Last year, when Earl Greyhound played One Eyed Jacks to a sparse audience, it seemed impossible not to notice that each member of the Brooklyn-based trio looked more than a little bit like an icon of rock. Sultry bassist Kamara Thomas, in dashiki, crazed Afro and hot pants, looked like '70s funk siren Betty Davis (or Jimi Hendrix) as she faced off with guitarist Matt Whyte " a long and lanky drink of water with floppy dirty-blond locks who resembles Gram Parsons. And Ricc Sheridan, the band's heavyweight champ of a drummer, only needed tattoos to win an Aaron Neville costume contest in his neatly cropped 'fro and denim vest. Sure, it's Halloween " this time. But the classic-rock doppelganger look is only the tip of the iceberg because Earl Greyhound proved itself capable (at that gig and on the thunderous 2006 release Soft Targets) of raising the dead in more ways than one.
Whyte and Thomas formed Earl Greyhound in 2002 as a guitar-and-piano duo, but it was the addition of Sheridan and his mighty, John Bonham-style pounding that turned the band into the quintessential power trio it is today. Soft Targets is a chugging, smoke-belching locomotive of rock that barrels through your brain with unrelenting power and speed. Its sound comes from the flashpoint where tripped-out cosmic blues met the earliest whisperings of heavy metal for a shocking and incendiary chemical reaction, with just enough glitter to make it shine " regal as Queen, carnivorous as T. Rex, intoxicating as Blue Cheer and thick as a brick.
Thomas and Whyte's vocal interplay has been oft-compared to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris' duets, but there's nothing sweet or countrified about them. The rough and ethereal tones of their voices interweave above a dense wall of sound that's heavy as Led. Soft Targets is a sonic assault of old-school rock that'll make you bang your head and drive fast, but the real treat is the stage show, when Whyte and Tamara face off and dive headfirst into long, roiling psychedelic guitar explorations, grinning like they're having more fun than you could possibly imagine. After this, you'll all be swearing you were at that gig last year. Poseur. " Fensterstock
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
4:55 p.m. 5:55 p.m. Fri., Oct. 26
First they were called imitators. Then they were called pretenders. For the first part of their career, it seemed the guys in Black Rebel Motorcycle Club couldn't win: The Los Angeles band made its name building sturdy walls of sound on its self-titled first record (2000) and its sophomore effort, Take Them On, On Your Own (2003), but faced criticism for following too closely in the footsteps of U.K. shoegaze inspirations like the Stone Roses and the Jesus and Mary Chain. When it tore down those walls of sound " leaving big-ticket Virgin Records for the small Sony subsidiary Red Ink on 2005's largely acoustic, Americana-laden Howl " co-frontmen Robert Turner and Peter Hayes were accused of ripping pages out of the God-fearing hymnbooks of Mahalia Jackson and Johnny Cash. After a trip down the Thames and a baptizing dip in the Mississippi Delta, the black-clad rockers appeared primed to come clean on the May release Baby 81 (Sony). Instead, the record returned to the big, ballsy trappings of its first two releases. Snide and full of grandstanding, arena-rock pride, Baby only raises more questions about the group's true identity. Perhaps that was the plan all along. -- Pais
5:30 p.m. 6:45 p.m. Fri., Oct. 26
Citi Presents the Bingo! Parlour
Singer, guitarist and theremin player Steph Paynes was touring in Ronnie Spector's band when the idea to play Zeppelin hit her like 'divine intervention," she says via email. 'I was just lounging around on the couch listening to Led Zep, and in this moment of pure joy it suddenly struck me: If I could follow my bliss and play any kind of music in the whole world, what would it be? The answer, obviously: Led Zeppelin."
Then she found that other women shared the same desire. Sarah McLellan had been the vocalist for a Harley Davidson rock tour and the Queen musical We Will Rock You. Helen Destroy had been the drummer of the all-female punk outfit the Lunachicks, and Lisa Brigantino was a classically trained singer/songwriter. Together they became Lez Zeppelin.
The name has nothing to do with sexual orientation or irony, says Paynes. Instead, it throws down the gauntlet of four women taking on testosterone-driven cock rock. 'I not only think it opens up the songs for some who would be too feckless to approach it otherwise " for fear of diving into some "male' bastion " but I think it opens up a whole world of possibilities about what female musicians are interested in and capable of doing," Paynes says.
