Yes Indeed! 2013 Rundown, Pt. 2: The Dead Revolt + FLCON FCKER + RIVERS + Ex-Optimists + Naughty Professor + Say Girl Say + Electric Attitude + Perseph One + Alkari + More
Alright, y’all — here we are, back again with the second set of previews for the Yes Indeed! 2013 Music Fest happening this coming Saturday, September 14th, over at the Last Concert Cafe, the Houston House of Creeps, & The Doctor’s Office.
Before we dive into it, though, I have a quick update to make. Apparently the start time on the official Facebook invite for the festival is/was incorrect; the doors will open at 4PM, not at 3PM, like I’d mentioned previously. Sorry about that, folks…
And with that, away we go:
The Dead Revolt
Another of a recent crop of heavily prog-influenced pop/rock bands in this city, The Dead Revolt stand shoulder-to-shoulder with folks like Featherface and (from yesterday’s writeup) Sunrise and Ammunition, but where those bands lean towards psychedelic cheeriness and/or heaviness, the TDR guys opt to write songs that are more straightforwardly dark and “rock”-like, with more of a truly proggy bent than a lot of the rest of their compatriots. There are moments on last year’s A Night of Nostalgia EP that remind me of nothing more than Coheed and Cambria, and oh yes, that’s a good thing.
Plus, the guitars are twisty and complex in the best possible way, with sharp-edged lines winding in on themselves in a way that’d make Alex Lifeson smile appreciatively, all while guitarist/vocalist George Baba half-mutters, half-sings cryptic lyrics about…okay, fuck, I’ve got no clue what they’re about. But hey, with song titles like “Lost in the Vaults of Time” and “The Kronos Gyros Mating Ritual,” that really only helps push the Rush/Coheed resemblance further along. Check out the aforementioned EP below.
[The Dead Revolt plays at 6:45PM at the Houston House of Creeps.]
Dammit, I just know that if I go to FLCON FCKER‘s Website (i.e., “fuckmyfalcon.com”) at work, I’m going to wind up on some IT guy’s annual “Look at All the Insane Stuff Our Users Look Up While at Work!” List… Which is made especially sad by the fact that, despite the kinda-off-putting name, FLCON FCKER’s music is surprisingly fragile, serene, airy, and, dare I say it, beautiful. The music this oddball electronicist makes is hazy and ethereal, with delicate rhythms and swirly washes of sound that bring to mind the lightest moments of M83 or Ulrich Schnauss, or maybe the Cocteau Twins.
On top of that, I’m told Mr., er, FCKER’s live performances are something else entirely, with him dressing up in strange, identity-obscuring costumes and using some kind of motion-control software to make and change sounds just by waving his hands around. Stick it out past the midnight mark, and you can bear witness yourself…
[FLCON FCKER plays at 12:45AM at the Houston House of Creeps.]
If there was truly any justice in the world, RIVERS would be opening for Seattle grunge legends Mudhoney when they come through town near the end of the month, and they’d burn down the stage so thoroughly that Mark Arm and company would start clapping frantically before they’d even really finished their set. No, I’m totally not kidding — to me, these guys sound like the spiritual/musical inheritors of the whole grunge sound, and nobody’s a truer custodian of that legacy than Mudhoney themselves. RIVERS are similarly misanthropic and loose, rocking out with abandon and never giving a shit, and when they hit their stride (on “Spirit Child” and “What’s the Use,” in particular), it’s goddamned mesmerizing.
On top of the Mudhoney-ness, of course, there’re other sounds, as well; there’s a serious resemblance to old-old-old-school garage rock, for one thing, with a dollop of Afghan Whigs soulfulness on the side. But try as I might, that rubbery, rumbling bassline keeps dragging me back to the Pacific Northwest circa 1991. Unfortunately, the band’s got one measly album out, 2011′s Mind Your Mind, and it’s already two years back down the road. So, you guys, I have to ask: more? Please?
[Rivers plays at 11:45PM at the Houston House of Creeps.]
