HARLEM, FROM TUCSON TO AUSTIN
Anyone out there remember a local band called Harlem? Well, they moved to Austin a little while ago and scored themselves a record deal with Matador, the label that brought you Pavement, Liz Phair and Yo La Tengo, among dozens of other great bands.
Since my computer is currently without sound (meaning I can't hear any current music), here's what their Matador bio looks like: "Led by dual vocalists Michael Coomers and Curtis O'Mara (the duo switch between guitar and drums, both onstage and off), Harlem started in Tucson, Ariz., before relocating to Austin, where they've generated a mountain of attention, both with their fantastic live shows and their self-issued 2008 LP/CD Free Drugs (Female Fantasy—currently available via Matador Direct).
"Pitchfork's Roque Strew has hailed Harlem as 'a marvel of cartoonishly masculine, crudely analog brevity,' while Gorilla vs. Bear considers Free Drugs to be 'super infectious, instantly endearing,' and kindly supplying a quote that we'll gladly take out of context, the Austin Chronicle's Audra Schroeder has fallen prey to the album's 'anxious, stuttering charm.' I know, that all sounds highly suspicious, but (as) anyone who's heard Free Drugs or witnessed Harlem laying waste to any number of shoebox-sized venues (some of which were, in fact, shoeboxes) can attest, the band's casual virtuosity is only eclipsed by their otherworldly songwriting skills."
This week, Harlem return to their old stomping grounds for a free show on the patio at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Catch 'em on Saturday, July 11, along with the Tambourines, who get things rolling at 8 p.m. Yes, you must be 21 or older to get in. Call 622-8848 with any questions you may have.
STRAIGHT OUTTA THE '60S
If you didn't hear the news that Seeds frontman Sky Saxon passed away recently, you are forgiven. It happened on the same day that Michael Jackson died, and that news eclipsed, well, pretty much everything else. (A quick aside: Saxon lived in Tucson for a spell, roughly in the mid- to late-'90s.)
Which brings us to California's Wooly Bandits, who originally formed to back up Saxon on recent Seeds tours. Apparently, the band's European booking agent suggested that they start their own band, and the Wooly Bandits were born. (Saxon provided the band with its name.)
From a bio: "If you like '60s garage rock, you may fall in love with the Wooly Bandits. The female-fronted Inland Empire, Calif., band (has) just enough aggression and just enough melody to create the coolest '60s music that didn't come out in the '60s."
The Wooly Bandits perform in the middle slot on a bill that's headlined by the Mission Creeps and opened by the Runaway Five, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, July 11. Music starts at 9:30 p.m., and the cover is $5. Call 798-1298 for more information.
GUIDED BY VOICES?
It's been more than 13 years since we've been graced with a local appearance by oddball musician Eugene Chadbourne. He's not for everyone, but for those with a penchant for outsider types, he's pure gold.
Here's what Trouser Press has to say: "On his compulsive own, Eugene Chadbourne (previously the guitarist and leader of Shockabilly) has spewed forth a ceaseless stream of records and cassettes (the latter on his own Parachute label) that easily represent the oddest version of country and folk music ever. While the notable left-winger's guitar playing is looser than clams, it harbors wildly unique energy. (He also plays the electric rake.) The North Carolinian is also the master of several different voices, some of them deceptively sincere. Harsh, funny, irritating and packed with ideas, Chadbourne often suggests a politically correct Frank Zappa."
Catch Eugene Chadbourne at an all-ages show at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Saturday, July 11. Tucson's own Gary Bear opens at 9 p.m. $10 gets you through the doors. 884-0874 is the number to call for more info.
Good news for blues-rock fans: Austin supergroup Arc Angels have reunited for a tour that will bring them to the Rialto Theatre this week. Let's check in with AllMusic to see what they have to say, shall we?
"Formed shortly after the death of Texas guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Arc Angels may have been too good a story to be true. The quartet paired Vaughan's outstanding rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton with lead-singing guitarists and Texas Vaughan protégés Charlie Sexton and Doyle Bramhall II.
"Taking their name from the initials of the Austin Rehearsal Complex where they originally started jamming, the group released its self-titled debut album in 1992, with the thought that it would be the first of many.
" ... But the perhaps inevitable competition between the throaty-voiced Bramhall II and smooth-singing Sexton would eventually surface, and even more so during extending guitar solos of one-upmanship. Worse—especially for Shannon and Layton, who had seen Vaughan nearly kill himself before getting straight—was the increasing frequency of Bramhall II's substance abuse. By October of 1993, this ascending band decided to concentrate its efforts elsewhere, and separately.
"The exception was Shannon and Layton, who'd created such a stylistic rhythmic impact with Vaughan and worked so perfectly together that they were essentially a package deal. ... By 1998, a clean and sober Bramhall II started a band called the Mighty Zor, with Shannon and Layton as his rhythm section. When Sexton showed up for a few gigs to jam with the trio, a series of unofficial Arc Angels reunion gigs—mostly in Texas—was born."
Get yourself a dose of the reunion magic when Arc Angels perform an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m., Monday, July 13. Tickets are $23 in advance, or $24 on the day of the show. Questions? The number to call is 740-1000.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Rx Bandits and Dredg at Club Congress on Saturday, July 11, and Sunday, July 12; Pro-Pain at The Rock on Tuesday, July 14; Hot Pink Delorean at the Optimist Club at Club Congress next Thursday, July 16; Sick Puppies at The Rock on Friday, July 10; Ottmar Liebert at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, July 15; Steve Poltz at Club Congress next Thursday, July 16; Drop Dead, Gorgeous at The Rock on Wednesday, July 15; Black Carl and Mark Mallman at Club Congress on Wednesday, July 15.