Music Tonight: Popular Detroit Psychobilly/Punkabilly/Powerbilly trio The Koffin Kats hot-rod it into Newport for a show at the Southgate House. While the band, which formed in 2003, has done the Psychobilly schtick, writing songs with Horror and Sci Fi themes, the Kats' more "real life" songs have always been around and, over the years, become more dominant in KK sets and on albums. That should be especially evident on the upcoming Our Way & The Highway, due in mid-January, which reflects what singer/bassist Zac Victor told CityBeat was a general move towards a "Bruce Springsteen approach more than a Dracula approach" and even more reflective of their broad musical influences. Read the entire interview with Victor at citybeat.com, then catch the band tonight at SGH with Dr. Bombay, The Returners, Vice Tricks and Switchblade Syndicate. Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($13 for those ages 18-20). Below, check out the great, swoony track (anybody else hear some Smiths in there?) "The Bottle Called" from last year's "split album" with 12 Step Rebels called From Our Hands to Yours (it will also be on the new album). —-
• While I am pretty far from being a hardcore "a cappella" group fan, I do find some of the better ensembles entertaining on some level (like the "Oh my, how clever!" level, not the "A cappella is the only real pure music" level). Straight No Chaser is one of them. A sort of collegiate version of Menudo — the group formed at Indiana University 15 years ago and often rotates membership upon graduation — the members are all well-studied technicians in the vocal arts, but the arrangements are often what is most interesting. The song that brought them fame is "The 12 Days of Christmas," which became a viral video sensation thanks to their witty version, which splices in bits of Hankukkah songs (and even a bit of one of Classic Rock band Toto's big ’80s hits). The ensemble performs a holiday-song-packed concert tonight at the Taft Theatre at 8 p.m. Tickets are in the $40-$50 range (with service charges factored in; your best bet is to buy them at the Taft box office). Below is the tune that started it all.
• Cleveland's Carolina Jazmine brings its crafty and compelling Jazz/Soul/Indie sound to Baba Budan's in Clifton Heights, the second stop on the trio's brief pre-holiday tour across the Midwest. Citing influence from Classic Rock (Doors, Led Zep) and contemporary Indie Rock (The National, Beirut), the band's fluid, often trippy, always soulful sound has a strong Jazz Fusion undercurrent, which makes their brand of Psych Soul all the more magnetic. A tight, telepathic threesome (and, judging from recent video clips on YouTube, sometime foursome, with keys, drums, bass and guitar), the band takes carpet remnants from a lot of different places, but the arresting patchwork quilt they stitch together is uniquely theirs. Tonight's free show at Baba's kicks off at 8 p.m. with locals (and recent CEA nominees) The Leo Clarke Band. Click here to download four recent recordings from the band. Check out their composition "Weary Child" below.
Momentous Happenings in Music History for December 14
On this day in 1972, the Ringo Starr-directed movie Born to Boogie (released through The Beatles' Apple Films), based around a concert in the U.K. by Glam Rock icons Marc Bolan and T. Rex (with guests Elton John and Starr), was released. Check out highlights from the odd flick below. Especially cool is the acoustic, string-laden version of "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" that comes at the end.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a Dec. 14 birthday include: Country legend ("Behind Closed Doors," "The Most Beautiful Girl") Charlie Rich (1932); singer, actress and Serge Gainsbourg duo partner/muse Jane Birkin (1946); founding member of rowdy Celtic Punk troopers The Pogues, Peter "Spider" Stacy (1958); and novelty songwriter/arranger/bandleader Spike Jones (1911).
Jones (born Lindley Armstrong Jones) was sort of the Weird Al of his time, but with healthy doses of Tex Avery mischievousness and and slapstick sonics. Jones would perform satires of popular songs (from the hits of the day to beloved Classical compositions), augmented with a flurry of wild sound effects. Jones (who began as a drummer in several orchestras, including the ones on radio shows hosted by Bing Crosby and Al Jolson) had a very successful run throughout the ’40s and ’50s with Spike Jones and his City Slickers, releasing several albums though RCA and presenting radio and TV shows across three decades.
One of Jones' first big hits was "Der Fuehrer's Face," a 1942 song originally written for Oscar-winning propaganda cartoon Donald Duck in Nutzi Land; with the success of the song, the cartoon was renamed after it (see below for the full cartoon). Jones' most memorable and enduring song, though, has been "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," which hit No. 1 in 1948 and remains a holiday classic. (In case you were wondering, music video and film director Spike Jonze — real name Adam Spiegel — was given his nickname while growing up in Bethesda, Maryland. Even if it wasn't a tribute to the original Spike, it seems remarkably fitting.)
Jones — a longtime smoker — died at the age of 53 in 1965 from emphysema.
Happy 100th birthday, Spike!
Oh … and f you, Hitler!