MY MORNING JACKET 3/2, SCHUBAS While you’re waiting (and waiting) for the next Flaming Lips album, you could do worse than to turn to Louisville’s My Morning Jacket, whose lushly orchestrated psychedelic heights are grounded by gentle Americana flourishes on their second album, At Dawn (Darla). By the record’s climax it’s all starting to seem a bit much (shades of Spiritualized), but the overall artistry is undeniably satisfying. DEXTER ROMWEBER 3/2, ABBEY PUB As half of the Flat Duo Jets Dexter Romweber was an enfant terrible of Cramped-up rockabilly, but he plays it a little straighter on his second solo album, Chased by Martians (Manifesto). There’s a reverent cleanliness to his hungry blend of rockabilly, surf, and garage as he guides his trusty Silvertone through tunes by Eddie Cochran, W.C. Handy, and, of all people, Pete Townshend (a ‘billified version of “The Seeker”). Even on originals he’s not breaking new ground–but he’s still inhabiting traditional turf with an eye toward lowering property values. The Bottle Rockets (see Critic’s Choice) headline. COBER 3/4, EMPTY BOTTLE This Seattle band only recently became a band at all: guitarist and songwriter Sheila Bommakanti made the album Crashpilot in large part by herself, with a little help from a few musicians who aren’t part of the current lineup. She’s drawn the inevitable comparisons to Hole (any woman who rocks dark is doomed that way), but Cober’s visceral aesthetic is colder than that, and a little bit goth to boot–somewhere between early Siouxsie and Concrete Blonde. Also on this mishmash bill: OK Go and Sunshine Fix (see Critic’s Choice). OWEN 3/4, SCHUBAS The solo project of Mike Kinsella, former drummer for Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc, and the Owls, really is a solo project–on Owen’s Polyvinyl debut, he plays every sweet, quiet note. If I didn’t know enough to suspect he was taking inspiration from all the current fashionable places, I’d swear he was really into Bread. Or is Bread cool now? Rainer Maria guitarist Kyle Fischer, who recently released the solo album Open Ground (most of which features Kinsella on drums), and Rabbit Rabbit, the duo of drummer Kim Ambriz and Pinebender’s Matt Clark, open. ULTRABABYFAT 3/4, METRO On paper I can’t find a reason to like this band: the name’s just gross, and the same approximate distillation of Breeders and Go-Go’s has been attempted a hundred times before. But it’s usually attempted by vastly inferior bands who couldn’t riff their way out of a wet paper bag, whereas the latest album by the long-suffering Atlanta outfit Ultrababyfat, Eight Balls in Reverse (Orange), is girlish playfulness writ loud and hooky, with unusual harmonies and the occasional unhinged guitar solo. If it’s not earth-shattering, it’s at least houserockin’. David Cross (the comedian) headlines. BARDO POND 3/5, EMPTY BOTTLE They’re farther away from the metal end of the spectrum than what you’ve come to think of as “stoner rock,” but Bardo Pond are longtime exemplars of the concept, melding Black Sabbath and Spacemen 3 in a heavy, droney muck over which vocalist Isobel Sollenberger occasionally flutters like the ghost of Kendra Smith. On their most recent album, Dilate (Matador), they make good on the promise of the title, opening up into passages of sheer prettiness and sometimes humdrum gentility. While I appreciate a good exploration of one’s sensitive side, I think the mellow cuts really only sound good in juxtaposition with the throbbing whoppers–but fortunately there’s still plenty here that you wouldn’t want to drop on your foot. Also on the bill is Fursaxa, aka Tara Burke of Philadelphia, who has one record on Acid Mothers Temple’s own imprint and another due on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label. KELLY KESSLER & THE WICHITA SHUT-INS FEATURING LAWRENCE PETERS 3/7, SCHUBAS These locals, led by former Texas Ruby Kelly Kessler, have been gigging around town for so long it’s hard to believe they’re only now releasing their first record. They blend honky-tonk and Appalachian music using some unusual instrumental colors: Evelyn Weston plays the musical saw, and multi-instrumentalist Robbie Hunsinger (better known as a classical and experimental player) sometimes contributes oboe. On the group’s new EP, Life of Regret (on Kessler’s new label, Melungeon Records), singer and washboardist Lawrence Peters unveils a clear, strong country baritone and Kessler adds heartrending croons, particularly on the Lonesome Bob-via-the-Mekons cult classic “Point of No Return.” This record-release party will feature performances and guest appearances by Brigid Murphy, Robbie Fulks, Deanna Varagona, Stacey Earley, Janet Bean, sometime Shut-In Gerald Dowd, Kessler’s old bandmate Jane Baxter Miller and bass-playing brother Kent, and Uptown-based Appalachian storyteller Anndrena Belcher.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.