Yesterday, we kicked off a five-day feature in response to the NPR Music What Bands Should be Bigger Than They Are article, with ten different acts (including BATTLES, Anders Osborne and Garage Trois among others) selected by two LMB editors. Today, there are nine different responses because notably, LMB favorite Woods has been selected by both of today’s contributors. So seriously, go check ’em out!
See below for Aaron Fortin and Pete Merriman’s choices and check back every day this week for more selections. Finally, be sure to make your voice heard below in the comments section and tell us your choices!
PETE MERRIMAN || CONTRIBUTOR, LIVE MUSIC BLOG (SAN FRANCISCO)
Since releasing their last album in 2009, this band has been eerily quiet. It’s unclear if these guys are even around anymore, but if they aren’t it’d be a damn shame, because they put on one of the most grooving shows I’ve ever seen. Using Fela Kuti as a foundation, this powerful octet took the afrobeat tradition and brought it full force into the 21st century with all kinds of modern funky twists. Here’s hoping this Michigan based band has simply been taking some time off in preparation for a full year of touring in 2013. Until then, here’s some footage from 2010:
Aaron can back me up on this one with his entry (see below), so I’ll keep this one brief. Despite a shuffling lineup, Woods has had a consistently awesome output over the years, even making Pitchfork’s Best Of lists a few times. Here’s hoping they can break through to a larger audience behind the strength of their latest, Bend Beyond. The video for the catchy first “single” Cali in a Cup:
Having been handpicked as an opener by such indie titans as Grizzly Bear and The New Pornographers, and getting tons of free publicity after they happened upon a hitchhiking John Waters on their last cross-country tour, it’s a wonder these guys haven’t broken larger. Don’t underestimate these guys: although their records can be a bit inconsistent (even despite enlisting Nigel Godrich for their most recent studio effort), their albums don’t even come close to capturing the incredible live show these guys put on where they really let their songs stretch out and take on a life of their own. Their complex sound is tough to pin down, but dreamlike is the word I keep coming back to. I’ve seen them a few times now and always find myself entranced by the mood this quartet evokes. Here’s their Black Cab Session from where I first saw them: SXSW 2008.
The funkiest band in show business today, I think Lettuce’s meteoric rise to fame has been forever hampered by the fact that most of their members have some serious touring commitments elsewhere: Break Science and Soulive to name a couple. But after 20 years of sporadic touring between Soulive albums, this might be the moment this supergroup finally hits the big time behind the strength of their new album Fly. Perhaps their bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes said it best, “Lettuce is like a Learjet that wasn’t getting clearance from the tower. But we’re done just rolling around on the runway.” Seriously, if you find yourself at a Lettuce show and don’t immediately find yourself getting down harder than you ever have before, you might want to check your pulse. Check out their set at last year’s Bear Creek, courtesy of our friends at Funk It:
The Barr Brothers
Live Music Blog’s love affair with all things The Slip has been well documented, but The Barr Brothers are something else entirely. I finally got to see this band perform a far too short set at this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and I was mesmerized from start to finish. Check out their rendition of “Old Mythologies”:
AARON FORTIN || EDITOR, LIVE MUSIC BLOG (LOS ANGELES)
Woods have been around since 2005 and have already released five albums (the latest, Bends Beyond), but unfortunately haven’t found a deserved following. These guys (especially founder, Jeremy Earl) should be selling out mid-size theatres, not playing 200-capacity clubs. This may have something to do with their shorter sets and their audience made up of the Pitchfork crowd. It’s a mystery to me. The jams they come up with are on par with Medeski, Martin & Wood. However, it’s hard to lose yourself in their lengthier 10+ minute jams because before you know it, their one-hour show is over. Their brand of folky-psych-rock would lend itself nicely to a two-set format. They’ve got five albums of material and can certainly jam with the best of them. There’s no good reason why Woods aren’t playing 2 1/2 hour jam-a-thons that LMB can gush over. Make it happen Jeremy!
In the past few months a buzz about Jonathan Wilson has certainly gained momentum. He played with Furthur at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles last month, and was a highlight on Bob Weir’s “Move Me Brightly” tribute to Jerry Garcia. He’s been in the business for awhile now, producing albums for other artists and playing every instrument under the sun. His first album Gentle Spirit finally saw the light of day last year. The third track, “Desert Raven” is an instant classic. It’s hard to find reasons why he isn’t more popular after hearing the album. I’ve got a funny feeling he likes it that way.
The trio (Phil Cook, Brad Cook, and Joe Westerlund) from North Carolina are better known for their connection to Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. They played together as DeYarmond Edison before Vernon left in 2006, and in the process broke up the band, to record an album you may know as For Emma, Forever Ago . Megafaun are actually a little more accessible than Bon Iver in my opinion, especially their latest self-titled release. If the Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver can enjoy so much success in the past two years, there is no logical reason why Megafaun isn’t apart of the parade.
This 2009 project from Sam Cohen is more than just a solo effort. You may remember Sam Cohen from Apollo Sunshine. That band was formed in Boston in 2001 but with nothing in the pipeline for awhile, Cohen went out on his own and released the Yellowbirds debut album, “The Color” in 2011. Folk-rock seems to fit Cohen like a glove. Songs like “The Rest of My Life”, “The Reason” and “Beneath the Reach of Light” are all songs deserving of a listen.
Tim plays guitar for The Breakfast and Kung Fu. I’d like to single out Tim Palmieri here because the guy has been working his ass off, playing hundreds of shows a year, acoustic, electric, you name it and never received the recognition he deserves. Granted the bands he plays in aren’t headlining theatres and festivals, but Tim can shred with the best of them. Here’s video of him performing a cover of Phish’s “Reba.”