Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Get Charmed - Snake Oil's S/T EP Reviewed

The phrase "snake oil" has come up a few times in conversation at the record shop lately. The term itself has quite a history, most notably by skeptics responding to the dubious claims of actual snake oil that was bottled generations ago in China to treat joint pain. At the shop, the context of the term has related to the audiophile world's vast array of high end stereo accessory upgrades including but not limited to: Interconnect cables, turntable styli, and hardware. Stumbling upon a record with the only printed text on it reading "Snake Oil", intrigued me enough to find out if the group had a legitimate thing going for it.

The Snake Oil layout is minimal and quite satisfying for some reason. A simple five-color rendition of a setting sun on a desert background can be found on the front cover, and a negative (featuring a white moon in place of the sun) can be found on the back. Inside,the black vinyl's center labels feature simply a blank yellow circle or blank white circle - the colors both corresponding to the front/back or side 1/side 2 respectively.

I decided to try this record out on my newly configured stereo set up (which I hesitate to describe in an effort to avoid a lengthy tangent) and I was pretty pleased with what I heard. Snake Oil continued their minimalist efforts by quickly revealing themselves to me as a psychedelic instrumental group. Although some of the tracks seem to become a bit meandering at times, the songs collectively entertained me and kept my attention for the entire album. The group has a new (and sometimes surfy) psychedelic feel, like Tristeza's A Colores, but a classically influenced Krautrock energy a la Xhol Caravan or Amon Düül. I'd recommend Snake Oil to any willing psychedelic music listener, but I can't guarantee it'll work for you.

Buy it HERE

Monday, June 27, 2011

Archers of Loaf - Webster Hall N.Y. 06.26.11

My girlfriend and I made it out to the Archers of Loaf show at Webster Hall last night. We met up with a few friends and watched from the balcony, stage left. The show was definitely a success, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the biggest turn out they've ever had as a band (less a few late nineties festivals I'm sure I'm forgetting). Regardless, when a band takes pictures of the crowd they are playing in front of it's generally a clear indication of a "big deal" and if you were out at the show last night you'd have a relatively difficult time denying that notion.

The group was surprisingly energetic and noticeably tight. Singer Eric Bachmann belted out and delivered hard , loud vocals while the rest of the band did their part in seeming genuinely entertained and excited to be a part of the show.

The band played a wide variety of songs, and yes they played the three songs you hoped they would... My only confusion about the show is why on Earth did they need to perform a double encore? Either way, kids were pretty excited and it looks like The Archers just jumped on a new wave of popularity for themselves.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If Only My Daddy Could See Me Now - R. Stevie Moore plays Brooklyn

My girlfriend Steph and I went to the Bellhouse in Brooklyn, NY last night to see "Legendary Artist" R. Stevie Moore perform a stop on his "2011 World Tour". We showed up about an hour into the event to find out that RSM and his opening acts would be playing the Bellhouse's front room, and the light crowd swarming the front bar confirmed just that.

After a couple of decent indie openers, RSM took the stage; a psychedelic Santa Claus clad in bright red velour Monopoly pajama pants, a Rutgers University ball cap, and a shirt that looked "fitting" (pun intended) for an overweight mother of three… circa 1994. His snow white beard and foggy oversized glasses shook vigorously as he wrestled to untangled a mess of power cables that strangled his various effect pedals. Finally, RSM grabbed his Ibanez bass, (which was covered with a collage made of what appeared to be the lingerie section from an old JC Penny catalog) plucked the E string, and began to tune before almost instantly breaking into the first song.

(Above: a song he didn't play last night).

When a musician who allegedly has hundreds of releases (mostly on cassettes and VHS, offered to members of his New Jersey-based home tape club mailing list) takes the stage, it's generally a wild card as to what songs to expect. After winging one somewhat sloppy opening song, the pace really began to pick up as RSM and band locked in and loosened up. RSM fired away with some hilarious banter between songs, and lyrically freestyled during songs making for a continuously entertaining experience. From bellowing heart-felt rants about love to nailing high notes about kids and their drug habits, RSM sounded right in key, on time, and full of energy.

Throughout the set, RSM often became vibrantly emotional and enthusiastic about song topics and at one point he tore at his beard until tufts of beard hair could be seen circling his head for a moment before floating to the floor. At other times he stared directly into the stage lights and froze like an abductee locked in the tractor beam of a hovering UFO.

R. Stevie Moore rocked, and his back up band were perfect for the gig and not some group of undeserving attention-starved hipsters for once. The good news is that there's a documentary on RSM coming soon, as well as (countless) more songs and records.

"I Like To Stay Home"

Available Now:
  • R. Stevie Moore Phonography reissue on Sundazed
  • Meet The R. Stevie Moore Double LP on Get Back!
  • Countless self-released cassettes, CDs, and unofficial, out of print LPs.

R. Stevie Moore 2011 World Tour Dates

6.13.11 Providence, Soft Approach
6.14.11 Boston, Church
6.15.11 Philly, Johnny Brenda's
6.16.11 Baltimore, TBA
6.18.11 Pittsburgh , Modern Formations Gallery
6.19.11 Detroit ,The Magic Stick
6.20.11 Bloomington , The Bishop
6.22.11 Chicago , The Empty Bottle
6.23.11 Milwaukee , The Cactus Club
6.25.11 Minneapolis , 400 Bar
6.26.11 Blue Moose Taphouse
6.27.11 Kansas City , The Riot Room
6.30.11 Denton , Hailey's
7.1.11 Austin , Emo's Outside
7.2.11 Little Rock, AR - White Water Tavern
7.3.11 Memphis , Hi-Tone
7.5.11 Nashville , Exit/In
7.6.11 Athens , Farm225
7.7.11 Asheville , The Grey Eagle
7.8.11 Raleigh , King's Barcade
7.9.11 Greensboro, NC - The Blind Tiger
7.22.11 MIDI Festival, HyŽres, France
7.29.11 Creepy Teepee Festival, Prague