Upcoming Concert Reviews of Ani Difranco, Lyrics Born, Glue and More...

More Concerts of Note

Jun 21, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Lyrics Born

Lyrics Born

Drakkar Sauna

Ani DiFranco with Hamell on Trial

Wednesday · Coney Island's Moonlite Gardens

If there is a poster child for how to run a successful career doing whatever you damn well please, independent of the archaic and repressive machinations of the established music industry, it is most assuredly Ani DiFranco.

From the very start, the Buffalo, N.Y., native has resolutely refused to follow any proscribed pattern as it related to her singular musical path, which has fearlessly included DiFranco's signature guerilla Folk colored with bold strokes of Pop, Jazz and Rock as a soundtrack to her pointed social/cultural/sexual observations. DiFranco has not even allowed her most ardent and militant fans to pigeonhole her, personally or professionally. The moment she has felt constrained in any manner, she has removed the chains and started anew. That is the definition of artistic courage.

DiFranco's upcoming album — Reprieve, to be released on August 8 — is a fantastic amalgamation of her considerable talents distilled into a single album, as she plays everything on the disc that doesn't belong to multi-instrumentalist Todd Sickfoose. While it's not literally a concept album, it is something of a song cycle, a rumination on the sorry state of the country and planet from DiFranco's brutally personal perspective. On the scathing "Millennium Theater," DiFranco's global concerns are narrowed to the microcosm of New Orleans, ironically written and recorded months before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent social/governmental debacle.

And DiFranco is no mere outsider offering her disaffected 2 cents — she has an apartment in New Orleans where she wrote and recorded much of Reprieve and from which she was forced to evacuate once the mandatory order was issued in the wake of Katrina's wrath. She retreated to her Buffalo home where she continued work on the album without all the cool sonic toys she had to abandon in New Orleans, relying instead on an ancient Omnichord and a vintage synthesizer that she charitably describes as "cheesy."

Under these less than ideal circumstances, DiFranco has fashioned Reprieve into another stellar Folk/Jazz/Pop manifesto, a completely expected outcome from one of the most original purveyors of genre-free music. (Brian Baker)

Lyrics Born with Glue

Wednesday · Southgate House

MC/producer Lyrics Born is both an artist and entrepreneur, and the two vocations are intricately and organically intertwined. Born in Tokyo, Lyrics ultimately landed in the Bay Area, a fertile breeding ground for Hip Hop artists on the more adventurous side of the genre. Lyrics — who was born Tom Shimura and went by the stage-name Asia Born initially — teamed with some pals, including the soon to be world-renowned DJ Shadow, to form Solesides Records in 1992 (it would eventually become Quannum Records). The label reflects Lyrics' immutable collaborative spirit, as did one of the label's flagship releases, Latryx: The Album, featuring the alliance of Lyrics and the equally deft Lateef the Truth Speaker. Lyrics finally released his solo debut, Later That Day, in 2003.

While widely praised, some reviewers commented that the grouchy lyrics and sometimes-bleak sound of Later brought the party down. Lyric's 2005 release remedied that by pumping up the infectious grooves/good-times quotient higher. It speaks volumes for Lyrics' skills that the album, Same !@#$ Different Day, is, technically, a "remix" effort featuring guest MCs and producers (ranging from E-40 to KRS One) and drastically reworked versions of tracks from his debut. It actually stands alone from Later and often surpasses it, acting as a "light" counterpoint to its "dark" predecessor. Lyrics toured the album with a full backing band; the live feel of the disc begs for that sort of tight, P-Funk presentation.

Lyrics wordplay is engaging, his hooks undeniable and his sly delivery as contagious as the grooves. But one of the more surprising tools in his arsenal is a soulful singing voice. Smashed together, Lyrics is as much a Funk performer as he is a Hip Hop artist.

Lyrics has kept busy since last in town (at last year's Scribble Jam), recently walking the red carpet thanks to his contribution to The Fast and The Furious 3 soundtrack and continuing his seemingly endless world tour for Different Day. While the road trek is winding down, Lyrics has a new live album set for release this fall. Don't expect one of the busiest men in indie Hip Hop to sit still too long. (Mike Breen)

Drakkar Sauna with The Ants and The Kentucky Struts

Wednesday · The Comet

If you don't know what to expect, walking in on a Drakkar Sauna performance can be a bit like stepping into the Twilight Zone. The Lawrence, Kansas-based duo looks like those sepia-toned photos from the Civil War era (multi-instrumentalist Jeff Stolz lists his birth year as 1776 on the DS Web site; he may or may not be lying). And they play music that often sounds just as ancient, though filtered through an almost otherworldly eccentricity.

The scene at their most recent local show a few months ago is probably indicative of most. The modest crowd at The Comet seemed to gasp a muted "What the...?" as the duo started, startled by the twosome's unconventional set-up. The Psych Folk pair huddle together with Stolz handling all percussion (including a heart-beat bass drum) and often tickling a small, chintzy organ. Both play acoustic guitar and their precise harmonies swirl together with an AM radio crackliness. Singing through an old condenser mic, the two can sit so far back from the microphone, yet sound so front-and-center, you begin to look for signs of backing tracks and lip-synching. The compact set-up (no amps or other hulking, burdening gear) enables DS to tour in a small Toyota.

By the end of the set, much of the audience seemed gleefully transfixed, charmed and laughing along to the cleverly twisted lyrics about loose women and death. The band shook the comfort level again with their last song, "The Debut of the Tambourine Shoe," the most psychedelic of their set, with its abrupt, needling bridge, which swoops in with abrasive aplomb. "Tambourine Shoe" is a highlight of Drakkar Sauna's latest release, Drakkansasauana, the third recording in the duo's canon.

Like their live set, the duo's albums have the same dichotomous charm. Purists' ears will perk up at the solid, vintage songwriting, raw but dead-on singing and harmonies and structures steeped in tradition. Fans of Indie and Experimental music will embrace their sometimes-audacious arrangements and bizarre aura. Their music's ingrained amiability cinches the deal for both sides. (MB)