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Autumn Rocks

Highlights of the season in pop music

From the wide selection of local live appearances and anticipated record releases, here’s a shortlist of can’t-miss picks:

Henry Grimes

Henry Grimes

Hallwalls, September 16

One of jazz music’s most accomplished bassists. In the late 1950s and through the 1960s, the apocryphal Juilliard-trained virtuoso was everywhere, playing with Sonny Rollins and Charles Mingus as well on key records in free jazz movement in groups with Albert Ayler and Don Cherry. Grimes quietly disappeared and retreated from music entirely, so successfully that many historians and scholars listed him as dead. Far from it, Grimes has reemerged and he makes a Western New York appearance, where he will play music and present his poetry.

Holy Fuck

Soundlab, September 21

Toronto’s noisenik dance rock quartet finally break in to Buffalo with a Tuesday night show bound to be loaded with their clever krautrock synthesis of slick, groove-laden breaks and pulsating beats. Holy Fuck can currently claim the mantle as one of indie music’s best live shows.

Grinderman: Grinderman 2

September 14

Nick Cave and his non-Bad Seeds company issue the follow-up to 2007’s self-titled debut with what is reported to be something of a left turn from their earlier sound. Grinderman will play across North America; the closest stop to Western New York is the opening show of the tour in Toronto on November 11.

Of Montreal/Janelle Monáe

Town Ballroom, September 19

In one of autumn’s most surprising and unlikely bills, Elephant Six Collective indie psych-pop avatars Of Montreal—hot on the hells of the 10th release False Priest (Polyvinyl)—are supported by avant hip-hop wunderkind Janelle Monáe, who is proving to be one of the year’s most talked-about artists with the release of Arch-Android (Bad Boy) and its singles “Tightrope” and “Cold War.” The pairing is not quite so unlikely when a listen to False Priest reveals Monáe guesting on two tracks.

Handsome Jack

Local Color: Fall releases from local acts

The Viva Noir

The Viva Noir are true alt rockers. For them it’s all about getting the girl or getting over her. They recently released their debut album, Damn the Architecture, produced by Watchmen’s Doug White. The four-piece will be live and plugged in at the Music Is Art Festival on September 11.

Thrown Under the Bus/It’s a Fire Fight

This tandem of Buffalo punk bands shared a CD release show at Mohawk Place last Sunday. Thrown Under the Bus adds a hint of hardcore guitar chugging to their spastic pop-punk style on their latest self-titled album, while It’s a Fire Fight brings together members of lost Buffalo pop-rock bands like Sleepaway and the Airview for a four-song EP titled Start Something New. Both albums are available on iTunes.

Rust Belt Lights

Even Fat Mike would be impressed by this band’s terminal velocity. For as fast as these punks can play, they still have enough pop sensibility to break it down for a chorus or two. Although they’re from Buffalo, they won’t spend much of the autumn season here with a full East Coast tour planned. Expect this five-piece punk outfit to release their new album, These Are the Good Old Days, in late November.

Handsome Jack

This retro rock band has riffs so fuzzy and hot that you can hear the actually “garage” in them. They obviously feel most comfortable when they’re back home on the cold cement floor next to the rusted steel garage door, noodling like the Yardbirds. Their latest set of recorded music, the Prologue EP, will be available later this fall.

The Boy and His Machine

These pop-punkers have been on the cene for a while and are ready to move on to bigger things. If their upcoming EP, Count on It, is anything like their previous material, you can count on party-ready riffs and breakdowns that New Found Glory would happily bob their head to. Available on Smartpunk starting October 12.

cory perla

Gordon Lightfoot

Shea’s, October 1

It’s a chance to see a living legend. How can you pass that up? He’s one Canadian who casts a mighty big shadow. Gordon Lightfoot’s songbook stands on its own against the best of them in terms of 20th-century singer/songwriters. Sure, it helps that his biggest fans included Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan—both of whom covered Gord’s downtrodden wakeup chestnut “Early Morning Rain”—but even without that fact, it’s almost impossible to deny his impact and unique synthesis of trad folk, country, and rock, and that unmistakable reedy, rich baritone. Millions of records sold plus dozens of Canada’s Juno awards equals one iconic fellow.

Marshall Crenshaw

Sportsmen’s Tavern, October 20

In a perfect world, Marshall Crenshaw’s perfect songcraft and skilled delivery of exuberant rock and roll would have made the singer/songwriter a household name. It almost happened for minute, too. In the early days of MTV, the video for “Someday Someway” was in heavy rotation and helped buoy the success of his self-titled debut, which to this day remains a masterful tour de force of power pop songwriting and a classic among 1980s albums. Crenshaw’s pop culture cred continued when he played Buddy Holly in the 1987 blockbuster film La Bamba. He remains active writing, recording, and playing live, and his performance in Buffalo will be part of the ongoing “Private Party” concert series at Sportsmen’s Tavern, which this season also hosts Chris Knight and Asleep at the Wheel among many others. These shows sell out almost every time. In other words, get tickets in advance!

Black Mountain and Black Angels

The Tralf, October 30

None more black! Call it two bands scraped from different corners of underground rock scene together for one night. Austin’s Black Angels trade in a Velvets-infused, droney, psychedelic garage rock, while Steve McBean and his Vancouver-based Black Mountain reinvent and rearrange riff rock and hazy heavy metal to fantastic results. Both bands have new records out in the fall.

Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea

November 2

Due from taste-making dance/experimental imprint Warp Records, the modern master of electronic and ambient music (and so much more) issues his 25th solo album, his first in five years. Working with artists Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams, Small Craft promises to be another step ahead for one of music’s continually bold and inventive writer/composer/producers. It’s also important to note that Eno himself—ever involved in every creative construct of his art—designed the album’s lavish artwork.

Bruce Springsteen: The Promise: Darkness on the Edge of Town Story box set

November 16

When one takes the measuring stick to his finest records, Darkness on the Edge of Town rates among the best of the Boss. Steeped in youthful unrest, hometown desperation, and unbreakable spirit—the belief that hope can rise up through the bleakness—it’s a Springsteen touchstone that exemplifies the real power that music can bring. And with the E Street Band at full tilt, it’s simply a hell of a rock record to boot. Unleashed in a multi-format bonanza, he varied versions include the Deluxe Package containing more than six hours of film and more than two hours of audio on three CDs and three DVDs, including the original recordings remastered, sessions outtakes, live performances, and an all-new documentary about the laborious birth of the magnificent American rock-and-roll statement that is Darkness on the Edge of Town.

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