The band built a repertoire of more than 35 songs and even roped in engineer Eddie Kramer, famous for his work on the Zeppelin albums Led Zeppelin II, Houses of the Holy, The Song Remains the Same and Physical Graffiti. 'It's really almost impossible to describe the rather surreal and marvelous moments we had with him in the studio, where we'd be thick in the middle of some take or solo and hear his voice " that very same voice at the beginning of "Black Country Woman' " come back at us through the cans: "Rolling!'" The attention to detail has paid off. Following Voodoo the band is taking off for its third European tour this year.
And if you're a hardcore Zeppelinite who's wondering, they do not do 'Stairway." Destroy does, however, do the barehanded drumming bit in the solo of 'Moby Dick." " Clark
JJ Grey and MOFRO
5:45 p.m. 7 p.m. Fri., Oct. 26
Something makes MOFRO's music sound Southern. Part of it is the spare-but-not-spooky instrumentation and arrangements. Some of it is the well-placed yet not overused slide guitar. There's the way harmonica player and singer JJ Grey pushes his voice at the edge of its range, but always pulls it back before it gets harsh, giving it a soulful tinge. His open, Southern accent with a hint of drawl helps, too. All of this adds up to a band that is coming into its own both on its recordings and playing live.
MOFRO started in Jacksonville, Fla., where JJ Grey and boyhood friend and fellow MOFRO member Daryl Hance grew up. Both of them took advantage of the swamps and lakes near them and had their share of fishing and hanging in Jacksonville's natural elements. They also hung out eating barbecue and listening to soul music in juke joints.
The band formed when Grey and Hance went to London to pursue a record deal, though that eventually fell through. They found bass player Fabrice Quentin and Australian keyboardist Nathan Shepherd. Fog City Records Svengali Dan Prothero (Galactic, Robert Walter's 20th Congress) signed them and produced three records that are full of laid-back funk thick as the fatback that flavors your greens. The records (Blackwater, Lochloosa and the latest, Country Ghetto) are full of references to the South and life north of the Gulf of Mexico. There's a little bit of Tony Joe White, Sly Stone, Jerry Reed and Little Feat in the way the band combines down-home blues and sophisticated soul. Grey's lyrics pay great attention to detail and narrative, as in the imagery in 'The Sun Is Shining Down" and 'Turpentine" off Country Ghetto. In interviews, Grey says, 'I love the natural world and I feel sometimes it can be overwhelming. I feel like it's the only thing left that's real in day-to-day living." But this is not anything like a new-age appreciation of the world around him. As he says on his debut record amid swirling organ and pumping drums, 'I love it all / I just got to holler / It tastes so dad-blame good / I can't even swallow!" Get loose! " Kunian
Kings of Leon
6:55 p.m. 8:10 p.m. Fri., Oct. 26
The son-of-a-preacher-man turned holy-rock-n-roller bit is not new, but the newest version in the world of major labels brings us three young sons who grew up traveling the deep South with their Pentecostal minister father. Kings of Leon frontman/guitarist and international heartthrob) Caleb Followill (and brothers Nathan and Jared are even joined by first cousin Matthew. The band's music and aesthetic have been based and largely promoted on those formative years of their lives. 'We liked church," Caleb recently told MAGNET magazine. 'To this day, I'm scared of it, but onstage it's what we go for " trying to get as close to church as possible. We all know that we're far from the people we should be, but The best music in the world is when the person is either running toward God or away from him." The boys' running (away, for the record) led to them to such stardom that (in every country but ours) the Followills are forced to travel with bodyguards. They recently settled in a quiet nook of Nashville, which gave them the artistic solitude in which to record April's Because of the Times. It's an attempt to establish the Kings as more than just the post-emo Black Crowes.
