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by Thomas Hauner

21 Oct 2009

Mon Khmer
Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn
A quintet of shoegazers, Mon Khmer were going somewhere in their music, but slowly.  So slowly that the sometimes beautiful sounds they crafted after layering two guitars and a pedal steel guitar never materialized.  The occasional coalescence of harmonies was further diminished, however, by muddled and confused vocals.  But whenever the group did seem to hit its stride (pulsating tom-tom rhythms under blending, repetitive guitar lines) the transformative capabilities of the pedal steel stalled, the player caught looking up and just admiring his own band mates.  Hunker down and join the party already!

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

by Jonathan Kosakow

21 Oct 2009

Mercury Lounge, New York City
You probably wouldn’t say that the members of Warpaint came on stage looking ready for battle.  In fact, based on how they dressed on stage last night, you’d be more inclined to say they look ready for bed.  But put you to sleep is the last thing the mostly–female quartet did on Tuesday (three of four musicians are women).  Their haunting bass lines and drumbeats kept a steady groove as their ethereal guitar parts and vocal harmonies elevated above the room.  The juxtaposition between psychodelia and dark pop came together smoothly and left you wanting more.

by Vijith Assar

21 Oct 2009

Red Bull Space, New York City
The sort of indie rock band that probably has no problem labeling itself as such, Kingston is led by a shaggy-haired frontman apparently so chosen more for his love of the attention than any other obvious qualifications.  Engaging drums, but between the words “thank” and “you” during that last climactic fill I somehow forgot literally all the lyrics and riffs from the songs they’d just performed (I know because I was trying to write this down at the time).  I give this two kiwis out of a possible five, but to be fair, I was getting pretty frustrated trying to figure out what this image had to do with New Zealand, CMJ, indie rock, or, you know, anything.

by Mehan Jayasuriya

20 Oct 2009

Saturday night was about as cold and rainy as they come here in Washington D.C. but that didn’t stop a few hundred kids from packing into the Black Cat for an evening of ethereal, psych-tinged rock.  First up were Atlanta’s Selmanaires, who did double duty, serving as both opening act and backing band for Bradford Cox.  As the Selmanaires, they ably warmed up the crowd with a set of energetic, Talking Heads-indebted dance rock.

Though they easily could have headlined, Birmingham, England’s Broadcast hit the stage next, serving up one half-set of protracted, ambient experiments followed by another half-set of recognizable songs.  Trish Keenan, fittingly outfitted in a white robe, hovered wraith-like over a table crammed full of blinking electronics, her long, dark hair obscuring her face.  A series of brightly colored projections behind the band provided most of the visual stimulus, as Keenan and James Cargill did their best to remain hidden in the shadows. Though the first half of the band’s set was captivating in its own right, the audience seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief when the duo dusted off a few familiar numbers during the second half, including the obligatory “Black Cat.”

by Kirstie Shanley

19 Oct 2009

This is one duo whose music is equally as interesting as their story.  Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero began in Mexico City and traveled to Ireland to make their way in music.  From busking to officially breaking into the music scene, they garnered a following devoted enough to guarantee their success.  Selling out Chicago’s Riviera Theater was no shock for what are now accomplished musicians, but what may have been surprising is the utter joy that accompanied their obvious talent.

Like fellow musician José González, Rodrigo y Gabriela are incredibly proficient in guitar, capable of performing with daunting layers of intricacy.  Unlike González, however, you get a much fuller sense of personality with Rodrigo y Gabriela, which makes their performance richly entertaining and more complete.  Often, Gabriela seemed blissful while Rodrigo kneeled to play or went out to the lip of the stage.

What all three musicians have in common though is how thrilling it is to watch their fingers move on their guitars.  For those in the back, or in the balcony, who weren’t able to see, these motions were emphasized with large silhouetted visuals behind the pair, making for a vivid visual setting.  Needless to say, they also showed a great sense of chemistry between them, with Gabriela often looking at Rodrigo intently or with a lovely smile.  No doubt this connection helps keep their guitar rhythms so accurate.

Rodrigo y Gabriela draw from an eclectic array of songs to construct both covers and medleys of various recognizable guitar riffs.  The pair has been called by some “Flamenco Metal,” which does partially describe their sound.  Their 100-minute long set felt fluid and dynamic, each song rushing into another seamlessly and with very little banter.  The prominent riff from The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” got some applause early on.  From classical music to metal, it was also heartening to see such a diverse crowd enjoying an equally diverse set of musical references.

Overall, their set weighed most heavily on their third release, 2009’s 11:11, which was very well received by their fans.  When Rodrigo announced that they’d be focusing on playing songs from this album, he got an enthusiastic response.  The most exciting surprise of the night, however, was when they brought out Metallica’s current bass player, Robert Trujillo, to perform “Orion” with them as a trio.  He helped elevate the song to epic proportions.  Rodrigo’s use of a beer bottle for a slide also succeeded in creating a spooky sort of effect.

The sold out crowd was active throughout the night, spontaneously clapping and dancing as the group’s dexterity created a landscape of sound that often evolved from gentle musings to intense anthems.  It was easy to feel that their proficient renditions were complete even without the well known vocals that originally accompanied many of the songs.  Rewarding the crowd with an encore that included Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” they brought the night to a satisfying conclusion. 

//Mixed media

Robert DeLong Upgraded for 'In the Cards' (Rough Trade Photos + Tour Dates)

// Notes from the Road

"Robert DeLong ups his musical game with his new album In the Cards and his live show gets a boost too.

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