Build your indie credibility, one show at a time
blog by Ben Kirst • March 08, 2012 @ 7:00am
I’ve seen a few Facebook posts recently about there being “no good new music” these days and I get confused. I suppose if you listen to commercial radio all day, you could be living under the impression that the music industry stopped making new records sometime around 2002. But that’s kind of your own fault.
No good new music? If anything, there is too much good new music—with the ubiquity of blogs and aggregators and satellite radio and Internet streams and Spotify and YouTube and the ability to buy, borrow or steal everything else, it’s far more difficult to narrow down what to listen to without worrying you’re missing 20 other really good things.
If you’re searching for some direction, you can actually find some help by simply searching the club listings here in Buffalo for the next couple months. A solid roster of buzzy bands, indie outfits and grizzled underground veterans are rolling through the city this spring. Consider this a fine opportunity to improve your own indie credibility. Besides, anything is better than listening to “Thunderstruck” one more time.
Cursive, Cymbals Eat Guitars - Friday, March 30 at Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St., Buffalo). Cursive is a four-piece band from Omaha, Neb., and is part of the interesting little scene that sprung up around the regional Saddle Creek label. The band’s biggest album, 2003’s The Ugly Organ, is a legitimate classic, although it’s about as cheerful as a hangover.
Cymbals Eat Guitars are actually the real wild card—an intense power trio from Staten Island that smashes through each song with jagged pyrotechnics from guitarist Joe D’Agostino and his reeling rhythm section. The 2009 album Why There Are Mountains was borderline amazing. The band is currently touring in support of 2011’s Lenses Alien.
Cults - Monday, April 23 at Mohawk Place. Not to be confused with the 1980s hard rock band, Cults consist of two “real” members (vocalist Madeline Follin and guitarist/vocalist Brian Oblivion) along with a backup touring band. If you are into sparse, upbeat guitar rock with heavy bubble-gum pop influences and just a bit of a darker edge, then you’ll probably really like Cults. Pitchfork described their work as “...frothy and bittersweet pieces of perfectly designed lo-fi pop,” which is pretty accurate. Should be a good show.
The Rev. Horton Heat - Thursday, April 26 at The Tralf (622 Main St., Buffalo). The Rev. Horton Heat has been around for quite a while, but if you’ve never seen this band live, you really should. Imagine the music of the 1950s version of Elvis Presley with legendary backups Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Now imagine they were all forced to smoke a ton of crystal meth and were then feed a steady diet of whiskey for the course of their performance. That’s pretty much what you can expect from “The Reverend” Jim Heath and his band during a Horton Heat show. But they do seem like nice guys! You will be entertained.
St. Vincent - Saturday, May 5 at Town Ballroom (681 Main St., Buffalo). St. Vincent is the stage name of Annie Erin Clark, a buzzsaw guitarist with a sweet, gentle voice and a diabolically sharp knack for songwriting. Upon the release of her 2009 record, Actor, Spin Magazine wrote that “...Annie Clark is an indie dream girl: a Margaret Keane painting come to life, with a voice seemingly crafted of caramelized sugar. But her second album as St. Vincent goes even further than her debut in revealing a vicious inner life. She’s always juxtaposed the cruel and the kind, and here, the baroque arrangements are even more complex and her voice even prettier, with both only underlining the dark currents running through her songs.”
St. Vincent is currently supporting the 2011 release Strange Mercy, which earned a 9.0 rating from those fickle fellows at Pitchfork, who noted “...Clark’s role-playing is grounded in emotions that are as cryptic as they are genuine and affecting. And when her voice can’t bear it, her guitar does the screaming.” I’d put this show in the Can’t-Miss category.
M83 - Monday, May 7 at Town Ballroom. What can you say about M83? People love this band. Masterminded by Anthony Gonzalez, this French electro-ambient-pop outfit has created some of the catchiest, most beautiful new music produced today. The band’s October 2011 release, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, debuted at number 15 in the Billboard Top 200 album chart. This one will probably sell out fast, and you don’t want to be one of the suckers talking about how you WANTED to go. You never know when these Euro bands will get back to Buffalo—see M83 while you can.
Photo from Flickr / parttimemusic.