Not, unfortunately, an announcement of the world's greatest double bill, but a roundup of recent concert reviews. First, there's the Residents, the incognito avant-gardists who played Philadelphia's World Cafe Live Monday night. And in the other corner, Mariah Carey's gig at the Tower Theater, a relatively intimate (i.e. 3,000 seats) and surprisingly not-sold out venue. Interestingly (implausibly, even), both acts worked a living-room motif into their shows, although in neither case was intimacy exactly the point.
While we're rounding up, peruse if you will my review of Stroke: The Songs of Chris Knox, a benefit compilation for the Tall Dwarfs frontman and all-around New Zealand underground icon. Knox suffered a stroke in 2009 and is still unable to form words, but that hasn't stopped him from performing live, as the track by the Nothing, performed live at the double CD's release party, shows. As well as serving a good cause, Stroke's chronological arrangement makes a surprisingly strong case for Knox's songwriting gifts — surprisingly because his voice (and, in the Dwarfs' case, their warped, tape loop-driven music) — seems too idiosyncratic to lend itself to outside interpretation. The versions by Yo La Tengo, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Stephin Merritt, Jeff Mangum, Portastatic, Lambchop, the Mountain Goats and Bill Callahan, as well as Knox's Antipodean contemporaries the Chills, David and Hamish Kilgour, the Bats, the Verlaines and Neil Finn, are consistently top-notch, and among other things present an urgent case for bringing more of Knox's music back into print. Until then, you can stream the original versions at Knox's site, and give the man some cash while you're at it.