Mountains and Amen Dunes at the Southern; Three Witches at Radio Bistro

February 13th, 2012 · 2 Comments · By

There’s a show at the Southern tonight, and the line-up includes two band’s I’m really excited about: Mountains and Amen Dunes!

Mountains are a duo, consisting of Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, who have also each done plenty of solo work, in addition to running the Apestaartje label. Despite their extremely Scandinavian-sounding names, their rural/pastoral aesthetic, and they fact that they’re called “Mountains,” these guys are actually based out of Brooklyn. They’ve been making sublimely lovely music combining acoustic instruments and electronic sounds for a few years now, mixing acoustic fingerpicking, chimes, and strings with drones, sythnthesized sounds, and dreamy electronic buzz. I definitely recommend checking them out, especially if you’re a fan of Greg Davis, Growing, Bird Show, Tape, Lichens, and that kind of stuff. Their newest release, “Air Museum” is on Thrill Jockey records, and it’s a bit of a departure for them; it was their first recorded in a professional studio, and it was done entirely without any digital processing; all the acoustic instruments were manipulated with pedals and modular synthesizers. It sounds just as lovely as their other work, but is somehow less rigid, more raw and looser, than their previous albums.  You can download a free track from their new album by clicking here; it’s a lot closer to Emeralds / Oneohtrix Point Never territory than a lot of their stuff, but it’s just as awesome.

Amen Dunes I know less about, though I’m definitely a fan of his as well; it’s the solo project of Damon McMahon, who’s played around in various folky and garage-y outfits for years; reportedly he recorded his debut solo album “Dia” in 2006 before moving to Beijing and retiring from music (!); it eventually got released in 2009 and the ensuing success apparently convinced him to come back to the States a put a band together. I remember when we first got a copy of “Dia” at the radio station, it felt like a really nice surprise; a weird, moody, idiosyncratic garage-rock record that was also super-charming and well-done for all of its’ artsy obscurity; it’s got a great jangly/hyperactive 80’s college-radio vibe but is also really dreamy and deconstructed in a way that feels very contemporary; definitely recommended for fans of other neo-garage acts like Thee Oh Sees.  Since that album first broke, Amen Dunes have been steadily getting more attention, and the new record is out on the acclaimed Woven Bones label; “Through Donkey Jaw” is, surprisingly, much more subdued and harder to pin down than its predecessor; it’s way more overtly dreamy and almost deliberately unfocused; but the result is pleasingly soporific. I’m very curious to see how his aesthetic translates to a live show.

Those two world-class acts are sharing the bill with two other groups I don’t know much about at all; Historic is an “experimental IDM/metal post-hardcore” act from Richmond, which sounds like it could be awesome or it might be terrible — and the show is somewhat inexplicably being headlined by a group called This Will Destroy You — whom, it must be said, have a truly and utterly awful band name. I’ve never actually heard them, but more than one person I’ve talked to has compared them to Explosions in the Sky (and unfavorably, at that), which doesn’t bode well since EITS have become perhaps my least favorite among “post-rock” acts, having now thoroughly overcompensated for the demand for records that sound exactly like Mogwai’s “Young Team” but are not anywhere near as good. But perhaps that’s unfair to the guys from, uh — “This Will Destroy You” (god, I’m even wincing as I type it), so in the interest of evenhandedness I’ll stick around for a few of their songs tonight and give them a chance.

That’s tonight at The Southern, the show’s All Ages, the door opens at 7pm (presumably with music around 8?), the cover is $10 (ten bucks! yikes! but trust me, it’ll be worth it for Mountains and Amen Dunes) and I don’t know this for certain but the promo materials lead me to believe that the band order is Historic, Amen Dunes, Mountains, TWDY.

After the show, you should be sure to head on over to the C&O for Radio Bistro; remember when Sarah Carr, Sarah Thackery, and Jessica Shade were “the Three Witches” for Halloween this fall? They did the same thing for Christmas, and it seems they’ve made a habit of spinning records together every Holiday, because the Three Witches (three cupids?) are reuniting for a “VD Eve” set (by which I hope Sarah means “Valentines Day Eve”…) tonight; that’s from 10pm to 2am, there’s no cover charge, and it’ll be a great way to wrap up the evening.

Oh, and if you can’t make it to the Southern tonight, I still urge you to check out Mountains, who are going to be playing LIVE on the air on WTJU tomorrow afternoon, from 5 to 6pm; Matt Simon and I will be chatting with the band in-between their songs, and I’m looking forward to meeting those guys and having them in the studio. As I’ve mentioned, the WTJU Rock Marathon is now underway, so there’s more live bands all week and plenty of awesome programming; I did my first marathon show this morning, and have seven more to go before the week is through (including a “songs from the year 1962” show tonight, for which I am currently preparing), so make sure to keep your radio on this week!

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