Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
The Lion The Beast the Beat
Nearly two minutes into the title cut of their new album The Lion The Beast The Beat, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals break into Who-like power chords and drop in a disco backbeat. It becomes a huge sound, with a reaching-for-an-anthem quality - like Heart or Pat Benatar might do in their prime.
It's a different sound for Potter and her group; the new album is less blues, and more of a full body leap into radio-friendly pop music, with disco thumps and sweeping choruses. Yet, it's still a record that rocks and can move listeners within the big sounds and lyrical turns; it's especially effective when Potter bares her emotions.
There's no doubting Potter's majestic voice - whether a whisper or a shout, hers is one of the great sounds in rock.
While her 2010 self-titled album featured Grace and the band in a black and white cover photo, the new record's cover image is more art, less grit. And that's the sound of the music, especially compared to the pretty-and-loose outing of the last record.
"Never Go Back," produced by Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, dives into programmed beats and loops, with Potter's voice rescuing the piece with her cooing, razor-edged vocals.
"Stars" is a beautiful, acoustic-based tune of redemption, with gorgeous piano and soaring vocals. It appears twice, the second time as a bonus track duet with Kenny Chesney. "One Heart Missing" is a winner, taking a U2 arena rock trajectory to hurt and love. "Parachute Heart" echoes Fleetwood Mac, sounding much like Nicks and Buckingham, circa Rumours.
Is this latest release a grasp at finding a more wide-ranging fan base, or will it alienate her current fans? Hard to say, because her voice is still something marvelous. In the end, music is always redeemed in the live performance, and Potter and her band are a great live band.
"Turntable" bites like the Potter of old, with an urgent guitar strapped to a disco beat.
The album is a melting pot of new sounds with a whiplash personality, breaking a blues and rock stereotype that may have existed with the band's listeners.
Producer Jim Scott, best known as a go-to engineer and mixer for bands wanting an earthy, homegrown-but-polished sound (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Wilco, The Tedeschi Trucks Band), helms the majority of the record.
The lyrics are sometimes buried by more musical weight then the songs can shoulder. Much of the record feels like it is trying to make a "grand statement"; simplicity lost in the chase for a bigger sound.
Still, it is a record that blossoms through repeated listens, softening the new layered sound we get from the guitar-drums-and-keys rockers.
Potter closes the album with a duet with Willie Nelson on her song "Ragged Company", originally from her 2005 Nothing But The Water album. The majesty of the song and the brilliance of Willie lend gravity to the music and the pairing serves as reminder that as Grace Potter and The Nocturnals are growing, they can do it without forgetting a simpler past.
Indianapolis rock band Hero Jr consists of brothers Evan and Matthew Haughey and bassist Dave DuBrava. Together, they aspire to be the hardest working band in Indiana, and possibly the country, by touring hundreds of dates a year and constantly recording.
They'll have one of those dates in Indianapolis this Thursday at Deluxe at Old National Centre to support Gentlemen Hall at the NUVO Nightlife Party.
In their spare time (of which they have relatively little), the brothers Haughey flip houses and lifeguard at the Natatorium. The band, which is signed to Paul Mahern's Desa Records, will release a new album this summer, in between a three-leg tour.
NUVO: What's your favorite place to see a show in Indy?
Evan Haughey: My favorite place to see a show is definitely Radio Radio.
NUVO: If you were going to take someone out for a night in Indy, where would you take them? (Consider music, food, drinks, crowd, etc.)
EH: I would take them to the Red Lion for dinner, Radio Radio for a show and the Brass Ring for drinks after. Can you tell I have lived in Fountain Square for five years and love it?
NUVO: Who's your favorite band making the bar/club rounds right now? Favorite DJ?
EH: I really love Goliathon! Those boys are super hard working and really know how to put on a show.
NUVO: You're about to leave on a tour across the US. How do you react to people who still know Indy as "Naptown?"
EH: I react like this: "Ummm, do you live under a rock? There are so many wonderful things to do here in Indy indoors and out. If you think that there is nothing to do than you just don't want to have fun and you should move!
NUVO: What's your favorite drink in town?
