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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Concert Alert: The Hold Steady, plus Yeti

The Hold Steady
Feb. 11, La Maroquinerie. Tickets still available here (or at the door if any are left).
The Hold Steady are a somewhat unlikely but delicious mix of influences and talents. They are decidedly rockin', decidedly lyrical/cerebral, and decidedly americana-crossed. Depending on your age and your listening range and tolerance for musical multiculturalism, you will no doubt hear Bruce Springsteen, Guided By Voices, Ted Leo, Cake, AC/DC, Modest Mouse, the Replacements, and Social Distortion swimming about in their whirlpool of sound. For me it's a whirlpool that makes me scream , "Take me down, poets; Take me down!" The vocals are often spoken word to a kind of AC/DCish guitar accompaniment, moving into a Springsteenish keyboard chorus and back again. But then it's not a formula, either. So "often" is not "always." And there's "often" an appreciable pinch of country in there, though it mixes so well that it's probably not noticeable to the indelicate ear (I went on Extreme Makeover for music critic ears, so forgive my pride). If I told you it was a pinch of something else, you'd probably love it and never know the difference. Let's say it's a pinch of "boogie woogie." There, now go like it.

They begin their impressive recent (2006) album Boys and Girls in America thusly: 'There are nights when I think Sal Paradise was right/'Boys and Girls in America have such a sad time together....' Sal Paradise was of course the beat (anti-) hero of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. (I also now wonder if that's what Kim Wilde's 80s indie teen anthem was about.)
At other times, you find them ventriloquizing the late great poet John Berryman: "...I surround myself with doctors and deep thinkers/but big heads with soft bodies make for lousy lovers..."
But most of all, this album is true to its title: it is a meditation on (esp. American) teen life, in malls and parking lots, drag racing and struggling with the pressures and structures of a society that are drifting and hardly planned. They burn, they pinch, they result in madness, suicides, prom queens and kings, endearingly iconoclastic "hoodrats," and prep school basketcases. Perhaps it's a bit strong to say, but the themes and tone of "Boys and Girls..." suggests a kind of musical Larry Clarke.
As always, check'em out at Myspace to judge whether my earjob was worth it. See you there?

February, 12 2007 at Kibélé Paris
12 rue de lEchiquier 9º Paris, Paris,
February, 14 2007 at solo à l'Espace Jemmapes (on Canal St. Martin, Quai de Jemmapes)
I told you about Yeti the other day, in my speedo review of the Limonaire show. But I failed to mention that she wails and yawps better than a bansheee and better than Walt Whitman himself (and that's not to be taken lightly since I have personally known banshees and Walt Whitman), and I wish, only wish I could blister my fingers like she does with her dances across the accordion's keyboard. Maybe she'll give me some lessons? She is extremely entertaining, expressive, theatrical, and best of all, sounds good. What if PJ Harvey was a thespian who played accordian? Yeti: it's Dutch, bitch!
See you there, too.

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Formerly "Parisnormale: Paris Rocks"