Thursday, Sept. 17
New Jersey's Matt Mondanile has immersed himself in the liquid sounds of an alternate-universe '80s dream, one where soft-rock radio is filtered through a tropical psychedelic haze and the East Coast is 75 degrees and sunny all day in the middle of winter. With his solo project, Ducktails, Mondanile uses remnants of the trash culture absorbed during his youth to paint radiant sonic pictures of nostalgic wonder. This vivid imagination has turned out an impressive amount of music over the past several years, and with Mondanile's other project, Real Estate, getting even more attention for their straighter take on breezy pop, there's clearly some serious talent here. San Francisco's hypnotic Radiant Husk open at Soda Bar.
Cris and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets have always taken the road less traveled. As one of the few SST bands that strayed from straightforward hardcore, they released two landmark albums of Americana—the back-to-back stunners Meat Puppets II and Up on the Sun. Too fried and mellow for most punks, they continued to carve our their own weird niche into the next two decades. In the '90s, Cris endured heroin addiction and the death of his wife, and in 2003, he was sentenced to a two-year prison stint following a strange incident in which an argument over a parking space led to Kirkwood assaulting a security guard with the guard's own baton. But even after all that, the Puppets are still a formidable live act, having matured gracefully at a time when most of their SST brethren have been gone for a long time. The “Southern Nirvana” (Dead Confederate) and Austin trio Ume also perform at Belly Up Tavern ($14).
Saturday, Sept. 19
Much credit is due to CityBeat's Kelly Davis for exposing me to musician / mechanical engineer Tristan Shone's Author and Punisher via her story a few weeks back. San Diego's Shone updates industrial music with use of self-built, precision-crafted machines to create soundscapes heavily influenced by doom metal, dub and drone. But that simplistic explanation does little to convey the artistry, ingenuity and power of his performances, the latest round of which employ “Dub Machines,” combining his MIDI-triggering “Rack and Pinion” with use of new “Headgear,” allowing him to filter vocals through eight different microphones at once. Truly fascinating. Author and Punisher performs first at this show featuring West Coast black-metal bands Fell Voices and Lake of Blood at Che Café ($6).As a collaborator with Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, French house producer Alain Queme (aka Alan Braxe) had one of 1998's biggest crossover hits, the joyful one-off single “Music Sounds Better with You.” Crazily enough, it still sounds modern today, a precursor not only to Daft Punk's deconstructive disco on Discovery but also to the massive success of repetitive kitsch junkies Justice and some of DFA Records' more dance-oriented material. Riding on the song's success, he's gone on to remix Bjork, pop megastars like Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue and, yep, Justice themselves. Not much of a dancer myself, but if I were, this would be a hard one to pass up. Note: not a good show for those struggling with hipster denial. At El Dorado.
Sunday, Sept. 20
Let's play the underrated / overrated game for a minute. In the former category, we have the Psychedelic Furs, whose self-titled debut and follow-up, Talk Talk Talk, are two of the early '80s' most unsung albums, riding the hoarse lost-poet swagger of vocalist Richard Butler across a handful of great songs—one of which, “Pretty in Pink,” later became the title (and title track) for a John Hughes movie. In the latter category, we have Happy Mondays' druggy dance-funk, whose “24 Hour Party People” was later adopted as the title of Michael Winterbottom's great film about Factory Records, in which the Mondays were examined as leaders of the late '80s U.K. “Madchester” scene. Both bands were started by sibling bass / vocalist combinations, both swiped melodies from their influences, both are touring with augmented lineups and both are far more popular in Britain than in the U.S. The difference? One band is great; the other is spotty at best. Neo-shoegazers Amusement Parks on Fire open at House of Blues ($32.50).
Tuesday, Sept. 22
Very few indie musicians can match Phil Elvrum's prolificacy during the past 10 years. As mastermind of The Microphones, the songwriter established a singular sound: moody, epic compositions informed by gentle folk, lush pop and frightening noise. Changing the project's name to Mt. Eerie in 2003, Elvrum proceeded to start a record label / print publisher called P.W. Elverum & Sun, a testament to the DIY ethic that has released a surplus of material ranging from music to poetry and photography. Some may view this as overly precious and insular, but there's a timeless beauty to Elvrum's music, which is also reflected in the sugary pop of collaborator and tourmate Karl Blau. Predictably, both artists have sizable word-of-mouth followings—especially in college circles—so it makes sense that they'd play to this all-ages show at UCSD's Che Café, with fellow Washingtonians Tara Jane O'Neil and No Kids ($10).