Setting a new standard
Thursday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
Studying jazz standards — part of what he calls “the Great American Songbook” — Grammy Award-winning vocalist Steve Tyrell’s four-decade career hit new heights after his 1991 performance of “The Way You Look Tonight” in Father of the Bride, solidifying his popularity among young newlyweds and fellow crooners. The soundtrack versions of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Give Me the Simple Life” in the movie’s sequel further inspired him to record an album of standards, A New Standard, in 1999, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard jazz chart.
With six albums of standards to his name, including one of charming Disney covers, the former R&B singer makes adult contemporary jazz a family-friendly affair. Tyrell’s sense of nostalgia, entwined with classy piano, strings, bass and saxophone melodies, refreshes our favorite pop songs. He invokes the feel-good vocals of Frank Sinatra. Finding recent encouragement from Sinatra’s family, Tyrell was even asked to “keep the music alive” by performing at the late Sinatra’s induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, influencing his new tribute album, Songs of Sinatra.
It’s easy to succumb to Tyrell’s wholesome and uplifting holiday-flavored tunes, as well as timeless love songs like “The Very Thought of You” that will have you smitten and snapping your fingers in no time. Tyrell has featured such musical greats as Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler and, of course, his longtime friend and supporter Burt Bacharach in many of his recordings. Tyrell even had Clark Terry play the trumpet solo on “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”
Bring your honey and relax to “I’m in the Mood for Love,” set to mellow jazz.
The Art Hospital, Bloomington
Thursday, Oct. 12
Riding high on being named “Best New Music” by indie-rock culture’s No. 1 media outlet, Pitchforkmedia.com, Oklahoma’s Evangelicals come to Bloomington on Thursday. Borrowing a lot from fellow Oklahoma residents the Flaming Lips, the Evangelicals have a twisted take on classic indie-rock and favor the whiny Neil Young-like singing style the Lips have turned into a genre.
Wayne Coyne’s nasal falsetto has inspired a wave of bands, including Mercury Rev, Grandaddy, Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket and Sparklehorse. The Evangelicals are the next in this prestigious line, inheriting that voice as well as a distorted filter on its songwriting skills, which creates something oddly familiar but a little whacked out at the same time.
Subtle, sparse balladry
Friday, Oct. 13, 10 p.m.
Mojave 3 has created solid album after solid album of understated, classic rock since the mid ’90s. Though frontman Neil Halstead is a legend in certain circles and in his U.K. homeland, his music projects have always been an afterthought stateside.
Mojave 3 was created by Halstead with Rachel Goswell and Ian McCutcheon after the dissolution of Slowdive. Slowdive has become, over time, a very important historical band as a key member in the influential, early ’90s U.K. shoegazer scene. Shoegaze rock is a musical style defined by its atmospheric and ambient qualities, which are usually constructed with layers of distorted electric guitars.
What set Slowdive apart from many of its contemporaries was the songwriting of Halstead. When the trio from Slowdive decided to start Mojave 3, they set out to create music that could be played on acoustic guitars instead of washed-out electric instruments.
Over the past decade, Mojave 3 has five albums of country-tinged, subtle and sparse balladry. Halstead and crew’s classic style is often compared to Nick Drake, Bob Dylan or Gram Parsons, though something distinctly British has remained with the band.
Mojave 3 will also perform at Luna Music on 52nd and College Friday at 6 p.m. in addition to its Radio Radio appearance.
Tyler at full roar
Aerosmith with Motley Crue
Friday, Oct. 13
This tour follows a fall 2005/winter 2006 trek that had to be cut short in March after singer Steve Tyler developed a throat problem that eventually required surgery. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said the surgery was a success and Tyler is back at full roar.
“His voice is right there,” Perry said. “He’s amazing.”
The surgery, though, also confirmed that Tyler, who with his raw and rangy voice remains one of rock’s most identifiable vocalists, has a special talent.
“The doctor said this guy’s got a pretty unique [vocal structure]. He’s pretty much one in a million when it comes to how his throat and voice box is set up,” Perry said. “When I first heard him sing, I can remember all I said — I really didn’t know him that well at that point — but when I heard him sing I said, well, whatever it takes, I want to be in a band with this guy. I’ve never heard anybody like him.”
For the first part of the tour with Motley Crue, the band will be without bassist Tom Hamilton, who is recovering from treatment for throat cancer. David Hull, who played in the Joe Perry Project, is filling in.
Perry said the band, with or without Hamilton, will incorporate a new twist in its live sets.
