Audience Participat­ion

By now, anyone who's been to a Monotonix show — or has at least heard the lore — is familiar with the scene that ensues when the band hits the stage. For the Tel Aviv trio, now on its umpteenth visit to the states since 2006, "hitting the stage" is a bit of a misnomer […]

No Pressure

“Songwriting is a fun thing. I don’t put too much pressure on it because it doesn’t help anybody and it doesn’t help the song,” says Vetiver leader Andy Cabic.  Looking at the near-constant state of flux that has defined Vetiver’s existence over its five-year history, it’s clear that Cabic doesn’t put too much pressure on […]

Not a bar band

In an age when music is widely feared to become more disposable thanks to the nature of digital media, Nashville singer/songwriter duo Quote’s debut album The Pace of Our Feet is quite literally bound to stand out. Inner life: Justin Tam, pictured at right, makes music with his best friend Jamie Bennett. “It’s been really […]

Moody Blues

The duo Arms and Sleepers claims that it began in the back of an ambulance. As the story goes, the ambulance came upon a dying man in an alley holding a tape player and playing a cassette of a gospel choir. A live jazz band played down the street. As the man died, the cassette […]

Trying hard now

“Without perspiration,” says singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier, “you just end up with goo.” Gauthier (pronounced “go-shay”) is talking about writing lyrics, a process she has been known to agonize over. The Louisiana native, who is now based in Nashville, rewrites songs almost compulsively, reworking them as many times as she has to until she feels that […]

Turn the tables

While the DJ has long been accepted as a cultural icon, with turntablism now recognized as an art form unto itself, the actual techniques behind what a DJ does remain widely misunderstood by the public. As Columbus-via-Philadelphia’s RJD2 ascends from the underground hip-hop scene and vies for broader forms of creative expression, he provides a […]

Busy fingers

Arguably the most innovative bassist since Jaco Pastorius, Les Claypool has helped to redefine the role of his instrument perhaps more than any other rock musician of his generation. Best known as the leader of the quirky alt-prog trio Primus, Claypool has been widely heralded for his unique slapping style. Generally speaking, he pushes the […]

Burning desire

Since their 2003 debut Gallowsbird’s Bark, The Fiery Furnaces have left listeners swooning in a state of confused delight as they repeatedly trounce genre boundaries and make each record radically different from the last. Consisting of siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger and a rotating cast of support musicians, the Furnaces have veered from lo-fi, skeletal […]

Outside, looking in

“Yesterday,” says Richard Shindell, “I had to speak to a blacksmith.” This commonplace experience, the singer/songwriter explains, illustrates a fundamental cultural difference between the United States and Argentina, his adopted home of the past seven years. Craft-master: Richard Shindell’s narrative-driven songs have helped him carve out his niche in the already crowded-with-talent folk circuit. Photo […]

One-night millennium

So how does one go about condensing a millennium’s worth of music into a one-evening performance? Well, singer/songwriter Richard Thompson can’t exactly tell us, as by his own description he was “cheating” when he came up with the title “1,000 Years of Popular Music” for the show that he brings to town on Sunday. What […]

Full-moon fever

While the presence of politics in music can reassure listeners, socially conscious performers always run the risk of alienating and even smothering their audience. Folk singer/songwriter Catie Curtis has always been able to avoid this conundrum by channeling her convictions through an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures. In her writing, Curtis shuttles between politics and […]

Rock for art’s sake

Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to judge a book by its cover. But Menomena has no problem with potential fans judging the band’s music by the cover of its CD. Based in Portland, Ore., the trio considered upwards of 30 ideas for how to package their full-length debut, I Am The Fun Blame Monster! […]

Fightin’ words

Nothing if not purposeful, Meat Puppets leader Curt Kirkwood didn’t have a very difficult time deciding to work with Anodyne, a small Kansas City-based independent label, for the release of the Meat Puppets’ latest album, Rise to Your Knees. Tough love: Curt Kirkwood, left, has made a tenuous peace with younger brother Cris to re-form […]

Music for airports

“Shouldn’t I have mutated from doing this to myself by now?” asks songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird. “What are the side effects of hurling through space?” The world is his living room: In a post-Bowl of Fire world, Andrew Bird’s musical vision still thrives. He’s talking about flying in airplanes, and specifically the aspect of […]

Rasputina: on call

The weight of the world fell on Melora Creager all at once. Weight of the world: Rasputina’s Melora Creager troubles herself about the heavy stuff on her new album. “Like all in one day,” says the leader and principal cellist of Brooklyn chamber-rock band Rasputina. She found out “that September 11th was kind of screwy; […]

Talking a good fight

It’s January, and a brand-new year hovers before us, brimming with all manner of possibilities. But before we catapult into the frenzy of 2006, it’s time to take a breather and reflect on the one that just got away. What do you remember about 2005? In Asheville, civic preoccupations included the continuing tug of war […]

Scattered, smothered, covered … and spanked

“You don’t know what Waffle House is?!?!,” asks an incredulous Wammo, leader and co-lead vocalist of the calamitous all-acoustic Austin ensemble the Asylum Street Spankers. “It’s basically the IHOP of the South,” he explains. “We have one song that has a joke about Waffle House, and sometimes that joke doesn’t fly in the North. That’s […]

Pleased to meta you

Though they’d already established alt-country flagship status by their second album, 1996’s Being There, Wilco’s explosive creative transformation just six years later, exhibited on their 2002 masterpiece, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, would make the band a hip-households name synonymous with artistic exploration and change. Yankee Hotel is a shimmering, sometimes haunted, genre-defying record that propelled the […]

Can’t hardly wait

photo by Miranda Penn Turin w/Patricia Burlingame/ Rare bird: Paul Westerberg still annoys critics, confounds fans and disses reporters, including Saby Reyes-Kulkarni. In 1999, producer Don Was, who had just helmed Paul Westerberg’s third solo album, Suicaine Gratification, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that “if I could have worked with John Lennon at his creative […]

Radio killed the radio star

If you’re going to go fishing for inspiration in the corporate-radio pond, it pays if the fish you catch have compelling quirks to offset their popularity. In the case of Sun Domingo, an unabashedly melodic rock quartet based out of Greenville, S.C., the influence of heavy hitters like Coldplay and U2 is obvious. But Radiohead, […]