Tag Archives: Spanish Gold

Forecastle 2014, in review

The fellas from Reignwolf flat out shred.

The fellas from Reignwolf flat out shred.

Before I get to the music, I just want to say how much I appreciated the free valet bike parking the festival offered. Really enjoyed not having to get into my car or worrying about my bike being stolen while I took in the tunes. Thanks to the folks at Forecastle and MailChimp.

DAY 1

The Black Lips – They were fun to watch live and are good at what they do – a 1950s rockabilly-punk hybrid. Also the first time I’ve ever seen a member of a band periodically try to spit and catch it in his mouth.

Gary Clark Jr. – Please, Gary, don’t slow it down. The three slow songs really dragged the energy down. When Gary and his crew would kick it into high gear, and the intensity and energy would soar. Bright Lights, Big City, my favorite, got a makeover, with some heavy syncopation on the chorus that was a nice live change.

Spoon – These guys find a groove and ride it. I’ve enjoyed them on disc, particularly Kill the Moonlight and Gimme Fiction, but live they’re much more than the sum of their parts. Probably the first time I’ve seen a few thousand people simultaneously bob their heads for an hour.

OutKast – They’re not a rap group. They’re a damn funk band, and a fine one at that. They also played my favorite OutKast joint, Da Art of Storytellin’. My only issue was that they front-loaded all of the highest-energy tracks – B.O.B., etc. One or two of those toward the end would have been nice. Still, awesome to see Andre and Big Boi together. Record an album, please!

DAY 2

The Wans – Tight, young guitar rock crew. I’d see them again in a club or as an opener.

Jill Andrews – I saw her open for The Avett Brothers in early 2013 and absolutely loved her. Just her on acoustic guitar, with another guitarist in tow. However, I find her to be way too polished on disc, and that’s what I felt like when I saw her at Forecastle with a full band. Good for those of you into a more mainstream country sound, but just not my thing.

Spanish Gold – My biggest disappointment of the festival. I really, really like their latest release, South of Nowhere, and I was looking forward to the live show to see how they filled out their sound. And they pretty much sounded like they do on disc. They weren’t bad, but I was expecting some Santana-esque next level shit, and there was none.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Sharon Jones is a badass. No further commentary necessary.

Johnnyswim – I went outside my comfort zone for this lovey-dovey duo. Solid performers, but a little soft for me. That said, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a prettier couple in person than Abner Ramirez and wife Amanda Sudano.

Slint – Hells yeah. I was hoping for sludgy 1990s punk metal, and Slint served it up. Also the first time I’ve ever seen a show underneath an interstate highway.

Jack White – White and his crew put on a clinic, blazing through country, punk, garage rock, rockabilly, metal and so on. They even threw in a theremin solo for good measure, as well as earning points for playing Blue Moon of Kentucky. It would have been the best performance of the weekend, except they got upstaged on Day 3 (see Reignwolf).

DAY 3

Sharon Van Etten – There’s something a bit mesmerizing about Van Etten. It was blazing hot, and she was cooler than the other side of the pillow, playing reserved, heartfelt, country-tinged cuts that kept the crowd’s attention. Her between song patter was a hoot, as well. Liked her enough that I’ll be re-visiting her new album, Are We There.

Trampled by Turtles

Dear Trampled By Turtles,

Have you ever noticed that when you play fast – sometimes even light-speed fast on tracks such as Wait So Long – the crowd is rowdy, energetic, dancing, yelling and loving every minute of it? And have you noticed that, when you start playing down-tempo songs that make up at least half the show, the crowd claps politely? I’ve seen you twice, and I’ve noticed it both times. Just something to think about.

Sincerely,

Adam

Jenny Lewis – Jenny was gorgeous (vocally and visually), the stage was awash in bright colors and the band – with some help from the Watson Twins – were dead on. I had to leave early to get to Reignwolf, but I will be seeing Ms. Lewis again at the end of July in Indianapolis, and I can’t wait.

Reignwolf – Oh. My. God. This trio, led by axman and singer Jordan Cook, are the balls (thank you, Ron Burgundy). Seriously, Cook was force of freakin’ nature, breaking string after string, taking the mic off the stand to sing and throwing it over his shoulder during solos, jumping all over while playing 95% of the set without a guitar strap and just flat-out shredding some amazing blues metal. As much as I loved headliners OutKast, Beck and Jack White and shows by other acts such as Spoon and Jenny Lewis, there’s no doubt in my mind that Reignwolf put on the best show of the weekend. I can’t wait to see them in action again.

Tune-Yards – I’ve listened to them on disc, and while they are unique and interesting, they’re not my thing. That said, I really enjoyed the live show and would definitely be interested in seeing them again. I hesitate to say much more because I only caught their last 2-3 songs after the Reignwolf set.

Ray LaMontagne – I’m not huge on LaMontagne, but I enjoy the new album, Supernova, quite a bit and was looking forward to his set. But live … snooze. Maybe it was just too hot for music that mellow, I don’t know. But I left early to get up close for Beck.

Beck – What can I say? This guy puts on a show, working Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and Busta Rhymes’ Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See seamlessly into the middle of his own songs. The high point: Debra. My favorite slow jam, and he milked it for all it was worth. Maybe not as good as the time I saw him at Bonnaroo in 2006, but still terrific.

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Favorite albums of 2014, so far

My favorite albums through the first six months of 2014.

Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – I love it when a band manages to mix chaotic musical departures with strong song-writing, a la the Mars Volta. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra has that ability, creating complex sonic pastiche while just barely clinging to traditional rock structure.

Guns + Ammunition, July Talk – In my songs list, I said the dueling vocals of Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay sounded a bit like Nick Cave and Tonya Donnelly. Musically, this one-two singer punch helps give July Talk an interesting edge.

