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Archive for the ‘Built to Spill’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 26, 2018] Built to Spill

This was my third time seeing Built to Spill.  I had seen them as a five-piece and a three-piece.  And this show was another three-piece set up.

I thought it was strange that the drummer’s drums were set up off to the right of the stage instead of in the middle, but that was how they left them.  And, indeed, that’s how they played at Stone Pony with drummer Steve Gere off to the right and bassist Steve Albertini to the left.

The two guys don’t do a ton–that’s not their job.  They are there to anchor whatever Doug feels like doing.  And it’s amazing the way they can adjust to whatever he decides to do–jam, change tempo, whatever.  They’re an amazingly tight band,

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[ATTENDED: April 26, 2018] Overlake

My friend Al knows the members of Overlake and he thought he might be attending this show.  I was bummed he wasn’t there (and even moreso when I tried to text him to see if he was there and realized that I didn’t have his cell number, gah).

I wound up getting to the show really early and parked literally against the stage.  I was fascinated that at the start of the show all three drum sets were set up.  And how fascinating that Overlake (the opener) was right in the middle.

I looked up the band before the show and the description of the band sounded like I’d really like them:

Overlake is a three-piece band from Jersey City, comprised of Tom Barrett (voice, guitar), Lysa Opfer (Bass, voice), and Nick D’Amore (drums).  When they’re not incessantly waxing philosophical about the musical merits of both MBV and GBV … Overlake is busy honing their own unique brand of noisy dreampop, drawing from such stalwart influences as Dinosaur Jr, Slowdive, and Yo La Tengo.

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[ATTENDED: April 26, 2018] Rituals of Mine

Rituals of Mine was a band I hadn’t heard of.  They were opening on the co-headlining Afghan Whigs/Built To Spill tour.  I don’t know why Built to Spill played this one-off, solo headlining show in Asbury Park, but I was super thrilled to see them alone.  I do really like Afghan Whigs, but it didn’t seem like a double bill I wanted to attend.  Rituals of Mine came along with Built to Spill to Asbury Park.

I looked up Rituals of Mine and learned that they used to be called the worst band name ever: Sister Crayon.  They even released an album as Sister Crayon and have since re-released it as Rituals of Mine.

Before the band came out, the stage was covered with drums.  And Rituals of Mine’s drummer was off to the left.  When the lights dimmed, a strobe light started flashing in the bass drum, which was kind of cool. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: VOIRVOIR-The Free-P (2016).

I got this Free Ep at a VoirVoir (not Voir Voir) show in Bethlehem.  This EP contains four songs.

Two of them are new and two are re-recordings of songs from their debut album.

“Quit It All” is a bit poppier than their debut album.  The 90s synth is a nice touch to this song which, make no mistake, still rocks.   The middle noise section (skronking guitar solo and great drums) is a highlight as are the catchy verses.  The band even submitted a video for the Tiny Desk Contest (I had no idea).

“Sides” is perhaps one of the best catchy alt rock songs I’ve heard in years and I am bummed that they didn’t get recognized for it.  It’s got a great 90s alt-rock sound and wonderful harmonies in the backing vocals.  There’s a video for this song as well.  You can also stream the song on bandcamp.

The other two songs, “Stupid for Now” and “There are No Good Goodbyes” were recorded at WDIY (Lehigh Valley’s Community NPR Station) in a stripped down format.  You can stream the songs here.  It’s interesting to hear them without the fuzz and drums.  The songs are solid and work very well although I do like the originals better.  The show also includes an interview with the three members who play the stripped down show.  The DJ asks their influences and while main singer guitarist Matt Molchany demurs,  April Smith says Built to Spill) and Josh Maskornick says Primus and Superchunk.

And if you can’t get enough (since they haven’t released that much) here’s a live show from Shards.

[READ: January 10, 2016 & January 10, 2018] Goldfish Memory

For some reason, I read this book back in 2016 and then didn’t post about it–I felt like I needed to read it again, and so I waited almost exactly two years and re-read it and enjoyed it even more this second time.  Almost like actual goldfish memory.

