Ben Flocks – “Battle Mountain” review

Ben Flocks
Battle Mountain

Saxophonist Ben Flocks’ debut is stunning; this young California native has lots to say, and does so eloquently. He’s assembled like-minded musicians, guitarist Ari Chersky, drummer Evan Hughes, bassist Garrett Lang and keyboardist Sam Reider to breathe life into his concepts. The opener, title track “Battle Mountain,” refers to his birthplace, and comes on like John Coltrane meets Bill Frisell. “Shenandoah” filters folk through a jazz lens, followed by Reider’s unusual, extended arrangement of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” “Eagle Rock” is subtle and atmospheric, followed by the Latin-tinged ballad, “Murmullo.” Lead Belly’s “Silver City Bound” becomes good ol’ fashioned rock’n’roll, albeit with accordion and brushes. Flocks channels his elders with warm, classic stylings on “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You.” Closing with “Return to Battle Mountain,” he burns with intensity. Even the cover art announces that this is an artist to watch. — Martin Z. Kasdan, Jr.

Forecastle Festival announces day-by-day line-up

The Forecastle Festival will offer single-day tickets on Friday at noon EST.

They say, “A limited number of single-day general admission tickets will be available for $74.50, and will increase to $84.50 once the initial allotment is gone. General admission weekend passes are currently available for $184.50, moving to $199.50 in the next and final tier.

Single day VIP passes will also be available for $199.50. With VIP Weekend passes and VIP travel packages now SOLD OUT, this is the last chance for fans to experience Forecastle 2014 in true VIP style.

All festival tickets are available at, and all Ticketmaster outlets.”

Here’s the latest schedule update:

Twenty One Pilots
Gary Clark Jr.
Local Natives
Action Bronson
JJ Grey & Mofro
Against Me!
Nightmares on Wax (live)
The Black Lips
St. Lucia
Chrome Sparks
Benjamin Booker
Foy Vance
The Districts
Willie Watson
Old Baby

Jack White
Band of Horses
Dwight Yoakam
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Jason Isbell
Lord Huron
Spanish Gold
Sun Kil Moon
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Hurray for the Riff Raff
The Soul Rebels
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Mount Moriah
Young & Sick
Jalin Roze
Goodbye June
The Wans
Jill Andrews

The Replacements
Ray LaMontagne
Nickel Creek
Trampled By Turtles
Jenny Lewis
Brett Dennen
Sharon Van Etten
Claude VonStroke
Charli XCX
Boy & Bear
Hayes Carll
The Weeks
Blue Sky Black Death

Iron & Wine – oh!

Iron & Wine
with Special Guest
May 13
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY
$30 in advance. $35 day of show. Doors @ 8 p.m. 18 & over.
Tickets on sale Friday, 4/4/14 @ 10 a.m.

Zara McFarlane – “If You Knew Her” review

Zara McFarlane
If You Knew Her

A new year, a new British ingénue to faun over, eagerly, even. Zara McFarlane’s second album for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label plays like a whisper, that slow weekend awakening — all cat-stretches and five-more-minutes leading to breakfast at 3 p.m. Similar in mood and spirit to Brenda Russell, but with a tight band setting grooves that would fit her former label mate Jose James’ oeuvre. Blended in to the set of originals are a pair of reggae covers, including a mesmerizing cover of Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves” delivered not unlike “Strange Fruit,” sober and frighteningly still-relevant. McFarlane is not a showy singer, preferring to lay bare each songs’ lyrics until each syllable is digested fully, words soaking in until your hair stands on end. Beautiful work. — Damien McPherson

Thumbscrew – album review


Thumbscrew, more than an album title, is an adventurous trio of improvising artists: guitarist Mary Halvorson, drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Michael Formanek. They deliver provocative, yet not off-putting new jazz. Each musician wrote three songs, with Fujiwara’s off-kilter bluesy “Cheap Knock Off” opening the album, leaving plenty of room for a ferocious bass solo. Formanek’s title track is next, with intertwining guitar and bass driven by subtly busy drumwork. “Fluid Hills in Pink” is Halvorson’s noirish composition, during which she alternately strums and picks provocatively. “Goddess Sparkle” somehow combines free music and knotty interplay into a cohesive whole.  Throughout, Halvorson’s more abstract approach to her instrument finds grounding in Formanek’s rich bass and Fujiwara’s often danceable polyrhythms. Overall, the album’s approach might be summed up by the tongue-in-cheek name of Formanek’s piece “Still … Doesn’t Swing,” although it frequently does despite itself. — Martin Z. Kasdan, Jr.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – “… We Pour Light on Everything” review

