Earlier this week, I did an inspection of the new Will’s Pub and it looks like it’s really gonna happen this time, barflies. The place is coming along nicely, with walls painted, coolers in place and the bar framed out. A hard opening date is yet to be set but it’s nigh.

The Beat

On Jan. 22, now local act Ostrich played the Peacock Room, the irony of which sends the head spinning. Comprised of players from the Blue Man Group, this project is a new band, at least to this city. The idea originated in Toronto with a couple players from that city’s Blue Man show. Then, bassist Bruce Gordon was brought down here to start the permanent show at Universal Orlando Resort and he brought the Ostrich project with him.

The concept is to create electronic-sounding music organically – that is, to make a band sound like programmed music – an interesting but possibly dubious goal. Being high-caliber, professional musicians, they were not-so-surprisingly good, only a few times running into the sort of timing problems encountered when the human hand overlaps a machine. At times, their live incarnation of electronic groove forms like trance, downbeat and ambient house really did sound convincing, though it was more than a little weird having a live band in a rock setup make me feel like I was coming down in the chill-out room of a rave. Flick on the fractal projections and you’ve got an after-party. Now pass the Vicks and rub my shoulders.

Speaking of able replication, Who’s Bad?, the Michael Jackson tribute band from Chapel Hill, played The Social Jan. 24 and I was lucky to even get in since the show was 13 and under, ba-dump bump. But seriously, folks, when you’re working with the repertoire of the King of Pop, all you have to do is not suck and you’ll be awesome. And they were, though in all honesty it was the band that carried the performance. No diss to MJ impersonator Joseph Bell Jr. – he was passable – but it was the band’s lively aptitude that kept the party up.

Later, over at Club Firestone, Wu-Tang Clan had the house on fire, which was no shock considering their legacy. I was pretty lit by the time I got there, so I’m not gonna bullshit you with fabricated in-depth analysis, but I will say that despite having about 37 dudes with mics up there, they didn’t sound dog-piled. So how come in most other rap acts – and by most I mean 98 percent – putting a mic in the hands of more than, say, ONE guy, means suckas tripping all over each other like the fucking Keystone Cops? Seriously, answer me that. All the more ups to the Wu for knowing how to hit that groove.

On Jan. 21, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings got seriously live at the Social. Then again, how can you not when your roster’s packing a powerhouse like Jones, who’s a one-woman wrecking ball of raw soul. The full house reflected how big of a juggernaut they’ve become. It is unquestionably a good thing that attention is being pointed this way instead of the other astoundingly soulless – yet seemingly infinite – R&B options forced upon us by BET. I only wish it didn’t require a strict retread of vintage styles. Then again, that is how low R&B has tumbled.

Cop This

One preggers week:

Xiu Xiu, Women as Lovers (Kill Rock Stars). Their avant-pop is lovely and terrifying at the same time and is some of the most brilliantly conceived music being made. Dig that cover of “Under Pressure” with Swans’ Michael Gira.

Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (XL Recordings). This much-anticipated debut charms with jaunty, atmospheric indie pop and refreshing African currents. They’ve got “next big thing” written all over them and they’re playing the Social March 6 with the Walkmen.

The Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead (Sub Pop). If you can get over how jarringly different this stately dream-pop is from the band’s Oasis-in-a-junkyard sound of before, you’ll find it to be a polished work of maturity and elegance.

Dub Trio, Another Sound Is Dying (Ipecac Recordings). The most aggressive take on their fiercely original metal-meets-riddims formula yet.

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About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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