The back of this book made the stories sound really compelling:  “what does it mean to have a connection with someone? This is the question these brilliant short stories try to answer.”  The note said that this was the first translation of Monique Schwitter’s form-breaking work.  The translation was by Eluned Gramich.

I’m not sure how form-breaking these stories are, but they are certainly interesting.  They remind me in some ways of Julie Hecht–a narrator who is connected to people but very distantly.  But while Hecht’s narrators are critical and dismissive of everyone, Schwitter’s narrators just seem to be incapable of connecting properly.  You can feel the longing in the distance between them.  I also like how these missed connections cover all kinds of relationships–familial, sexual, friendship, professional, even passing acquaintances.

Few of the characters seem to be able to tell anyone else how they really feel–even when they are dying.  There is sadness at loss, but a kind of c’est la vie about it as well.  And all along, Schwitter’s writing is consistently excellent and the stories are really enjoyable. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] Built to Spill

2016-10-08-22-25-14Fifteen years ago I saw Sigur Rós.  A few days before that show I was supposed to see Built to Spill, but 9/11 happened and I skipped BtS.  So here it is fifteen years later and I get to see Sigur Rós and BtS a few days apart once again.  I also happened to see Built to Spill almost exactly one year ago today, so it was fun to do it all over again,.

This was my first time in the legendary Stone Pony.  I was shocked by how small it was and how strangely laid out it is (quite wide and not very deep).  I could have been within a few feet of the stage but when I varied I saw that even though the ticket said 7, BtS wasn’t going on until 10, so I scoured the venue and a saw a small riser to the back right.  I went up there and stood in the front of it, effectively three feet above everyone.  And I had a perfect view of the stage, so I stood there the whole time.

And boy am I glad.  The floor scene was a madhouse.  I was right above what was essentially the only way in and our once the club had gotten really packed.  People were squeezing past this small opening all night long.  And during the third song, a fight broke out–punches actually thrown!–because someone got in someone (both men of course) else’s way.  I even beer or something thrown in my face.  Stay classy, Asbury Park.

Unlike the previous show, BtS was only a three-piece.  Last show I marveled at Doug Martsch including two other guitarists to share lead duties, but I loved the fullness of the sound. I wasn’t sure what I would think of the band as a three-piece (my friend Jay informed me of the trio set up a few hours before they went on, so at least I was prepared–although I was bummed that Jay couldn’t make the show).

I was a little unconvinced about the sound of the three-piece when the band started.  But that turned out to be a mixing issue.  The drums were too loud, the bassist was inaudible and then Doug was himself.  But by the second song it was perfectly balanced and sounded amazing.

And once the sound was perfected, it came down to setlist.  And that was amazing–this setlist was almost entirely different from my previous show.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] Alex G

2016-10-08-21-01-11I hadn’t heard of Alex G before this tour.  He is apparently a prodigy of home recordings, starting his self-released oeuvre when he was 17.  (He’s now 23 and looks to be about 15).

For some reason I’d gotten the impression that he was a shredding guitar god type of prodigy.  But he is not.  He’s more of a pop/experimental/lo-fi song-writing-type prodigy.  He reminded me of Car Seat Headrest both in terms of self released prolific-ness and general style.

He counts Elliott Smith (who I don’t hear) and Doug Martsch of Built to Spill (whom I do hear) as influences. In fact during the set, he stated that Built to Spill was the best band alive today. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] J&L Defer

2016-10-08-20-11-43It was raining pretty hard when I left for The Stony Pony.  Doors were at 7, I imagined Alex G (who was billed along with Built to Spill) would go on around 7:30, Built to Spill would go on no later than 9 and I’d be home early.

So I was bummed when I walked in at 7:30 and saw that there was another opening band called J&L Defer and that they would be going on at 8, and that BtS would not be going on until 10.  Ugh.

I assumed that J&L Defer (what a weird name) were some local band.  I was surprised to discover that they were a duo and that they were not there to rock us, but to play some shapeless noodling.  And, as soon as the guitar played a piercing note (opening acts tend to sound worse than the headliner and tend to hurt my ears much more), I got some earplugs. (more…)

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