Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It List: Tuesday 7/31/07

Jesse Sykes /Laura Palmer/The Moaners (The Loft at The Palladium): I thought Jesse Sykes could have been much more enjoyable if it weren't for the contrived vocals, laying it on much too thick with the heartache and an accent that may or may not be genuine. If it is, more power to her. If not, well... Mojo and Uncut will give four stars to anything that's in the parameters of their Top 100 Albums of All Time mentality. Oh, well. It's worth mentioning that she contributed vocals to Altar by Boris. I thought the Moaners were less interesting musically, but more tolerable overall. I wish I could say something like that about Laura Palmer.

Tokyo Police Club/Ra Ra Riot/White Denim (Cambridge Room At House Of Blues): Tokyo Police Club have garnered some attention recently with the usual mix: catchy little riffs, fresh faces, terribly over-processed vocals. Don't forget the lame remix for good measure, though that's sometimes the only redeemable thing about a mediocre or worse group. White Denim gave me the same feeling that I get when people don't listen to any noise music but like Wolf Eyes. As in, it's okay but why does this make the cut, but similar (and often superior) artists do not? Who knows?

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea: The Biggest Local Band You've Never Heard of?

As you might guess, the We Shot J.R. Myspace page receives it's fair share of friend requests from relatively unknown local bands. Every once in a while, we get one that makes us feel like we struck gold-- something unique, interesting and exciting being produced right in our own backyard (Ghosthustler and Mom, for example). Most of the time, however, the bands we encounter in this manner are young, inexperienced and predictable at best, providing very little for us to get excited about. When I first heard Matthew and the Arrogant Sea via a Myspace friend request roughly six months ago, I quickly placed them in the latter category. What I found on their page was relatively traditional indie folkpop (the kind that kids in the suburbs seem to be producing in wholesale quantities these days), and in the short amount of time I spent with the music, I failed to find anything that struck me as particularly noteworthy. But ever since that first encounter, after months of seeing the band's name pop up again and again on local bills without much hype or media attention, things have dramatically changed with Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, and it's not just their music. In fact, they might be on a very fast track to becoming one of North Texas' biggest bands, even if many in the area have yet to hear their name.

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea consists of Bryce Isbell, Sarah Wilson and three members of the same family: brothers Matt Gray and Caleb Gray, and nephew Jacob Gray. Matt and Bryce first met at a show a little more than two years ago when they were both performing as separate solo acts, one of which was an early incarnation of Matthew and the Arrogant Sea featuring Matt playing solo. After the two began hanging out and casually collaborating on tracks for Matt's project (Matt on lead vocals and guitar and Bryce on drums, synths and effects), Gray's brother Caleb, a solo performer himself, started accompanying the duo on electric slide guitar, saw and bass, while Jacob joined shortly after on violin and Sarah came in to play lap harp and tambourine. Not surprisingly, this influx of new blood helped birth a drastic change in the sound and philosophy of what was now a full fledged band trying to find it's way.

"Things have changed in our hearts," says Bryce Isbell as he explains the band's evolution, "our views on life have really changed and we realized that we needed to quit trying to be what our mothers want to hear and make what we can listen to and dig."

While the band's older material certainly wasn't awful in any way, it seemed to be a bit too cute and obvious (if memory serves) to stand out in a sea of ambitious young local bands with developing record collections and Myspace accounts. But as Matthew and the Arrogant Sea continued to grow as a band, the members' collective interest in a darker, noisier and more abstract version of experimental psychedelic folk began to take hold, showcasing a flair for the literary and theatrical while maintaining the intimate appeal of more traditional solo acoustic guitar folk/pop.

The band's sound seems to fall somewhere between Nick Drake and older Animal Collective, drawing from strange, dramatic 70's folk acts such as Fairport Convention and Pearls Before Swine (whether intentionally or not) and dressing those influences up with the sounds of a variety of contemporary indie touchstones ranging from Espers to Fruit Bats to Devendra Banhart to the experimental tribal avant folk of Sunburned Hand of the Man. The result is a solid base of acoustic pop lying beneath layers of swirling noise, reverb and other textures that give much of their music a sense of loneliness, distance and detachment. Songs like "The Irony of Anigav..." buzz with tin can percussion, bits of white noise and a hypnotic use of repetition, while "Pancakes on Mars" treads on more traditional folk turf but remains interesting due to it's recording, which creates an artificial acoustic space reminiscent of hearing an old country song in a car on a long dark highway. And while the band hasn't exactly invented the particular styles they are working within, their take is unique and quickly rewarding, displaying a locally uncommon willingness to create experimental pop that is both experimental and, well, poppy.

Although the band's recent musical evolution has been quite noteworthy in it's own right, the sheer number of outside projects it's members are working on at this very moment makes the story even more interesting. Mixing and matching musicians and seemingly forming new bands at the drop of a hat, the core of Matthew and the Arrogant Sea literally has 13 current side projects that all seem to spawn from a singular musical vision and branch out organically. And of course, each one of them has it's own Myspace page. Gashcat, one of the more immediately memorable of the bunch, heads in the darkest direction of all with hauntingly dramatic vocals and a dizzying mix of synth strings, noise and distorted vocals, while Koala Bees embraces a slightly brighter, more electronic approach on songs like "Word Word Word," which sounds influenced by Panda Bear's recent material. Elsewhere, Papa Viking tackles bluesier, rough around the edges Americana with a hint of acid hangover, while the excellent Verulf probably owes the biggest debt to groups like Espers, Wooden Wand and Animal Collective, focusing on spacey, naturalistic atmospheres and tones that qualify as the most non-traditionally Western of the bunch (aside from Verulf's minimal noise influenced project Concrete Animals). Some of the projects are more intriguing than others, of course, but the energy, emotion and attention to detail in each is admirable, and sometimes downright captivating. Flipping through their Myspace pages, which all link to one another, is sort of like running a gauntlet. Only with mostly pleasant surprises around the corners.

These various side projects are also tied to together by more than a common set of ambitious band members. Bryce Isbell and the others have formed their own record company, Magilum, to release some of their recorded material and serve as an organizational mechanism for their prolific output. Aside from releasing Verulf's debut The Rattlesnake Tree, the label's first major step into the public realm will be the upcoming New Sabbath Festival, taking place on August 18th at J&Js in Denton. The festival boats a large, diverse bill that will feature Peter and the Wolf, Jana Hunter, and Brothers and Sisters, as well as local favorites like Theater Fire and Chris Garver, and a few other non-local surprises that haven't been confirmed quite yet (at least one of them is a HUGE name).