All in their early 20s upon the release of their first album, Youth and Young Manhood, the boys were at first pushed by the record industry toward a mix of southern rock with country leanings. In many interviews since, Caleb has been quick to point out, 'We're pretty young, and musically on the first album we were scared of what we were doing." Over the course of three albums, the members learned to write songs, mastered their instruments and delved into their own complexity. The second album, the more bursting and growling Aha Shake Heartbreak, found the band paired with producer Angelo Petraglia, who had co-written songs with Brooks & Dunn and Trisha Yearwood. Petraglia played the Rolling Stones for them for the first time. This partnership opened the band's eyes to its own potential, and pushed it towards a more dynamic, sometimes dissonant but always tightly controlled arena-rock style, performed in total ernest. Actual arena tours with U2, Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam helped to broaden and inflate the newest offering, which takes its title from an annual preacher's conference they visited as boys. What path they follow remains to be seen. " Welch
Toots and the Maytals
7:30 p.m. 9 p.m. Fri., Oct. 26
The word 'reggae" was initially a Jamaican ghetto term meaning 'raggedy, everyday things," says Frederick 'Toots" Hibbert, legendary lead singer of Kingston group Toots and the Maytals. The band's biography credits the Maytals with the first use of the word in a musical context for the 1968 single 'Do the Reggay." Toots and the Maytal's classic, original combination of gospel, soul, reggae and rock might be better suited for Jazz Fest than Voodoo, though the kids do like their ska, and Hibbert began his musical journey in that genre's faster tempo.
An early '60s version of the Maytals saw Hibbert's tight, three-part gospel harmonies backed by the legendary Skatalites. The Maytals later recorded with producer Clement 'Coxsone" Dodd at famous Studio One, and went on to work with " and help establish the legend of " nearly every Jamaican reggae genius in the canon: Prince Buster, Byron Lee, Leslie Kong, Lee Perry. Near the end of the '60s, as the Rastafari religion took hold of Jamaica and ska became reggae, the beat slowed down with every puff. For Hibbert it slowed to a stop in 1966 when, at the height of his group's popularity, he spent 18 months in prison for marijuana possession. Upon his release, Hibbert penned the famous jail anthem, '54-46 Was My Number," and the group's international popularity exploded with the inclusion of their songs 'Pressure Drop" and 'Sweet and Dandy" in the 1972 Jimmy Cliff film, The Harder They Come. After several more fruitful years, Hibbert broke-up the Maytals in 1981 to pursue a successful international solo career.
The fairly recent worldwide yet terribly abrasive ska revival taught a whole new generation of teenagers about Toots and the Maytals, and in the early '90s Hibbert concocted the group's current incarnation. The new Maytals have gone on to win a 2005 Grammy for best reggae album (True Love), a collection of re-recorded Toots classics, aided by legendary oldsters Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, plus hot passengers on the youth-market caravan: No Doubt, Shaggy, the Roots and Ben Harper. All told, Hibbert and his groups have released more than two dozen albums in the last 40-odd years, yet younger American hipsters may more easily recognize the Maytals from the 2006 reggae/ska version of 'Let Down," recorded for the Radiohead tribute album Radiodread, which has become ubiquitous in Urban Outfitter stores worldwide. Not exactly the idea behind the one-world mantra. " Welch
8:10 p.m. 9: 10 p.m. Fri., Oct. 26
'Coming back with power-power." So begins 'Bamboo Banga," the combustive intro track on M.I.A.'s newest album, Kala (Interscope). The song launches the strong-to-the-finish album like a torpedo " aimed at the hordes of music critics and bloggers who have been gnawing their fingernails for the last two years, many predicting that M.I.A. would hit a sophomore slump with the second LP.
She had lot to live up to. With her 2005 indie debut, the then 28-year old Sri Lanka-cum-London native exploded out of the south London club scene by giving pop music a well-needed kick in the ass. The album, Arular (XL/Beggars), has been referred to as a 'sonic collage" that plucks influences from across the spectrum and globe, including baile funk, grime, dancehall, '80s synth-pop, electroclash, punk and disco. The album never solidly hit mainstream status, but the club scene and Internet exposure managed to push sales to more than 130,000 copies. Not bad for an album that she says she made on a Roland MC-505 groovebox.
The material on Kala reaches farther and pushes boundaries even harder. It has what M.I.A. herself describes as a real Third World feel. The album was scheduled to be recorded in the U.S. with hip-hop heavyweight Timbaland (who did work on a couple of tracks, though his ode-to-the-booty-call vocals on 'Come Around" have a discordant feel), but for reasons unclear to her " but possibly stemming from her father's involvement with the Tamil Tigers, a militant Sri Lankan separatist group " M.I.A. was refused a long-term visa to the U.S. So she packed her bags and headed to India, where she recorded most of the album using Bollywood musicians and native drummers. Also included in this global stew is 'Mango Pickle Down River," a droning didgeridoo-driven rap compliments of the Wilcannia Mob, a quintet of pre-adolescent rappers from New South Wales, Australia. The Third-Worldliness is interwoven with a just-as-present punk feel that pops up in samples of the Clash's 'Straight to Hell" and New Order's 'Blue Monday" as well as lyrical nods to the Pixies and Jonathan Richman. 'I didn't know about indie until college," she says in the fall issue of VenusZine. 'I grew up with dancehall and hip-hop. I liked the lyrics of indie music; they were so cool, different from the topics hip-hop always covered. [Indie has] given me a real 'If you don't like it, f*** you" feeling to what I'm doing."
