Our Critics Picks 

THE LEMONHEADS, WEDNESDAY, 14TH

Evan Dando—The Lemonheads’ pouty, aggravatingly photogenic singer and only constant member—suffers a strange curse. Not a lack of attention or talent, certainly, nor the classic dilemma of wrong place, wrong time.
Evan Dando—The Lemonheads’ pouty, aggravatingly photogenic singer and only constant member—suffers a strange curse. Not a lack of attention or talent, certainly, nor the classic dilemma of wrong place, wrong time. Dando’s plight in 2006 was more dire: his early celebrity as alt-rock’s consummate cover boy made him such a bright star that it created a kind of flash blindness. Back when he was punking Simon and Garfunkel, we saw so much of him that today he’s all but invisible. But Dando is back with a new lineup and a new record, The Lemonheads. Opener “Black Gown” is a nonsensical if inoffensive banger, so effortless Dando might well have written it on the john; the record that follows is as catchy and unabashedly shtick-free as anything released last year. With the Descendents’ rhythm section, “Become the Enemy” (written by drummer Bill Stevenson) moves to Toto’s “Rosanna” shuffle, while geographical Dando tunes like “Pittsburgh” and “Poughkeepsie” feature balmy hooks to rival the1992 breakout It’s a Shame About Ray. Perhaps the political commentary on “Let’s Just Laugh”—regarding “a Texan stranger with a rope and straight razor . . . getting impatient for something major”—proves that these guys don’t have Crossfire chops. (For better or for worse, that tune is this century’s “Big Gay Heart.”) But Dando nonetheless emerges from Lemonheads as a power-pop elder statesman and a suddenly appropriate Paul Westerberg labelmate. But can these new Lemonheads deliver? On “Steve’s Boy,” one of the record’s most cleverly crafted tunes (it’s also a Stevenson tune, oddly enough), an appropriately disillusioned punk underdog admits to his dad that he knows he “can’t make you love me,” but he’s quick to back it up with a promise: “I can’t make you well / I can’t make you love me / But I’m not leaving here without you.” The chorus is so sweet that you can’t help but want him to stay. Exit/In —NATE CAVALIERI

MUSIC

Evan Dando—The Lemonheads’ pouty, aggravatingly photogenic singer and only constant member—suffers a strange curse. Not a lack of attention or talent, certainly, nor the classic dilemma of wrong place, wrong time. Dando’s plight in 2006 was more dire: his early celebrity as alt-rock’s consummate cover boy made him such a bright star that it created a kind of flash blindness. Back when he was punking Simon and Garfunkel, we saw so much of him that today he’s all but invisible. But Dando is back with a new lineup and a new record, The Lemonheads. Opener “Black Gown” is a nonsensical if inoffensive banger, so effortless Dando might well have written it on the john; the record that follows is as catchy and unabashedly shtick-free as anything released last year. With the Descendents’ rhythm section, “Become the Enemy” (written by drummer Bill Stevenson) moves to Toto’s “Rosanna” shuffle, while geographical Dando tunes like “Pittsburgh” and “Poughkeepsie” feature balmy hooks to rival the1992 breakout It’s a Shame About Ray. Perhaps the political commentary on “Let’s Just Laugh”—regarding “a Texan stranger with a rope and straight razor . . . getting impatient for something major”—proves that these guys don’t have Crossfire chops. (For better or for worse, that tune is this century’s “Big Gay Heart.”) But Dando nonetheless emerges from Lemonheads as a power-pop elder statesman and a suddenly appropriate Paul Westerberg labelmate. But can these new Lemonheads deliver? On “Steve’s Boy,” one of the record’s most cleverly crafted tunes (it’s also a Stevenson tune, oddly enough), an appropriately disillusioned punk underdog admits to his dad that he knows he “can’t make you love me,” but he’s quick to back it up with a promise: “I can’t make you well / I can’t make you love me / But I’m not leaving here without you.” The chorus is so sweet that you can’t help but want him to stay. Exit/In —NATE CAVALIERI

