Dec 072011

There’s nothing particularly holiday-like about this installment of the NoC music calendar. I’m just calling it that to encourage you to spend more money.

And here’s what you should spend your money on, since we’re on the topic: bagels. Specifically, the bagels at Great Bagel, located in the University Plaza strip row of stores on Woodland Avenue, right on the corner next to the Subway. I went there for lunch today, and my goodness, that’s a good bagel. I had the club on onion, and I could’ve eaten four of them. And the brownies are superb.

I bring this because I’m an east coaster and I miss good bagel shops, and now I’ve got one just around the corner from me, and I don’t want it to disappear. It’ll be tough, because you Lutherans and Presbyterians evidently know nothing of bagels and won’t patronize the place, and it’s also in that cursed location where nobody lasts a year. So I’m doing my part: go get some bagels. Continue reading »

Nov 232011

Since the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, we in the NoC music department have had some difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 23


Cosmic Charlie’s; 388 Woodland. 10 P.M.

Those who command magic are to be praised or feared, depending on how they choose to wield their talent, for they are powerful beings and at a whim can aid or hinder the causes of common folk such as you and I. Continue reading »

Nov 092011

Wednesday, November 9

Buster’s; 899 Manchester. 8:30 P.M.

For 20 years, the jammiest of the jam bands have toured relentlessly, building the grassiest of grass-roots fanbases. I don’t know anyone who owns any of their albums, nor anyone who can even name a particular song, though I’m sure those people exist. Then again, with music like moe.’s, songs and albums are nothing more than arbitrary divisions of the never-ending groove.

Kentucky Theater; 214 E. Main. 8 P.M.

This show costs $27.50. I bring this up because even though we don’t usually print ticket prices herein—the idea is that the cost of art is irrelevant when considering whether to consume it, and that most shows in Lexington are pretty cheap anyway—this particular price caught me off guard.

Now, I am old, but hear me out: I saw Clapton in an arena, 10-row floor seats, for $22. That’s 22 smackers to sit no more than 30 feet from Slowhand himself. This was 1990, on the Journeyman tour. Nathan East did a haunting “Can’t Find My Way Home” on vocals and electric upright bass. Then Eric encored with “Cocaine.” $22. Continue reading »

Sep 282011

Hi. Buck Edwards here. I’m your NoC Music Editor. Normally, as longtime readers know, I fill this space with all sorts of clever writing about upcoming shows, but frankly, I don’t feel like doing that this issue. I’m pretty down on music, as it turns out. It’s only temporary—don’t worry!—but right now I’m just not in the mood.

What happened is that my favorite Scandinavian progressive/goth/melodic death metal band, Sweden’s Opeth, just released a new album, Heritage, that frankly isn’t very good. Not only is it not very good, it isn’t even metal. Like, at all. Instead, it’s seventies-style progressive rock, in the vein of King Crimson, or Camel. One song sounds just like Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Continue reading »

Aug 102011

Thursday, August 11

Ben Lacy

Cheapside; 131 Cheapside. 9 P.M.

Ben Lacy’s guitar prowess is such that many who hear him play experience an extreme emotional response as a result, such as intense crying jags, fits of cackling laughter, alternating terror and ecstasy—that sort of thing. Attending his performances thus feels a bit like staring into the face of God; you’re overcome with awe, your senses explode and then dim forever, and you end up drooling in a ditch, unresponsive to stimuli.

And that’s why Ben Lacy needs a new name. I mean, “Ben Lacy” is a perfectly pleasant moniker: “Ben” is a welcoming word, similar to the French “bien” and “bon,” and evocative of the Sanskrit root “bhanu,” the Sun, while “Lacy” is a seductive, Latinate thing. When you hear them together you think, oh, he’s a really nice guy, I bet, and you probably smile and think about your loved ones, and of hugging them. Mm. Continue reading »

Jul 272011

Friday, August 5

The Butchers with Idiot Glee

Al’s Bar;  601 N. Limestone. 10 P.M.