Fortunately, her visa did come through, and M.I.A. has been beating the highway hard on her first U.S. tour in years. " Clark
Rage Against the Machine
9:10 until, Fri., Oct. 26
Batten down the hatches. In the seven years between its breakup and tentative reformation, Rage Against The Machine's ire has hardly dimmed. In fact, based on reports of gigs since the history-making reunion last spring, it appears that while dormant, the band has been stoking the fires of its radical bile and metal-machine-monster activist zeal. Rage took a break, nobody stormed the castles of privilege and injustice and now Tom Morello is angry. (At Coachella, MTVNews asked Morello the reason for a RATM reunion; Morello replied, 'To deliver a knockout blow to the Bush administration.") Blame yourselves and fasten your seatbelts.
Formed in Orange County, Calif., " the Reagan-era hotbed of loud, fast and snotty punk rock " RATM blasted onto the scene in the early '90s with a revolutionary, bombastic combination of hard rock, hip-hop and metal, grinding in a violent maelstrom under fiercely revolutionary lyrics exhorting people to rise up in no uncertain terms. Among other things, it wanted to free Mumia, Tibet and Leonard Peltier, and it managed to go to the top of the Billboard charts doing it " proving that platinum sales and polemics could mix. The sheer force of its titanium-heavy thrash rather than radical lyrics may have drawn legions of fans, but even so, all those royalty checks regularly found their way into the coffers of right-on organizations like Rock for Choice, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and the United Farm Workers. The band also has the unique distinction of having supported both Suicidal Tendencies and the Wu-Tang Clan on tour, fusing the blistering power of rap and metal before it was de rigeur listening for every suburban middle-school student with an iPod. More than one band member boasts multiple arrests " not for traditional rock-star shenanigans like drug-snorting or mishandling groupies " for civil disobedience.
While Morello has been busying himself for the past few years with the acclaimed project Audioslave, he has taken a different political tack, performing solo acoustic " '60s-protest-singer-style " as the Nighwatchman. He came to New Orleans last fall to play a benefit show and tour the Katrina wreckage. Lately, he may be thinking that it takes a little more firepower than insightful strumming to change the world. Bush is nearly out of office, but just to make sure, Rage Against The Machine is back with a flaming s**tstorm of liberal consciousness " and an evilly delicious soundtrack for the revolution. " Fensterstock
3:15 p.m. 4:15 p.m. Sat., Oct. 27
Twenty years after her debut album, 1987's The Lion and the Cobra, Sinead O'Connor is 40 and looks preternaturally young. With her downy buzz cut and huge doe eyes, she seems to have barely aged since recording her Prince-penned 1989 blockbuster 'Nothing Compares 2 U," the wrenching power of which probably still has audiences wringing out their hankies.
Certainly her babyish looks give pause to the conceit that controversy ages a person, since the Irish firebrand has stirred up much more than her share over the years. Counting the contradictions that shroud her like a Dublin fog is a project in itself. She's retired from the music business almost as many times as she's put out records. In 1992, she colorfully pronounced, 'I'm not writing any more f***ing songs, and I'm not singing any more f***ing songs," a little more than a year before dropping her fourth record, Universal Mother. She pulled the same switcheroo in 2003, shortly before the release of She Who Dwells a two-disc compilation of unreleased and live material culled from her vaults. She came out publicly as a lesbian in 2000, and then married her second husband a year later " all after having taken a vow of celibacy in 1999 in a short-lived plan to become a priest in an alternative U.K. church. That was after an act that stands as possibly the most scandalous event in '90s rock history: ripping a picture of Pope John Paul II down the middle on national television in protest of child abuse in the Catholic Church.
