fun? It’s a circular question, because nostalgia is useful all by itself. It’s a matter whether or not a band like The Sword makes music that affects you in any way beyond helping you recall Dukes of Hazzard or your high score on pinball. The better way to phrase the question would be: are there still pimply malcontented teenagers with no fashion sense who can’t bench press their own weight? I think there are, and I hope they discover The Sword.

For some videos of the show, featuring The Sword, The High Cost of Living, and Record Hop, visit Parade of Flesh. This site, by the way, always seems to get great video of local shows. If I get fired in the near future, it will likely be their fault.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend Engagements Worth Considering

Big weekend of music in DFW. Make sure you go to at least one of these, but you should really think about doubling up on your show-going this weekend.

Friday, January 25th

Record Hop w/ the Sword @
Lola's - Fort Worth - 2736 W. 6th St.

Loop 12 @
And/Or Gallery - Dallas - 4221 Bryan St. Ste B

Mundo & Lifted MC @
Green Elephant - Dallas -
5627 Dyer St

The Red Herring's @
Lakewood Bar & Grill -
Dallas - 6340 Gaston

Free to Kill Again @
Bar of Soap - Dallas - Exposition & Parry

Saturday, Januray 26th

Bleach Boys @
Xtream Dudes Manor - Denton - 1119 Frame St.

Tree Wave w/ Koji Kondo @
Rubber Gloves - Denton - 411 E. Sycamore

Space Cadet w/ Wonderfool and The Future Cast @
Doublewide - Dallas - 3510 Commerce

Zanzibar @
FG Gallery - Arlington - 2800 W. Division
Price Unknown

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Alchemy of Texas: Reverend Horton Heat with Nashville Pussy

The first understanding I had of Texas was as an arrangement of irreducibles. I was in Adairs for the first time when that happened and the Boys Named Sue had just begun a set that would stretch well into the night. The room was packed with rockabillies and Texas geezers. The rest of the space was taken up by Shiner and country music. It was then, as a disillusionment that left one with only alcohol, rage, and humor, that I started to see the modern nation of Texas. Admittedly, that's looking at a place through bizarrely colored glasses, but it's an aspect of the region that I see pop up now and again like I did at the Reverend Horton Heat show on Saturday night.

Nashville Pussy's personnel is an amalgamation of geography that stretches to Canada, but the spirit of the band is the bourbon-stained South. Blain Cartwright is the voice of the band and self-proclaimed redneck from a Kentucky trailer park. Cartwright, himself a disciple of the philosophy of irreducibles, sums up his ethos with two elements: "hate and whiskey." Add to that truncated list a guitar-shredding heroine who makes men lick her boots before giving them a guitar solo, and you would have a fair description of Nashville Pussy. Only a band fueled by hate and whiskey could be responsible for the musical explosion at the Granada Theater last Saturday. The aforementioned guitarist, pictured above, capped off the evening by allowing an audience member to pour liquor in her mouth before she spewed it back at the audience, climbed the light rigging, and began tearing the strings from her guitar and throwing them to the crowd.

The Reverend Horton Heat would have been upstaged by that exhibition if they hadn't followed it up with a set that exceeded two hours. The exceptional thing about the Reverend is the bareness of his guitar. Ever since Billy Corgan's big muff guitar effect antics from the Smashing Pumpkins, the general public has been spoiled with rock and roll doused in angsty fuzz. It's not a bad thing. Practically my whole CD collection is angsty fuzz. It's an expressionistic liberty, to distort instruments, and I like it. But I also appreciate how the Reverend is still, for the most part, rattling our teeth with accelerated swing guitar. That double-time approach, combined with the Rev's polished vocal caterwaul, accelerates into what we know as psychobilly. The end result is a sound as brash and racy as all the flaming dice tattoos and pompadours in the crowd. And it hinges entirely on the band's technique. The Reverend proved as much by racing through tunes from Bill Haley, Elvis, Cash, and Black Sabbath with aplomb. I've seen the Reverend Horton Heat one other time, in Boston, but he had nowhere near the command over the crowd as he did on this evening. Dallas seems to be struggling to apprehend its own musical identity. Most of the area's bands have disintegrated or moved somewhere else. As a front-runner of Dallas' old guard, I think Pastor Heath is the city's best shot at a musical patriarch.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Weekend Engagements Worth Considering

Jan 18 (tonight) - Les Savy Fav w/ Mom @ The Loft - Dallas - $14

Jan 19 (Saturday) - The Reverend Horton Heat @ Granada - $23

Jan 19 (Saturday) - 9 acts beginning at 3:30pm including RTB2, The Backsliders, and The Red Herrings @ Bar of Soap - Dallas - $5

