1.) SONG OF THE YEAR: Palma Violets - "Last of the Summer Wine"
Just like countless other great rock n' roll songs, this one's greater than the sum of its parts. Yeah, the intro's too long on this song. And so's the outro. The lyrics are moronic. (The "official" video is absolute garbage - see above.) And the chord progression isn't exactly original but... there's just somethin' about the classic guitar tone and the finesse they play the lick with and the sweet, sweet melody that slays me every time.
I first heard of Thalia Zedek when her three-piece band (guitar / vocals, drums, viola) opened for Dinosaur Jr. at probably the worst rock club I've ever been to in late 2006 [they actually had stripper cages hung over the floor, if you can believe it - who knows, maybe they still do]. I was immediately drawn to her melancholy yet melodic style of songwriting, as well as the way the unusual instrumentation filled out the lengthy instrumental passages -- it's an uncommon alchemy achieved in the combination of raspy vocals, rich guitar chording, eloquent viola and busy drumming. Subsequently, the band added a bassist and a pianist while Ms. Zedek's compositional style continued apace, and as such it became appropriate for the act to be known as Thalia Zedek Band, instead of existing simply under her solo moniker.
2013 is shaping up to be quite a year for Thalia Zedek. She just released a new solo album, Via, on Thrill Jockey (I have to confess I haven't yet heard the album, although I will soon), and May 7th sees Matador's long-awaited reissue of Eleven:Eleven, the excellent debut album by Zedek's influential '90s band, Come. What's more, she just finished a residency at Boston's TT The Bear during March, at which she and her band performed one of each of her solo albums in their entirety per Monday.
This Union Pool show saw the middle date of Thalia Zedek Band's "mini east coast tour," with them set to head on a longer jaunt out west. I arrived at Union Pool early, tired (still tired from the weekend, not to mention the previous night's Sigur Ros show, and way too much driving), cranky, and somewhat hungry; I fixed the latter with a taco and a tostada from Union Pool's taco truck (see below).
I finally walked into the show during opening band Brokeback's set, right smack dab in the middle of a satisfying, 90s-ish two chord jam. (Pretty sure this was an amped-up version of their song "Don't Worry Pigeon.") I really enjoyed what I heard throughout the rest of their all-instrumental set, which ranged from twangy Link Wrayisms, to jaunty Latin-flavored Los Straitjacket-esque numbers, to Crazy Horse-ish heavy fuzziness, all filtered through a healthy dose of Earth's patient persistence. (I've since bought their recent album, entitled Brokeblack and the Black Rock, and it's definitely worth a listen if you're into hazy instrumental rock.)
Thalia and her band took the stage a little after 11:30, treating the crowd to a full set of tunes from her new album, and throwing one one even newer song which hasn't yet been recorded (see the video for "Fell So Hard" below). Unsurprisingly, the new material fits right in with much of Zedek's previous solo work, with mournful, sometimes prickly lyrics backed by a downcast (if still ultimately hopeful) musical bedding. Since the last time I saw the band live (wow, was it really all the way back in 2009?), they've undergone a drummer change, and the new drummer's more minimal style really fits the band's aesthetic, nicely uncluttering the musical landscape somewhat and allowing the instruments (piano and viola, in particular) room to breathe.
As of this writing (nearly two weeks after the show), Thalia Zedek band has wrapped up their West Coast Tour, which went well according to Thalia's frequent Facebook updates. As for Come, their tour dates were revealed a week ago; here they are. I already grabbed my tickets to their Bowery show in late June - see you there!
COME TOUR DATES:
Wednesday, June 19: Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles (foldsilverlake.com) Thursday, June 20: The Independent, San Francisco (theindependentsf.com) Friday, June 21: Mississippi Studios, Portland (mississippistudios.com) Saturday, June 22: The Crocodile, Seattle (thecrocodile.com) Thursday, June 27: The Sinclair, Boston (boweryboston.com) Friday, June 28: The Bowery Ballroom, New York City (boweryballroom.com) Friday, July 12: The Empty Bottle, Chicago (emptybottle.com)