Alt-Nation: A Few Reviews and Shows That Don’t Blow

altI was getting some late spring cleaning done when I came across a couple of releases that I hadn’t had a chance to get to between the summer guide and the music awards editions.  So this month I’ll start with a couple of CD reviews before highlighting some of the big shows coming up in abnormally strong July. After a spring of mostly suck for shows, it’s good to see things picking up in what is traditionally one of the quieter months.  My apologies to the bands for the delays.

Sick Pills – Sickening (75orLess Records)  
Chris Guaraldi’s music endeavors are a tough thing to follow online. One week he’s playing the farewell for his band The Blood Moons, the next week his old band Chris Evil & The Taints reunites to play a show and record a new record in one day. Oh yeah, somewhere in between he has this new band called Sick Pills that just put out their debut release, Sickening. Sick Pills sound closer to the post-punk of The Blood Moons than punk thrash of The Taints. The one thing I notice about the Sickening is the songs blend together a little too seamlessly. There isn’t really anything to distinguish the opening “Wormfood” from the next track “Next To Me.” It’s not like either is bad but they aren’t noteworthy either. “Get Off My Mind” works a little better as a garage rocker that has a Real Kids feel.  “Summer’s Gone” works as kind of garage ballad lamenting the passing of a summer romance. Sickening closes strong with the wistful yearning rock of “Without You” and a cover of the Stone Roses “I Wanna Be Adored. I’m really looking forward to catching Sick Pills live to see how this plays out so someone book them, please.

Comrade Jackson – The Man That Stood Up (POP Records)
Comrade Jackson debut release The Man That Stood Up is also the first release for a new local start of label known as Port of Providence that’s an artist run label and recording studio. As for the music, The Man That Stood Up kicks off with ‘Dust” that comes across as a synth-pop version of My Bloody Valentine. “London Particulars” and “Girl With The Radish Tattoo” come across as Mutations-era Beck throwaway, which I find to be boring. As far as other Beck comparisons, “Sun Don’t Burn” at least sounds closer to his Modern Guilt era, which I prefer. The new wave tinged “Good Time Girl” is the catchiest tune of the bunch. I also like soft verse to loud big chorus that propels “The Good Fight.” The title track of the album makes for a strong closer coming off as a robotic Rob Zombie tripping on ecstasy. The Man That Stood Up is available online at as well as local record stores.

Neo Nouveau – Action Figures
Neo Nouveau are one of those bands that I randomly wonder what the Hell happened to. Don’t know why they stuck with me but caught them in the semi-finals of the 2007 WBRU Rock Hunt where the only thing I really remember from their set was that they did a great cover of Squeeze’s “Pulling Muscles From a Shell.” I’ve never even been much of a Squeeze fan but Neo Nouveau nailed it that night. Anyways a few months ago my “whatever happened to Neo Nouveau” question was answered with news that after an extended hiatus they recorded their 3rd record, Action Figures. I was a little bored by the opening “A Children’s Blues Song.” Then again they don’t make kids’ music like they used to due to the wussification of America. Action Figures picks up steam right after with the hook laden “Anything” and frenetic “After the New Year.” For an audio reference think the pop instincts of Squeeze mixed with indie rock hooks of some combination of Sebadoh meets Buffalo Tom. Neo Nouveau dial it back a notch on “A Voice in the Air” but once again the hooks and the big chorus make it work. I have a hunch this someone in Neo Nouveau really likes Superdrag because that’s probably the closest comparison.  All those bands with names that started with Super in the ’90s were pretty damn good. The same could be said about Neo Nouveau’s new record, Action Figures, pretty damn good.

Shows That Don’t Blow

Twin Forks
Nashville-based melodic folk band TWIN FORKS is coming to Providence as part of a string of headline shows in support of their self-titled debut album that was released in February via Dine Alone Records. Twin Forks delivers a dozen effortlessly uplifting, life-affirming tunes that combine resonant acoustic textures with catchy, celebratory song craft. They’re one of those rare bands whose recordings and live performance are equally impressive.  Twin Forks are recommended for those that enjoy stomp-and-clap folk and bluegrass (Shovels & Rope, The Head And The Heart, Jamestown Revival, The Lone Bellow, The Lumineers).  Front man Chris Carrabba is also the songsmith behind alternative rock stars Dashboard Confessional.
Twin Forks will be at Fete on July 12th.  

NRBQ are in their 47th year of rocking and will return to the Met Café to unite the generations once again on the dance floor.  NRBQ runs all across the gamut of all things rock, pop, jazz, and blues.  NRBQ are respected in the industry and are admired by legends like Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, and Keith Richards.  Their music has been on shows like The Simpsons.  Don’t miss this rare chance to catch a legendary band in an early evening Sunday show in an intimate environment.
NBRQ return to the Met Café of July 18th.  Doors are at 730Pm with the show starting at 830PM.

2nd Annual Pete Theroux Memorial Fest
The 2nd Annual Pete Theroux Memorial Fest will raise money for cancer as well as of course celebrating the life of one of the great supporters of the local music scene.  Expect a lot of hardcore and metal as this will be one loud weekend complete with a set by the legendary Meatmen on Sunday.  There will also be a pig roast on Sunday… Now that doesn’t suck!
2nd Annual Pete Theroux Memorial Fest featuring Suffocation (on Saturday) and The Meatmen (on Sundays happens July 19th-20th at Fete.  The doors are at 6PM Saturday and 3PM on Sunday.

