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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Starf**ker Plays Burlington!

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:54 PM

OK, I lied. My new(ish) favorite electro-indie band from — where else? — Portland, OR isn't playing Burlington. But since I tried a similar tactic in the paper a couple of weeks ago with Phish and failed to yield results (. . . so far), I figured it was worth another shot with a band I actually, you know, like. (Note to Phish: Please disregard that last line should you actually take me up on the suggestion to turn Burlington into hippie Austin for a weekend. All will be forgiven.)

Anyway, here's the deal: Starfucker — whom I wrote about in my belated roundup of non-local 2008 faves — are currently on tour in advance of their forthcoming album Jupiter, due out on May 5. On Sunday, April 19, they play a relatively new joint in Montreal called Il Motore. On April 21 & 22, they play NYC (Mercury Lounge) and Brooklyn (Union Pool), respectively.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing?

There's a gaping, Burlington-sized — perhaps, Winooski-sized? — hole in their itinerary. If only there were a group in town who were really good at plucking up-and-coming indie bands on tour between Canadia and points south out of the ether and plopping them down in Burlington for a night.

If only . . . tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .

(Note: that ticking sound was simply the sound of my brain working overtime and not me publicly putting Tick Tick on the spot to serve my own greedy indie ends.)

OK, I lied again. That was totally me putting Tick Tick on the spot. But I'll happily put any of our other venues and booking groups on the same spot if it means Starfucker plays Burlington on April 20. Let's make this happen, people. I'll start a petition if I have to.

Wait a sec . . . April 20 . . . April 20 . . . Why do I feel like there's something else happening that day?

Pretty Nice

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:00 PM

This just in from yet another South by Southwest I didn't get to go to: Pretty & Nice at Beauty Bar playing "Gypsy," possibly my favorite cut from Get Young. Next year, Dan. Next year . . .

Monday, March 30, 2009

But I Would Lay You Down . . .

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Is there a more perfect time for napping than a dreary Monday afternoon in late March? Would that I could go home, curl up in my Snuggie, er, comforter and snooze away the rest of the day. Sadly, a late afternoon trip to Sleepytown — take your first left after Funkytown, you can't miss it — just ain't in the cards. Instead, I think I'll lean back at my desk, close my eyes and listen to this track courtesy of one Mr. Neil Cleary over and over again.

Gold star to the first person to correctly identify the tune. And a silver star to the first person to correctly complete the lyric in the heading of this post . . . wink wink . . .

Note: star offers not valid for Neil Cleary.

Friday, March 27, 2009

You're The Best . . . Aro-hound

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 4:52 PM

 . . . Nothin's ever gonna keep you down. You're the best ar . . .

Oh, hello. Didn't see you there. Come on in.

So I was all set to deliver some seriously fanboyish reactions to last night's Jeff Tweedy show at Higher Ground. In a word, "ohmigod." In a few more, it was among the more simply enjoyable concert experiences I've had in a while.

One, it was nice just to go to a show as a fan, critic's brain turned off. And yes, I realize I'm leaving myself wide open for one of our disgruntled "anonymous" commenters to suggest that a critic's brain is always turned off. Beat you to it. Ha!

Two, he was really excellent. It's easy to get caught up in the swirling iconography that is Wilco. And I mean that both in musical terms and the particular aura that surrounds the band (near constant lineup changes, label issues, etc.). But last night's show reaffirmed, at least to me, that at its core Wilco is about little more than great songs. To borrow a line — ironically enough, from the worst Wilco song ever — it's just that simple.

Anyway, I was going to do that. But instead, I'll do this (it's VERY loosely related):

Over the last couple of days, I've had a lively email debate going between myself, Bryan Dondero and State of Mind's Mike McKinley. It started out as a discussion of the merits — or lack thereof — of Wilco's "Hate it Here," which was referenced in part one of my interview with Bryan. I won't bore you with the details, except to say it's been a fun back and forth.

As all great discussions usually do, ours eventually turned to The Karate Kid, which prompted Bryan to pose a question that has been gnawing on my mind all day:

"If you could be any character from The Karate Kid (the movie changed my life mind you), who would you be?" 

I chose a slightly different tack with my answer, instead wondering not who I would be, but with whom I most closely relate. Here's my response:

The Karate Kid essentially shaped my entire childhood. In fact, a little known tidbit about your friendly neighborhood music critic is that prior to relocating to VT, I was a youth karate champ in Maine. No shit. If my family hadn't moved when we did, I would have become the youngest black belt in the state. Unfortunately, there wasn't a school in VT that taught the style I studied. So continuing would have meant starting over as a white belt. Long story short, I turned to music instead. I'm still not sure about that decision . . .

