What the hell are The Cuts doing? I can't make heads or tales of this motley band of long-haired youngsters that sound like the Cure and the Cars teaming up for a tribute to Mitch Easter. The band's sound is gloriously eclectic guitar- and piano-driven rock-and-roll that stinks of the '70s without ever really sounding retro. It's garage-rock in the same sense that the Reigning Sound is garage-rock: It's music by rockers whose main goal is to commune with the past and through imitation actually become their sonic heroes. The fact that Reigning Sound frontman Greg Cartwright produced the group's album, 2 Over Ten, might explain why the two groups seem like such obvious kissing cousins. Somewhere between the Talking Heads and Humble Pie, you'll find the Cuts. Somewhere between the MC5 and Velvet Crush, you'll find the Cuts. They are always doing somebody else's thing, but it sounds so them. It sounds so nice. It sounds so loud. Go fall in love when the Cuts play Young Avenue Deli on Tuesday, October 21st.
So who do Drums & Tuba think they are now, Trans Am? And no, I don't think that's much of a compliment. Don't misunderstand. I used to be quite a fan of Drums & Tuba, a group whose lineup, as their name implies, consists of a drum and a tuba, with some punky guitar thrown in for the heck of it. Their sound once saluted everything from be-bop to funk to Kurt Weill. It didn't rock, of course. But it didn't have to rock, either. The sound was simply overwhelming: The niftiest noise to spring from the generally boring post-rock movement. I was certainly a true believer. Was. But then I heard the band's new disc, Mostly Ape, and I've been scratching my head ever since. Melody has all but vanished, replaced by abstract space-rock noodling and the kinds of electronically inspired soundscapes that real electronic bands seem to have more luck with. That said, I wouldn't miss the show for the world. They'll be at Young Avenue Deli Wednesday, October 22nd.
It's one thing to have an old-school party-funk band with an R&B heart and hip-hop pretensions. It's another thing to have an old-school party-funk band with an R&B heart and hip-hop pretensions that has the official blessing of P-Funk hero and Rubber Band impresario Bootsy Collins. The latter would define Cincinnati's Freekbass, who will be putting in an appearance at Oxford's favorite sushi bar/rock-and-roll club Two Stick on Friday, October 17th. But don't get the wrong idea: Freekbass isn't some kitschy retro band picking George Clinton's musical pocket. On the contrary, if there is anybody who should feel ripped off by these guys, it's Outkast. But even that's not quite right. Freekbass is their own thing, and if you need to know more about the band before making the drive down to Oxford, you might want to pick up their fine, Bootsy-produced CD Body Over Mind. If you like to funk, you won't regret it for a second. --Chris Davis
Lucero's record-release party a couple of weekends ago at Young Avenue Deli was a pretty raucous affair. The band took the stage around midnight and, though a previous engagement forced me to leave just after 1 a.m., I'm told that they didn't stop playing until about 3 a.m. While I was there, it was about as packed as I've ever seen the Deli; standing just a couple of yards back from the stage, I still couldn't hear lead singer Ben Nichols very well because just about everyone standing around me was singing along with every song, loudly. If there were any doubts about the strength of the band's local following, given a touring schedule that keeps them out of town, this show dispelled them. Young fans who missed out will get another chance to see the band this week when they throw a second record-release party for their fine new record, That Much Further West, at the Madison Avenue all-ages club the Caravan on Sunday, October 19th.
For a brief while, former Big Ass Truck guitarist Steve Selvidge filled in on guitar for Lucero, but now he's found a better fit beside Dave Shouse in The Bloodthirsty Lovers. The Lovers will play Young Avenue Deli Friday, October 17th, with the ace California alt-pop band Irving. "I Can't Fall in Love," a bit of Stephin Merritt-esque synth pop on Irving's new EP, I Hope You're Feeling Better Now, has to be one of the catchiest ditties indie-rock has produced this year.
Elsewhere, Tha Movement sets up shop at the Hi-Tone CafÇ Saturday, October 18th, for its monthly set, and one of the planet's greatest current rock-and-roll bands, The Drive-By Truckers, makes yet another area appearance, this time at Newby's on Friday, October 17th. --Chris Herrington