Weekend Picks (3/21 – 3/23)

Thursday, March 21

Desert Noises / The Giving Tree / Hollis Brown
The Bottletree | 9 p.m.

“We’ve got a feeling about Provo, Utah’s Desert Noises, and it’s a good one. After hearing the news that they’ve just released their new album ‘Mountain Sea’ this past Tuesday we rushed over to their website and had a listen and have come away spell-bound by these 10 tracks of beard growing, flannel wearing, wandering wide eyed, alt-country perfection. Fans of Fleet Foxes and Band Of Horses this is right up your alley.”
— Indie Rock Reviews

Hey Marseilles / Young Buffalo
Workplay | 8 p.m.

“Seeing Hey Marseilles perform is like going to see the band your best friend’s kid brother cobbled together and realizing midway through the second song, “Hey, they’re actually good!” Their goofy, unpolished stage presence (the lanky “drumbourine” player always seems to be on the verge of tripping over an electrical cord and crashing into the accordionist) makes the playful chamber pop quintet charming to watch. Melancholy cello and viola harmonies underscoring poetic meanderings about love and loneliness, God and Dostoyevsky makes these guys worth keeping an eye on. They’re not yet jaded enough to know they shouldn’t smile when they perform, but their heartfelt songs grab your attention, make you wistful for your last love, and give you a bit of hope that, well, there might be hope after all in this big, cruel, world.”
— Wilson Diehl

Water Tower / Alex Vans & The Hide Away / Time Sawyer
The Nick | 10 p.m.

“Alex Vans, a D.C. troubadour, has released a truly great album. DJ Booth is full of likeable songs. Whether it’s the rock ‘n’ roll guitar or the fluttering synthesizer, his music catches your attention. The first three are undeniably memorable. Your brain is forced to memorize these catchy tunes and your feet can’t resist tapping the ground beneath you.”
— The Aquarian Weekly

If Birds Could Fly / Sam Lewis
Moonlight on the Mountain | 7:30 p.m.

“Where many enthusiasts of string-band music play with the period-correct discipline of Civil War re-creationists, this humble quartet offers a refreshing take on Appalachian folk and classic Americana.”
— from Moonlight on the Mountain event page

Friday, March 22

Anwar Sadat / Droves / Brain Tumors
The Bottletree | 9 p.m.

“[Anwar Sadat’s] songs are short, sweet bangers that sum up the deep, focused, and carefully-calculated anger that results from watching global consumer capitalism, exploitation, and endless warfare unfold in three parts. The delivery vehicle for songs that are, at longest, two or three minutes consists of Clay Farris’ ferocious guitar playing snaking its way through Shane Simms’ (no relation) tensely shouted vocals while his bass churns out a steady stream of crunchy, low-end tone.”
— Backseat Sandbar

Joshua James / David Ramirez / Isaac Russell
Workplay | 8 p.m.

“It’s doubtful you will hum many songs from singer/songwriter/storyteller Joshua James’ third album after its first spin. That’s not a criticism because James has crafted an envelope of sound to bolster his unique, almost choirboy styled vocals, that’s easy to tumble into. Thumping, cymbal-free percussion underpin many tracks, adding an eerie heartbeat to what are already pensive, skewed slices of American pie that can only tangentially be considered folk.”
— American Songwriter

Phil Lee
Moonlight on the Mountain | 7:30 p.m.

“It’s pretty damn fine. Phil Lee is a weathered, wizened troubadour, and he sounds like the sort of guy you’d cross at your own peril. But his lyrics are strong and paint evocative pictures. And the musicianship and arrangement is a tasty balance of laid-back and tight-as-a-duck’s ass. The songs all sound as if they were cut with all the effects knobs turned to zero: no bullshit studio trickery for this guy.”
— Bill Kopp (Musoscribe)

The Wonder Years / Fireworks / Hostage Calm / Misser
Zydeco | 9:30 p.m.

“Plenty of bands claim they document life through their lyrics, but few have ever done so in such a blunt and relatable way as Hopeless Records’ The Wonder Years. Through stories of life on and off the road, as well as pop culture and literary references, Dan “Soupy” Campbell and the rest of TWY have carved a niche in the pop punk world that few, if any, have tried to duplicate.”
— James Shotwell (underthegunreview.com)

Saturday, March 23

Nowhere Squares / Stoned Cobra / Husky Raver
The Bottletree | 9 p.m.

“Considered by many to be the godfathers of the Birmingham/Montevallo frenetic punk rock scene, the Nowhere Squares have been creating urgent rock tunes for well over a decade. At times explosive, at other times restrained, and, at other times, completely absorbed in nervous geek punk energy, the Squares’ songs are an onslaught of harmony driven bliss.”
— from Nowhere Squares bio

Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes / Pony Boy
Zydeco | 9:30 p.m.

“This band has it all: good songs, a powerful frontwoman who takes the music dead-serious but laughs easily at herself (she pondered aloud how much fun it would be to see the audience end every song in the set with a dramatic gesture like she does), not to mention irresistible visuals. There’s no reason why they couldn’t be as popular over here as, say, Sharon Jones or Bettye LaVette.”
— New York Music Daily

About Sam George

Sam George is editor-in-chief of You Hear This, and the former editor of r3vrb.com, BHAM.FM, and Birmingham Weekly. He is also a contributing writer at Weld for Birmingham and B-Metro magazine.