MUSIC

FRIDAY, 9TH

DESTROY DESTROY DESTROY Since their somewhat tongue-in-cheek inception in 2003, Murfreesboro’s thrash/power metal combo Destroy Destroy Destroy have shared stages with High on Fire, Mastodon and Darkest Hour. Along the way they’ve attracted a loyal and growing following and signed with label Blackmarket Activities, home of such extreme metal luminaries as The Red Chord and Lamb of God. Devour the Power, the band’s first BMA release, weds early thrash with purposely over-the-top power metal that borrows heavily from the melodic approach of Arch Enemy and Children of Bodom. They also have a penchant for all things epic (see song titles “Eternal Voyage of the Geishmal Undead” and “Seduced by the Locrian Temptress”). This band simply has to be seen live to gain a full appreciation. (destroydestroydestroy.com) Springwater —MATT SULLIVAN

CRAIG NIES Like a musical long-distance runner, pianist Craig Nies prefers projects that test his endurance. He recently finished an eight-recital marathon that surveyed the complete piano sonatas of Mozart and Schubert. This Friday he starts a new eight-part series that will include all 48 preludes and fugues of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. This amazing collection features some of the most beautiful—and technically treacherous—music in the keyboard repertory. Nies plans to play it all from memory, which is rather like walking a tightrope without benefit of a safety net. For kicks, his series will also feature performances of some the biggest knuckle busters in the repertory, including a rendition this Friday of Rachmaninoff’s fiendishly difficult Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor. 8 p.m. at Ingram Hall, Blair School of Music —JOHN PITCHER

SATURDAY, 10TH

GERMAN CASTRO Two of the more obvious pitfalls for skeletal bass-and-drum rock duos are an anemic sound and directionless riffage. But there’s no blood loss with Scene freelancer Matt Sullivan and Paul McCaige’s German Castro, whose stripped-down lineup still ups the wattage with thudding distorto-bass and heavy, slow-drone beats. The tracks available online range from trashy proto-metal to stoner rock, but tossed into the trance-like, stentorian dirge are a few machine-gun beats and plenty of sludgy, hooky riffs that lock in long enough to nod your head to. Onstage, expect occasional vocals from this newly formed local duo, and ample smoke and strobe lights to induce seizures. A 7-inch is due out by the end of 2007. (myspace.com/germancastro) Springwater —TRACY MOORE

SUNDAY, 11TH

JENNIFER O’CONNOR Perhaps you’ve had to wince the night away a few too many times at songwriters’ nights overrun by over-emoting minstrels in love with their miserable, cleverly overwrought ditties. Perhaps that’s soured you on the whole singer-songwriter thing—you wouldn’t be the first. Jennifer O’Connor, who, as an acoustic guitar-wielding New York woman fits the very mold of mediocrity that can make you cringe, writes lovely, surprising songs that really are smart, instead of trying to sound smart—songs that are memorable for their subtle power, not their air of trying entirely too hard. Her lyrics wrap affectingly around the familiar chord changes, as on “Hole in the Road”: “If your memory had a timeline, I’d know right where to begin / traveling down that road in Georgia when the first cold started in / It hit me like an arrow made of light from the sun / And I didn’t know I was a target ’til you made me feel like one.” O’Connor’s understated voice is like that of a less bombastic Liz Phair, to whom she is often compared, and in her songs, the triumphs and defeats of life and love take center stage but without chewing up the scenery. (jenniferoconnor.net) 3rd & Lindsley —STEVE HARUCH

MONDAY, 12TH

GUY CLARK, JOE ELY, JOHN HIATT, LYLE LOVETT These four wise men—three with ties to the Texas singer-songwriter tradition, and all known for wryly observational, literary songwriting—have been taking the songwriters-in-a-row idea on the road for a few years now. They tell lighthearted stories, take turns backing each other and, as they’ve made a career of doing, examine the hard realities people tend to hide, mitigating matters with lyrical sly humor. Lovett is the youngest at 49, and Clark’s the oldest at 65, while Ely and Hiatt rock the hardest. Each is a survivor, and it’s been some 20 years since any of them had what the music industry would call a hit. But they each have a healthy list of memorable and cherished tunes that will still be sung long after today’s radio songs are forgotten. Schermerhorn Center —MICHAEL McCALL

