The Gem Mother
She loves to dance. She wears tight pants. She’s a gem sweater collector and GarageBand director. Ladies and gentleman, meet Leslie Hall.
If you’re looking for serious, brooding music to ease your broken heart, look elsewhere. Then again, Hall’s music might cheer you up, because it’s hilarious. The band, which is really just Hall herself, is called Leslie & the Ly’s. Many of her songs are less than two minutes long, but the bouncy electronic melodies and unserious lyrics will probably make you dance around like an idiot until someone asks you why you’re singing about gold pants.
Back 2 Back Palz, Hall’s newest CD, “goes down a different path.” This time, she’s experimenting with longer, country ballads epitomizing Midwestern lonely days.
“I think being isolated in Iowa has led me to write this album,” Hall says. “I realized [songs] kind of have to be three minutes long, or people feel ripped off paying 99 cents.”
Otherwise, she’s sticking with the formula that’s worked: a catchy chorus, danceable melodies and lyrics that seem to make fun of herself and pop music at the same time, though it’s the kind she loves best.
“I like Britney Spears, Shakira, Beyoncé … I don’t listen to a lot of music. I just pull from the greats,” Hall says.
And the gem-dotted sweaters? Hall’s collected them since high school, and when she set up a fan site, it went way beyond her expectations. “People wear them, but they also have to ‘rescue’ them. It becomes their mission, almost like adopting a baby!”
Leslie & the Ly’s perform at 9 pm Tuesday, March 9, at John Henry’s. 21+. $13.50 adv., $15 door. — Darcy Wallace
The Maldives’ Thunderous Oregon Debut
Country rock outfit The Maldives is a popular act in its hometown, Seattle — the band can pack out some of Seattle’s more sizeable clubs on its musical merits alone — but even though the band’s been around for years and put out two full-length albums, its nine members have never quite managed to coordinate their schedules to get everyone out on tour. And for a band whose already solid albums pale in comparison to its live performance, a tour is the only way to show the rest of the world (or at least the West Coast) what the Maldives are capable of. The Maldives have always been more about the expansive instrumentals than the lyrics — frontman and songwriter Jason Dodson tends to stick with the tried-and-true simplicity of classic country — but that very rusticism is what makes songs like “Cold November” and “Say Nothing” (from the band’s latest release, Listen to the Thunder) so relatable. That’s not to say that the Maldives’ music lacks depth; “Walk Away,” Listen to the Thunder’s 10-minute, 35-second magnum opus, is like a modal jazz song; In other words, it’s based on just three chords, but it’s what the Maldives do within those confines that’s so impressive. Even better that the band tours with like-minded seven piece Or, the Whale, a San Francisco-based alt-country act whose self-titled sophomore release is a solidly loveable improvement upon the band’s promising but inconsistent debut. The Maldives and Or, the Whale perform at 8 pm Thursday, March 11, at the Axe and Fiddle in Cottage Grove. 21+ $5. — Sara Brickner
Year of the Tiger? Nope. 2010 is Year of the Dragon
When I first heard of Year of the Dragon, featuring two former members of Fishbone, it was a toss-up as to what style of music it might be, considering that singer Walter “Dirty Walt” Kibby led Fishbone’s fusion of ska, punk, funk and metal for 25 years, and guitarist Tracey “Spacey T” Singleton (previously of funky metal bands) joined Fishbone in 1998. But rather than asking ‘what’ they sound like, it might be most appropriate to ask ‘when.’
Fishbone first formed their fusion love child in 1979, in the fertile L.A. ground which spawned Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction. YOTD’s new release, Blunt Force Karma, is of a slightly later era dominated by metal’s DNA. Theirs is a scorching arsenal of shred-ready guitar and swagger, with touches of Living Colour and Faith No More. Lyrics about real-world concerns (“It’s kind of strange when they’re scared of change / When the whole damn system needs rearranged”) are tempered by a party vibe and Fishbone’s signature goofy humor. You can’t write songs like “No Tomorrow,” with the line, “Tonight is the night we get loose / So fill up your cups with orange juice and grape juice,” without laughing about it. The track “Interlude 2012” interprets end-of-the-world scenarios: Half the song is the chant “I’m gon’ die, you gon’ die” repeated over a body-jarring punk rock riff. Far from dire, Blunt Force Karma is an energetic kiss-off to any apocalyptic end that might come.
Fishbone never achieved the mainstream success it deserved. It’s not likely that the world is ready for the full-bore assault on the senses that YOTD delivers, but I sure wish it was. Year of the Dragon play at 10:30 pm Friday, March 5, at Diablo’s Downtown Lounge. 21+. — Vanessa Salvia
A Band of Few Words
Some of the best songs in the world are the ones that have very few words, where the music gets to tell most of the story and augment the parts that the vocalist actually speaks. This is how a number of tracks on Flowmotion’s forthcoming album, Ghost Pepper, feel. The album’s straight-out-of-the-‘70s rock twists and combines with elements of Americana and the band’s three vocalists — Josh Clauson, Bob Rees and RL Heyer — to create 11 tracks of rock ‘n roll goodness.
Winners like “100 Miles” captures the attention with dreamy guitars, “Home” turns raucous and a bit off-kilter with its tone and time, and the all-out jam rocker “Future’s Falling on the Sun” turns in almost six minutes of fuzzy guitar solos, tight and frenetic drums and a skyscraping refrain of “working on a better day.” “Free” is a rollicking, funky, good-time dance rock number which — like other songs on the album — highlights the ups and downs of relationships. And just to prove the band has a whimsical side too, the title track speaks about the dilemma of how to prepare a pepper.
The band brings an epic, polished sound to this latest album, and its upcoming performance is sure to be a winner. Flowmotion, Eleven Eyes and The Essentials play at 8 pm, Friday, March 5, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., /$12 door. — Brian Palmer