I’ll freely admit that my knowledge of the Bryan/College Station area is pretty damn limited, specifically to a handful of cross-country courses I went to in high school on our team’s away meets. Beyond that…I’ve got nada. I can’t even really visualize what the home of one of the two biggest colleges in Texas looks like. Don’t like it, don’t hate it; when the place comes up, I mostly just shrug.
That said, The Ex-Optimists make me want to drive up that way, so I can maybe grasp how in the hell this band happened. Because going by recent album Bee Corpse Collector, I’d swear the band fell out of a time vortex centered over College Station, one that leads straight back to the early ’90s, where they were all in pioneering indie-rock and dreampop bands. My theory is that these guys just fell through, looked around in bewilderment at a world full of iPhones and twerking and killer drones, said, “fuck it,” and just picked up where they left off back in their own time. I mean, hey, what else can you do?
Okay, so that might be a little far-fetched, it’s true. The reality, though, is that listening to The Ex-Ops is like trawling back through my record collection of about 20 years ago, when the things I loved best were Superchunk, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, My Bloody Valentine, Silver Scooter, and Sebadoh. It’s buzzy, gently-rocking stuff with low-key, close-whispered vocals, jangly guitars, droney riffs, and easy-going tempos, and just listening makes me grin like I’m a damn teenager all over again.
[The Ex-Optimists play at 4:45PM at the Houston House of Creeps.]
And now, for the first Mystery Band of the day… I’d honestly never heard of Kosé ’til I saw ‘em on the Yes Indeed! schedule, and even then, they somehow got skipped in the listing of all the bands playing, so I had to do a wee bit of digging to learn they’re from here, they’re a male/female “noise punk” duo comprised of José Pineda & Kira Black.
Annnnnnd…um, okay, that’s all I’ve got. The band doesn’t have anything online to listen to (that I can find, anyway), so I’m left guessing what they’re actually like, much as you are, dear reader. Our only recourse, it seems, will be to show up hella early tomorrow and see what the deal is live and in-person. Sorted? Good.
[Kosé plays at 4:30PM at The Doctor's Office.]
On to Mystery Guest #2, and this time they’re a bunch of out-of-towners visiting our fair-ish metropolis from New Orleans, the awesomely, awesomely named Naughty Professor. (And somebody, please tell me at least one of ‘em teaches at Tulane or something. ‘Cause that’d make it even awesomer.) Happily, they live admirably up to their name, grooving and blasting through tight-as-hell, horn-heavy funk jams that ride the line between smart, music school-educated playing and down-and-dirty, rough-edged Nawlins nastiness.
If you’re a fan of The JB’s, The Ohio Players, fellow Louisianans The Meters, or even Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, then yeah, these six guys are right up your alley. I’ve been listening for a while now to tracks from their most recent album Until the Next Time, and holy fuck, I can’t stop. It’s smooth and raw and funky and jazzy and bouncy and low-down, all at the same time somehow. The only down side, to me, is the lack of a vocalist to kind of give things a little more focus, but after a while, hell, about halfway through “Knockwurst,” I don’t even care about that any more.
[Naughty Professor plays at 7PM at the Last Concert Cafe.]
Say Girl Say
I’m really not sure what I’d expected Say Girl Say to sound like, really, thinking back about it. Something funky and/or electronic, maybe? Whatever I had in my brain, stripped-down, intricately-harmonized folk with what sounds like ukuleles (or sometimes not, but rather a cappella) and pseudo-tribal facepaint with headbands really wasn’t it, not at all. And yet, that’s what I’m getting from the tracks on the band’s Bandcamp page; it’s interesting, to be sure, kind of a distant relation to Joanna Newsom minus the chirpiness, and with an odd, almost Warpaint-like darkness to it.
After a few listens? Okay, yeah; I’m really liking this, and I honestly wasn’t expecting to. It’s hypnotic and spiritual, with moments that are utterly bone-chilling and gorgeous, with sung-chanted vocals that I just can’t escape. I’ve gotten pretty tired of the whole indie-folk thing, it’s true, but damn, I’ll gladly listen to more like this.