MONDAY, 12TH

NITE NITE What do you do if you’re 22, preternaturally stylish and you quit your job to intern at Matt Friction’s Mean Buzz Records? Why, start a band, of course. Enter Nite Nite, the latest byproduct and underground darling-hearts of Nashville’s indie scene. MTSU recording industry grads and it-gals Davis Collandrea and Sarah-Brooks Levine have been playing together since age 18, merging Collandrea’s singing and songwriting abilities with Levine’s 12 years of classical piano. Adding drummer Dillon Napier (formerly of Scatter the Ashes) and bass player Ryan Tullock, Nite Nite have only played two shows together, but their visibility at local rock shows has already earned them a following much too big for their opening-for-the-opener billing. A killer wardrobe and Nico-like sex appeal are great, but the hottest thing about Nite Nite is their new-wave-meets-Warhol’s-Factory sound. With ethereal vocals floating over pulsing beats, Nite Nite manage to be both hard and soft at the same time, and you find yourself thinking about their songs, not reciting them in your head, long after the last drumbeat fades away. Whatever blips and glitches the band have—and there are a few—can be forgiven in light of their nascent status (their first EP isn’t even out yet) and their willingness to get up there and give it their best. (myspace.com/niteniteband) Mercy Lounge —CLAIRE SUDDATH

THE GUGGENHEIM GROTTO Like a lot of song-driven bands from Dublin, Ireland, this trio create an ambitiously broad and soulful sound for such a small group. Their lyric-based acoustic rock chimes with melody and textured polyrhythms, and singer Kevin May uses his clear-toned voice with smart, elegant sincerity. The multi-instrumentalists occasionally add steel guitar to their folk-country tunes and a big beat to their anthemic rockers. But the reason they’re getting such strong support on their first American tour—performing on public radio shows Mountain Stage with Todd Snider and World Cafe Live—is that they write emotionally rich songs performed without irony or jaded modernism. Comparisons to countrymen Damien Rice and David Gray abound and rightly so, though their contemporary sound stakes its own ground. They make their first visit to Nashville with this BMI-sponsored appearance. Mercy Lounge —MICHAEL McCALL

TUESDAY, 13TH

VIETNAM VietNam are a hard band to wrap your head around: these are shaggy-haired, bearded men (really shaggy and really bearded) who play vintage, swampy rock ’n’ roll that makes no secret of its influences (such as Dylan and Velvet Underground), but yet still manages to sound satisfying. That satisfaction comes either because of or in spite of the layer of self-awarenesss to be found here—of performance that narrowly protects this music from overt imitation. (These guys live in Williamsburg for God’s sake!) After a 2004 EP on Vice Records and a tour that went horribly awry, the quartet finally released their self-titled full-length on Kemado in January. VietNam is cohesive and dense—filled with rangy, vintage guitar work and heavy references to drugs and women. Listening to it, you can’t help but wonder what these songs would sound like live, because at the end of the day, these are party songs: sitting-around-and-getting-high songs, grainy-black-and-white-footage-from-the-’60s songs, and retro in the best possible way. Playing with The Lemonheads. (vtnm.net) Exit/In —LEE STABERT

NITE NITE What do you do if you’re 22, preternaturally stylish and you quit your job to intern at Matt Friction’s Mean Buzz Records? Why, start a band, of course. Enter Nite Nite, the latest byproduct and underground darling-hearts of Nashville’s indie scene. MTSU recording industry grads and it-gals Davis Collandrea and Sarah-Brooks Levine have been playing together since age 18, merging Collandrea’s singing and songwriting abilities with Levine’s 12 years of classical piano. Adding drummer Dillon Napier (formerly of Scatter the Ashes) and bass player Ryan Tullock, Nite Nite have only played two shows together, but their visibility at local rock shows has already earned them a following much too big for their opening-for-the-opener billing. A killer wardrobe and Nico-like sex appeal are great, but the hottest thing about Nite Nite is their new-wave-meets-Warhol’s-Factory sound. With ethereal vocals floating over pulsing beats, Nite Nite manage to be both hard and soft at the same time, and you find yourself thinking about their songs, not reciting them in your head, long after the last drumbeat fades away. Whatever blips and glitches the band have—and there are a few—can be forgiven in light of their nascent status (their first EP isn’t even out yet) and their willingness to get up there and give it their best. (myspace.com/niteniteband) Mercy Lounge —CLAIRE SUDDATH

