FRI 10/13
At Tritone (1508 South Street)
10PM, 7$, 21+

ROSE MELBERG (of the Softies, Tiger Trap, Go Sailor)
Straight out of a Sacramento high school, Rose Melberg entered the indiepop 7-inch scene in 1992 with her first of many successful bands, Tiger Trap. Crunchy guitars and punk attitudes couldn't hide Rose's velvet voice and painfully honest lyrics, and the all-girl foursome quickly became stars of a burgeoning indiepop/punk movement centered around Olympia, WA and record labels like K and Kill Rock Stars. Too good to last, Tiger Trap split after their second US tour, leaving just one classic album and an EP on K Records. Wondrously prolific, Rose quickly teamed with uber- fan Jen Sbragia to form the The Softies, possibly her best-known project. With just two guitars and two angelic voices, The Softies debuted with a 7" and mini-LP on the wonderful Slumberland Records, toured the US 5 times (once with Elliott Smith) and released 3 amazing albums and singles, also on K Records from 1994-2001.

At the same time, Rose somehow managed to front Go Sailor who collected their sold-out and sought-after pop singles on Look Out Records in 1997, and had two songs featured in the campy film, "But I'm A Cheerleader". Never stopping, Rose also played drums on two albums with Gaze and recorded various duets and solo tracks while on tour. Those stray tracks were compiled on Portola released by Double Agent Records in 1998. All-Music Guide gave it 4 stars and declared "Even in light of the uniform brilliance of Rose Melberg's past work with Tiger Trap and The Softies, her solo debut is still revelatory -- never before has her voice been so disarmingly honest and vulnerable... Portola is a small miracle."

Having long since graduated from Indiepop University, Rose re-emerges mature and confident in 2006 with the most deeply personal album of her career, Cast Away the Clouds.

PANTS YELL! (Boston)
Pants Yell! tap into a source where the texts might be from the early Go-Betweens, The Pastels, Orange Juice, TV Personalities, Jonathan Richman, 60s Beat and Soft Pop, Simon and Garfunkel, early Creation (they have a song called " 83 in 05" for heavens sake! How cool is that?). Belle and Sebastian, even. They are a group in thrall to the possibilities that lie within the perfection of the Pop song; the way that it can make two minutes last forever and can break your heart and mend your soul simultaneously in the blink of an eye. (Alistair Fitchett,

Brown Recluse Sings are a Philadelphia quintet that draw from contemporary indie like The Shins, Belle and Sebastian and Page France, as well as vintage pop like The Zombies and The Kinks. There's something lovely in the way they'll casually throw trumpets into the song, in the way their choruses stack up like so many cupcakes. "Margo" is a highlight but the downloadable "Lazy Bones" is no less fun, like a Unicorns song set in a calm clover field. (

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THU 11/2
At Tritone (1508 South Street)
10PM, 7$, 21+

WOODEN WAND (Kill Rock Stars)
Possessed with the heart and soul of Neils both Hagerty and Young, Wooden Wand leads the band through rollicking tunes that recall such cracked masterpieces as Tonight's The Night and Mendocino. Wand has become somewhat well known in certain circles for his surreal lyrical imagery, an uppity blend as informed by Robyn Hitchcock as by the Zimmer Man himself, and on Second Attention he spares no detail. But to what do we owe this newfound barbarism, this unhinged performance that has no precedent on any of Wand's previous sides? No matter. There is beauty in the periphery but more in the small details. Second Attention is where East truly meets West. Where the shimmer suddenly gets grimmer. Sunshine meets grease. It will likely be remembered as the album that remains after any and all 'movements' inevitably move on. Or, perhaps more to the point - to paraphrase the late, great Townes Van Zandt - don't let the sunshine fool ya, motherfucker.

