There have been so many indie/alt bands from New York getting big breaks and big press over the past few years that you might not think that scene could harbor any more hidden gems. But you'd be wrong, and the eponymous debut from NYC quartet Asobi Seksu proves it. Start with guitars that sometimes swirl hypnotically and sometimes hammer and shimmy like mutated surf-rock and sometimes jangle and buzz like the best '90s college-radio show you ever heard. Add in some understated dance-worthy beats, and top it off with lead-singer Yuki's impossibly pretty vocals. The lyrics are in both Japanese and English, but sometimes the songs with English titles have Japanese lyrics and that confusion only adds to the dreamy mood. If you're a fan of My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, or Stereolab, then this band is for you. Asobi Seksu plays the Hi-Tone Café Thursday, April 7th, with locals Viva L'American Death Ray Music.
Also at the Hi-Tone this week is The Golden Republic, a band from Kansas City that just released its eponymous debut album for the British label Astralwerks. What's a rock band from middle America doing on a label known for showcasing the best British dance music (Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Fatboy Slim, Playgroup) of the past decade? I guess Astralwerks got the memo that "Rock Is Back." (At least that's what the national music magazines keep telling us.) If so, the Golden Republic isn't a bad bet at all. On their album, they mix elements of classic- and alt-rock with far more assurance than such relatively similar buzz bands as Kings of Leon, the Vines, or Jet, if not with quite the same genius as the White Stripes. The Golden Republic will play the Hi-Tone Monday, April 11th, with Aqueduct and The Grand Serenade.
Over at Young Avenue Deli this week, a group of performers from New Orleans' underground/indie hip-hop collective Media Darling Records will join locals the Tunnel Clones for a hip-hop show that brings together two growing scenes. Media Darling came through town last year for a show at the Complex with the Tunnel Clones and Iron Mic Coalition, and though their insistence on distancing themselves from New Orleans' more mainstream bounce scene was a little annoying, the Media Darling contingent put on a strong show, one that raised the bar for live performances from Memphis hip-hop groups. Not sure which of the dozen or so Media Darling artists will be making the trip to Memphis, but last time through the rap duo Bionik Brown and Know One shined, and DJs Quickie Mart and Lady Fingaz proved able on the wheels of steel. Media Darling and the Tunnel Clones play the Deli Saturday, April 9th. -- Chris Herrington
Inspired by the incendiary rhetoric of the Last Poets, but influenced by Memphis hip-hop and neo-soul, a group of spoken-word artists called Brotha's Keepa are out to redefine the tired cliché of "keepin' it real." They may chant about "the bling" but only as it applies to destructive materialism. They may go into gruesome detail about how good it feels to kill a cop but only in the context of a silly satire of gangsta rap that also addresses the realities of racial profiling. Brotha's Keepa is the rare group that understands that "positive content" doesn't mean "sappy sentiment." Resurrection, the album they're promoting at an in-store performance at Tower Records on Saturday, April 9th, may not change the tone of a pimp- and pistol-obsessed Dirty South, but it's a welcome addition to a rut-bound scene that miraculously stays vibrant in spite of itself.
I was never much of a Jimmie Dale Gilmore fan until I finally saw the journeyman honky-tonker from Lubbock play a live set at the Hi-Tone a few years back. Gilmore's sleeve-worn influences were too many and the crazy quilt of musical stylings filtered through the sieve of outlaw country just didn't hold together. But live, all of these disparate elements came together in a way that allowed me to see the full force of Gilmore's artistry. Gilmore may not fit neatly into any musical category, but the skinny, scraggly-haired Texan is undoubtedly a performer to be reckoned with. He's at the Hi-Tone on Friday, April 8th. n --