Monday, April 26, 2010

Bands I Saw Last Week

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 6:05 PM

The Sleepy Seeds at The Neurolux

Caught these guys at the Go Listen Boise benefit at Neurolux. Sleepy was definitely a good thesis, though not in the sense that it would put a listener to sleep, more in terms of the tone and atmosphere being similar to time in between states of consciousness, where sounds and concepts are indistinct and slightly blurry, sometimes for the better.

In truth, The Sleepy Seeds play sloppy, (their drummer actually looked sleepy, go figure) though it's the same kind of sloppy that indie rock is often built on; think early Modest Mouse records. But their sound is more textural, heavy on reverbs and delays in the guitar department that make for a pleasant nearly slack-key sound with plenty of space for the individual tones to breathe, rather than running all over one another. If the drumming were harder and the vocals less whiny, their sound might be comparable to Bloc Party.

It was just a shame their songs weren't better.

Beautician at The Neurolux

Beautician should be awesome. They're sludge-heavy, with throbbing riffs like a wall of f#$%ing thunder. For the first two minutes, I was hooked. But then it just kept going, the same tones, the same riffs, the same tempos and the same feel. Absolutely no dynamics. Just a steady drone of rock in the vein of goddamn-we-wanna-be-Black-Sabbath, even down to the compressed tube tone of the guitar that kept the volume deadly even. And that straight ahead, no points of interest approach, got really boring, really quickly because it just didn't go anywhere. If the band had a singer, it could bring some dramatic flow to the music, peaks and valleys, a melodic narrative. But as an instrumental group, their style only works if it can incorporate the movement that vocals bring in. See The Fucking Champs for reference.

System and Station at The Neurolux

System and Station was another band that started out strong, then nose-dived. Guitars like passing jet planes and some really awesome drummer faces, but without letting all that noise get too crowded. There was space and there were breaks to let the individual parts cut through, and hit even harder when they came back in, giving them a sound somewhere between the balls-out approach of Rancid and the more technical pop-based approach of The President's of the United States of America. But pair all that with melodic tropes and songs looking solidly in the direction of Queens of the Stone Age. The problem was they used the same breaks, the same tempos and tricks, doing little to distinguish songs firmly from one another in their arrangements or sounds.

Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience at The Morrison Center

Sure the show was schlocky, with projected slides, bad jokes, reminiscences about how awesome the 50s were, applause for everything and an audience so full of old people sitting down, that it could have been described as an anti-rock show. The real problem was that it just wasn't loud enough. The band, which for several songs included original Buddy Holly guitarist Tommy Alderman, was great. They tore through some of the greatest pop songs ever written, with spot-on vocals and tons of energy. But the guy sitting next to me grousing that there wasn't a Big Bopper impersonator opening was almost enough to drown out the music. It's rock and roll people. If it's too loud, you're too old. And if you're too old, what are you doing there?

B-CIMF at The Venue

I stopped by for a bit on Friday night and caught Tatsuya Nakatani's set involving bowed cymbals, broken drums and all manner of unexpected sounds. It was strange and thrilling, despite at times being painful to listen to. The music went places one rarely experiences outside of a horror film, with long foreboding passages of atmosphere twisting and pounding and building to screeching climaxes that made the darkened venue seem like a prison none of the audience would ever escape alive. And all of the sounds came from percussion instruments. I couldn't call it a song, but if the purpose of music is to evoke an emotional reaction through sound, then based on the emotional intensity of the show, Nakatani may be the best act I've seen all year.

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