By the time she withdrew her name from Grammy consideration after four nominations, refused to perform in New Jersey if the 'Star-Spangled Banner" was played before the gig (earning threats of an ass-kicking from Garden State native Frank Sinatra) and declined an invitation to play on Saturday Night Live in protest of guest host Andrew Dice Clay's tasteless misogyny (even before the pope-ripping incident) she'd become a well-known problem child. All that notwithstanding, the famously fickle O'Connor's iconoclasm and outspokenness was also a breath of fresh air in the late '80s and early '90s, a last gasp of punk rock politics in the mainstream, or a harbinger of Riot Grrl to come. In recent years, after a long, gradual withdrawal from public life and a stint learning opera singing, her few, un-trumpeted releases have revealed less of a seething radical and more of a spiritual seeker.
Her new album Theology is a two-disc set that's actually mirror-image imaginings of the same set; one with a full band and the other with nothing but an acoustic guitar and the full-on tidal wave of her voice and its undimmed soul-wrenching power. Theology takes on religious song in the broadest sense from pop (Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber's 'I Don't Know How to Love Him," from Jesus Christ Superstar) to the Rastafari-influenced 'The Glory of Jah" (O'Connor has had a long involvement with Jamaican music and spirituality) to Curtis Mayfield's integration anthem 'We People Who Are Darker Than Blue." From pop star to pariah and now pilgrim, one thing Sinead O'Connor never fails to do is surprise. " Fensterstock
6:30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 27
Listening to any of Spoon's uniformly slick, sleek LPs, it's not much of a stretch to imagine the band as modern music's equivalent of a Maserati: a high-performance indie-rock engine cruising along effortlessly at 80 hooks per album. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge), the Austin group's sixth and most recent full-length release, does nothing but affirm the race-car analogy. Full of complex interlocking pieces that reveal themselves not as parts but as a whirring, whizzing whole, the record crosses genres like parish lines, from the sultry R&B sway of 'Rhthm & Soul" to the faux-reggae 'Eddie's Ragga."
Surprisingly, it all still sounds like Spoon, which is to say that it's a case study in contradicting pop conventions. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is radio-friendly but adventurous, urgently rendered but alluringly aloof. Naturally, all of these are apt descriptors for Britt Daniel as well. The throaty frontman and principle architect of Spoon's aesthetic, Daniel formed the band in 1994 with drummer Jim Eno after graduating from the University of Texas.
Success wasn't always as easy as Daniel now makes it seem. Rather, its early career path serves as an apt warning for independent bands wary of cashing in major-label chips too early. Though Telephono, a raw, Pixies-dusted debut, appeared on then-micro-imprint Matador, Spoon was soon operating under the watchful eye of Elektra, which released the sophomore effort A Series of Sneaks (1998). A clean and spare set, Sneaks now sounds like an easy indicator of future development, but to sales-minded A&R execs, it sounded like a commercial failure. Mere months after signing its first major contract, the band was homeless.
Elektra's loss turned out to be Merge's gain. The North Carolina label started by Superchunk singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan signed the former castoff and issued its third LP, Girls Can Tell, to favorable reviews in February 2001. It's doubtful Elektra lost much sleep over the decision, but nonetheless, Spoon's Merge material is the stuff post-breakup dreams are made of. Building on Girls' taut, angular blueprint, 2002's Kill the Moonlight proved an out-and-out winner, sculpting toned pop songs from Daniel's scratchy delivery and sharp staccato peaks of keyboard and guitar. 'The Way We Get By," a jangly, endlessly catchy centerpiece, found its way onto the manicured O.C. soundtrack; underlining the track's durability, its piano refrain also played prominently in the 2006 Will Farrell film Stranger Than Fiction. Last year's Gimme Fiction explored the dark side of Moonlight songs like 'Paper Tiger" and 'Stay Don't Go," while at the same time revealing dance-floor ambitions with the Princely falsetto funk of 'I Turn My Camera On."
