What's up with avant-garde music

Local reedsman John Dierker has organized a holiday show at the Red Room at Normal's Books and Records for more than a decade now, and it is one of the most exuberant end-of-year gifts. This year's lands Dec. 27 (visit redroom.org for more info), with a lineup TBA. One confirmed guest is Leo Svirsky, the pianist/composer whose 2012 Ehse Records debut, Songs in the Key of Survival, gorgeously blended modernist sound and radical politics. A few months back, local quartet Fevers posted a five-song debut to Bandcamp so quietly it was practically imperceptive. Too bad: The quartet-percussionist Matthias Egger, guitarist Adam Engle, baritone guitarist/bassist Adam Laye, and guitarist Todd Shelar-smelts the sort of rhythmically layered instrumental rock that would recombine with jazz, prog, dub, and IDM to become a vast post-rock sea in the mid-1990s. Fevers is closer to Tortoise's self-titled debut: tightly wound explorations but still very much hybridized rock. The band opens for Philadelphia's fusion-pop quartet iNFiNiEN Dec. 27 at the Windup Space (visit thewindupspace.com for more info).

Elvis Depressedly-aka Columbia, S.C.'s Mat Cothran-doesn't just pen hummable bummers that live up to the name. He does so in a way that's disarmingly catchy. Last year's Hotted Sadness hewed closer to a Shrimper Records pop depression while Holo Pleasures, from earlier this year, sounded dusted with a Siltbreeze-y no-fi racket. Elvis Depressedly haunts the Charm City Art Space Dec. 27 with Crying, Wishlist, and Dungeon Kids (visit ccspace.org for more info).

With little more than a four-song EP and an ingenious name, Perfect Pussy from Syracuse, N.Y., sizzled into one of the tail-end of 2013's buzz bands, with a full-length due in 2014 on Captured Tracks and fawning online writing about vocalist Meredith Graves' raw-nerve lyrics. It helps that the EP seamlessly straddles the art-punk/pop-punk divide, combining Melt-Banana's adrenaline overdrive with an almost Ramones-y romantic notion of melody. See what all the fuss is about Jan. 8, when Perfect Pussy hits Metro Gallery with Big Mouth, Multicult, and Hive Bent (for more info, visit themetrogallery.net).


Finally, as 2013 comes to a close, a quick thank you to some artists who have pleased Booed's ears over the years. And, yes, we're talking about the departed marquee names-Bebo Valdés, Cedar Walton, Chico Hamilton, Kevin Ayers, Lou Reed, etc.-but also a few who remain undersung: Western swing fiddler Curly Lewis; French trumpeter Bernard Vitet (who played with everyone from Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot to Albert Ayler and Don Cherry); Lindsay Cooper, a British reeds player who applied her exploratory ideas to avant-rock bands Henry Cow, Comus, and Art Bears; and two Baltimoreans: Herman "Junior" Denby, singer/songwriter for local 1950s doo-wop group the Swallows, and Damon Harris (born Otis Robert Harris), a vocalist who was part of the Temptations in the early '70s but who was part of a local Temptations tribute act in the '60s, first known as the Young Tempts and later the Young Vandals, whose 1970 T-Neck single "I'm Gonna Wait for You" is a gorgeous bit of sunshine soul (see feature, page 15).

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