We love it when national mags cover Nashville's burgeoning, barely known local rock scene! It's great when the coasts take notice of all the talent that's been toiling here for years! Of course, they can't cover it all, and of course, they'll always lead the story with some cliché about Nashville finally being more than tears and beers. And we know we're nitpicking, but does it seem like maybe the only people Nylon (granted, a fashion mag ultimately) consulted for this piece about our "league of local talent creating an exciting new voice" was Movement Nashville? Maybe it's mere coincidence that all the bands featured are connected to the local commercially driven collective. Oh, and supposedly, this city has "suddenly become a hub for young, emerging creatives."
"Living for the City: Nashville, Tennessee: A Lot More Than Country and Western"
Disappointed by Candy
Bang drummer Neil Mason
Singer-songwriter Jeremy Lister
"Local music advocate" Dean Shortland
Brenn singer Joel Larabell
Anybody notice how many American Idol-connected folks live in Nashville now? Apparently the American Idol songwriting contest was recently won by Nashville songwriter Regie Hamm. And now, many many former contestants are putting down roots here:
When he's looking for a mental health break, Bo Bice retreats to a porch at his home near Nashville and watches the turkey and deer lazily wander through his yard.
As a rocker in the home of country music, Bice, the runner-up on the fourth season of American Idol, seems to be out of place, but he quickly shoots down that idea.
"There are a lot of people who live here from the rock world. Tom Keifer from Cinderella and I are good friends. We've worked on a couple of projects," Bice says. "This used to be a country-oriented place, but now there are people from rock, pop, everything else, R&B. It's the country nature of Nashville that has people moving here."
Besides Bice, former Idol contestants Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, Diana DeGarmo, Phil Stacey, Josh Gracin, Buckey Covington, Chris Sligh, Mandisa, Scott Savol, and Melinda Doolittle are all currently in Music City USA.
The L.A. Times ran a thoughtful piece a few days ago on pop-to-country star Jewel, whose new country record Perfectly Clear is out on June 3, and who has sold a record a staggering "every 15 seconds, 24 hours a day, for 13 years."
There are subtle suggestions that Jewel, who turned 34 on Friday, has entered a new and strange world. She released two versions of "Stronger Women," for instance—one using the word "horny" and another using "frisky"—to ensure that she wouldn't ruffle any of Nashville's conservative feathers. Still, she said, this feels like home. And those who will see her transition as some sort of career overhaul or reinvention—and she's been accused of all of that before—haven't been paying attention, she said.
"I've always loved this town," she said. "You can throw a rock and hit somebody in the head who is more talented than you."
Don't know if anyone here has caught any of the awesome "Directions" festival at the Belcourt programmed by Harmony Korine. But if you've missed all the movies up to now, you can make it up with Leos Carax's ka-razy Mauvais Sang, showing 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Here's the classic scene where Denis Lavant cuts loose, footloose, to David Bowie's "Modern Love." And yeah, the whole movie is this mad and marvelous.
The first few raindrops of the evening were beginning to fall when we pulled up to the Exit/In to catch Sea Wolf last night. We entered and easily made ourselves comfortable on the club's surprisingly sparsely populated floor during the tail end of the Jealous Girlfriends' set. It was a wash of shoegazer tumult, reminding us a little of a more rockin' Mazzy Star, mostly due to singer-guitarist Holly Miranda's heroin-achy vocals. Sea Wolf took the stage soon after, and played a pleasant set of moody indie pop.
How has the cancellation of Kenny G's Nashville show impacted your summer plans? Discuss.
If Sea Wolf, who play tonight at Exit/In, will make you want brew up a cup of hot tea and get ready to settle into bed with a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, Totally Snake, who play The 5 Spot, will make you want to double-fist Falls City beers and, oh, I don't know, penetrate something. These local trash rockers are so presumptuous as to believe that gang vocals all the time is a good thing—and they're right. The three songs on their MySpace include one called "Totally Snake," and though I've never seen them live, somebody please tell me it's as good as it sounds like it ought to be. They label themselves Southern rock, but there are also elements of sloppy punk, sloppy ’70s dick-rock and sweet sloppy metal. The song "If the Good Die Young" actually just keeps making me think about Norwegian party rockers Turbonegro, mostly that song "The Age of Pamparius" that boasts the line, "Motherfucking pizza tonight!" Totally Snake should totally consider totally covering it.
