A seemingly endless recitation of events
In general, though, the noted historian's depiction of the '90s and '00s as an age of fraudulent promises and wasted opportunities rings true.
Flipping the calendar two and half decades back, Ray Davies of The Kinks launched a tour that would become the template for the VH1 Storytellers series, when performers would play stripped down versions of some of their songs while adding in details about how or why they wrote that particular song. The concept still has legs, and Natasha Khan (aka Bat For Lashes) has embarked on a short tour with just a keyboard/vocalist and her robust songbook, her first visit to Boston since a 2013 Boston Calling appearance.
She also has a new entry to her discography in the form of last year’s Lost Girls, a title she said was inspired by the Jason Patric/Keifer Sutherland (and the two Coreys) teen classic The Lost Boys after a visit to Santa Cruz but inverted to suit her particular vision. The songs were supported by just simple keyboard melody lines and textural fills, dominated by Khan’s beautiful vocals. Other inspirations included “Desert Man,” where colors instead of notes were coming directly from her time at Death Valley, and “Close Encounters” dealt directly with her alien abduction thoughts. Chaka Khan was not surprisingly instrumental in “Feel For You,” memories as a teen of dancing and singing in her mother’s kitchen. Khan’s really talented at merging disparate pop elements into well-constructed songs that resonate deeply. It wasn’t surprising to see her take what is probably Don Henley’s best song and reinvent from a completely different, female perspective. Not quite as startling effective as Cat Power’s inversion of “Satisfaction” but it comes close.
Khan’s got more than a touch of sounding like a teenaged Kate Bush who listened to The Cure in her bedroom for hours on end (I know the timeline doesn’t support my theory but let’s stick with it), and was no surprise that the encore would have a Bush song, the wonderful and on-target “This Woman’s Work” in the middle. The closer of Roy Orbison via Cindy Lauper’s “I Drove All Night” scrubbed the 80’s sheen off Lauper’s version and instead directly connected to the quiet desperation of the original, underscoring it by slowing the tempo in a very effective way. At just about 75 minutes, the set was shorter than expected but no one left the venue disappointed.
As half of the creative duo Ultimate Painting, Jack Cooper was responsible for some tightly-crafted songs that were equally at home as comparisons to late-60s Kinks or at times the thuggish savagery of prime Spacemen 3. The band abruptly imploded just as their fourth and still-unreleased record Up was to be released, and he's got new endeavor alive in its place. Modern Nature came to town on a very stacked pop/psych bill, with Cooper bringing along co-founder Will Young from Beak> on keyboards, Woods' drummer Aaron Neveu, and saxophone player Jeff Tobias adding some very interesting texture to the mix.
“Our overall vision for the ‘Morning Coffee’ video was to combine spheres of creativity and good fun. Nothing real dramatic; we were shooting to make something humorous and light as well as visually stimulating."
“Grants are allocated in the areas of recording or manufacturing assistance, publicity and marketing support, equipment and instruments, songwriting retreats, tour support, special projects and other specific activities that promote artists work and/or professional growth.”
Boston turned brown on Friday, as hordes of Ween fans descended onto House of Blues, filling the room’s every square inch in a manner that might make a fire marshall’s head spin. On the front rail were people who journeyed in from North Dakota and Chicago, and as Ween only played a handful of shows this year, I’m sure others were making pilgrimages that entailed crossing multiple state borders. It’s kinda hard to pin down Ween’s audience, but not nearly as hard to pin the band down.
This is a band that’s more flexible than most Olympic gymnasts, one who can realistically ape the style of bands ranging from Motörhead, Thin Lizzy, Jimmy Buffet, Pink Floyd, Prince, and so on. After a brief hiatus that ended a few years ago, Gene and Dean Ween (brothers in the same sense as the Ramones) have been tapping back into the absurd, not really sure if they are serious or not songbook that has been meticulously crafted over the last several decades. Though they are often lumped into the jam band scene, the only thing remotely cogent about that label is the fact that they mix up the set lists considerably; of the scant seven shows they’ve played this year, a whopping 113 different songs have been played, out of a total of 205. No wonder die hard fans aren’t worried about booking flights and hotel rooms and being subjected to the same songs night after night.
Whatever potential acrimony might have lingered after the abrupt stoppage a few years ago seems to be far in the past, as there was plenty of laughs and smiles shared among the band. Ranging from epic, stiff upper-lipped prog (“Buckingham Green”), the unvarnished crassness of “The Blarney Stone” fashioned as an old Irish sea shanty, the cross-eyed silliness of “Touch My Tooter,” and the breezy C&W workout of “I Don’t Want To Leave You On The Farm” – the paces, they were put through. How many bands can boast a thoroughly brawny riff monster like “The Final Alarm,” a song that’s at least a dozen years old but has never seen an official release and lives as a fleeting live experience. And that’s really the best reason to go see a a band; anyone can play or stream a song but there’s something entirely different about seeing the glow of well-oiled band playing their songs as you’re shoulder to shoulder with a room full of strangers all there for the same reason.
Click for more photos of the show:
"There are many moments on the record that are inspired by people who either play in the city or have come through on tour that I discovered. It comes from a lot of local stuff, believe it or not."
"I know this is really random, but you’re like a Boston Greek dad rapper and construction worker and I can totally get you on a show."
Both directed by Jay Hunt of Smoke House Media, they’re back-to-back proud Boston bangers with enough fuel to power the region through the winter and spring until we get the next crop of summer anthems.