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calebt on 08/08/2009 at 10:20AM

Don't Call Him Juany Cash

Mira at the Sasquatch Music Festival. CC NC ND by Jackie Kingsbury -

KEXP has been silently dumping loads of gems into the FMA. Teaser tracks off live sets from people like Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Ladytron, and James Yuill are a few of the highlights from their star-studded offerings. It's clear they mean business, so take advantage.

One of particular interest is a stripped down performance from Seattle songwriter Vince Mira. Mira is an anomaly not to be skipped. His voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Cash (hence the title, which I admit I lifted off KEXP's archive, but, come on, it's pretty clever) -- enough to impress John Carter Cash, at least, who scooped him up to co-produce his first official release, Cash Cabin Session, which showcases a few of his own originals alongside a Spanish-language rendition of "Ring of Fire." With a face that could kill and a west-Texas wardrobe that wouldn't be out of place in the '50s, it's clear that Mira can play the part.

A Johnny Cash impersonator is all well and good, and certainly vaguely impressive in its own right, but there's a reason Mira is doing a weekly residence at the Can Can in Seattle, not playing Vegas. He writes sturdy, captivating stories set to deep melodies where his voice flourishes. The guitar-and-voice performance on KEXP is solid evidence of his singular talent. Mira is carving out an identity in spite of the Cash shadow, which is all the more impressive when I reveal that he is 17 years old. Or 16, I'm not sure, wikipedia just says that his birthday is in 1992, and I can't find out anywhere else. His songs are already well beyond his years, and there can only be more to come. So check him out now, or later, because Mira is here to stay.

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calebt on 07/25/2009 at 11:39AM

Summer Hits

Demon-eyes: Tonstartssbandht

Last week about forty rabid fans, myself among them, made the potentially perilous trip to Santos Party House for a concert featuring a band whose name noone can pronounce. Tonstartssbandht. Tahn-STARTS-band. I think. They made a track dedicated to explaining it and I still don't think I've mastered it. The brothers White have been terrorizing Montreal with their heavy samples and crippling melodies for a while, and this summer decided to take up residence in NYC.

Essentially opening for them at this show was Matthew Mondanile, playing as Ducktails but with a full band for the first time. In between rocking brutal versions of his summer psychedelia, Mondanile revealed his soft side - a shy, New Jersey kid hiding behind glasses and thanking his audience after every song.

Then came Tonstartssbandht. This show blew me away. They have a unique take on the sampler/vocal melody approach. Their debut album (cd-r?), An When, showcases the best of this side of the band. Their beats are heavy, their harmony delicate, intricate, and powerful. Powerful enough to be retailed at Other Music, at least. They have graciously posted a few tracks on the FMA, and hinted that there are more to come. They sound vaguely like Animal Collective, vaguely like the Beach Boys, vaguely like a youth choir backed by Led Zeppelin.

After working through their hits, however, they picked up their instruments. Eddy sat down at the drums and began pounding away like the prodigious gorilla from the Cadbury cream ad. Soon after, Andy picked up a guitar, turned off the delay, and unleashed up a tone that could've taken Wolverine in a fist fight. Suddenly, this was a rock show. The duo was leaping around, mixing noise and blues, demolishing eardrums, and reminding everyone why bands used to play instruments. In the future, music will sound something like this.

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