Upcoming Concert Reviews of The M's, Dropsonic and More...

More Concerts of Note

Mar 22, 2006 at 2:06 pm
The M's

Healthy White Baby

The M's with Dr. Dog and What Made Milwaukee Famous

Wednesday · alchemize

Some bands defy classification so effectively that you begin to suspect that is their primary mission. Listening to The M's' new album, Future Women, this thought keeps recurring. A quick survey of critics' analysis reveals a flurry of contradiction: British invasion, Noise Rock, Power Pop, '80s Retro, Glam. It's as if the band sent out a different disc in every press kit. The Chicago quartet certainly has enough material to do so, having recorded hundreds of songs in their almost six-year existence. Future Women, their first effort for Polyvinyl, sounds like they cherry-picked their entire catalog, offering contorted, beautiful creations that are complex but not quite overwrought. Layering is the name of the game, but as the horns, strings, xylophone and vocal harmony demonstrate a Beatles leaning, blasts of crunchy guitar sound more Zeppelin- or Kinks-inspired. These Classic Rock touchstones are progressively chiseled away by the influence of more modern musical pioneers such as the The Flaming Lips or Neutral Milk Hotel, leaving only tenuous connections to any forebears. While this kind of commitment to palatable eccentricity is rare, it's even more unusual for it to get much popular traction. But The M's are managing to do just that, garnering an opening slot for Wilco and recently having a song featured on an episode of The O.C. ("prime-time TV song placement" is still the new "signed").

This tour's Cincy stop is being billed as "A Taste of South By Southwest," and The M's are being joined by two fantastic purveyors of Indie Pop goodness: Austin, Tex., band What Made Milwaukee Famous and Dr. Dog from Philadelphia, both ground-breakers in their own right, making for a night of unbridled originality. (Ezra Waller)

Dropsonic with The Strongest Proof and Ampline

Saturday · The Mad Hatter

"Classic Rock" and "Led Zeppelin" are two phrases used frequently in the press clippings of Atlanta's Dropsonic. While not entirely inapt, those comparisons are a bit misleading — this ain't Soundgarden or any of the glossy, garden-variety Grunge knock-off bands raging on the radio these days. Dropsonic's music is powerful, invigorating, natural and sophisticated, and while not necessarily "unique," the group's ability to bridge the vintage and contemporary aspects of Rock & Roll speaks volumes for the music's timelessness.

On Insects with Angel Wings, the trio's long-delayed fourth album — and, quizzically, first for R&B/Hip Hop producer Dallas Austin's Rowdy Records — the band showcases a flawless collection of fierce and passionate songs that, in a just world, would be on every Rock radio station in the country right now. With the fuel-injected rhythmic propulsion of bassist Dave Chase and drummer Brian Hunter providing dynamic support, enigmatic singer/guitarist Dan Dixon shows his triple-threat-ness with brawny, vigorous guitar riffage, instinctive, diverse songwriting and one of the stronger vocal presences you'll hear in Modern Rock today. Dixon's voice and songs rotate between swagger and snarl, and there's a cavernous depth to both, creating a sense of mystery and excitement, something achingly missing from most of today's Rock & Roll heroes. Highlights include the bluesy, primal howl of stomper "Summers Gone," the punchy Post Punk buzz of "Wedding Day" and the luxuriant, piano-buoyed "The Big Nothing," which is as undeniable as any "sweeping ballad" released in the past half-decade.

Somehow taking the Pop fire of Brit acts from The Verve to Muse, the energy and ferocity of feral Post Punk, the artful grace of Radiohead and the colossal sexual thrust of, yes, Led Zeppelin, Dropsonic have concocted a near- classic with Angel Wings. Sadly, few seem to be paying attention. They are a criminally under-noticed band that deserves much bigger status. Lucky for you, they haven't cut and run yet — they'll be performing in the intimate confines of Covington's Mad Hatter this week. The world's loss is the local Rock & Roll fan's gain. (Mike Breen)

Healthy White Baby with The Sundresses

Saturday · Southgate House (Parlour)

It's been correctly stated that being in a band is like having a bunch of spouses. But when real-life marriages and figurative musical unions coincide, things can really get ugly. Healthy White Baby members Danny Black and Laurie Stirratt both figured this out the hard way and are thus shoe-ins for the "most likely to share a stage but not a bed" award. The pair first met touring with their former bands, Blue Mountain and The Blacks, before things turned black and blue for both of them. Danny, along with partner Gina, made up Cowpunk outfit The Blacks, a bizarro-world Psychobilly version of The White Stripes, complete with conflicting marriage/sibling stories.

Laurie (twin sister of Wilco's John Stirratt) and ex-husband Cary Hudson were the driving force behind Blue Mountain, combining Delta Blues with an Appalachian twang that leaned towards Celtic roots. The sounds of these bands were very different but both unique, and certainly they were both on the rise before each was derailed by relationship woes around 2001. Years later, Black and Stirratt became reacquainted working at Chicago's The Hideout, and parlayed their mutual experiences and appreciation of simple, soulful Rock music into a new project. Recruiting drummer Ryan Juravic at the suggestion of Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, they hastily recorded their self-titled debut last year, an incendiary collection that echoes the stomp and swagger of their previous bands, but little else. Stirratt's bass growls and Black's guitar squeals as they claw their way through a set of Stones-y tracks that are as much an escape from their Alt Country past as their former bands were from '90s Alt Rock. HWB is currently winding their way back to Chicago from SXSW, hopefully to continue work on their eagerly awaited follow up. (EW)