Plenty of music is worthy of a television-themed playlist, but this mix of sometimes sad, bitter or freaky songs is mostly relegated to the realms of punk, proto-punk and post-punk. The Web doesn’t yield some of the MP3s I wanted to include ("I'm the Slime" by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, or The Victims' original "Television Addict"). I also purposefully excluded songs that would have worked nicely ("I Hate the TV" by Violent Femmes) and included a few songs with no mention of television ("Look Back in Anger" by Television Personalities), but the TV theme is obeyed overall. I like that most of these songs regard television with some degree of hostility: It's nice being reminded to be skeptical of the establishment ... while enjoying some really sick guitar parts.
Singer Damian Abraham (aka Father Damian or Pink Eyes) takes pride in the fact that all the injuries suffered at Fucked Up shows have been non-life-threatening. During an appearance on “MTV Live” in Canada, a fan got a mirror cracked over his back. In Austin, a stage-diving concertgoer knocked himself unconscious. “He did a running head-plant into the pillar and split his head open,” Abraham recalls. It seems the Toronto-based hardcore punk six-piece invites bedlam every time the lights go down.
“Gossip”—the photographic work of Josef Jasso, not the riot grrrl-soul of Beth Ditto—mouths off with a month-long exhibition at Blackbird Buvette (free, 21+). The Sunday, Feb. 1 reception features DJ Dirty Gold from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Tell your friends. (LM)
Neither for the faint of heart nor the casual listener, pianist/composer John Escreet’s debut CD reveals itself only to concentrated listening. Escreet shows a near-symphonic ambition in his longer pieces, particularly the three-part “Suite of Consequence,” where dense, urgent, sometimes cacophonous passages deliquesce into pools of placid beauty, only to erupt again. While he does not hit all the compositional marks he sets, he does set marks worth hitting, and his command of the piano, especially on his solo rendition of Andrew Hill’s “No Doubt,” is extraordinary. Special kudos to David Binney (alto sax, electronics) and Matt Brewer (bass). (MM)
Crystal Castles • electropunk, synth pop, witch house
By August March
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.
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.