[Say Girl Say plays at 8:30PM at The Doctor's Office.]
Sometimes a little shift is all it takes to make something really, really work, sometimes even when it didn’t completely work before. That’s what I found myself thinking when I listened to Electric Attitude‘s latest album, the stellar Skintight & Solid Gold. I’d waited a few years for the band’s recorded music to really match up to their live presence — which is impressive as all hell, I have to say, but I’ll get to that — and holy crap, they actually pulled it off. Skintight & Solid Gold is grimy and sleazy, with nicely rubbery, Bootsy Collins-esque basslines, a heavy dose of horns, and frontman Blake Shepard‘s half-leering, undeniably sexy croon/yelp.
Now, for the live side of things: yep, the album’s good, but in person? It’s a whole different beast, a sweatier, rawer, funkier kind of creature from even the dirtied-up recording; if you’ve never witnessed Electric Attitude live, you really need to. They set the dancefloor on freaking fire, I swear.
[Electric Attitude plays at 11PM at the Last Concert Cafe.]
Even in a city as heavy with hip-hop talent as this one — and make no mistake, Houston most certainly is — Perseph One is a relative rarity: a tough-as-nails, defiantly intelligent and belligerent, confrontational who refuses to grab hold of the usual rap stereotypes. Instead, she comes off more like Aesop Rock with her nonstop, machine-gun flow, but over a grittier, rougher, lo-fi, more “indie” track, a la early Sage Francis.
Or maybe she’s the female counterpart to Saul Williams; there’s definitely some of the same experimental tendencies going on in there, and the lyricism comes a lot closer to bona-fide poetry than it does to anything on mainstream hip-hop radio. Of course, the experimental, twitchy nature of the music can make for some difficult listening, but if you can let it seep into your brain, you’ll be left wondering how you went without for so long.
[Perseph One plays at 1:15AM at the Houston House of Creeps.]
There’s something inherently great about basic, simple (but not simplistic, mind you) rock music, the kind that needs no add-on labels to truly “click.” You hear it, and you smile, as part of your soul goes, “Yeah, that’s right; that’s what it sounds like.” That’s the way Alkari hits me, really and truly, and it’s a great thing.
When I say “simple,” by the by, I don’t mean that the songs themselves are simple, because they’re not; tracks like “Crazy Truck” or “Onward Upward” or “Waverunner” all build beautifully, rising and falling like a boat riding the ocean waves, and the changes are organic and warm and right. Music-wise, they fal in with that early crowd of bands that all got lumped into “alternative rock,” especially the ones on Twin/Tone Records. There’s some Hüsker D&uum; here, a whole lot of Replacements there, some Soul Asylum off to the side, some Buffalo Tom lurking in the background.
The end result of all this, the band’s 2012 release, Blackout Falls, was seriously one of the best albums I heard all year, close to the absolute best of ‘em all. It was (and is) just a wonderfully-put-together, wonderfully-conceived rock album, the kind that holds onto you tight literally for years.
[Alkari plays at 8PM at the Last Concert Cafe.]
First things first, to the band: I’m sorry, y’all, but the name Zoofeelia, it kinda creeps me out. Maybe that was the goal, I dunno, or maybe you guys just wanted to indicate how much you love (and feel, maybe?) zoos? I dunno; I’m trying to give y’all the benefit of a doubt, but it’s not easy.
My kneejerk reaction to the band’s moniker aside, hey, Zoofeelia aren’t half bad. They’re noisy and kind of raggedy around the edges, like the music itself is what’s fraying, and the singer’s nasally voice makes me think oddly of Ween more than anything else. They need some polishing up, to be sure, but there’s a quirky, almost Vampire Weekend-ish vibe to the couple of songs I’ve been able to hear so far. Take a listen below…
[Zoofeelia plays at 8:45PM at the Houston House of Creeps.]
Okay, folks — I need sleep. I may try to get a few more written up tomorrow, but I’m going to have to play that by ear. If you don’t hear from me before then, well, I’ll hopefully see folks out at the show…