The Muslims

June 27, 2008

June 16th, The Mercury Lounge (w/ Miss Derringer)

San Diego’s The Muslims might pass as any four random guys wandering the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, and very well may have during their recent trip out East. From afar, they could be… Vampire Weekend, let’s say. But on stage, The Muslims are no-frills, straight-shooting rock and roll. No coordinated wardrobes, no cute dance moves (see the prior post, Miss Derringer).

From the opener, “Beside Myself,” The Muslims immediately owned the stage. It was as if you found those four random dudes wandering on Houston, put them on stage, and nonchalantly ended up with The Velvet Underground. But the usual comparisons, including my own (see the Invisible Friend’s original post on The Muslims here), had little relevance during their set. Lamkin et al were noisy, energetic and brilliant to watch in their own right. Highlights included “Right ad Wrong,” “Bright Side,” and “Nightlife.”

Apart from their much talked about name, The Muslims have started to attract some more national admiration, like the distinction as a “Band to Watch” from blogger heavyweight Stereogum. The debut record is out on 1928 Recordings, and will be available again in July according to the band’s Myspace page. Along with the vinyl and bullet-beaten jacket, 1928 conveniently provides your iTunes with a CD version of the record plus several no-filler bonus tracks (new versions of some of the band’s best songs from their 2007 Demo). It’s a definite must have.

The Muslims – “Call It A Day”

A single of “Extinction” has been released on Sweet Tooth Records.

Listen: The Muslims – “Right and Wrong” and “Beside Myself” and “On My Time” available from their self-titled debut on 1928 Recordings.


Miss Derringer

June 18, 2008

June 16th, The Mercury Lounge (w/ The Muslims)

L.A.’s Miss Derringer is, as they say, a little bit country and a little punk rock and roll. The band has influences and aesthetics to spare: they’re John Cash and June Carter in a 60’s girl group with a penchant for murder ballads, alcohol and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” The Derringer color palate is all White Stripes combined with a Rocket From the Crypt swagger. All the essential elements are there.

Musically, though, the band has some room to grow. What comes through as an interesting mix and ironically dark take on modern American music in the recorded format, falls a little flat live. The responsibilities of Miss Derringer hang heavy on singer Liz McGrath, who while perfectly balancing mascara and somber with stylish and pretty, seems a little timid and small on stage. Sure the outfit is cute, but the hushed croon that works so well in headphones is no substitute for a set of live pipes. (Maybe some back-up singers might add to the image and fill out the sound?)

Still, the Invisible Friends can’t help singing “black tears through eyeliner for you…” over and over and over. Check them out with Blondie this summer, and pick up their record on Staygold Records.

Miss Derringer – “Black Tears”

Listen: Miss Derringer – “Unchained Melody” (Righteous Brothers cover)

Mates of State

June 5, 2008

The Mates of State are all things cute and couple-y, playing domesticated and child-rearing indie-pop music based on keys and drums, inoffensive harmonies and affable pop sensibilities. They return with their new album, Re-Arrange Us, replete with multi-layered album cover and internet-based games. (Fun for the whole family!)

Re-Arrange Us sounds a lot like the Mates have sounded in the past. It’s an album you can dance around the kitchen with kids to, and you will certainly find yourself humming its ridiculously catchy “now now now now now now now… hoo hoo hoo hoo… dada da dada dada da’s” on the way to work. Play it on a rainy day, and you just might invoke sunshine; play it to Hillary Clinton, and she might just hug Obama.

It’s an album of lively pianos, upbeat drumming and boy-girl harmonies. And of course the warm fuzzies don’t stop there. The video for the first single, “Get Better,” features a multitude of friendly animal faces pasted on friendly human bodies riding scooters to cupcakes, balloons, streamers, and oops… suicide bombers.

Detonation, however, results in sparkles, choreography and children bearing flowers… the Department of Homeland Security is currently busying itself undertaking intensive arts and crafts courses focused on strategic woodland creature mask-making. Si se puede.

Listen: “My Only Offer” from Re-Arrange Us, available on Barsuk Records

“Get Better”

Cansei de Ser Sexy

The invisible friends are back!

1. CCS – “Rat is Dead (Rage)

2. French Kicks – “Abandon

3. Annuals – “Sore

4. Gentleman Auction House – “The Book of Matches

5. Ladytron “Black Cat

6. Vancougar – “Obvious

7. Young and Sexy – “The Fog

8. Robert Pollard – “Gratification to Concrete

9. Flight of the Conchords – “Business Time

10. My Brightest Diamond – “Inside a Boy