So what did all this hard work and Elephant 6 style collaboration get these guys? The answer most local music cynics (including me) would expect is nothing, but again, Matthew and the Arrogant Sea have managed to surprise. According to Bryce Isbell, the band has recently entered into a $6 million recording contract with EMI, the result of both luck and hard work. After beginning a relationship with a smaller locally based label that didn't exactly pan out, the band went on the road and played a series of what Matt Gray considers "some of the best shows [we've] ever played in the presence of the right people," providing them with an opportunity to shine musically and make the kind of connections they needed to garner the attention of potential suitors. And although a large sum of money offered by a very large record label might give some musicians pause, the members of Matthew and the Arrogant Sea seem quite comfortable with what they're doing.

"We've had nothing but a positive experience with this label," Isbell says, "they've been wonderful to us. They have given us 100% complete creative control." And furthermore, according to Isbell, the $6 million figure is not some major label recoupable advance that will keep the band in a hole forever, but more of a sign on bonus and an investment in the group's development. Again, pretty damn weird for an industry that has become comically clueless in recent years.

The whole thing seems like a large and surprising leap to the big time for a band that was hardly on anyone's radar even six months ago (especially considering the competing offers they received from Capitol Records and American Recordings), but unusual happenings and big changes just seem to be business as usual for Matthew and the Arrogant Sea these days. As the band prepares for it's major label career and a likely move to Sacramento within the next couple of months, the strangeness of the entire endeavor is striking. Matthew and the Arrogant Sea is experimental but digestible, easy to enjoy but hard to figure out. And as so many careerist bands in Dallas struggle to "play the game" and "make it" on anyone else term's but their own, the refreshing thing about Matthew and the Arrogant Sea is the way they've gone about their business on their own, creating a small but complicated world of music, art (thanks mostly to Sarah Wilson), and storytelling that seems to be largely insulated from the outside world.

"To those who wonder if our days of tribal folk and psychedelic pop are gone," Isbell says, "think again. We have only just begun." For some reason, I kind of believe him.


Monday, July 30, 2007

It List: Monday 7/30/07

Wow. Anyone who likes to dance and wasn't at the Green Elephant for Pase Rock on Saturday is extremely stupid... honestly, it was one of, if not THE best dance party that has happened in Dallas all year. Watching Pase Rock control the crowd was quite amazing, and the reactions of the crowd, ranging from non-stop dirty dancing to over the top jumping and screaming, were absoultely priceless. What a show. Congratulations to Central Booking for continuing to keep people excited around here. We'll have pictures and stuff a little later.


Punk Bunny/Sticky Buns/Farah/Christian! Teenage Runaway (Hailey's): CTR will be playing their first local show with Record Hop's Ashley Cromeens. I believe she is going to be a full fledged regular member of the band, but I'm not completely certain. The rest of the line up is solid except perhaps for the headliner, who might have a couple funny pictures on their Myspace page but not a whole hell of a lot more. I believe this will also be Farah's first live show since receiving the honor of appearing on Lindstrom's latest mix CD. But I won't say I told you so.

Also, Cool Out is happening at the Cavern.

Last Week's Good Records Sales Charts


1. St. Vincent - Marry Me
2. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army (Ltd.)
3. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
4. Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
5. Glen Farris - Glen Farris


1. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
2. Bishop Allen - And the Broken String
3. John Vanderslice - Emerald City
4. St. Vincent - Marry Me
5. Interpol - Our Love to Admire
6. Soundtrack - Once
7. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
8. National - Boxer
9. Justice - Cross
10. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army (Ltd. Ed.)
11. Matthew Dear - Asa Breed
12. MF Doom - MM..Food (CD/DVD)
13. Menomena - Friend & Foe
14. Hentchmen - Hentch-Forth.Five
15. Dead C - Future Artists
16. Knife - Silent Shout (Deluxe)
17. Colleen - Les Ondes Silencieuses
18. Dungen - Tio Bitar
19. Aliens - Astronomy for Dogs
20. Ulrich Schnauss - Goodbye

Monday Morning Rock


TUES: Tokyo Police Club/Ra Ra Riot/White Denim (House of Blues)
FRI: Ghosthustler/Foxtrot (Secret Headquarters)
SAT: Teenage Cool Kids/Koji Kondo/Angry Businessmen/Dance of Days(Secret Headquarters)
SUN: Pelican/Clouds/Fatal Flying Guillotine (Hailey's)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekender 7/27/07-7/29/07


Hot Flash (Fallout): Tonight's line up will feature Schwa, Wanz Dover and Killtronix. I guess Stephen R is out of town or something. Always good and always free. You'll hear everything from disco to eurohouse to ghetto tech to hip hop to funk. Something for everyone is probably an easy way to say it.

Deep Snapper/Cougar Den/Kaboom (Secret Headquarters): A solid hardcore/post-hardcore show that includes Cougar Den, who do a fairly good job with that sort of thing. An unknown and slightly pleasant surprise for me.

MC Chris/These Northern Lights/MC Router (Aardvark): Everyone reading is probably familiar with MC Chris, aka MC Pee Pants, but I wanted to say a quick little something about MC Router: really good. Saw her a couple months back at SHQ and was pleasantly surprised by the abstract nature of her music and the tangible talent she has as an MC. Trust me, I'd normally be the LAST guy to tell you to go watch some chick rap about video games, but believe me: she's way better than you think.

Joy Electric
/Mom/Sydney Confirm (The Cavern): This Joy Electric band is on Tooth and Nail, so I probably don't have to tell you why they suck. I include this show only to advertise the fact that Mom is playing, and to get a few people to check out Sydney Confirm, a young local band that has made great improvements in their psyche influenced synth/dance/pop sound to become a band worth casually keeping tabs on.


Pase Rock/Nature/Select/Sober (Green Elephant): The big one of the weekend. Pase Rock, part of the large Baltimore Bass Connection collective that also boasts Spank Rock as members, is probably making some of the most creative, silly and contagious dance singles in America right now. He's known best for that "Lindsay Lohan's Revenge" track and video, which might the most NSFW music/video combo of all time, but everything else I've heard from him is just as fantastic. Taking the Spank Rock aesthetic and taking in more of disco/electrohouse direction (if only slightly), I probably don't even have to sell this show to you if drinking and dancing is part of your regular weekend operation. This will be loud, crowded and explosive.

