Must See: Jesus Sons

With their first full-length album in tow, Jesus Sons returns to San Francisco at Brick & Mortar this Friday.
With their first full-length album in tow, Jesus Sons returns to San Francisco at Brick & Mortar this Friday.

If you love good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll as much as this little lady, then mark your calendars: Jesus Sons plays Brick & Mortar Music Hall on Friday, June 13. Already have plans? Cancel them.

Originally formed in San Francisco, the band is fronted by Brandon Wurtz (former bassist of the Spyrals) who relocated to Los Angeles with his new band after his employer–Charlie’s Place, an SF motorcycle shop–headed for greener pastures in the southern part of the state. While this could make him persona non grata to many Bay Area die hards, he explained the move in an interivew with LA Canvas as a reaction to “the SF government and the pirates” who have radically changed the fabric of our fair city. I’m thinking not many in our musical community would argue with that assessment of the Tech Boom, but this is fodder for a separate article (and something I could talk about for days).

While many bands have embraced a vintage 60’s psych-garage sound, Brandon and the boys are the real deal–not merely emulating motorcycle culture for the coolness of it all, but instilling their music with the motorcylce sludge that pumps through their veins. Their addictive first full-length album, eponymously named, was recorded at Fuzz City in Oakland on glorious 1/4 inch reel to reel tape. The album is rowdy, the music muscular yet spiritual like a prayer thrust into the wind pumped out of a carburetor–textured with grit, and the sweet sweat of the blues.

As much as this San Franciscan is loathe to admit it, Los Angeles–with its dirty desert heat, and hundreds of paved miles–may be an ideal fit for these American journeymen. After all, Rock ‘n’ roll hungers for the heat. Luckily the highway brought them home for one more show.





A Love Note to Jack White (No, Not That Kind)

From a Pitchfork article announcing his appearance on "American Pickers".
From a Pitchfork article announcing his appearance on “American Pickers”

Let me begin by stating an annoyance: it’s repugnant when I, a twenty-something female, admit to loving a male musician and people, namely other men, assume that I want to sleep with said musician, that it is firstly a sexual and secondly a musical attraction. So let’s just clear the air here. Admiration expressed in this forum or otherwise by Nostos Nic is purely rooted in the music, in the pitch and fall of performance, in the artistry of whatever is discussed. 

Now, with that said, there is no musical man I love more than John Anthony Gillis, known to us all as Jack White. First finding national fame as the backbone of The White Stripes, he continues to reinvent himself even though lesser men would’ve surfed that White Stripes wave into retirement. Selecting partners like Brendan Benson to create The Raconteurs, and Allison Mosshart to form The Dead Weather shows confidence in his own ability and a penchant to be challenged, simultaneously keeping his music and career fresh. With the release of his 2012 solo album “Blunderbuss” a mature artist emerged into the spotlight, free from the shadows of his Detroit garage rock shelter. 

The lesser mentioned ventures, however, are what most attract me to Jack White. The soundtrack for Cold Mountain–a 2003 Civil War flick starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Rene Zellweger–benefitted from the contribution of five beautiful appalachian bluegrass hymnals brought to life by White’s warbling. This started an impressive run in Hollywood that went on to include “Another Way To Die”, a duet with Alicia Keys that officially made him a Quantum of Solace Bond girl, and the recently released “Love is Blindness” from The Great Gatsby, the perfect distillation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s essence into the 21st-century world as seen so distinctly by Baz Luhrmann. And, by the way, please note the presence of Academy Award winners in these movies and remember that White was/is a pasty garage rock kid from Detroit, the posterchild of American industrial decay. Plus, it doesn’t end there. Aside from making movie music, he’s also made cameos as himself in six films, including Coffee and Cigarettes, and played Elvis in the imminently forgettable Walk Hard (which I only mention because it’s ELVIS and I have to believe researching that role influenced his onstage persona).

Whether wielding a guitar or controlling a mixing panel, the artist who holds the reins of his/her career determines the outcome of the journey; hence why Jack White as producer is such a brilliant career move. His credits run the gamut from Loretta Lynn and Jerry Lee Lewis to the Von Bondies and the Dex Romweber Duo (an awesome and totally underrated band), as well as pieces for Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert. Not to mention, he produced a fair portion of White Stripes and Raconteurs records. Genius. If you want something done right, do it yourself, which is why he started his own studio. In their own words, “Third Man Records was originally founded by Jack White in Detroit, MI in 2001. In March of 2009 a physical location was established in Nashville, TN. Third Man Records in its current state contains a record store, record label offices, photo studio, dark room and live venue with analog recording booth. Almost all of our records are recorded, printed and pressed in Nashville, TN and produced by Jack White. In this fashion TMR strives to bring a spontaneous and tangible aesthetic back into the record business.”

Did you read that?! Analog recording booth delivering a spontaneous and tangible aesthetic. Now that is what I’m talking about. In all, the totality and execution of his vision is equalled by few, and seeing him live was one of the best experiences of my life. I know that’s a heady statement, and I mean every word of it. His swagger, style and showmanship reek of the King himself, Elvis Presley, but his music is imbued with the authenticity of, say, a Johnny Cash or a Hank Williams. His output could be described as frenetic were it not for the quality of what he has achieved, and, if that weren’t enough to love the man, he opened his own joint to further the common cause of good music in the fight against synthetic sludge.

So thank you, Jack White, you old pied-piper of musical integrity, you; this is a note of appreciation. 

Nostos Nic’s Picks: Week of 5/20/2013

Playing Cafe du Nord, Monday, 5/20/2013.

Playing Cafe du Nord with Jeremy Messersmith, Monday, 5/20/2013.

Playing Great American Music Hall, Tuesday, 5/21/2013.

Playing the Elbo Room, Wednesday, 5/22/2013.

Brick & Mortar Music Hall, Thursday, 5/23/2013.

Playing Great American Music Hall, Thursday, 5/23/2013.

Playing Slim’s, Thursday, 5/23/2013.

Playing Slim’s with The Detroit Cobras, Thursday, 5/23/2013.

Playing Cafe du Nord, Friday, 5/24/2013.

Nostos Nic’s Picks: Week of 5/13/2013

Playing Great American Music Hall, Monday, 5/13/2013.

Playing Bottom of the Hill, Wednesday, 5/15/2013.

Playing Brick & Mortar Music Hall with The Orange Revival, Monday, 5/13/2013.

Playing the Elbo Room, Monday, 5/13/2013.

Playing Hemlock Tavern, Thursday, 5/16/2013.

Playing Hemlock Tavern, Friday, 5/17/2013.

Playing Brick & Mortar Music Hall, Monday, 5/13/2013.

Playing Hemlock Tavern, Tuesday, 5/14/2013.