Music > This Little UndergroundThis Little Underground
Who knew that all it would take was a little thing called the World Cup to snap the once-reliable Weezer out of their years-long slump and finally pen a halfway decent song? Yep, their unofficial anthem for Team USA stomps and rocks atop walls of synth so triumphant you’d think they were trying to channel Europe (the band, not the continent). Cop it for free on iTunes.
Although they’ve gotten some major league press already, Viernes is finally, fully stepping out onto the national stage with the release of their debut album, Sinister Devices. Obviously, this is significant for these deserving cats. But it’s also potentially huge for Orlando because Viernes – by virtue of their momentum and profile alongside skyrocketing labelmates and fellow Floridians Surfer Blood and Blind Man’s Colour – is currently our horse in the big race. This city’s indie scene hasn’t had an on-the-cusp band to watch on this scale in years.
Listen to their album, which is as complete an alternate reality as you’re likely to hear this year, and you’ll see that this duo knows what they’re doing in the studio. But their live show has always been a different matter, occasionally coming across as a bit too meditative. However, with the recent addition of top-shelf drummer Tyson Bodiford (Summerbirds, Father Figure, Basements of Florida), their live incarnation is now a thoroughbred. What’s more, the big, sonic proportions of their CD-release party performance (June 10, the Social) proved that generous volume is critical to their live impression.
In addition to relevant acts like Emily Reo and Telethon, the bill also included Chromatic Flights. This solo project by Kyle Wyss of Blind Man’s Colour was a nicely different take on the one-dude-and-a-guitar show, featuring sophisticated backing tracks casting oceans of atmosphere and shimmering, silvery notes that coax the synapses.
Also opening was local act Levek, whose big, jammy psych-folk-pop brew was a big production with seven members. Enthusiastic and visual, the performance certainly had its moments, but the occasional Rusted Root and Paul Simon flourishes got a bit goofy.
Completing a Kanine Records one-two KO the next night (June 11, Firestone Live), Surfer Blood came back to town to play among an outstandingly beaming bill alongside the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Hooray for Earth and the Band in Heaven. Surfer Blood sounded good, but the mix for New York’s TPOBPAH had an unnecessarily aggressive bass response that was nearly disastrous to their lovely sonic tapestry. After some adjustment, their wide-eyed twee noise finally emerged, sounding appropriately like the Field Mice caught in a snowstorm. The ’80s have been raging ever since the new millennium arrived, but it’s about time someone pilfered the more self-respecting sounds of that decade. And TPOBPAH is one of the most consistent and fetching pop bands right now.
Yet another band playing this week whose work has been released on Kanine was Pennsylvania’s Drink Up Buttercup (June 6, the Social). Although they’re in the running for “Stupidest Band Name,” their music is fortunately much better. Sure, it occasionally flirts with being too cute for its own good, as the name would imply, but there were more than enough good things going on in their hard-bashing, whim-splashed indie pop to warrant attention. Still, they could be much better if they focused their scope a bit. As it is, their spectrum is like the brighter side of sprawling Beatles psychedelia and could use some honing.
That said, at least they chase their sound with all-out gusto. They’re possibly the most physical indie-pop band out there, and they deliver a rousing visual experience.
As for D.C.-Philly headliner Jukebox the Ghost, well, their lightweight pop-rock is much more focused but far less interesting.
Putting on a turntable clinic at Phat-N-Jazzy’s Scratch Sessions (June 8, the Social) were Ozone DJs BMF, SPS, Ynot and Dolo. Working five turntables and three laptops, the ever-smooth and steady BMF anchored the mixes while the other ninjas tricked it the fuck out.
As occasionally exciting as it was, this format could easily have fallen to shit without BMF’s solid beat foundation. And though they’re all total macks, SPS’ superhuman technique is just on another level altogether in terms of sophistication and skill. As a turntablism ensemble, these jocks represent the pinnacle of the art.