Joel has been a fan of The Antlers for a long time, and when he asked about some of their early shows playing Columbus, he struck a nerve:
Joel: I was thinking about Hospice, and how it was kind of a game-changer for you guys. I remember when it first came out. I really liked it, and I went to see you guys in the summer of ’09 here in Columbus, Ohio, at a place called Cafe Bourbon Street… Darby Cicci: Ohhh… [whimpers, moans]
Joel: So you remember that? Cicci: Ohhh… We played there twice.
Joel: I just saw the one.… It was completely empty. Cicci: Yeah, both times were completely empty. Cafe Bourbon Street has long marred my thoughts of touring as being one of the worst places ever to play. Nothing against Columbus. I love Columbus. One time when we played the stage was covered in broken glass. It wasn’t dangerous or anything, but for almost a year we were still finding pieces of broken glass in our pedal boards and stuff. Somebody would ask, “Where’d these little pieces of glass come from?” Cafe Bourbon Street. (full interview)
I used to get Phantogram confused with Pomegranates. I probably won’t anymore after finally listening to Phantogram, a duo from Saratoga Springs, New York that instantly brings to mind the xx. But it’s not necessarily a “if you like xx you’ll love Phantogram!” kinda thing. Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel don’t go the minimalistic route. Despite that rather serious video of “Moutful of Diamonds” above, Phantogram is often more playful, less effete and feels more like you should be dancing instead of just nodding your head. The band released its debut LP, Eyelid Movies, on Barsuk in February.
I love The Antlers, always have, even way back in their Attic of the Universe days and in March of ’09 when they played Cafe Bourbon St. to approximately 3 people. I still like Hospice (#5 on the ol’ Favorites of 2009 list) better than the live experience, but I’m curious to see how the Antlers have grown as a live band since then. I imagine it takes a little time to go from Peter Silberman’s intimate bedroom project to a full-band stage show.
Phantogram and The Antlers will play the Basement this Friday, and we’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away. So if you want to go to this show without paying a dime, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ANTLERS ON MY PHANTOGRAM!! We’ll pick a winner on Thursday. …Oh, and since this is the Basement, it goes without saying that you should show up early unless you want to watch the bands on TV or stare at a large structural-support column. Doors at 8pm, $12.
The Antlers’ new video for “Bear” after you click on that little ‘more’ link over there Continue reading →
Despite my confusion about whether I woke up in Columbus or Austin on Saturday morning, I triumphantly braved the cold and put in a good eleven hours of music listening/show-navigating on my last day of SXSW. My day began with a charming interview with the lovely Cate Le Bon (check back for full interview soon) and then took me to the MOG party where I camped out at for a number of hours. While there I caught performances by Dum Dum Girls, Demolished Thought (again sans Andrew WK), Freelance Whales, Broken Bells, The Antlers and The Black Keys.
Completely ignore the fact that I’m an Ohioan for one moment as I crown The Black Keys with the best performance of the party, hands down. Broken Bells was entertaining, but didn’t stray too far from what I might expect from a Shins follow-up of Australia.
(Separate Columbus list further down. Though, if the lists were combined, some of the local releases would unseat a few here…)
1. Larry Jon Wilson – Larry Jon Wilson
I won’t lie. Talking to Larry Jon and producer Jerry DeCicca (Black Swans) about this album, learning about its origins, and visiting Wilson’s back catalog gave me a heightened appreciation for this masterpiece. So context helps, but even if you know nothing about the back story, this is a stark, beautiful album from start to finish from one of the forgotten country outlaws. Wilson’s Georgia baritone is the sweetest thing I heard this year. For Townes Van Zandt fans, this is required listening.
2. The Love Language – The Love Language
It’s a rock n’ roll cliché and a PR flack’s dream: Guy breaks up with girl, drinks heavily, pisses off all his friends, eventually sobers up and retreats to his parents’ house to record an album on a four-track. But man does this cliché jangle with some of the best in-the-red pop songs I’ve heard in a while. Stuart McLamb’s Chapel Hill band signed to Merge in October and is slated to have a new release in August, and after seeing the full band (now a 7-piece) put on a terrific show at the Wexner Center in the fall, McLamb’s next outing could be even better with a little help from his friends.
3. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
Every aspect of Andrew Bird just keeps getting better—his voice; his gorgeous, multi-layered violin arrangements; his whistling. It makes for a backdrop so compelling that he can sing about proto-Sanskrit Minoans, porto-centric Lisboans, Greek Cypriots and Hobis-hots and have you nodding your head in agreement instead of scratching it in confusion.
4. Kurt Vile – Constant Hitmaker; God is Saying This to You…; Childish Prodigy I’m grouping these together so I can squeeze more in, but all three LPs probably deserve a separate spot for different reasons. God finds Vile filtering his psychedelia through John Fahey and Neil Young; Childish kicks the volume up a notch and tones the lo-fi down; and Hitmaker, the best of the three, plays both sides with casual brilliance. “Freeway” is one of my favorite songs of 2009.
5. The Antlers – Hospice
Hospice is one of only a few albums this year that completely transports me whenever I give it my full attention. (Brian Harnetty’s Silent City is another.) A concept album about a hospice worker and a young patient, the songs swell like Sigur Ros then retreat into gingerly tapped piano, lightly strummed guitar or shimmery synth. It’s in those quiet portions that Silberman employs his alabaster falsetto — more hushed than Jeff Buckley but less wispy than Antony Hegarty. Back in March, the Antlers played a show at Cafe Bourbon St. in front of me and maybe three other people. I’m thinking there’ll be a few more in attendance next time.