I know you're tryin' to disarm me/ Well, you and whose army?
So I'm sure there are probably bigger Lucksmiths fans than I am, but there probably aren't very many, or at least not many as well-documented. I remember when I was finishing up college and I was interning every once in a while at a little free then-monthly called UR Chicago and my now-wife who I had only known for a few months was away for three in Kansas City on an internship, I heard "Camera Shy" on a KEXP stream my editor Christine Hsieh or somebody else was playing, and I dunno, it was just one of those songs where everything immediately snapped into place for me. I'm sure it's largely responsible for me listening a lot more to KEXP.org when I started a job that summer at what was then known as AOL Digital City, which then had an office in Chicago, where they then paid you through a temp agency so you could stay for a year but then you had to leave for three months but then you could come back, so I had lots of great and creative co-workers and it was kind of like a revolving-door extended form of grad school, a great way of delaying the inevitable drift toward adulthood (somebody in New York wrote about the experience here). And I put the Lucksmiths' Naturaliste album in the #1 spot on my oldest extant published albums-of-the-year list, for PopMatters, even though Pitchfork's Scott Plagenhoef rated it only a relatively dismissive 6.2, because I loved it (still do). And I saw them play in Chicago at Schubas and I saw them play in New York at I think Bowery Ballroom with my friend and journalism professor extraordinaire Marcel Pacatte and I reviewed their albums as they added textures and their songs got more subtle, like Warmer Corners and First Frost, and I interviewed guitarist/songwriter Marty Donald by phone from New York and I don't remember how much it cost, and when they put out a compilation album called Spring a Leak I reviewed that, too, and when singing stand-up drummer Tali White put out a side project as the Guild League with at least a couple of songs I played all the time I gave that an over-zealously harsh review that belies its 6.6 score, and when they broke up I was sad. And when I discovered that bass player Mark Monnone was here last year with this other band Still Flyin', I bought him a drink. And I've been listening to the new Lucksmiths farewell single, both A-side and B-, on an iPhone playlist where it sounds really out of place leading into Lil Wayne's "Gonorrhea" in the morning while you're making coffee and your wife is leaving for work.



I'm a grown man.
"I don't know why we don't hang out more," Tim Kasher said early last night at Vaudeville Mews, reiterating comments he made when his band Cursive played here last fall. After all, he said, Omaha and Des Moines are like "neighbors." Last time the metaphor of choice was "cousins," but if that's so, then he's the family member suddenly going through a mid-life crisis. The Omaha indie-rock stalwart's new solo album, The Game of Monogamy, is filled with disarmingly frank, delicately arranged folk-pop that confronts his fears of growing old, dead, or-- at least, here's the subtext-- boring. And that last one sounds like it probably scares him most of all.



If I hadn't cheated and I hadn't lied I'd be the one walking by his side.

It was somehow appropriate that no one seemed to know what time Best Coast would be taking the stage Friday night in the basement of a dorm at Grinnell College. The band's own MySpace said 1:30 p.m.; a few months ago, our friend Ben had pointed that out, and although an afternoon start time definitely seemed strange, I remember thinking, hey, it's a college campus, you never know, right, and immediately trying to convince Ben and Grant and Chet Boom to take off work early that day and give me a ride. The MySpace for UK openers Male Bonding said 7 p.m., though, so there was that. And an article in Grinnell student newspaper the Scarlet & Black listed a 9 p.m. start, but left it somewhat unclear whether that applied to Best Coast or Male Bonding. So I texted Chet Boom saying 9. Then Mrs. Des Noise pointed out that last time we went up to Grinnell, to see British duo Fuck Buttons, we missed the opening act. So she, Shane, our good-natured designated driver Chet Boom and I all rolled into Grinnell's Gardner Lounge a little after 8 p.m., while the bands were still setting up. Turned out we had a couple of hours to kill with the weird experience of openly consuming beer on a college campus. (You're allowed to do that there, apparently. When a guy nearby pulled out a cigarette, though, I noticed that one of the students working security told him no smoking.) It might have felt a little bit weirder because we were sort of creepily lurking in a stairwell.

So yeah, point is, that "what, me know what time I play?" indifference I think is sort of key to what makes Best Coast work. Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno write and perform these fuzzy, super melodic guitar-pop songs with really simple themes about loving someone or missing someone or not being able to communicate truthfully with someone because sometimes that's just the way it is you know? The sound is partly rooted in catchy 1990s indie-pop groups like Tiger Trap, say-- groups with maybe a 60s girl-group element to them, anyway-- and also partly in confessional 90s indie rockers like Liz Phair. Cosentino's voice, though, has an almost counterintuitively dignified, poised aspect to it that connects her to country-ish singers like Neko Case, and there's a traditional, almost retrogressive quality to her lyrics when it comes to gender roles-- does she have to always be sighing over that boy?-- that for some reason makes me want to really stretch and compare her to, like, Patsy Cline, whose records I should put on the turntable while I type the rest of this post. Hang on a sec.