EH: I love an old fashioned root beer float. (Editor's note: Perhaps at Mug n Bun!)
NUVO: Are you acquainted with any of the burlesque troupes around? We've got them in spades in Indy. Are you a Creme de la Femmes fan? Angel Burlesque?
EH: I love any and all Burlesque events. (Who doesn't?) White Rabbit Cabaret is my favorite place to check out a show.
NUVO: Favorite late night spot to work in town?
EH: Murphy Building, because it is never really closed. I spend a lot of 3 a.m. nights writing and recording music in that space
NUVO: What is your weirdest Indy nightlife experience?
EH: Not sure I can really even type anything here that would make the paper. Sorry lame, I know!
NUVO: Tell me about your solo work.
EH: I lived in Bloomington for a few years, working with my mentor Paul Mahern and recording constantly. It was a great place to be working creatively. Right now, I'm focused on Hero Jr.'s tour.
NUVO: If you were going to open a club/bar/venue in Indy, what would it be like?
EH: Again, not to sound like a broken record, but I just love the feel of Radio Radio. It's not too big, not too small and they have some of the best nationally touring bands in there every night
Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs
Rhino's Youth Club
Sunday, April 1
This show was terrible. April Fools - this show was awesome (and also on April Fool's Day, during which I didn't make any jokes so I figured I'd make up for it now).
Sharon Van Etten and The War on Drugs stopped at SXSW during the Secretly Canadian showcase at Mohawks,. The War on Drugs, from what I can remember from my festival haze, played an energetic and engrossing set. A significant part of the culture of SXSW is about missing the bands' actual performances. There are so many people coming and going throughout each set that it seems almost an anomaly to stay for an entire set. The War on Drugs demanded to be seen during SXSW, and at this set at Rhino's, performed the same kind of (black?) magic. They are un-look-away-able.
I didn't see Van Etten down there, though. I've been spinning her track "Serpents" regularly since its release a few months ago. It's a wistful track full of atonal harmonies that keep you on the edge of your metaphorical (or real) seat while listening. At first, I didn't know why I was so attracted to the track. Then, I looked at the collaborators. Her latest album, Tramp, was produced and recorded by Aaron Dressner of The National, one of my favorite bands. Guest artists include Beirut's Zach Condon, Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, Julianna Barwick, Walkmen's Matt Barrick, Aaron and Bryce Dressner and Doveman (Thomas Bartlett) - a veritable super crew of emotionally bare, literate rockers who dissect their relationships through song. Van Etten sings, "Serpents in my mind/I'm searching for your crimes." Besides reminding me of a particularly nasty episodes of Grey's Anatomy involving worms in the brain (you are all welcome for that link), Van Etten's track is equal parts delicate and passionate
I wasn't sure exactly how this moody soundscape would translate onstage, but Van Etten didn't disappoint. Although she engaged in some mildly odd crowd banter ("How many people got to sit in the grass today? One of you? Two of you?") that the crowd of mostly young guys absolutely ate up, Her voice shone against the backing of her band, and, although her lyrics and tracks are gloomy, she was endearingly grounded onstage.
"I don't like to go past 3 on my amp. Four seems aggressive," she remarked at one point, while adjusting her volume.
The War on Drugs seems like the kind of band that can be at once be compared to U2 and simultaneously really be upset about being compared to U2. Also, during one song, I closed my eyes and had the most intense Tom Petty vibe I've had since...actually listening to Tom Petty. But seriously, they are a really great band that seems to be gathering a huge momentum right now. I look forward to seeing what their third record will bring.
Sharon Van Etten - "Serpents"
I'm blogging new music that crosses my desk daily. Today, Jump the Shark promised me their music doesn't suck. They were right! It totally doesn't suck.
They've got a brand new, self-titled five-song EP. It's reverb-heavy and slightly jammy, with hints of The White Stripes and Arcade Fire-worthy gang vocals. I'm digging Track 1, "Under the Gun." You can stream it below.
Are you an Indy musician looking to get your music out there? Follow me @tremendouskat, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and catch me out at the shows. Let's talk.
