Wednesday · Jack Quinn's
To classify Richard Shindell as merely a Folk singer is akin to describing Ted Williams as a decent baseball player. Shindell's exquisite Folk songs tell intimate stories of love and heartbreak, pain and redemption, loss and triumph. It's immediately apparent that they've been written from the heart of a novelist and played from the soul of a troubadour. Oddly enough, the New Jersey native originally set his sights on a career with a collar after enrolling in a New York seminary. In a hymn writing class Shindell turned out his first song, realizing at that moment the differences between what was expected of him and what he expected of himself. Although Shindell chose to remain a seminary student and eventually graduated, the lure of the Greenwich Village Folk scene proved too potent to ignore, and he became a fixture in the Folk community, first as a member of the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band with John Gorka in the early '90s and then on his own. While he didn't pursue a career with his seminary degree, Shindell has never been far from the spiritual lessons he learned there over the course of his five studio albums and one blazingly satisfying live album. In 1998, Shindell teamed up with fellow Folk purveyors Lucy Kaplansky and Dar Williams to form the trio Cry Cry Cry, recording a single remarkable album and embarking on a jaw-dropping tour behind it. Four years ago, Shindell moved his family to his wife's native Argentina in order to advance her career. The change of scenery paid immediate dividends as Shindell began writing songs that synthesized the Latin American music around him with his own unique Folk stylings.
After hooking up with the Argentinean band Puente Celeste, Shindell took a strong set of songs into a Buenos Aires studio and emerged with Vuelta, perhaps his finest album to date. Like all of Shindell's work over the past decade, Vuelta comes in through the ears first but takes very little time to get under one's skin. (Brian Baker)
Dan Melchior's Broke Revue
Thursday · Northside Tavern
Born out of a London Art School friendship, singer/guitarist Dan Melchior and bassist Bruno Meyrick-Jones' Dan Melchior's Broke Revue began as a bedroom recording project. The resulting first album, This Love Is Real, was released in 1999 and two years later the duo made their public performance debut at a London club. As a live act with a revolving lineup (the current roster features former Cincinnati area resident G.D. Mills, known for his work with Post-Haste and The Fairmount Girls, on drums), the now New York City-based group has gigged with the likes of The White Stripes, Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, spreading their archetypal underground Rock & Roll to audiences in the U.S. and Europe. Amassing an impressive discography in a short time, the band has recorded for labels like Sympathy for the Record Industry and In the Red, imprints known almost as much for their integrity as they are their good taste. Melchior has also managed to find time to collaborate with like-minded classicists Billy Childish and Holly Golightly, recording a slew of records with the Brit "Garage" icons.
That they found Melchior a more-than-worthy co-conspirator says a lot about where he is coming from musically. Retro-purity is key, but Melchior's unique and effective songwriting stands in the way of him simply being a parrot of any particular bygone era. Melchior's music has a warmth and intimacy not heard much since analog gave way to digital. Dirty-water R&B, vintage, primal Pop and hazily psychedelic drones in the vein of The Stooges (with the "over the top" button turned down) are swirled together poetically on the band's latest release, 'Gud' Bye Ta Sluggo. The five-song EP kicks off with the jaunty "Self Preservation/Medication," but the poppy bop stops with the follow-up, "JC Slug (Part 2)," as the band slides into a darker, humid drone for the remainder of the album. The visceral glaze is delivered so voraciously that you feel like you're seeing them through a thick cloud at some dank, black-light-lit underground dive where the walls sweat and the floors seem to buckle with your every step. Like The Cramps on cough syrup, the band's swampy, slithering Blues churns with an intense, almost menacing strut, underscored by Melchior's hypnotic guitar and antagonizing vocals, and the full, intoxicating wash created by the rhythm section. 'Gud' Bye Ta Sluggo is a headtrip entrée with a side of bleeding raw soul. (Mike Breen)
Tuesday · Sudsy Malone's
When Metal Church formed in Seattle 22 years ago, Speed Metal/Thrash was still in its infancy and barely acknowledged outside of a small but slavishly loyal circle of fans. By the time of their eponymous 1985 debut, opening slot for Elektra labelmates Metallica and astonishing sophomore album, The Dark, the following year, it was clear that Metal Church was setting the bar for the nascent genre. The quintet endured numerous lineup changes after The Dark; original vocalist David Wayne broke ranks and was replaced by lead screamer Mike Howe on Metal Church's 1989 triumph Blessing in Disguise. Shortly thereafter, guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof, who had formed the side project Hall Aflame, departed as well with his spot filled by Metallica guitar tech John Marshall. Although Vanderhoof was no longer playing or touring with Metal Church, he remained the band's primary composer for The Human Factor, their socially aware 1991 album. With the early '90s rise of Grunge and Alternative Rock, Metal Church was faced with a shrinking fan base and an increasingly intrusive label, which led to the disappointing Hanging in the Balance in 1993. Almost immediately after, Metal Church called it quits; Vanderhoof and Arrington formed the band Vanderhoof and recorded their self-titled debut in 1997. The following year, the band's original lineup — Wayne, Vanderhoof, guitarist Craig Wells, bassist Duke Erickson, drummer Kirk Arrington — reconnected to assemble the Live album from concert tapes culled from Metal Church's most acclaimed period. The quintet regrouped for the acclaimed return-to-form Masterpeace in 1999, but touring took its toll once again with Erickson and Arrington sitting out, replaced with Vanderhoof bassist Brian Lake and drummer Jeff Wade. In 2002, after completing a second Vanderhoof album, Vanderhoof and Arrington threw themselves into a new Metal Church album. Earlier this year the pair, along with new members Ronny Munroe (vocals), Jay Reynolds (ex-Malice guitarist) and Steve Unger (bass), recorded and released a blistering new album, The Weight of the World. Regardless of shifts in taste and in their own makeup over the years, Metal Church has remained true to Metal's passionate heart both in the studio and on stage. (BB)