Week of March 23
Thursday at Black Cat Backstage
Eric Elbogen's electronic-infused, lo-fi indie pop outfit Say Hi, formerly Say Hi To Your Mom, has a sweet, intricate acoustic sound that'll appeal to fans of Bright Eyes, Magnetic Fields, Folk Implosion and the like. It's acoustic rock with special effects. Despite that inherent sweetness, the band often gets bogged down in muddy waters, and it's a compelling contrast. With Telekinesis.
Friday at Nightclub 9:30
Though they bounce from dance music to roots rock, Primal Scream's at their best when they blend the two, and add a little bit of gospel or soul. Founded by Jesus and Mary Chain drummer Bobby Gillespie, Primal Scream avoided that group's gothy shoegaze for jangly pop, then moved into punk-influenced rock before finally finding its niche with their reinvention -- following in the footsteps of the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays -- in the early '90s. Almost two decades later, they still remind of the time when their music said you can make a dance track out of a Stones-worshipping song, you can make a Stonesy rocker out of a club track. Last year's "Beautiful Future" adhered more to the club than 2006's "Riot City Blues" did to classic R&B rock.
An Evening with Marah
Friday at Iota
Though claiming Brooklyn as its home base these days, Marah began about 15 years ago in Philly. They keep their influences close to home, venturing to the Jersey Shore to borrow a little from the Boss and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes. Their Americana varies from rollicking roots rock to Broadway to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. The “An Evening with …” tag gives me the fear that this might be another acoustic set, like the one at Jammin’ Java in November. I’d rather hear the band plugged in.
Friday at the Rock and Roll Hotel
Michigan's NOMO is a wild combination of dance funk, jazz and afro-beat. At times, the music is probably too experimental, leaning too much toward free jazz, for most folks, but when the group strikes a groove, it's hard to keep from dancing. At its core, the group is an octet, but dozens of players have contributed to the band's shows and recordings in the past. Expect lots of horns and percussion.
Saturday at the Rock and Roll Hotel
Asobi Seksu's second album, "Citrus," announced their arrival as one of the best indie bands around. Lovely little Yuki Chikudate brings a pop influence from her native Japan and sang soft and sweet, both in English and Japanese, over the music of regular-looking indie rock kids from New York. If you're standing next to them during the opener, you'll have no clue they might be in the next act, but when they take they stage, the music is all the attitude they need. They drew equally from New York guitar-noise bands and British shoegazers. Now a duo rather than a trio -- with supporting musicians no doubt in tow -- their third album, "Hush," doesn't sound like it's going to advance that style much. While "Me & Mary" sounds more adorably upbeat than anything they've done before, making it maybe their most recognizable song with the possible exception of the brilliant "Thursday" off "Citrus." The rest that I've heard finds them brooding in strict dream pop territory. As such, it's more of a side step than a step forward for the band, but if you like lush, romantic sounds, it's tough to do better.
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