Alibi V.13 No.8 • Feb 19-25, 2004 

Music to Your Ears

While the name “Friday Night Debut” is something of a mystery, the special show scheduled Friday night, Feb. 20, at Puccini's Golden West Saloon should be one hell of a local rock event. The bill features Once Misguided, an acoustic set by Mosquito to Moscow, Soular and Breaker 19. ... Speaking of Breaker 19, someone please inform guitarist and radio blowhole Michael Moxey that his band will also be performing on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Atomic Cantina with simple. and a hack bluegrass band consisting of several members of the Alibi staff. Bring veggies to throw. ... There's still time to break your bank account and attend the 16th Annual International Folk Alliance Conference in San Diego, Calif., Feb. 26-29. It'll cost you roughly $500, but if folk music is your thing, this is certainly the event for you. Visit www.folk.org for more information. ... Or, for an additional $50 and a rock fetish, you can check out South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, March 17-21. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 bands from all over the world will perform during the five-day event, including our very own 12 Step Rebels and Fivehundred (a.k.a. Mr. Spectacular). Try www.sxsw.com for information. ... Weekly Alibi is proud to sponsor phenomenal French guitar master Pierre Bensusan on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Outpost Performance Space. A full preview of the concert will appear in next week's issue, but there's a good chance it'll be sold out by then, so get your tickets now at the Book Stop in Nob Hill (268-8898) or at the Outpost (268-0044).

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Blue Note

Cassandra Wilson Graces the Outpost

For the past decade or so, vocalist extraordinary Cassandra Wilson has become most widely known for her "popification" of jazz—gently blurring the chalky line that separates pop from jazz until it blends with the colors on both sides, creating countless ghostly hues with a peerless contra-alto voice and supreme melodic sensibilities. And it's inside that no-man's land that Wilson seems most comfortable, flirting with funk, soul, jazz, pop and blues until she finds just the right combination for each song.

On Glamoured, her new Blue Note release, Wilson strips away the horns, pianos and orchestrations that marked some of her previous releases in favor of groove-oriented instrumentation, and the organic combo of guitars, upright bass and percussion—and the occasional harmonica and banjo—serves both her original material and eclectic selection of covers extraordinarily well. In Wilson's hands, Willie Nelson's "Crazy," Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" and Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away" emerge from the trappings of timelessness as rekindled souls. But it's Wilson's original compositions that transcend, from the Latin essence of "Heaven Knows" to the blues-inflected "On This Train."

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Sonic Reducer

The Red Thread Tension Pins (Badman)

Jason Lakis' (a.k.a. The Red Thread) debut was built on understated alt.country pop numbers that flirted with the broad, windswept soundscape tendencies of bands like Lanterna and the folk-heartedness of the Idahos and Haydens of the music world. Tension Pins doesn't stray far from that elegant formula, but Lakis nonetheless sounds more confident, more in-the-moment and startlingly more relevant with regard to both lyrical content and compositional skill. These 11 songs harbor a dreamlike quality that enables the vilified notions of soft rock to coalesce with indie aesthetics and inklings of countrified pop. Incredible songwriting and unpretentious instrumental prowess. Killer.

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Courtesy of the Artist

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Their Kindness is Charade

Crystal Castles • electropunk, synth pop, witch house

Remember the thing called Witch House? How about darkwave? The constant bifurcation of artistic paths in the field of electronic music can be damnably confusing and irritating, as well as rewarding and helluva lot of fun too—as long as you pick the right band. When adherents of these sorts of genres aren't busy sorting their rainbow-colored toe socks and looking for tubes of Vick's Vaporub to snatch up at the local Walmart, then it's a pretty fair bet that they are listening to the likes of Crystal Castles, a duo of Canuck electro-arhats who've made their mark in the music world with a febrile and spooky glitchiness that has outlasted any names critics might apply in favor of an honestly, intimidatingly pure exploration of sounds that make humans dance and rejoice as they swirl around the very noisy and icy maelstrom of life and death. Ethan Kath and Edith Frances, AKA Crystal Castles, perform live in Burque on Thursday, Oct. 19. Viewed as an opportunity to joyfully and ferociously embrace the void, this ought to be a damn good show, but don't blame me if you can't remember your name afterwards.
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Courtesy of the Artist

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Special Beat Service

The English Beat • ska

Here's a brief on a band with three names, but unlike Eliot's bunch, these dudes are not a coterie of cats. At home across the pond, they're known as the Beat. In the land down under, kindly refer to them as the British Beat. Here in 'Merica, we call them the English Beat. But no matter what you call them, this estimable ensemble that still includes founder and guitarist Dave Wakeling—but not vocalist Ranking Roger—was partially responsible for the upsurge in popularity that two-tone ska saw on both sides of the Atlantic during the '80s and '90s. With a retinue of classic, upbeat jams like “Monkey Murders,” “Spar Wid Me” and “Save It for Later,” the band's touring the states again, impressing OG ska lovers as well as the next generation of horn-crazy youth with their combination of crazy stage antics and terrific tuneage. You can catch the outfit live here at the Duke City on Sunday, Oct. 22, at the Historic El Rey Theatre, but don't worry you don't need checkerboard pants or a smart little hat to enjoy this gig—just make sure those great big feet of yours are rested and ready to dance.
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