My darlings! What's been keeping you warm this cold, snowy winter? (That is, other than living in AZ/LA/Austin, you motherfuckers.) As for me:
~Patton Oswalt's Werewolves and Lollipops. Bushman evangelized it to me over Thanksgiving, but it wasn't until I listened to it a few times while I was sick in bed earlier in January that the old familiar Felusian obsession started to kick in. There's so much melody in the way this guy uses language. Just listen to the pacing and cadence in his words and delivery. It's really no coincidence that he's on Sub Pop, right? With that pitch-perfect, instantly ingratiating combination of sweetness and bite that the best bands on their roster are known for? It actually doesn't phase me in the slightest if one of his bits pops up when I'm listening to my iPod on shuffle--which is really saying something coming from me, since I'm usually weirdly sensitive about listening to speech through headphones (as a rule, I can't handle podcasts for this very reason). It's just absurdly elegant stuff. Highly recommended.
~Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. I AM NOT MADE OF STONE, PEOPLE! RTW and I were discussing the album a few days after it (officially!) came out, and he said that the album didn't "surprise" him the way Strawberry Jam did. I think that's well said, and squares with my own experience of them both. But, once MPP finally clicked for me, it clicked hard. I also quite enjoyed Nick Sylvester's post (via) on all the Hipster Runoff-inspired backlash.
~Jessica Hopper, Jessica Hopper, Jessica Hopper, Jessica Hopper, Jessica Hopper.
~Baby Teeth live at the Empty Bottle, celebrating the release of their "Hustle Beach" single. They were unfortunately beset by some technical difficulties and other mishaps (Jim's amp blew up about a quarter of the way into the set, something got bobbled after the long, dramatic intro to "The Birds Are Crying" and they had to start the song over again, they began "Looking for a Road" in the wrong key and had to start that one over again too), but it's still always a treat to see them, no matter the circumstances. Plus, Abraham played guitar on the final song of the set, which had to rival Rufus Wainwright's guitar playing for sheer awkward wonderfulness. I nearly died laughing when he started tuning up and proclaimed, "we're going to play the Satriani song that Coldplay ripped off."
~JT & the Clouds. Before Baby Teeth went on, the crowd was treated to a bloody fantastic set by Chicago-based band JT & the Clouds. These guys have apparently been around for a few years, and I want to punch myself back in time for only discovering them now. Imagine Lyle Lovett fronting an Americana-inflected soul band, and you're maybe 40 percent of the way to conceptualizing their appeal. Lead singer Jeremy Lindsay makes beautiful art out of his young-David-Byrne-esque awkwardness (as far as being an "uptight white guy trying to stumble into grace," as Jim White once described Byrne in The Believer), riding a line similar to the one Dan Bejar has mastered where there are quotation marks around quotation marks (around quotation marks?) around his whole performance. There's an underlying sense of humor to the proceedings that's so bizarre and so winning and so integral to the success of what's happening on stage. It's like someone put all these guys' brains in backward. The other part of their success can be chalked up to the fact that the guys in the band are flat-out incredible musicians. They're casually tossing off four-part harmonies over strutting soul grooves like they came up in an era when those virtues were expected of gigging musicians and not exceptional. I just stood there with a huge, stupid grin plastered to my face the entire time. I don't think I've been this surprised and excited by a previously unknown-to-me opening act since we were first introduced to Polly Paulusma before the Divine Comedy's show at Schubas in '04. (I mean, at least I'd heard of the Cold War Kids before they first grabbed my attention in '06.) Chicagoans, please be sure to check these guys out the next time they're playing around town. You won't be disappointed, I promise. The rest of you should check out their most recent album The City's Hot Yeah the City's Hot and enjoy all the semi-obscure Chicago geographical references.
~More local music! What Wrestling Entropy post would be complete these days without a pimp for King Sparrow? Catch 'em tomorrow night at the Subterranean.