WEDNESDAY, 14TH

LEFT CAN DANCE “TAINTED LOVE” DANCE PARTY If being single this time of year makes you feel about as attractive as Britney Spears after an all-nighter with Paris Hilton, why not commiserate with other lovelorn pariahs on the dance floor? While couples scramble to (yawn) make dinner reservations and abuse stuffed animals and gooey confections in the name of love, go thumb your nose at all this ferocious pairing off at the first Left Can Dance Valentine’s Day shindig. Not only is this the LCD gang’s first appearance at The Basement, this “Tainted Love” anti-Hallmark fest celebrates late nights and free agents, sidelong glances and no-strings-attached unions. And hey, maybe you’ll meet somebody—anything can happen when liquor and electro-pop are on the menu. (Under 21? There are limited slots for 18+; permission via myspace.com/leftcandance) The Basement —TRACY MOORE

VIETNAM VietNam are a hard band to wrap your head around: these are shaggy-haired, bearded men (really shaggy and really bearded) who play vintage, swampy rock ’n’ roll that makes no secret of its influences (such as Dylan and Velvet Underground), but yet still manages to sound satisfying. That satisfaction comes either because of or in spite of the layer of self-awarenesss to be found here—of performance that narrowly protects this music from overt imitation. (These guys live in Williamsburg for God’s sake!) After a 2004 EP on Vice Records and a tour that went horribly awry, the quartet finally released their self-titled full-length on Kemado in January. VietNam is cohesive and dense—filled with rangy, vintage guitar work and heavy references to drugs and women. Listening to it, you can’t help but wonder what these songs would sound like live, because at the end of the day, these are party songs: sitting-around-and-getting-high songs, grainy-black-and-white-footage-from-the-’60s songs, and retro in the best possible way. Playing with The Lemonheads. (vtnm.net) Exit/In —LEE STABERT

THEATER

MODERN LOVE Actor-writer-director Nate Eppler’s new romantic comedy is set in the 1940s, where a best-selling author presumed to be a woman turns out to be a handsome young bachelor. When an inquiring lady reporter comes calling, the ruse set in motion to maintain the charade begins to backfire. It’s lighthearted retro fare from the author of 2006’s Mister Greenjeans, which was an intellectually challenging stage adaptation of Kobo Abe’s 1974 play The Green Stockings. The Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre cast includes Eppler, Laura K. Marsh (fresh off her strong performance in GroundWorks Theatre’s recent production of Closer) and Barn character-actor favorite Adam Burnett. Opens Feb. 13 and runs through March 17. For reservations, call 646-9977. —MARTIN BRADY

NICKEL AND DIMED Tennessee Women’s Theater Project gathered a lot of local attention with its recent mounting of this play, which was based on Barbara Ehrenreich’s book about the working poor. For those who missed it at the Looby Theatre, it will be presented, one performance only, at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. This performance will feature the same strong ensemble cast, with Shane Bridges, Melissa Davis, Sonia Justl, Terry Occhiogrosso, Tamiko Robinson and Sara Sharpe. Maryanna Clarke directs. Admission is free. For more information, phone 681-7220. —MARTIN BRADY

THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES Eve Ensler’s take on all things intimately female has been an extremely popular performance piece in Nashville for the past few years, thanks to the Actors Bridge Ensemble and Vanderbilt University. With ABE busy with its new production of Ordinary Heroes (see the review on p. 59), the university’s Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center takes the reins with this campus production, co-sponsored by Project Safe. Proceeds benefit organizations working to stop violence against women. Performance dates are Feb. 11, 13 and 14. For tickets, phone 322-1333. —MARTIN BRADY

ART

BROWNLEE O. CURREY JURIED STUDENT ART EXHIBITION Each year Watkins College of Art & Design invites its students to submit work for a show selected by outside jurors. This is a great chance to size up the current group of Watkins students—at least a few of whom from every class emerge as artists worthy of attention. This year’s jurors are local artists Alicia Henry and Sam Dunson, who have a two-person exhibit in the Watkins gallery coming up in March. The show opens with a reception on Friday, Feb. 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. and runs through March 2. Watkins College of Art & Design —DAVID MADDOX

