Zara McFarlane – “If You Knew Her” review

Zara McFarlane
If You Knew Her
(BROWNSWOOD RECORDINGS)

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
Thumbscrew
(CUNEIFORM)

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
(CONSTELLATION)

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
(CAPTURED TRACKS)

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 www.IroquoisAmphitheater.com, 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

Snowbird
Moon
(BELLA UNION)
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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


Fork in Socket: album review

Fork in Socket
Mount Mountain
(SELF-RELEASED)

If anything, Fork in Socket proves their aptitude lies in finding and exploiting the groove inherent in the many and varied riffs that constitute each track. The entire album is riff-heavy, moving from one piece to the next with an alarming alacrity, befitting a band steeped in such a rich Louisville-oriented tradition. An instrumental act, Fork in Socket pay homage to a long line of indie progenitors that range from the compositional bombast of Rodan to the technical acumen of the young Don Caballero. As such, the band struggles with the conventional pitfalls of instrumental indie, wherein each song inevitably begins to blur together. This isn’t to say there is no joy to be had here, but that each progression moves with a breakneck speed that disallows any particular moment to shine or stand out. — Syd Bishop


Mark McGuire: album review

Mark McGuire
Along the Way
(DEAD OCEANS)

Things were looking grim when Cleveland drone trio Emeralds split up early last year following the departure of guitarist Mark McGuire, but judging from the post-breakup output of each former member, it may have been for the better — and with Along the Way, McGuire becomes the outstanding example. It’s a huge leap forward from his previous work: though still utilizing the restrained, meditative guitar-work of his earlier output, McGuire channels the spirit of Ashra-era Manuel Göttsching and incorporates a wide array of electric and acoustic instrumentation resulting in a glimmering, radiant record as kinetic as it is conceptual. Described by McGuire as “an odyssey through the vast, unknown regions of the mind,” Along is accompanied by a Castaneda-esque spiritual travelogue, detailing the journey of the soul toward enlightenment — thankfully, the metaphysics never stifle the album’s brilliance. — Joey Keegin


Outkast, Jack White, Beck, The Replacements, Slint, Nickel Creek headline Forecastle ‘14

Four reunions and two of popular music’s most vital and intriguing artists have been booked to headline this year’s Forecastle Festival at Waterfront Park between July 18 and 20. Outkast, Jack White, Beck, The Replacements, Slint and Nickel Creek are some of the biggest reasons for music fans to look forward to this year’s adventure.

The 12th edition of the festival will also feature notable names such as Ray Lamontagne, Band of Horses, Spoon, Dwight Yoakam, Local Natives, Gary Clark Jr., and a rescheduled Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings; the latter had planned to play last year but canceled after Jones was diagnosed with bile duct cancer.

In addition to Slint, other local acts include the indie/psych rock bands Old Baby and Seluah, and rapper Jalin Roze.

New band Spanish Gold is a side project of My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan; singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten’s band has included drummer Ben Lord, a Louisvillian who has played with Falling Forward, Up the Empire and the Phantom Family Halo. While the legendary Dwight Yoakam is a Kentuckian, he hails from Pikeville on the eastern edge of the state and has lived in Los Angeles for 30 years.

Sun Kil Moon, led by singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek, has collaborated several times with local singer Will Oldham, including an appearance by the latter on Sun Kil Moon’s new album, released last month. Oldham also took the well-known photo seen on the cover of Slint’s classic 1991 album Spiderland, and has been friends with that band since childhood.

Some other acts have already proven their popularity live and on WFPK radio in Louisville, including Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Trampled By Turtles, JJ Grey & Mofro, Brett Dennen and Hayes Carll.

Also returning this year is the Bourbon Lodge, “Forecastle’s slice of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail”. One new feature is the Kentucky Landing, exposing visitors to craft beer options, local food trucks, craft vendors selling locally made wares and the annual collection of non-profit organization booths.

 

TICKET INFO:

“A limited number of weekend passes go on sale this Friday, March 7 at noon EST at ForecastleFest.com, Ticketmaster.com and all Ticketmaster outlets. Weekend passes start at $144.50 plus applicable service fees. VIP experiences, travel packages and payment-plan options will also be available. Single day passes and late-night show tickets, along with the daily schedule of artists and late-night events will be available soon. Full details are available at forecastlefest.com/tickets.”

 

CONFIRMED LINEUP:

Outkast

Jack White

Beck

The Replacements

Ray Lamontagne

Band of Horses

Spoon

Nickel Creek

Dwight Yoakam

Twenty One Pilots

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Local Natives

Gary Clark Jr.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit

Jenny Lewis

Trampled By Turtles

Lord Huron

Tune-Yards

JJ Grey & Mofro

Action Bronson

Slint

Flume

Against Me!

Sun Kil Moon

Sharon Van Etten

The Black Lips

St. Lucia

Brett Dennen

Tourist

Lucius

Nightmares On Wax (live)

Charli XCX

Claude VonStroke

Spanish Gold

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

The Soul Rebels

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

Reignwolf

Waxahatchee

Chrome Sparks

Hayes Carll

Willie Watson

Foy Vance

Hurray For the Riff Raff

The Districts

Benjamin Booker

Johnnyswim

Leagues

Old Baby

Blue Sky Black Death

Matrimony

Mount Moriah

Seluah

The Weeks

JaLin Roze

Young & Sick

Jill Andrews

The Wans

Goodbye June