Knockout punk, country new wave, lifeguard folk

It’s a literary week for your friendly neighborhood Soundscraper.

P Moss, owner of dive bar/live music venue Double Down Saloon, is also an author. If you didn’t pick up 2010’s Blue Vegas, you might want to jump on board with his brand-new book of short fiction, Vegas Knockout (CityLife Books, $15). And unlike any other story collection you’ll read this year, Knockout inspired an album’s worth of punk songs by Portland, Ore.-based Attack Ships on Fire. The band will play Moss’ book launch, and freak-show darling Jenn O. Cide will host (8 to 11 p.m. Sept. 6 at Double Down, free).

Like the book that prompted it, Vegas Soul summons the flailing, revved-up despair of jacked-up, sun-ravaged souls falling victim to their own desires. “Hands Down, Chin Up” is, hands down, the best boxing instruction put to music—ever. The title track, with its pensive lyrics (What motivates a con man?/Is it a chance to get something for nothing?), is a top-notch anthem about life at the bottom of the Sin City barrel. Finally, there’s even an ode to Moss’ watering hole, “Double Down Saloon.” At the book launch only, Vegas Soul will be offered as a free download when you buy Moss’ tome. For more info visit PMoss.com and AttackShipsOnFire.com.

You’ll need to double-back to Double Down Saloon at 10 p.m. Sept. 9 to line-dance (and do the safety dance) with a “cowboy new wave” act from Seattle called Brent Amaker & the Rodeo. The band just got off the summer festival circuit (Watershed, Capitol Hill Block Party) and has a new album that should be released soon. Meantime, Amaker and his rodeo musicians are known for covering Kraftwerk in the style of Johnny Cash, and for their all-around tendency to mash-up the disparate sonic realms of Devo and Charlie Daniels. I’ve seen and heard a lot of quirky, fun bands in my time, and this one is right up there. Also, you can’t beat a free show.

Finally, Em McManus is a young hotel pool lifeguard by day and a female Jack Johnson by night. She’s been playing coffee shops and bars as a solo strummer for years, but now she and her band The Em McManus Project—Will McManus (bass), Kirk Slater (guitar), Carlos Perez (drums)—landed a big break with a 9 p.m. Sept. 12 show at the Cosmopolitan’s Book & Stage. Her music is folk-based with a sultry, passionate vibe that’s almost bluesy at times; her voice is sensual and in it you can hear the sunshine, water and relaxation of her occupation; her band is dynamite. McManus is different from what I usually catch at Book & Stage. Fans of singer/songwriters such as Ben Harper will enjoy her music, no doubt. Looking forward to this. Again: free. Which means you’ll have plenty of money with which to buy books!

Suggested Next Read

Hope Springs

Short Reviews

Hope Springs

By Tribune Media Services

(PG-13) ★★★☆☆ Their kids grown, Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold Soames (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married 31 years. In an attempt to break them out of their rut, Kay takes them to a couples therapy workshop in a Maine town called, you guessed it, Great Hope Springs. Steve Carell plays the therapist wonderfully straight. The impressive script by Vanessa Taylor gives these master actors plenty to work with, and what seems at first to be a syrupy old-folks-are-cute rom-com, is actually a good and enjoyable film.

DTLV

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