Half the City, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – These southern boys aren’t reinventing the wheel here. This is old school, big band soul, plain and simple. But the thing about that old school, big band soul sound is that, when done well, it’s impossible not to listen. Paul Janeway and his crew display power and deftness on their debut.

Indie Cindy, Pixies – It’s not strange that the Pixies are on this list. Indie Cindy is the outlier among rock albums from bands who broke up for an extended period of time then got back together to record in that it doesn’t completely suck (see the Fleetwood Mac catalogue, anything after Stevie Nicks’ initial run with the band). What is strange is that the Pixies, indie underground darlings of the late 1980s and early 1990s, are easily the most recognizable band on my list.

Out of the Black, Royal Blood – If you like Queens of the Stone Age, give these fellas a shot. Thick, heavy guitars and active drumming drive Royal Blood’s sound, and singer Mike Kerr provides strong, melodic vocals to play against the wall of sound.

Say Yes to Love, Perfect PussySay Yes to Love makes beautiful noise, from the opening track Driver – a full-throated roar over music that is constantly spilling from melody to chaos – to points deep in the disc, such as the schizophrenic vocals and slow, quiet fade out of Interference Fits. Sublime punk rock.

South of Nowhere, Spanish Gold – Southern rock, reggae, psychedelic rock, blues … Spanish Gold touches a bit of everything, committing only to make the best album they possibly can.

Sunbathing Animal, Parquet Courts – I think of Pavement and 1980s skate punk quite a bit while listening to Sunbathing Animal. That’s a good thing. Parquet Courts use some conventional punk and garage rock song structure, but tend to throw the occasional feedback solo or wall of noise in spaces where the average fan probably isn’t used to hearing them.

Honorable mentions: Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Angel Olsen; The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, Courtney BarnettGirl, Pharrell Williams; Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings; Stay Gold, First Aid Kit; Standing By Your Side, Lee Fields & The Expressions; Theosophy, Pete Molinari; To Be Kind, Swans

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Favorite songs of 2014, so far

Bad News, Sleeper Agent – “Who would want to stay in love with you?” Bitterness never sounded so sweet in this synth-heavy, power pop gem.

Cedar Lane, First Aid Kit – First encountered them through their last disc, The Lion’s Roar, the title track of which might be one of my favorite songs of the past 10 years. The new offering, Stay Gold, is nice, and Cedar Lane is the leader of the pack.

Disco Shit, Cherub – Lighter and more sugary than cotton candy, Disco Shit will challenge you to resist its funky lure.

Don’t Leave Me Dry, Spanish Gold – These throwback rockers deliver the low-key funk.

D.R.E.A.M., Pharoahe Monch feat. Talib Kweli – Two silver-tongued devils rock the mic.

Eye to Eye, Lee Fields & The Expressions – Old school soul, done with sincerity.

Fall in Love, Phantogram – There’s a timelessness to this track, making Fall in Love feel like it would be comfortable among New Wave chart toppers of the 1980s or in coffee houses in 2040.

Guns + Ammunition, July Talk – Picture Nic Cave dueting with Tonya Donnelly in a cocky rock combo.

High & Wild, Angel Wilson – A little bit of Hope Sandoval and Nico in this jangly, ethereal singer-songwriter track.

Indie Cindy, Pixies – A mix of distorted guitars and sweet melodies. Sounds like they never were apart.

Just Another Bullet, Young Fathers – Mesmerizing and unique, Young Fathers drop an impossible to shake track that you’ll be thinking about long after the song ends.

Legs, Chuck Inglish feat. Chromeo – A Cool Kid and the funky Chromeo meld wonderfully in this jam.

Like a Mighty River, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Had the opportunity to see these guys live in May, and the blew me away. An amazing, ass-shakin’ set.

Littlest League Possible, Guided By Voices – Short, sweet, distorted, catchy. GBV’s career summed up in one song.

Little Monster, Royal Blood – Heavy, melodic rock.

Longer Than You’ve Been Alive, Old 97’s – Fun, grouchy and loud, like a good rock ‘n’ roll road song should be.

My Resignation, Besserbitch – Bratty, brash and loud, Besserbitch delivers a crunchy pop punk anthem.

People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Sharon’s not wrong, and she sounds even better saying with the Dap Kings in full force behind her.

Sexy Socialite, Chromeo – This cut has some old, skanky, slick Prince-like moments.

Take Away These Early Grave Blues, The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Much like Sonic Youth or Akron Family, these guys stretch the boundaries of rock.

Watch You Change, Drowners – “There’s no shoulder cold enough for me.” Breakup song angst done well.

Honorable mention: 27, Passenger; Ain’t So Simple, Protomartyr; American Horror, Speedy Ortiz; Avant Gardener, Courtney Barnett; Blue Moon, Beck; Brand New, Pharrell Williams feat. Justin Timberlake; Canal, RATKING; Chaghaybou, Tinariwen; Different Days, The Men; Dog Bumped, Timmy Barry; Don’t Mess With Me, Brody Dalle; Easy Street, Pete Molinari feat. Barrie Cadogan; Emerald Tuesday, Cibo Matto; Hold On, The Kooks; Interference Fits, Perfect Pussy; I Wanna Be a Yank, Fucked Up; Jerk Ribs, Kelis; Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Flaming Lips feat. Miley Cyrus and Moby; Never, The Roots feat. Patty Crash; Nights on the Strand, Battleme; Raw Milk, Parquet Courts; Red Water, Diamond Youth; Rollercoaster, Bleachers; Supernova, Ray LaMontagne; Tongues, Joywave and KOPPS; Top Notch, Manchester Orchestra; Uno, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib; We Dare Defend Our Rights, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fire; Work Song, Hozier

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