Monday, May 29, 2006

The Dmacsbirth Address

By d-mac
May 29th, 2006

One score and seven years ago, my mother and father brought forth on this continent, a new boy, conceived in the regular way, and dedicated to the proposition that most blogs are kind of boring.

Now we are engaged in writing a great blog, testing whether that boy, or any person so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great post of that blog. We have come to dedicate a portion of that post, as a daily loafing place for those who here give precious moments of their lives that that blog might be read. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this blog. The brave men and women, public and anonymous, who visit here and read our posts, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember most of the crap Lamkini and D-Mac write here, but it can never forget who commented on that crap. It is for us the bloggers, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who commented here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored readers we take increased devotion to that cause for which they give their continued time and devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these readers shall not have read in vain -- that this blog, under Blogger, shall have a new birth of interesting posts -- and that a blog of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the Blogosphere.

So in honor of my 27th, I have decided to put together a little EP dedicated to ME -- a "MeP" if you will. Please join me in celebrating me, on this anniversary of my birth, by listening to this mix I have so thoughtfully created for... well, me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Los de Grupo

By d-mac
Hello boys and girls. Do you want to know a secret? 'Cause I know one and it is soooooo good to hear it. You want to know what it schwas? Alright, I'll tell you what it shwas...

I know how to make all the indie-rocker boys dance with all the little hipster girls.

How's that? Come again? D-Mac, surely you jest. I mean, some of us have our indie-cred to keep intact here. You seriously can't expect us to just go around DANCING willy nilly.

Oh but I assure you, it's quite simple. All you have to do is follow my simple instructions, and you too can make all the indie-rocker boys dance with all the little hipster girls. Check it...

First you pick a venue, preferably in their natural habitat. A place where you're likely to find a multifarious lot of young urbanites on a Friday night, out to socialize in an appropriately antisocial environment. A place like The EARL, for example. Done. Next.

Now book an amazingly fun, upbeat latin band to play into the wee hours of the night. But wait, it can't be just any low rent mariachi band that you hired for Cinco de Mayo party last year. It's gotta have at least two sick percussionists, a couple of saxophones, a trumpet, a trombone, a few hombres on lead and backup vocals, a pair of guitars and a funky bass. Oh, and throw some tamborines, kazoos, washboards, water jugs, and a cowbell up on the stage for good measure. I don't know what all they'll use, but just in case. The band should preferably be a conglomeration of at least ten insanely talented musicians hailing from different parts of Texas, New York, and Nicaragua. Have them spend several years playing together in a hotbed of musical talent like Austin, TX, where they can craft their own hybrid of musical styles incorporating afro-latin funk, cumbia, salsa, and merengue.

Then serve $2.50 PBRs all night and watch all the indie kids get their schiggity schiggity swerve on.

But D-Mac, where can I find such a band? I don't even know what "afro-latin funk" means.

No te preocupes, mi amigo. I know of just the band: Grupo Fantasma and they happen to be playing The EARL this Friday, May 19th.

Mmkay, but why are you talking in broken Spanish and answering your own rhetorical questions?

Shut up.

Grupo Fantasma
This Friday, May 19th
The EARL, 11pm

Have a listen for yourself, then imagine it like 18 times better in person and you'll have an idea of what to expect...

From Grupo Fantasma:
Grupo Fantasma - "Cumbia del Coyote"
Grupo Fantasma - "La Boa"

From Movimiento Popular:
Grupo Fantasma - "Chocolate"
Grupo Fantasma - "Rico Tumbao"

Friday, May 12, 2006

Flashback Fridays: Colatown / Motown

By Josh Lamkin

Columbia, South Carolina. My hometown. Hmmm....

I can't say I'm particularly proud to be from Columbia. I'm not ashamed either. It's just one of those places to be from that you can't really say much about, ya know? There's not like a perennially kickass sports team, or famous theatre group, or superb music scene, or unusually large ball of twine that would keep people talking about Columbia and coming back every year. I mean, it's the state capital so the capitol building is there, but that's not that special--every state has a capitol.

I'm going to Columbia tomorrow so I guess I'm thinking about it a lot today. Also, I was listening to The Four Tops all this morning, and there's something about old Motown stuff that makes me think of Columbia.

My parents listened to old Motown records all the time when I was little. I remember running around the house as a little kid singing "You're more than a number in my little red book / You're more than a one night stand...." (All six-year-olds know the words to that song, right?) When we went to football games or on picnics we opened up all the doors to our crappy little Toyota and played The Four Tops, The Drifters, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye and all that kind of stuff while everyone else around us was listening to Skynyrd or whatever. I guess I'm lucky my parents had such good taste in music, or I could be in a Southern Rock band right now--not that there's anything wrong with that.

