28 September 2007

Bad Weather California, Ike Reilly at the Larimer Lounge

I didn't really know so much about Ike Reilly Assassination before last Thursday, vague memory of a few reviews over the years, and a little listen on the myspace. He had one of his bigger fans playing with him on this night too: Johnny Hickman, who you might recognize as the guy who's been playing with David Lowery over the past number of years in Cracker. Ike Reilly brought in a fair sized crowd for the Larimer Lounge, not too crowded but filled up and enthusiastic. Hickman described Reilly as the "one of the greatest songwriters around these days," but I think I'd concur more with Joe Sampson and describe what I heard as more of "a really good rock n roll band." Definitely good, but not as cutting edge or original as that songwriter claim had me set up for. No undiscovered paths to cut through, but a nice ride down a smooth and familiar highway. But then the Ike Reilly Assassination was following a performance of what I consider to be a singular talent: Bad Weather California.

I can count on one hand the number of bands that I start to miss if I haven't seen them in a while. And I like hearing live music. When it's good, it makes me feel alive. When it's mediocre, it's still better than television most nights. But the bands I itch to see are the few that go above giving a good performance, they affirm that Music Matters. Not that I need convincing, it's just like the faithful going to church, but it feels good.

Bad Weather California is one of those Denver bands that I keep an eye out for when they are playing. They have always made me feel it...that music matters. To hear Chris Adolf sing his songs is to know that this songwriter is for real. This is subjective judgment, yes, but it's one of those things that you know when you see it.

Though Chris has been making music for years, I first heard him only about a year ago. It was at the 2006 Post UMS. He was playing an afternoon solo set at Mutiny Now. The sun was bright shining in the window, it was hot outside and I think Nathaniel Rateliff and Joe Sampson had just finished playing some songs. Chris sat down with a guitar and a handful of papers with lyrics which ended up falling off his lap in the excitement of delivering his songs. It took near to the end of the first song to realize I had been holding my breath. I was so astonished I forgot to breathe. It wasn't long before I got my hands on The Love Letter Band cd. And it's one of my favorites.

Since then I've seen Chris perform with a variety of arrangements, from solo to full bands with a rotating cast of talented friends. You never knew what to expect, except that it has always been good. But lately Bad Weather California looks like it has settled into a regular lineup of Joe Sampson on bass, Adam Baumeister on pedal steel and on drums, agh, I keep forgetting his name [just checked, yes his name is Xandy Whitesel, (sorry Xandy)] and sometimes Nathaniel on guitar too. It sounds very good. Still a textured variety of sounds, xylophones, recorders, rhythms on a loop pedal but with a consistent structure of players to build up from. I, for one, can't hardly wait for the next show.

02 September 2007

countdown over

expectations uncountable. zero disappointments. I wrote that on the Overcasters Myspace page early this morning within hours after their first public show.

The September 1 show at the Tarshack promised to be a memorable event. There was: artwork (equal parts beautiful and eerie layered glass paintings by Monofog's Doug Spencer); the world famous DJ, Tyler Jacobson (who didn't like my musical requests but played them anyway); knife throwing demonstrations (yes, really, knife throwing, and no, no injuries); the always interesting and and ever eclectic sounds of Pee Pee; and the formidable and impressive sounds of the hard working Mothership. All this would make for one good night if it ended right there, but at the top of the night was what I was most anxious to witness: the debut of the Overcasters.

I've been waiting patiently for a good many months to hear this band. Well, actually I've not been entirely so patient. Hearing about these songs for weeks (and weeks) but never having the opportunity to hear an actual note of any one of them...I began to get a little tetchy. I teasingly dubbed them "the Overpracticers."

But it was worth the wait. Over-rehearsed they are not. Talented and together is what they are...the result of time and effort well spent. Erin and Jeremy construct a rhythm section so tight you couldn't slide a piece of onionskin paper between the sounds then John and Kurt's guitars make a palpably dynamic layer floating just above that. You find yourself moving without thinking about it. And the vocals--lemme just say to those who've only heard Kurt sing a Tarmints song, you might be astounded at the downright pretty treatment he can give a song.

As happy as I was to finally hear them for the first time, it feels like I'll find more to love with multiple listens. And I hope that number will be beyond count.