Wednesday Night Round-Up: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; Bill Callahan; Ttotals; Rush; Pickwick; and More


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A whole slew of action going down in Music City this fine Wednesday evening. Hell, it makes Wednesday look like a Thursday! But with Thursday kind of being the new Friday, what does that make Friday? OK, it's far too early in the morning for me to be digressing so radically. Let's just dive into tonight's action, beginning with my Critic's Pick on the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show with Bass Drum of Death at Cannery Ballroom:

While last month’s Specter at the Feast may not be as idiosyncratic or raw as some of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s prior releases — say, Howl or Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, for instance — it’s certainly more inspired. Literally, that is, it’s more inspired. Bassist Robert Been’s father — Michael Been, frontman of ’80s rock outfit The Call — served as BRMC’s sound engineer and sometime producer, but in 2010, the senior Been died backstage at the Pukkelpop festival in Hasselt, Belgium. The loss was said to have deeply affected the classic-rock-cribbing power trio. And indeed, it seems as though Michael Been himself is the specter at this feast: BRMC covered The Call’s “Let the Day Begin” for Specter, and it’s easily among the most interesting of the album’s 15 tracks. Tonight they’ll be joined by excellent Mississippi garage-rock youngsters Bass Drum of Death, as well as Dallas mega-youngsters — as in, they’re all teenagers — Plowboy. —D. PATRICK RODGERS

Show starts at 9 p.m., and it'll run you $20. And now, as Jay-Z might say, on to the next one.

Bill Callahan — formerly known as Smog, of course — will perform tonight at Exit/In. Contributor Edd Hurt penned a pick on that one, and here it is:

Back when he was known as Smog, singer-songwriter Bill Callahan specialized in minimalist rock ’n’ roll — he seemed both baffled and stimulated by the demands of a world that never holds still long enough to be fully enjoyed. That bafflement came across in brilliant fashion in Callahan’s 1999 “Cold Blooded Old Times,” which may be his best-known song. Over the years, Callahan has performed the trick of refining his art down to its essentials, and his 2011 full-length, Apocalypse, is one of his best records. “America!” features a quasi-blues lick that contrasts with a rock rhythm pattern: “Captain Kristofferson, Buck Sergeant Newbury, Leatherneck Jones, Sergeant Cash / What an Army, what an Air Force, what a Marine,” he sings. Apocalypse benefits from the way Callahan switches between straight time and syncopation — he may be indulging in cheap irony, but it doesn’t sound that way to me. —EDD HURT

Care for an evening of music that, ahem, approaches the unreal? Resident rock historian Adam Gold filed a Critic's Pick on tonight's Rush show at Bridgestone Arena. Prog-nosis:

Tonight’s Rush gig comes only two weeks in the wake of the band’s long-awaited and well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While prog-rock’s flagship power trio inexplicably had to wait through 14 years of eligibility to enjoy such an honor, luckily Nashville didn’t have to wait as long to congratulate them. Tonight, for the second time in three years, “Tom Sawyer,” the other Canadian national anthem, will echo through the halls of the Preds arena. While Rush’s 2011 Bridgestone stop centered around nostalgia, with the band performing its 1981 power-prog masterstroke Moving Pictures in its entirety, tonight performance is all about the now, with the trio touring in support of its acclaimed 2012 concept album Clockwork Angels. They recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios with A-list rock producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Deftones). Live, the band augments the Clockwork cuts with the addition of an accompanying string ensemble. But fear not, the strings won’t come in during Neil Peart’s drum solo. —ADAM GOLD

Thirsting for a different sort of legacy act? Established bluesman Boz Scaggs will do his thing tonight at the Ryman, and Edd Hurt wrote us yet another pick:

Recorded in Muscle Shoals with guitarist Duane Allman, Boz Scaggs’ 1969 “Loan Me a Dime” is a blues landmark — along with Allman’s subtle slide guitar, the track features a rhythm section composed of bassist David Hood and drummer Roger Hawkins. The rest of that year’s Boz Scaggs full-length was equally fine, but Scaggs went on to become an exponent of an easy-rolling approach to soul on “Lido Shuffle” and “Lowdown.” If those well-known 1976 tracks epitomize yacht rock, Scaggs has always been deeper than his detractors claim. He cut his new full-length Memphis at the Bluff City’s famed Royal Studios, where producer Willie Mitchell once recorded the likes of Al Green, Ann Peebles and O.V. Wright. His taste in material is as sharp as ever: Memphis features versions of Willy DeVille’s “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” and Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s “Pearl of the Quarter.” —EDD HURT

If Scaggs ain't your bag, Seattle's Pickwick and autoharp-toting Canuck Basia Bulat will be at Mercy Lounge this evening, and Scene culture editor Steve Haruch took some time off from editing culture to throw this pick in the pot for us:

Seattle’s Pickwick refracts classic R&B through an earnest mod-garage lens. Their debut album, Can’t Talk Medicine, is packed with jumpy staccato songs, dotted with over-amplified keyboards and topped with plaintive crooning. It also features a cameo by Sharon Van Etten, on the stirring “Lady Luck.” Like Van Etten, Basia Bulat opened for Nick Cave on his recent tour, and the Canadian singer girds her plaintive crooning with more traditional-leaning instrumentation — hammering an autoharp, even. On songs like “In the Night,” Bulat delivers rousing, naturalistic folk melodies that should make an interesting counterweight to Pickwick’s disheveled-machine aesthetic. —STEVE HARUCH

And finally, if you're looking for a more off-the-beaten-path, less at-a-venue-you've-been-to type of affair, locals Ttotals and Western Medication will appear tonight at The East Room with Chicago's Moonrises. Ttotals — who recently released their excellent "Life Thus Far Out" video — are a psychedelic outer-blues duo that has fetched at least one comparison to Spacemen 3. Western Medication makes "wailing, lo-fi, washed-out punk." Moonrises are new to me, so I'll let local show-promoter and avant-garde/art-rock/noise/experimental music aficionado Chris Davis explain them for us:

Steve Krakow of Plastic Crimewave Sound and the illustrator/writer of Galactic Zoo Dossier and the head of Galactic Zoo Disks, a Drag City sublabel which has released incredible unreleased archival material from groups ranging from Sandy Bull to Tony Caro and John....Moonrises is a new band for Steve...very much a Velvet Underground-inspired psychedelic rock band.

Certainly sounds like it fits the bill. It'll cost you $5, and here's the Facebook event page. Don't be a square.


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