Monday, February 11
The days of oh-so-crude adjectives like "surf" and "garage" are well behind O.C.'s Hindu Pirates now. For while the Pirates are in fact darlings of the surf-skate industry, as evidenced by their clean and pristine session last year at Hurley's in-house studio, they're also power pop with just a little bit of grit for traction, sort of like The Strokes when they first came out. (Or Rodney on the ROQ when he first came out, for that matter.) There's a little bit of The Jam in the guitars, a tiny bit of The Stones in the way these songs chug-chug along, perhaps a touch of Robert Pollard's magic touch and maybe some of the pre-Pinkerton Weezer in here, too. Really, this is the kind of guitar band the American suburbs built their reputation on. Put them on your mixtape today; put them in your TV show closing credits tomorrow! --Chris Ziegler
Tuesday, February 12
Portishead's Geoff Barrow got together with a couple of mates named Matt Williams and Billy Fuller, and they formed a band called Beak. The trio recorded their self-titled debut album for Barrow's Invada label, a project launched with a sort of manifesto declaring that they would create songs entirely via improvisation, with all the musicians playing together in one room, and with no bleedin' overdubs or tarting up after the fact. The results? A really choice mixture of off-kilter, brazenly sour-toned and, if you can imagine, resonantly ugly rock that drives-drives-drives. The band call it a "wobbly, anti-blue note sound," as good a descriptor as any we could come up with. Released in July, Beak's synth-ier second Invada album is entitled >>. It's even wobblier, and live onstage Beak wobbles quite wildly. --John Payne
Wednesday, February 13
What defines "prodigy"? In this pianist's case, it means being inspired by Fattburger at age 2, and faithfully mimicking David Benoit solos at age 7. Taylor Eigsti is one of the few musicians raised on smooth jazz to become an outstanding straight-ahead artist. His playing certainly is smooth, but that's smooth like a Jägerbomb -- it will knock you on your ass before you even know what hit you. He wields a ferocious technique and a mature and unpredictable sense of harmony, with beautiful pianistic aesthetics. See Eigsti on Wednesday with bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Eric Harland, or go Thursday, when the excellent saxist Dayna Stephens joins the trio. Thursday is Valentine's Day, so if you go, best make sure your date understands that jazz is your first love. --Gary Fukushima
Stone Sour will be forever associated with Slipknot, a band with which it shares both singer Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root. But not only does it precede that heavy-metal juggernaut; lately the more accessible Stone Sour has been approaching Slipknot's commercial clout. Blissfully uninterested in genre or niche, Stone Sour use the ominous riffage, melodic menace and uneasy harmonies of Alice in Chains (electric and acoustic) as starting points on last year's conceptual House of Gold & Bones -- Part 1, then wantonly amble around Metallica's anthemic thrash and entry-level Pink Floyd-style prog, all propelled by the paranormal punk panache of drummer Roy Mayorga (House of Gold & Bones -- Part 2 is due in April). Instrumentally immaculate, Stone Sour's crucial humanity lurks in Taylor's articulate, lyrical soul searching and marvelously textured, macho-yet-wounded delivery. --Paul Rogers
Thursday, February 14
There's a skull-headed dude on the cover of the latest Zig Zags 7-inch -- his name may be Randy; there might also be a song about him; and he's rocking out to infinity while wearing a Wipers shirt. And that right there tells you, like, four of the most crucial things about this band. (To recap: skull, dude, rocking out to infinity, the Wipers circa Over the Edge.) Smear in plenty of Hawkwind space-noise, Black Sabbath riffs as interpreted by the kinda scary older brother in his backyard shed, and lyrics exploring the existential horror of being a dude who feels like his skull might be showing through, and you get the rest of this awesome band, who find the absolutely perfect balance between the caveman and the cosmic. They just did a song with Iggy Pop, too. In my heart of hearts, I like to think he heard them ... and understood. --Chris Ziegler
Nous Non Plus
With their fizzy melodies and French lyrics, Nous Non Plus sound like they must be from Paris, but the groovy septet actually are spun off from the New York City band Les Sans Culottes. Don't let the realities of geography get in the way of enjoying breezy songs like "J'en Ai Marre" and the rocking power-pop anthem "Loli," in which a sunny trumpet crowns Cal D'Hommage fuzzed-out and leering guitar riffs. Céline Dijon coos with oodles of charm on the jaunty "Fille Atomique," as Morris "Mars" Chevrolet rolls out swells of new-wave synthesizer. Nous Non Plus never take anything too seriously, and even a song with a title like "Catastrophe" turns out to be a giddy, ebullient lark.
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