The Karate Kid inspired me to study the martial arts. Well, that, and the frequent ass-whoopings one receives as the smallest kid in a school full of hicks. Ironically, once it became known that I was really good at fighting, the challenges actually increased, as everyone wanted a piece of, and I'm not making this up, The Karate Kid — I imagine the whole "Daniel-san" thing didn't help either. Fortunately, it only took a couple of examples to put a stop to all that — like I said, I was really good.

So the obvious answer to your question, Bryan, would of course be Daniel (with an "L"). And back in the day, I would say that was probably true. But age does funny things to a man. And while I wish I could say pure-hearted Daniel Larusso is still the answer, I have a feeling I might more closely align with Tommy.

Yeah, he runs with the Cobra Kai and sometimes seems of questionable moral character. But deep down he's a good guy who shows genuine remorse when he's forced to hurt Daniel's leg, and never really seemed comfortable with the whole bullying thing to begin with ("He's had enough, Johnny.").

Or, maybe I'm the two drunks at the beach ("Kindry do it yourself, Mr. Moto.") Tough call.

Bryan also included a link to this video for No More Kings, "Sweep The Leg," which pretty much made my day.

So fess up, Solid State. In a Karate Kid world, who would you be?

. . . It's a cruel,CRUEL, cruel summer . . . leavin' me here on my own . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Birth of American Hay

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 1:34 PM

In the years since the brutal kidnap and murder of American rock radio, we critics of music have remained perched, phoned heads titled at our computers, digitally fledgling for the next nice sound.

As a review writer and fan of review writing, the exploration of music criticism sites remains a pastime of mine, when I'm not searching Burlington's Craigslist to spruce up my home, that is.

Obviously, there are just too many music review sites to list. (Some Solid State readers might be pleased to know my work has been rejected by quite a few of them.) However, a recent review at CMJ — the esteemed College Music Journal - caught my attention.

The band, Other Lives, is critiqued as having "interwoven an avant-garde edge into their indie-rock on their self-titled debut, a record that is sonically diverse though often quietly contained."

Nevermind that any CCTA bus, the Burlington lakefront and Church Street's bicycle drunks are all sonically diverse, though often quietly contained. Or that the music of Other Lives is actually very good.

Days after reading this review I've yet to determine what's "indie" about Other Lives. And I seriously think I've busted CMJ asleep at the wheel. Is it the expert production? The crisp instrumentation? The highly discernible, somber lyricism? The delicately infused piano?

One of my favorite bands of all time is Archers of Loaf, oft heralded as one of the godfathers of indie rock. They screeched noise guitars over throaty screams about cheese and dripping faucets back in 1993. That was indie rock — the kind of rock few, if any, were making at that time. Compared to the Archers, Other Lives are the Eagles.

Consider CMJ bagged for slapping their generic "indie_rock_review.doc" on Other Lives, out of either pure laziness or simple lack of invention.

I hereby designate the music of Other Lives — and like bands so often plopped into indie rock's distended league — as American Hay. Or American Hay Rock. Or maybe just plain Hay Rock.

It's catchy — like "hey!" And like hay itself, there's tons of it around and needles like Other Lives are increasingly hard to find in it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank You, FailBlog

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 5:26 PM

In light of the unpleasant business of the last two posts, here's a little something that made my day, courtesy of FailBlog:

For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 2

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 5:02 PM

(Editor's Note: And now, the dramatic conclusion of my interview with ex-Nocturnal Bryan Dondero. -DB)

SD: Not to dredge up and "he said, she said" stuff, but I am curious as to how it all went down.
BD: To be fair to Grace, what happened between us is a personal thing;. But I also felt a sense of holding her accountable. And that's where I've been struggling. Because someone says something, you don't necessarily have the right to go spreading it around and throwing mud and trying to get vengeful. And that's not my style.

The one thing that bothered me, and I still don't know that I completely understand it . . . and these are her words, and the ones I feel justified in holding her accountable for, is that she said something along the lines of, "Bryan, you have so much integrity. You are integrity personified . . . and that scares the shit out of me. Because I feel like I might have lost mine." Those are pretty much her words exactly. And I was like, "What? What the hell does that mean?"

But for what it's worth . . . whatever. That's for her to think about. I think I understand what in essence she meant by that. There's one way just to take it at surface level. But there's another way to take it as someone who has known me for five years to say something like that . . .

I don't know that  she completely understood why she said it and what she meant by that. And I don't know that I completely understand some of those things that she was saying. But that's for her to decide.

SD: Do you feel you were forced out?
BD: It felt a little forced. There was pressure. Not pressure to quit, pressure to make a choice. Pressure to say, "This thing that you stood for is no longer going to be that. And I'm forcing you to choose whether or not you're willing to accept what this is going to become."

