Tag Archives: Black Cat

DC's Lenorable releases spooky new EP "The Prince"

Lenorable is part of DC’s burgeoning post punk scene, balancing out the shoegaze sensibilities of contemporaries of Screen Vinyl Image and Washerwoman with chilling cold wave. Their latest effort is a Kickstarter-funded EP entitled The Prince, inspired – appropriately – by a visit to Edgar Allen Poe’s Baltimore grave site. Nevermore Furthermore, each of the EP’s three songs is thematically derived from one of Poe’s works.

The title track, a rumination on The Masque of the Red Death, is powered by an angular guitar riff and Lisa Reed’s haunting vocals (including the staccato “pity isn’t welcome here / fortune brings certain fear”), and is accompanied by a simple but effective video.

The nearly seven-minute long “Ligeia” follows suit, amping up the drama while surprisingly danceable (or sway-able, as the case may be). Rounding out the EP is “Inquisition,” a fun-house opium trip based on The Pit and the Pendulum that is heavy on warped vocals but gently melodic. For this goth-tinged duo, Edgar Allen Poe proves to be a fitting muse. Lenorable celebrates the release of The Prince tonight at the Black Cat, where they’ll be joined by Last Tide and Dangerosa.

Janelle Monae @ Black Cat, 3/15/10

Janelle Monae is an alien, an outsider, a misfit. Confounding critics and listeners since appearing on the Big Boi- curated Got Purp? Volume 2 back in 2005, she’s also been Exhibit A in one of the music industry’s most persistent and perplexing failings: what to do with black alternative artists. For an industry that hasn’t used the term “race records” since 1958, not a lot has changed, especially for artists that challenge the “hip-hop, R&B or nothing” paradigm. Unlike the census form, there isn’t an “other” box to check. Just ask Saul Williams, K-Os, and Kenna.

But all of that may be changing, with the little-d democratizing of the digital age, especially for an artist like Monae. At the Black Cat on Monday to kick-off her ArchAndroid tour, her performance art-cum-concert even made a few tongue in cheek references to Twitter, Facebook, and God forbid, MySpace. And playing to a sold-out crowd, something must be working. Maybe the wave of (rightly deserved) hype that she’s been riding for nearly half a decade is finally ready to break.

With Monae not taking the stage until two and half hours after doors opened, the audience was anxious, to say the least, as introductory music and video played until around 10:30. But any ill will was quickly forgotten as the performance kicked off. Monae, in trademark throwback trappings, stayed “in character” the entire show, with her herky-jerky dance moves and impressive vocal range. She was joined on stage by an on-spot three piece band and a few other performance artists, throwing balloons and noise makers into the first rows.

The songs of ArchAndroid dominated the set; only “Sincerely, Jane” from her debut EP Metropolis: The Chase Suite made an appearance, bittersweet for fans hoping to hear favorites like “Violet Stars Happy Hunting” and “Many Moons.” However, the first singles off her debut full length, the smooth, swinging “Tightrope” and the stirring “Cold War,” are in familiar enough territory that fans, old and new alike, will be singing and dancing along in no time.

After a dense 45 minute set that moved between operatic ballads and jams that just drip funk, it was time for Monae to blast off and head for her home planet. But not before fearlessly crowdsurfing the entire crowd, threatening to brain herself on the low ceilings at the Cat. Forgoing an encore for an after party at the Renaissance was an interesting choice, although I don’t know how many restless androids took her up on the offer. ArchAndroid lands on May 18.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ The Black Cat, 12/3/09

Hometown heroes Ted Leo and the Pharmacists returned to a sold-out Black Cat on Thursday armed with a set heavy on new material from their upcoming record The Brutalist Bricks (their first album on new home Matador Records). Opening the night were DC’s Title Tracks, fronted by scene veteran Jon Davis, and Brooklyn’s Radio 4.

Title Tracks’ set delighted the early crowd with a mix of surf rock and jangly powerpop that would fit in a 60s AM radio playlist. Their Dischord debut It Was Easy drops early next year. Radio 4, with a dual-guitar/dual-vocal attack and danceable rhythms that owe much to Davis’ old band (Q and Not U), got the crowd moving to some serious dance-punk.

Forever DIY punks, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists took the stage and setup their own instruments. Their two hour set, marred by some early technical difficulties, was a treat for the Pharmacist faithful in the audience, even if twenty something songs didn’t allow for one of the frontman’s renowned stories. Still, Ted was engaging as ever (I’ve seen him a half a dozen times, both with the band and solo, so I’m pretty sure that warrants first-name-basis). “Fuck the public option,” he sneered. “I want free health care.” And to the incessant fans who request set staples, “Do you really think we’re not going to play [“Timorous Me”]?” This one garnered a round of applause, although he later remembered that the song was not on the setlist in Philly. Oops.

After kicking off with the raucous punk rockers “Heart Problems” and “Me & Mia,” bass amp problems led to a solo cover of the Pogues’ “Dirty Old Town.” The bittersweet nostalgia of those lyrics was a constant throughout the night, whether on their 2003 Thin Lizzy-riffed tribute to the Specials, “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” or brand new stand-out “Even Heroes Have to Die.”

The band put on a powerpop clinic, with the urgency of punks from a bye-gone era. When singing, Ted looks like every note physically pains him; it isn’t pretty, but from the barked out chorus of “Army Bound” to his trademark falsetto, his singing is spot-on as he nails the tone of each song. Ted is joined by rhythm guitarist James Canty, playing with a ferocity that makes you believe in the power of 16th notes. The locked-in rhythm section of Chris Wilson and Marty Key provide an insistent, driving groove throughout the set. Wilson’s drumming is particularly astounding, as he effortlessly rocks out with speed and precision, so fast at certain points that astute listeners were sure he was using a double bass kick.

And while their technical skills are impressive, the strength of the work is definitely in Ted’s songwriting. New songs like “Where Was My Brain?” rock just as hard (or harder) as anything he’s ever written, returning to the well of DC hardcore from which he sprang. But it’s songs like “One Polaroid A Day,” with its infectious pop hook, where they really shine. Watch Ted play it at CMJ, and try not to sing and dance along. It’s impossible.