Saturday night at the White Rabbit Cabaret was all about growth. Laura K. Balke, She Does Is Magic, and The Bonesetters all have advanced their talents, which is a great sign for any musician. After chatting with members from each group I am convinced that they all have the opportunity to gain fans outside of our Indianapolis scene. Smart, talented, and kind are a few words that come to mind when describing the bands that provided me entertainment on Saturday evening.
Each of the three performers is an entrepreneur at heart. By marketing themselves and continuing to create a terrific product, they all show signs of thinking like an owner. My hope is that this kind of dedication and determination will continue to be recognized as more people come to their shows and buy their music. These musicians provide an excellent representation for our Indianapolis scene.
Laura K. Balke opened the night with her electric guitar and soothing songs. Balke was comfortable on stage and confident as she spoke to the crowd. In between songs LKB told the crowd “This is the most attentive crowd that I have ever played for.” While this was a compliment for those it attendance, it should be more of a highlight to the captivating sound she offered to visitors. Song, “Two Ships” (not “Two Shits” as she joked) was the highlight for me. Rich song writing allowed my mind to sail and get caught in the moment. After the show, I purchased her latest album, Rumors & Legends on vinyl. A true artist in every sense of the word, the hard-cover release displays prints of Balke’s hand-drawn artwork accompanying each track. Check out Record Geeks review of this pressing.
She Does is Magic provided a solid first impression for me as this was my first time seeing them live. Band member, Mark Walker described their songs as “fun music” and I completely agree. They are an extremely easy band to not only approach, but also become a fan of. I am excited to watch this band grow as they plan to release their debut full-length sometime later this year.
Blog favorite, The Bonesetters closed the night out with their strongest performance to date. Their timing was perfect and stage presence was improved. The song writing and delivery of front man, Dan Snodgrass initially drew me to this band. During this performance I was drawn to the talent of drummer, Cody Davis. Exceptional fills and impeccable timing has helped build out the Bonesetters brand for me. The Bonesetters are true rock and roll and local readers of the blog should fill up venues any time they are on the bill.
Here is the set list from The Bonesetters:
You are Shaun Gannon
Waltz #2 (XO) (Elliot Smith Cover)
As I strolled out of the White Rabbit Cabaret on Saturday night I felt a sense of pride for talking about these bands in the depth that we do here. There needs to be more types of these events on a more consistent basis. Take advantage of the talent that Indianapolis offers. It does not disappoint.
Written by Brett McGrath
Saturday presents an unbelievable opportunity for members of the Indianapolis scene to gather and show your appreciation for three terrific local acts. White Rabbit Cabaret will provide the space and I am asking for local readers to get off the couch, DVR SNL, and get out to Fountain Square to show your support for local music. The heart of the matter for us is that this blog continues to run because of local music. Sure, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from covering bands that are buzzing the blogosphere and we truly enjoy that. However, it is just not the same as writing up a neighborhood project. I find the feeling similar to cheering for your hometown sports team. It represents a certain sense of belonging. Pride emerges from this organic feeling and support is displayed. Indy residents have an opportunity to support and foster the growth of a blooming scene. Let’s start to promote our community and take pride in the local bands that wear the Indianapolis independent hometown tag proudly.
The Bonesetters, She Does Is Magic, and Laura K. Balke are three talented acts that allow me to shout from the top of Monument Circle when discussing the evolving scene here in Indianapolis. Even casual readers of this blog would recognize these names because we do not shut up about them. Any time these artists release something, we promote it. We do so without hesitating, because they are good. Those familiar with their collective discography can expect to hear some new songs. These acts have done an unbelievable job of posting their updates through social media. In many cases, I feel like I am being fed little pieces of a project that will eventually transform into an entire body of work. The engagement that these bands have offered to us through many platforms should be noted and now it is our time as fans to give a little back.
I will continue to attend their shows and write about their music because they fill a chunk of what I represent. I anticipate big moments from each of these Hoosier musicians in the future. All three have the ability to make a Butler Bulldogs type run. You can get a sneak preview of Saturday night by attending their free in-store at Indy CD & Vinyl before the show. Come caravan with the Thought on Tracks team on Saturday and make sure you bring a friend…and tell them to bring a friend. No one will leave disappointed. Cover is $5.
Laura K. Balke “Turn the Key”
The Bonesetters “Mushroom Clouds Aloft”
She Does Is Magic “East Coast and Upaways”
Written by Brett McGrath
A Note on The Rankings
I hate lists. I don’t understand the necessity of slapping a score on anything other than a sporting event. This is particularly true of art. Pitchfork’s rating system is the single element of that blog that I loathe the most. When Drake’s album Take Care recently earned an 8.6, I vomited a bit. However, I understand that it was an important release for a lot of listeners. An album that I consider the greatest of the year, could be the worst thing you’ve ever heard. Who the fuck am I to tell you otherwise? Art is subjective and should remain so. If you talk to me next week, my list of top albums will likely be different – or the rankings, at minimum, would be shuffled. That being said, here’s my Top 10:
10. The Bonesetters – SAVAGES!
This is an Indiana blog, and we spend the bulk of our time covering the Indianapolis music scene. With that in mind, I would have felt irresponsible for failing to include my favorite Hoosier release of the year. As I said in my review earlier this week, this is an album free of gimmicks. Just pure, unadulterated goodness. Go see The Bonesetters live. Buy the album. Thank me later.
