Local “other music” cassette-tape label NNA Tapes has had a nice run of late. Following a string of shows at South by Southwest in Austin last month, label cofounder Toby Aronson guest posted on Pitchfork sister site Altered Zones, espousing the virtues of local trash-pop savant Joey Pizza Slice/Son of Salami and his wondrously strange new video for “Fresh Baguettes.” That track appeared on Slice’s most recent record, A Study in Eraser Headless Recording.
This Sunday at the Firehouse … er, BCA Center, NNA Tapes will team up with experimental composer Greg Davis to present an evening of typically challenging sounds and innovative sonic concepts featuring Palmetto Moon Electronic Group, Driphouse, and locals Harmonizer, tooth ache. and DJ Turkey P (NNA Tapes’ Matt Mayer). And just who are those masked men (and woman)? Glad you asked.
Palmetto is a solo side project of Charleston, S.C.’s Eric Lanham — aka Carl Calm — who also performs as one half of improvisational electronic duo Caboladies. Left to his own (usually electronic) devices, Lanham’s work, technically speaking and according to his press materials, “focuses primarily on live sample manipulation of analog and digital synthesizers and drum machines, microcassette and field recordings. Lanham performs live on hardware samplers and modular synthesizer, creating synthetic landscapes and abstract fractured rhythms.” Or, in lay terms, dude makes some cuh-razy-ass noises.
In all seriousness, Lanham creates truly fascinating and dense soundscapes, as does Brooklyn’s Driphouse, aka Darren Ho. The psychedelic drone artist was once a member of now-defunct Iowa City band Raccoo-oo-oon, but now operates on his own, crafting uniquely strange drones and releasing music under multiple names and on multiple vaunted noise and experimental labels, including NNA.
On a side note, it’s nice to see that Davis is performing again. He’s kept an understandably low profile since becaming a dad for the first time a few months ago. But Harmonizer, his collaboration with Aronson, marks a welcome return to the stage.
Congratulations to Split Tongue Crow, who took the top prize in last weekend’s Middlebury Battle of the Bands championship — and made me look good by defending their designation as the odds-on favorite, according to my fictional gambling lines. The Rutland-based indie-folk outfit’s victory lands them the opening slot at this year’s spring concert at Middlebury College, which is usually kind of a big deal. Previous headliners have included Cake, Wyclef Jean and — I’m not making this up — Naughty By Nature. This year’s headliner has yet to be announced, though STC drummer Matt Marro writes that he’s secretly hoping for GWAR. That makes two of us, Matt.
Dan Haley has a new project, which is great news because Dan Haley is friggin’ awesome. The Montpelier-based songwriter has most recently been performing with quirky pop ensemble Dan Haley Is Mr. Casual, whose re-released, self-titled debut knocked my quirky-pop-lovin’ socks off last year. The new group is called Two Shoes Off and features some fellow central Vermont stalwarts, including fiddler and vocalist Susannah Blachly, guitarist and mandolinist George White and percussionist Carter Stowell. The band, whose original tunes veer more into traditional Americana and folk than does Haley’s solo work, debuted at Joe Adler’s weekly Burgundy Thursdays series a few months ago. They return to the scene of the crime, Parima’s Main Stage, this Friday.
Warning! Grace Potter news ahead! Potter and her merry band of Nocturnals have been tabbed to headline the inaugural Bonnaroo Buzz Tour, which kicks off next month, apparently to help raise the profile of the tragically underpromoted Tennessee music fest. (Yes, that last part was facetious.) The Buzz Tour isn’t coming anywhere close to VT. But when GPN arrive at the big festaroo in June, they’ll share the main stage with the Decemberists, My Morning Jacket and Arcade Fire. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
Band Name of the Week: Elephants of Scotland. Not only does new local prog-rock band Elephants of Scotland boast my favorite name on this week’s docket, keyboardist Adam Rabin sent my second favorite email. In it he writes, “I realize that admitting to a music writer that we’re a prog-rock band is akin to handing him a rifle while wearing a target and antlers. But there it is. We’re prog-rock. Our rehearsals tend to run late because we’re constantly sidetracked by conversations about Yes, Rush, Genesis, King Crimson and, weather permitting, Asia.” Awesome. The band makes its debut performance this Saturday at the Monkey House with Pooloop and — wait for it — one-man Rush-tribute act Lefty and the Leftouts.