FURSAXA (All Tomorrow's Parties Recordings)
Hailing from Philly, solo artist Tara Burke aka Fursaxa boasts a fan base from the likes of Bardo Pond, Acid Mothers Temple and Thurston Moore who released a record by her on his Ecstatic Peace imprint, and signed to ATP Recordings after an acclaimed performance at the second weekend Directors Cut ATP festival in the UK. Fursaxa has a sound that hearkens back to those other polar queens of disaffected freakout music, described by many as a psychadelic Nico and compared to Barbara Manning, Lepidoptera is one of the most otherworldly releases you'll come across this year. Burke has a real knack for turning folk into lo-fi, and then into sheer psych and back again. (

I adore The Doctor and Philip. Their brand of Ptolemaic Terrascopic psychedelia (think The Red Krayola or Wooden Wand) is just what the doctor ordered. Billy Kekevian and Zach Sulat's gently picked acoustic guitars lead into a musty electric vibrato, giving their six-string sound a sort of pastoral noir. That is until those guitars fuzz feedback and oozingly lose themselves through softly scattered rhythms and dub FX. That's when the dark takes over. The gorgeous ghoulishness of their eerie, sensual first CD, Are Making Progress on Their Whole Spider Thing, sets the pace for their devilish new EP, Horsenake and Others. Led by the 25-minute, live-at-the-Rotunda-recorded title track, the EP is a lovely, shaky, low-country instrumental epic full of tiny harmonies and mumbled tales of ordinary madness. (AD Amorosi, CP)

I don’t know Kurt Vile, but I occasionaly see him half-awake buying coffee in my neighborhood. His music stopped me in my tracks back in 2003(?) while I walked across the field of a summertime outdoor show. His melodic finger-picking and sleepy drawl seemed too good to be true, I kept waiting for him to take a wrong turn and lose my interest, but he didn’t. I scratched my head and thought, “goddamn that kid sounds a lot like Miighty Flashlight”. Which is a very good thing brothers & sisters.

Shortly thereafter I made the effort to go see him live again and was given a copy of his then-current collection 10 Songs, which proved that his beautiful nocturnal zen acoustic folk was only one of several guises he traveled under. Casio-damaged meanderings and other, um “challenging” sound pieces helped created a push/pull between accessible brilliance and almost-alienating absurdidty, not at all unlike Beck’s Stereopathetic Soulmanure CD.

Fast forward to THE NOW and one hears that those disparate elements of Kurt’s earlier music have been desegragated (to a degree), and often (but not always) merged together into a single day-glo lo-fi lysergic & sedated folk-pop vision. Formal compositions get tweaked and slowly spun dizzy. Likewise some experimental leanings are now informed with a welcome melodicism. The result being laid-back and good-natured psychedelia meditations that do not aim to please, they just look up for a second to wink & smile at ya. Fans of the Animal Collective/Ariel Pink axis take note, freak-folkers need apply. (Some Velvet Blog)

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FRI 11/17
At Tritone (1508 South Street)
10PM, 7$, 21+

Clockcleaner plays relentless noise-rock dirges with no room for air and a chest-thumping dynamic, as dissonance splinters off of the heavy delay/reverb processing like broken glass from a shattered picture window. At the center of this storm is singer-guitarist John Sharkey, who spent his formative years destroying venues and pissing on their ashes while in Cleveland hardcore act 9 Shocks Terror. Sharkey’s the guy behind the effects pedals, which add artifice and annoyance in equal measure, obscuring lyrical details and segueing in between tracks with queasy smears of piercing noise. He’s also the barker in this circus, recalling Gibson Haynes and David Yow in his words and delivery. Kicking things off with the words “I saw your girlfriend leaving the abortion clinic yesterday with another man,” he sets the stage for the narrator to frame a heartsick boyfriend for a murder he didn’t commit, over a needling one-note high tension line. The tribal pound of “New Slow” throws a bone to Flipper, while the thrashy “NSA” throws the bone to Slip It In-era Black Flag. “Blood Driver” has that type of swagger the Midwest was known for in the early ’90s, and could fit with dancing in a moshpit or on a pole at a gentlemen’s cabaret.

Onstage and off, Clockcleaner may offend the thin of skin, and with songs titled “Interview w/ a Black Man” and “Gentle Swastika” printed on the back, and paintings of deformed children on the front, they can do so without a sound. But there’s a pretty serious wink going on here, one that’s aware of crossing a boundary or breaking a confidence, and at the same time putting an angry audience on a pedestal for ignoring the problems of the real world that a moderately dangerous rock band won’t be held accountable for. Some of the best punk rock, the most forward-thinking, has also been the most nihilistic. The most downtrodden have been known to make the angriest music, the most relevant to the times. Clockcleaner is a crucial throwback to the horrors of late ’80s “don’t worry, be happy” blind consumerist optimism, and throws your own PMA back in your face like mace in the eyes of a victim on an episode of “COPS.” Nevermind is not pretty, but it works like a classic noise rock record should; it rocks hard with both middle fingers extended, staring down a dead end with a leering, maniacal grin, and that’s possibly its greatest asset. (Doug Mosurak, Dusted)

