So I've been reading all the furious online comment action on last week's column. To show that this is truly meant to be a dialogue, let me first say … nice to see that you guys are actually alive out there. Now THAT'S the sort of pride and passion I like to see.
About all the back and forth, well, I hear you, man. Picking through all the sanctimony, poopy diapers and general misunderstanding of my job, I saw some good points and will internalize them. But, in moving forward, just know that I have zero interest in being sectarian, unduly exclusionary or an unconditional booster for anyone. Grasp that and you'll get it.
I swore to myself that this local band would never make this page. Because of their cheap, sensational, publicity-whoring gimmicks, I understand why they've made the news pages of this publication. However, this right here is a music column and they have nothing to do with music in any genuine sense. A transparent fame-grabbing machine? Yes. A real band? Not so much. No honest artistic endeavor would involve scheming with former teen-pop impresario/current prison bitch Lou Pearlman. But their recent attempt to make headlines via the Caylee Anthony drama is a new low.
Basically, they played a seconds-long protest set in front of the Anthony home, were stopped by bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, and then filed a complaint against him with the sheriff's department for a swat at a mic stand that resulted in … drum roll, please … an inch-long scrape on the singer's thumb. Some things are worth breaking your own vows for, and I'm more than happy to give this band a drop more publicity just to say: Fuck off, Biteboy. Goes double for that jagoff manager of yours. Seriously. Fuck. Off.
I'm not sure how sizable the market for winking idiocy is in punk rock but, hey, I'm always down for an occasional spin on the short bus. Giving Tooth and the Enamels a run in the local daft punk department is comedy act Awesome and the Ass Kickers (Aug. 26, Back Booth). Stupid songs, stupider name, and that's the point. They're smart enough, however, to know not to rely on their music alone. Their set was replete with all sorts of stage gimmicks like Mexican wrestling masks, a light-up "applause" sign, histrionic announcer voices and knee-slides. Will the returns of their appeal diminish after seeing them once? Of course. But it's refreshing to see punks who haven't traded in their sense of humor for a bloated sense of self.
Openers Government Flu, a Dead Kennedys cover band, didn't fare so well. Mimicking Jello Biafra's demented warble is a risky proposition. Not only is it a ridiculous voice in itself, it's also intensely fetishized (and committed to keen memory) by legions of fans, opening up imitators for attack on two fronts. Sadly, this singer's impression was stiff, and mangling "Holiday in Cambodia" probably won't endear him to DK fans.
Local trio Basements of Florida is the latest intelligent rock band worth real attention (Aug. 29, Taste). Comprising only drums and dueling bass guitars, they powered through songs that were propulsive and dynamic. The brainy rhythm project proved to be an exploration in low-end possibility that's more melodically expressive than we're accustomed to imagining.
Also on the bill (and also good) was local band So Help Me Rifle. Their music conjures the esteemed '90s indie-rock sound of Chapel Hill, particularly in the way they ply angularity into facile melodies. Add 'em to your list.
Later that night was the Plain Jane Automobile CD release party (the Social). These locals have long been known for polished, radio-ready Britpop. A solid performance reaffirmed that this is one professional act. As a commodity, they're ready to go. However, watertight chops only make them a competent band. Middling artistic vision is what prevents them from being a good band. The intended destination of such studied mediocrity remains elusive.
The likable but slightly mainstream pop-rock tendencies of Austin, Texas' What Made Milwaukee Famous are a good lesson in treatment (Aug. 27, the Social). With the greater guitar girth of their latest album, their songs can be a pleasant diversion. The electronics on their debut album, however, render them milquetoast. Luckily, their live show showcased the former.
The profile of headlining Alabama band Wild Sweet Orange has seen some rise in the indie world lately. Though they're a decent band, this set favored their slow stuff too much to be firstname.lastname@example.org