“We’re going to do something we’ve done in the past, but not in the recent past,” he said. “Steven and I are going to do a little acoustic set. The band will be playing on, but it’ll be definitely more of an intimate moment. That’s something we’ve done. I remember we used to do that even before the band was signed. It’s just we haven’t done it in a long while.”
Lovelorn and lonely
Sunday, Oct. 15, 9 p.m.
Much like the atmosphere Sofia Coppola created in Lost in Translation, Asobi Seksu creates an aural representation of a trippy, urban Japanese culture. Like Coppola, the band relies very heavily on style and image to get its art across to an audience.
Asobi Seksu is fronted by a petite, Japanese singer and keyboardist, Yuki Chikudate, who sings her lyrics in an intertwining hodge-podge of English and Japanese. Her delicate and ethereal vocal styling is placed atop a big stack of shoegazing guitar rock.
After forming in New York in 2001, the band’s self-released, self-titled album from 2002 was reissued in 2004 in the wake of NYC’s New New Wave boom heralded by The Strokes and Interpol. Citrus, the band’s second album, released earlier this year, improves on the flakiness of the debut album and has a real professional sheen courtesy of New York’s new hipster producer, Chris Zane (Les Savy Fav, Thunderbirds Are Now!).
Yet, there’s something endearing about Asobi Seksu, something the band does to move beyond its influence. Perhaps it’s Chikudate’s slightly awkward delivery, a very human element in a technically precise musical universe, or perhaps it’s the lovelorn and lonely emotion the band is bent on creating.
Asobi Seksu will also give a live, in-store performance at Luna Music at 52nd and College on Sunday around 4 p.m. The show will be part of an all-day extravaganza at the store, which will include a sidewalk sale, $1 CDs and an open DJ session.
Hard to categorize
Minus The Bear with P.O.S., The Velvet Teen, Russian Circles
Wednesday, Oct. 18
Minus The Bear is one of the hardest bands in rock today to categorize. The band’s roots are in hardcore punk, yet the music the band now makes doesn’t have the aggression or feverish tempos of that style.
Instead, on the latest Minus The Bear CD, Menos El Oso, the group has shifted away from the post-punk sounds of old and crafted a rather abstract brand of pop built around interlocking guitar and keyboard parts and the deadpan yet melodic vocal lines sung by singer Jake Snider.
The overall sound, in fact, evokes progressive rock bands like King Crimson (especially the 1980s edition) and Yes, as well as the angular pop of Fear Of Music-era Talking Heads far more than it does the hardcore roots of band members Snider, guitarist David Knudson, drummer Erin Tate and bassist Cory Murchy.
The sound that has now emerged had to surprise fans who knew guitarist Knudson and Murchy from the band Botch, Tate from Kill Sadie and singer/guitarist Snider from Sharks Keep Moving. The four musicians didn’t waste any time springing their newfound sound and band on the public either, releasing a first EP, This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic, in 2001 before playing their first live show.
“Those first songs on the first EP were exactly what we sounded like,” Colin Murchy said. “That was it. There was no warm-up to that.”
The band’s sound, though, developed quickly from there as a string of releases — the 2002 full-length CD Highly Refined Pirates and the EPs Bands Like It When You Yell ‘Yar’ At Them and They Make Beer Commercials Like This — followed in quick succession.
By the time the band members were ready to work on Menos El Oso (the title is Spanish for Minus The Bear), they knew they wanted to discard a couple of early trademarks of the band’s music.
On the earlier records the band frequently used long and humorous song titles. (“Kickin’ It Like A Wild Donkey” and “Hey Wanna Throw Up” are a couple of prime examples). Snider, meanwhile, had become well-known for light-hearted lyrics that often involved girls and drinking. Murchy said it was time to shift the attention away from the humor in the music.
“It was definitely a conscious decision and just because there had been so much ink devoted to our song titles, it had gotten to the point where it was like, ‘All right, let’s see if there’s ink to be spilled elsewhere,’” he said.
The band also made greater use than ever of the studio. But because so many of the parts had been looped, sampled, overdubbed or otherwise altered in the studio, no one in Minus The Bear was quite sure how the new material would work live, Murchy said.
Fortunately, the band found ways to make the music translate quite well to a live setting.
“It was definitely a big question of all of ours,” Murchy said. “We honestly had no idea how some of the songs were going to translate … We played a couple live [before the Menos El Oso sessions]. So we knew that those would work. But the other ones were just kind of trial and error on the road and at the practice spot. I’m really happy with what we’ve been able to do.”