While the rhythm section churns furiously, David First peels off a series of scrambled guitar lines, precise even when he's improvising. His diagonal riffs are marvelously untraceable (Surf-rock?New-wave? Heavy metal? Free jazz? Serialism?), and somehow these dense compositions inevitably come out sounding like party music. It's clear this band ranked with any of New York's much celebrated no-wave acts. (Kelefa Sanneh, New York Times)

Despite kicking up garage-rawk dirt for a decade, Philly five-piece Ken are only now releasing their first album. Parade of Sinners is all har-har puns ("Sweaty Psalms") and dusk-till-dawn smarminess. It's fitting that the band's singer-simply dubbed "Jenn-Pie Snyder"-always seems angry and amused at once. Something may piss her off, but not enough that she can't laugh about it. (Besides, there's another drink on the way.) Fitting in nicely alongside fellow locals Beretta 76 and Thee Minks, Ken represent the part of our city that comes out only after a handful of whiskey-and-Pabst specials. (Doug Wallen, PW)

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SAT 11/18
At the M Room (15 W. Girard Ave)
10PM, 7$, 21+

DRAGON CITY (Record release show!)
Cascading with pedal-driven fuzz, Dragon City is known around town for voluminous live shows and nine-minute songs. The guys open their new quasi-concept EP All About Rabbits with -- what else? --the sound of carrots crunching, before launching into three heady originals and a crush-worthy cover of Adventures in Stereo's "There Was a Time." (They also do a killer version of Sonic Youth's "Kotton Krown" live.) Josh Meakim sings in an androgynous squeak that's buried so deep in the mix, it seems like one of the instruments. If the wall of sound is too immense for some people, the glimmering melodies beneath are worth opening up to. (Doug Wallen, PW)

ARTANKER CONVOY (NYC, Social Registry)
They'd never admit it. They probably don't realize it either. But the six members of Artanker Convoy have more in common with Medeski Martin & Wood than any band of the Brooklyn basement variety. This is not a bad thing. Like the latter's slave-to-the-rhythm jazz, Artanker's postmodern patchwork stretches tracks like taffy at a county fair without ever sounding like a noodling, comfortably numb jam band. If anything, they find an unforeseen middle ground between hipsters and hippies, an insistent groove that'd move the masses at a Rapture show or the second stage of Bonnaroo. And unlike most bands with seven-minute songs, Artanker actually sounds great when you aren't absurdly stoned. The just-released Mature Fantasy LP (The Social Registry) is a prime example of this, as it lulls the listener into a stupor with slight shades of soul, Krautrock, bossa nova, hip-hop, psych, punk funk and New York noise. Prepare to be bowled over. (Andrew Earles, CP)

BLACK TAJ (NC, ex-Polvo, Idyll Swords)
North Carolina’s late, indie rock, eastern-motif guitar wizards Polvo were always an exhilarating listen. More importantly, they were beautifully distinct in a morass of hyped and often disappointing guitar bands. Ten years after the band’s demise comes Black Taj, whose core features former Polvo guitarist Dave Brylawski and bassist Steve Popson. Recording the band’s self-titled debut was another former member of Polvo, Ash Bowie, along with Cherry Valence’s Brian Quast. Boasting said pedigree, it is easy to understand why expectations might run high for Black Taj. The album can be summarized best as an extension of the players’ former band. Here, sounds often return to the mystery and beauty that served as Polvo’s signature, and yet Black Taj brings the big, big ’70s psychedelic rock sound. Opening the album is the largely instrumental “Back to the Bridges”, a bold seven-and-a-half minutes of melodic riffing and brawny chording chug-a-lugging against a hyper-kinetic slide. What follows is an album heavy on loud guitars and ambitious arrangements nuanced with airy vocals floating to the rafters. While delivering nothing particularly Earth-shattering, Black Taj is a solid listen, succeeding in entertaining those who mourn the absence of Polvo. (C. Harris-Nystrom, Chico News & Review)

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