The prevalence and popularity of reggae music is always something that has boggled my mind. I simply don’t see the appeal of Bob Marley or Sublime, and when I stopped by Slightly Stoopid’s ACL set in 2008, I felt even further vindicated in my disdain. State Radio don’t buck the trend enough to make me interested but I did wanna give them some props. Their album The Barn Sessions is reasonable and, at times, even engaging. I would never have expected myself to say that about the reggae-rock epics they’ve recorded.
Some of the tunes are downright reminiscent of the random reggae deviations you find on albums like The Clash and My Aim Is True. The difference, though, is that those tunes are the exception and not the rule. When I listen to State Radio, the songs seem lengthy for the sake of filling up a 74-minute disc.
THE VERDICT: Seriously, I never thought I’d speak this favorably about a reggae album.
To set the record straight, I don’t particularly like the Raconteurs. Broken Boy Soldiers is boring and, even though Consolers of the Lonely is much better, I just expected more as a big Brendan Benson/White Stripes fan. I was even surprised at how unenthralled I was at the Raconteurs set at last year’s ACL. Add to that the last-minute cancelation of the White Stripes show in 2007 and, well:
The Dead Weather had better get this right.
Horehound is a gem and it actually gives Jack White a side-project chance to shine on stage as opposed to the ho-hum Raconteurs who can’t decide who to feature. I’m not so deluded to pretend that I don’t really just want the White Stripes (and, let’s be honest, the Dead Weather aren’t all that far from it) but I’m still looking forward to this show.
THE VERDICT: Jack White owes me.
Pretty standard country fare. Don Imus likes Jypsi and he’d know better than I would. Their tunes are catchy and they use a fiddle and they’re all siblings — like pretty much every other country act you’ve ever heard of.
Not that I tried incredibly hard but I couldn’t find a free copy of their new album, I Don’t Love You Like That, which, I don’t know, I guess I’ve come to expect during this whole project. Admittedly, I’m one of those awful people who just generally doesn’t spend money on music but still. It seems like a relatively unknown country group would be willing to front the tunes.
What do I know.
THE VERDICT: Not for me.
This kid (17 years old) has pretty much nailed the Johnny Cash sound. It only takes a couple of songs to realize that Vince Mira has real talent. There’s a catch, though: it’s so unbelievably clear that he’s trying to emulate Cash that you really just want to hear cover songs. It’s not exactly the same as Paul McCartney playing his solo stuff instead of Beatles tracks but it’s the same sort of idea. Some sounds are simply inseparable from their originators.
At the least, it seems that he’ll be able to do those covers. Mira’s Cash Cabin Sessions EP was actually produced by John Carter Cash (Johnny’s son) — which is noted in very prominent wording on the cover — so I guess the family is cool with him. For me, the EP has the same problem as Johnny’s studio catalogue does: it just works better as a live performance.
Good thing this is live set!
THE VERDICT: Please play “Wreck of the Old 97”. Please.
I guess this is an Austin Kiddie Limits thing but I actually can’t tell. While there does exist visual evidence that Q Brothers have performed “AKL” in the past, they reference “busting my balls” in their songs and, I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem like it’s for the kids. But then they talk about where bruises come from. Wow.
“Hustlin'” might be one of the worst songs ever produced, for children or otherwise, and “You Make Me Feel Good” is of a similar terribleness. If the kids (the literal ones) go nuts over this, then fine, but I’m not going to take any part in it.
THE VERDICT: No. Absolutely not.
With 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.
I 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.
Here’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.
If 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?
This is probably as close to a no-brainer as you get for me. I don’t really expect Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears to just utterly blow me away or anything.
Well, no. I guess I kinda do.
Loud blues with a horn section and a smattering of funky licks are the quickest path to my heart. With tunes like “Sugarfoot” and “Boogie”, these guys have no excuse not to have a hugely fun live set. One thing I’ve noticed while listening through Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is! is that there aren’t really any solos of note. I guess they’re trying to keep the tunes accessible but I hope the ACL venue gives them an opportunity to go crazy. Just a thought.
THE VERDICT: Duh.