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Friday, May 25, 2012

Langhorne Slim, Ha Ha Tonka and Kingsley Flood

Music Event of the Week
TONIGHT AT THE MIDDLE EAST

Langhorne Slim & The Law
Ha Ha Tonka
Kingsley Flood

18+ $15





We were raining accolades down on Langhorne Slim long before it was a popular thing to do so or prior to him becoming the star on the national indie landscape that he has become. Three years ago, prior to this incarnation of the band and before the songs off the new journeyman effort, "The Way We Move" (June 5 release) were even a thought in Langhorne's head - we had already seen his ferocious roar and the swinging of the guitar (like a sword held aloft) a half dozen times.

And then something happened (something always happens) Slim got even better. That's the natural result when you play so damn hard the only thing that matters to you is that it never ends... I had a good conversation with Slim about this - it was the day the photo (below) was taken. He just wants to keep making music. We all want to challenge our mortality, to escape pain. Those thing happen for Slim when he jumps up on stage and performs. Those things happen for Slim's audiences whenever he's doing that. It's a pretty beautiful thing - and I think about what he told me every time I look at this photo...




The 13 songs that compose Langhorne Slim & The Law’s new album are road-tested, rollicking and very rock ‘n’ rolling tunes that the songwriter perfected with his loyal band, and come out of the kind of good times and bad experiences that songwriters of Langhorne’s lofty stature can turn into life-affirming rock ‘n’ roll. You could also call what Langhorne Slim does folk music, but then there’s his sly, charming and open-hearted feel for pop music—those summertime melodies that nudge you into a grin even when the song is about something bad.

Langhorne Slim
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Ha Ha Tonka - Brett Anderson, Lennon Bone, Lucas Long and Brian Roberts are still relative strangers to me - which is strange because I've seen them a bunch of times and thoroughly enjoy their music. Their songs about resilience, survival and raw natural beauty are punctuated by their performances. The band is growing as evidenced by their latest, "Death of a Decade" - which both underscores the past but somehow dances far above it as well. The new material is less “story-based” than Ha Ha Tonka’s previous work (which pulled heavily from Missouri history and folklore for its lyrics), with the band now focusing on the transition into manhood—something that doesn’t automatically come once you pass a certain age: “I realize that youth is wasted on the young,” Roberts sings on “Westward Bound,” “Oh, I know that now my wasting days are done.”

However, Roberts says, "Death of a Decade" is not meant to be a requiem for lost youth, but rather an embrace of the notion that the passage of time is better than the alternative. There you have it again: the wisdom of the Ozarks.

Ha Ha Tonka
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Kingsley Flood - are quite possibly the perfect mix of folk, rock, punk and Americana. Labels aside, though, what they really are is stunningly good. At the start of 2012 I have the band placed at the very top - one of say 4 bands performing at peak levels in the Boston area scene. And for their particular sound, they are easily the best of what's around. In three short years the band have worked extensively to craft a space to play while evolving their sound on stage and in practice spaces to be what it is tonight. Do not arrive late. Catch what could end up being the best set of the night - early.

Somebody's going to leave the show with a favorite new band tonight -- and it's going to be these guys.

Kingsley Flood
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