Bishop Allen/Page France/the Teeth (Hailey's)

Silk Stocking/The Felons/Telegraph Canyon (The Cavern)

Record Hop/Bob White and the F Electrics/2 MAI/The Demigs (Rubber Gloves): After receiving a shout out from Steve Albini on a message board, Record Hop starting acting like real assholes all over town, thinking their shit didn't stink. Just kidding. Seeing as how they are one of the most reliably good live rock bands in Denton, I'm interested to hear what some of this new recorded material sounds like on stage.

Bobgoblin/The Happy Bullets (Doublewide): Didn't Bobgoblin play music in the 90's? I thought I remembered seeing posters for them at places like Last Beat (the store) and CDX (the mid-cities) in like 95, or maybe they were on the Adventure Club way back before they started playing Christian Rock. I don't have time to figure out which.


Golden Boys/Strange Boys/Current Leaves/Stanton Meadowdale/AM Ramblers (Secret Headquarters): Pretty diverse bill here, and everything seems pretty solid to me. Hadn't heard these Golden Boys before, but I think they might be worth checking out. I wonder how the Strange Boys are enjoying Austin these days?

Bishop Allen is playing a Good Records in-store at 2pm.

Gravy Train/Sugar and Gold/Sticky Buns (Rubber Gloves): Gravy Train is annoying as shit, to the point where I know at least a small handful of people who read this blog are going to love them. Sticky Buns receives approval from both contingencies.

DJ Wild in the Streets (Haileys)

The We Shot J.R. Awards


So after taking a quick look at some of the positively horrible nominees for this year's Dallas Observer music awards, we decided that we needed to put together the second annual We Shot J.R. Awards right away. We figured we could create a ballot that actually meant something to people, and hopefully, that is what we've done.

In my opinion, the thing that will make these awards matter to people is you guys, not us. Like it or not, it's clear that a lot of people who know a lot about music, think a lot about music and care a lot about music visit this site regularly, and I think this knowledge and good taste will be reflected in the voting results. Instead of a bunch of doucheholes going on the Observer website and voting for their friend's horrible rap metal band 1,000 times, I think we're going to get a lot of carefully considered votes from people who REALLY know what is going on in local music, and I think a lot of people who don't even read this site will at least be interested in what our readers end up voting for. We'll have a smaller number of votes than the Observer awards (obviously), but to me, one vote from one of our readers is worth ten votes from a 17 year old Burden Brothers fan.

Of course, ballot stuffing and things of that nature COULD happen with these awards, but we are going to be personally monitoring the results for the next three weeks to make sure that none of that happens. Feel free to vote for whoever you want whenever you want as many times as you want, but please note that ten votes in ten seconds for the same band in one category will be tossed out. Just use common sense and you'll be fine.

SO HERE IS HOW THIS WILL WORK: Like last year's vote, this will be a straight up popular vote, and anyone may vote as many times as they like. The band or artist or whatever with the most votes in each category will win, and that's it. When we announce the winners, we will also publish a list of our personal picks, just to give you an idea of how we voted. The categories probably aren't perfect, and you might feel that we left something out here or there, but we tried to cover as much ground as we could without going overboard. You may interpret our categories liberally: "band" can mean "solo performer," and "electronic" doesn't necessarily mean "laptop." Again, use common sense and you'll be fine. Voting will go for the next THREE WEEKS, ending on Friday, August 17th at 5pm. We'll announce the winners the following week, and an awards concert is in the works for mid to late August as well. Hope you guys have fun with this.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

It List: Thursday 7/26/07

Tame Tame And Quiet/The Demigs /Dios Malos /Corto Maltese (The Cavern): Tame Tame And Quiet is probably one of the only bands that could get me out to The Cavern, as far as bands that would realistically play there. I don't know much about the other acts, but I've heard good things about The Demigs.

Wanz And Ineka (Fallout Lounge): His new mixtape has The Pop Group and I'm a fan. Do you like the Pop Group? They're kind of like The Rapture minus the irony.

80's Night With DJ G (Hailey's)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It List: Wednesday 7/25/07

Sorry this is late and lame, but it's still better than YOUR It list:

Strawberry Fields is doing the Short Attention Span Theatre tonight at Hailey's. Some kind of Western theme is involved tonight, meaning they will show strange cowboy themed stuff I'm assuming. Usually fun.

Also in Denton, Warren Jackson Hearne is playing at Rubber Gloves with Jason Webley and Will E. Lee.

Looks like that's about it.

Sally's Stuff

Sally Glass has pictures from The Party's One Year Anniversary and Monday's Cool Out on her page. I usually hate those "funny" "vintage" t-shirts that dudes wear at stuff like this, but Select always manages to dig up a Garbage Pale Kids shirt or something that makes us laugh.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It List: Tuesday 7/24/07

Voot Cha Index/Hardin Sweaty And The Ready To Go/Ryan Anderson/Fishboy (J & J's Pizza): A lineup worthy of a Friday night, especially if you're a pop fan. Good Records' child prodigies, Voot Cha Index, continue in a spate of shows before they all split into different post-summer directions, collegiate or otherwise. Ryan Anderson is a singer/songwriter from Austin with some pretty goofy lyrics and a very straightforward style. Eric from Fishboy is actually playing sans backing band tonight. Hardin Sweaty And The Ready To Go should have done the preview soundtrack to Dunston Checks In. I don't think that's an insult to a pop act. Oh, and this show is free and that's always cool.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jandek @ Rose Marine Theater

Based on the admittedly small amount of research I've done on Jandek, I would venture to say that his show at Rose Marine Theater on Saturday night was one of the most structured and digestible performances he's given since his emergence from anonymity a couple years ago. This is not to say that the music wasn't strange, because it was; and it's also not as if Saturday was the first time he's ventured into the realm of more traditionally structured music, because it wasn't. It's just that the unique combination of musicians accompanying him on Saturday night helped to make his music sound quite different than most of the recorded Jandek material I've heard, and for the most part, this had the effect of bringing his vision closer to tangible, every day life than I imagined it ever could be.

Ok, let me explain. To me, Jandek's music brings to mind Sigmund Freud's initial conception of dreams and the unconscious. Particularly in his early material (with which I am most familiar), Jandek's method of writing, playing and recording music seemed to draw the listener into the dark, playful and often painful world of the unconscious through the dreamlike atmosphere of the material. Just as Freud believed that dreams were something of an open door into the unconscious, Jandek's music acts as a gateway to the darkest and most inexplicable spaces of the artist's mind, inviting you into a world of surrealist images, random thoughts and flowing, often structureless sounds that seem to be guided by anything but coherent rationality. Essentially, Jandek songs remind me of those last few moments before you fall asleep at night, as you slowly lose control of your thoughts while maintaining awareness of them as you drift off. And more than just about any other musician I can think of, it sounds, at least to me, that Jandek is trying to make some kind of direct presentation of his unconscious existence, turning songs and lyrics into bits and pieces of surreal dreamscapes as he invites the listener inside his mind.

