By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
M.S.H.B.’s orch-pop-meets-Fluxus approach connects with the “One-Second Songs” Red Krayola recorded decades ago, but this time out, Mayo Thompson’s venerable (and ever-changing) vehicle displayed a more conventional dynamic — if the Magic Band and the Mekons are your idea of conventional. Thompson has the luxury of cherry-picking from a 37-year career and cross-breeding the harvest with current members’ strengths: Steven Prina’s louche crooning on “The Letter,” ex-Minuteman George Hurley’s funky support on “Black Snakes,” new violinist Sachi Yoshimoto’s locked-in lyricism throughout. The friction between Thompson’s theory-laden lyrics and his classic Gibson-Fender interplay with Tom Watson is at the core of the band’s appeal, but you didn’t need a reading list to grasp the import of the roiling one-chord closer from 1966’s Parable of Arable Land: “War Sucks.” Happy anniversary. (Franklin Bruno)
Donna the Buffalo is not a character from a children’s book, nor do the group hail from the home of the Bills. (They’re from nearby Ithaca.) They don’t consider themselves a jam band, though they have commonalties with the descendants of the Grateful Dead: They play mutant Americana, perform without set lists, fuck with song tempos and dynamics, espouse leftie-greenie politics and launch into slithery extended improvisations. DTB also have fanatical fans — the Herd — who dance nonstop at their shows and spend way too much time sharing and discussing band minutiae online.
Since DTB rarely get out to these parts, they haven’t built the Herd here. A hundred or so dogies turned out at the Knit, many of whom were greeted by some stunning music right at the outset. DTB backs veteran singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale on his rootsadelic new Wait ’Til Spring; tonight, sounding like they’d long been road-dogging, Lauderdale and his pals choog-choog-choogled and nailed ragged-but-right harmonies like a back-porch sing-along. “That’s Not the Way It Works” just cries out for airplay, its deep-hooked chorus uplifting and world-weary.
When DTB came back on their own, happy couple Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear alternated on lead vocals, hers carrying a down-home brittle-pretty urgency and his packing a more deadpan gruffness. Cajun and zydeco are two of the group’s main musical food groups, framed by Nevins’ accordion, fiddle and scrub-board. When she pumped the squeezebox on “Tides of Time” or scraped the silver apron on “Positive Friction,” the dance energy jumped. Puryear’s no slouch, either; he showed he’s mastered his lessons from the Jerry Garcia School of Advanced Guitar Poetics, his eyes rolling and his body jerking as he sought the sonic sweet spots on his blond Fender. When the Bo Diddley riff started cycling through “Conscious Evolution,” you could almost hear Jerry giggling about how some things change — and some don’t. (Tom Cheyney)
PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES at the Echo, September 13
Pretty Girls Make Graves take their name from a Smiths song, but they seem like anything but tortured romantics. Matter of fact, the Seattle quintet play so furiously, there’s no way to find any one influence in the froth of ideas crammed into 3-minute anthems with two guitarists running roughshod over their instruments, backs to the crowd like young Thurston Moores in training.
“We’re playing a lot of new material,” singer Andrea Zollo said, as though she had to apologize for the lethargy of a packed Echo, which beyond the core moshers wasn’t going appropriately nuts. It’s not like people weren’t feeling the tunes from New Romance (Matador), they just needed time to process the record’s elliptical jags of art-punk, considerably more challenging than those on Good Health (Lookout!), whose quasi-emo-prog already chafed at the genre’s self-imposed boundaries. But that didn’t stop the band from dropping that nostalgic rallying cry “Speakers Push the Air,” a song that shoots a chill down a generation’s collective spine.
The only downside of the night was an aborted encore due to an injury or something. When bassist Ted Fudesco announced an in-store performance planned for the Virgin Megastore next week, Zollo added, “Come on, play hooky, hang out” and what sounded like “do drugs.” Somehow, on the eve of the WTO thing in Canc√ļn, I just couldn’t see enlightened post-punkers deigning to play that consumer haven. One thing’s for sure: The shoppers didn’t know what hit ’em. (Andrew Lentz)