Oct 092009

Flogging Molly – The Knitting Factory – Spokane, WA – 2009.9.16

Concerts Comments Off on Flogging Molly – The Knitting Factory – Spokane, WA – 2009.9.16

Unknown openers for a major act are, almost by definition, a hit-or-miss prospect.  Which is one of the reasons why it can be such an exhilarating experience to encounter a band you’ve never heard before that totally rocks your socks off.  The Flogging Molly last week at the Knitting Factory had in store two such bands.

The first, a Motown band from LA called Fitz and the Tantrums (MySpace), takes everything I like about Motown (the energy, the vocal dynamism, the groovy bass lines) and replaces everything else with polished, energetic pop sensibilities. They are highly recommended for anyone who likes funk, fusion, Motown, etc. Hit the link to their MySpace above to sample some of the awesome.

Next up were an groovy ska combo called Hepcat.  (MySpace – Be sure to check out their version of “Dance Wit’ Me”).  Apparently they’re fairly well known in LA and in the ska scene, but this was my first exposure to them.  They were well-coordinated, talented, and charming.  They were also very high energy, managing to get a fair portion of the crowd jumping around and dancing.  They certainly weren’t doing anything revolutionary with the genre, but when the genre is one that’s as effortlessly enjoyable as ska, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  They’re truly masters of form.  They know what they do, and they do it amazingly well.

So after a couple topnotch openers, Flogging Molly took the stage.  And, continuing the momentum of the evening, they certainly did not disappoint.  They played a good mix of newer and older material, focusing mostly on their punkier, more high-energy stuff.

Highlights of their set included “What’s Left of the Flag”, “Drunken Lullabies” and “Lightning Storm” which they dedicated to Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, and Ronnie Drew.  I was also a big fan of their live rendition of “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”, which lead to a giant round of cheesy swaying-and-shoulder-hugging camaraderie in the audience.

Definitely an awesome show.  Easily one of the best I’ve been too in ages, and probably a strong candidate for my top 10 of all time.  The combination of two brilliant and unexpected openers and a headliner who know their audience and are professional and talented to boot made for a truly epic show.  Aside from a few audience members being complete twats*a good time was had by all.

*Seriously guys, shoving people who don’t want to be in the pit into it isn’t funny, clever, cool, badass, etc.  It just flat makes you an immature jackass.

Mar 202008

Well, with a tie in last week’s voting, I’m casting my deciding for Yael Naim. Not only does her single get firmly wedged into my brain whenever I hear it, but it’s been awhile since we had a flat-out pop album reviewed around here.

Your voting options this week include the latest from Counting Crows (their first in 6 years), fop rockers Panic at the Disco, and indie super-group the Raconteurs.

And with that. Options!

Counting Crows, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (LINK)
Crash Romeo, Gave Me The Clap (LINK)
Panic At The Disco, Pretty. Odd (LINK)
Pennywise, Reason To Believe (LINK)
The Raconteurs, Consolers Of The Lonely (LINK)

Mar 202008

Artist: Flogging Molly
Album: Float
Label: Side One Dummy
Release Date: Tuesday, 2008.3.4
Score: 8.5/10

Flogging Molly’s fourth studio album, Float, is a return to form for the band, after 2004’s more slightly more experimental album, Within a Mile of Home. Float features the same sort of solid, energetic Celt rock that fans will be well familiar with, minus some of the genre-blurring goofiness of their last album. This gives it an overall feel much closer to Drunken Lullabies than their more recent Within a Mile of Home.

“Lightning Storm”, for example wouldn’t sound out of place on Swagger or Drunken Lullabies, with its fast-paced, snare-driven drums and sweeping, brogued vocal lines. It effortlessly combines Gaelic-sounding violins with thick guitar power chords and shows off the band’s ability to seamlessly combine the two disparate styles. “On The Back of a Broken Dream” makes good use of rattling, energetic drums and smooth vocal lines to create a similarly effective combination.

As with previous albums, two the band’s biggest strengths are Dave King’s powerful, expressive voice and his distinctive lyrical style. As with previous releases, the lyrics often have a political theme, and usually a fairly straight-forward one at that (“there’s a government whip cracked across your back”). Where the lyrics aren’t political, they cover themes familiar to Flogging Molly fans: love, loss, alienation and the ex patriot experience.

Musically, while sounding closer to their earlier work than their last album, Float seems to make heavier use of Flogging Molly’s Celtic folk roots than previous albums. On most tunes, the electric guitars are relegated to harmonic support and musical texture. Melodies are primarily carried in the vocal and violin lines and the drums are syncopated and snare-heavy. The net effect is that Float is decidedly more of a folk album than it is a rock album, and much more so than its aesthetic predecessors, Drunken Lullabies and Swagger.

Overall, Float, feels like a much mature album than Flogging Molly’s previous works. All of the elements which seemed to be at times at odds with one another come together remarkably well in this latest effort. Swagger‘s blustery rock enthusiasm, Drunken Lullabies‘ political bend and lyrical emphasis, and Within a Mile of Home‘s decided folk slant have all been woven together in a much better crafted manner. Whereas Drunken Lullabies often feels didactic and Within a Mile of Home strikes many as just flat goofy, Float is a well-crafted, well-executed album that brings together a lot of different elements and makes out of them a whole musical cloth.

That being said, Float will not break new ground for fans, but it will give them exactly what they love about Flogging Molly: energetic, well-crafted Celt Rock. Those not familiar with Flogging Molly may want to start with their (in my opinion) superior debut, Swagger before grabbing Float. That being said, Float is a fantastic album which any fan of the genre is likely to enjoy.

Mar 122008

Okay, so I missed another week. Apologies. The review is up and, in a land slide victory, you folks chose the new Flogging Molly album to be reviewed next week. One confession: one of the reasons my Raveonettes review took so long is that I spent most of the weekend listening to Float. You’ll have to tune in next week for the full review, but I will say up front: it’s pretty cool.

Well, on to the business at hand. Voting! These weeks voting include the debut release from the first Israeli to land in the Billboard Top Ten (Yael Naim), a band with the same name as the one my former suite mate formed (the Matches), a solo project by one of the members of the Moldy Peaches (Adam Green), and a collaboration between M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel (She & Him). Oh, and the new Destroyer album.

Options!

Destroyer, Trouble In Dreams (LINK)
The Matches, A Band In Hope (LINK)
Yael Naim, Yael Naim (LINK)
She & Him, Volume 1 (LINK)
Adam Green, Sixes & Sevens (LINK)