What made Saturday so different was the pull between the aforementioned qualities of Jandek's music and the performances of Ryan Williams, Will Johnson, Ralph White and Susan Alcorn. Although the music they played was fairly abstract, formless and experimental by most standards, the elements of jazz, folk and country that were apparent throughout the set seemed to keep Jandek's vocal and harmonica performance grounded in waking life, not quite permitting him to go to the deeper, darker place he goes in much of his most striking recorded material. This might sound like a bad thing at first, but it was honestly quite intriguing. As the bits and pieces of more traditional American music faded in and out of the largely avant garde set, it became quite exciting to watch Jandek interact with a group of musicians that seemed to come together quite well despite having no idea what to expect. Although under most circumstances their performances would qualify as subtle and strange, with Jandek, the music often came across as bold and colorful, revealing ways in which his haunting vision could work in an entirely different musical context while honoring the abstract nature of his work. The backing musicians seemed to effectively challenge Jandek to work and interact with them, pulling his highly introverted style outwards while giving him the space he needed to remain in the personal zone he seems to invite us all into. These contradictions between the band and their leader created a tangible tension in the room that made his performance quite powerful despite the fact that he always maintained the detached and self involved persona that makes his music so intimate yet so foreign. It was as if the audience was being invited back into Jandek's house, just like we are on his records, only this time, he had friends over. And he wasn't exactly sure about them just yet.

Of course, I've probably heard less than 1/4 of his vast catalogue, and there very well could be many other instances of such interaction in Jandek's history (I'm aware that he has recorded with other people, for example). It's just that it was great to see him play live with complete strangers, participating in a give and take that I couldn't possibly have imagined the first time I heard his first album. And I'm sure that back when he was recording Ready for the House in 1978, he probably couldn't have imagined himself on a stage in Ft. Worth either, playing in front of a group of people that were happy to once again explore his mind.

It List: Monday 7/23/07

We'll have some posts for you later this evening, but for now:

Cool Out (Cavern upstairs): Recently, a lot of people decided to start going out on Monday nights in Dallas, and I believe roughly 90% of them go to this.

Nux Vomica/Ippur/Akkolyte (1919 Hemphill): The Gonzalez brothers provide a guaranteed ass kicking in Ft. Worth with their grindcore outfit Akkolyte.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Monday Morning Rock

A reader recommended this to me in an email and asked whether it was "appropriate for Monday Morning Rock." Yes. Yes it is.


SAT: Pase Rock/Nature/Sober/Select (The Green Elephant)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Weekender 7/20/07-7/22/07

Goddamn it Friday night. Why do you have to let so many things happen tonight? Would it kill you to give one or two shows to Saturday night so that I don't have to make the Denton or Dallas decision again? I guess I could try to be one of those overly ambitious people who hits both cities in the same night, but I'm just too lazy for such things. Have you ever been carrying something, dropped it, and then kicked it the rest of the way because you were too lazy to bend over and pick it up? Yeah, I just did that. So obviously I'm not going to have the energy to go Zubar/House of Tinnitus/Fra House/Monkey Bar all in the same night. Oh well. I'll live. Here we go:


The Party One Year Anniversary (Zubar): It's really hard to believe what a big deal these guys have become over the past year. Whether it's packing the Zubar for their monthly party, enticing the SMU kids to dance to that new house at Green Elephant, showing up at every party around town or bringing in critically acclaimed touring acts, these guys have been everywhere and done everything this year. And although some people might dismiss their fans as misguided fashionistas, The Party would be a success in any major cosmopolitan city in the world right now, and their sets lists are the proof. And you know what, it's pretty hard to not have a good time at these things, no matter who you are.

Dead Echoes Fest (House of Tinnitus): Another anniversary of sorts is happening here as House of Tinnitus hosts the second annual Dead Echoes drone fest. You can click on the Dead Echoes link above for the full line upset times, and Myspace links, but Sports, Shiny Around the Edges, Yellow Crystal Star, Mike McGuire and Shortwave Death System are the highlights in my mind, exposing the kind of musical diversity that most people don't seem to notice within what is popularly called "drone." Expect a friendly and enthusiastic crowd of people coming and going from a house that has really made a name for itself as a prestigious center for anything not-pop. Oh, and it's free.

Night Wounds/Modern History Duet/Red Faced Laughter (Fra House): Denton's other big show of the night is also a house show and also free. What do you think of that? Night Wounds sort of play a rhythm focused post-punk/hardcore thing that seems to draw inspiration from the likes of Fugazi, The Raincoats, the Slits and New York no-wave. Whitehouse,Tx band Red Faced Laughter sounds like a very good reason to show up around the official start time of 10pm, packing a punch with a similarly abstract but aggressive freak out peppered with a demonstrable sense of shoegaze-like atmosphere all over the place, sounding at times like a marriage between Slowdive and Extreme Animals. A really interesting band from a strange place. Those are usually good, aren't they?

The Wrens/Get Him Eat Him/Midgetmen (Hailey's): I'm not the biggest Wrens dude in the world, but I certainly respect them and enjoy their music whenever I happen to hear it.

Eat Avery's Bones/She-Dick/Prince William (Monkey Bar): Parade of Flesh put this thing together to celebrate one of their birthdays. It's too bad it's happening on the same night as the big Party event, but I bet it's fun. I'm just curious to see what Eat Avery's Bones are like at the damn Monkey Bar.

DMA Late Nights (Dallas Museum of Art): Tonight's DMA Latenight sounds like one of the better ones they've had, with a focus on the "dawn of Modernism" that will feature a screening of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and lectures on Marcel Duchamp, as well as drinks and food and all the other stuff they usually have. Good times.

White Drugs are playing at Doublewide with a couple bands I don't care about.


Jandek (Rose Marine Theater-Ft. Worth): We've already talked this show up enough, but we should say that this very well could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this guy in person. Sounds like he'll have some great backing musicians as well.

