Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Wild Flag is pretty effin’ wild
John ClarkEven before anyone heard a note, there was little doubt that Wild Flag would be fantastic. With two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney in Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony of Helium and Rebecca Cole of The Minders, they had about as unimpeachable a pedigree as any band really could. And yet, as history has shown many times, a lot of things look good on paper but don’t live up to expectations in reality. Wild Flag is not one of those things.
I was able to confirm their collective awesomeness at SXSW where their mid-afternoon set was a glorious flurry of duelling guitar solos, scissor kicks and general rock’n'roll fun, and even though pretty much every song was being heard for the first time, they were memorable and considerably more immediate and accessible than either much of Sleater-Kinney’s output and most of Helium’s ever was.
But hell, don’t take my word for it. A couple weeks ahead of the September 13 release of their self-titled debut, the entire album is now available to stream in its entirety at NPR. That, incidentally, is where Brownstein worked as a blogger for years following SK’s hiatus. Considering her focus on writing as well as comedy and acting in the last five years in lieu of music and the fact that Timony hasn’t put anything out since 2007′s The Shapes We Make, it’s no wonder that they collectively had so much rock pent up inside. Rock that they’ve now gifted to us. Fire it up, yo.
They toured through the Spring, but the Fall leg will finally bring them to Toronto for a show at Lee’s Palace on October 12… and alas I won’t be there. But don’t feel bad for me (not that you necessarily would) – I saw them at SXSW and I’ll be in Iceland at the time so… yeah, I’ll be okay. But if you’re here or in one of the other cities on the itinerary, don’t miss them.
Phantoms, the long-awaited new album from Austin’s Ume, is out today and available to stream in whole over at Spinner. There’s also a streamable radio session with the band over at KDHX and an interview with frontwoman Lauren Larson at The Horn.
Stream: The Drums / Portamento
Though best known as a country-noir crooner outfit, thanks to her recent dalliances with Sunn O))) Jesse Sykes of Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter has got some prog-metal cred. We’ll see if any of that has rubbed off on their latest Marble Son when they’re here on November 10 for a show at The Drake before hitting the road with The Sadies. There’s features on Sykes at Seattle Weekly and Willamette Week and you can stream a recent radio session at KEXP.
Confirming that it is, indeed, time to get paid, Jeff Mangum has launched a new, official Neutral Milk Hotel website and will be releasing an elaborate vinyl-only box set including unreleased Neutral Milk material on November 22. Head over to Pitchfork for details and spend some time poking around walkingwallofwords.com as Mangum has loaded it down with content.