Sunday, May 3, 2015

“Hey, Fred!” A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five for the Week Of 05/04/2015-05/10/2015


May 4: Guerrilla Toss. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. Boston's Guerilla Toss are a five piece specializing in anarchic, unhinged avant-funk. Led by electrifying frontwoman Kassie Carlson, the band calls back to noise as a primal body music and to the steady, rocking dance beat as a trojan horse for opening your mind up and rewiring the pathways in your brain to augment receptivity. The local side of the bill is pretty stacked as well, with the fascinating electronic sound collages of Giant Claw, Dana who take off from the Pere Ubu school, and Stella about whom I don't know anything yet. Starts at 8:00pm. $8 cover.

May 5-6: Tom Russell. Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, 5601 N High St. One of the finest singer-songwriters working today. Alec Wightman's Zeppelin productions, who are discussed often in this space, started with a Russell show and there've been few years in the intervening 20 when we weren't graced with his presence at least once. This two-night residency at Natalie's should be special, both because he promises very different shows on each night - and with a catalog of 20+ albums, he can pull that off without ever dipping into subpar material - and because he just released a new album, Rose of Rosecrae which is the third in his folk-opera trilogy (started with The Man From God Knows Where and continued with Hotwalker) and it takes everything good about the first two and explodes it. A collage of archival recordings - including Leadbelly and Johnny Cash - new writing for other voices like Dan Penn, Guy Clark, Maura O'Connell, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Russell's perfectly weathered baritone, it's an ambitious record, novelistic in scope and while I'm still processing it, I think it's fair to say unparalleled in the Americana field. If you have any interest in the craft of songs, how to weave history into a narrative without coming off preachy, or how to get better at what you do year after year, you should come see this and be dazzled. Starts at 8:00pm. $30 tickets available at

May 7: Six Organs of Admittance with Elisa Ambrogio. The Basement, 391 Neil Avenue. Ben Chasny's Six Organs of Admittance project is a chimera, changing its face to duck easy recognition. And it's been flexible enough to let him follow whatever he's most interested in from a solo perspective (he also works in collaborative projects like 200 Years and Rangda). over the years I've seen it in contexts including frayed, loud electric guitar recalling ESP-Disk and Acid Mothers Temple, delicate cubist fingerpicking that recalls Bert Jansch and Jack Rose, or orchestrated almost baroque folk. His new record, Hexadic, while based on a game system designed around theoretical guitar ideas, might also be his most accessible with surging riffs and eyes on catharsis. Elisa Ambrogio from Magik Markers (who put out a phenomenal solo record late last year) opens. Doors at 7:00pm. $10 tickets available at Ticketmaster.

May 7: Bloodthirsty Virgins with The Hexers and Sin Shouters. Spacebar, 2590 N High St. Nikki Wonder's one of my favorite singers and entertainers to ever walk across a Columbus stage. For a few years in the early '00s, her band Jack Neat with their blend of torchy vocals, noir twang guitar and a swinging rhythm section, were my favorite band in town. So I'm incredibly excited to see her new project, Bloodthirsty Virgins, with a stellar cast of musicians backing her including Scott Gorsuch on guitars, Keith Hanlon on drums and percussion, and James Wooster on bass. Early recordings sound amazing and friends who caught them at their first couple of shows in town came back raving. It doesn't hurt that the rest of this bill is filled out with other twists on retro forms that are some of the best dance party bands in Columbus working right now. The Hexers with their take on girl group rhythms filtered through hard-charging guitar rock and an electrifying frontman in Eric Wrong. The bill is rounded out by Sin Shouters who dip further back with soul music you don't hear covered very often including "Frenzy", "First I Look at the Purse", "Down on the Farm" and "Tallahassee Lassie", a bastard child of the Flamin' Groovies and J. Geils Band with their own swing.  Starts at 9:30pm. $5 cover.

May 9: White Mystery. The Summit, 2210 Summit St. Maybe Chicago's finest rock band, White Mystery get better every time I see them with stronger songs and an already-electrifying live show. Miss Alex White's howl is without parallel in touring circles today and her volcanic guitar will pin you back against the wall, backed only by her brother Francis Scott Key's ferocious drumming. It doesn't hurt that the rest of this bill is stacked with two of the best rock bands in town, The Girls! who are working up new songs and not to be missed as they come out of a few months of not playing out, and Senor Citizen and the Border Patrol. Starts at 10:00pm. $8 cover. 


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