Broadcast Sea/Nouns Group/J Versus K (Hailey's):

Pre-New Sabbath Fest feat. Matthew and the Arrogant Sea/Fishboy/Ben Fleming/New Science Projects/Eli Brown/Daniel Folmer/Stanton Meadowdale/Sarah Reddington 6-12 (J&Js): As a preview to the exciting folk festival happening in August, stop by J&Js all afternoon to check out a variety of acts. As for the organizers, the dudes involved with Gashcat and Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, we'll have more on them early next week. I've gotta go, so I just linked to the bands I know off the top of my head. Sorry.


Mothfight/Ghosthustler/Mom/Instruments (The Cavern): This Party Ends sponsored show has the makings for a good one: whether it's the spellbound electro-acoustic Mom, the strange electro indiepop of Mothfight or Ghosthustler, the only worthy recipient of the "new band" award in the Observer Music Awards, Party Ends is providing a good look at a lot of different sounds that are getting attention right now. And you know what? "Ride the White Horse" DOES sound like it could be a Ghosthustler song. Last time I checked, that was good.

Wild in the Streets (Hailey's)

Playing with Jandek

After the initial excitement of learning that Jandek would be gracing the city of Ft. Worth with his presence this Saturday, July 21st at Rose Marine Theater, we started to wonder exactly what kind of show he was going to put on. My understanding of his live performance M.O. to this point is that he has traveled to different cities and played with a different group of musicians in each destination, focusing mostly on improv and avoiding all of his hit singles. For tomorrow's show, he'll be playing with some fairly well known Texas musicians: Will Johnson of Centro-matic (drums), Ryan Williams of Baptist Generals (bass), highly respected pedal steel player Susan Alcorn and long time Austin banjo player Ralph White.

Concert organizer and SXSW booker Craig Stewart tells us that the whole thing started in 2005 when he contacted Corwood Industries and asked if Jandek would be interested in playing his first Texas show in Austin. He agreed, played a show, and then contacted Stewart in 2007 to find out if he and his colleague Cathy Ross would be interested in booking a Jandek performance and concert film screening for SXSW. After Jandek's much talked about SXSW performance, Corwood once again reached out to Stewart and requested a show in Ft. Worth with Houston's Susan Alcorn. Once the booking details for the show were finalized, Stewart, Ross and fellow SXSW employee Tierney Stout put the rest of the musicians together in a collaboration with Corwood and created the Jandek in Ft. Worth Myspace page to promote it.

We sent out an email to each of these musicians and asked them a couple questions about the Jandek show and their thoughts on being asked to play it. Not everyone was able to get back to us, but we did manage to get some answers from Will Johnson and Susan Alcorn. Here they are:

What did you know of Jandek before you were asked to play this show? What did you think of his music?

(Will Johnson)I've followed along for some amount of years now, since the summer of '90. I picked up two jandek records down at waterloo in austin. My college friend quickly informed that there wasn't much more to learn about the person or people involved, outside of the very music i was holding in my hand that day, and that only heightened my curiosity. I guess i've bought about eight or nine more since then. At first it took a little while to get my head around the guitar playing, but i was immediately taken with the presentation and uniformity of the records, the sound of the recordings, the mysterious houston address, the voice and lyrics. iIve always felt like the method, dedication and perseverance of creating in this way is to be respected even if the music isn't really one's cup of tea. In talking to other folks that have followed along, after seeing the documentary and checking various websites, i've found that i know about as much now as i learned on that first day, and that's part of the beauty of Jandek. the definition is all the listener's own.

(Susan Alcorn) I must confess my ignorance. I had never heard of Jandek when I was approached to do this performance. The person who asked me seemed nice and I had that night open, so I accepted the gig.

How were you approached about the show, and what was your initial reaction to the invite?

(WJ) My bandmate (Matt Pence) was originally asked to do it. He seemed excited, but he knew i'd followed jandek for a while and was kind enough to pass the drumming duties along to me. my initial reaction was equal parts nervous and geeked. i was on an escalator in the Atlanta airport and immediately started to sweat it a little.

(SA) I was contacted by telephone. I think it was Craig who called, though I'm not sure. I was in the middle of a music project and had forgotten to write the information. Two days later I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I couldn't even remember Jandek's name and had forgotten about the concert when a friend telephoned me saying that he had read about it.

Have you had any contact with the representative from Corwood Industries? If so, could you describe it?

(WJ) No. No contact so far.

(SA) If Craig is a representative of Corwood Industries, then yes I have had contact. If you're referring to Jandek himself, we have not met.

What are you expecting on Saturday? Is there much of a plan as far as what will be played, how long it will be played, or any other details?

(WJ) I've heard of no plan as to what songs we're gonna do, or how we're gonna do them. I only know what time i'm supposed to be there and what instrument i'm supposed to play. That's where that excited/nervous chemical kicks in i guess.

(SA) I haven't the slightest idea what we'll be doing Saturday night except that the show starts at 7 PM. For me that is not unusual. As a musician, as an improviser, and as a human being, I feel it is important to think and act on the spot and to be real.

What kind of impact do you think Jandek's recent live performances have had on his overall mystique and image? Is it a good thing that he is finally playing live?

(WJ) I do think it's a good thing. I went to the show in austin a couple of years ago and walked away with another bundle of questions, and also the satisfaction of knowing i had finally heard the voice and seen the creator live. Every show appears to be very in the moment and with different musicians involved each time, and i think that's what makes each one its own unique event. Even as we now have the knowledge that the person playing live appears to be the same person that appears on the records, it feels like the mystique is moving on in a new way through these live shows.

(SA) As for the impact of Jandek and his mystique, I can't answer that. Is it a good thing that he's playing live? Well, he as a human being, just like you and me, if he wants to play live, then I think it's a good thing that he is playing. There are aspects of music, subtleties and nuances, that can only be shared and experienced live -- in the moment and in the same room.

Do you feel that you have anything in common with Jandek as a musician?

(WJ) Not really sure. Maybe i'll have a better idea about that after saturday night.

(SA) What I have in common with Jandek as a musician. From what little I have heard, I know that his music has an honesty and that he's communicating things that go beyond words and notes. I hope that, at times, I'm able to do the same.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

WSJR Music Awards

Coming soon. You guys like alternative music and stuff, right?

It List: Thursday 7/19/07

As much as I like to run my mouth, I must be brief:

Lost Generation WIth Wanz and Ineka (The Fallout Lounge): Tonight's guest DJ is We Shot JR favorite, Keith P.

