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A Review of More Than Free Energy/The Postelles/A B & the Sea @ The Independent...

This is what RAWK should look by Mike Manson
I hate writing live reviews because my overwhelming sense is that I come off sounding like some self-appointed, taste-making blowhard.  The band did this and played that and you should have been there, or, it was a a complete waste of electricity, time, pot, alcohol, and pills.  They were transcendent or suffered from buzzy expectations that were impossibly inflated by jerk-offs like me, who prattle on endlessly about each new band as if they were the answer to prayers that never need to be heard by any deity worth his impossibly inflated status in the human imagination.  Just words pixelated on a web page to be agreed with or differed or derided but never truly necessary.
Scott Wells casting his line... by Mike Manson
What was necessary was the feeling all three bands playing San Francisco's Independent on January 27th created and put out into the Rawk n Roll universe.  Headliner Free Energy, from Philadelphia, are on tour doing one last North American victory lap for one of 2010's "FUNEST" records Free Energy, before returning to the studio to record a follow-up.  This band gets what it means to be young, free, and seem to truly value the opportunity to play their songs in front of an audience.  To call them infectious is an understatement and I always love the way they can transport me back to a time I was barely even old enough to feel nostalgic about.  Let me tell you, there is NO app for making a person feel that way.  And, searching YouTube videos with a detached reverence in the service of seeking ironic throughlines to your generation's "Cheap Trick", that won't cut it either.  Free Energy get this and go for it, mustaches and all!!  Their songs have BIG hooks that can reel in the biggest hipster marlin on stage before an AC/DC-worthy riff clubs them over the head.  There should be a photo of the band proudly displaying the day's catch, holding some skinny-jeaned, colored Ray Ban wearing, iPhone-documenting hipster upside down by his ankles.  Free Energy are the great fisherman of our time and I was happy to be gutted and filleted and tossed on ice with the rest of "iGeneration".

The Postelles embrace Motown and by Mike Manson
NYC's, The Postelles, played a Motown inspired - which seemed inspired by Elvis Costello's Motown inspired album Get Happy - set that was polished and delivered with a dash of self-awareness.  Their songs are extremely consistent and seem destined to provide a soundtrack for young girls who find waify guys that consciously avoid eye contact and fiddle nervously with hats from another era on the top of their soon to be balding heads attractive.  That is not meant to sound snarky, just a reminder that time marches on quickly and being fairly unoriginal in both thought and actions is a precious waste of youthful indiscretion.  Advice to the males in attendance?  Stop being so precious and SACK UP!  These girls want to dance and get laid, not watch you putzing around with gizmos and texting with the people who aren't there with you.

The A B & the by Mike Manson
They grow up so by Robert Celli Jr.
Opener, A B and the Sea from San 
Francisco, were joined on stage by another local band The She's.  The nine people on stage age's barely cracked the century mark but played well beyond their years.  This was both impressive and disappointing.  Impressive in that I don't remember bands having the type of equipment and chops that were on display when I was their age.  Disappointing in that I don't remember bands feeling the need to seem so much older and professional and blase at an age when you should be giving your energy away for FREE- to anyone really, like a shotgun blast of naiveté and not giving a FUCK!  It's hard to complain about the sound, which was dialed in and the songwriting was impressive, but it felt a little soulless.

So there is a kind of review of sorts.
Paul Sprangers knows how to work by Robert Celli Jr.



The Face of the New Nashville: You Won't Find Teardrops on Tristen's Guitar...

The new face of Nashville...
Nashville often gets overlooked by the indie literati due largely to the Disney-like, sequins and fringe hokum of artists like Taylor Swift.  But, just beneath the shiny, aw-shucks toothiness, lies a burgeoning underground of smart singer-songwriters proudly out of step and residing on the periphery of Music City.  One such artist is Tristen, who's first full-length release on American Myth Recordings, Charlatans At The Garden Gate is set for release on February 1st.  She will also be beginning a national tour on January 22nd in her hometown of Nashville that will also - I believe - mark her West Coast debut.  This tour will find her raising her profile at Austin's SXSW.  Tristen (along with fellow "Nashvillians" Caitlin Rose, Natalie Prass, and Those Darlins) combines a lovely voice with a songwriting sensibility that is every bit as cunning and wry as Swift is heavy-handed and obvious.  I heard her song "Eager For Your Love" off an earlier EP, Deceivers Are Achievers, and couldn't get the refrain of "tame that nasty shrew..." out of my head for months.  Look for Tristen to be buzzing big in 2011.  Below is a taste, with her video for "Matchstick Murder" and her performing "Eager For Your Love" live.

Matchstick Murder from Tristen on Vimeo.


BattleHooch Loose on the Streets: A Band, A Van, and A Cam...

San Francisco's Battlehooch living the American Dream...
This weekend the kind folks at BreakThruRadio alerted me to a video by a San Francisco band by the name of Battlehooch.  Battlehooch has been one of those bands that has been on my radar but inexplicably I have yet to see perform live.  Well, after watching their self-made video for the song "Someone to Remind You", I will no longer be depriving myself of witnessing the purveyors of one of the more singular sounds coming out of the Bay Area - and as in the case of the video below, vans.  Battlehooch members seem to number in the dozens and employ some lesser-known instruments de RAWK such as the clarinet and accordion.  Their collective approach and unabashed embrace of both headbands and feathers often lead their sound to be characterized as "Psychedelic " but what truly impresses is their songcraft.  They will be headlining SF's Bottom of the Hill on February 25th with Oakland's No Bunny and the Downer Party as part of the annual Noise Pop Festival.

What is so wonderful about the video below is how creativity and imagination seem to be winning the day over special effects and budget, in an indie music community that has corralled technology in service of the DIY ethos of it's earlier heros.  The video simply places the members of Battlehooch in a slow crawling van as it navigates Brooklyn's Bushwick (the new Williamsburg) neighborhood while they render their song safe in its confines.  That's it!  Great song teamed with the urban landscape motioning by through dirty windows and the unassuming charisma of the band, make for a very enjoyable ride, indeed!  I look forward to more of this marketing aesthetic to continue in 2011 as the word "viral" continues to be uttered and ultimately abused by advertising agencies, marketing departments, and public relations professionals.  This, of course, will lead to the complete subterfuge of the term rendering it meaningless, in which time we will see the glorious return of the 3 million dollar video!!  To every season, turn, turn, turn...In the meantime enjoy this respite from bloat and self-awareness.

A reminder of bloat and self-awarness...