This Little Underground

Typically, I prefer to say things my own way

Typically, I prefer to say things my own way. But when someone else puts it nicely, I’ll defer. This time, it’s to Yeasayer’s Anand Wilder for his response to Kanye’s bizarre “apology” to Dubya via the blog of Das Racist rapper Himanshu Suri, in which Wilder states, “Will you please stop apologizing for outbursts which concisely expressed what every sane person was thinking? Why are you apologizing to George W. Bush for hurting his feelings? Why didn’t you say something cool like, ‘Fuck no I won’t apologize to that racist asshole unless he apologizes for fucking up the world!’” Now that’s how you shine on, you crazy diamond. 

The beat

I love the jump in volume Orlando’s Great Deceivers have taken. I wasn’t sure if their rock-forward performance at Indie Summer Fest was an aberration, but their recent show (Nov. 7, Back Booth) indicates that it may be here to stay. And that’s a good thing because it really gives their sound some balls. Their easy-sipping sadcore has always been a contemplative pleasure, but it has finally achieved liftoff with a deep, persuasive rumble. Now maybe they won’t just be an insider’s band and will get the bigger due they deserve.

Tallahassee standouts Holiday Shores have also undergone some significant growth and definition, flashing newfound dance-floor savvy and even some sophisti-pop snappiness. They’re more confident and constructed, finally moving beyond the debatable Animal Collective fallout and into something more punctuated and kinetic.

Brooklyn headliners Bear Hands have gained some underground buzz lately. But all it takes is one listen to their excellent new debut album to realize it’s only a matter of time for their slinky, dynamic rock to blow up. It’s a tight, current sound that they nailed live in a crisp, active set. Keep your eye on these guys.

New York state alt-country band Felice Brothers (Nov. 8, the Social) delivered a spirited but overly shambolic set. Everyone gets credit here for going pedal-to-the-metal but points are deducted when the wheels are flying off at every turn. They went whole 
hog all right; it’s just that too little of it 
landed convincingly.

Totally stealing the show was the superior expressional focus of San Francisco opener Adam Haworth Stephens, frontman for the excellent Two Gallants. Although I absolutely love the dude’s voice, I much prefer the scrappy vibrancy of the lo-fi Two Gallants sound over his new, more waxed solo material. But thankfully, he brought a full band that lent roughness and horsepower to the too-mellow elements of his songs. It’s not that his voice needs any help – it’s already one of the best voices in alt-folk by miles – it just needs a more complementary setting. And this was definitely it.

Speaking of robust live bands, Montreal’s Wolf Parade (Nov. 9, the Social) get a ton of run for just a quartet. They’re one of those highly layered bands that somehow manage to render their complex sound with incredible fullness. This performance was poundingly melodic and emotionally urgent, proving they are one of the most finished and complete acts around. Their latest trajectory strongly suggests a band just now 
hitting its stride on its way to being an indie-rock colossus.

The story of how opener Ogre You Asshole got its name is actually a pretty funny one that involves a chance street encounter with a drunken Eric Judy (Modest Mouse), so look it up. Besides that, and the fact that Johnny Marr hearts ’em, what else do you need to know about this indie rock band? Well, they’re pretty good, they’re Japanese and their brisk songs are on the adorable side (of course). Despite being probably in his early 20s, singer Manabu Deto looks about 15 and sounds about 11 (of course). Yo, I’m not the only one working stereotypes here. Not even five minutes after they got off stage, some chick mistook me for the guitarist. Classic! But anyway, they’re lovably sparkling and totally rocked the crowd.

Even more than Wolf Parade, Austin’s Black Angels (Nov. 13, the Social) is a group that knows how to replicate its uniquely rich sound with astounding fidelity live. No matter where you are in the room, their thick sound makes it feel like the speakers are two inches from your face. And that’s a great thing when a band’s purpose is this intense and deadly.


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