Austin is weird, that's for sure. I've seen a walking Fleshlight (holding the hand of a pornstar, nonetheless), green lasers shooting out of the sky for hours, a presidential candidate with a boot for a hat and the weirdest thing of all - a guy in a full suit walking with Jansport backpack, right through the madness. I'm digging it down here, though. It's 70 degrees, slightly overcast and packed to the brim with music makers, music lovers, money makers, show promoters, talent scouters, venue operators, food truck creators and many, many more.
I hoofed it down Red River to the SXSW hive mind (also known as the Convention Center) to make Bruce Springsteen's keynote address. The Boss didn't disappoint. His speech took listeners through his musical influences decade by decade, starting with Elvis and doo-wop artists ("The most sensual music on Earth, the sound of silk stockings rustling on backseat upholstery, of snaps of bras popping across the USA, of wonderful lies being whispered into perfumed ears, runny mascara, smeared lipstick, the high school bleachers...") through Roy Orbinson ("He sang about the tragic unknowability of women. Tortured by soft skin, angora sweaters, beauty and death, just like you."), through The Animals (singing "We've Got to Get Out of This Place," and declaring it every song he's ever written, including "Born to Run," "Born in the USA," "everything I've done in the past forty years."), all the way up to Woody Guthrie (who would be 100 this year).
Hearing the detailed musical influences of one of my favorite musicians (including a variety of short performances of his work, his musical influences' work and a crowd singalong to "This Land Is Our Land") was such a great start to the day, I couldn't really conceptualize it getting much better. Luckily, I was wrong.
I toured the rock poster convention, reminding myself of the (small) amount of money in my wallet, the pain of carrying something relatively fragile around all day and the realization that I could order something online later if I really loved it and still was not able to stop myself from purchasing something. I bought a beautiful screenprint featuring Austinites and Jagjaguwar-signed Okkervil River and headed back to the madness of 6th Street.
Under the Radar's three-day showcase at the Flamingo Cantina had carpeted bleachers, which was a relief (they became less of a relief and more of a social anxiety escalator when I accidentally kicked over two drinks in less than a minute, however). Taken by Trees was taking the stage as I arrived. As much as I hate to dismiss any band, especially one attached to a local label, I was completely bored by the performance. It allowed me time to piece together my schedule for the rest of the night with mellow background music, so there's that. My interest in the performance was decidedly piqued by a cover of "In the Air Tonight" (I've obviously revealed myself as a die-hard Phil Collins and Bruce Springsteen fan in the course of one post)
Following the mostly boring but for the Phil Collins-related-blip set was Brooklyn's Bear in Heaven, who played only new tracks. There was a definite Depeche Mode feel to their set, which increases the likelihood I'll buy their new album by 500x.
After a brief stop at Pop Montreal Festival showcase, where we caught the similarly Depeche Mode-inspired band Trust, we decided to navigate to the rapidly (and rabidly) growing line for Fiona Apple. This was the first moment when I realized how prized the badge I'm currently wearing around my neck is.
I was able to get through the line to see Apple during her much-publicized SXSW "comeback" tour. I'll address that performance in a separate post. Suffice to say, she was amazing. Watch a clip of her performance (including the many bobbing heads of my fellow crowd members) below.
I finally hooked up with some Hoosiers at the MOKB-affiliated show at Uncorked. Oreo Jones and DMA sufficiently weirded out the seated crowd on the patio. They closed with their newest release, "The John Wayne," which has a hook that can't be beat. It was perhaps not the best venue for the artists, but they gave it their all regardless.
The members of Hotfox (our delightful guest SXSW bloggers) were in attendance, right in the middle of their scheduled slew of performances. They'll play today at the MOKB show at Peckerhead's on Friday.
I made it over to the Secretly Canadian showcase in time to see The War on Drugs. This show felt to me like the band has reached another level. I was able to peer down from the elevated patio at Mohawk, but at that point the exhaustion hit me like a wave of...I'm so exhausted I can't come up with a comparison. My writerly wiles have left me completely. I'm disappointed that I didn't hang out through Sharon Van Etten's performance, but I'll catch her in Bloomington on April 1.