80's Night With DJ G (Hailey's): You know what songs are really good? "Enola Gay" by OMD, and "Everything She Wants" by Wham. No, I was being serious.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It List: Wednesday 7/18/07

In case you were really sweatin' it, the Dallas Observer music award nominee list came out today, and you can see it here. Fucking snooze fest as usual. Moving on...

Not much going on today, but Astronautalis is playing at Rubber Gloves for those who are interested. I'm not crazy about him, but the guys at Party Ends sure seem to like him.

And I almost forgot, the popular Short Attention Span Theater will be happening at Hailey's as well. Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sally Glass Candy 7/17/07

Sally has pictures from last night's Cool Out, Saturday night's Party and Friday night's She-Dick/Select show posted on her page. Apparently, people are getting intoxicated at these events.....

Go on and click it. You know you love looking at these things.

It List: Tuesday 7/17/07

Blitzen Trapper /David Vandervelde (The Loft): This Gorilla VS Bear sponsored show features two Pitchfork darlings and their respective takes on classic and/or country rock, and none of it sounds at all like Wowee Fucking Zowee, as Pitchfork might have you believe. The amount of guitar soloing and almost adult contemporary feel-good melodies were somewhat surprising from both groups. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting from two acts I've heard so many good things about. Not surprising were the Eli Cash getups that bands like these always wear, as exhibited in these pics.

Last Week's Good Records Sales Charts


1. St. Vincent - Marry Me
The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army (ltd. ed.)
The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
4. Voot Cha Index - The Talking House/Cradle 7"
5. Glen Reynolds - In Between Days


1. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (ltd.)
2. Interpol - Our Love To Admire
3. St. Vincent - Marry Me
4. Justice - Cross
5. National - Boxer
6. Iron & Wine - Boy with a Coin
7. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
8. M. Ward - Duet for Guitars #2
9. Matthew Dear - Asa Breed
10. Ulrich Schnauss - Goodbye
11. Amiina - Kurr
12. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
13. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army (ltd. ed.)
14. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
15. Jaylib - Champion Sound
16. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
17. Patton Oswalt - Werewolves & Lollipops
18. Miracle Fortress - Five Roses
19. Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation
20. Bonde Do Role - With Lasers

Don't ask me why the font is all weird.

Monday, July 16, 2007

It List: Monday 7/16/07

Short list today but glad there is something:

Cool Out At The Cavern With Schwa And Big J (The Cavern): This highly popular event will feature Sober tonight as well. It's also free.

Win Free Jandek Tickets

The people who organized the Jandek show happening this Saturday, July 21st at the Rose Marine Theater in Ft. Worth were nice enough to hook us up with a pair of tickets to give away to you guys, and since we already got our tickets, I guess one of you can have these.

So, if you'd like to go to the Jandek show this Saturday (starts at 730pm sharp), email us at weshotjrtix@yahoo.com any time between now and Wednesday at 4pm with "Jandek" in the subject line. Please state your full name as well.

And because someone asked, I thought I should tell you that everyone is eligible to win these contests. We actually do choose the winner randomly, so whether or not you are in a band that we either like or dislike has NOTHING TO DO with whether or not you're going to win. Promise.

Monday Morning Rock

TUES: David Vandervelde/Blitzen Trapper (Palladium Ballroom)
FRI: Dead Echoes Festival II (House of Tinnitus)
FRI: The Party One Year Anniversary (Zubar)
FRI: Nightwounds/Modern History Duet/Red Faced Laughter (Fra House)
FRI: The Wrens/Get Him Eat Him/Midgetmen (Hailey's)
SAT: Jandek (Rose Marine Theater- Ft. Worth)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Weekender 7/13/07-7/15/07


No One Conquered, Wyoming Potluck (715 Panhandle): I've had a chance to listen to some of Wagner Israel Cilio's songs, and I have to say I was very impressed by what I heard: brilliantly crafted lonely folk songs full of that lost highway echo that either really gets me or really turns me off, depending on how the rest of the music is put together. This guy has already developed a reputation for interesting live shows as he travels around the country playing houses and DIY venues, and although those looking to kick ass might want to look elsewhere for their fun this evening, I think this might be fun for the rest.

Centro-matic/Pleasant Grove/Dove Hunter/Sarah Jaffe (Granda)

Galuc Dadu/Follow that Bird/Genuine Imitations (1919 Hemphill)

Starlight Mints/Robert Gomez/The Separation (Hailey's): Starlight Mints bring their smiling modern psychedelic goofiness to Denton once again. I've never been disappointed by one of their live shows, although I honestly haven't listened to Starlight Mints in a really long time.

DJ Select/She Dick (The Cavern): Part of the Melissa's Deluxe series, featuring a cross dressing joke band that received the full story treatment in the Observer this week. I could give two shits about them to be honest, but as many of you know, I pretty much can't stand joke bands in just about any capacity, so if you're into that sort of thing, you might not want to listen to me anyway. Select will make it worth it for my peeps, at least.

Goth Valentine's Day with 100 Damned Guns/Boxcar Bandits/Silk Stocking/The Revelators/Landrest/Night Game Cult (Secret Headquarters)

Beyonce (American Airlines Center)


Roky Erickson (Granada): One of the most highly anticipated shows to come through town in a long time. From what I hear, this is the first time Roky has played in Dallas in over two decades, and it could very well be the last time he ever plays in Dallas based on his career record. They'll be showing the Roky Erickson documentary You're Gonna Miss Me at 7pm, followed by the show shorty after. A "can't miss" for anyone interested in psychedelic music in any way, shape or form.

UPDATE: It looks like the documentary might start at 8 as opposed to 7, which would make sense. But you can show up early if you want I suppose.

Hands Up Saturday with Nature/Sober/Select (Green Elephant): Central Booking takes it's show up SMU way which will probably force the regulars to make the "extra hot chicks equals extra douche bags" calculation in order to see if they're still interested. I'm sure they will be, and I'll be too. You can always ignore most douche bags anyway.

The Marked Men/Teenage Cool Kids/Wax Museums/Stymie (8th Continent)

UPDATE: The 8th Continent show has been moved to SHQ, and all the performers from both shows will be taking the stage at some point over there. See the comments section for more detailed info.

Undoing of David Wright vs. Fishboy (Rubber Gloves): A highly theatric show collaboration between these two bands with an emphasis on audience participation and all that stuff.

The Subliminator/Oveo (Secret Headquarters): The Subliminator sounds like a robot Leonard Cohen with a Suicide fetish, and Oveo sounds like Oveo. They are ALWAYS worth seeing live, as you get something different every time.

