The press release accompanying the new EP from San Fransisco group Birds & Batteries describes their music as “alt-country garage, fuzzy synth psych, or electronic pop.” I read that and scratched my head for a second; then I read it again. Those genres seem to contain at least three things that are diametrically opposed. I was sufficiently intrigued, gave the material a listen and was pleasantly surprised. Syth-filled, electro pop with a mild twang in the vocals and a darker psych edge is pretty much exactly how you’d describe “The Villian,” easily the class of the EP. The EP is filled with the kind of creepy keyboard fills that I associate with Thriller, which is a good thing. (Due to my stron personal convictions, I wish to stress that this post in no way endorses a belief in the occult.) There’s also a bit of funk buried in the mix here; overall the gumbo that Birds & Batteries have stirred up on Up to No Good is worth sampling at length. The two tracks below (including the aforementioned “The Villian”) give a solid glimpse of what the band is doing throughout the EP’s five tracks. Grab more information on the band and their previous releases at their website. (On a slightly tangential note: Birds & Batteries is a really solid name for a band. It’s brief, alliterative, memorable and workable as a search term. Good job fellas!)
I had to bail on Mike Doughty this week, as I had a mammoth paper due on Wednesday and the show was on Tuesday. My friend Vince did make the show and reported that it was excellent. Doughty and a cellist played a bunch of his solo material, sprinkled in with a few choice Soul Coughing tracks. Doughty also did the jar of questions thing, always a plus given his dry, acerbic wit. When Vince told me Doughty played “Janine,” I realized that it’s a Soul Coughing song I hadn’t really listened to or thought about in at least five years. Bad job by me, given that it’s one of their best.
We’re wrapping up our three week dose of live P-Funk today. I enjoyed going working through the arc of a show over multiple posts, so look for this kind of thing to be a recurring Lazy Saturday feature. Our time with P-Funk closes with the incomparable “Maggot Brain.” Dr. Funkenstein tells us that it’s Michael Hampton lacing through the solo on this version, not Eddie Hazel as on the album version; Rolling Stone put Eddie Hazel at #43 on their list of all-time great guitar players, behind a whole slew of lame-ass white guys, including John Fogerty and Jack White, neither of whom are qualified to wipe the sweat off Hazel’s brow (I love both of those dudes, but come on) . Only reason Hazel isn’t in the top ten is that he played in a funk band. Yet more proof that lists are for douchebags. Hampton’s take doesn’t quite have the soulful ache of the version you’re familiar with, but it still shreds. Until next time, free your mind and your ass will follow.