For most locals who spent time in our cars listening to the radio in the ’80s, one could almost guarantee that any skip across the dial would find the Psychedelic Furs oozing out the back seat speakers, probably thanks to 91X and its groupie-like devotion to the UK band. Led then and now by singer-songwriter Richard Butler and his bassist brother Tim, the Furs pretty much defined alt-rock before that term was even a thing, with omnipresent radio and MTV hits like the soundtrack slice “Pretty in Pink,” as well as “Heaven,” “Love My Way,” etc. Their videos may look hokey now, with all the primitive wipe effects, shiny outfits, and far too many unnerving, endless closeups of Richard trying to look as much as possible like David Bowie’s coked-out Thin White Duke, but pretty much all the vids from that era look like Bowie’s late-night hallucinations. The Furs went away for a few years in the ’90s (pity few radio stations favored the spinoff group, Love Spit Love, the way they saturated the airwaves with their predecessors, since two members went on to join Guns N’ Roses), but they’re back on the classic rock circuit, with a date at the Belly Up on March 6. This time around, the Butler brothers will be accompanied by guitarist Rich Good (who co-founded the Pleased with Joanna Newsom), jazz saxophonist Mars Williams (the Waitresses), drummer Paul Garisto (an off-and-on member since 1983), and keyboardist Amanda Kramer, one of around two dozen players who’ve cycled through the fondly remembered ’80s/’90s new-wave band Information Society.
Portland-based Kyle Craft is only the latest “discovery” from long-lived label Sub Pop, which years ago ceased being novelty grunge enablers and now embraces everything from hardcore to new age. Craft’s 2016 debut for the label, Dolls of Highland, was basically a 1970s garage-rock album tailored for 21st-century ears, with jukebox sing-alongs and plenty of ciggie-soaked guitar riffing and solo singer-songwriter lyricism. Then a few weeks ago, he kind of took a left turn with Girl Crazy, a collection of songs covering female acts that one wouldn’t assume to be a natural fit, including Patsy Cline, TLC, Jenny Lewis, Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, and even Cher’s “Believe.” With an upcoming gig at the Casbah on March 8, you might expect the tour to be in support of Girl Crazy, but advance press indicates he’s actually trying out songs from a second Sub Pop full-length due later this year, Full Circle Nightmare, his first non-homemade album to be recorded in a full studio, assisted by Decemberists producer Chris Funk. That’s a lot of music in two years. No preview tracks were available at this writing, and I prefer to listen to the newest music by upcoming acts being covered in this column, so I went ahead and spun a few random Girl Crazy tracks while writing this blurb. My toes tapped the whole time, and that rarely happens. Either I’m suffering early onset of Parkinson’s or this is some pretty catchy and engaging stuff, even if it did apparently start on a lark that doubled as commercial product between his “real” albums. Let’s hope the concert setlist manages to include tracks like these dating back at least as far as late 2017.
Dark alt-pop quartet Pale Waves seems to have what used to be called a “sleeper” hit; i.e., a release that goes all but unnoticed for months or even years and then all of a sudden everybody wants to talk about it (even though the artist has, most likely, moved on to more fruitful efforts). Their EP, All the Things I Never Said, came out at the beginning of last year, but it’s only been over the past few months that their name is popping up in the U.S. among those whose chatter matters (meaning the press and bloggers who think they’re the press). In England, that positive ink included a career-making cover on the revered NME magazine (basically UK’s Rolling Stone crossed with the National Enquirer), though American ears may find tracks such as “Television Romance” and “My Obsession” a bit too glib, or even unintentionally comedic, given the thin production and lack of any hooks or choruses that don’t seem arch in their desperation to get you to pay attention to the clever lyrics (think the Cure as if fronted by a female Benny Hill). Their first U.S. headline tour finds them playing an all-ages show at Soma on March 24, where the bill includes fellow Brits Inheaven, an alt-rock quartet from South London who’ve been dropping singles since summer 2015 but only released their debut self-titled album last September. Britain seem to love that one, too, with NME calling it “indie’s most dangerously exciting debut album.” Ignoring the fact that “indie” isn’t really a genre, it’s more of an adjective (and yet NME uses it as a noun), this seems a deliriously excited overstatement. After sampling several tracks, we’re calling Inheaven the frontrunner in a crowded field of competitors hoping to be this year’s My Bloody Valentine or Arctic Monkeys.
Colombian-born, Toronto-based Lido Pimienta describes herself as an “interdisciplinary musician and artist curator,” which basically means that her artistic palette includes everything from sounds to art, fashion, and politics. Musically, her newest album, La Papessa (nominated last year for a Polaris Prize), is a musical travelogue built on an engine of afrobeat backgrounds and EDM foregrounds, treading interesting lines between tribal jazz and electronica. Lyrically, hers is a distinctly Latin American POV, sharing her take on both Canada-centric topics as well as on more universal themes of gender, identity, race, and what it means to raise a child in this increasingly fugazi world. She appears at the Casbah on March 31.
First, they said they’d only reunite “When Hell freezes over.” Now, even death can’t make them go away. One guy who cofounded the Eagles in 1971, two dudes who joined up a few years later, plus the son of a dead Eagle and a fading country music star with apparently nothing else to do, have announced more dates for their upcoming tour, currently set to wrap at Petco Park on September 22. Now, if original co-founder Randy Meisner were aboard, and/or long-estranged guitarist Don Felder (who first joined in 1974), you’d have yourself an actual Eagles tour, but at least they’ll be letting latter-day Eagle Joe Walsh steal the show as always, with tracks from his own projects. Tickets go on sale Friday, January 19, for a concert promised to start at 5 p.m., with opening acts the Zac Brown Band and this year’s version of the Doobie Brothers.