By my count, I saw...well, actually, I have no idea how many bands I saw today. During the day I wandered in and out of so many clubs and caught snippets of so many bands that I wouldn't be able to include them all. I've also been watching shows with these artists. Artists receive wristbands that allow them access to shows throughout the festival, and I've resisted the impulse many times (and given in to it about as many times) to ask people who they're with. I'll be back with more posts from the Live Music Capital of the World in a bit, but sleep beckons.
Fiona Apple performs at the Central Presbyterian Church during SXSW:
Yes, that's me up there with the plunger, rushing out of Eagle Creek after completing the Polar Plunge this weekend. Even though it took quite a while for the NUVO team to warm up, the event was completely worthwhile, as it supported over 11,000 Special Olympics athletes in the state.
There's a few places to be this weekend where you can do good and hear good music at the same time. First, the Beta Cell Bash kicks off on First Friday in Fountain Square. Start the night at the Blue Wren Studio for an arts exhibition and auction. After, move down to Radio Radio, wehre you can see Goliathon, Bigger Than Elvis, Henle and the Loops, Sweet FA, SkyHunter, 19Clark25, 5 Day Trip and Don Elbreg perform. The $10 ticket supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
A bit later in the evening, the Girls Rock! Annual Fundraiser kicks off at the Talbott St. Nightclub. You'll be serenaded by Hero Jr., Neon Love Life and Red Light Driver at the 3rd annual event of this kind, which benefits the rock n' roll nonprofit. Girls Rock! Indianapolis is a organization dedicated to building positive self-esteem in girls and encouraging creative expression through music. There's a suggested donation of $10 at the door, but feel free to contribute more to support rock n' roll ladies.
Do good this weekend, and as an added bonus, neither of these events require you to carry a plunger or dose yourself in freezing water.
Zoe / Rounder
Let’s just get this out of the way: Kathleen Edwards is dating Justin Vernon. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything about this album or Edwards’ music, except that it does, and this album makes a little more sense knowing it. Vernon co-produced this, so it’s not like he’s JUST a boyfriend. He’s definitely in this. Still, Edwards holds her own—she sounds strong—she sounds like she could be going at just about everything alone. One of those people you admire for their ability to drive it home: listen to “Chameleon/Comedian.” You totally believe her when she says, I don’t need a punch line. It’s got a lot more classic pop than Bon Iver does; where Vernon tends to experiment—play around with suspending single sounds—Edwards seems to expand sounds. This is warm and familiar. Almost country-rock, but with more guitar (and piano) and less twang. You can’t help but notice that “A Soft Place to Land,” brings the same pangs of emotion that Bon Iver can. The same sort of distorted echo and marching urgency. It’s always impressive when an artist can compile an album of songs that fit together so well without a lot of repetition.
Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling.
Don't Miss: Murder By Death
Murder By Death's top music picks during their American tour.
Each week, NUVO speaks to a local music luminary about their favorite new music. Local alt-rockers Murder By Death make this week's picks.
In the interest of full disclosure, I've got to tell you that this Bloomington band was one of the very first that I saw live when I started my freshman year at Indiana University. And they absolutely blew me away. It should be noted that, three albums later, they continue to blow me away. (I've always shown a strong preference to any band that references Virginia Woolf, whiskey and the Devil with regularity.)
Since seeing them for the first time as a freshman, Murder by Death and I have grown up quite a bit. I graduated, and they got picked up by Quentin Tarantino to provide music for the trailer of “Inglorious Basterds.” They've also added Scott Brackett, formerly of Okkervil River, to their lineup officially just last year. Although their sound has constantly evolved, Murder by Death always creates an intoxicating blend of alt-country and rock, with just enough dark, gothic sounds and imagery to be perfectly freaky.
The band is currently touring the States and will set off on a jaunt to Australia in February. Lead vocalist Adam Turla was kind enough to tell me what five records are in constant play on the road, with some help from the rest of the band.Murder By Death by Vagrant Records
In addition to being one of the nicest guys playing music in Indy, Americana singer/songwriter Jethro Easyfields has been a proud dog owner for many years. Word got to me that his beloved basset hound Chelsea has some severe eye problems. Easyfields posted pics on Facebook of his Ford Mustang that he recently sold to help fund eye surgery for Chelsea.