Jan 19 (Saturday) - Matthew and the Arrogant Sea @ The Prophet Bar - Dallas - $7

Album Review

A week ago, I had ambitions of reviewing Policia! Policia!. Late as it would be, I wanted to see if I had the chops to write a decent music review after authoring paragraphs of drivel for Dallas Music Guide. But after three straight posts about the same album’s remix, I figured a review would be overkill and was ready to abandon the idea. Truthfully, Policia! Policia! hadn’t made much of an impact on me anyway, until yesterday during a trip to Wichita Falls. I wanted to hear the album again before I listened to the remix, so I brought it along. Maybe it was my rented Four Runner’s superior audio system, but the album finally crossed that blessed line between listenable and infectious.

What happened is I finally started listening to the words. As a music-listener, I’m very much an infant with letter blocks. I’ll build forts or castles or factories with them, but very rarely do I actually notice the alphabet in front of me. The first time I heard Policia! Policia!, I related to the music spatially, noticing the couple of times the songs would drop into a higher gear and the gravity of the riff took them over. The musical result was jarring, surprising, pleasant. Relating to the music literarily, though, adds a new dimension.

Anyone who heard Red Monroe’s debut, Meeting on a Train, or even their self-titled EP, noticed the band made a drastic swerve with Polica! Policia!. The previous sound was one of finesse, favoring sounds that surrounded the listener, to the point of eschewing a catchier take of the song “Althea” for a simpler one awash with distant background noise. I thought Red Monroe’s music would get spacier, floatier, more ambient with each album. By stark contrast, Polica! Policia! finds the band sharper nearer-at-hand. The lyrics have gone from ominous reverie to naked palpability. The approach now resembles Flannery O’Conner’s terrifying Southern gothic. “She waits on a tidal wave” becomes “taking you from your parent’s basement is like trying to peel flesh from a stone.” The former, from Meeting on a Train is dreamier, but makes more sense. The latter, from Policia! Policia!, is much more tangible, but cryptic.

Personally, I think Dallas finally got to Red Monroe. DFW’s attractive real-estate prices and sunny weather is supposed to make it play nice. But Dallas is mean. It railroads over the poor and chases off the homeless. In the words of Deep Ellum graffiti, Dallas hearts cash and little else. Red Monroe says as much: “The difference is Southern businesses will kill you then call your kids to collect.” Policia! Policia! hits closer to the bone with all its flesh and factories and knee high boots. The album’s characters are realer too: fickle, indecisive, with minds full of sex and murder. If the lyrical narrative is befuddling, it’s also near. It’s funny how the stuff of the day-to-day that rubs up against your arms, hits you in the chest, and gets in your eyes can be the most confusing, most frightening, most imposing.

The value of Policia! Policia! is that it fairly evokes this abutment of Dallas and myself. State fairs, corrupt government, the desperately impoverished, the unimaginably rich, they all exist side-by-side in this surreal trailhead called Dallas. Red Monroe is confronting the joy and the junk of the place at eye level. That’s the quality that makes me feel a new solidarity with the material and that, to me, is the chief aim of experiencing music.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Policia! Policia! remix now available

The blog has been a little choppy with one sprawling existential discourse on Chris Whitley and three hiccups about a Red Monroe remix. Not really what I intended when I started this thing nearly two weeks ago. But I'm nothing if not honest and I told you I'd point you to the actual remix once it was available. The downloadable file is hosted by We Shot JR and you can get it here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Policia! Policia! remix release moved to Jan. 13th...

...or at least that's the good word from Architects and Heroes.

Almost everything escapes my attention

I barely caught onto this one. Apparently, Dallas' own Red Monroe is releasing a remix of Policia!Policia! by various and, I think, mostly local artists and it comes out today. No word yet on how to obtain it--the purchase link on Red Monroe's Myspace sends you nowhere--but get a load of this lineup.

DJ Stephen R
Smile Smile
Wanz Dover
The Hourly Radio
Jay Wadley

I'll let you know when and where to get it. For now, you can munch on one of the transmogrifications that didn't make the cut. I got this one from the guys over at Stereo on Strike and its ripe for aural mastication. A word of warning: what you'll be downloading is a zipped up .wav file weighing in at a whopping 47 MB. But if I can do it, so can you. If you're really so strapped for space, give it at least one good listen and delete it.

Sundown Shade (The Frenz Bumpin the Bonham Mix)