Electric Six
Outside of maybe Dinosaur Jr., this is maybe THE SHOW of the summer.  Electric Six have been my favorite band to go see for about the last decade.  A mix of KISS rocking pomp mixed with disco and throw in some Talking Heads as a chaser.  Electric Six exploded onto the scene with their first record, Fire, in 2001 backed by tunes like “Gay Bar” (YouTube the video) and Danger High Voltage (with the infamous “fire in the disco, fire in the Taco Bell” lyrics and Jack White cameo).  Since then the world has changed but the Electric Six has stayed the same as far as never gaining or losing popularity.  Electric Six continue to release records annually and built up a set lists filled with should have been hits like “Down At McDonnelzzz” (celebrating those afterhours takeovers of fast food joints), “Future is in the Future” (commiserating “if money talks than I’m a mime” and celebrating “karaoke all night long, Macarena till the break of dawn”), and “I Buy the Drugs” (where they provide PO Box address to send your orders).  You won’t find a more charismatic front man in rock ‘n roll than Electric Six’s Dick Valentine.  You also won’t find a better live band for booty shaking rock ‘n’ roll.
Electric Six, Ravi Shavi, VulGarrity, and Satellites Fall bring the fire in the disco to Fete on July 21st.

Weld Square
Weld Square are a New Bedford based power trio who are one of my favorite local bands that I’ve discovered in the past year.  Weld Square bring it by means of old school punk and roll in the vein of something along the line of the Stooges minus Iggy Pop as front man.  Don’t miss one of the local bands on the rise at the Met Café!
Weld Square, Diamond Hill, and Stone Pony will rock the Met Café on July 23rd.

Beck must have enjoyed his time in Rhode Island last summer for the Folk Festival because he’s back after not playing the state for probably 15 years before last year.  Heck, Beck even hung around town for a few days after the festival and practiced at Lupo’s before heading out on tour.  Beck’s touring behind a new album, Morning Phase, which is more of an acoustic album.  Beck is really so talented that he can do whatever the Hell he wants up there and I’d still go.  He still plays the old hits like “Loser” and Where It’s At” as well stuff throughout his career.  It’s going to make for some tough choices with the Folk Festival and Deer Tick all happening the same day.
Beck hits the Providence Performing Arts Center on July 26th.

Few in music have had a weirder career track than Everlast who went from rapping as part of House of Pain on the mega hit “Jump Around” to an acoustic singer songwriter winning Grammys for a Carlos Santana collaboration, “Put Your Lights on.”  I still think the coolest thing Everlast did was get into a feud with Eminen that had them dissing each other back and forth in song.  Expect the acoustic troubadour Everlast at Manchester 65 and the truth is he is pretty good at that.  I even own an album or two.  Plus who would have thought when Everlast was winning Grammys that he’d ever be playing West Warwick?
Everlast and Kris Hansen & Big Jon Tierney play Manchester 65 on July 27th.

Nashville Pussy
It’s always a party when the redneck rock ‘n’ roll circus of Nashville Pussy rolls into town.  Their shows at the old Met Café with their old fire breathing Amazon bassist, Corey Parks, were some of the most memorable I’ve attended.  Straight up sleazy white trash rock ‘n’ roll performed to perfection.  Nashville Pussy’s newest album, Up The Dosage, stands up to anything in their catalogue.  In fact one of the tracks, “The South is Too Fat to Rise Again” may be my favorite Nashville Pussy tune.  Nashville Pussy will be playing as part of Milltown Fest which sounds like something based out of western Mass.  My point is that they can call it whatever they want but I’m just going for Nashville Pussy.
Milltown Fest featuring performances by Nashville Pussy, Filth on The Floor and much more will go down at Fete on July 27th.

Against Me!
The latest record from Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, marked major changes for the band as it is the first record since singer/guitarist went from being Tom Gabel to Laura Jane Grace.  Despite the procedure, by all accounts Laura Jane Grace’s vocals are for the most part unchanged.  Where Against Me was previously noted for their political songs, on the new record as the title suggests the songs explore gender identity.  Despite the gender change and another long time member of the band leaving, I haven’t seen anything online about their live shows losing one bit of intensity.  Expect a charged high intensity show from Against Me when they hit the Met Café at the end of the month.
Against Me!, Creepoid, and Jenny Owen Young will rock the Met on July 30th.

The self proclaimed greatest band in rock ‘n’ roll Supersuckers return for what promised to be another night of raucous mayhem.  The Supersuckers act doesn’t really change much from year to year but they do the punk meets outlaw country act well.  I do miss the days when Eddie Spaghetti and the boys were more of an unknown and there was some element of surprise to their set.  That said… they don’t exactly suck either.  By the end of the night it is a safe bet that everybody will be smiling and swaying while singing along to “Pretty F***ed Up”.
Supersuckers, The McGunks, and The Skinny Millionaires rock Manchester 65 on August 2nd.

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