Monday, April 20, 2009

Some recent Flavorpill listings.

Knyfe Hyts

Knyfe Hyts' Shahin and Shahryar Motia started out playing in no-wave bands in high school, then, with the help of Oneida drummer Kid Millions, began to hammer out a series of even more distorted thrashers. Sometimes the pummeling drum beat strays off the constant guitar churn, but their eventual reconvergence is the best part. Vocals are there, but beside the point — you'll be front and center at Monster Island not for tunes, but for a brazen, face-slapping freak-squall.

Note: Only exact change will be accepted at the door. ($4.20 ticket for tonight's show - April 20th; it's a special day for some.)

Mr. Lif

Following last year's stopover with his crew the Perceptionists, Mr. Lif returns to SF to drop more Bean-town slang. Foregoing the crypto-futurism of his past releases, 2006's Mo' Mega found Lif showing some genuine emotional vulnerability; the album was proof that there's more to this Def Jux crew member than backpacker hubris and inner-circle big-upmanship. Lif continues to grow as a lyricist on his newest album, I Heard It Today, on which he sings the praises of our new president in his silky baritone.

Bishop Allen

When a group of Harvard alums pulls a band name from a Cambridge street sign, comparisons to hyper-literate, "collegiate" acts like Vampire Weekend are inevitable. Fortunately, Bishop Allen's Christian Rudder and Justin Rice have chops to rival any pack of preppy calypso kids. Their elegantly simple pop arrangements are re-created live with the help of friends on drums and vocals. With songs on Scrubs and in Sony commercials ("Click, Click, Click, Click"), and an appearance in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, these Crimson boys (and girl) are certainly getting their fair shot at the spotlight.

Switches review live on Mix Down yesterday!

The Text:
Matt Bishop has come a long way from recording T. Rex songs on his Fisher-Price cassette player. He and the rest of Switches are some brilliant Brits who have done their homework and bring their own energy and royal spirit to the crowded table of British music. Their assuring sophomore album, Lay Down the Law, will make listeners want to throw on a mod suit, sling back some pints, and get all sweaty at a random rock show in Leeds.

"Drama Queen," a strong opening single anchored by hand claps and Bishop's growling delivery, evokes the cheeky raunch of Louis the XIV. The royal theme provides playful lyrics and the choral background vocals hint at Gorillaz circa Demon Days. Meanwhile, the title track is more sonically related to Franz Ferdinand. The riffs are classic and the chorus is so infectiously easy to sing along to ("We lay down the law, so what the hell are you here for?!"), you can almost hear it getting the iPod commercial treatment.

While these are catchy anthems, Switches sport a few different suits before the record is over. They make a better version of The Killer’s "Mr. Brightside" with "Coming Down," borrowing from Metric synths and Rivers Cuomo vocal stylings. Jimmy G's almost disco drumming helps add to a timeless UK flavor that could've rocked a Liverpool basement bar in '72. "Message from Yuz," the title track of their debut EP, is a gem worthy of Bowie or Jagger, with Bishop fine-tuning a dance friendly strut that screams sex and classic punk. Ollie Thomas' lead guitar work shines on The Law's deeper tracks. The Brian Wilson-inspired surf rock anthem, "Lovin It," features a stellar solo reminiscent of their former tour partners, The Darkness.

Whether they don a mod suit or a Mohawk, it doesn't matter because Switches have created a strong case for themselves with Lay Down the Law. Bishop and his mates can throw back a few knowing they've made their own impressive contribution to the endless Brit rock beat down.

The Link: Switches' Lay Down the Law

A video:

Check out some Philly Weekly videos I've done.


Tickley Feather.

Ape School.

Monday, April 13, 2009

No, they didn't!

I saw Neko Case at the Keswick Theatre in North Philly and wrote about it for Philadelphia Weekly's music blog, Make Major Moves. Check it out!

A good song pops into your head at unexpected moments. A line, a verse, a chorus that you suddenly realize is brilliant when you’re not listening to it. Neko Case has dozens of phrases that are so striking, and when you listen to her records as much as I have, titles are insignificant. Many will cite her opening track to “Middle Cyclone,” “This Tornado Loves You,” where Case embodies a tornado’s destructive capacity but in a loving way. “Carved your name across three counties” is an act of devotion. She closed her 16-song set at the Keswick on Friday night with this one but that was by no means the end of her show. A standing ovation brought her and her band back onstage for a five song encore. Her crystal clear voice and the power in which she controls it had the North Philly audience begging for more.

She played primarily songs from her latest album Middle Cyclone, some of them to great effect with her full, loud band that filled every corner of 91 year old theatre. She opened with Fox Confessor Brings the Flood gem “Maybe Sparrow” while cartoon imagery filled a canvas behind her and her stellar team of co-conspirators. With a wicked slide guitar, stand-up bass, electric bass, drums and a backup vocalist to support her, “I’m an Animal” achieved the apex of the set’s energy.

Animal imagery is rampant on Middle Cyclone, a continuing trend from previous records. For her second song she sang of killer whales and elephants on “People Got a Lotta Nerve,” singing the convincing chorus “I’m a man man man maneater.” As if she really does eat men but not out of vengence, just necessity; nature. She revisited an old classic, “Favorite,” halfway through her encore which has my favorite animal line in her catalogue: “Last night I dreamt that I hit a deer with my car/ Blood from his heart spilled out on my dress, it was warm.” After that she gave us the gracefully gorgeous “Magpie To The Morning” before closing out the night with “Star Witness” and “Knock Loud.”

Though titles don’t always match up to the lyrics and the chorus, it’s pretty easy to note key lyrics, like “You said I was your blue, blue baby” and “I love girls in white leather jackets” on “The Pharaohs.” Or “I love your long shadows and your gunpowder eyes” on “Prison Girls.” Or on the sad cover song by Harry Nilsson, “Don’t Forget Me,” the words “when we’re older and full of cancer” and “You know I think about you, let me know you think about me too” have haunted me for days.

She played every song brilliantly, sometimes donning a guitar and other times just standing with her hands clasped behind her tilting head to sing into the microphone. She put her gorgeous hair up and down, riffed with her backup singer, and gave some much-needed humor to break up the near silence between songs. It’s not a new thing to say, but Neko Case, like the Mother Earth she is so fond of singing about, is a force to be reckoned with. (Bill Chenevert)

The link.