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The Music Department's Photo The 88.1 KDHX Music Department Blog is led by Music Director, Sarah C. Follow the blog for all the latest news on the music you hear 24/7 on KDHX.

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Bummer of the Summer: Thunderkid, Crocodiles and Spelling Bee @ The Firebird

Where to begin with this one… I’ve been to a fair amount of shows in my twenty years, but never one quite like last night’s at The Firebird. Prior to the show, I was excited to see Crocodiles, whose first record “Summer Of Hate” was recently released on Fat Possum, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that KDHX’s very own Mabel Suen and Joe (of Spazztick) were one part of the drum+guitar duo Spelling Bee. Things got off to an unfortunate start with Thunderkid, a local electronic duo who play vaguely chip-tuney dance. The thing about dance music, though, is that you’ve got to keep it going – minute long interludes of silence between songs aren’t going to cut it. I’m not sure if the band was having technical difficulties or just need more practice (I would like to say the former, but I’m not sure). What they did play wasn’t bad, somewhere between Dan Deacon, Black Moth Super Rainbow and Adventure, but the set as a whole was not well sequenced.

After about 30 minutes or so (a little after 10PM), Thunderkid cleared out and Crocodiles began to set up. At 10:15, they donned their sunglasses, picked up their guitars, and kicked up a nice little drone. At 10:17, they told the crowd of about 30 that the sound was awful, killed their lights, and started packing up. At this point, it was unclear what was happening. The crowd stood around awkwardly, while the sound guy came up and tried to reason with the band. They (truthfully) claimed that it was impossible to hear the drum-machine (I was standing up front, stage-center, and couldn’t hear it either). The crowd slowly dispersed toward the bar and seating area, and the lights on stage came up.

No one really seemed to know what to do next – one of the band members (Brandon) stood near the back of the club, chatting with a few of the concert-goers, while Firebird staff spoke with the other (Charles) outside. About a half hour later, Spelling Bee got the green light for their set, and blasted through 25 minutes of noisy, sludgy punk, which redeemed the night, at least in my eyes. Unfortunately, by that point, most of the venue had cleared out.

A lot of people seemed pretty pissed about the Crocodiles set (or lack thereof) – I understand that the Firebird is offering refunds to those concert-goers who felt cheated – but I’m more disappointed than anything. I really enjoy “Summer of Hate,” and I was looking forward seeing it played out live, and to sacrifice the show over a sound glitch seems a bit… silly to me. The situation begs a comparison to the Wavves’ Primavera Festival meltdown (both are signed to Fat Possum, coincidentally), but Wavves have only been around for a couple of years (if that), and are far less experienced than Crocodiles. These guys have been playing in bands for years (Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, among others), and should know how to deal with sound issues. Both parties (Firebird and Crocodiles) were apologetic to those in attendance, but couldn’t seem to reach an agreement with each other. I don’t think it would be appropriate to blame either, but all the same, I went to the Firebird last night to see Crocodiles play, and left disappointed that I did not.

Written by: Kenny Hofmeister

Concert Preview: The Deep Vibration @ The Duck Room (6/13)

Twangfest 13 has descended upon the St. Louis community via the Pageant and Blueberry Hill, and while the entire lineup is great (check it here) I’ve got to admit that I’m particularly excited for The Deep Vibration, who are set to rock The Duck Room on Saturday. The rootsy foursome is based out of Nashville, recently put out an EP – Veracruz – and have been touring the US for some time now. The EP is straightforward country soul tempered with a bit of classic rock, but they’ve been expanding their sonic palette since its release, most notably with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Shot of Love”:

There are a couple of other unreleased tracks floating around the ‘net, including “Coal Mine,” a scorcher riddled with feedback, pounding drums and a swingin’ horn section, while vocalist Matt Campbell howls about being tired and lonely over the din. It’s raw and fun and I bet it sounds a hundred times better live – come Saturday, we’ll find out. In the meantime, you can download “Oklahoma City Woman Blues” from Veracruz EP here (via Fuse.tv).

Written by: Kenny Hofmeister

Show Review: The 75′s Score 100% at RFT Music Showcase

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg at Goodworks

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg at Goodworks

Maybe it’s the latent riot grrl in me, but whenever I see the 75’s play, I feel like I’m a teenage feminist punk all over again. Last night the women of the 75’s (and their male drummer, not to be forgotten, proudly churning out frenzied punk beats on a pink drum set) really brought their A-game to the Riverfront Times Music Showcase, and I can confidently say that they brought the house down.

The ladies—and dude!—of the 75’s bring everything I love to a girlie punk outfit: crunchy power chord riffs, pop vocals, and a serious dose of attitude. One of the highlights of the show was “I Wanna Kill My Boyfriend”–which could very well be the anthem of their genre–a poppy/angry tune about a spurned girlfriend (presumably the guitarist, singing in her oh-so-sweet-and-innocent way) with some pretty murderous intentions. It practically sums up the perfect balance of the 75’s, that happy medium between punk unruliness and subdued girlie-dom. For me, though, the gem of the night was hearing the bassist take over the vocals on a delightful cover of “Dress You Up,” a testament to the era in which the girls were brought up. With her gritty rock-and-roll voice belting out Madonna lyrics, it certainly goes to show that, no matter how punk the 75’s are, they’ve still got a handle on their pop influences.

St. Louis really doesn’t have enough ladies bringing the rock to the music scene here (where my girls at?), so I love getting the chance to see the 75’s inspire that small flame of riot grrl aspirations in me again. The 75’s make me wanna jump on my bed, wail on my electric guitar, and scream “I wanna kill my boyfriend” for all the world to hear. Be sure to check out these rad chickadees at their next local gig on June 19 at The Library at The Kitchen (706 Lafayette Avenue). Other performers include Kepi Ghoulie, The Blind Eyes, The 75s, and Midtown Thieves. The show starts at 8; tickets are $6.

