Listening to Shpongle is like walking around a vast enchanted forest where you stumble upon three-headed geckos and weird bearded shamans handing out smoothies filled with fun but questionable substances. This British duo pushes a mix of psychedelic downtempo and ambient music, aka "psybient." The tracks sometimes seem like long winded jams, but they thankfully never veer into masturbatory territory. Many of their cuts, which often clock in around eight minutes, come across like epic auditory journeys with heavily layered synthetic and organic sounds woven together. Nothing seems crowded and sounds change up so often that it's easy to get hooked.
Tunes like "Electroplasm" serve as an excellent set and setting for the trip, with an enticing ambient intro that morphs into an ultra chill cut featuring Middle Eastern melodies, flutes, sitars and warbled, alien-like vocal effects. Meanwhile, "Shpongolese Spoken Here" fuses complex beat trickery with glitched-out vocal samples. It packs house and dub into something authentic and surprisingly cohesive. This is music for motion, whether it's long bike rides, road trips or a mind humming with creative ideas. (Ira Sather-Olson)
Shpongle plays the Wilma Theatre Wed., Sept. 26, at 8 PM with Phutureprimative. $25–$30.
It's funny the Facebook event invite for Maria Minerva's upcoming show describes it as a "bizarro Dead Hipster/Bassface"-type shindig, because I'm pretty sure most of the Thursday night booty-shaking-Journey-sing-alongers would be utterly perplexed at the Estonian producer's low-fi trippy electronica.
New York-based Maria Minervaborn Maria Juur in 1988 in Estonia"has not heard of HQ recording ... has not heard that postmodernism is passé," according to her Soundcloud page. Among her latest record's weird soundbites, overlapped dreamy vocals and hazy interludes, dance beats weave in and out, enough to hint that her live presence might be faster-paced.
She stops in Missoula on a big-ass cross-country tour along with Rhode Island's Father Finger, a one-woman poppy noise act who sounds like a groovy B-horror movie. The show might be more like a Dead Hipster for artsy folk who prefer basements to bar stages, and hey, people in horn-rimmed glasses need to get down sometimes, too. (Kate Whittle)
Maria Minerva plays the VFW Tue., Sept. 25, with Father Finger, Modality and Better Tennis at 10 PM. $5.
It doesn't take much digging to uncover the connection between blues and punk rock. Rock is faster blues with more chords; punk is louder rock with fewer of them. Both are fundamentally constrained forms, so both depend heavily on presentation. Los Angeles-based Restavrant has presentation in spades; frontman Troy Murrah is from that long vocal tradition that makes "yeah" into a three-syllable world, and most of the songs feature slide guitar. That combination sounds awesome all the time.
For example, it sounded awesome on the first Jon Spencer Blues Explosion album. I would be remiss if I did not point out that Restavrant songs are as familiar as they are enjoyable. If you like "Rachel," you will like their recordings. If you cannot ignore the many cultural contradictions that make it problematic for a white man to work himself and his guitar into a lather re: "goin' to the church," you won't. Either way, though, you will probably enjoy the show. Restavrant writes the kind of songs that are much better live, when energy and sound are more important than originality. (Dan Brooks)
Restavrant plays the Palace Sat., Sept. 22, at 9 PM with Scott H. Biram and Warren Jackson Hearne. $10.
Communist Daughter: Lions and Lambs
I am a sucker for minor-key harmonies. Every time my attention drifted listening to Communist Daughter's Lions and Lambs EP, a creaky male/female vocal line reeled me in again. Possibly my taste was stunted in childhood. I can only assume that Com-Daught also grew up with my father's collection of 23 Oak Ridge Boys albums and one Crosby, Stills and Nash, because the harmonies keep breaking through.
The difference between this album and more twee entries from the likes of Bowerbirds lies in the muscular instrumental arrangements. Yes, there are banjos, but Lions and Lambs also employs the fuzzed-out guitar of Neutral Milk Hotel, from which the Minneapolis band presumably takes its name. The result is a balance between the painfully earnest and the jauntily popwhat art jerks call assured.
The mixture is not always perfect; a couple tracks on Lions and Lambs sound aimless and self-important, like Bon Iver. Mostly, though, they are serious, pretty folk-pop, like that one song by Bon Iver. Plus there are horns and whistling. (Dan Brooks)
Communist Daughter plays the VFW Sat., Sept. 22, 10 PM. $3.