Sarah Reddington/Clint Niosi/Tame...Tame and Quiet/Wanz Dover (The Chat Room Pub Ft. Worth): A fundraising thing for Metrognome Collective, which is something that the people of Ft. Worth should really be proud of. If you're in the area, go support these guys.

Weird Al Yankovic (Myers Park and Event Center): Look up. Look down. Now look at Mr. Frying Pan. I just said that because I have no idea where Myers Park is, and I don't feel like looking it up.

Theres a house party on Swiss Ave. Saturday night too. It starts around 9 and features three bands. I can't seem to track down the details right now, but I'll get them to you ASAP. All I know is that it's on the side of Swiss closer to Lakewood.

UPDATE: The house party is at 3114 Swiss, and gets started around 10. Some of the bands will be waiting to play until the Roky Erickson show is over and people have time to get over there. Performances from the likes of Happy Bullets, Lo-Fi Chorus and others.


Seed: feat. Mom/Voot Cha Index/Handclaps and Harmonies (Sons of Hermann Hall): An Art Conspiracy benefit show.

Dead Commuter/Sea of Bones/Judascow/The Great Tyrant/Dustheads/The Flood (1919 Hemphill)

Wild in the Streets (Hailey's)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It List: Thursday 7/12/07

I would have had this done sooner, but Myspace was going at a snail's pace for me today.... and unfortunately, that means some links are missing too. Sorry about that.

John Doe/Dead Rock West (Granada): You know, I feel some kind of duty to talk about this show, but I'll be quite honest with you: I checked out some of the stuff that John Doe is doing these days, and I honestly can't stand it. If it was performed by anyone who wasn't as "cool" as John Doe, it would be compared to John Cougar and tossed aside like it deserves to be. But whatever. I honestly don't even really like X that much either.... pretty overrated and unremarkable in the big scheme of things if you ask me. So I guess you X fans can take my opinion with a grain of shut up.

Koji Kondo/Seasick/Pools/The Bleach Boys (1919 Hemphill): This show starts just a couple hours from now, and serves as a tour kick off for Koji Kondo, who need to be seen by just about everyone reading this right now.

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea/Eaton Lake Tonics/Ryan Thomas Becker/New Science Projects (Rubber Gloves): Matthew and the Arrogant Sea is the clear highlight of this show, and we'll have more information on what those guys have been up to either later this week or early next week. New Science Projects is worth checking out for sure too.

80s Night with DJ G @ Hailey's

Lost Generation with Stereo on Strike (Fallout Lounge)

And Plutonium Jukebox will be playing a downbeat set next door at the Amsterdam for those who are interested.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We Shot A Mix Vol. 3: Stereo on Strike

We're happy to present the third installment of our We Shot A Mix series, and I should tell you-- this might just be the best one yet. As we pointed out the other day, Stereo on Strike is the new DJ crew formed by Wanz Dover, and he was nice enough to put this thing together for us. I won't bore you with the details except to say that the track list is stellar and the mixing is flawless. The whole thing was mixed completely live too, which is something you'll appreciate even more once you hear it. Enjoy.



Felix Da Housecat - What Does it Feel Like (Royksopp Return the Sun Remix)
Spank Rock - Bump(Switch mix)
Evil Nine (featuring Aesop Rock )- Crooked
Surkin - Radio Fireworks
The Field - Over the Ice
Roman Flugel - Gehts noch(Dominik Eulberg)
We are your Frenz so worry about it later (Wanz vs Justice,Simian, Futureheads & Switch remix)
Simian Mobile Disco - It's the Beat( Luke Vibert mix)
The Frenz - Psychomagic
DJ T - Stalker
Zander VT - 44 less
The Juan Maclean - Shining Skinned Friend
Speaker Junk - Foxxy
Sons and Daughters - Dance Me In (jd twitch and the truffle club optimo mix)
Gang of Four - At Home He's A Tourist (The Others Remix)
Ghosthustler - Parking Lot Nights(Wanz Dover long drive down I35 club remix)
Anja Schneider - lily_of_the_valley
Data - J'aime pas l'art(RMX 2007)
Public Image Limited - Swan Lake( Wanz Dover Punk the Punks mix)
Ellen Allien - Turbo Dreams
[a]pendics Shuffle - Dirty Bed
!!! - Me And Giuliani Down By The School Yard (A True Story)
Killing Joke - Turns to Red

(Wanz and the rest of the Stereo on Strike gang play at Fallout Lounge every Thursday night)

It List: Wednesday 7/11/07- DOMINO

Seth Sherman/Dana Falconberry/Chris Welch (Secret Headquarters): Former Early Lines member Seth Sherman brings a pretty effective brand of folk to SHQ tonight, with excellent intricate guitar playing, an interesting voice, and no sign of that annoying sensitivity disease that seems to afflict most local singer-songwriters who perform in a similar style. And although it's not exactly something I would jam out to in the car, Dana Falconberry's music is also quite good for many of the same reasons. I caught a performance of her's at SHQ a while back and enjoyed it quite a bit. Very instense yet soothing in some strange way. A noticeable talent. Have I mentioned that show before? I can't remember. Chris Welch is a member of Denton's Pinebox Serenade.

The Veils/Odis/Rober Gomez (Club Dada): The Veils are fronted by Finn Andrews, son of XTC's Barry Andrews. His band sort of reminds me of a mixture of Wolf Parade and the Bad Seeds, with a bit of a U2 thing happening... and that's pretty good I suppose. I'm sure some people will hate it, but what can you do?

Sally Glass Candy

So pretty much every time we go out in Dallas, we see a girl named Sally Glass walking around with a camera taking pictures of bands, DJs, and anyone else she finds interesting. And after seeing several of her photos over at the Central Booking website, we decided to ask her if she would take some pictures for us. She agreed.

Sally will be going to shows, parties and whatever else every week to take pictures, and we'll be posting some of them right here on this very blog every Tuesday. You'll also be able to check out all of her work any time right here.

