No really, I did. Take that, David Brooks.
Those of you who still read newspapers — which I assume would be all of you if you are reading this, right? — may have caught last Thursday’s lengthy New York Times feature on now locally legendary Detroit proto-punkers Death and their offspring/offshoot/most-talked-about new local band in years, Rough Francis. If you haven’t seen it, I’d suggest you do. Unlike Pitchfork’s review of Death’s ...For All the World to See, it’s very well done. And, yes, I’m still rather miffed about that.
Even if you are already familiar with the remarkable story of Death/Rough Francis — which at this point, you have no excuse not to be — Mike Rubin’s “This Band Was Punk Before Punk Was Punk” is an excellent read. The article captures the nuances and personal details of Death’s tale in a way that most of the local coverage didn’t. And that includes the numerous pieces written by yours truly — I’m not too proud to admit when I’ve been one-upped. Hell, Rubin even managed to get The White Stripes’ Jack White to weigh in, albeit via email: “The first time the stereo played ‘Politicians in My Eyes,’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I was told the history of the band and what year they recorded this music, it just didn’t make sense. Ahead of punk, and ahead of their time.”
Amen, Jack. Now, do you think you could have a word or two with Pitchfork?
If you like the alt-country — and I know you do — then you really need to check out local all-star band du jour, The Lonestar Chain. Led by The Cush’s Burette Douglass, the band is sort of Burlington’s answer to alt-country supergroup Golden Smog, which over the years has featured, among others, The Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. By the way, I’m guessing you’ll hear a Golden Smog tune or two at Tweedy’s upcoming solo show at Higher Ground. To go back another generation, you could also roughly equate them to The Traveling Wilburys. Or the most badass — and underrated — supergroup of all time, The Highwaymen.
Regardless of whom you liken them to, the simple fact of the matter is that The Lonestar Chain rocks. But with the likes of Cave Bees’ Creston Lea, skins-man-about-town Steve Hadeka and guitar god Bill Mullins flanking Douglass, would you really expect any less? No, you wouldn’t.
If you can believe it, the band promises to get even better this week as former Chuch co-front man Matt Hayes signs on to play some pedal steel and dobro. They’ll be breaking hearts and whiskey bottles this Friday at Radio Bean.
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S
Though Neko Case has nabbed headlines as the state’s most famous new resident, there is actually another remarkably talented songstress who now calls Vermont home. And this one actually returns emails. How novel!
Tiffany Pfeiffer comes to us by way of Omaha, Des Moines, San Francisco and, most recently, Brooklyn. Now based in Burlington, I’m predicting she’ll be a local favorite very soon. And as regular readers know, I’m like the Nostradamus of local music. Remember when I called the Phish reunion last summer? I mean, who could have seen that coming, right? Anyhoo...
With influences ranging from Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone to Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation, the sultry singer is something like a well-adjusted — and dentally conscious — Amy Winehouse. With voice that sounds like it jumped off an old phonograph, she mixes a classic-jazz vocal aesthetic with a cornucopia of modern beats, flavors and rhythms. All of which is to say, she is a truly intriguing new addition to our cozy local scene.
Pfeiffer has a new EP in the works, which we can hope to see in the near future. In the meantime, you can catch her with her ever-changing backing group, The Discarnate Band, this Friday at The Bee’s Knees in Morrisville.
POMP & CIRCUMSTANZ
This Friday, my alma mater, The Lab Turntablism and Urban Music Production Center, will be sending the next generation of DJs out into the world with a graduation ceremony at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge entitled “The 4 Seasons of Hip Hop.” Word.
For the uninitiated, the four seasons represent the four elements of hip-hop culture: graffiti, b-boy and hip-hop dancing, rapping and, of course, DJing. The show will feature a live art exhibit from local high school graffiti artists, dancing from the Cheeks Dance Crew, L.A.-based MC Phil Da Agony and a turntablism demo from the seven graduating DJs.
Best of luck to the Class of 2009.
Caroline O’Connor and Sean Altrui have been palling around, musically speaking, for the better part of a year, and introduced the term “ambient djembe” into our collective musical lexicon. While the term might not take off beyond the friendly confines of the Burlington music scene, the pair’s heady fusion of loops, saxophone, vocals and, of course, djembe just might. This Tuesday at the 1/2 Lounge, they play their first show under their new moniker, Tapis Bleu.
Speaking of experimental forays, this week’s calendar is chock-full of ’em...
Wednesday, March 18, The Bakery plays host to a show organized by Burlington’s holy trinity of experimental provocateurs, Greg Davis, Toby Aronson (ex-Oak) and A Snake in the Garden’s Matt Mayer. Slated to appear are Brooklyn-based synth/drone mavens Infinity Window, Dutch psych-trance outfit Stellar OM Source, Cleveland’s Mark McGuire — of Emeralds renown, not to be confused with the baseball player — and a Davis-Aronson collaboration called Harmonizer.
In (slightly) more conventional sounds, two seriously intriguing acts from Portland, Maine, will visit us this week: Brenda and Metal Feathers. Both bands stem from another Portland outfit, the late, great Cult Maze, which made a few well-received Burlington-area appearances last year. If you like your quirky indie-rock poppy side up, I’d heartily recommend both bands. Catch a pair of stripped-down sets at the 1/2 Lounge this Thursday. The following night, The Monkey House — where else? — hosts both bands in all their amp-busting glory with Paddy Reagan’s side-side-side project Paper Castles.
And finally, this just in from the Department of Thoroughly Unconfirmed Wild Rumors: Phish at Fenway? Wicked pissah.