Music Picks: Darkside, Skinny Puppy and More
This week brings with it the first concert at Oak Cliff's Outpost Dallas, and they're starting off big with solo sets from members of Heartless Bastards, The Theater Fire and The Baptist Generals. Elsewhere, you can see rising dance outfit Darkside and long-time weirdo torchbearers Skinny Puppy.
Thursday, January 30, at Dada
Dance outfits rarely move the mind as much as they do the hips. But Darkside do both, concocting lush, impressionistic cuts that owe as much to dub-techno as to Pink Floyd. The duo's swirling, hypnotic aesthetic is something you can just as easily trance out to as marvel at — a product that's somehow both painterly and visceral. Smoky and drifting, psychedelic and over-saturated, Darkside's atypical dance music shares more with post-punk's mutant disco than almost anything being practiced today. It's quite amazing, actually, that songs this delightfully abstract can still function as club music. Heart-throbbing percussion, syrupy colors and webby structures made Darkside's 2013 album, Psychic, an uncommon success. These same components will make Darkside's date at Dada a phenomenal experience. Jonathan Patrick
Friday, January 31, at Outpost Dallas
Heartless Bastards are a throwback to a time when rock was smoother, simpler and more iconic. You'll get to hear the songs in their stripped-down form at this show, which features a solo set by frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom. Their latest album, Arrow, is filled with so much retro goodness that it's like listening to 52 minutes of the kind of classic rock hits that populated '70s-era AM radio. The crunchy guitar chords and thick drums on "Got to Have Rock and Roll" will have you air guitar-ing long before you even get to the solos and added riffs in the second half of the song. And while the laid-back rock track "Only For You" tones down the bombast significantly, the video for this song is a nod to the past as well, featuring two kids who represent the proverbial child stuck in each adult's body. Heartless Bastards — and Arrow in particular — are a present-day, ass-kicking blast back to the past. Brian Palmer
Friday, January 31, at Granada Theater
Before the broad strokes of alternative rock painted most of the '90s vanilla, Skinny Puppy set the decade on fire, sounding very much like the radical future. This was a true alternative music. By marrying the sleekness of '80s new wave to the textured noise of early industrial music, Skinny Puppy built high/low art collages that made everything else sound downright archaic. Nearly 25 years on, they're still out there redefining the meaning of "industrial music." The group's newest record, the keyboard-heavy Weapon, is at once a reminder of how far ahead Skinny Puppy were in 1990 and how remarkably relevant they remain in 2014. The recurring theme of the group's aesthetic has always been dichotomy: cacophony and melody, repulsion and beauty, past and present. That's why Skinny Puppy's current tour is so fascinating. It represents a continuation on that theme. On Friday at the Granada, the past invades our present. Jonathan Patrick
Wednesday, February 5, at Trees
In 1989, two successful tobacco-land enterprises began small, only to grow — both in power and legend — over the course of the next two and a half decades. In the early 1990s, one knew that when they listened to a Superchunk album they were also listening to the Merge Records sound. The Chapel Hill-formed power-punk-pop group, led by Mac MacCaughan and bassist Laura Balance, started the tiny label as a means to get their own music into the hands of college students studying in the famed Research Triangle of the Tar Heel, Blue Devil and Wolfpack state. Now, with Merge rivaling indie giants Matador and 4AD thanks to releasing albums from luminaries such as Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire, the entities are distinguishable from one another. But you still can never separate them. After a recording hiatus of several years, Superchunk returned to store shelves with their catchy-as-hell songs intact. With 2010's urgent Majesty Shredding and last year's earworm-rich I Hate Music, the group delivered albums that don't require cherry-picking or skipping to a new batch of undergrads everywhere. Kelly Dearmore
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