BOB NUGENT: “PALIMPSEST”/ANDREW SAFTEL:“MY UNIVERSE” Nugent’s works, which were inspired by repeated trips to the Amazon basin, feature drawings of colorful plants and flowers that have an airy schematic quality. Environmental concerns like global warming figure prominently in Saftel’s work, which includes complex associations suggested by dense combinations of figures, found objects, words and numbers. He is a sculptor and a painter who often makes his paintings sculptural by incorporating objects into the surfaces. The show opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, and runs through March 10. Cumberland Gallery. —DAVID MADDOX

DUY HUYNH This artist’s previous exhibitions at the Art & Invention Gallery have been sensations. Huynh’s paintings on tile and wood are filled with richly colored dreamlike narratives, evoked by images of childhood fantasy: costumed characters, undersea musicians and precariously balanced acrobats. The gallery holds an opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 10, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. The show runs through March 25. Art & Invention Gallery. —JOE NOLAN

FILM

DONNIE L. BETTS/MUSIC IS MY LIFE, POLITICS MY MISTRESS Denver-based director betts had a hit at last year’s Nashville Film Festival with his vibrant portrait of Oscar Brown Jr., the actor, playwright, jazz composer, proto-rapper and socio-political activist whose work is overdue for rediscovery. Recently broadcast in a shortened version on NPT, the film shows 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in Austin Peay’s Morgan University Center, with a reception for visiting filmmaker betts preceding at 6:30. He will also host a program 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at the Clarksville-Montgomery County Library. For more information, see musicismylife.info. —JIM RIDLEY

BROTHER JOHN In this little-seen, offbeat 1971 allegory, Sidney Poitier plays a mysterious visitor who comes to a Southern town in the midst of the civil-rights struggle and draws the wrath of the white establishment—who don’t realize he’s on a mission from a very powerful boss. Directed by James Goldstone and scored by Quincy Jones, the film screens on projected DVD 6:15 Thursday, Feb. 8, at the downtown Nashville Public Library; poet-playwright Michael L. Walker will introduce the screening, which is free and open to the public. —JIM RIDLEY

ALLEN RUCKER/TWO DAYS IN OCTOBER One day in 1996, Rucker, a healthy, successful TV writer and documentarian best known for the Martin Mull mock-doc The History of White People in America, started to get out of bed—and two hours later, struck by a condition called transverse myelitis, he lost forever the use of his legs and control of his bowels. “[U]nless you’re homeless, a stage three alcoholic, or Jimmy Swaggart caught with your pants down, most of us rarely experience full-blown shame,” he writes. “It’s a terrifying state.” In his new memoir The Best Seat in the House: How I Woke Up One Tuesday and Was Paralyzed for Life, which has drawn raves for its startling humor and candor, the author of the best-selling The Sopranos: A Family History tells how he learned to deal without whining or pimp-smacking the “overly kind.” Rucker scripted Two Days in October, the Emmy-winning 2005 PBS American Experience documentary about a student anti-war protest in 1967 that turned violent; he will host a screening 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, at Vanderbilt’s 109 Calhoun Hall. He will also sign books 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at Davis-Kidd. Please don’t give him a lollipop. —JIM RIDLEY

THE SEVENTH SEAL Roaring to a finish after attendance by more than 2,100 people (and counting), the last few weeks of the Belcourt’s “50 Years of Janus Films” series might as well be titled Now That’s What I Call World Cinema. The canon keeps on firing as the next few weeks bring back-to-back classics by Dreyer, Truffaut, Kurosawa, Cocteau and Ingmar Bergman—starting with Bergman’s 1957 parable about a disillusioned knight (Max von Sydow) who has lost sight of God amid the horrors of the Crusades and the ravages of plague, and who plays chess with Death for his soul. Once synonymous with the cinema of ideas, Bergman has lost favor with arthouse audiences in recent years, but his work will outlast shifts in fashion and fickle tastes: see this without knowing its forbidding reputation (yeah, right), and you will be surprised at its humor and directness. The film screens Feb. 9-12, followed Feb. 12-15 by one of the most harrowing religious dramas ever made, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Day of Wrath. —JIM RIDLEY

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Recent Comments

Sign Up! For the Scene's email newsletters





* required

Latest in Our Critics Picks

All contents © 1995-2014 City Press LLC, 210 12th Ave. S., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of City Press LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Powered by Foundation