By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
A friend recently explained a New York City spring in these terms: All the rotting fish, dog crap and other trash that has lain dormant during the winter suddenly blooms into fragrant life, filling the city with the built-up stench of the past three months. It makes you wish for cold again.
Oh, but not here. Here we get a real spring, a spring that springs. You eat better, walk more. You clean. Which brings us to the state of my office, and the dire need to get some of this stuff off my desk. That's right: time for our semi-annual Local CD Round-Up.
Live in the Lou, Story of the Year
The hometown emo-rock fans in the background of this release (recorded at the Pageant) sound like the throngs of Budokan. The vocals sound a lot rougher than in the studio, but the songs have a lot more energy. By the time SOTY gets to its signature "Until the Day I Die," you can imagine the band actually glowing. Still, like almost every live album except the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense and the Allman Brothers' At Fillmore East, this is a fans-only purchase.
Springfield might be a little far away to qualify as local, but SSLYBY's (whew) record is good enough to make us want to claim Ashcroftville as part of the 'hood. Piano-driven pop that pulls heavily from Wilco, Weezer and even the Elephant 6 collective, Broom might just be the best album I have heard in 2005 from anyone. From the opener, "Pangea," with its sweet ba-ba-da melodies, to "Gwyneth," the gorgeous closer, Broomis an insanely good debut.
They just don't make albums this good in Springfield. So it's a fair guess that these folks won't be sticking around much longer. The band will be recording in fragrant New York soon, so it's important that we assert ownership of these guys while we can.
Got to do something about that name, though. When your acronym is too long to say easily, you might want to think about scaling back. Shall we shorten it to "Someone Still Loves You," or "Boris Yeltsin"?
The More You Drink, the Better We Sound, The Misses
That's true, actually. The Misses' brand of sloppy rock sits better with whiskey and cigarette smoke than with daylight and Diet Coke. Vocalist Sikki Nixx sounds a little like Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker, if Tucker decided to say, "Fuck this political shit, I want a Camaro." The music is straight-ahead fuzzy rock with a propulsive beat. I love the ample cowbell, which has no doubt inspired more than one Christopher Walken impression from Misses fans. The More You Drink isn't bad, but this is not a studio band: The disc will be good for learning the words to gems like "Girls Gotta Rock" and "18 with a Mullet" so you can sing along in the bar on your next bender.
Entering a Contest, The Floating City
One of the flagship bands of the excellent local label First Flight, the Floating City resides somewhere in that tricky genre of post-rock. Stuttering drums and sudden tempo shifts sit side-by-side with bursts of melody and pure sound. On the first track, "Kansas City," you get Rufus Wainwright-esque vocals, weird overdubbing, a guitar blast that comes and goes with the force of a typhoon and the "pronouncing 'Missouri' as 'misery'" trick that never gets old. With cellos, violins, pianos, keyboards and other more-common rock instruments, Entering a Contest has lots of layers and lots of pleasures. Pick it up at the Floating City's May 14 CD release party at Mississippi Nights, where the band will perform with the Potomac Accord and Wake Up Report.
90 Days of Hell, Noluv Entertainment
Noluv Entertainment makes the Wu-Tang Clan look puny. Their label sampler 90 Days of Hell features Bam-Bam, Looney Low, Blacc Magicc, K-9ine, Lil Jazz...I could keep going. The club banger "Jump" goes on for eight minutes in order to get ten rappers and singers on the track. Likewise, 90 Days is overstuffed at two 70-minute discs. But if you're willing to wade through the filler, you'll get a chance to hear the post-Nelly sounds of St. Louis hip-hop. While the production is a little muddy, songs like "Chinky Eyes" (I know, I know) by the STL Rydaz and Magicc's "Donkey Kong" are tremendous fun. Magicc's track is all video-game beeps and references, including the chorus "We're Donkey Kongin' haters." I don't know what it means, but I like it. If Noluv can show a little restraint on their next release, they might make a big mark on the Lou.
File this under "Must See": In tribute to the passing of the great Johnnie Johnson, the Pageant is putting on a show so stuffed with talent you could call it a St. Louis Live Aid. A former bandmate of Johnson named, um, Chuck Berry, is the biggest name on the bill. But some of the other artists who'll be raising money for the Johnson family include Henry Townsend, Bennie Smith, Kim Massie, Oliver Johnson (no relation) and the Soulard Blues Band. Doors open at 7 p.m. Friday, April 29, but if you haven't snatched up one of the $10 tickets by then, you're probably out of luck.