ED. NOTE: THE RUM DRUM RAMBLERS WILL NOT BE PLAYING BB'S TONIGHT. Two thirds of the band is on tour with Pokey LaFarge at the moment. The band's next show is July 3 at Off Broadway.
Little-known fact: According to our style guide (the big book of grammatical do's and don'ts that provide the RFT with its immutable styyyyyyle), all band names are to be treated as singular, not plural nouns. For example, when referencing a band such as "The Beatles," we'd write "The Beatles is coming to town," rather than "The Beatles are coming to town." It can get tricky for our music editor Kiernan Maletsky, who has to cleverly fix all the inconsistencies that arise when, say for example, someone such as myself piles a whole bunch of plural names into a blog post. And without further ado....
Local blues bros the Rum Drum Ramblers will play BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups on Tuesday night for a mere five bucks; use the money you save to get some soup -- it's in the venue's name, after all. It's probably going to be good. On Thursday indie-rocker the Walkmen come to Plush. Last time the band came to town it sold out Off Broadway, so maybe pick up your tickets early just to be safe. Down-south hip-hoppers Nappy Roots play Plush on Saturday, and the Mynabirds will be at Firebird on Sunday. The rest of our picks follow. (Take that, Maletsky!)
Nada Surf Mon., 8:00 p.m. June 25 @ Old Rock House - $18 By Daniel Hill Nada Surf's latest, The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy, is its first offering of new material in four years and just may be the one that re-positions the band firmly back in the pop-rock limelight. Already being heralded by some die-hard fans as its best work since 2002's Let Go, Nada Surf's seventh studio album has has a drive and urgency to it that's been lacking in its last couple efforts. Credit may be due to the band's decision to focus on replicating its live experience rather than meticulously documenting the minute finer points in the studio. The end result finds the trio playing passionate rock anthems with pop-sensible conviction and more hooks than a lakeside bait shop. I'm King of the Class: If you haven't been paying attention since Nada Surf's breakout 1996 single "Popular," well, you should probably change that. Here's your chance.
Rum Drum Ramblers - CANCELLED Tues., 9:30 p.m. June 26 @ BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups - $5 By Roy Kasten "The past isn't dead. The past isn't even past." William Faulkner said that. "Never we change our ways. We can keep 'em guessing for days." Mat Wilson said that, or rather sang that. With a sly roll of the vowels and cool swing to his timing, the leader of the Rum Drum Ramblers barely needs the muted trumpets, jittery piano and hot-welded rhythm section to resurrect the golden era of string-band blues and country. Wilson's classic, unaffected songwriting and the sting and thwack of his guitar picking is more than enough to keep that sound vital and undeniably in the present. Still, when bassist Joey Glynn and harmonica and washboard player Ryan Koenig lock in with Wilson's songs, the group bursts into a full-on, juke-joint party.
Brave Combo Wed., 8:00 p.m. June 27 @ The Gramophone - $10/$13 By Phil Freeman For three decades, Denton, Texas's Brave Combo has mixed polka, cumbia and other accordion-driven styles with rock, salsa and anything else that strikes its fancy. The troupe has appeared on the Jerry Lewis telethon and The Simpsons, and recorded polka-ized covers of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and the Doors' "People Are Strange," and a cha-cha take on the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Brave Combo has also turned unexpected songs into stomping polkas and done something entirely different; see a freakish, funk-metal version of "The Hokey Pokey." Put simply, it's a unique band of weirdos totally committed to expanding listeners' musical horizons while always keeping the crowd rockin'.
The Walkmen Thurs., 10:00 p.m. June 28 @ Plush - $16-$18 By Roy Kasten In time, the Walkmen's seventh album, Heaven, may be reckoned the band's finest, perhaps even its most Walkmen-like recording. The New Yorkers' commitment to vintage minimalism has been refined into stories rooted in places -- sometimes, surprisingly, the South and the Midwest -- and emotions that run deep, whether happy or nervous in love, evoked in barreling rock & roll, Byrdsy twang or a single, fragile guitar. Hamilton Leithauser lavishes upon every line his most spirited bellow as the band pours out tunes with the amber-tinted romanticism of doo-wop on a radio in American Graffiti. And what's wrong with that? Last Time: The Walkmen sold out Off Broadway in October 2010 and delivered an exhilarating if short set. Here's hoping they'll stretch out in the larger confines of Plush.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Fri., 8:00 p.m. June 29 @ The Sheldon -$15-$20 By Michael Dauphin Five years and three proper albums into his solo career, Jason Isbell is today a different character than he was in 2007. Back then, Isbell was feeling his way around as a guy with a new lease on life; shaking off a failed marriage, settling into his new role as a bandleader and no longer serving as a Drive-By Trucker. If Isbell seems more grown up nowadays, musically and professionally, there are reasons for it. Having spent the last year playing solo shows as Ryan Adam’s direct support and rocking out with the talented 400 Unit in between, Isbell is a more refined artist in 2012. Pace Yourself: If you play your cards right, you can migrate down the street to Plush after Isbell’s show and still catch some of Lucero's set. Midtown will be moving some bourbon Saturday night.
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