The Eagles are set to play Wells Fargo Arena.
So last weekend after we got home from Kansas City, there on the doormat was our Sunday issue of The New York Times, which I tried canceling a little while ago because we read it mostly online anyway and I was thinking about cutting costs, but you have to call (you can't do it on the website) and the telephone operator was really persuasive, so-- well, now you know how you can get a discount on your Times subscription.

Anyway, the Arts & Leisure section this week was like a million pages, and I noticed there was a New York fall music preview. Which reminded me, along with college football starting again and Mrs. Des Noise going back to school, that it was almost fall. And that, hey-- I usually try to write seasonal music previews! Now, I realize I already missed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and local indie celebs the Envy Corps at Vaudeville Mews earlier this week, and the farewell roast to bartending legend Dirty Dan at the Mews on Sunday before he moves to Hawaii. Also: Hot Hot Heat got canceled, huh?

But there's a whole bunch of interesting stuff coming up the next few months. Probable highlights include, in approximate order of likeliness you might've heard of 'em: Band of Horses, Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club, Best Coast with Male Bonding, The Books, Electric Six, Atmosphere, Candy Claws, Bear in Heaven, Scout Niblett, David Dondero, Retribution Gospel Choir, Tim Kasher (Cursive), Deakin (Animal Collective), Maps & Atlases, Strange Boys and, for the name alone, maybe +Blissed Out+.

As always, please don't hesitate to let me know what I'm forgetting. Thank you for reading!



Maybe we can dance / Maybe we can dance / Maybe we can dance together?
Hey so we saw Pavement again on Saturday, Sept. 11. Last time was the Pitchfork festival over the summer, this time was at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Mo., a 1,700-capacity theater built in the 1920s, with seats in the back half of the main floor and in the ample balcony. Josh and Jessie of another central Iowa-based blog, Nothing Gets Crossed Out, kindly gave us a ride and booked the hotel rooms-- it's like a two-and-a-half or three-hour drive, but the traffic got really bad-- and Chet Boom came along, too*. There's something about Pavement that Mark Richardson touched on nicely in his three paragraphs hailing "Gold Soundz"-- sort of an underdog single, from the band's 1994 album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, which also featured the more-often-shown-on-MTV "Cut Your Hair"-- as No. 1 song of the 90s. "Pavement went around like regular schlubs and played messy shows with songs that took strange turns and didn't quite sound like guitar rock songs are supposed to sound," Mark writes. Their bemused, down-to-earth shrugginess was exceptional at the time, but it's not the type of thing that necessarily translates well to non-believers when set up on a reunion-gig pedestal at a festival of younger bands. I was trying my best not to look silly in front of a few other writers by singing along too much during the band's Pitchfork set, but next to the theatrics of Major Lazer or the fiery declamations of Titus Andronicus, I could understand if somebody unfamiliar might've been wondering to themselves: What's the big deal?

"Hey, you're not in Poison Control Center."
Not so Saturday night. Dudes opened with "Gold Soundz", another shrug maybe, but one with a triumphant undertone: We do remember, in September, the August sun. As a group, we're not as empty as we (they) protest. And yeah, consider the past un-quarantined. There was sadly no "Summer Babe"-- as Kansas City Pitch points out-- and no "Two States", but there were plenty of favorites, including songs from my own Pavement entry point, 1997's Brighten the Corners (I found out about them by being a huge fan of Britpop group Blur, who were saying in interviews back then they were huge American indie rock fans): "Here", "Shady Lane", "Stereo", "Unfair", "Cut Your Hair", "Date With Ikea", "Rattled by the Rush", "Conduit for Sale", "Debris Slide". Sorry to name so many songs; these guys just play hit after hit. I never saw Pavement live before their latest tour, but what struck me most both times was not the frontman or the guitarist but Bob Nastanovich-- a familiar smiling face around Des Moines (and supposedly the guy who inspired Blur's "Song 2")-- stalking the stage screaming gleefully like a teenager. Or banging on a tambourine. Or blowing into a harmonica, or some kind of pull-whistle, I didn't get a good look at either. Stephen Malkmus was decked out in a Kansas City Chiefs jersey, which he explained at one point, but I didn't quite hear. I guess this was Pavement's first non-Lollapalooza show in K.C., which is crazy. Anyway, I don't know if the band did much out of the ordinary, but it was the kind of crowd where you can just tell a lot of people actually know the songs and are super happy to be singing along with them or else just watching fondly. As someone who mostly grew up near Sacramento, it was fun to finally be able to shout along to lyrics arguing for the supremacy of Northern over Southern California. For "We Dance", Bob and his wife Whitney, another Des Moines fixture, well, danced. Devin Frank from Ames, Iowa-based opening band the Poison Control Center-- more on them in a sec-- ended up onstage singing along for encore finale "Range Life", which segued into a goofy "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". How'd he do that?