Chelsea Light Moving carries Sonic Youth legacy



Sonic Youth is a hard act to follow, but Thurston Moore had little choice when he and bass-playing wife Kim Gordon split up in 2011 after more than 25 years of marriage and three decades of glorious noise-rock.

Singer-guitarist Mr. Moore turned to a trio of musicians from a solo tour to form Chelsea Light Moving, a band that's right in step with Youth's guitar-churning fury.

Drummer John Moloney, of Boston psych-rock band Sunburned Hand of the Man (on the Sonic Youth label Ecstatic Peace!), says he was a high school kid more into rap and speed metal when Sonic Youth was making waves with albums like "EVOL" and "Sister" in the mid '80s. He got into Sonic Youth a few years later and started working with Mr. Moore, a musician 13 years his senior at 54, in 2005.

Last year, with guitarist Keith Wood (also of Sunburned) and bassist Samara Lubelski (Jackie-O [Expletive]), they formed Chelsea Light Moving, named for a moving company once owned by composers Philip Glass and Steven Reich, and released the debut album this year. Although less artful than SY, Chelsea covers some of the same ground with thick guitar sludge, dissonant droning jams and occasional bursts of bratty punk.

In terms of the leader's vision for the band, "There was not a word mentioned as far as comparisons [to Sonic Youth]," Mr. Moloney says. "Just completely spontaneous composition of songs. Not much thought put into it at all. No discussion. He doesn't talk about that stuff. Sonic Youth's not going anywhere. That's a brick wall that no one's going to go around -- It's not going to get knocked down any time soon. What we play together is just a pretty open exchange of ideas."

Coming from improv backgrounds, he says this type of "riff-rock stuff is really easy for us." Much of it evolved out of practice-space jams, and most of it was recorded live in the studio. The band is well into its tour now, and he warns, "the live stuff is actually heavier than on the record -- It's pretty intense and energetic."

The crowds are reacting in kind, and they aren't as young and limber as they used to be. Call it Dads Gone Wild.

"At the Seattle show, people went nuts and just jumped on stage," the drummer says. "You ever see that legendary Fear performance on 'Saturday Night Live'? It was kind of like that. People went bananas, and security didn't know what to do, and there's people like 45 years old flopping like fish to the air and coming down on solid concrete. No one's going to hold these guys up. It was like, watch out for the lead balloon coming your way."

Chelsea Light Moving performs at Mr. Smalls, Millvale at 8 tonight with Shockwave Riderz. Tickets are $16 through www.ticketweb.com.

A Revival of singer-songwriters

Chuck Ragan came through Altar Bar in January in the role of roaring frontman for reunited Florida punk band Hot Water Music.

On Wednesday, he returns as the ringleader of the sixth Revival Tour of unplugged punk-based singer-songwriters, featuring Streetlight Manifesto leader Toh Kay, The Loved Ones' Dave Hause, Rocky Votolato and Jenny Owen Youngs.

The tour began in 2008 with 52 shows in 57 days and the concept of throwing the musicians together to bang out their songs and just see what happens.

"The most exciting thing about the tour is it's always breathing, it's always evolving and there are never two shows alike," Mr. Ragan says. "It's a lot different than touring in a group, where every night you have that same set -- It may vary a little bit, but for the most part, you're just kind of in motion and playing the same setup. With the Revival tour, you never know what's going to happen or who's going to show up or pop in a special guest. It's way exciting."

Past lineups have included Tim Barry (Avail), Tom Gabel (Against Me!), Kevin Seconds (7 Seconds), Jesse Malin and Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) and Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio).

Usually the artists have a history together, but that's not always the case, says Mr. Ragan, who has three solo albums to his credit, most recently 2011's "Covering Ground."

"A lot of people on the tour have never met each other before. This is our sixth year doing the tour, and one of the most special things is seeing these strangers come around the bus and right away people understand that the tour is about collaborating and playing and singing on each others' songs. And just to watch people go from complete strangers to dear friends, to see that take place is just a wonderful experience in itself. One thing that stays consistent is that camaraderie and sense of community and togetherness, and it radiates to the crowd."

The show is at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $22-$24 through ticketfly.com.

mobilehome - music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. First Published April 2, 2013 4:00 AM


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