I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but folk singer The White Buffalo (aka Jake Smith) performed on Tuesday night at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom in Bend, and pretty much blew me away. Here’s an excerpt of my review:
Smith’s talents are many, but his voice is obviously his most distinctive quality. It’s a show-stopper. A jaw-dropper. It’s canyon deep and sequoia strong, with a natural resonance that 99 percent of singers would kill to have.
The closest comparison I can come up with is Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, though when he’s at his best, Smith makes Vedder sound like Bobby Brady going through puberty. He’s just that great of a singer.
Smith showcased that voice on barnburners like “The Madman” and “Carnage,” with their ultra-low notes, as well as meandering, pretty numbers such as “Sleepy Little Town” and “Where Dirt and Water Collide.” And he let it soar during two of his best songs, “Love Song #1” and “Damned.” The ascendant pre-chorus of the former and the roller-coaster verses of the latter were perfect examples of Smith’s skill for writing melodies that are both unconventional and memorable.
You can read my take on the first great local concert of the year by clicking here. (Note: That article is freely available to all. You won’t hit a paywall.)
Alexander’s three most recent albums were released by Kottonmouth Kings’ Suburban Noize record label, and he’s criss-crossed the country several times in the past few years on SubNoize tours. But, as you saw if you watched the video, things are much more serious now; Alexander is the proud owner of a new Kottonmouth Kings tattoo. That’s commitment!
The statement posted with the video touts Dirtball’s induction into the Kings as “the dawning of a new age” for the group. I’m trying to get Alexander on the phone to find out how this went down, but for now, we’ll have to let the statement speak:
“This is most definitely a huge step for me in the rap path,” commented Dirtball about joining the group. “I am honored to be joining such a strong force as the Kottonmouth Kings, and I’m proud to have found a band of brothers who not only have an endless array of talent, but they smoke just as much weed as I do.”
OK, then! The statement goes on to quote Kings founder Daddy X:
“Dirtball is really one of the sickest rappers in the game right now. To have him join us on this musical journey is going to be amazing. The guy parties harder than Motley Crüe in their heyday and he manages to bring a mind-blowing velocity to everything he does.”
That’s true. Alexander is one of the fastest rappers I’ve heard, but he spits his rapid-fire rhymes with alarming clarity. He’s like a walking, talking “No Syllable Left Behind.” And while he’s The Dirtball on the road, he’s also in love with the Central Oregon lifestyle when he’s at home. Check his Twitter account to catch him dreaming about cutting firewood.
There’s much more about Alexander in this feature that I wrote on him almost two years ago. (Go ahead and click it. It’s available to non-subscribers.)
Last, but not least: From the outside, this looks like a pretty big deal for Alexander’s career, so congratulations are in order. Congrats, David!
I thought 2009 was a good, but not great, year for recorded music, and am hopeful that 2010 will top it. To be fair, at this time last year, I hadn’t even heard of nine of the artists that produced my top 25 albums of 2009. The point is, amazing music can come from anyone, anywhere, and that no year should be judged solely on the number of hotly anticipated albums by big-name artists that it promises.
That being said, the first half of 2010 is turning out to be an incredibly productive time for some of the most high-profile names in what we used to call underground rock ‘n’ roll, but now is more like highly marketable and bloggable rock ‘n’ roll.
Yesterday, Beach House’s “Teen Dream” was released, and it’s a tasty slice of dream-pop, and sure to top many year-end lists at the close of 2010. Also out yesterday: new music from The Magnetic Fields, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Four Tet.
Let’s get on to the big dogs, though, shall we? On Feb. 2, the subtly addictive Texas band Midlake will put out “The Courage of Others,” the follow-up to 2006’s “The Trials of Van Occupanther,” aka one of the best albums of the 2000s. “Trials” has aged amazingly well over the past few years, and I’m several listens into “Courage” and believe it can be equally enduring, if not as immediately accessible. Here’s a trailer for the album that surfaced this week:
How many rock ‘n’ roll trailers feature a flute sighting, huh? Wait … why is there a trailer for this album? Did I miss something?
Anyway, March 9 will see Scottish indie-pop wonders Frightened Rabbit drop “The Winter of Mixed Drinks,” their follow-up to “The Midnight Organ Fight,” which is not only my favorite album of 2008, but arguably my favorite of the entire decade. (Not sure about that. More thinking to do. But I will get back to it). The band has played a few songs here and there and released one excellent single, all of which points to a very promising third effort from the Rabbit. I cannot wait. (Also March 9: Broken Bells, aka James Mercer of The Shins and DJ Danger Mouse. Here is their new video.)