When I was in high school I found my parents' record collection hidden away somewhere and went and bought a needle for the record player that they never used anymore and listened to all those records again. I used to sit around for hours and lie on the floor listening to all those old records, just spacing out with the warm crackle of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" coming out of the speakers. I hadn't listened to them in so long. It was great.

I think I was bored a lot growing up. Columbia kind of bores me, you know, in the way only your hometown can bore you in that been-there-done-that kind of way. My brothers and sister always wonder why I don't come back home more. I guess that's why. But I guess if there's nothing else to say about my hometown of Columbia, SC, at least it's got a cool soundtrack.

Monday, May 08, 2006

How To Like Bring It...And Stuff....

By Josh Lamkin
Ways to make your show kick complete and total ass
Variety Playhouse
May 3rd, 2006

Little-Known-President Songs - Sing a song about James K. Polk. People will be like, "Hmmm...James K. Polk, huh? My interest is piqued. I need a beer."

Confetti - Use it. Not many bands do it, and it works great in songs about James K. Polk.

Puppets - If you aren't good with puppets, get good with them. The crowd will love it. Or you can get your close personal friends who run the Homestar Runner website to come and have Strong Bad sing with you and make comments during songs and completely steal the show.

Accordion - Much like cowbell, you can never really have too much.

Great Opener - If possible, have an opener with a great sense of humor who plays ukulele, has a hot (so hot) chick playing glockenspiel with him, and is named Michael Leviton.

Venue Song - Sing a song about the venue you're currently playing in. Make it up immediately before you go on stage. Make it poetic, perhaps a metaphor of "a hospital for the well where music is hostpital bill, and you pay for it with your applause." Make up a song about every venue you've played in for the last year. Share. Repeat.

Encores - Don't be stingy. Two encores will be just fine. Start out the first encore with a classic like "Birdhouse In Your Soul" know, if that's one of your songs...or whatever.

This show was so amazing. I've been a fan of They Might Be Giants since high school, but I'd never seen a show until last week. They've been playing together for over 20 years, and they still seem to be as happy to be playing music as they probably were when they started. This show was easily one of the best concerts I've ever seen. And as you would imagine, the fans of TMBG were the most laid-back, friendly people ever. Go see TMBG!!!

Friday, May 05, 2006

How They Operate

By d-mac
Since last year's unfortunate closing of Corner CD in the Highlands, Criminal Records in L5P is fast becoming my new favorite local record store. Despite the relatively small size of the shop itself, you can usually find whatever it is you're looking for there, and I've found I can almost always count on them to have new releases in stock on their actual release date, which is clutch. With this in mind, this past Tuesday I decided to skip the shenanigans and go straight to Moreland Avenue to pick up my copy of the spanking new Gomez record, How We Operate, along with the new Built to Spill album I'd been meaning to buy for a couple weeks. When I got back to my car I took inventory of my newly acquired spoils and tried to decide which would be removed from its cellophane packaging and listened to first on my way home. As I opened the bag, I noticed the guy at the store had stuffed in some extra goodies along with the Gomez disc, including: TWO extra album sleeves SIGNED by the entire band AND a voucher to get into an in-studio rap-session thing with the band and about 50 fans, being recorded on the afternoon of their show in Atlanta (yesterday). Score! So, with only a few days to prepare for Thursday's show(s) I decided to give How We Operate first listen and let it start to soak in. It's now Friday and I haven't been able to listen to much of anything else. Sorry, Built to Spill. We'll hang soon, I promise.

For those uninitiated, I'm not talking about this Gomez, rather the brit-rock outfit from Southport, England who made a splash in the US soon after their aptly-named debut Bring It On was released by Virgin subsidiary Hut Records in 1998. Still maintaining their original lineup since their inception over a decade ago, the band is co-fronted thricewise by brooding crooner Ian Ball, congenial cut-up Tom Gray, and ruminative rocker Ben Ottewell, whose gravely voice some might recognize from his cover of the Beatles' "Getting Better" used in the old Phillips TV commercials. As the story goes, the origin of the band's name is somewhat of a fluke. At one of their first gigs, someone in the band left a note out for a friend named Gomez who was coming to see them, saying where they'd be playing. People read this and assumed that Gomez was the name of the band and the rest is history, as they say.

