RiverEdge Park
7th Heaven
Lovers Lane

Beyond the grassy knoll

| March 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

What kind of person names their kid “Shooter”? What in-bred, gun-loving . . . Waylon Jennings, you say? Oh. Well, then. Shooter Jennings is in town this week, as are Bowerbirds, Dry The River, Hunx, and Of Monsters And Men.

Shooter Jennings first thought he’d be different than Daddy and Mommy (Jessi Colter) — since a career outside music was apparently out of the question — by being a rock ‘n’ roll bad boy, and when he got tired of that he formed a metal band. But he’s come around to the bloodline’s bread-and-butter in recent years, and though he went to New York to record it, Family Man (EOne) represents his most true-country effort yet. True, Shooter has done trad stuff before, but even in his Outlaw days, Waylon’s honky-tonk heroes weren’t dyed-in-wool fundamentalists. Shooter still throws around some Skynyrd bluster on the new album, and cameos from lefty Tom Morello would surely throw right-handed Nashville for a loop. But that’s why it succeeds. (Friday@Joe’s with Cody Canada and Uncle Lucius.)

As far as second generations go, drop Dry The River and Of Monsters And Men in the same barrel. While you need to take great care before throwing the former in the camp of Arcade Fire acolytes, and the coed latter in league with Florence + The Machine, each displays a considerable potential to get undeniably huge without too much sonic invention. When RCA releases Shallow Bed next month, they’ll be banking on its similarity to not only 2010’s Grammy for Album Of The Year, but also the best-selling “guitar” artist of 2011: Mumford & Sons. (It’s opening track, with a chorus about animal pelts, attempts to corral Fleet Foxes apparently.) The existence of Monsters is much less (seemingly) insidious, if not just for the fact the Icelanders have been around since 2007 even though they’ve just released their debut. Universal Republic will re-release My Head Is An Animal next month, but the band have done much of the legwork on their own, hewing tightly to a dramatic, group-affirmative style (and, it could be said, humorless) that recalls Florence as well as Edward Sharpe. The cleanliness of the production is what’s so alarming — someone understands how far it can be taken. (Dry The River: Thursday@Lincoln Hall with Bowerbirds; Of Monsters And Men: Friday@Subterranean with Lay Low.)

While much has been made of Hunx & His Punx frontman Seth Bogart‘s stage antics — kissing everyone in the front row, for example — not nearly the same attention has been paid to his relative restraint. Unlike the proclivity of Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes or The Hidden Cameras to foist raw, man-on-man sexuality on their listeners, Hunx play Hairdresser Blues (Hardly Art) relatively straight, letting the barebones, barely rehearsed girl-group arrangements underscore Bogart’s awkwardness and uncertainty. Those sentiments aren’t intrinsically tied to his homosexuality, but his universal failings in relationships; that they sonically recall the limited capacities of Jonathan Richman or Calvin Johnson is maybe a happy accident. (Thursday@Double Door with Heavy Cream, The Artist Formally Known As Vince, and Absolutely Not.)

Weeks ago, who’d have thought that Bowerbirds would have been the normal band. Though the duo’s catalog has largely been dependent on the fact of their twosome (and however tangential their relationship to freak-folk and beardo folk rock), The Clearing (Dead Oceans) feels more like the work of one entity than the first two albums. Beth Tacular‘s vocals and the group-love handclaps on “Stitch The Hem” have been injected just enough to remind us this isn’t a Phil Moore solo set, but the focus on focus has redeemed them unexpected rewards. (Thursday@Lincoln Hall with Dry The River.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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