APPLESEED CAST 10/17, FIRESIDE BOWL This Kansas-based band’s early work helped define the sound of Deep Elm Records, but they’ve since learned to back up their emo flailing with something a little more sonically substantial. On the new Two Conversations (Tiger Style) they take halting but sincere stabs at psychedelic grandeur: the roiling guitar and self-consciously trippy effects that end “Sinking,” the wispy, rueful Pink Floydisms of “How Life Can Turn.” The growth bodes well for their survival; I hope other emo acts are paying attention. BRONWYN 10/17, EMPTY BOTTLE On Bronwyn’s first full-length, Through the Fog, Through the Pines (Greyday), chiming guitars set up behind a layer of vocal harmonies (think Salem 66, Throwing Muses, or even early Indigo Girls if they’d been moodier); when they finally sneak out front, as on “Twenty-Two,” the restraint that’s gone before makes them sound much louder than they are. This Portland quartet should get guest cellist Luke Janela to sign on permanently if he hasn’t already–he adds a deep and mournful layer of meaning. They play first on a bill that includes Pornado and headliner Head of Femur. DRUMS & TUBA 10/17, ABBEY Pub You wouldn’t expect it, but the hard-touring Drums & Tuba are actually a trio–Neal McKeeby’s guitar, the secret weapon, goes unheralded. They use their strange arrangement, plus plenty of real-time sampling and processing, to make their tightly composed pieces bounce with the spontaneity of a top-shelf jam band. It was on their fourth album, Vinyl Killer (2001; their first on Ani DiFranco’s label, Righteous Babe), that they really perfected their funky space-rock excursions, and last year’s Mostly Ape displayed a new and startlingly graceful way with musical flourishes and asides. On this tour they’re hawking a self-released outtakes/live comp, Gas Up Blow Up. PEACHES 10/17, METRO Some audience members are unconflictedly turned on by Peaches, some are obviously rattled but try to laugh it off, some seem downright outraged by her very existence–but one way or another her act gets people’s undies in a bundle. The fact that it continues to work is proof enough she’s no fad: there are still plenty of blows to be struck by average-looking thirtysomething women ready to flaunt their sexuality in masculine/feminine, straight/queer, rock/roll fashion, as men have been doing for decades. “Kick It,” her duet with Iggy Pop on the new Fatherfucker (Kitty-Yo), drives the obvious comparisons home. NILE 10/18, THE VIC This fierce South Carolina outfit took death metal’s antiquarian bent to a new level with 2000’s Black Seeds of Vengeance–almost certainly the only rock album ever to use the word ithyphallic more than once. Leader Karl Sanders is an obsessive Egyptologist who spends most of his downtime corresponding with academics and fellow buffs, reading, and collecting, and it’s all there (and I mean all of it) in his vivid reimagining of the ancient, bloody rites. On the new In Their Darkened Shrines (Relapse)–particularly the title suite–Nile reaches legitimately epic heights by piling chants, tribal drums, and sweeping orchestral North African melodies on its dark, grindy base. It’s so wicked and beautiful that anyone who could sneer at the geekiness of it all would have to be willfully limited. Inspirational Press-Kit Interview Quote of the Year: “We’re not interested in Satan or Jesus. We’re BC, dude.” MODEY LEMON 10/22, ABBEY PUB These Pittsburgh garage savants started out as an instrument-destroying duo, and as such generated as much greasy, post-Stooges/MC5 energy as any band with four or five people in it. Now they’re a three-piece (latecomer Jason Kirker joins Phil Boyd on guitar and Moog; he also engineered their new Thunder and Lightning, on Birdman), and I’m almost afraid to find out what they’ll do with the extra firepower. Pay special attention to drummer Paul Quattrone–he’s the X factor. Shonen Knife headlines; the Tyrades open. TOWN & COUNTRY 10/23, EMPTY BOTTLE I don’t care if I sound like too much of a Luddite: yes, electronic gear in the right hands can be a gateway to the great beyond, but it can’t re-create the traditional magic–the three-dimensional, livable space–of wood and wire, metal and wind. The local quartet Town & Country, on their fifth album (5, on Thrill Jockey), achieve a gloriously humble (but not meek) ambience using viola, harmonium, handbells, bass clarinet, guitar, cornet, and other acoustic instruments, recorded with room microphones and no amplification. The six long tracks vary from sparsely chiming meditations incorporating a fair amount of silence to rich onion-layer drones. Each piece has its own slowly evolving character: some accumulate texture, others strip it away, but they’re all about revelation.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.