Still got it: Mike Farrell is the closest thing to a true rock star this town has produced. And while he’s perfected the look and the moves in such bands as FMK, Sex 66, Th’ Losin Streaks, Daisy Spot and more, his particular brand of bottled lightning hasn’t quite translated to record, or else it’s been obscured by bandmates’ visions. Until now. Devil May Care marks Farrell’s confident move to center stage; its nine songs—bracketed by musique concrète intro and outro collages—deliver a whirlwind sonic tour through all that’s cool about this guitar god-slash-singer. Like alt-rock polymath Beck, Farrell maneuvers behind a veneer of elegant insouciance that masks a very real rock ’n’ roll passion. The album’s second track, “Ain’t It Funny (Not Much Better),” quacks along on a waka-jawaka groove; it’s slightly inside and low, but after that, the album consistently throws it across the plate: the laconic, Beck-like “Thin Line” choogles over a Creedence groove, and “Devil May Care” rides on a crunching Kinks-y riff and boasts an irresistible chorus. “Mirage, Mirage,” gestated from years of late-night listens to Django Reinhardt and Jeff Beck, provides a momentary languid respite. Then “Ol’ Salt Lick” lopes along with deft wordplay, sketching Farrell’s rock ’n’ roll lifestyle cred; “The Shape I’m In” offers a blast of Brit punk; “Down in the Ruins of the Alkali Flat” serves up more hard-thumpin’ riffage and a synapse-destroying solo; “Rock ’n’ Roll Let Down”—a crunchy co-write with Sex 66 bandmate Jimmy Self—sounds like T.Rex gene-spliced to the Velvet Underground, and “Carelessly” is a sweetly dissipated ballad that closes with a blistering guitar solo. Classics, all. Kudos to co-producer Dana Gumbiner, who’s really made his bones on this project, an album massive enough to stand against anything from New York. Or London. (Jackson Griffith)
In the name of dub: Sometimes the beats thump so deep, the riddim sways so easy and the echo hits so thick, beers will drop right from your hands. And this is exactly what happened on Monday at during the Dub Defender’s set at The Press Club: duo Steven Jess Borth II and Young Aundee’s sounds were so heavy, they made palms sweat, revelers beers crashing to the floor. Twice.
DJ Whores deejays for Dub Defender while Borth and Aundee rolled through their breezy 25-minute set. Borth—standing behind a synth, saxophone strapped over his shoulders—sings and is the mastermind behind Dub Defender. Aundee sings, too, but with a cool falsetto that lends a pop vibe to Defender’s dub stylings; he also plays the melodica, or blow organ, on a few tracks. Borth’s sax interludes were a nice touch, bolstering the traditional dub reggae soundscape of scope delay and flanged snare taps with a jazzy vibe.
Interestingly, Borth and Aundee also were members of Purple Girl, rumored to be getting back together sometime soon. (But, yes, that’s just a rumor—and this column’s track record when it comes to hearsay is anything but stellar.) Still, it’s exciting—which begs the question: Why are the only interesting new local bands rooted in electronica music? (Nick Miller)
A tale of Two Sheds: When I heard Two Sheds would be gigging Concerts in the Park, I was stoked—a park seemed the perfect venue to soak up Caitlin Gutenberger’s dreamy voice anchored by the band’s rustic sound. I walked to Grange, sipped on a basil martini and then headed to Cesar Chavez Plaza. But the second I entered the beer garden I realized I was on the wrong side of the fence. Perhaps it was the multitude of frat boys reeking of cheap beer or the fact that the speakers kept tweaking that made the beer garden less than suitable for listening to music. The only people really listening to Two Sheds were the ones on the other side of the fence, with no beers in their hands. Then I realized, shit, I just spent $10 on a martini that tasted like a Caprese salad. (Jenn Kistler)
Don’t miss (these all-ages shows): More recommendations! Thursday, May 28: Wolf Eyes, Black Dice, the English Singles; Retrofit Studios, 1815 19th Street; 9 p.m.; $7; all ages. Friday, May 29: Order of the Golden Mirror, Lynus, David Houston and the Strings (Sammies showcase); Luigi’s Fun Garden, 1050 20th Street; 8 p.m.; $6; all ages. Saturday, May 30: the Four Eyes, the Pizzas; Javalounge, 2416 16th Street; 8 p.m.; $6; all ages. (N.M.)