Weekend's best live bets: Big Gigantic, Jedi Mind Tricks and more
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21
"Get your affairs in order. You have a couple months." Those are words you never want to hear, especially when you're barely entering into the prime of your life at just 37 years young. That's the kind of talk that takes your legs out from under you right where you stand. Faced with that kind of news, most folks do as prescribed and commence making their peace. Kirk Rundstrom did the exact opposite of that. Instead, he hit the road with his band one last time, and his final days were captured on the recent documentary Never Make It Home. Pioneers of the apparent genre of "cowpunk," Split Lip Rayfield continued on even after the loss of Rundstrom in 2006. Known for giving their acoustic songs a visceral heavy metal feel, thrash-grassers everywhere owe their debt to SLP's blend of pastoralism and punky irreverence.
Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken are Big Gigantic, the sweeping Boulder-based duo taking the electronic world by storm. Born from Lalli's own creative and abstract mind, the act came about after years of formal music training in New York, playing with the Motet and utilizing MySpace to spread beats far and wide. Big Gigtantic, it turns out, is both a perfectly fitting moniker for this act and its burgeoning popularity. Last spring, mere minutes after the act posted a new track for free download on ThisSongIsSick.com, the site's server crashed due to the demand. More recently, the group made its new album, Nocturnal, available for complimentary download on its website. Despite the fact that the songs could be had for free, astoundingly, the album somehow managed to climb as high as number two on the iTunes electronic chart within days of being made available. (Read the full profile on the group in this week's paper.)
Garland Jeffreys should be a household name considering some of the shoulders with which he's rubbed during the course of his long career: He met Lou Reed and Maureen Tucker before the Velvet Underground were properly a band, when Jeffreys and Reed were students at Syracuse in the early '60s. He helped write material for the first solo John Cale album. He's toured with The Stones. He has released numerous albums since his self-titled debut solo effort in 1973. His hit song "Wild in the Streets" was covered by Circle Jerks and Hot Water Music, to name a few. His music, always expertly penned pop and rock music informed by a deep jazz, soul and R&B influence, has been imbued by a social consciousness and a concern for the nature of the identities we take on and those assigned to us by biological and cultural facts of our upbringing we can't change.
Brad Paisley is one of country music's greatest living guitar players. Paisley has a knack blending masterful chicken pickin' with just the right amount of the clever humor, which has helped establish him as one of the most entertaining songwriters in the genre. Paisley, however, is at his best when he lets his soft side shine through on charming ballads like "She's Everything" and "We Danced," which showcase a unique lyrical sincerity, and on tracks like "Letter to Me," which brilliantly captures all of the goofiness, ruggedness and sensitivity of being a modern male.
Ed Marshall is a music critic who wrote for The Big Take Over for some years when he was roommates with the magazine's publisher, Jack Rabid. Since the early '90s, Marshall has been in and out of the underground music scene in Denver, a veteran of bands like Man Ray's Bird, Stargazer, Into the Ether and the dance/audio-visual project Fragments of Divine, and has hosted open-mike nights at the Mercury Cafe. For the past two years, Marshall and his wife, Katie, along with guitarists Dave Bernhart and Tom Freeman and percussionist Scott Seeber, have performed together as Forests of Azure, an act whose psychedelic rock and immersive projections recall a harder-edged Sky Cries Mary.
Hailing from Sydney, Bag Raiders' Jack Glass and Chris Stracey produce tracks that burst with airy euphoria. Like Australian labelmates the Avalanches and Cut Copy, Bag Raiders lay down music that is tactile, a percolating mélange of blissed-out swells and glamorous crests. It's acid house electro-funk roller-disco synth-pop that's retro without being dated, modern without being analytical. It hits all the intimate piano house-meets- festival-banger marks that make for a blog success, while never seeming overly calculated. Headlining the Popscene vs. Modular Records showcase, Bag Raiders provide an uplifting groove alongside the more jackin' head rush of Muscles, Gloves, and Aaron Axelsen.