With nary a 'Camera"-like bright spot, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the bleakest thing Spoon's ever made. Daniel both split with his longtime girlfriend and moved from the wide-open spaces of Austin to overcast Portland in the last year, perhaps lending the album the prevailing tension that never relents, from suspicious opener 'Don't Make Me a Target" to pleading closer 'Black Like Me." But with no weak links in between, it's also the band's most consistently brilliant record to date. Another breakup, another Spoon victory: We should all have such glittering resiliency. " Pais
7:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 27
The world currently boasts enough great new rock-n-roll bands that it's hard to fathom kids clamoring for the '90s. Especially it's artistic B-list. The Pumpkins' debut Gish was undoubtedly badass, de-emphasizing Billy Corgan's toady vocals during 10-minute loud/quiet epics featuring the most lyrical, on-fire rock guitar solos since Guns N'Roses. The follow-up, Siamese Dream, succeeded by editing that formula down to quicker, more easily digestible songs with almost no guitar solos, and the unfortunate vocals came up in the mix " still, it worked for radio. Around that time, Corgan began thinking of himself in the same terms a 14-year-old suburbanite just learning to play guitar might: "I've come to save rock-n-roll.' While a massive guitarist, Corgan was never as artistically special as other '90s icons, nor did he ever recognize how lucky he was to sneak his flimsy lyrics and faulty vocal delivery past the critics. After several attempts to travel outside his limited areas of aural success with a mellower approach, varied instrumentation and limited electronica, Corgan broke up Smashing Pumpkins in 1999. He went on to captain albums that weren't any more solo projects than the Pumpkins' records " on which Corgan had played all but the drums. Studio drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, who'd once been dismissed from the Pumpkins, stuck by Corgan through all of his master's post-Pumpkins projects. But Corgan suffered a distinct loss of critical support. He was unable to make a new mark even with the superstars he melded together for the ill-fated band Zwan, which included guitar wizard Matt Sweeney from Chavez. Recently, Corgan replaced all the Smashing Pumpkins' founding members except drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and changed the brand-name back. Nothing else has changed, or changed back. The Smashing Pumpkins name is now mostly a promise from Corgan that he will do better this time " like he used to. The new Smashing Pumpkins album, Zeitgeist, has received mixed reviews like Corgan's other records since he dumped the bassist and rhythm-guitarist, though Zeitgeist has gotten a lot of credit for bringing back the big riffs and monster psychedelic shredding. So what's in a name? I guess we'll find out. " Welch
1:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 28
Preservation Hall Stage
Trumpeter Christian Scott has a great pedigree from which to draw his music. His grandfather is Clinton Scott, former proprietor of NOLA Records and host of long running WWOZ Sunday jazz show 'Sittin' In With Clint." His uncle is Donald Harrison Jr., recognized around the world as one of the premier alto-saxophone players of our time. Scott started playing as a child, graduated from Berklee School of Music in less time than most of his classmates and he is already starting to make his mark. His first album, Rewind That, was nominated for a Grammy, and his new recording, Anthem, is not only featured on the New Orleans-based television series K-Ville, but is attracting fans both young and old.
Scott's trumpet sound takes its cues from Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard, and his songs also echo both those musicians. There are hints of funk, electronics and drum-and-bass patterns that both Hubbard and Davis used on their recordings in the '70s. Scott's band also features guitar and electric keyboards that add a modern sound to his hard-bop and post-bop trumpet lines. The music is dense and the rhythms vary from song to song from more rock-oriented backbeats to rhythm-and-blues-like grooves. In interviews, Scott says, 'I set out to find my own style to convey how I feel in my heart. I'm not thinking about how many bebop licks I can play." Scott has also gathered acclaim for his rare technique. He can appropriate a breathy sound that seems unlike a trumpet and almost like a wordless human voice on certain tracks.
