Weekend's best live music bets: Sleigh Bells, Cults, Heartless Bastards and more
TGIF! You've worked hard all week, now it's time to coast into weekend. Plenty of great music on tap to help you unwind -- or get wound-up, as the case may be. Tonight at the Ogden, Sleigh Bells assaults the senses, Mojo Nixon kicks off a two-night stand at the Lion's Lair, JJ Grey and Mofro get their groove on with Toots and the Maytals at the Fillmore, and Cults finish off their two-night Colorado run at the Fox Theatre. Tomorrow night, The Heartless Bastards tear it up at the Bluebird, Dyalekt, Low Gravity and Jaded Poets host CD release parties and much, much more. Page down to see your best live music bets.
Combining the former guitar player from hardcore band Poison the Well with a former Nickelodeon star, Sleigh Bells is the most aggressive, poptastic, ear-drum-splitting glamour-thrash band around. On its debut, Treats, released on M.I.A.'s N.E.E.T. Records, Sleigh Bells offered up songs like "Rill Rill" and "Tell Em" that manage to rock the cranium while melting the heart. This February saw the band's Saturday Night Live debut, perfectly timed with the album Reign of Terror, and the act killed the audience with its hopelessly infectious "Comeback Kid." If you've somehow managed to miss out on the wonder that is Sleigh Bells, take a moment out of your lunch break to view the video for that song. We guarantee that when it ends, you'll be asking yourself if you have time to watch it again.
Read: Q&A with Mojo Nixon
Mojo Nixon's music and the reptuation of his outrageous stage persona proceed him. The hilariously wrong songs that he wrote with his then-partner in crime, Skid Roper, such as "Elvis Is Everywhere" and "Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child" were songs everyone knew, even if they weren't necessarily on the radio. The video for the latter was even banned from MTV. Nixon and Roper parted company in 1989, but Nixon kept recording with artists like Jello Biafra and the Beat Farmers. His most recent release is the humorously profane Whiskey Rebellion, which essentially served as his "unretirement," meaning that he will occasionally play a show when he's not talking politics, NASCAR and country music on XM radio.
Read: Q&A with JJ Grey
A masterful storyteller in the grand southern tradition, JJ Grey gets his raw material from the piney woods and blackwater swamps of rural north Florida and delivers it with the demonic fire of a Pentecostal preacher. On their first live album (and accompanying DVD), Brighter Days (Alligator), recorded a year ago in Atlanta, Grey and a horn-stoked Mofro tear through their distinctive blend of Skynyrd-esque southern rock, swamp blues, backwoods funk, Memphis soul, and Deep South R&B. Grey sighs wistfully about mosquitoes, rattlers, and gators on the quintessential "Lochloosa" before ripping into developers with both his gritty howl and ferocious electric guitar.
Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion met at the House of Blues in San Diego, where Follin's older brother Richie's band, the Willowz, had a show. The two hit it off; both happened to be leaving to study film at the New School, which is where they formed Cults. The group's 2011 debut album, released on the Columbia Records-affiliated imprint In the Name Of, headed by Lily Allen, was well received critically. Its vibrant, gossamer melodies and bright, hopeful vocals struck an immediate chord with those attuned to the soulful innocence that Phil Spector brought out in his girl groups. Though toying with the concept of actual cults, this band and its music are too playful and uplifting to represent any sinister subculture.