Serpents and Snakes
July 26, 2011
The Features are a local institution. A regional one, really. And anyone who's followed their roughly 15-year arc — from flirtations with major label success to their eventual abandonment at the hands of Universal Records and redemption via Kings of Leon's imprint Serpents and Snakes — knows they're the sort of underdogs who won't ever quit. For that, God bless 'em. And whether it's the vibrant carnival pop of 2004's Exhibit A, 2008's older-and-wiser Some Kind of Salvation or the unrelenting power-pop of the brand-new Wilderness, it's a regionally accepted fact that The Features marry remarkably tight, gob-smacking proficiency with a singular style of uncommonly thoughtful pop.
As always, frontman Matt Pelham remains the ringmaster of his circus on Wilderness — those longstanding, established carnival-pop charms still intact — guiding each turn with thespian-like dynamics. But more than ever, keyboardist Mark Bond affects the drama of each track, his arsenal of tones and sounds diverse and his playing lithe and emotive, providing an understated backdrop for each of Pelham's ruminative, gut-spilling paeans.
Accomplishing a feat once thought impossible, pop-country princess, Hendersonville native and America’s reigning sweetheart Taylor Swift has found beauty in long-depressed Newark, NJ.
According to a tweet, the singer — whose previous accomplishments include becoming the youngest artist ever to win a Grammy for Album of the Year — posted this afternoon reading:
So many beautiful memories from our 4 shows in Newark. Such sparkly, loud crowds! It's raining in NYC now. So pretty.
The guy's name is Mike Falzone, and the video is presented without comment. Well, except for this: One of these two songs I didn't remember, and the other one I'd never heard.
* As part of their "High Five" series, locally based culture (duh) blog Culture Bully recently posted a series of mixes titled "Straight Outta Nashville," which features some of CB's favorite local sounds from 2011 thus far. It comes in four parts: Part 1 and Part 3 are mostly rock- and pop-based (with tunes from artists including Bad Cop, JEFF the Brotherhood, Those Darlins, Tristen, Useless Eaters, Diarrhea Planet and more), while Part 2 and Part 4 are more hip-hop-heavy (featuring tracks from Ducko McFli, Stix Izza, Classic Williams, Chancellor Warhol, Dee Goodz, Openmic, Matic Lee and more).
* Local house-show bastion and Fortress of Bro-itude Glenn Danzig's House has but one more show, and it's on Saturday, July 30. Bummerino. According to this FB event page, the lineup will feature Bad Sports (hear "Nothin' to Do"), fellow Texans Wax Museums and locals Cy Barkley and the Way Outsiders and Cannomen. Another chapter closed in the Book of Local Punk. (One time, by the way, a friend of mine asked me if Glenn Danzig actually lives there. Here's your last chance to find out!)
* Ever watched The Voice? The Spin watched an episode once. Anyhow, if you've got a dope set of pipes and want to display them for Cee-Lo, Blake, Xtina and Maroon 1, you can audition this weekend (July 29 & 30) at Municipal Auditorium. Be sure to read NBC's official rules for how to audition first, though. Wouldn't want you to look like a fool out there.
This Thursday, July 28, marks the final installment of our Sounds Like Summer series at Hard Rock. In past weeks, we've seen performances from The Greenhornes, Turbo Fruits, Real Estate, Dent May, The Legendary Shack Shakers and Pine Hill Haints. Now it's time for a little bit of guilt-riddled pleasure — if that's the sort of thing you're into — and we're looking to give you a pair of spots on the guest list. The people (read: suits) who handle things like ticket sales tell me this one will almost certainly sell out, so you should do one of two things: Go ahead and buy a $5 ticket ($10 day of), or roll the dice and participate in this here caption contest.
Rules are the same as always: Come up with a side-splitting, uproarious caption for the above image. He or she who tickles our funny bones with the most proficiency will win a spot (with a +1) on the guest list for Guilty Pleasures on Thursday night. Don't forget to include your email address in the appropriate field when submitting your caption or captions. We won't publish your address (or your real name, for that matter), but we'll need it in order to contact our winner. We'll give you until Thursday at noon. All right. Go!