So I went to the Steely Dan show up in Cincinnati this past week, and on the drive up 75 I was almost frantic with excitement about it, because while I fell in love with the music years ago I’d never managed to catch them live, until now.

I’d taken along Ron, my pal who listens exclusively to prog, metal, and prog-metal, and who hadn’t yet awakened to the Dan’s genius: the jazz chords; the virtuosic soloing; the jaded, biting lyrics; the pristine, precise sound production. Maybe, I thought, seeing the band live would flip the switch, so to speak, and he’d come to love the band too. We all evangelize for our favorites, don’t we? Continue reading »

Jul 132011

Thursday, July 14

Jacykl with The Nigel Dupree Band and Switchmen
Buster’s; 899 Manchester. 9 P.M.

When we were still impressionable youths, under Reagan, we decided, all of us, that we were going to like, listen to, and purchase music produced by blow-dried, androgynous men wearing spandex trousers and sequinned vests. So we did, and that arrangement carried on for the best part of the decade. But the quality of the music declined over time: early Crüe gave way to early Posion gave way to early Warrant, or just Warrant in totality. So goes rock ‘n roll, in cycles. And since this cycle of rock had reached low ebb by ‘89 or so, we realized we wanted something new, something serious. Something to reflect the gravity of the times.

Well, as you know, what happened is that we decided the blow-drying and androgyny had to go, and with them the cartoonish lyrics and sophomoric subject matter, because in ‘89 the world was changing, sometimes in unsettling ways. We needed rock tough enough to carry us through uncertain, unstable times. Kip Winger didn’t write that music, you know? Continue reading »

Jun 222011

Thursday, June 30

Warren Byrom
Al’s Bar; 601 N. Limestone. 7 P.M.

Byrom plays selections from his recent release, The Fabled Canelands. See the accompanying review.

JJ Grey & Mofro
Buster’s, 899 Manchester St. 8:39 P.M.

Out of the north Florida swamps rises Mr. Grey, his harp, and a motley squad of southern-rock virtuosi.

See what I was trying to do with that sentence? Continue reading »

May 242011

Sunday, May 29

These United States with Onward Pilgrim and Palisades

Cosmic Charlie’s; 388 Woodland. 9 P.M.

These are three of the best local-ish pop/rock bands with dual specialties in melodic invention and dirty, atmospheric guitar work you’ll find here or anywhere, or at least in cities of comparable size and culture. Obviously if you went to some huge city, Calcutta maybe, with its tens of millions of people, you might find some number of melodic, atmospheric pop/rock bands greater than just the three playing this upcoming gig here in Lexington, but I’ve never been to Calcutta; it’s possible they only have one or two, or maybe none at all. They might have 100! Even so, they might not be as melodically inventive as These United States, Onward Pilgrim, or Palisades, nor as dirty. And it’s a moot point anyway, because the Calcutta-based bands probably sing in Bengali and let’s face it: we’re American, and we’re not gonna voluntarily listen to somebody sing in Bengali.

I’ve read now on Wikipedia that the name is officially “Kolkata,” no longer Calcutta, much as at some point Bombay became “Mumbai.” The name of the Kenneth Tynan musical, however, is unchanged. As is the name of Bacardi’s distilled gin, and that’s important, because in a loud, crowded venue such as Cosmic Charlie’s is likely to be when These United States, Onward Pilgrim, and Palisades play there Sunday night, the 29th, the speed with which your bar drink will be delivered to you depends a lot on the name of the drink you’ve ordered: names consisting of hard, cutting, and/or shrill sounds connect with the bartender’s ears much more readily than soft, vowelly, low sounds. This is why I always order “Jack, rocks” when in a noisy venue; the consonance gets me what I want with a minimum of fuss. And while shouting “B-uh-omm-b-uh-aaayyy mart-ih-eeeeeeeniiiii” at the bartender isn’t ideal, it’s better than “Mumbai”—the word is two letters away from “mumble,” after all.

