Another week of great music in St. Louis: Highlights of this week include a visit from multi-talented songstress Santigold at the Pageant, the eclectic-but-soft-spoken indie rock of Pinback and the hard-drivin' country-rock of Whitey Morgan & the 78's.
In addition to the out-of-towners, plenty of local talent populates our list this week, including the CD release show for Lion's Daughter at the Firebird and the third annual St. Louis hip-hop showcase, S.L.U.M Fest at Atomic Cowboy. Click through for the rest of our picks.
Greg Laswell Mon., 8:00 p.m. June 11 @ Old Rock House - $12 By Roy Kasten San Diego singer-songwriter Greg Laswell has built a career out of impeccably self-produced evocations -- tunes that have made him a go-to soundscaper for Grey's Anatomy, The Hills and True Blood. He's moody enough to resonate with any romantic plot, but not so offensive as to send audiences fast-forwarding their DVRs. Last year's Three Flights from Alto Nido purports to close out a "trilogy of heartbreak and redemption" -- not that one needs the back-story to get the point. Laswell has never met a melancholic cup he couldn't sup, an oceanic metaphor he couldn't float across or a Coldplay piano melody he couldn't cop. What Laswell lacks in originality, he makes up for in pure ability, singing listeners through daydreams with a smooth, convivial tenor and finely crafted acoustic pop.
Santigold Tues., 8:00 p.m. June 12 @ The Pageant - $22.50-$25 By Kelsey Whipple Santigold spends her time wisely. In the past four years, the singer-songwriter-producer-goddess-game-changer has changed her name, beefed up her aesthetic and stomped, not crawled, firmly out from under the thumb of her equally brazen sister in sound, M.I.A. Although released only last month, her sophomore album Master of My Make-Believe hits as heavy as her 2008 debut, calling in favors from the likes of Karen O and Q-Tip to power-wash her revolutionary, call-to-arms lyrics with the earnestness and urgency of a twenty-first century sage. Throughout its eleven tracks, the 35-year-old chameleon uses and discards genres like they're just so many tissues ― channeling first electro-pop, then dancehall, now new wave, next something akin to riot rock. To fit Santigold into one genre, listeners need only file this latest album under "badass motherfuckery." Don't Miss: Brooklyn rapper Theophilus London has almost as much genre-crashing cred as the woman he'll be opening for.
Big Mike Aguirre & Blue City All Stars Wed., 9:30 p.m. June 13 @ BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups - $5 By Roy Kasten When you hear Big Mike Aguirre play guitar, you know where he's coming from: the East Side, where the blues isn't for tourists, it's for survivors. Aguirre is a young white man from Belleville, Illinois, and he sounds like he's cut his teeth in every working-class juke joint from Brooklyn to Waterloo. A grinding and slashing Stratocaster player, he not only channels the overdrive of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Luther Allison, but also possesses a lyrical acuity that shows how closely he's listened to Keith Richards and Magic Sam. Whatever shape his blues take, the sound is scrappy and soulful.
Aaron Kamm and the One Drops Thurs., 10:00 p.m. June 14 @ Broadway Oyster Bar - $5 By RFT Staff Stylistically Aaron Kamm and the One Drops does not conform to the jam-band template pioneered by the Dead and Phish; instead, the band's reggae tendencies and Kamm's expressive melodies put the trio in league with Sublime and the Police. Yet the group has been embraced by the Schwagstock crowd, and there are more similarities than a mutual love for a certain herbal supplement. The band stretches tunes into jazz-informed improvised territories beyond the seven-minute mark, and bassist Andy Dorris and drummer Sean Raila make a fascinating rhythm section -- Raila's ghost-notes on live staple "For Today" are particularly impressive. Aaron Kamm and the One Drops can be intellectually stimulating or achieve hippie transcendence, but the group always burns its sacrifices at the altar of the groove.
Pinback Fri., 8:00 p.m. June 15 @ The Firebird - $15 By Mike Seely For the dozen-or-so West Coast expats who call St. Louis home, Pinback's stripped-down, Pavement-on-Thorazine sonic tableau might conjure gold sand and ocean memories, if only for a night. The San Diego duo -- consisting of Rob Crow and Three Mile Pilot founder Armistead "Zach" Smith -- have unapologetically maintained the midtempo tone of soothing slackerdom throughout their releases, confessing aspirations that rise no higher than a desire to make pretty little pop tunes. Though their roots are in SoCal, their sound stands at the forefront of the Pacific Northwest's vibrant post-grunge movement. A little pretentious? Sure. But that's what the STP (Seattle-to-Portland) scene is all about. Hence Pinback will transport you to a place of cosmopolitan, horn-rimmed, self-conscious bliss.