I was first turned on to these guys by one of my college roommates, Taylor, who owned (and presumably still owns) every record or movie ever made since about 1973, except for maybe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Movie, and the Entire Michael Bolton Catalogue box set, which for all I know might both be on back-order. I remember hearing the stuff that he'd play off the first couple albums and liking it, but it wasn't until some years later, when I got the opportunity to see them live, that I really fully appreciated what was going on.

That opportunity came about two years ago, when Matt, AJ, and I saw them play the Variety Playhouse here in Atlanta. If I remember correctly, Matt had just recently moved up here and AJ was in town visiting from Tallahassee. Rachael Yamagata opened, who I would have described at the time as the bastard love child of Tori Amos and Andrew Dice Clay. Despite her foul-mouthed banter and complete lack of the stage etiquette one might expect from a young budding piano balladeer, she put on a surprisingly captivating performance that went with the headliners like shrimp and grits. Gomez were the definitive rockers on that tour, destined, it seemed, to burn out before they could fade away. Ottewell seemed to be positioning himself as the belligerent, fuck-you front man, bringing a healthy dose of angst to the stage, while Tom Gray kept things in check by cracking jokes and engaging the crowd in singalongs and handclaps.

This is the dynamic I expected of the band on their spring tour, which kicked off this Wednesday in Asheville, NC and passed through Atlanta last night, again at the Variety, but something has changed. They don't seem to be following the rock cliché handbook so closely anymore. I don't know whether the band went through some sort of internal shakeup or had a come-to-Jesus or what, but they seemed a lot more cohesive this time around. Ben Ottewell still stood center stage last night, but he was probably the most humble presence among them. He actually looked like a kid who'd just been awakened from his nap for snack time (maybe that's the secret behind the gravely voice). Ian Ball seems to be taking up more of a lead roll on stage on this tour, and Tom Gray is still his gregarious self. Whatever is happening, it's working. The performance was loose, energetic, and fun. You could really tell they were enjoying themselves up there, and the audience responded in kind. They played a lot from the new record, and some old classics. I have only a few criticisms. The crowd turnout wasn't bad, but it left something to be desired. I don't know if this was the ticket price or the fact that the album was only just released this week or what, but I was expecting more people. There were also a few points in the show when I thought the sound mix was a little off; once when Ball's backing vocals drowned out Ottewell's lead, and then again during "Shot Shot" when you could barely hear the dirty sax that AJ and I think sounds very Morphine. They came back out for two separate encores, leaving us thoroughly rocked and, frankly, exhausted.

Gomez plays Tipatina's Uptown in New Orleans tonight, and then continues on their U.S. Spring Tour through the end of May. They'll be back in mid-June after a quick stop in the U.K. for some gigs back home.

If you haven't already done so, go and buy How We Operate this weekend. You will thank me later. I'm going to go ahead and say this is probably the best album I'll buy all year.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tuesday, Social Mariposa...

By d-mac
Heaps going on this week in the ATL...

Tuesday, May 2nd
Clem Snide @ The EARL

Don't know if I'm going to be able to make this one tonight, but I've heard good things about this alt-country indie rock band out of Brooklyn and I'm curious.

Wednesday, May 3rd
They Might Be Giants @ Variety Playhouse

Way stoked about this one. This will be my first time seeing TMBG. From what everyone and their mother has told me, they put on a show that's so good even Lamkini would have to give a good review.

Check out this video that Strong Sad and The Cheat from made for TMBG's "Experimental Film" (I already know the ending, it's the part that makes your face implode).

Thursday, May 4th
Gomez @ Variety Playhouse
(supporting their new album, How We Operate which "drops" today!!)

I got to see these guys at Variety a couple years back and it was an amazing show. Love what I've heard from the new album so far and looking forward to checking out the rest.

Friday, May 5th
Luigi @ The EARL
Benefit show for Twinhead Theatre w/ My Siamese Self & The Partisan

Very rocking local band, fronted by Michelle DuBois, formerly of Ultrababyfat. Have a listen to these songs from their website:

Luigi - Mariposa
Luigi - Wash it Down
Luigi - Squeeze
Luigi - Today

Now go buy their album immediately, if not sooner.

Saturday, May 6th
Vienna Teng @ Smith's Olde Bar

When we saw her open for Marc Cohn last year, she told a story about how she quit her job as a software engineer to pursue her music career. She said something how it was getting difficult to draw musical inspiration from use case diagrams and code reviews and the like, so she eventually had to bail. I think I was one of two people in the audience who could relate.

Listen to the mp3s on her website.
Buy her latest album, Warm Strangers.

This post isn't all that funny? Yeah, well YOU'RE not all that funny!