In fact pop/rock bands from Calcutta…er…Kolkata probably do sing in English. Across the world, English lyrics are the ticket to the big time, or so the world seems to believe. The notable exceptions are Rammstein and French rappers: the former employs German as an assertion of agency, and as an embrace of social and political otherness in pop music’s English-speaking hegemony, while the latter are just, well, French.

American and British acts do occasionally sing in other languages besides English, usually to enhance romantic effect, as with The Beatles’ “Michelle” and Stevie Wonder’s “Ma Cherie Amour,” or to identify with an oppressed people, as with The Band’s “Acadian Driftwood” or portions of Zack de la Rocha’s solo work. Then there are those songs you wish were sung in other languages, if only because your enjoyment of them would immeasurably increase if you didn’t understand the words. Here are a few examples, courtesy of Google Translate:

07:00, svegliarsi la mattina
Gotta essere freschi, devo andare al piano di sotto
Devo avere la mia ciotola, devo avere dei cereali
Seein ‘tutto, il tempo è goin’
Tickin ‘ancora e ancora, scorrendo tutti’
Gotta scendere alla fermata del bus
Devo prendere il mio autobus, vedo i miei amici (miei amici)

Ah, Italian, the most beautiful of all tongues. Here’s another:

Så håll i de som verkligen bryr sig
I slutändan kommer de att vara de enda som finns
När du blir gammal och börjar tappa håret
Kan du berätta som fortfarande kommer att bry sig
Kan du berätta som fortfarande kommer att bry sig

Mmm bop, ba Duba DOP
Ba du bop, ba Duba DOP
Ba du bop, ba Duba DOP

The Swedes all sing in English, so why not return the favor? One more; see if you can guess.

Aš dėl šlovės kraštas
Ir aš kabinti ant tiesos momentas
Ant šlovės kraštas
Ir aš kabinti ant metu su Jumis
I’m on kraštas
Aš dėl šlovės kraštas
Ir aš kabinti ant metu su Jumis
I’m on su jumis kraštas

The original is noxious, but the Lithuanian less so, though it’s probably not a very accurate translation. And no, I don’t know why Google can’t find the words for “I’m on,” unless decades of Soviet occupation succeeded in erasing first-person pronouns from the language in the name of utopian collectivism.

Of course, oftentimes the problem with Anglo-American pop music isn’t so much the language in which it’s sung, but the perspective it tries to foist upon us. Here I’m obviously referring to the folksy, quirky, light-hearted-but-environmentally-conscious-and-socially-progressive crap that advertising agencies think will make us buy their folksy, quirky, light-hearted-but-blah-blah-blah products, such as Volkswagen cars and Apple devices. Usually there’s a finger-plucked acoustic guitar, maybe some hand percussion, and a metrosexual male in a sing-song tenor half-whispering some environmentally conscious and socially progressive bullshit. Drive the new Touareg, the ads tell us, with its built-in iPhone dock and soy-latte-sized cup holder, and your children will do well in math and science and seek non-violent conflict resolution strategies with bullies on the playground.

And yet some still wonder why I hate white people.

Not all of them, obviously. The members of These United States, Onward Pilgrim, and Palisades are all white, and they’re good people. And it’s not really individual white people, or even white people considered individually—it’s just whiteness generally, and the toll it takes on all of us.

What’s especially galling is when the powers that be try to disguise their narrative of whiteness behind a non-white face or two: a smiling young Hispanic couple shown shopping for a hybrid, for example, or the gratuitous insertion of a black rapper into an otherwise horrifyingly white music video (see “Venerdi,” above). That’s not to say non-whites can’t or don’t drive hybrids, but they don’t do so in order to advertise their light-hearted quirkiness. Or at least they shouldn’t.