Radar Bros., Sunshine Recorder, Obits, Pretty & Nice, The Tallest Man on Earth, Gene Ween Band, My Brightest Diamond
I've known homeless dudes and filthy rich bastards who lead essentially the same lifestyle: greet each morning with that feeling of total freedom. Unbeholden to the working man's rat race. Wander just about anywhere on a whim. Radar Bros. is the soundtrack to their unfettered hours. "I'm gonna wake up and drift softly into the day," drawls singer-guitarist Jim Putnam, wholly unruffled, on a song from the L.A. trio's latest, Auditorium. The music follows--gently loping, piano-freckled, halcyon indie-rock with traces of Acetone country vapor and melodies out of an Alan Parsons Project ballad. You're probably neither homeless nor filthy rich, but you can listen to the Radar Bros. and dream.
Sunshine Recorder may be the solo project of the Cobbs' Christopher Coello, but even all on his lonesome--for the most part--he still knows how to fill wide swaths of space with blissful garage rock and experimental pop. Syrupy effects and twitchy distortion singe the edges of his creations, of which the entrancing "Flatline Pennies on the Tracks" emerges as the standout. The one-man-band becomes three-quarters of the Cobbs live, picking up Ryan Cobb on bass and Paul Cobb on drums and filled out by guitarist Michael Prince. With just a four-song demo under his belt, here's hoping for a full album from Coello's promising baby.
The pedigree suggests that Obits will be dynamite: The new Brooklyn foursome is fronted by veteran singer-guitarists Rick Froberg (ex-Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes) and Sohrab Habibion (of '90s D.C post-hardcore band Edsel). Hidden away in their practice space until only recently, Obits has been prepping a debut disc for Sub Pop (due next spring), surfacing for just a handful of shows thus far. Based on the couple of killer live tracks they've posted online, some elements from the principals' prior outfits have survived--bloody, angry howls and careening, occasionally angular post-punk guitars--but the greater vibe is one of late-'60s garage-trash and surf-punk; should be pretty explosive.
Boston's Pretty & Nice blow through their first full-length, Get Young, quickly and efficiently, delivering 10 tunes in less than 28 minutes. Released on Sub Pop's kid-sister label Hardly Art, the album is curt and crisp, lean and bracing, with the guitars throttling and the vocals alternately snide and soft-sung. You might hear Starlight Mints ("Pixies"), A.C. Newman ("Peekaboo"), Elvis Costello ("Hideaway Tokyo") or the Futureheads (the single "Tora Tora Tora"), but the fresh-faced trio--since expanded to a four-piece--tears into bubblegum with such enormous chompers that it's tough to not hit repeat immediately after a doozy like the opening "Piranha" fades out. (D.W.)
Dean Ween's not dead or retired--he's just gone fishin' (see: www.brownietroopfs.com, his new angler-centric website). And so, while Ween lays low in advance of its 25th (!) anniversary next year, the band's other half--singer-guitarist Gene Ween--continues to unleash his absurd genius with a new quartet that includes Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz and members of Dreiwitz's other combo, Bustle in Your Hedgerow (an instrumental, jam-band-y Zeppelin tribute group). So freshly minted is the Gene Ween Band. It remains a mystery how they shall aurally delight us: Ween classics? New Gener material? "Pork Roll Egg and Cheese," perhaps? Making the evening potentially that much more surreal and delightful: Slint's David Pajo opens.
Bon Iver might be the one riding into town on his everlasting boatload of fawning press, but it's his opener that's got us excited. Montezuma frontman and handsome Swede Kristian Matsson started recording his rustic, gravelly-voiced solo tunes as the Tallest Man on Earth in the early aughties, and his first full-length album, Shallow Grave, just released, is a lush and bewitching mix of Dylan, fellow Swedish heartthrob (with an Argentine name) Jose Gonzalez and acoustic fingerpicking so lightningfast and silky smooth you'll think Matsson signed his own Robert Johnson-style deal with the devil.
Yes, just like there are too many "wolf" bands, there are too many "diamond" bands: Lavender Diamond, Low vs. Diamond, Diamond Nights, etc. Trying to keep all these sparkly monikered outfits straight can be pretty damn confusing, but chances are if you catch My Brightest Diamond, a.k.a. Shara Worden and her hired hands, you'll remember them well. Daughter of a National Accordion Champion and church organist, and close pal of Sufjan Stevens, Worden brings an arresting vocal delivery halfway between opera and freak-folk, augmenting that with everything from modern classical textures (� la Sigur R�s collaborators Amiina) and cabaret drama to midnight indie-guitar elegance and PJ Harvey-esque smoldering intensity.