Primarily the brainchild of frontman Alex Church, Sea Wolf perfectly encapsulate the breed of melancholy rainy-day pop rock that has both its masters (Death Cab for Cutie) and its fakers (take your pick: Coldplay or that band you heard last week on Grey’s Anatomy). Forunately, Church & Co. fall squarely in column A, due in no small part to crisp, evocative songwriting and an expert grasp of atmospherics. It is appropriate that the band’s debut full-length Leaves in the River opens with the gentle, slightly distorted sound of rainfall—it’s the perfect aural introduction to an album of wistful, pretty, folk-inflected pop accented by perfectly placed strings and just enough indie quirk. 9 p.m. at Exit/In —LEE STABERT
We were a bit skeptical, don't get us wrong. We had done the math and realized that we discovered Gwar when Michael Dukakis was still in the running for Commander-in-Chief. The last time we had seen them play, during the height of their 10-foot-tall-foam-rubber-cock-and-fake-jizz phase, William Jefferson was trying to explain a certain spot of splooge to the Senate. How would Gwar, the band that convinced our middle-school friends' parents that we had a reservation for the cell next to the furnace in hell, hold up after we had achieved our hard fought, “respectable adult”-hood? How would they stack up against our refined, informed tastes in live entertainment?
When we showed up at The Ryman for the Kids in the Hall, we knew the Canadian troupe would draw an older crowd given that they launched their sketch comedy in the late '80s. We got what we expected: mid-to-late 30s misfits (either inwardly or outwardly) who all looked like die-hard fans.
We paid $8 for an enormous beer and waited for those wacky dudes to take the stage. Finally, the projector started rolling with an intro—a previously filmed skit with the Kids sitting around trying to come up with new ideas for their audience members, who they felt needed to be distracted from their endless student loan debt. Eventually, they come up with the idea of raping Kevin McDonald, and as the badass Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet intro kicked in, out ran the troupe chasing McDonald around in his underwear. The crowd was ecstatic.
They started the show with a skit about the most horrible baby in the world, and from there on out, it was nothing but good times. We had no idea whether reprising old roles with new material would feel dated, mediocre or just lame, but it was as funny as ever. Bruce McCulloch brought back Gavin and the Kathies—one of whom is now addicted to crystal meth and loves "tweeking," and a new superhero character called Super Drunk—guess where his powers come from? One skit featured Foley and McCulloch as husband and wife lying in bed at night waiting for the husband's annual BJ on his B-day. Hysterical.
Scott Thompson, the most well-preserved of the five—brought back gay barfly Buddy Cole for a skit speculating on why Jesus was so obviously a queen. Mark McKinney brought back the Chicken Lady and the head crusher (for the encore), and Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald were hilariously in character all night. There were skits about menstruation, car-fucking (yep), an riotous infomercial about the Gut Spigot—where America can turn her obsession with cheese into fuel for her SUVs. There were Jehovah's Witnesses and a time travel machine that makes last call last longer—("I've made last call my bitch").
One of the most entertaining skits was "I Danced Like This" where all five guys broke down the evolution of their dance moves from 8th grade to 11th grade. It was all so much more irreverent than the TV series, with expletives flying as fast as the jokes, and the guys obviously hadn't lost their game one bit.
There wasn't a disappointment to be found, except that one lady in the balcony dancing around like an idiotic bimbo when McKinney (as the head crusher) took his handheld camera and panned the audience for crushworthy die-hard fans' heads. "Too easy," he said as the lens passed her by.
We were lucky enough to get aftershow passes, and we met all five guys backstage where they offered us beers (and opened them for us), chatted about the inspiration for skits, talked about the possibility of working on another movie together and were all-around the most well-mannered hosts we'd ever had. A plate of cheese sat unwrapped and untouched on the coffee table.
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