This is it. After 25 years, Black 47 is calling it quits at the end of the month, so this is the last Philadelphia show for the Celtic-rock sextet. Once referred to as "the only band that matters now" by Joe Strummer (he would know), singer-guitarist Larry Kirwan and company are not going out with a whimper. The band's final album, the appropriately titled Last Call, shows the New Yorkers have not lost any of their fierce edge, or humor, and their Irish-accented amalgam of E Street Band and the Clash remains as galvanizing as ever.
- Nick Cristiano
The motto "stay weird," sometimes applied to cities such as Portland and Austin, should work just as well for the current tour teaming of Deerhoof and Cibo Matto, two acts that have been on the avant-pop bank of the mainstream for 20 years. San Francisco's Deerhoof has had 13 album-length shots at askew musicality and expressionist lyricism, with lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki and drummer/keyboardist Greg Saunier pushing that agenda. The band's new album, La Isla Bonita, has dreamily anthemic melodies and deeply grooving rhythms (some Brazilian in nature) without eschewing its audacious brand of corrosive funk-punk. As for Cibo Matto, Miho Hatori and Yuka C. Honda hit it big (for a Downtown NYC outfit) in the early '90s with its soft, sweet, freaky brand of pop and several nervously new wave albums. By 2001 they wanted to break free: Both Hatori and Honda went solo, finding opportunities with Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, Dave Douglas, Beastie Boys, and Gorillaz between them. Luckily, the pair reunited and recorded Hotel Valentine, which happily sounds just as they did when they stopped the first time.
- A.D. Amorosi
Cold Specks is the musical moniker of Somali-Canadian songwriter Al Spx, itself an adopted name in honor of the late punk bandleader Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. Her spooky, musically fragile, yet powerfully sung 2012 debut
I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
made a fan of Joni Mitchell. The new
adds layers of mystery with a fuller, Gothic gospel sound, enriched with horns, crashing drums, and vocal support from Michael Gira of Swans. It makes Spx's self-coined description of her music as "doom soul" sound even more appropriate.