Update: We have our winner. Thanks for playing.
Still — and I feel like I'm not alone in saying this — I always anticipated a full-scale comeback from Winehouse. Despite her frequent appearances in the tabloids and her consistently amusing/depressing/befuddling behavior, Winehouse was an uncommon talent. She was a singular vocalist and an exceptional songwriter, and I certainly know I'm not the only music fan who was pleased to see a neo-soul record — the finely executed Back to Black — topping pop charts and winning Grammys a few short years ago. Winehouse seemed perpetually poised for a comeback. "One of these days," I always thought to myself when her name made headlines for some controversial exploit, "she'll blow our minds again. One of these days, she'll fulfill her potential again." I guess I was wrong.
Check out some of Winehouse's finest performances — some of my personal favorites, anyhow — after the jump.
With this being my third tour of duty at the annual buffet of indie relevance and indie-rock reverence in Chicago’s Union Park, I knew what to expect — the aural consumption of a few dozen bands, as aided by the oral consumption of a few hundred beers.
Because I’m such a stuck-in-my-ways curmudgeon who’s only breaking through to new and exciting levels curmudgeonality after turning 30, I fell on the side of reverence this weekend — reinforcing my undying love for the underground legacy acts, and feeding my appreciation for a select handful of indie rock up-and-comers (like OFF!) while not really learning anything new or noteworthy about hotly tipped blog darlings beyond their hot tips.
* Local mash-up master, remixologist, turntablist and general instigator DJ Wick-It recently posted a remix of trash queen and fellow Nashvillian Ke$ha's "Sleazy." Yes, it's the same "Sleazy" that Ben Folds once covered. Download Wick-It's "Sleazy" remix at his Soundcloud page. It's another banger, and the beat's so fat, I think it's going to make me ... actually, let's not go there.
* Is everybody keeping an eye out for JEFF the Brotherhood's stolen gear? The bummer alert is still in the red on that one. But here's some good news: JEFF frontman Jake Orrall was recently featured in Dusted Magazine's "Listed" feature. Orrall put together a list of albums. He didn't say whether they were his favorite albums of all time or albums that influenced him or what. Kinda just a list of good records, from The Beach Boys' Today to Mountain's Climbing! and everything in between. Dig it.
* You know MONA? They're those Nashville dudes who hang with Kings of Leon and sound like Kings of Leon and are apparently the heirs to Kings of Leon's throne. (Maybe they should have a more regal name ... Queen MONA or something.) Anyway, they did a Daytrotter session. Arena rock with dudes aiming for the rafters, and I think I heard the lyric "The sex is hot" in there somewhere. Not precisely my cup of tea, but good for them. Oh, Atlanta's The Coathangers did a session, too, and that's the sort of tea you're slightly more likely to find in my cup.
And here are some supplemental bits for you: Justin Townes Earle was featured on NPR's Mountain Stage, where he talked a bit about how amazing Woody Guthrie was, and how he tries to combine his rural roots with his urban branches. I already mentioned that The Raconteurs were gearing up to play their first show (at MI Fest) in two years. Now they're slated to play Orlando Calling in November, as well.
The Spin, excited to see The Legendary Shack Shakers perform installment No. 3 of the Scene’s Sounds Like Summer series at Hard Rock, braved Second Ave.’s bass-thumping Thursday night scene, which is not unlike a more nefarious Opryland or a sexed-up Walmart. Entering Hard Rock requires first walking through its restaurant to a staircase leading upward to the venue: a rec-room of sorts, as if George Jones hired T.G.I. Fridays to decorate his Brentwood attic using high-dollar music memorabilia and spared no expense on the bathrooms. (Seriously, those urinals are nice).
Big news: The Chris Crofton Show is now available on iTunes! It's labeled "explicit" and everything. You'll still be able to stream or download it here, if you like. Multiple platforms. Hear Episode 64 — 80 percent milk, two percent ... something — after the jump.
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That was so good I think I'll listen to it again.