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra
Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

For Efrim Menuck, parenthood comes with a lot of anxiety. The singer and guitar player of TSMZ became a father in 2009, signifying a decided shift in his creative output. His first solo effort, Plays High Gospel, dealt largely with parenthood; TSMZ abandoned melancholy for desperation, dropping “post” and embracing full rock — with limited success. Until now: Fuck Off is the most coherent and confident TSMZ release yet. Here, sights are set on essential and brutal contradictions in the world: beauty (children, love, friendship) is juxtaposed with ugliness: war, poverty, suffering. Four-year-old Ezra Moss-Menuck opens the album, declaring, “We make a lot of noise because we love each other!”; later, his father later laments, All our children gonna die. Nevertheless, amongst this madness Menuck begs us to remain hopeful: hold on / don’t ever be done. — Joey Keegin

The Ford Theatre Reunion – “Famous Monsters” review

The Ford Theatre Reunion
Famous Monsters

The Lexington quintet is a peculiar beast, like the psychotic love child of Amanda Palmer and Tom Waits, albeit perhaps a bit more palatable than that may imply. The instrumentation on Famous Monsters could be best described as quirky; not quite exotic in that you can likely place what you hear, but certainly unconventional enough to raise one very make-up laden eyebrow. Like a metal gypsy group, FTR play like deranged steam punkers busking furiously for their next meal. The singing is a shared affair, distributed among what sounds like multiple people, some male, some female, and to varying timbres, all of which carries the narrative throughout FM. This is a schizophrenic affair, switching between a lovely, cabaret sounding part, to something far more chaotic, snarling, and atonal, all in the course of one track, making for an adventurous listening experience. — Syd Bishop

Perfect Pussy – “Say Yes to Love” review

Perfect Pussy
Say Yes to Love

On their second record, hardcore punks Perfect Pussy find magic in the madness. This is a reckless and unforgiving record, smashing through songs like the band gets paid overtime for doing so. Shrill, but kind of chimey guitar work? Check. Rowdy drumming? You betcha. Blistering, but melodic vocals? You’d better believe it. SYTL pays homage to punk heroes, from the viciousness of early Minor Threat to the microphone feedback, pop-soaked punk of Skull Kontrol. Where Perfect Pussy really shine is not in their ability to rage through each track, but rather in their skill at crafting punk that isn’t afraid of having a strong hook … even if that hook happens to be a solid left to the eye. Tracks like “Interference Fits” show the band knows when to hold back, even if it’s not that often. — Syd Bishop

That’s right, they’re not from Louisville: Lyle Lovett, Dave Rawlings and friends return

Lyle Lovett & His Acoustic Group
Saturday, May 17
Iroquois Amphitheater
$45+; 7:30 p.m.
On sale Friday, March 21, at 10 a.m.
“Tickets are available via, by phone (877) 987-6487, or in-person at the Iroquois Amphitheater Box Office (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., M-F.)  Phone, internet & outlet orders subject to convenience fee.”

The Dave Rawlings Machine (including Gillian Welch, John Paul Jones, Willie Watson, and Paul Kowert) plays the Brown Theatre on Thursday, June 26, 8 p.m.
Tickets are $32.75, reserved seating, fees apply. Kentucky Center Members, donors at the $100 level and above, can buy tickets starting Thursday, March 20, at 10 a.m.

Snowbird – album review

Simon Raymonde, former bassist of the Cocteau Twins, heard the sounds of singer-songwriter Stephanie Dosen in 2006. They then formed Snowbird, and their resulting 11-track debut, Moon, is dulcet and fiery all at once. Raymonde duly makes a point to blanket the instrumentation, and the floodlight is on Dosen throughout the entire album, even with contributions by Radiohead’s drummer Phil Selway and guitarist Ed O’Brien. There are multiple layers of angelic vocals and intricacies that sound identical to vocalist Elizabeth Frazier’s past work with Raymonde. If one had no context, they could assume Moon to be a Cocteau Twins album that hadn’t seen the light of day until now (even the cover art is done by Vaughan Oliver, who has worked previously with 4AD and the former band itself.) Ultimately a gem for Cocteau fans galore, Moon charms like a sweet tart. — Sam Wilkerson