Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chris Ware on This American Life

I love Chris Ware's comics, but he's now proving he's brilliant as an animator as well in this segment from this week's This American Life on Showtime.
The host, Ira Glass introduces each story in a setup like John Cleese on Monty Python- behind a desk placed incongruously in some unusual location.

I get the impression not a lot of people have Showtime, but they are really stepping it up recently with some really great shows like Weeds and Dexter. The Tudors is pretty bad though- only good for a little skin.

Here is the segment:

Peter Brotzmann, Marino Pliakas, & Michael Wertmuller at the Red Room

Last night, I went to see German free music saxophonist, Peter Brotzmann play at the Red Room inside Normal's Books. Accompanying him was Marino Pliakas on electric bass and Michael Wertmuller on drums.
Brotzmann was amazing- despite losing his reeds in his luggage, he sounded great on the saxophone- loud and quiet, noisy and melodic all together. I also loved hearing him humming as he played his instrument.
Wertmuller looked like Michael Madsen, and he was fantastic to hear in the drums, sometimes hitting so hard it sounded like a machine gun (one of my fav Brotzmann albums by the way). Pliakas looked like Richard E. Grant, and with no effects pedals, he was making all these crazy noises on his bass.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Kaiser Chiefs, The Walkmen & The Annuals at 9:30 Club

Last night, we went to a sold out show sponsored by NME with the Kaiser Chiefs headlining.
Opening up was North Carolina band The Annuals. They've received some hype in the blogosphere, so I was interested in seeing them Needless to say, I was disappointed. Their bombastic style of rock reminded me of Arcade Fire, and I hate that crap. They had 3 people drumming sometimes, but I'm not sure why as it added nothing to the music. I don't get why all there up and coming indie bands have to be so bombastic. Is it to create drama onstage?
Next up was one of my favorite bands, The Walkmen. I just saw them a few weeks ago, but despite a less receptive audience, they were outstanding. After hearing a lot of their new songs, I really am looking forward for their next record.

The Kaiser Chiefs were what I expected from a Britpop band- high energy, tight playing, and good audience rapport. The lead singer was short and pudgey and at one point he swam on top of the audience to the bar at the club. They played the songs from their two records I recognized well. They were fun.

Xiu Xiu, Shearwater, and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone at Ottobar

This past Thursday, I went to the Ottobar to see art punk rockers Xiu Xiu play.
Opening up was local band Thrushes. Their sound was very shoegaze, and the lead singer's voice was nice. For some reason she had a paper on her mic stand (lyrics?). They still seem a little tentative on stage, but a nice opening set.

Second on the bill was Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. He brought out about six or seven Casio keyboards, but he seemed to only play three of them. I really enjoyed his melancholy pop songs, and the sound and range he got out of the Casio keyboards was pretty impressive.

The third act was Shearwater. They were a rock outfit with a little folk influence, and the band itself were all very good musicians. They had lovely lady on upright bass and a band member named Howard. However, I didn't really love their songs and music all that much.

Headliners, Xiu Xiu were pretty great. Their sound is a mix of punk and free music. I was particularly impressed by their percussionist Ches Smith who reminded me of avant-garde percussionists I've seen. They also did a fantastic cover of New Order's "Age of Consent".

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Iris Dement at the Rams Head Tavern

Over the weekend, I went to Annapolis to the Rams Head Tavern to see folk-gospel artist Iris Dement play.
I've been a fan of her music since college, and I haven't seen her play in about 12 years. Last saw her in the Sidebar in St. Louis where I had seen Sleater-Kinney play as well.
This was a different venue. Annapolis is really white, especially if you compare it to Baltimore. Also, the Rams Head crowd was much older. I swear I was probably closer in age to Iris than the audience.
Her voice has aged a little, and she can't hit some of her higher notes, but the songs are still beautiful.
I had planned on trying to see Menomena in DC afterwards, but her show was so good I stayed for the whole thing and just went home afterwards.