// --------------- CODED BY BETO ------------------------------------ // // Google AJAX Language API - Language Translation // http://code.google.com/intl/es-AR/apis/ajaxlanguage/documentation/ ?> // --------------- END CODED BY BETO --------------------------------- // ?>
Little Donkey at AvondaleBricksGallery
Enjoy tapas from Little Donkey, Wine Tasting by Athens Imports, Art Exhibition Opening. $15. Friday, November 30, 5-9 p.m.
Visit us during the Avondale/Forest Park Holiday Crafts Bazaar at Avondale Bricks Gallery, 130 41st Street South in Avondale. Must be 21 for wine tasting.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or questions. Thank you for joining the Revolution in Avondale.
The Grenadines of Birmingham performed their haze of modern psychedelic-pop, Saturday night. Their tunes shift, touching on varying genres effortlessly, but their identity is defined by the dynamic of spouses, Michael and Lauren Shackleford. She seductively sings in almost whispering tones, swings her hair wildly during instrumental breaks and shakes that tambourine. He sometimes sings along with a smooth edge, often in a lower octave, takes the lead vocal on certain numbers and hangs lead guitar tones in the air with delay and reverb.
The Grenadines have been playing around in Birmingham for at least 3-4 years, and I haven’t always been a fan, but they haven’t always been that good. They were never bad, but now they’re among the best groups in town. They figured out how to grab an audience at a rock venue/bar—by playing rock. This may sound crazy, but it’s true. I seem to remember them as a sleepy band. Now, I was younger, and maybe part of what’s changed is my taste. But, they have energized their sound, allowing it to rise above the chatter of the hip places in town to hear live music. Saturday, they opened for the almost commercially successful mid-80’s group Carnival Season, at Bottletree. This group brought an older audience whom, at least some of which, were still entranced by the Grenadines’ sedated rock.
The stage lights shone red light on the band for much of the show and it would have been contenting for it to have stayed that way. The color suits them. They looked like a band that might have played at a dive during the filming of Easy Rider.They are not trying, however, to recreate the mid-late-sixties. There is a darkness about them that sets them apart. They employ sounds and write songs that don’t pigeon-hole them in such a way. Primarily, the use of feedback and guitar effects, especially delays, enables them to transcend this pitfall. Unfortunately, Saturday, they relied too heavily on using a wash of delayed guitars and knob twisting. On multiple songs, they used this method as a sort of outro. It certainly isn’t terrible, I like that they are making some noise, but on their demo the sounds are more textured and the ideas are executed more precisely.
The Grenadines demo, which they were selling at the show for five bucks, is pretty impressive. It’s seven tracks recorded at the Shacklefords’ home studio. Hearing the demo resulted in excitement for their upcoming releases. According to Michael, they will be releasing two EP’s simultaneously. One was recorded with Lynn Bridges and the other recorded separately. He continued in saying that, initially, they planned to release all of the tunes as a full length LP, but the two separate recording atmospheres yielded two different results. He did not reveal the release dates. Maybe he wasn’t entirely sure yet, but I’m anxious for it. A quality official release from these guys is past due. They have been perfecting their sound far too long, and at some point, you just have to let it go. The Grenadines have the ability to make great records and play more shows. I expect that they will. If you’re in Auburn Thursday, September 2, you can check out their next show at the Independent.
The Futurebirds and Lee Bains and the Glory Fires played Bottletree, Tuesday. The headliner, Dead Confederate, recently received some press regarding their new album, Sugar. After doing a leg of a tour with Dinosaur Jr., Dead Confederate teamed up with Dinosaur producer, John Angelo, for the new album. But I didn’t go to the Bottletree to see Dead Confederate. I went because of a buzz surrounding this band with a cool name—Futurebirds. Of course, it’s always great to see Lee Bains do his thing. In fact, Tuesday was the first time I’ve seen his new group, Lee Bains and the Glory Fires, and I was impressed.
Anyone who goes to see local, original bands has most likely seen Bains with his former project, Arkadelphia, or as one of the many guitarists the Dexateens have featured over the years. Bains is one the most exciting performers to see in Birmingham. He can rip the guitar, he sweats, he moves and he sings his ass off. In a way, he’s sort of like Rudy, except with a heap of talent. You know, he’s the guy giving it the most energy out there, but there’s no question of whether or not he makes the team. Tuesday night, he killed it. His new outfit, the Glory Fires, are overstaffed but competent.
Bains’ new tunes retain the southern qualities of his Arkadelphia days, but he seems to be leaning towards some soul influence. It sounds like he’s been listening to plenty of Muscle Shoals and Memphis soul recordings from the 60’s and 70’s. I told him his singing channeled Eddie Hinton, which is an incredible compliment as far as I’m concerned. His new songs have a groove absent in his previous output, and, personally, I think he should dive into this mode head first.
His rhythm section, Blake Williamson and Justin Colburn, possesses the ability to achieve vintage soul grooves, which is rare. They should, however, refuse to be called the Glory Fires. This paints a lewd picture in my head of a bathroom stall with a circular cut-out. The Glory Fires also have two sharp guitarists other than Bains, and, as good as they are, they are not needed. As I mentioned, Bains can sing and play guitar—I mean he can do it. Having three guitarists likens them to the Dexateens and other southern rock bands unnecessarily. It also makes them louder and less focused than they could be. I’m not saying cast away their southern roots, I’m just saying two guitarists with their kind of ability is plenty. Although, I would love to see them add someone on organ and keys sounds. Overall, they were great, and, as new as they are, they could become a local force.