On New Year’s Eve, I tracked down Jethro to see how his music is going, and to ask about Chelsea.
NUVO: First, I want to catch up with you and find out about your dog and what’s going on. I’ve seen the pics you have posted of her on web over the past couple of years.
Jethro Easyfields: She has acute glaucoma in one of her eyes. Basset hounds have the worst time with this disease. This week, she will be receiving surgery [to] most likely to remove her right eye and sew the eyelid shut. Her mother Midget also had this problem. She's stickin' in there [though she's] in much pain. Hopefully soon she will get a break. She also has some foot issues. The VCA Veterinary Specialty Center on 96th Street is treating her, but she is at home now.
NUVO: My thoughts are with you guys. Thanks for the info. And how about your music? Anything we can look forward to?
JE: Scott Kern and I have been putting together a collection of my story songs. It's a bit upbeat and bluegrassy, involving many characters in my archive. I hope to have this out late spring. It's a breath of fresh air compared to the dark Bloodletting LP.
NUVO: That’s sounds good. Anything else? I know you never rest.
JE: [I'm planning] a hard rock album with the Innocent Boys (Harley Poe members), and will do the recording in the summer.
NUVO: Thanks for all the info, and best of luck with Chelsea.
JE: Thanks again. Many folks are hoping for the best.
If you'd like to check on Chelsea or donate to her medical care, contact Jethro at email@example.com.
Whether you're a metalhead or a folkster, music enthusiasts of all varieties will have something to choose from this week. From Mastodon's thrash-tastic voyage to old favorites John Cougar and Paul Simon, it's a busy week of jams for the Indy area. If you're lucky, you might spot our editors tearing it up at Friday's Bollywood Bhangra at the Amber Room.
An Anderson, Ind., native, Jon McLaughlin returns to his roots to perform at The Vogue. This pop-rock singer/songwriter and piano player studied music at Anderson University and first stepped out onto the music scene in 2003 with an independent album titled Up Until Now. In 2008, he released the popular song "Beating My Heart" which is featured on the album OK Now.
A collection of Indianapolis hip-hop heavy-hitters will be performing tonight at a showcase presented by Bringing Down the Band.
Since their first album in 2002, Mastodon has collected quite the group of metal-loving fans. They bring their show back to Indianapolis on tonight to play at The Vogue. See our feature on Mastodon for more.
This Madison WI-based blues power trio has only been playing together for a few years, but they tour fairly constantly all around the state of Wisconsin. They're nominated for a Grammy for both Blues Album of the Year and and Best New Artist. This isn't the first time they're been honored with an important award: they won Best New Artist at the Madison Area Music Awards and Blues Artist of the Year by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry.
Cultural Cannibals present a special edition of Bollywood Bhangra featuring Panjabi MC and DJ Kyle Long at the Amber Room at the Old National Centre. Panjabi MC is the biggest artist on the international bhangra scene and producer of the chart-topping hit "Mundian to Bach Ke (Beware of the Boys)" featuring Jay-Z. In addition to widespread popularity, Panjabi MC has been the recipient of many world music awards. Panjabi MC will be joined by DJ Rekha and DJ Kyle Long, who will be spinning all the latest Bollywood and Bhangra hits. See our feature on Panjabi for more.
Big Head Todd has been touring since 1986; their latest album, 100 Years of Robert Johnson, was recorded with the same members under a different group name: Big Head Blues Club. The album was accompanied by B.B. King, Cedric Burnside, Hubert Sumlin and others. They're accompanied at this show by John Hiatt, a singer-songwriter who got his start the old-fashioned way: by moving to Nashville. In the late '80s, nine straight studio albums hit the Billboard 200 list. The show is part of WTTS 92.3 FM's Rock to Read concert series.
Tonic Ball, which began in 2002, is a fundraising event for Second Helpings. Each band that performs is asked to cover songs from popular artists; this year the artists are David Bowie, Michael Jackson and R.E.M. The event will take place at both Radio Radio, the White Rabbit Cabaret and Fountain Square Theatre. See our cover story on Tonic Ball for more.
