The early punks and pre-punks openly pursued starry-eyed deals with major record labels. The majors, however, felt burned by commercial failure and unprofessionalism (New York Dolls: “They’re junkies!” The Sex Pistols: “Loudmouth yobs!”) and wanted little to do with bands that followed. Smelling further disaster, the majors backed off until “safe” acts tagged as new wave appeared.
Dawn McCarthy is an adventurer. When the musician behind Faun Fables answers the phone for this interview, the rushing wind and frequent connection breaks make it clear she’s on the road, in some rural area without good reception. A baby’s constant fussing and car noises increase the ambient fuzz, but through it all, McCarthy’s voice is calm and focused. The Bay Area-based musician has done plenty of touring—solo, as a duo, with a band and now with a new kind of group. “We have our kids with us. We have a really young one—4 months old—and we have a 2-year-old,” she says. “So it’s kind of an experiment.” Since McCarthy and the other half of Faun Fables, husband Nils Frykdahl, have already been on tour for a month and a half, it appears the experiment is working.
One thing Gdańsk-based black metal master Behemoth has never suffered from is a lack of vision. Evangelion, the latest in a masterful BM triumvirate that began in 2004 with Demigod and continued with 2007’s The Apostasy, underscores the difference between real conviction and the poorly hewn philosophical drivel that plagues too many of the genre’s releases from a lyrical standpoint. On the contrary, Adam “Nergal” Darski and co. don’t dish out anything they haven’t thoroughly chewed. Rather than trade in dime-store Satanism and eye-rolling ritual, Behemoth takes gnosticism and hammers it into a cohesive lyrical fabric that glistens like fine tinwork. It all sits atop angular riffage rivaling just about everything available in a genre that continues to expand exponentially.
From The Rolling Stones to Rocky Horror, lip imagery is a constant in music art. Seen here, four hip-hop acts—ECID, Jordan Miché (Minneapolis), Noah 23 (Ontario) and K-the-i? (L.A.)—employ lip art for a trip around the West titled the “Attack of the Vampire Mermaid Tour.” Along with locals Omen 20012 and Sapience Christ, the performers appear at The Spot (504 Yale SE) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Admission is $5. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Derek Caterwaul is a promoter of local DIY music and arts events, as well as a DJ—most notably he’s a long-time host on KUNM’s “Music to Soothe the Savage Beast” on Tuesday nights. Appropriately, his contribution of random tracks may be the most obscure this column has seen since its inception a year ago.
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.