All that being said, the highlight of the night was Futurebirds, another band from Athens, Ga. They were lighthearted and seemed to be having a great time. The entire set they were jumping around, enjoying themselves. They have six members, four of which are singers in the band. These four members also switched instruments, some or all of them playing electric and acoustic guitar, banjo and drums. The bassist and pedal-steel player stayed put. The band successfully played songs written by four different members and still retained a focused, defined sound. This is a unique achievement. Their genre on myspace is listed as, “bro-fi,”—fabulous.
Their reverberating sound was reminiscent of other indie bands heavily influenced by Americana and other roots music. Their harmonies weren’t as tight as the Fleet Foxes, and there guitar work was not as intricate as My Morning Jacket, but they have the enthusiasm and style to more than make up for there lack of technical ability. I like a loose band anyway. It shows that they’re living rather than rehearsing, which is so much better. Their quartet of singing was fantastic, creating huge refrains over a sea of pedal-steel and guitar saturated with reverb. The band is distinctly southern without being hokey and viable on the indie music scene without being pretentious.
I regret having missed Dead Confederate. They played after Futurebirds, and it was past my bedtime. I haven’t heard it yet, but check out their new release called, Sugar. Also, Futurebirds have an album out named, Hampton’s Lullaby. Lastly, I hear there will be a release, recorded by Tim Kerr, from Bains and them. When? I don’t know.
[Editor's note: Grey may have missed Dead Confederate, but for more info on them, see Birmingham Weekly music writer Brent Thompson's feature about them.]
[Editor's Note: Birmingham Weekly would like to welcome Grey Watson to it's ranks. Grey will be writing about local music and other topics under the banner of this new blog, Kinetoscope. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Grey plays with the band Through the Sparks, who he discusses below.]
BAAM!, Birmingham’s new-born festival, exceeded expectations last weekend. The weekend-long festival brought adequate crowds at many venues, but in some cases, eager listeners came out in droves. Of course, there were some shows with very little turnout, but this is to be expected for a freshman attempt at a festival with mostly local acts. The most exciting event of the weekend turned out to be the Skybucket Records Showcase at Rogue tavern, on Saturday evening.Four bands represented the Skybucket roster including: Vulture Whale, Through the Sparks, 13 Ghosts and, the most recent addition to the label, the Delicate Cutters. Each of the bands proved themselves capable of capturing the attention of the sizeable crowd that attended the showcase. Vulture Whale, especially, excited an audience ready for their rowdy, hilariously sardonic rock-n-roll. They combated independent music clichés with straight-rock riffs, riveting solos, a rock-solid rhythm section and songs that compelled singer/songwriter/guitar player, Wes McDonald, to sarcastically announce, “this is a song for all the cool people.”
There are many variables that make Vulture Whale so good. Perhaps the greatest is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, and they manage to sound as tight as any rock band around. They’re also down-to-earth, avoiding gimmicks or fleeting fads. They stick to kicking you in the eardrum with quality tunes. After their set, manager of Renaissance Records of Southside, Ramy Noureddini, said, “Lester Nuby (VW’s lead guitarist) almost made me pass out.”
Nuby’s guitar work was ambitious and nearly flawless. Bassist, Keelan Parrish, played aggressively without error. Jake Waitzman, the drummer, demonstrated technical ability without sacrificing character. Front man, Wes McDonald, excited the audience with his unique showmanship: throwing his hands up in the air, pointing to the audience, kicking the air, and even foregoing his guitar on a couple of tunes to further mobilize himself. Skybucket couldn’t ask for a better closer for their already distinguished group of acts.
Through the Sparks, the third band scheduled for the showcase, impressed the audience with their versatile, yet focused sound. The five-piece group had a well-developed show with an intrigued audience. The band has continuously made great recordings, recently putting out a single for free download, monthly. Their second full-length album arrives in November. Singer/guitarist, Jody Nelson, is a songwriter of rare ability. In the song, “Squares,” he sings, “I held her as close as the low-flying planes,” and later continues with, “you know love ain’t for the sane.”
The band pays more attention to arrangement than their label mates, which is important for a band with more instrumentation. James Brangle comfortably switches from organs, to electric pianos and guitars, offering a variety of melodies, embellishments and motive development. Greg Slamen and Shawn Avery, bassist and drummer, lock in tightly and fill space creatively. TTS provided a nice transition, playing betwixt the rock of 13Ghosts and Vulture Whale.
Skybucket veterans, 13Ghosts, came to play a rock show Saturday night, and they did not disappoint. According to their leader, Brad Armstrong, this was their first show in about a year. It’s possibly the best they’ve ever been. It was loose and raw with Armstrong as the sole guitarist, and Jason Lucia drumming in the pocket. Along with bassist, Sammy Boggan, and A. Vernon on auxiliary sounds and loops, 13Ghosts create modern indie rock sounds, grounded in folk and blues roots. The band exudes a blue-collar vibe without sacrificing a shred of artistry. They set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The newest addition to the Skybucket roster, Delicate Cutters, made their debut performance as Skybucket artists. Janet Simpson, a captivating singer and songwriter, switched between guitar and piano. Their violinist, Kevin Nicholson, offered a refined touch to simple arrangements. Their sound can reach out to a more mature audience, and they are a nice addition to Skybucket Records already stellar cast.
Overall, I count BAAM as a success with plenty of room to grow. It should serve as a learning experience and confidence booster for those who coordinated it. It needs more exposure, further in advance. The flow of the Skybucket Showcase at Rogue Tavern was fabulously executed, and the success was well-deserved. The bands fit well together, perhaps because they are on the same label, but the same cannot be said for all BAAM festival shows. Musicians should be placed with other acts more carefully so audiences can see shows that compliment each other. Also, it would be advantageous to bring in some slightly larger touring acts to draw bigger crowds. Regardless, Birmingham needed something new to happen for its local music scene, and it’s good someone has stepped up.