Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Secret Machines

I've become a big fan of the Secret Machines' latest effort Ten Silver Drops of late. The Brooklyn-via-Austin three-piece has been burning up my iPod for the last few weeks.

A perfect soundrack for traveling -- or perhaps, time traveling -- TSD makes any trip feel epic, be it flying home for the weekend or heading out to the grocery store. Every time I hear "Lightning Blue Eyes" I feel like something significant is poised to happen.

Thanks to the Live Music Blog for championing the band and posting the picture (second one down) that made it essential I check them out. Sometimes getting turned on to new music takes the perfect synergy of strong reviews, positive endorsements and a stunning visual hook. Secret Machines seem to have all of that and more.

Secret Machines || Lightning Blue Eyes
Secret Machines || 1,000 Seconds

I've recently purchased the group's spectacularly-titled debut Now Here Is Nowhere, so hopefully I'll have the chance to dig deep into that one soon as well. From what I've read, it is a pretty stellar effort and I'm excited to check it out.

(Songs hosted by until they have been inactive for 30 days. The intent is to preview, so please support the band any way you can.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Live: The Constantines/Oakley Hall

recordBar || Kansas City, MO
Monday, June 19, 2006

While some people in the Windy City got to see a life-affirming Radiohead show last night, those of us who weren't able to score tickets had to find other things to keep us occupied. For that I turned to Canada; taking solace in the season finale of our northern neighbors' national sport and a show by the Constantines, who -- if they are not already -- should be the country's national rock band, Tragically Hip be damned.

The Constantines are the current torch-bearers to the legacy of Joe Strummer, creating earnest, driving rock music for the people. Despite the intimate crowd, there were the makings of an epic experience from the beginning. Lead vocalist Bryan Webb sounds like he's singing through gravel, and the hard-won vocal style fits the band's blue collar persona.

Lyrically, the band's songs play populist. One of the night's standout moments came in "Sub-Domestic." Behind a loose delta blues vamp, Webb's line "seeking out a living through the postures of politics" is weighted with sharp contempt for a political system that rewards fake and ineffective politicos to the detriment of anyone else.

Seriousness aside, the Constantines really only seem to care about one thing: the rock. Up close you can appreciate the constant comparisons to Springsteen the band receives. It is not necessarily the music, but more the band's work ethic that draws the more potent parallel. Keyboardist Will Kidman and bassist Dallas Werhle play convincing rock star roles, providing energy and excitement to the stage show, while Webb inhabits the more austere role of the serious artist. Combined they create a force to reckon with, a band that sounds much larger than their venue.

The Constantines || Shine a Light [from Shine a Light LP, 2003]
The Constantines || Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright) [from Shine a Light LP, 2003]
The Constantines || Sub-Domestic [from Shine a Light LP, 2003]

(Songs are hosted by and are available until they have been inactive for 30 days. Songs are provided for sampling purposes and those that download should try to support the bands in any and every way possible.)