As if all that wasn’t enough, May is shaping up to be a scary-good release month, what with rumors of an Arcade Fire album, as well as the recent announcements of new albums by The New Pornographers (with Neko Case andDap-Kings horns!) and The National. The former had a ridiculously productive 2000s (three classic albums, one very good one) and the latter may be my favorite band going right now.
All of this, plus releases that I don’t necessarily feel strongly about, but lots of people do, like new Yeasayer (Feb. 9), Toro y Moi (Feb. 23), Ted Leo (March 9), Gorillaz (March 9), Drive-By Truckers (March 16), She & Him (March 23), Radiohead, MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, R.E.M., Coldplay and so on and so on.
It never stops. Thank goodness.
Now, I’ve obviously only covered a fairly narrow sliver of music here; it’s the one I tend to pay the most attention to. But I’d love to hear from y’all what you’re stoked about, whether it’s country, hip-hop, mainstream pop, reggae or whatever. (Paging Scott Halvorson. Please pick up the Heavy/Industrial/Punk/Metal Courtesy Telephone.)
In response to the earthquake in Haiti, a couple of local benefit concerts seem to be happening. One is further along than the other, which means you can put one on your calendar, and you could potentially get involved in the other:
-On Sunday, Feb. 7, local humanitarian group Rise Up International will put on “Rise Up & Rebuild” at the Domino Room. Doors will open at 4 p.m., and the cost of admission is $5, with the money going to relief efforts in Haiti. The lineup, according to Rise Up’s Jesse Roberts, includes Person People, Larry and His Flask, Leif James & The Struggle, Haylee & Amanda, slam poetry by Manifestdestiny and Lakes, a mighty fine indie-rock band from California that put out on EP with a cover that always catches my eye in record stores.
-Fast-rising local singer-songwriter Reed Thomas Lawrence isn’t sure yet exactly what kind of Haiti fundraiser he’s putting together, but he’s working on something, and he’s aiming high, if his e-mail today is any indication. If you’d like to participate or help him out, write Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I’d had more space in the paper, though, I would’ve done much more on singer-songwriter The White Buffalo, a giant of a man who looks like Paul Bunyan meets Outlaw country and sings in a voice that’s as deep and passionate as any you’ll hear. He often sounds like a rootsier version of Eddie Vedder, and his songs are gems if you dig folk music that has not a hint of folksy wimpy-ness. In fact, they’re awesomely solid. To wit:
There are a couple other songs streaming at Buffalo’s Web site. You should go listen to them, and then go check him and Joe Firstman out tonight at 8 p.m. Cover is only $7, which is a steal for this show.
Local musician David Miller — last seen playing with Bend-based power trio Bad Influence — has started a Web site dedicated to the Central Oregon music scene. Its URL, fittingly, is www.centraloregonmusicscene.com, and it looks like plans include a list of local musicians, a place to post concerts and photos, and a spot where Miller can spill his thoughts.
There is also an associated Facebook page, because in 2010, every Web site must have an associated Facebook page. (Ahem.)
In past years, details on Les Schwab Amphitheater’s summer concert series have been posted at www.bendconcerts.com, and this is what that site looks like right now:
The keys there are “May 28″ and “Ticketed.” May 28 is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and as you may remember, the Schwab hosted glorious, three-day rock ‘n’ roll mini-fests on Memorial Day weekend in 2006 (Ben Harper, Beck, The Flaming Lips) and 2008 (Spearhead, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse). There were no concerts that weekend last year.
And the word “Ticketed” indicates a concert that costs money to attend, as opposed to the amphitheater’s free Sunday shows.
Upon seeing this, I e-mailed Marney Smith, who manages the amphitheater, and asked if the date on the site means anything, or if I was reading too much into it. Smith replied quickly, saying organizers are working “tirelessly” on Memorial Day weekend shows, but that she doesn’t yet know if they’ll happen. The “May 28″ on the Web site is just a placeholder, she said.
Anyway, the optimist in me sees the site and hopes it’s a harbinger of good news: that we’ll see a return of live music to the Schwab on Memorial Day weekend of 2010. And if that’s a possibility, then we turn our attention to the Sasquatch Festival, a three-day extravaganza held in central Washington that’s widely considered one of the best music fests in America. In 2006 and 2008, the bands that played the Schwab shows came to Bend immediately before or after playing Sasquatch, so its lineup — to be announced Feb. 16 — provides strong clues about who might come here.