Nothing Drab about it

Wax Tablet
By PORTLAND PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  August 17, 2011

• We found ourselves happily trampled last weekend by DRAB PONY, JEREMY ROBINSON's on/off improv project, as they whipped up a froth of excessive noise tantrums in the darklit rodeo of the Apohadion in Bayside. Robinson normally practices a tremendous amount of restraint and compositional mastery in SOUTH CHINA and BROWN BIRD, so it was a welcome sight to see him go off like this. While the sounds were a delicious mess, Drab Pony's formula was fairly straightforward: first collaborator PAT CORRIGAN provided some primal drum thuds, whereupon Robinson loops some foundational hums via pedal rig before attacking his guitar like a vintage Joe Baiza and filling the room with a sea of trebly nonriffs. Things would get even less musical from there, with Robinson intermittently assing the piano (exactly what you might think) and Corrigan playing an amplified metal detector (a CoinMaster 8000/D1 for all you gearhounds). It was an unlikely end to an otherwise quiet show. Other highlights included an abbreviated set by ALERIC NEZ, a man whose songwriting, with its elaborate tunings and impassioned croons, stretches the limits of contemporary folk music. All hyperbole aside.

• Local songwriter DEAN FORD has been tearing it up lately. Fresh off a rock cruise, a coupla high-profile impersonations of Lady Gaga and Prince, and a set on the KahBang Dispatch Stage, Ford releases a new EP for his single Control this week, which finds him marrying his arena-pop sensibility to an unapologetic nostalgia for '90s club music. Let's face it, the '80s are overbooked. Ford's songs can cover a lot of ground in a lot of genres, but this one seems like a tight fit, and the wound-up dance beats and studio shine are well suited to his punchy delivery. Local ladies-night DJs, listen up!

• Ford's not the only one who's been dressing up lately. THE TOUGHCATS, long one of the finer groups playing roots and bluegrass in this state, have gathered their strength and transformed into . . . a delicious beer. That's right: TOUGHCATS IPA, a German malt brew of moderate hoppiness, arrives just in time to quaff paired with late-summer squash pies, and with just enough foodie crossover appeal to fund forthcoming tours. For excellence in the fields of promotional savvy and weirdness, we give this venture a hearty salute. And, as a special treat for those of you who still prefer to listen to, as opposed to merely drink, your Toughcats, you'll be pleased to learn that the band have demanded, like a team of upstart class-action lawyers, that their latest record, Run of the Mill, have its place amid the dappled fields of PANDORA-approved music. Which means you can now listen to a Toughcats-station while, you guessed it, eating delicious squash pies! There is a catch, though: the megalithic music station has made it clear that unless their record clears some arbitrary threshold of popularity by some arbitrary deadline, the Toughcats will never again be allowed to walk with Pandora-approved artists again.

Une grave erreur: In last week's WaxTabs we erroneously Frenchified the name of the singer in the MILKMAN'S UNION. Jamison's first name is Henry, not Henri, no matter the sex appeal the latter might have lent him or his band.

  Topics: New England Music News , Music, Pandora, Pandora,  More more >
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