The Coug is back in town - er, he never really left (Mellencamp is a long-time Bloomington resident). Between his musical creations, acting career, and political activism, a lot can be said about Mellencamp's long career, but we'll leave you with this: he is currently working on a musical with Steven King called The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, premiering in the spring of 2012. Early reviews indicate it will be an interesting show, with Esquire reporting, “It may be the first musical ever written by men for men.”
Singer-songwriter Laura Balke will be celebrating the release of her latest record, Rumors & Legends, with a performance with a full band and art show. She's influenced by John Vanderslice and Neil Young and will be joined by special guest Jascha and NM Kjeldsen. Balke is on a short tour across the Midwest; this record is her fifth release.
Slothpop has tremendous upward momentum. This hometown band will headline a show at the White Rabbit Cabaret with a variety of other out-of-town bands, including Philadelphia's Arrah and the Ferns, Chicago's The Embraceables, and Bloomington's Chandelier Ballroom. As our own Greg Winget wrote earlier this year, “The album is earnest, dense and relentlessly catchy, defined by the lilting power of Newborn's voice, Dan Zender's flowing guitar melodies and the band's impeccable, magnetic songwriting.”
I love Paul Simon so much that I can barely write this preview (I think I love him too much). But here it goes: don't miss your chance to see the legendary singer-songwriter in Bloomington this weekend. Simon is the recipient of 13 Grammys, was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and in 2007 was the first recipient of the Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He has released hit after hit after massive hit, including five number one albums. This living legend is touring in support of his latest, So Beautiful or So What, but promises to sample tracks from his illustrious discography.
Don't Miss features a different local music luminary each week with their favorite new music.
Hoosier boy Jon McLaughlin is on tour from coast-to-coast with his band in support of his latest album, Forever If Ever. Careful selection of music is an essential part of any road trip; we wanted to know what records Jon and the boys were spinning as they make stops from New York to San Francisco. They'll be in Indy this Thursday at The Vogue.
Don't Miss: Jon McLaughlin
Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling.
Long Live the King
This is, perhaps, the very definition of EP; it’s exactly that—an extension of the ever-popular The King is Dead. The titles even mesh. And the EP is just as likable as the album that came out back in January. The six-track collection starts with a murder ballad—it’s reminiscent of Jack White—it’s old and new at once. “Row Jimmy” is a well-done Grateful Dead cover (is that ironic?). It feels like summer in some out-of-the-way bar, even when you know winter is coming. “I 4 U & U 4 Me” is why The Decemberists are loved—it’s nearly impossible not to just love the sound here—not to want to hear it over and over. “Sonnet” rounds this tight EP out. Traditionally, a sonnet is known to be a “little song:” it tells of some sort of problem and turns toward a solution. If those horns aren’t the solution to whatever sort of problem you may be in the middle of, well, keep reading sonnets—keep listening to this EP. Life has its ups and downs—it’s little struggles that are always littler than they seem. On Spotify, you can listen to Long Live the King and The King is Dead back to back. Do that.
The sound that this duo creates is absolute human nature. It’s what you hear in your own mind when you’re singing with the radio up loud. It’s rhythmic and trance-inducing the way Bon Iver and Radiohead are. Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church have the kind of voices that mesh so well you sometimes have a hard time telling them apart. These songs, when they end, make the silence echo and throb. They have a kind of pace that you just give into—not the way jam bands allow songs to take over and grow organically—these are much more polished and practiced than that. They have a pace that’s like observing the ocean at night—sometimes more intense than others, but generally impressive—and suddenly you’re back at the beginning, hearing it all again. So, it makes sense that the first and possibly most notable track on the EP is “The Sea.” And it makes sense that they cover “Space Oddity;” just enough weirdness (the good kind) to classify them with Bowie. This EP can be cycled through several times in one sitting—the kind of music that’s necessarily repetitive.
[Music] Jazz + Blues + R&B, Rock
[Music] Rock, Festivals + Parties
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] DJs + Dancing