;Finally, the DVD of You're Gonna Miss Me, the absorbing documentary about the brilliant but troubled musician Roky Erickson, is out. Like the stories of other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Syd Barrett, his is an intensely heartbreaking one. From his days fronting the vanguard psychedelic band 13th Floor Elevators through his damaging stint in a prison psych ward to the legal wrangling over his care, this is an incredibly complex tale of a devastating spiral of mental illness, drugs and difficult family circumstance told with jarring intimacy and access. The obsession with demons, zombies and aliens in his songs may have intrigued listeners, but this film shows just how revealing a glimpse it was into his afflicted mind. To a big fan like me, the juxtaposition of a young Erickson wielding his virile, R&B-juiced voice onstage and the 53-year-old near-recluse with long, yellowed fingernails and matted, incidentally dreadlocked hair is difficult to shake. Since it originally screened in 2005, this important documentary, along with the crusading care of his brother Sumner, has raised awareness of this bright rock & roll talent, making him a cause célèbre. Oh, and he's performing again.
;Here, hold this for a sec. It's my Man Card. OK, so I totally dug the Erasure concert at Hard Rock Live July 8. All right, all right, enough from the tough-guy peanut gallery. It's not like you didn't know I enjoy pop music. And, boy, was this a pop extravaganza.
;;It's been eons since I've caught ‘em live and it's good to see that their gloriously overstated show hasn't dimmed. Theirs was a less dynamic stage than that of the similarly theatrical Pet Shop Boys but way more razzle-dazzle. I'm talkin' a glittery purple stage with wide Broadway staircase and hovering diamonds (echoing the motif of their latest, and decent, album, Light at the End of the World). Thankfully, they proved to be one of those legacy bands who are smart enough to, ahem, give a little respect to the songs their fans cherish with a sensibly chosen set featuring many of their classics.
;;In a revue sparkling with élan, singer Andy Bell became a gay Tom Jones, every gyration electrifying the crowd. Keyboardist Vince Clarke's stately synth lines were an effective juxtaposition with Bell's high camp and incandescence. Bell's still sporting his trademark belly but, holy Moses, somewhere along the way this little bird acquired a pair of diesel arms to go with it (not that I was looking or anything). Must be working out with Trent Reznor.
;;I caught openers Scissors for Lefty twice last week (once with Erasure and again at the Social later in the week) and they were likable in a lighthearted, confectionary way. Think Pulp goes indie-disco. Actually, singer Bryan Garza totally works the Jarvis Cocker thing, only much more innocently. Decent melodies, though.
;;Local band Million Year Echo was at the Social July 12. This is the second act I've seen Levi Connor front and he's still wasting his very able voice with music of questionable merit. This particular band rides painfully trite pop-rock styles that are so worn that the grooves are now lost. Sometimes gray is darker than black. Celine Dion has a capable voice too, y'know.
;;Speaking of colorless music, Kessler played Central Station Bar the same night (on a bill featuring a "rock" set by DJ Sandy). One gander at their well-stocked table and it's clear that they're one of those merchandise-driven bands, which is usually a little suspect. Especially when you really haven't done shit. Have YOU heard of ‘em? Exactly. A $15 CD is practically retail, only without the middle man taking his cut. And $25 hats? You're kidding, right? What's worse, their emo-styled pop-rock was perfectly, startlingly generic. To think these hacks actually came all the way from Dallas. Why'd you even bother, guys? Really.
;;Apart from that, it was an ideal week to revisit some good locals, especially with the solid bill for the Country Slashers CD Release Party at Back Booth on Friday the 13th. OK, it's official: The Attack is the best punk rock band in town, their brilliance being simplicity and focus. As for the Slashers, they rose to the occasion in a lively display of their anthemic punk & roll. And I'm still diggin' the big, heartland rock of Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England.
;;Speaking of the Kings of New England, drummer Daniel Anderson has a project of his own, The Anderson Gang, who played the Social July 11. Most of the bands in the city's alt-country scene tap into the easygoing comfort of the genre, but these guys are different. Their country-blues is darker, more cutting. Nothing cute or charmingly ironic about these fellas. They're a great addition that hopefully bumps the local twangster scene in a new, more venturesome firstname.lastname@example.org