Written by: Julie Shore

Concert Preview: Get Ready for a Blitz! with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Photo by: Josh Wildman

Bands that live up to all the excitement you feel before seeing them live are hard to come by, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are definitely one of them, which is why I kept my eyes constantly scanning lists of concert announcements after their newest album, It’s Blitz!, came out in March. Success! Saint Louis got a date with the band for June 2nd!

It will be interesting to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform new material, as it has a very different sound from their previous work. In fact, when I am listening to the new album I sometimes get lost and forget what I’m listening to and think I am playing a different band’s music–until I hear the vocals that could only belong to one person. Karen O is one of the greatest lead singers I’ve ever seen or heard. Whether she is dancing and jumping around the stage, moving very slow and fluidly, or even standing still with eyes affixed at just one point, the energy never wains. Other band members Nick Zinner and Brian Chase keep up with the energy for the entire set, leaving not one dry forehead in the whole venue. If you love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs albums, you’ll love the live set even more. Just make sure you don’t have a chronic fear of dancing in public, because there will be lots of that going on, trust me.

Supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will be Grand Ole Party, which will be a great way to start the evening. Hailing from San Diego the band highlights lead singer and drummer Kristin Gundred. The drum beats are hard and fierce, coming straight to the forefront, but still shielded by the power of Gundred’s voice. The vocals have a sound that is at once unique but at the same time familiar, sounding like something you’re sure you have heard before and are eager to rediscover, only to discover that it’s something completely new. According to the band’s MySpace, they are in the process of working on some new material which they may preview on the road.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs w/ Grand Ole Party
Tuesday June 2nd @ The Pageant 6161 Delmar Blvd
Doors @ 7pm – Show @ 8pm

Written by: Deidre Turner

Album Review: Black Moth Super Rainbow — “Eating Us”

Courtesy of Graveface Records

RIYL: The Flaming Lips, Tobacco, Air

Track Picks: Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise, Twin Of Myself, Fields Are Breathing, Smile The Day After Today

Links: Website // Myspace (full album streaming)

On “Eating Us,” Black Moth Super Rainbow have taken a step out of the Pennsylvanian woods and into the modern recording studio (under the guidance of Dave Fridmann, who has worked with The Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney and MGMT, among others). Normally, a band’s mode and location of recording isn’t immediately noticeable when listening to a record, but BMSR seem to make a point of reflecting their surroundings in their music. After all, this is the band that printed the following on an insert for “Dandelion Gum” (their previous record): “Deep in the woods of western Pennsylvania vocoders hum amongst the flowers and synths bubble under the leaf-strewn ground while flutes whistle in the wind and beats bounce to the soft drizzle of a warm acid rain.” Goofy, yeah, but listen to that record a couple of times and you’ll see where they’re coming from – “Sun Lips” sounds like it’d be right at home amongst the flora and fauna.

Now, two years later, BMSR haven’t altered their approach to making psych-pop so much as tweaked it to accommodate the change in environment. Gone are the sloppy, fuzzed out bass synths and analog warmth of previous records – which, given the recording circumstances, would feel slightly disingenuous anyway. Instead, we get great songs like “Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise” and “Twin Of Myself,” which rely more on silky synth melodies and clean(er) vocoder vocals. The strongest moments on “Eating Us” are those that take full advantage of the high fidelity – “Smile The Day After Today,” for example, is rooted in a gorgeous acoustic melody, which probably wouldn’t have worked as well in their older, fuzzier records.

Yet, I can’t help but feel that Tobacco (the quasi-leader of BMSR and the guy behind the vocoder) was right in avoiding the studio for so long. I miss those fuzzy analog beats and the warmth that accompanies them. Sure, they’ve moved forward and shown that they can adapt to the studio, all while keeping their trademark weirdness intact – but, in my opinion, what set them apart in the first place was their willingness to experiment with lo-fi, unproduced, raw sound. BMSR have made a solid, very listenable record – but they’ve done it best when they’ve been at their grittiest.

BONUS — Ultra rad interactive music video for “Dark Bubbles” — BONUS

Kenny Hofmeister

Concert Preview: White Rabbits at The Firebird on 6/10

My co-workers and I have a long-standing tradition in our office these days: just when the 4:00 slump hits, it’s time to listen to some White Rabbits for inspiration. For those of you who have yet to experience the pounding, piano-driven, air-drumming-inducing brilliance of “Percussion Gun” (off their latest album It’s Frightening), I assure you it’s worth it. It’s worth even the incredulous looks of your next-door colleagues, if you play it loud enough.

Lucky for us, on Wednesday, June 10, we’ll be able to forego our daily ritual of watching White Rabbits on our desktop computer screens and instead witness the six-piece rock outfit live and life-size at the Firebird. I’m so excited for this show, if not to see this tireless group perform my favorite tunes in person, but to feel the pride of seeing a band with Missouri roots, now acclaimed far and away, come back home. Did I mention that they originally hail from Columbia? Seriously, it’s not to be missed. Also joining White Rabbits at the Firebird will be The Subjects (from Brooklyn, where White Rabbits now reside; their MySpace tagline reads “Like Nickleback, but less ballsy”) and St. Louis favorite Jon Hardy and the Public.

For all the excitement this concert is stirring up, I can imagine that next-next Wednesday just feels too far away. This video, by their friend and fellow-Missourian Andrew Droz Palermo, should tide you over till then:

By Julie Shore, Music Department Intern