Music » This Little Underground




I'm over all the Radiohead hype already, but I thought you DIY musicians might find these recently released stats about the industry-rocking In Rainbow interesting:

  • The album has sold three million copies so far, including downloads from, physical CDs, a deluxe two-CD-plus-vinyl box set and sales through digital retailers.
  • The pricey deluxe edition actually sold 100,000 copies through Radiohead's online store.
  • The physical release entered both the U.S. and U.K. charts at No. 1 in January despite having been freely available since October 2007.
  • The band pocketed more cash prior to the album's January 2008 physical release date than its total take on 2003's major-label release Hail to the Thief.

The beat

Sonically, Philadelphia's Man Man and Brooklyn's Tim Fite don't seem the most likely of bedmates (Oct. 26, the Social). But both acts work the luring whimsicality of children's stories with adult, sometimes dark intentions.

Brandishing bona fide renegade cred, Fite released a free album over the Internet in February 2007, nearly eight months before Radiohead's much-ballyhooed In Rainbows. And dude did it with the blessing of his label, Anti-. Now that's blazin' trails, son.

This performance confirmed that he's officially moved beyond his rap roots and is free of stylistic partition. It's an approach that better accommodates his eccentricities. His live show employed artfully conceived, well-integrated video to craft a mischievous program that played like a subversion of a kid's show.

The changeover between sets seemed unusually long, mainly because the PA was piping "Don't Worry, Be Happy" … on loop. Oh. My. God. The pistol was already pressed to my temple but just before I could release the safety, Man Man took the stage and the crowd erupted. Not to discredit the devotion of their fans, but much of that orgasmic outburst had to be in celebration of being free from the Bobby McFerrin purgatory. I know that's why I was girl-screaming like Jana Banana at the Obama rally.

If you haven't witnessed one of Man Man's rafter-rocking rave-ups live, well, you ain't livin'. With a roiling cauldron of traditional sounds fired by a raging, primitive heat, they're already insane on record. Live, their feral craziness teeters even closer to the brink. As carnal as it is carnival, their playful madness pushes Old World mystique into experimental modernity.

Blowing out sparkling melodies like bubbles was Brooklyn indie-pop band XYZ Affair (Oct. 28, Back Booth). Their accomplished harmonizing made them that much more infectious. Besides, who can resist a legitimate band that drops a sweet cover of "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover"? Tell me that doesn't scratch your guilty-pleasure spot just a little. Hey, I'll cop to it.

Also on the bill was brand new local band the Pauses, whose highly electronic indie rock bridges the synthetic and the organic. Though promising, they're still embryonic. But the one salient element was the voice of Tierney Tough, which is somewhat muted in the mix of her other band, the Great Deceivers. As a vessel of poise, maturity and expression, the Pauses would do well to build on it as they develop their sound.

Speaking of convincing female voices, Nashville songbird Brooke Waggoner (Oct. 29, the Social) validated why she's been attracting some local love, including a management deal with Orlando's Fly South Music Group, who are behind Fighting Records and the upcoming Anti-Pop Music Festival. Though her piano pop comes across on record as safely pleasant, her accomplished talent becomes incontrovertibly apparent live.

Her performance had the kind of crispness and learned measure that comes from classical training. Even without much accompaniment, her command of every detail of execution achieved a room-filling mood. Waggoner strikes the elusive balance between delicate and confident.

Halloween weekend treats included San Francisco's Deerhoof (Nov. 1, the Social), whose complex outlandishness is still more of a live pleasure than any sort of soul food. In person it's also clear that Greg Saunier is the heart of the band, with drum work that throws off sparks of guts and inspiration.

By far, the best trick was produced by boss country-rock band Drag the River (Oct. 31, Back Booth). In turning "Hybrid Moments" into a mournful country song, they actually gave the music of the Misfits emotional weight. That's some serious magic there.

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