Alt-Nation: A New Disc and Can’t-Miss Shows

Civility – Self-titled EP

It seems like there has been a recent surge in the amount of post-punk/new wave influenced bands lately. I’m generally ambivalent about trends, but anything that cuts down on the banjo epidemic from the Americana plague is okay by me. Civility started just less than a year ago, and is heavily influenced by this early ’80s wave. If I heard Civility’s EP playing in a bar, I’d be more apt to assume it was a random new wave compilation on the sounds of 1982 than a local band on the rise. The rise is no joke, though. Civility was recently invited to record at the Converse Rubber Tracks Sessions, and those sessions resulted in this EP.

The EP kicks with “Move On,” which has a Joy Division swing. My favorite cut is “Adored” because it reminds me of how much I used to like The Sisters of Mercy in the ’90s. “Changes” sounds like a band constructed by blending the lead guitar from The Cure with the groove of New Order fronted by Peter Murphy from Bauhaus. The slow brooding feel of the closer, “This is Where,” reminds me of Darklands-era Jesus and Mary Chain. It has been a few months since I’ve caught a Civility show, but after hearing this EP I’m really jonesing for another fix.

Club d’Elf – Live at Club Helsinki CD Release featuring John Medeski

Boston Based Club d’Elf come to town celebrate the release of their new double album, Live at Club Helsinki. I suspect this is a live record in name only unless Club d’Elf have the quietest fans in history, which isn’t likely because there is plenty to cheer about here. They describe themselves as one of those ”Moroccan-dosed, dub-jazz collectives” that have just been sprouting like lotus trees everywhere. Club d’Elf got their start when the late Mark Sandman of Morphine encouraged bassist Mike Rivard to form a band that worked in elements of jazz, hip-hop, electronic, avante garde, prog-rock and dub. Club d’Elf’s lineup is a bit of a revolving door, but it’s extra stacked for their Columbus Theatre appearance, which will feature Rivard, Brahim Fribgane, Duke Levine, Mister Rourke, Dean Johnston, and John Medeski of Martin, Wood, and Medeski fame.

The thing I dug about Live at Club Helsinki is it’s like diving into a musical ocean filled with indigenous creatures.  The opener, “Mogador,” is so sprawling through the course of nearly 14 minutes that it has both slow and fast tempo jazz with spacey pro-rock interludes, and that isn’t even half the story. “Africa has more of a rock meets hip-hop performed by a jazz band feel. The Middle Eastern flavor of Hegaz mutates into a synth-propelled power jam. Disc 2 has some jams too, like “Salvia” and my favorite “Green Screen,” which is a brilliantly weird mix of house, funk and jazz. I don’t have the patience to be much of a jazz person but I enjoyed Club d’Elf Live at Club Helsinki.

Club d’Elf celebrates the release of Live at Club Helsinki with a live show at Columbus Theatre on January 13.  Don’t miss Sara Azriel’s opening set.

One Hitters:

The Dean Ween Group

Half of the legendary group Ween, Dean Ween brings his solo band to The Met Café for who knows what?  Solo projects tend to be quirkier, but it is almost impossible to be quirkier than Ween. They’ve done everything from country to metal while getting categorized as eccentric alternative pop. Ween have a rabid cult following, so expect a full house with advance tickets recommended.

The Dean Wean Group and Mike Dillon Vibes rock The Met Café on January 18. 

Lou Reed Cover Show

I don’t even know who is playing this show and I’m stoked! I’ve loved Reed’s work since high school. My favorite  part of Reed’s work is the Velvet Underground material, but he did some great solo albums like Berlin, Sally Can’t Dance, New York and Transformer. My wish for this show is simply for it not to suck. Some of the other tribute shows for recently deceased musicians were just gals and guys with an acoustic guitar that just sounds depressing.  I’d hope that Reed has influenced at least a band or two in this town enough for them to get their shit together and learn a song or two. I’ll buy any band a round that just does a set of consisting of Lulu, Reed’s collaboration with Metallica, because that would just be delightfully weird.

A tribute to the music of Lou Reed goes down at Aurora in Providence on January 25.

Son Little

It seemed like everyone I spoke with at last year’s Newport Folk Fest raved about Son Little as one of the highlights.  I missed his festival performance, but caught him opening for Deer Tick’s festival after party. This show should be a special treat for old fans and soon-to-be converts.

Son Little and Howard play the Columbus Theatre on January 26.

Bombino

Tuareg guitarist Bombino comes to town in support of his recent album, Azel. Bombino’s guitar style mixes African desert folk ablaze with Hendrix like rock ‘n’ roll feel. Bombino sings in his native Tamasheq, which accentuates the global-a-go-go feel. I might not know exactly what Bombino is singing about, but his groove is universal.

Bombino and Ladama play the Columbus Theatre on January 27.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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