Dig Baton Rouge

Respect the Locals

By Ty Simmons

Los Angeles alternative band Weezer is playing at LSU’s annual Groovin’ at the Grounds concert this Friday, but Chelsea’s has something closer, and a bit more intimate, in mind.

Just because the music is indigenous doesn’t mean it’s any less eminent. The Widower’s Matt Sigur has challenged Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo to a shred-off (to no reply), and expressed sincere confidence that he would win.

A post-punk revival act influenced by the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, Sigur’s Widowers play first this Friday. They will be performing songs off of their upcoming and first LP, Mint Grizz.

After three quiet bandcamp releases, Sigur went to KRVS Studios in Lafayette and recorded Mint Grizz over the summer. It was mixed by longtime collaborator and high-school friend Paul Kitzig, who performs under the name German Error Message, and is currently being mastered.

The release date is up in the air, however, as Sigur is embarking on a ‘marketing plan’ of sorts, trying to get people excited about his music by releasing singles, music videos, and playing shows with bandmates Lee Barbier, Jonathan Loubiere, and Andrew Linton.

Friday will be the first show of the plan.

The new record is loud, raw, and gnarled, but sweet at the center. Sigur, a child of the 90s, describes the record as such: “These are all love songs. But it’s really loud. Even the loudest songs are just about… I love you!”

The distorted guitars and vociferous drums of The Widowers will do their best to bring these “distorted love letters” to life.

Performing afterwards on Friday are New Orleans based and Baton Rouge familiar indie pop band Mahayla. Coming off of their recent LP release on March 25th, their unique blend of Americana, psychedelia, and pop hooks will more than liven the stage.

“These are all love songs. But it’s really loud. Even the loudest songs are just about… I love you!”

Electricspageagesweetheart, the name of the new record, is a child of hardship. Frontman Dave Fera has endured greedy record labels, financial collapses, hurricanes, relocations, and depression, but nearly 7 years after the breakup of the old Mahayla, they’re back at it.

Recorded in two parts by Chris George at the Living Room Studio and by Better Than Ezra’s Tom Drummond at Fudge, Electricspageagesweetheart “is something special… it’s on another level,” remarks Matt Sigur.

Saturday holds more treats.

Headlining is Liam Catchings & the Jolly Racket, an upbeat, toe-tapping rock band pulled right out of the 60s. Their upcoming release, Secular Music, has the energy to defy lo-fi conventions despite being recorded in Ben’s home studio. It’s similar to Iron & Wine, but less Creek Drank the Cradle and more Kiss Each Other Clean.

In his first release he’s built from the ground up by himself, Catchings expertly radiates the wonderful joyful energy of tunes of old, like that which would imbue the radio in the olden days, with jumpy piano progressions and electric guitar jams.

When recording Secular Music, Liam played every instrument while his older brother Ben produced. Now that it’s been laid to track, however, Liam is playing live shows with Ben on guitar and keyboard as part of the Jolly Racket, along with bassist Ryan Blanco, guitarist Paul Emden, and drummer Michael Cole.

Ben and Liam both are concerned with the minimalism of their music and “brightly color[ing] otherwise heavy subject matter. That’s a big part of our sound and ethos. Like the blues, it’s an acknowledgement of what is bothering you about the world, but it also reacts against those troubles by trying to make you dance it out.”

Thursday, they’re both partaking in a Kinks tribute where they’ll be playing Muswell Hillbillies in its entirety. Chelsea’s once again is home to the show.

Opening for Liam is Killer Whale, the recording alias of folk musician Thomas Johnson. Johnson’s music, as evidenced by his Giant Waves EP on Bandcamp, is both ariose and harmonic, rich with vocal inflection and melody. Equal parts Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear, it soothes the soul with textured instrumentation and introspective lyrics.

Even in the face of a huge show by outsiders this weekend, now is the time for local music.

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