Thursday, February 7th, 2008
The mention of Athens, Georgia in a musical context tends to bring to mind a certain sound or aesthetic – be it the jangly college rock of R.E.M. in the ’80s, the whimsical psychedelia of the Elephant 6 movement in the ’90s and since the late ’90s through today, the blistering Southern rock of the Drive-By Truckers (though some, myself included, tend to think of them more as an Alabama band).
And while you can find traces of the aforementioned bands in their DNA, it was in the spirit of the Truckers that Athenian trio The Whigs brought into town this past Tuesday for a free Nu Music Nite showcase at the Horseshoe to coincide with the Canadian release of their second album Mission Control. Their songwriting isn’t as ambitious in scope or narrative depth but they more than compensated with a ferocious live show built on Julian Dorio’s thunderous drumming. Seriously, his kick drum could have punched a hole through a bank vault and the rest of the band was just as tight. The Whigs aren’t up to anything that hasn’t been done many times before and sometimes they’re a bit too obvious with their cribbing but what they do, they do well and there’s always a place in this world for good, loud rock’n'roll.
The good-sized crowd that had gathered for The Whigs all but cleared out by the time their tourmates – Birmingham, Alabama’s Wild Sweet Orange – came on and that was their loss. The people who left, not the band’s. Summing up their sound succinctly isn’t easy – their roots run country but with space-rock aspirations. The resulting pushme-pullyu of delicate folkiness and psyched rock-outs definitely had my attention though there weren’t any specific songs that grabbed me – it was more the overall strategy at work that I found engaging. They were touring their debut EP Whale but should have a full-length out sometime this Spring. Should be worth checking out.
Chart, The Tripwire, The Post-Tribune, The New York Daily News and Creative Loafing all have features and interviews with The Whigs while LiveDaily.com and Gibson.com have features on Wild Sweet Orange. Live In Toronto has some recordings of The Whigs’ set on Tuesday already available to download and they’ll be back in town on March 19 at the Opera House opening for the Drive-By Truckers. Of course.
Photos: Wild Sweet Orange, The Whigs @ The Horseshoe – February 5, 2008
MP3: The Whigs – “Right Hand On My Heart”
MP3: Wild Sweet Orange – “Wrestle With God”
Video: Wild Sweet Orange – “Wrestle With God”
Myspace: The Whigs
And speaking of R.E.M., Pitchfork is streaming the first single from their next album Accelerate, out April 1. Hey, electric guitars. Hey, Mike Mills backing vocals. Welcome.
Is there anything more chocolate-and-peanut butter than shoegaze fans with nothing to do on Valentine’s Day? I think not. Which is why the timing of a tribute night to My Bloody Valentine entitled Loveless for February 14 at the Drake Underground is just perfect. Participating bands so far include Germans, Sleeping Kings Of Iona and Gravity Wave but more will be announced. I expect most of the performances will be of the incredibly loud, incredibly droning variety and since the selections won’t be restricted to Loveless, there’s almost certainly going to be some takes on the louder, bashier numbers from Isn’t Anything and admittedly, “Feed Me With Your Kiss” has got to be loads of fun to play, but it’d be nice to see someone take the Japancakes approach and focus on the wonderful melodicism in My Bloody Valentine, not just the noise.
British Sea Power appear to have a puppet fetish. First, there’s the new video for “No Lucifer” which features both real puppets and band members dressed as puppets – quite unsettling – and then there’s
this YouTube clip which showed their stage setup from their recent appearance on Jools Holland… more puppets. In lieu of foliage. Also unsettling. Do You Like Rock Music? is out on these shores next week and more North American tour dates covering the east coast should be along shortly.