By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small
Everything anyone ever wanted to know about Merge Records and more lies inside this nearly 300-page congratulatory volume. Twenty years after its creation by Superchunk's Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan, the North Carolina label celebrates its triumph over recording industry standards—and rightly so—with photos, first-person accounts and a compilation CD (which, strangely, neglects the early days).
New Model Army
Punk rock and poetry in motion
By Adam Perry
These days, a real punk band can almost never find its way onto the pop charts. But back in the day (see: mid-’80s), England’s New Model Army released political punk that didn’t merely sell to left-wing extremists. Almost 30 years ago, frontman/mastermind Justin Sullivan, who has been compared to punk legends like Joe Strummer and Dick Lucas, named NMA after Oliver Cromwell’s successful (at least for a while) 17th-century British anti-royalist forces. Sullivan’s intelligent, informed and captivating songwriting helped the group get signed by EMI—who the Sex Pistols swindled in the ’70s—and embark on a dozen British Top 30 singles before descending (or ascending, depending your worldview) to the worldwide cult status NMA holds today. The Alibi caught up with Sullivan just before the start of New Model Army’s North American tour, which hits the Launchpad this weekend.
Flyer on the Wall
T-Rextasy • garage, punk • Mount Ivy • space rock • Emma Lee Toyoda
By August March
Surf-style, fuzzed out and formidably feminist pop-punkers T-Rextasy make an appearance in Albuquerque, at the new home of all things fearsome and fashionable, Burt's Tiki Lounge, on Thursday, March 23. The New York City band—singer Lyris Faron, guitarists Lena Abraham and Vera Kahn, under the rhythmic influences of bassist Annie Fidoten and drummer Ebun Nazon-Power—is known for its arch approach to the genre, generating pure pop nuggets like last year's “Gap Yr Boiz” to deconstruct and decimate a culture they find to be placid and painstakingly pointless. They'll be joined on stage by space rock quartet Mount Ivy and self-described “Seattle-based sadgirlrock” adherents Emma Lee Toyoda. Hmm, the more I think about it while considering this show, the more I imagine that rocanrol is still alive and has a chance against the forces of the future. Find out for yourself if all of that fashion-future-forward stuff is la neta by jaunting on over to Burt's for this 21+ gig, where its always free to go in and have a listen to what will most certainly be.
Kurt Travis • alternative rock • Eidola • Amarrionette
By Megan Reneau
I love Kurt Travis ... I said it! I don't regret it, either! (Well, I actually hardly know the man—i.e. not at all—I just love his music.) I know you won't regret seeing him at The Co-Op alongside the phenomenal bands Eidola and Amarrionette this Saturday, March 25, for only $10. Travis was the lead clean vocalist for notable post-hardcore bands Dance Gavin Dance and A Lot Like Birds. He has expanded his act as a solo musician producing the dazzlingly lovely EPs Wha Happen? (2012), Kurt Travis (2013), Everything Is Beautiful (2014) and the Kurt Travis/Paul Travis Split (2016). Travis creates an acoustic, atmospheric pop sound combined with wailing, lonesome bluegrass-esque vocals. In the newest split EP that he made with his brother, the two have created a delicate mix of Americana, pop and indie rock which is sure to translate well into this incredible performer's repertoire. Be sure not to miss this all-ages show, doors open at 7pm.
Jenna Dunlap • singer-songwriter • Keith Sanchez & the Moon Thieves • folk
By August March
I read a recent review that said Jenna Dunlap's debut recording was “sweet,” with “wistful vocals.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Dunlap—who was recorded by Cinder Cone Media's wizard of an engineer Howard Wulkan for her first studio outing, Out of My Head—is dynamic and thoughtful, with a rumbling, tumbling vocal nuance and muscular musical style that is equal parts Sheryl Crow and Regina Spektor, mixed in with the sometimes plaintive but always hopeful observations of youth transitioning into adulthood. Her voice resonates and she has a great finger-picking style too, knowingly finding chords and arrangements that complement her intense and intelligent vocal treatments. Jenna Dunlap will be having a free CD release party for Out of My Head on Saturday, March 25, so you can hear all of that for yourself and thereby help discourage the use of meaningless musical phrases like "sweet" and "wistful" while supporting the awesome thing—called local music—itself. Keith Sanchez & the Moon Theives will provide folk-appropriate support.
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