Anyone who saw my camera phone pics from SXSW 2006 understands why this should have happened a long time ago.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No List: 7/10/07

Since there aren't really any noteworthy shows tonight, I would like you to tell us what you wish was happening in the form of anonymous comments. I'm really inspired by the parasitic role reversal in the form of "user based content" that many corporations have been pushing this decade. Hint: Try your hand at some fan fiction about how fun it would be to spend a Tuesday night with Stonedranger, Wildcat, Howard Bob Johnson, Dudes McRudes, Dudes Mctudes and myself. Guaranteed Laffs. You have no idea.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Win Free Roky Erickson Tickets

The folks at the Granada have hooked us up with a little package in celebration of Roky Erickson's highly anticipated performance this Saturday night, and they've asked us to hook you up. Fine, I guess we will, but I'd really rather keep this stuff for myself instead of giving it to you people. Anyway, if you'd like to win:

2 Tickets to the Roky Erickson show at the Granada this Saturday, July 14th

A DVD copy of You're Gonna Miss Me

A CD copy of the You're Gonna Miss Me soundtrack

All you have to do is email us at weshotjrtix@yahoo.com any time between now and 4pm on Thursday. Just add Roky Erickson to the subject line, and we'll pick a random winner and email them with the details Thursday afternoon.

And for our second giveaway of the week, we have a pair of tickets to the Centro-matic show happening this Friday, July 13th at the Granada. Again, to win the tickets, just email weshotjrtix@yahoo.com any time between now and 4pm this Thursday. Add Centro-matic to the subject line.

It List: Monday 7/09/07

Don't have a lot of time today, so here:

Parts and Labor/Ghosthustler (Pastime Tavern): Ghosthustler goes on at 10, P&L at 11, and show is done by 12. I'm really looking forward to this.

Koji Kondo/Attractive and Popular/Oberlm/Flea of the Century/Bring Back the Guns (1919 Hemphill): Show starts at 6pm. Anyone who didn't see Koji Kondo in Denton on Friday night really missed out. They put on a 10 minute show that was one of the very best I've seen in a long time around here. Seriously. Watch out for these guys. One of the most intense and fun local bands around right now.
Also, the Cool Out is happening tonight upstairs at the Cavern, a dance night featuring Schwa and Big J on the decks playing lots of funk and disco, etc. And you might not believe me if you weren't there, but the first time I checked out this Monday night event, it honestly felt like a Friday night in the place: huge, lively crowd that was ready to have fun. Hopefully it will continue to be that way.

Album Review: White Drugs: Harlem

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Harlem, White Drugs' debut full length, is how goddamn loud the thing is. And that's probably what everyone else who's heard it says about it too. It's loud. It's aggressive. It "rocks," dude. And all that is well and good. I can appreciate a bare bones, balls to the wall rock record as much as the next guy, and Harlem certainly qualifies as such. But as everyone knows, simply "rocking out" really isn't enough to make a record enjoyable-- in fact, it can sometimes be a real bummer. Fair To Midland "rocks." Burden Brothers "rock." Whatever annoying project Mike Patton is involved with right now probably "rocks." And although White Drugs certainly provides a bigger adrenaline rush than any of the aforementioned bands, what sets them apart from the majority of the hard/fast/loud army in DFWd is the respectability of their influences and the intelligence of their execution. Their take on early punk/trash glam/hardcore has already been done a thousand times, sure, but there hasn't been a local band that's made it sound this good in quite a while.

Drawing from the pantheon of bratty punk rock that takes the listener on a journey from the New York Dolls to the White Stripes via New Bomb Turks and Electric Eels, Harlem is a fast and ferocious ball of aggression that sounds like a locomotive rushing towards an inevitable derailing. But thankfully, throughout the album's short running time, it rarely does. Opening track "The Stinger" truly sets the tone for the rest of the record, bursting out of the gates with a split second of feedback before the band's guitar/bass/drums arsenal kicks in with full force while vocalist Jeff Helland quickly establishes himself as one of the most intense and unique singers in the area. His voice is truly a calling card for the band, landing somewhere between Jack White sassiness and Darby Crash recklessness with a shrieking, menacing presence that lands miles above most local rock singers in both brashness and charisma. The sound of a recently uncorked bottle of rage is probably the best metaphor I can locate to describe Helland's delivery, and White Drugs' ability to sound as though they've just stumbled across a good three chord punk tune with nothing but dumb luck provides him the perfect vehicle to go apeshit while maintaining enough control to keep the songs structured. We're talking about unchecked aggression here, dude, and it's nice to hear a local singer deliver it without sounding rehearsed.

Of course, after reading some of these descriptions, the phrase "garage rock" is probably popping into your head. And you probably have a point. You can certainly hear some stylistic similarities between White Drugs and bands like Hot Snakes, The Hives, and early Mooney Suzuki, but most of that seems simply incidental, likely due to a mutual love of The Stooges rather than any attempt at highly belated bandwagon jumping. Besides, who's going to make a crude garage influenced record in 2007 unless they actually mean it? White Drugs definitely mean it, and they sure as hell know what they're doing.

After it's opening track, Harlem continues to pack punch after punch of concise, stripped down gems that mostly find a healthy balance between punk abandon and pop accessibility. "Kleaning Kru" takes a bouncy, blues influenced rock riff and adds a crunchy three chord guitar backing to highlight the improbable catchiness of a chorus that commands you to "wipe that fucker clean." Elsewhere, "Heil Vacation" locks on to a choppy guitar groove and rides it to an explosive chorus while showcasing small pieces of distorted surf guitar parts that add an element of atmosphere to a song that is much more of a rush than a mood.

Much of the second half of the record showcases the vocals of Christian Breit, who ventures more to the Iggy Pop/Richard Hell side of the mic with a deeper, more stylized delivery that juxtaposes nicely with Helland's. And although it's probably just a coincidence, Breit's songs, especially the quick one-two punch of "Born Long" and "Dig a Hole," seem to bring out the Dead Boys/Voidoids/Heartbreakers influences that give most of the album a jolt of intelligence and authenticity lacking in similarly heavy local releases. Breit is quite the compelling vocalist as well, giving White Drugs not just one but two competent frontmen who both seem to have studied their history books in order to craft highly distinctive styles that couldn't compliment the music better.

The only sense in which the album falters is the slight feeling of overload one gets after listening to several ferocious, similarly styled songs one after another, resulting in a sense of fatigue that sometimes makes it a bit difficult to listen all the way through. Additionally, the inclusion of "I Hate Your Face (Deprise)," a remake of the album's second track that appears as the album's fifth track, comes off as redundant, even though the remake is performed in a completely different manner than the original. Those concerns aside, Harlem is the rare local record that comes off as smart without ever sounding smart, reminding us that a tasteful set of influences doesn't necessarily equal an overly academic or audibly inauthentic approach. White Drugs is as gritty and powerful as any rock band in the area, and they're intelligent enough to realize that it takes a bit more than that to make a record worth talking about.