At this point you may be wondering what my favorite email was. That honor goes to the PR dude for Canadian rapper Shad, who writes that the MC “is the best thing to happen to Canada since Celine Dion moved to Las Vegas.” Zing! Shad opens for Macklemore at the Higher Ground Ballroom this Thursday.
Speaking of hip-hop, local mover and shaker BURNTmd has more than lived up to the “hardest working man in VT hip-hop” tag I saddled him with some years back. B has been touring all over the country, most recently playing a few dates with the Roots’ Black Thought in Chicago and Denver. He’s also finishing up a new full-length and plotting a possible summer tour in Europe with Copywrite of RJD2’s crew Megahertz (MHz). This Saturday, he’ll grace local audiences with his presence at Positive Pie 2 in Montpelier, appearing with Inspectah Deck and Reks as part of a quick New England tour. The show is brought to you by our good friends at Halogen Records, who will also present Philly’s Philadelphia Slick this Friday at Piecasso in Stowe. And also… …this Saturday at Nectar’s, opening for the Roots’ ?uestlove, who’ll be spinning a DJ set following the band’s appearance at the UVM Springfest earlier that day. Yes, really. Local turntable Jedis Lazerdisk Party Sex are also on the bill.
Happy birthday, Higher Ground. The area’s marquee juke joint enters its awkward teen years when it turns 13 this Friday. In fact, I’m told the club has already started growing hair in funny places and is having trouble speaking in a consistent register. In celebration, local jam torchbearers Twiddle and local Ween tribute act Brown Gold take to the Ballroom stage.
Happy birthday also to Craig Mitchell. The renowned house DJ turns the big four-oh this week. In his honor, Red Square will throw a Birthday Party Extravaganza on Wednesday, April 20.
Happy anniversary, Less Digital, More Manual: Record Club. DJ Disco Phantom celebrates one full year of impromptu, audience-fueled mixes and mashups at Radio Bean this Saturday with an extended jam version of his biweekly residency. Coincidentally, Saturday is also national Record Store Day. Neat. You can catch DP doing his regular thing at a few killer indie-rock shows this week, as well. He’ll aid the cause at the Monkey House this Monday, spinning between Beach Fossils, Craft Spells and Parmaga, and then again on Wednesday, April 20, at the BCA Center with Swale and Colin-friggin-Stetson. More on him next week. In the meantime, just plan to be there, m’kay?
Welcome home, Bill Mullins. The stoic local guitar hero has been gallivanting about Austin with alt-country bumpkin Lowell Thompson, who moved there earlier this year. Mullins is back, and back in the saddle with at least one of the roughly 47 bands to which he lends his incomparable chops, the Persian Claws, who rock Langdon Street Café this Friday with fellow B-town garage band the Toes.
It’s that time of the month again … er, for Mildred Moody’s Full Moon Masquerade at Parima’s Main Stage. As I’ve mentioned a few times now, the monthly howl at the moon is among the best regular parties in town. This month’s incarnation features drummer Dan Ryan’s new band Spank, and of course, Mildred Moody.
Last but not least, spring is upon us! And not because of the gradually warming weather, but because the annual Burlington Discover Jazz Festival press conference is Wednesday, April 13. Tune into 7D’s music blog, Solid State, that afternoon for a full rundown of this year’s lineup.
Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.
Young Prisms, Friends for Now
Wye Oak, Civilian
The Heligoats, Goodness Gracious
Lake, Giving & Receiving