Veruca Salt – Critic’s Pick


Veruca Salt
by Jaime Lees
w/ Battleme

One of the greatest success stories born out of the massive ’90s alternative scene in Chicago was Veruca Salt. Fronted by Nina Gordon and (St. Louis native) Louise Post, each songwriter offered her own distinct strength: Gordon with blooming melody and Post with fiery power. The band was signed to Geffen Records, had a few videos in heavy rotation on MTV (“Seether,” “Volcano Girls”) and produced a handful of albums of revved up alt-pop before fading from the spotlight and officially announcing its hiatus in 2012. But this year brought a new Record Store Day release from Veruca Salt and renewed public interest in this band that undoubtedly still has something to prove.

link: Riverfront Times

Built to Spill with Lee Ranaldo & the Dust – Critic’s Pick

Built to Spill
7:30 p.m. October 20 @ The Firebird

w/ Lee Renaldo and the Dust, Slam Dunk – Built to Spill usually spends its summer playing headlining spots at major music festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, but this Sunday it brings its big, professional indie rock to the Firebird. Though probably not adjusted to playing under such a tiny roof, the Boise band’s crowd-winning songs will impress in any location. Opening up the show is another big name: Lee Ranaldo and the Dust. Ranaldo’s solid solo work after the breakup of his career-defining band has earned him a reputation as the George Harrison of Sonic Youth. Like Harrison, Ranaldo’s solo music is reflective yet experimental. On his latest release, Last Night on Earth, he maintains his signature sound — beautifully warm songs with an undercurrent of teetering uneasiness — and builds on it with layers of avant noise-pop.

— By Jaime Lees

Link: Riverfront Times

Yuck Kind Of Broke My Heart Last Night

Yuck Kind Of Broke My Heart Last Night
By Jaime Lees
Wed., Oct. 5 2011 at 11:32 AM

This is not the review I expected to write. It pains me to say it, but the Yuck show was kind of, well, meh. Now, I’ve spent the better part of this year talking up this band. Yuck’s self-titled debut is absolutely my favorite album of the year. I’ve rocked that album on the daily since about February. If you know me, and we like the same tunes, it’s likely that I burned you a copy of that album. In fact, I probably owe Yuck about $300 considering how many copies of that album that I’ve given out in the Midwest area. But I get excited about good bands. And when I think you might like it, too, I get really excited.

Sadly, the Yuck show was a disappointment. As much as I hoped that the live show would be as beautiful and life enriching as the album, there were some causes for concern. I’d seen some videos of live performances, and they seemed kind of lackluster. I’d sent friends in other cities to see the band, and they reported that they were sub par. Undeterred, I rolled out a whole range of excuses. I told myself that the band members are young, they’ve barely toured, and they’re under a lot of pressure as an up-and-coming “it” band.

But after seeing them last night I can report this: Yuck is the Lloyd Dobler of bands. Totally dreamy in theory, but weird in real life. (I mean, seriously, Lloyd Dobler was kind of a stalker. The hottest stalker ever, but a stalker nonetheless.) The songs were still there, but the execution was all off. The Firebird probably has the one of the best sound systems of any venue in St. Louis, but you wouldn’t know it. It was all drums, the whole set. The sweet guitar melodies and the harmonizing vocals were all there, but they were totally drowned out by snare crash and cymbal clang. I walked around the decently crowded room, trying to find a place where the sound was less harsh, but there was no sweet spot to be found.

The sound got shockingly better at the end of the set with “Operation” and extendo-jam closer “Rubber.” The only difference between these songs and the others was volume. The band members had turned around and cranked up the amps in preparation for rockitude. They were suddenly louder and more loose, clearly feeling what they were playing for the first time all night.

Still, I’m full of excuses. Maybe Yuck was just having an off night? The members seemed sweet enough when they spoke between songs, taking care to ask the crowd the final score of the all-important Cardinals game. During one of the set breaks, they mentioned that they were bummed because their van had just been broken into. My heart sank. Was Yuck going to be added to the long list of touring bands who have had their property stolen while in town? A quick check of the band’s Twitter account revealed Chicago thugs as the culprits. Booya.

So conditions might not have been the best. Morale might have been low. Spirits dampened. It wasn’t a bad show, it just wasn’t the best show ever — and I thought it would be. And maybe my expectations were too high, but I think Yuck can do better. I will not waiver in my devotion. The album is still freakin’ perfect, and I’ll probably listen to it again today. Though our first date kind of sucked, we are still meant for each other. I still wanna have Yuck’s babies. I hope they come back to town so we can try again.

Tennis System, Sleepy Sun and Death of Yeti at the Firebird, 08/26/11

Tennis System, Sleepy Sun And Death Of Yeti At The Firebird, 8/26/11
By Jaime Lees
Mon., Sep. 26 2011 at 2:06 PM

Sometimes it’s fun to go to a show with a small crowd. Your friends are easier to find. There’s no wait at the bar. And you seem to talk to people more because it’s like, Hey, we’re all in this together. Let’s make somethin’ happen. There is a kind of easy, community feeling that you can’t get when you’re crammed in a crowded room, covered in other people’s sweat and wondering who in the hell is touching your ass.

Surely, there is a place for both kinds of shows. But if there is a young band from out of state on the bill, it’s always nice to hope for too crowded. Touring dudes/dudettes gotta get paid. They need money for fuel and van repairs and gas station Slim Jims. So the more people who are there and buy their record, the better.

The Tennis System didn’t get to play to a lot of people, but these kids killed it to a crowd of about 30 last night at the Firebird. It’s rare that you see a band and think I will now see this band every dang time it comes to town, but the Tennis System is that band. Live, the band is even more vibrant and alive than on recordings. All of the shoegaze haze is still there, but the big drum beat bursts through, propelling the band into something much more tough than ordinary fuzz and distortion. Looking much more like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club than Euro cuties like Slowdive or Ride, the band members wore all black clothes, leather jackets and smiles. It was great. This band might have invented a new genre: bootgaze. We want more.

Opener Death of Yeti was psychedelic without any kind of noodling. There didn’t seem to be a lot of unnecessary straying, no so-called “freak outs.” Just straight ahead, trippy tunes fronted by a singer with a very Morrisey-esque voice — it sounded like Bona Drag on mushrooms.

Sleepy Sun started out a little too sleepy. It was late in the night, the room was still wide open and hardly anybody was drunk. The younger people in the audience seemed a little worn out from bopping to Tennis System and the crowd really needed some fire to get warmed up. Sleepy Sun delivered the goods, but the band made the crowd wait for it. It was a slow build, but this group can certainly keep your attention, even if it’s keeping you guessing about what kind of sound it might come out with next. From the Black Angels to Muse to ’70s rock to even a little bit of alt-country, Sleepy Sun’s sound is confusing, schizophrenic and kinda cool. Truly a band for all weather: if you don’t like it, you can wait five minutes and it will change.

  • Riverfront Times – link