9. Feist – Metals
Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist rose to prominence with her 2006 release The Reminder, featuring pop songs that immediately engrained themselves in the listener’s mind like “1234” and “Mushaboom.” Unfortunately, that album toed the line of tolerance for me, coming dangerously close to played out irrelevance. That’s part of the reason why I adored her 2011 release Metals. I found myself repeatedly reaching for these songs any time I was in the mood for easy listening. It has never failed me, and never gotten old.
8. The Coasts – The Coasts
This album means a lot to me. I was introduced to lead singer Ike Peters via Turntable.fm. I fell immediately in love with his self-titled release when it hit the interwebs in August. Peters and bandmate Eric Mount were kind enough to grant this blog its first band interview, despite the fact that we still had no clue what we were doing. Okay, maybe we still don’t, but that post legitimized this project for me. At the time, I didn’t realize that we were the first publication of any kind to interview The Coasts. A few months later, their song “RIOT!” had reached enough ears to be played during the credits of 90210. I feel like their band and our blog have grown up together, like neighborhood kids that played on the same soccer team. More important than any of this is the fact that this album kicks ass. I love these guys and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.
7. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
Like the best movies, Paul Simon keeps getting better with age. His 2011 release is worth is right up there with Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints as one of his greatest releases to date. Refusing to rest on his laurels, Simon soaks in influences like a world weary sponge, spewing them forth to the masses in his own unique voice. And what a voice! I left his recent Bloomington performance convinced that it was the best retirement-age rock show I have ever been to. This revelation comes despite the fact that I have seen Dylan (multiple times), The Stones, The Beach Boys, Clapton and Elton John. He is the best. Period.
6. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
Indie superstar and renowned grower of beards, Sam Beam, has been wowing critics and audiences with his awe inspiring acoustic songwriting for years. One of the toughest decisions of my year was to skip out on his show at The Vogue for The Black Keys at The Lawn. I know, life is tough right? I knew Beam could write a song with the best of them. However, I was never convinced that his writing style could withstand the force of a full backing band. All concerns can safely be put to rest. I would argue, to the displeasure of his rabid fan base, that Kiss Each Other Clean is Beam’s greatest work to date. I’m still kind of pissed at myself for leaving “Big Burned Hand” off of my list for best songs of the year. Shame on you, Rob. Shame.
5. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Mirror Traffic
The first four tracks of Mirror Traffic may go down as my favorite sequence of songs of the year. I have, admittedly, never delved deep into the indie legend’s catalog. The massive amount of material from Pavement and his various side projects was always too intimidating from a size perspective for me to sift through. Fortunately, Mirror Traffic was too good to ignore, and I am now officially on the bandwagon. The second song, “No One Is (As I Are Be)” contains the best line of the year from this writer’s humble opinion: “I cannot even do one sit-up / Sit-ups are so bourgeoise” Only Malkmus could have written that line. His sold out show at Earth House was one of the year’s best, and so is this album.
4. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
This one took a while to grow on me. To be honest, I have a general disdain for artists that rely too heavily on vocal effects. I’m a non-violent person, but I wouldn’t hesitate to put a bullet between the eyes of whatever scum bag invented the insufferable auto-tune machine. Though I respected Justin Vernon’s 2008 debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, for its sincerity and emotional candor, the music itself left me less than enthused. It wasn’t until his performance at The Murat that I realized my feelings were misplaced. The depth of Vernon’s self-titled album was on full display that night. The songs are so deceptively simple, that I stood slack jawed as his nine-man band went to work. Congrats to Bloomington label Jagjaguwar on putting out some of the best shit this side of 2010.
3. Real Estate – Days
The album of the fall is also one of the best releases of the year. I’m a sucker for great singing, addictive choruses and easy listening. Days has it all. I don’t see this album leaving my rotation of weekly listens any time in the near future. It’s a go to for road trips, drinking outdoors and attempted make-out sessions. I can play this album for my parents or my peers and the response is the same: these kids rock.
2. tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L
To understand my love for Merrill Garbus, you need simply read my review of her Bloomington show at Rhino’s. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no other artist like this. Garbus exists in a world of her own. Sure there are plenty of indie bands looping their voice and backbeats, but none of them have her voice. I remember sitting up late at night when NPR Music announced their stream of W H O K I L L via their First Listen series. I had been awaiting this release with baited breath, and Garbus delivered. Her style is not for everyone and if you don’t agree with my selection, there’s no hard feelings. tUnE-yArDs just happens to be a sound that gets my juices flowing.
1. The Beach Boys – Smile
They just don’t make them like this anymore. Period. Unlimited studio time with world class studio musicians is a thing of the past. You win Napster. Although the songs from Smile are undeniable winners, the real joy I derive from this album comes from listening to Brian Wilson nitpick musicians in the studio. Though he is a certifiable nutjob, the simple fact remains that his ears should be preserved in a museum for all eternity. The man is responsible for some of the greatest pop songs that have ever graced the airwaves, and the eccentricity that led to this greatness is on full display here. Thanks for finally allowing the masses to finally get a taste.
Written by Rob Peoni