Continue reading »

For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 1

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM

(Editor's Note: What follows is part one of the full transcript from an interview I recently conducted with ex-Nocturnals bassist — and occasional Solid State contributor — Bryan Dondero, concerning his recent decision to leave the band. Excerpts of the interview appeared in today's music section (3/25). Part two will appear on Solid State tomorrow. -DB)

SEVEN DAYS: So, what the hell happened?
BRYAN DONDERO: (Chuckling) It's hard to digest what happened. I think in some ways I saw it coming. In other ways I feel like I was completely blindsided.

SD: Then this wasn't an amicable split?
BD: Not necessarily. But when is a split ever amicable? Anybody who says they split amicably is full of shit. It's never easy. It's never, "Oh, this was was the best thing that could have happened!" Bullshit. I've been thinking about that word "severance" a lot lately. I like that word, to "sever." And that's kind of how it feels.

I felt like I was put in a position where I was basically being forced to make a choice. And that's what I wrote on my website. I don't know if you saw that quote. One thing I've learned is that it's better to make a choice and make the wrong choice than to not choose and face the consequences of not choosing. That's worse.

SD: Are you worried you might have made the wrong choice by quitting?
BD: I hate using that word too. It's not quitting. It's withdrawing. It's leaving.

I started taking Aikido recently, and I've realized that withdrawing is not quitting. You know what I mean? It's a different thing. Literally the last class I was taking we doing some bokken work, the wooden sword. And the instructor was showing this maneuver that he's . . . you'll have to pardon me. I'll have to show you visually. (Stands) He was standing, and as the person was attacking him with the sword, he's doing this. (Steps back with his right leg, turning his torso) So he's withdrawing. He's moving out of the way of the sword so that it sweeps here (motions across his midsection). And this hip (pointing to his left hip) is going forward. So he looks like he's withdrawing, but his front hip is moving this way (toward the attacker). It was cool. I mean, he's like a magic Jedi, so he can hold sword here (at his hip) and then he just let his hands go and his body was holding the sword into his opponent's body. So . . . that's kind of how I feel right now (laughing). I feel like I'm doing that kind of maneuver. I'm not running and ducking. I'm not coming at anybody with a big hammer to beat the shit out of them. I'm kind of just doing that, which is sort of how it feels right now.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nightmares & Tweetscapes

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 4:35 PM

My name is Dan, and I have a Twitter feed.

"Hi, Dan!"

I thought I had kicked the habit. Really, I did. I mean, I was never a terribly prolific Tweeter — Tweeterer? Tweetist? — to begin with. And deep down, I do sort of resent the intrusion of yet another social networking tool that reduces communication to truncated pseudo-English — or as I like to call it, webonics.

Is your day really enriched by knowing that I'm over-caffeinated in the morning, reading FailBlog in the afternoon when I really ought to be doing club listings or craving a cold beer in the morn, er, after work? Probably not. By the same token, do I really need an up-to-the-minute rundown of how your day is going? I like you guys and all, but I'm the kind of fella who likes to leave the mystery intact to some degree.

So I had basically stopped Twittering. For like a good two weeks. Maybe longer. But every day, I noticed more and more people following my (then dormant) feed. And I started feeling guilty. Not guilty enough to actually start using Twitter again, mind you. But guilty just the same. Is this what it's like to be Catholic?

Anyway, today I finally succumbed and unleashed a few sub-140 character brain dribblings into the Tweetscape. And you know what? It felt good. Really good. Like that first beer in the morn, er, after work. And that's not all.

After acquiring a small cadre of followers over the last couple of weeks, I found myself checking in to view their brain dribblings too. What's worse, I started to care. (My 7D predecessor, Casey Rae-Hunter, tweets like Robert Pollard writes songs, which is to say non-freakin'-stop.)

Then came the tipping point, when after being forced to wait several seconds because Twitter was "over capacity" — WTF?! NOOOOOO!Daryl Rabidoux posted a link to a YouTube clip of late San Diego outfit No Knife, whom I'd never heard of but fell immediately in love with and promptly downloaded an album via eMusic. (Pinback fans might recognize the drummer.) Here's the clip:

If this keeps up, I'll be broke in a week. Damn you, Twitter. Damn you!

Aw . . . I can't stay mad at you.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Hey folks. Happy Friday/really chilly first day of spring.

I've just got one little item to pass along before I sign off for the weekend: due to a late scheduling scratch, Barbacoa and Swale will be rockin' The Monkey House this Saturday night. Eric and Amanda have been slightly preoccupied with parenthood of late, so any chance to see Swale — aka Burlington's art-rock royalty — is certainly not to be missed. Although there is no word yet as to whether baby Magny has joined the band. But it's only a matter of time . . . 

Plus, I hear Winooski is simply lovely this time of year.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


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