This evening, the spirit of the '60s seems alive and thriving in the Crystal Ballroom. You can sense the remnants of bands like New Riders Of The Purple Sage or The Byrds, as you set foot upon the legendary bouncing dancefloor. It is a grand West Coast ballroom, in the tradition of the Fillmores; there's an epic chandelier, worthy of the Phantom Of The Opera, and Renaissance paintings al fresco on the walls. It's a classy place to see a real rock n' roll show. I don't know what it is about these ballrooms, but they always seem primed to go off. Maybe it's because they were designed for getting down, with wide open wooden dancefloors and killer sound systems. Imagine the surprise of the 1914 founders, if they could peer through time and hear the hardcore racket that would be pummeling out on a Wednesday night, nearly 100 years later. This was basically a double-headliner bill between two influential bands of different eras: Helmet, from the early '90s, and the most famous of the '70s school of artpunk, Wire. Wire, Helmet Live Show Review - Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

Leven Signs Hemp Is Here Digitalis (2013 Reissue; 1985) Some records are made before their time. Many things have changed in the 28 years since Hemp Is Here was first released – but even now, with an additional 3 decades of ethnomusicology under our belts, its thrift store Hindustani vibrations still sound freaky. This must've been entirely far out when it was first transmitted. You can hear strains of what would become hypnagogic pop, like James Ferraro's funny globe-trotting uncle returning from Marrakesh with a stack of weird, sun-warped cassette tapes. Perhaps the finally time is right for Digitalis to rescue this one from the dustheap of history.

 

Pere Ubu Lady From Shanghai Fire Records You'd expect to be thrown off a bit when delving into a new Pere Ubu record; discordant, unsettling rock n' roll has been the band's stock in trade for over 30 years. But on their latest, Lady from Shanghai, they take it one step further. Pere Ubu describe this record as an attempt at dance music, and the most obvious change is their new emphasis on beats and squealing electronics. While not a total success, between the steady rhythms and some excellent bass work, Lady is the foot-tappingest record in the Ubu canon.
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La Femme is a band whose stylistic choices I do not doubt -- both musically and visually. This video for "Sur La Plache" has some technobabble elements, but mixes those with surf imagery and tons of red lighting, like Jaws joining forces with '50s sci-fi...

It is my belief that to comment thoroughly on an album, it takes at least five full, uninterrupted listens within a 10-day period. Appropriately, I am sitting down to write my comments on Original Sin, the 2011 INXS reinvention/ tribute album, after my fifth...

A lean little 4-track EP, Le Podium #1 is a workout routine in La Femme's ability to genre-hop. EP opener, "Sur La Planche," boasts French lyrics that translate to, "On a surf board /On the beach, on the wave, I'm searching for sensations /On a...

The Sleeping has been around for a hot minute now, and their presence has been largely welcomed, particularly since they a part of the crop of Long Island bands like Bayside and I am The Avalanche who have been crafting haunting pop-punk records through the...

On OMD's first studio album in 14 years -- and their first album featuring their original lineup in 24 years, the band immediately head back to their classic sound with "New Babies/New Toys." The only difference is that everything sounds a bit harder, and frontman...

Sure, Canada gave the world Broken Social Scene, but analogously speaking, Canada may be to the crowd of Crystal Castles fans what the last decade of Sub Pop releases is to modern hipsterdom. Although both seemed to harbor the potential to redefine this generation of...

Thanks to bands like the Postal Service, synth-pop has steadily been creeping back into peoples' CD players (do people still use those?), and Plushgun is another band among the many that are taking cues from the likes of New Order and putting a contemporary twist...