the last bison @ motorco music hall

the last bison @ motorco music hall

the last bison @ motorco music hall

the last bison @ motorco music hall

The Last Bison are about to blow up; mark it down. Their sophomore LP, Inheritance, is out Tuesday, and it’s going to be a doozy. They absolutely filled the space at Motorco last night in a gorgeous way. An excellent show, and glad I got to see and shoot them before they’re too important for me.

Full set is here.

what i did on my summer vacation: the ‘every everything’ trailer

every everything shoot, august 2012

What I did on my summer vacation: the first trailer for Every Everything, the Grant Hart documentary that I shot with last August. My first two thoughts were how cool is this and I miss those guys so much. Among the best five days of my life, that work.

two sentence reviews of albums i listened to in february

tame impala @ cat's cradle

Two from my buddies at This Is American Music this month, with one (Great Peacock) not quite out yet; I didn’t listen to nearly as much as I wanted to this month, and wrote about even less of what I did hear. I promise March will be improved! I have a lot to catch up on. Anyway, six EPs or LPs for your perusal.

Bad Bad Hats — It Hurts EP: California-sunshine garage pop, with ooh-ooh choruses and affectingly affected little girl vocals; there are kazoo solos and it’s all a little She & Him twee, without being at all self-conscious like Zooey Deschanel can be with that group. It’s just kicky, good-times garage pop.

Woodpigeon — Thumbtacks and Glue: a lot more electric guitars in this offering from Woodpigeon, but it’s still the same smart, orchestral, theatrical pop with heartache vocals and shivery harmonies; clever, literary, complex pop music. Lots of dueling male/female voices, underscored by the thick string quartets and driving guitar melodies. RIYL Lost in the Trees.

Golden Boots — DBX ‘N’ SPF: synthy indie pop with distorted vocals, this reminded me a lot of the really great Modest Mouse era of The Moon & Anarctica, all fuzz and chimed-out guitar melodies that don’t match the vocal lines, and plinking synths and strings behind it all. Gorgeous desperate songwriting, and an ineffable ache to the songs that made my heart hurt without knowing why.

Great Peacock — GP EP: I am inclined to trust records that open with simple percussion and vocal harmonies, and that’s how this record from Great Peacock starts, male and female voices raised up in praise and then a shuddering, shattering flood of keyboards and guitars and joy, all underpinned by that rhythm and fascinating drumming. It’s a soothing, hypnotic EP, the kind of roots music that Mumford & Sons wish they were making, authentic and rough voiced and lovely.

Broken Radio — It’s Only Fool’s Gold: a German band making rootsy rock, this record is somewhere between Neil Young and Nick Cave; it’s got Crazy Horse guitars and Young harmonica and the shivery bass vocals and I-might-kill-you-in-your-sleep-but-I-swear-I-love-you inflection of Nick Cave. It drags a little for me in the middle, but there’s some really interesting guitars and steel work going on here, and I’m curious about how they move forward.

Dana Swimmer — Veloce: skuzzy, skanked-out, reverb-heavy retro pop punk, which is too many buzzwords in a single sentence, but it’s all true. Effects-heavy vocals, twang, that skittery drumming that I feel like marks really good cowpunk bands like Two Cow Garage and I Can Lick Every Sonofabitch In The House. Way out there for the This Is American Music family, I am really, really wild about this record.

book review: the rolling stones 1972 (jim marshall)

holy ghost tent revival @ trekky records studio

Throughout his entire career, Marshall battled for access. Without free access, he couldn’t do what he did – breathe in the moments and freeze them on film. — Joel Selvin, in the introduction

This is a photo book that highlights the importance of access; not of being friends with the musicians that you shoot (though of course that happens), but having enough trust from them that they will let you into their most intimate moments. Marshall is most famous for the moments he captured on stage, in live shots, but his genius is highlighted in this collection in the behind-the-scenes shots — evidence of the trust that the Rolling Stones had for him. The book opens with a two page black and white shot of Mick Taylor, eyes closed, cigarette in his lips, hands blurred in motion on his guitar, and it is a perfect example, so early on, of what Marshall was doing and had the ability to do: a single moment, captured.

The Stones’ ’72 tour is legendary in rock and roll, setting a standard for performance and debauchery that musicians may still be trying to achieve. The glory of this book, in the first two sections — the studio, and “behind the scenes” — is how still everyone is. It’s a book of moments, to repeat myself, and the stillness of this band that was never still, is extraordinary in its capture of the minutes before things happened, and in giving those minutes weight. How the band lived is central to Marshall’s photos; not the facade of their stage personas, but the moments when they were completely unguarded. There are several behind the scenes photos of an unaware Mick Jagger, face completely open and unguarded, that are staggering images, ones I’ve never seen before even as a fan of Marshall’s work and the Stones.

What makes this book all the more impressive to me is that Marshall worked with film. The clarity of the images, the sharpness of light, never missing anything because you were mis-metered. It’s a tribute to Marshall’s genius, not just artistic but technical; I couldn’t do what he did on film, even with years of practice. The story of the Stones’ ’72 tour is well-known, but this book is the director’s commentary, the secrets you didn’t know. It’s a marvel, and it marks Marshall as the genius that he was.

Recommended for all music photographers. 4 stars.

tame impala @ cat’s cradle

tame impala @ cat's cradle

tame impala @ cat's cradle

tame impala @ cat's cradle

I wrote about the Tame Impala show for Speakers In Code. Full set is here.

(Credentials courtesy Shelley at Modular People, and I was genuinely grateful for the barrier / photo pit at the Cradle last night, because I didn’t have to fight in the sold-out, hyped-up, very fun crowd to get good shots. I have become that person. I’m going to own it. It was a no-DSLRs-unless-you-have-credentials show, which don’t happen much at the Cradle, but it was kind of nice. I felt special. And smug, a little. Whoops.)

frontier ruckus @ local 506

frontier ruckus @ local 506

frontier ruckus @ local 506

The thing about Frontier Ruckus is that everything about their music is dense; their new record, Eternity Of Dimming, features over 50,000 words in the lyrics of 20 songs. Matthew Milia knows how to make words work for him. His lyrics are visceral, raw, intimate, and always the perfect word at the perfect time. What I had never noticed before last night’s show, though, is how much Frontier Ruckus uses Milia’s voice, singing all those lyrics, as a sonic texture as much as a delivery vehicle for words. The words stop being words and melt into the songs as sounds, as syllables that are as distinct as Davey Jones’ banjo playing without meaning anything.

Thursday’s show was warm, and heavy, and light, and wonderful. It was exactly what I needed, it was a balm for my heart in the middle of winter.

frontier ruckus @ local 506

Full set here.