Pairing one of today’s most gifted jazz guitarists (Anthony Pirog) with one of rock ‘n’ roll’s fiercest rhythm sections (Brendan Canty and Joe Lally) was always going to be a recipe for success, but on their sophomore LP Anthropocosmic Nest, Washington, D.C.’s The Messthetics are blowing past the old goals and delivering one of the most raucous and satisfying releases of the year. Wildly inventive with surprises awaiting the listener at every turn, Nest is an ecstatic proclamation of skronk-and-circumstance that says not only are The Messthetics BACK, but they’re here to stay!
By all accounts, Bruce Hornsby is having a hell of a year. But if you've been paying attention at all, that's been pretty much every year for the legendary pianist. In the 33 years since fame first found him on 1986's The Way It Is, Hornsby has been a pop star, jazz titan, Grateful Dead member, bluegrass provocateur and more. Suffice to say, this Virginia boy "done good."
Bringing all of that history to the stage is no small feat, but at his recent stop at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee with his band The Noisemakers, Hornsby delivered a dream setlist that spanned from his latest LP Absolute Zero all the way back to his first album and back again with some Hornsby penned (but not recorded) hits thrown in for good measure.
All photos by Joy Asico (email@example.com / www.asicophoto.com)
On paper Little Green Cars is a collection of fresh-faced 20-year-olds from Dublin, and when half the band plied onstage at DC9 on Wednesday with huge black X’s on their hands that shrieked UNDERAGE to everyone who’s been alive long enough to drink beer in America, it would have taken a Herculean effort to erase the aura of youth and potential inexperience. Fully up to the task, the front four members of LGC -- whose collective age is equivalent to 1.7 Rolling Stones -- stepped up to a line of mikes and opened the show with three minutes of soul-melting a cappella, and from that moment forward they owned the room.
Falling effortlessly into “Goodbye Blue Monday,” the closing track from their forthcoming debut Absolute Zero, lead singer Stevie Appleby accompanied harmonic backing vocals with an acoustic guitar and the effect was sparkly-new-indie-band crossed with children’s-church-choir. By the time the band reached “Harper Lee,” the second single off the album and an obvious crowd favorite, the combination of Appleby’s soaring falsetto and Faye O’Rourke’s Cranberries-esque vocals proved why every SXSW attendee had “Go See This Band or Your Grandma Will Get Shingles” tattooed on their foreheads after leaving their show. Performing a beautiful and faithful rendition of that song, the band clearly recognized that they are too new on the scene to start screwing around with one of the only two songs most of the crowd had heard before.
Little Green Cars Stevie Appleby belting it out, underage style.After a broken guitar string and a quick poem about the month they’ve spent in the United States, Appleby led the band through “Angel Owl,” before devolving into a lot of inexplicable gibberish in thick Irish brogue. As usual, when you already own the crowd, no one cares when shit goes awry, and one of the continual surprising things about Little Green Cars was how remarkably poised and comfortable on stage they all are at such a young age. That’s partially explained by the fact that they’ve been together for five years already, forming when everyone was 15, and partially because they’re just really fucking good.
Last fall’s CMJ Music Festival had 1,436 bands playing 84 venues across New York City, and Little Green Cars rose from the din to make the “15 Artists to Know” in all the Best Of lists. Similar things went down last week at a little musical Clustercrunch in Austin, Texas (you may have heard about it), and now Ireland’s next big export is boomeranging its way across North America in a mad dash before returning to the British Empire for the summer festival schedule. Lucky for you D.C. is one of the towns on their list of places to unleash some harmony, and even luckier for you it’s going down tonight at DC9 and tickets are still available.
Little Green Cars have been compared to everyone from old school R.E.M. to Arcade Fire to Magic Numbers, and their debut album, Absolute Zero, comes out next week on Glassnote Records (which is also the home of Mumford & Sons and Two Door Cinema Club). Absolute Zero is a mish mash of vocal harmonies, lush compositions, and pretty clever lyrics all wrapped in a giant American alt-countryish ribbon. Your future self will thank the hell out of you next year when Little Green Cars are selling out much larger venues, and you can give your current self a high-five for being so effing cool. Maybe it’s a SXSW hangover effect that makes us want to share things you shouldn’t be missing, but seriously, we can’t believe tickets are still available. Pounce on ‘em right now if you know what’s good for your ears.