Music News & Reviews

System is back in Circulation

Circulatory System

9 p.m. Sept. 19 at Al's Bar, 601 N. Limestone. $5. (859) 309-2901.

Now here is a happy surprise. The last we heard from the Athens, Ga., psychedelic pop brigade Circulatory System — in recorded form, at least — was when its fine, self-titled debut album was issued eight years ago.

That record, cut by leader/founder Will Cullen Hart and what remained of the then-recently demised Olivia Tremor Control, was a scrapbook of retro and indie pop inspirations tossed together and shaken vigorously. On the album-opening Yesterday's World, you heard a dizzying sing-along that swam back to the late '60s folk of the Incredible String Band with a touch of Revolver-era John Lennon as channeled by Robyn Hitchcock. Then Frank Zappa-esque reeds start bouncing about with animated glee. In short, this was music that made the rounds.

So now, at long last, we have Signal Morning, a follow-up on which Hart and his pals, quite remarkably, stray little from the sort of psychedelia that sprouted from the first album. On This Morning, We Remembered Everything, a beefy T. Rex-style groove is thrown into the fun until the ensemble sound fractures into XTC-like frenzy.

Hart, for those familiar with the regenerative spirit of indie rock during the '90s, was also a co-founding member of Elephant 6, a pop collective that also gave rise to, among other bands, The Apples in Stereo (Lexington's Robert Schneider is also a founder). Signal Morning is very much in keeping with the collective's practice of formulating new music out of solid pop melodies, pronounced psychedelic accents and considerable sonic experimentation.

Though diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while making Signal Morning, Hart works steadily as a visual artist and oversees his label, Cloud Recordings. He also takes on considerable roadwork. As such, Hart and Circulatory System perform at Al's Bar this weekend to serve up the pop quilt tunes from Signal Morning on Saturday night.

Two other Circulatory System members will open the show. Guitarist Nesey Gallons probably will spotlight solo acoustic works while keyboardist/bassist Peter Erchick will perform with his band Pipes You See, Pipes You Don't.

Yo La Tengo

9 p.m. Sept. 23. Headliner's Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Rd., Louisville. $17 in advance, $20 day of show. (502) 584-8088.

It opens with echoing electronics, the kind Pink Floyd might have employed at the dawn of the '70s on a musical jaunt through the cosmos. Then the drums kick in and hammer the psychedelia into a bright, expansive, almost orchestrated pop groove before hushed vocals and a suitably retro-sounding electric piano break take over. Ladies and gentlemen, Yo La Tengo has returned. That's the mix the pop pride of Hoboken, N.J., uses to usher in Here to Fall, the lead-off track from its just-released Popular Songs, an album with a photo of a devoured, almost rusty-looking cassette tape on the cover. By the time the pseudo string savvy soul of If It's True rolls around, you can't help but be sucked into the band's fuzzy sense of pop fancy. The longstanding Yo La Tengo trio of guitarist Ira Kaplan, drummer Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew return to the Bluegrass State for a concert Wednesday in Louisville.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Zach Brock

6:45 p.m. Sept. 21. Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. $15. Reservations required: (859) 252-8888.

Another treat is heading our way courtesy of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. On tap at The Kentucky Theatre for the program's next taping will be the veteran West Coast swing revivalists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The band pays tribute to the great Cab Calloway on its new album How Big Can You Get?

Rounding out the program will be Lexington native Zach Brock, a vastly versed jazz violinist now working out of Brooklyn, N.Y. Brock also has been involved in a meaty tribute project. During Labor Day weekend, he helped debut the all-star band Collective Language in a New York concert honoring one-time John Coltrane protégé and master drummer Rashied Ali, who died Aug. 12.