Archive for ACL 2009 Preparation

Medeski Martin & Wood

Medeski Martin & WoodNormally, any act even loosely associated with “free jazz” would earn automatic disapproval from my brain. Radiolarians II is an exception, though. It certainly helps that it’s not that unmetered, disconnected schlock “loved” by people who make $140,000 a year or more. That’s not fair, though.

Medeski Martin & Wood (who, curiously, lack commas) write some genuinely interesting tunes. Lots of build-up and resolution and you just sort of get the idea that the guys actually know what they’re doing with this music stuff. In the interest of full disclosure, I remember liking the aforementioned record a lot more during the first listen than during the second but, regardless, I think they’ve warranted a stop-by.

THE VERDICT: If they start playing in 13/6, I’m leaving. I don’t think they will, though.

Medeski Martin & Wood

Medeski Martin & WoodNormally, any act even loosely associated with “free jazz” would earn automatic disapproval from my brain. Radiolarians II is an exception, though. It certainly helps that it’s not that unmetered, disconnected schlock “loved” by people who make $140,000 a year or more. That’s not fair, though.

Medeski Martin & Wood (who, curiously, lack commas) write some genuinely interesting tunes. Lots of build-up and resolution and you just sort of get the idea that the guys actually know what they’re doing with this music stuff. In the interest of full disclosure, I remember liking the aforementioned record a lot more during the first listen than during the second but, regardless, I think they’ve warranted a stop-by.

THE VERDICT: If they start playing in 13/6, I’m leaving. I don’t think they will, though.

Diakonos

DiakonosI guess this is another one of those local-ish choir groups put in the WaMu tent. I’m pretty sure of that and, as is expected with acts like this, I can’t really find any music to listen to.

In the interest of writing a minimum of two paragraphs: I doubt they have anything to do with the Linux text-editor by the same name, although maybe they’re somewhat related to this Diakonos Counseling thing? At least in the ministry sense? I don’t know anything about this stuff.

Oh, also, these guys don’t even seem to be on the lineup anymore. It seems weird that a small act like this would bother to cancel a set at a major festival but I guess they did. Weirdos.

THE VERDICT: Barton Hills Choir II.

Bon Iver

Bon IverYep, it’s indie folk, alright. Impressive as For Emma, Forever Ago may be, I’m shaky, at best, on going to the Bon Iver set. It’s a Fleet Foxes thing — they’re pretty and cute and fun to listen to with headphones but, when it’s 98 degrees outside, standing in the sun watching a few somber guys play down-tempo music is just not what I’ll be looking for.

Who knows, though? The hipsters think this guy is important and, really, “For Emma” could be a perfectly uplifting song to hear. I’ll plan to stop by but I won’t be at all surprised if it’s one of those 5-minute affairs.

THE VERDICT: Yeah, okay, fine.

Sound Tribe Sector 9

Sound Tribe Sector 9I guess I just don’t like trip-hop. Artifact is a perfectly accessible and listenable piece of work and I was surprised at how much I didn’t hate it. Unfortunately, that only puts Sound Tribe Sector 9 somewhere between “boring” and “okay background music”. Let’s be honest, here: this is stoner jam music. I don’t care for that type of crowd at ACL and I’ll be happy not to come into contact with them.

To that end, I wonder to what extent I’d be excited about seeing, say, Pink Floyd — in their prime, let’s say — when I know that a ton of their audience are only there because “this band’s a trip, dude”. Maybe I’m too judgmental here and just need to cool out to the groove. Then again, maybe people need to grow up and stop catering to this demographic.

THE VERDICT: God no.

Suckers

SuckersWith apologies to Greg Gutfield, Suckers are like Modest Mouse, if Modest Mouse were any good.

I have no clue what the deal is with these guys but Stereogum and Pitchfork both think I need to be paying attention. Currently, their entire catalogue is one self-titled EP (available free at the moment!) and a demo track. All four tunes on the EP are keepers — but particularly “Afterthoughts & TV” — epic and sprawling in a way that makes me curious to see what the live show looks like. Stereogum compares them to MGMT, which is odd. I’m not incredibly bored by Suckers, so I don’t think the comparison is apt. So there.

THE VERDICT: Maybe Sunday is better than I thought.

The Dodos

The DodosI was able to catch most of The Dodos‘ set at the Capitol Hill Block Party last year and, truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. These guys had a pretty unique sound enhanced by the intimate setting at Neumo’s. At one point, I thought I was dreaming the whole show up and, really, “dream folk” is probably one of the better descriptions of their music.

Although I walked away satisfied and impressed with what I’d heard, I was still surprised when I started seeing them mentioned around the hip indie circles. I mean, Visiter is fun to listen to for a while but seems to drag on and on. Having said that, it’s entirely possible that they just work a bit better as a live act. I’ll admit that I’m skeptical that they’ll be as interesting at an outdoor festival as they were at an indoor venue. That won’t keep me from checking them out again, though.

THE VERDICT: A necessary revisit.

Lunch Money

Lunch MoneyMore Austin Kiddie Limits stuff. It’s kind of strange, though. I feel myself lowering my standards for music intended for kids — understandably so, I think — and yet I still could see some label like Saddle Creek having no problem signing Lunch Money. Maybe that’s just because “A Cookie as Big as My Head” sounds a lot like Rilo Kiley to me.

Truth be told, the indie pop sound is pretty irresistible in this context; it’s almost like if Tenacious D were targeted towards 9-year-olds (wait a second..). In a predictably deferential sense, though, I’ll pass. I love the aspiring hipster kids and all but, you know, I grew tired of stegosauruses long ago.

THE VERDICT: Cute but nah.

Rodriguez

RodriguezHere’s a weird cat. As far as I can tell, Rodriguez has only released two albums in his career, spanning nearly forty years. He was also, apparently, thought to be dead not too long ago. Having listened through Cold Fact, I think his style of folk rock is actually quite a bit more accessible than Bob Dylan but, uh, it’s still folk rock and I’ve never been particularly engaged by it.

I could very reasonably see this set going down a lot like Steve Earle in 2007: a one-man acoustic show which will have hardcore fans melting and casual listeners nervously bobbing their heads, afraid to criticize the man’s legacy. He’ll also probably rant about the government or something which, obviously, the crowd will love.

THE VERDICT: Strikingly indifferent.

Toadies

ToadiesIf the reader will allow me to use the phrase “post-Soundgarden”, I think that’s probably the best way to describe Toadies at this point. Of course, they’ve always had that grunge sound but now Todd Lewis actually kind of sings like Chris Cornell. They use some funny time signatures, too. Really, the main thing distancing these guys from early ’90s Seattle is how unexperimental they are, an artistic reflection of how society doesn’t care about progress anymore, no doubt.

I’ll just say it: No Deliverance is listenable but pointless. I see the live set being long-winded and overdone, kind of like Queens of the Stone Age a couple of years ago. Admittedly, I’m also worried that when they bust into “Possum Kingdom”, I’ll be vividly reminded of high school. Nobody wants that.

THE VERDICT: Nah, there are better uses of my Sunday time. Wait, are there?