There is also a post-Katrina vibe to his latest record. It's sad on tunes such as 'Void" and defiant on 'Anthem (Postdiluvial Adaptation)," in which rapper Brother J of X-Clan declaims angy lyrics in tandem with Scott's passionate playing. Scott and his band are not playing traditional jazz, nor bebop, nor any other limiting jazz genre category. They're playing jazz music for the 21st century and playing it well. " Kunian
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
2:45 p.m. 3:45 p.m. Sun., Oct 28
It's more than a little bewildering why legions of music fans would foam at the mouth over Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's eponymous 2005 debut " among the most celebrated self-released records in recent memory " and then feign indifference toward Some Loud Thunder, the Brooklyn quintet's January 2007 follow-up. A side-by-side comparison of the two records reveals striking genetic similarities: both are self-made, self-marketed indie-pop gems; both begin with a memorable-for-all-the-wrong-reasons opener (a carnie-barking intro on the former versus overdriven production on the latter); both start fast, sag in the middle and finish with a flourish; and both contain some of the finest yodeling this side of The Sound of Music. (In a live setting, singer/guitarist Alec Ounsworth uses his dying-quail wail like a free-jazz saxophone, subverting notes and tones until they're barely recognizable.) It's true that nothing on Thunder revisits such great heights as the shimmering 'In This Home on Ice" or the fist-pumping grandeur of 'The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth," but the early-album diptych of 'Emily Jean Stock" and 'Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning?" should've bought this strange, stronger-than-it-seems record some slack. " Pais
7 p.m. 8 p.m. Sun., Oct. 28
Like Nasir Jones and Illmatic, Lonnie Rashied Lynn hasn't ever been able to top 1994's Resurrection (released under the moniker Common Sense), but that says a lot more about that album's classic standing than about anything he's put out since. For what it's worth, Common has come a lot closer to resurrecting his benchmark than Nas ever has. Released within six months of one another, Illmatic and Resurrection together heralded a twice-in-a-decade phenomenon " two career-defining game-changers that dared to be both hard and fresh, sensitive and deadly serious. Where Nas took the road well-traveled, picking fights with Jay-Z while stabbing aimlessly at past successes with gangsta-rap retreads like the solipsistic I Am The Autobiography and the silly Stillmatic, Common went about cementing his status as conscious hip-hop's least paternalistic voice of reason. Like Water for Chocolate (2000) garnered the rapper a new level of notoriety with higher production values (courtesy of the late Jay Dee) and a parade of top singles ('The Light," 'The 6th Sense"), and Be, 2005's collaboration with producer Kanye West, played up the Chicago soul that's been the underpinning of both artists' hottest tracks. His latest West-produced effort, Finding Forever (Geffen), appeared in July. " Pais
8 p.m. 9:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 28
When Wilco's latest, Sky Blue Sky, came out in May, Jeff Tweedy told Relix magazine that in many ways, making the record " its sixth studio release " was like making a first album. The 12-year-old band, whose history is tumultuous to say the least, has to a degree returned to more straightforward form with Sky Blue Sky, eschewing the sonic experimentation hinted at on 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and fully realized on 2004's soaring, abstract A Ghost Is Born. But you can't shed as many skins as Wilco has without coming out of the evolutionary process tender, raw and a little weather beaten, and the album reflects that. Its new hide still bears traces of old scars that make the music on Sky Blue Sky that much sadder, richer and more compelling.
Maybe Wilco's bumpy course was set from the beginning. The band was formed after an irrevocable rift between the members of the much-loved alt-country band Uncle Tupelo. Frontman Tweedy retained bassist John Stirratt, who is to date the only original Wilco member besides himself still in the band, as well as most of the original Uncle Tupelo lineup, although the band's membership was destined to fluctuate heavily over the rest of its career. The most public split, and the one that may have shaken the band the most, was with multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett " whose escalating tensions with Tweedy and the band and subsequent firing was documented in the intimate 2002 film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which chronicled the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It was maybe an inopportune " or very opportune, depending on how you look at it " time to invite cameras into the band's life. During that period, its label, Reprise, rejected the album. (The band offered it for free on its own Web site for a period before getting picked up by Nonesuch Records, and it went on to sell a half-million copies.) Tweedy also entered rehab shortly after that for a long-term, on-and-off addiction to prescription painkillers that was the result of lifelong depression and chronic, crippling migraines. For better or for worse, Wilco's dirty laundry was out in the front yard.
Then came A Ghost Is Born, whose hazy, obtuse abstractions were loosely structured on interminable guitar solos and tunnels of noise. It both won over new fans from the Sonic Youth and jam-band camps and confused earlier devotees who had come for Tweedy's deeply heartfelt, country-tinged pop and wound up lost in an avant-garde squall. Tweedy's trademark arty guitar experiments had long been the secret ingredient in otherwise straightforward rock, but with A Ghost Is Born, the band swallowed every vestige of traditional song structure " a jolt for anyone won over by a band that produced two albums in collaboration with British protest folk-rocker Billy Bragg.
With Sky Blue Sky, the latest layer shrugged off reveals a more straightforward, if more ruminative Wilco. The record's tone is softer and earthier, with Paul McCartney-esque keyboards and subdued guitar showcasing the emotional power of Tweedy's voice " lower now than it once was, with more than a touch of older-and-wiser to it. Conveying yearning, wonder and joy, Wilco blasted through the spaceways and back, and now it's experimenting again with walking on the earth. " Fensterstock