Sacramento avant-rockers Tera Melos will play Amoeba San Francisco April 14 at 2 p.m. Their latest record, X’ed Out (due April 16 on Sargent House), is a blast of tightly coiled riffs unraveling in all directions while sweet melodies keep the whole thing grounded in the eye of the storm. “Weird Circles” chugs along on math-rock riffery, while “New Chlorine” starts like some demonic cover of “Chopsticks” before unveiling a big, acidic rocker. “Bite” balances nasty, nauseous riffs with big, dreamy choruses, while “Sunburn” is the band’s clearest entry point, with non-stop riffs tapping underneath the band’s bright melodies. They chill out for ballads like “Snake Lake” and “No Phase,” as concerned with heavenly harmony as the guitar trickery beneath the surface, and they ease the tension with the sunshine pop of “Tropic Lame.” It’s been a while since we’ve heard a band as unabashedly guitar-centric as Tera Melos that can also write a decent pop song, recalling their Northern California brethren like Deerhoof and Hella, and while X’ed Out has its share of heady noodling, Tera Melos never sound self-indulgent. It’s a feast for guitar geeks and a reminder that indie rock need not be a laid-back, tepid affair. They make indie-prog that’s as fun to listen to as it is impressive, and that’s no easy feat.
Record producer and musician Roger Greenawalt is going to play 50 Beatles songs in condensed format on the ukulele at Los Globos in Silver Lake Thursday night as part of a benefit for J/P Haitian Relief Organization.
The April 11 concert will be a smaller, three-hour version of the project by Greenawalt, who has worked in the past with such artists as Iggy Pop, Rufus Wainwright and Nellie McKay. Greenawalt will be joined by guests as a backing band and as vocalists, including members of Queens of the Stone Age, Circle Jerks and more.
Greenawalt’s complete Beatles on Ukulele show is a New York City and SXSW institution, as he performs 185 Beatles songs in 24 hours. Find out more about Greenawalt’s performances here. Find out more about Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization, which is dedicated to saving lives and bringing sustainable programs to the Haitian people, here.
The Knife - Shaking The Habitual
Deluxe CD $19.98
As always, The Knife mean to disturb and provoke you, and Shaking the Habitual represents their most adventurous statement to date. They begin the two-disc set with one of the more pop-oriented pieces — of course, The Knife’s defintion of pop involves alien distortion on Karin Dreijer Andersson’s vocals, which are growly and swoop in and out of conventional melodicism to begin with. On “A Tooth for an Eye,” it’s fairly typical, if highly accomplished, fare for The Knife, as Andersson’s warped vocals match her and Olaf Dreijer’s tribal beatwork and synths that bellow and squelch like steam machinery. This in no way prepares you for the set’s second song, the nine-minute “Full of Fire,” whose machine-gun beats are the accessible part of a demonic pop song in which synths bleep atonally like tea kettles and swirl like locusts, while Andersson’s vocals sound like they’ve been run over by tires full of syringes. Even with its mammoth run-time and demanding sound, it never falters in fascinating and keeping a fanged vice grip on the listener. You feel your hair stand on end and you start to sweat with each new turn. “A Cherry on Top” starts with five minutes of wraithlike synths before Andersson comes in with a digitally deepened voice in a sort of gender, culture, genre-bending near 10 minutes that’s both bewildering and bold. Of course The Knife’s freaky sounds can be grating or seemingly unusual for the sake of it sometimes — I opened a hotel website with a man singing in Hawaiian during the flute-laden “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” and didn’t notice for a full minute — and pieces like the nearly silent, nearly 20-minute “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized” are more interesting in concept and as a breather than they are in actual sound. But Shaking the Habitual harkens back to a time when albums were meant to be an experience, something puzzled over, abandoned and returned to and studied, not streamed while searching for hotels. It’s anti-pop, but claims that it is “unlistenable” are unfounded. Even at nearly 10 minutes and with truly messed up sounds housed within in, “Raging Lung” is a pop song, with movements and parts that hit you and break through the din — when Andersson keeps coming in with her “that’s when it hurts” line ranks among the best pop moments on the album. “Networking” drops vocals almost entirely in favor of a Kraftwerkian cold synth rave-up, and it ends up one of the album’s catchiest songs in the process. “Stay Out Here” also features guest vocals from Light Asylum’s Shannon Funchess and artist Emily Roysdon that make the song a kind of horror house anthem as the singers’ vocals bounce off one another and come together in eerie harmony in a padded cell of wavelike synths and skittering beats. The Knife make many demands on you — of your time, of your patience and of your willingness to let go of preconceived notions of pop — on Shaking the Habitual. Trust them — you’ll emerge from the experience feeling as though you’ve gained a new understanding of what pop music can be. Few artists alive today can claim the same effect.
This week it’s Rachael Cantu’s entrancing cover of Modest Mouse’s “Trailer Trash,” from her new album, the aptly titled Covers. Read more about that release here, which is available at Amoeba.com. Despite being acoustic, Cantu’s version doesn’t soften Modest Mouse’s spare, biting original, putting lyrics like “eating snow flakes with plastic forks” front and center and making them feel like hard truths. “Trailer Trash” originally appeared on Modest Mouse’s excellent 1997 album, The Lonesome Crowded West.
A bit about Amoeba’s Song of the Week: Every week we’ll provide a song hand-selected by our own staff to Moheak Radio for a recorded segment that will run four times a day (at around 8 a.m., 1 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and once overnight). Besides hearing what our expert staff is into, you’ll get the chance to win prizes from Amoeba Music. The giveaways will happen once a week with announcements at least once every four hours leading up to the giveaway, which will take place on Moheak’s Facebook page. Check it out, support local/online radio and win some prizes along the way.
Lots of shows in recent days. The Milk Carton Kids recently took the stage at Amoeba Hollywood, giving fans a healthy dose of their acoustic, Simon & Garfunkel-influenced story-folk. Though still relatively unknown, the band has cultivated a healthy following for the Eagle Rock-based duo, garnering fans of like-minded L.A. venues Largo and Hotel Cafe. Their soft, mellowed-out sound contrasts with their comedic, center-stage personalities, inviting you to come sit by their campfire and hear them spin a yarn and sing a tune. Milk Carton Kid Joey Ryan regaled the audience with the history of the ampersand, much to the delight of a few fawning girls in the front, proving that a cute guy with a guitar can literally discuss typographical history and young girls will swoon. They sang the countryish “Honey Honey,” with Kenneth Pattengale really going to town on his miniature acoustic guitar, with the top of it wrapped in a cloth napkin for maximum intimacy. Ryan bragged about his quick fingerpicking and delivered it with finesse on a bluegrass-colored song. He said the band grew up shopping for records at Amoeba, and it was now “quite an honor” to be playing at the store. Pattengale mocked Ryan’s consistently deadpan tone, saying, “Guys, I’m so f*ckin’ thrilled.” “That’s not a good impression,” Ryan quipped back. They sang a few morose tunes to close the set, joking that everyone thinks they’re from Michigan because of their melancholy folk sound. They’ll be at the Largo Theater May 8 and 9. See more picture of their performance here.