A Long Wait for the Long Winters
The Long Winters’ John Roderick has earned himself a lot of flak for taking so damn long to put out another album. The band built up a loyal following with a handful of excellent, rootsy rock records, but the Long Winters abruptly fell silent after 2006’s Putting the Days to Bed. The most recent Long Winters release was a song called “Not Moving to Portland,” which features harmonies from Canadian folk songbird Kathleen Edwards. This came a full two years after SPIN sounded the alarm that we could all expect a new Long Winters album to drop over a year ago. As John Roderick said at the time, “We’ll definitely have it out by early 2009.” Psych! There is a new record in the works, yes, but it’s an elusive creature, one that’s taking its sweet ass time to make its entrance into the world. Hopefully, this means it will be the Long Winters’ best release yet, and that’s something worth waiting for. If you’re about to die of impatience, try reading John Roderick’s blog. It’s almost as good as listening to the Long Winters’ records sometimes, even better. Otherwise, the best way to get a taste of new Long Winters material is by attending one of the band’s handful of Oregon shows or catching their set at (a very sold-out) Sasquatch. The Long Winters, BOAT and Sea Bell play at 8 pm Thursday, May 27, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Sara Brickner
21st Century Digital Band
YACHT’s surrealist, ever-evolving art pop is a digitized journey through the minds and philosophy of Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans. These 21st century shamans strive to send audiences into a trance through music and audiovisual elements that make their live shows special (and provide some insight into some of YACHT’s more out-there tracks). Devendra Banhart perhaps said it best with this statement: “YACHT = megaphysical.” There’s no denying that YACHT is kinda weird, but there’s wisdom wrapped up in the weirdness, much of which is probably lost on the kids who attend these shows solely to sweat off a few pounds. As is meet for a band that changes its sound and form every few months, YACHT recently added a few new folks to the line-up. Rob “Bobby Birdman” Kieswetter, Jeffrey “Jerusalem” Brodsky and D. Reuben Snyder (of Rob Walmart) will be joining forces with YACHT on this tour as the Straight Gaze — even though they’re performing with YACHT, not in support of YACHT. No word yet on whether YACHT and the Straight Gaze will record an album, but if the mutability of YACHT’s discography is any indicator, it won’t sound too much like See Mystery Lights, the band’s DFA Records debut. Whether or not you can handle the esoteric madness that is YACHT, you’ve gotta admit there’s something to be said for a band that never does things the same way twice. YACHT, Music for Animals, The Dirty Mittens and Bobby Birdman play KWVA’s Birthday Bash at 8 pm Saturday, May 22, at the WOW Hall. $5, free for KWVA members. — Sara Brickner
Sweet Songs for Sour Moods
Bitter pills shelled in sugar, Jeremy Messersmith’s bright, lush laments have been likened to everything from the music of the Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel to Elliott Smith and A.C. Newman. Good enough, but for my money this Minneapolis songwriter immediately brings to mind the work of early XTC as well as Belle & Sebastian just before their dear waitress went catastrophic. Born in South Carolina and raised in Washington’s Tri-Cities area, Messersmith relocated to the Twin Cities in 1999, where he seems to have inherited the combined pop savvy of Midwest luminaries like Dave Pirner, Paul Westerberg and the Artist formerly known as Symbolina. The mantle suits him well. With honeycombed vocals supported by spare but elegant orchestrations, his songs offer the sort of croony, canny, cross-generational appeal that draws in grandmothers, great-grandmothers, grumpy uncles and disaffected teens without losing a shred of dignity or aesthetic bite. Messersmith’s latest album, The Reluctant Graveyard, offers a chewy collection of bubblegum pop that is as irresistible as it is dangerous to swallow. “And I feel like I’m some kind of Frankenstein, waiting for a shock to bring me back to life,” he sings on “A Boy a Girl and a Grave,” a gothic torch song for the age of alienation, at once apocalyptic and grudgingly hopeful. If your tastes tend toward red wine, black lace and hatfuls of hollow — or if you just like smart, sad/happy songs in the key of simple sophistication — this is the soundtrack for you.
Jeremy Messersmith plays with Telekinesis and Dan Jones & Golden Motors at 9:30 pm Friday, May 21, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $5. — Rick Levin
Nas and Damian Jr. Gong Marley technically belong to different musical schools of thought — the former an MC and veteran of classic hip hop trio the Fugees, the latter a reggae artist sired by the most famous icon of the genre, Bob Marley. But the two genres are often paired and intrinsically connected. Damian Marley’s vocal style, toasting, is a precursor to rap. In turn, reggae is a precursor to hip hop. Think of it as hip hop’s uncle. So it makes sense that Nas and Marley would get together to put out a record. It’s called, appropriately, Distant Relatives, and the proceeds from its sale will be donated to charities in Africa. While it’s inarguably a political album detailing the plight of Africans and calling out everyone from Don Imus to capitalism, most of the political statements stay pretty general, and the melding of hip hop and reggae make for the kind of album you can bump in your car or out your open windows this summer (“Nah Mean” is a jam). And, of course, there are cameos: from Lil Wayne, Stephen Marley, Dennis Brown and Somali rising star K’Naan, whose appearance on “Tribes at War” makes it one of the album’s best tracks. Nas, Damian Marley, Nneka and Lafa Taylor perform at 6:30 pm Saturday, May 22, at the Cuthbert Amphitheatre. $36 adv., $41 door. — Sara Brickner
The Gassman Cometh
Every comedian needs a straight man. Jerry Lewis had Dean Martin, Tommy Smothers had Dick, Jerry had Tom and Bush had Cheney. In Tenacious D, the second greatest quasi-metal comedy act next to Spinal Tap (you don’t count, Dethklok, you’re a cartoon!), Kyle Gass plays the straight man to Jack Black’s over-Mountain-Dewed 11-year-old antics. Unfortunately, like any straight man, in Tenacious D Gass has to sacrifice some of the spotlight to the funnyman standing next him.
In Trainwreck, Gass regains some of that spotlight. Trainwreck is less a side project of Tenacious D than it is a cousin. Besides Gass, who performs in Trainwreck as Klip Calhoun, with a Burt Reynolds-esque toupee, several other mulleted members of Tenacious D split time between the two bands. And like the “D,” Trainwreck spoofs classic rock and metal clichés while showcasing some impressive musical chops.
In the song “Brodeo,” from Trainwreck’s new album The Wreckoning, a Rush-style riff explodes into an infectious Cheap Trick groove, which backs up a clever joke-song about good times spent with the boys, taking the idea of “bromance” to a new level. Trainwreck describe themselves as “Spinal Tap without the Spine.” Songs like “Milk the Cobra” make it clear you can expect plenty of Cheap Trick with lots of cheap jokes.
Trainwreck and Taste play at 10 pm Thursday, May 27, at Luckey’s. 21+. $5. — William Kennedy