Sunday, July 31, 2011

Win Tickets for Rooftop Films' "Dangerous Docs & Whisker Wars" (Short Films) on August 4th

Win Tickets for Rooftop Films' 'Dangerous Docs & Whisker Wars' (Short Films) on August 4thWin a Pair of Tickets to Rooftop Films' showing on August 4th - "Dangerous Docs and Whisker Wars" (Short Films). The showing is at Crown Vic, 60 South 2nd St. in Brooklyn so you obviously have to be local to win. To enter, send an email to mike.brooklynrocks at with the subject "Rooftop Films" and I'll draw winners at random on Wednesday night (August 3rd).

SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 2 (Zellner Bros. | Austin, TX | 4 min.)
An unprecedented peek at the mysteries of nature.

IRMA (Charles Fairbanks | Lexington, NE | 12 min.)
Irma is an intimate musical portrait of Irma Gonzalez, the former world champion of women’s professional wrestling. Filmed in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl – a notorious district of Mexico City – Irma contradicts everything we have come to expect from stories reported from Mexico. Featuring original music written and performed by Ms. Gonzalez, Irma’s story surges with love and deceit, masculine strength, feminine charms, and an extraordinary sense of humor.

"Whisker Wars" profiles a group of men as they travel the country in search of top honors in a host of competitions, from the National Beard and Mustache Championship in Bend, OR to the World Competition in Norway. With Germany the reigning champion, over 80 local U.S. chapters attempt to come together to form Beard Team USA. - IFC

NEGATIVIPEG (Matthew Rankin | Canada | 15 min.)
Rory Lepine gives a personal account of his fateful and infamous encounter with The Guess Who's legendary lead singer, Burton Cummings, in a Winnipeg 7-Eleven in 1985. [Sundance]

SATAN SINCE 2003 (Calos Puga | New York | 19 min.)
For Emmy Award-winning documentarian Carlos Puga (True Life, MTV), three months' access to The Hell's Satans (Richmond, Virginia's premier moped gang) produced enough material for not only an eye-popping peek into this otherwise reclusive society, but also a satirical jab at the process of documentary film-making. [SXSW]

DECLARATION OF IMMORTALITY (Marcin Koszalka | Poland | 29 min.)
Polish documentary veteran Marcin Koszałka returns to a forgotten genre: the mountain film. The protagonist of his story is Piotr “Mad” Korczak, a legendary mountain climber who revolutionized the art of mountain and rock climbing and figured out how to scale some of the most impossibly steep natural rock structures in the world. Featuring gorgeous and vertigo inducing cinematography and Koszalka’s magnificently stoic observations, Declaration of Immortality is a thrilling trip to the edge of the abyss and a poignant portrait of a man driven by an insatiable desire to live as large and as long as humanly possible.

The schedule for the night is:
8:00PM - Doors Open
8:30PM - Live Music
9:00PM - Films Begin
11:30PM - After Party at the Crown Vic

Rooftop Films

Soul Power: "Lost" '74 Concert Film with James Brown, B.B. King, The Spinners Screens at the IFC Center on Aug. 2nd

Soul Power: 'Lost' '74 Concert Film with James Brown, B.B. King, The Spinners Screens at the IFC Center on Aug. 2ndThis footage sat in the vaults for over thirty years due to legal disputes and was assembled as a labor of love by When We Were Kings editor Jeffrey Levy-Hinte. The film Soul Power chronicles the Zaire '74 concert with James Brown, Miriam Makeba, Bill Withers, Celia Cruz, and others that took place alongside the Ali / Foreman fight documented in When We Were Kings.

Zaire ‘74 was the brainchild of South African musician Hugh Masekela and American record producer Stewart Levine, a three-day music festival that took place in Kinshasa in 1974. The event assembled America’s biggest rhythm and blues talents – including James Brown and the Mighty JBs, Bill Withers, B.B. King, and the Spinners – along with top African acts such as Miriam Makeba and Afrisa. The festival was held in conjunction with the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.” The promoters hired a team of esteemed documentary cameramen to film everything, including street life in Kinshasa and behind-the-scenes footage of the show being assembled. And then the footage sat unedited for over thirty years.

The festival and film were financed by a Liberian investment group that became mired in legal disputes. Eventually, the rights were settled to facilitate the completion of the 1996 film When We Were Kings, which focused on the Ali-Foreman fight, and it won an Academy Award®. Jeffrey Levy-Hinte was an editor on that project, and recognized that another film about the twelve-hour concert was waiting to be made. With Soul Power, he finally brings this work to fruition. None of the footage has ever been seen, including new sections with Ali. The film plays like a time capsule, with no contemporary interviews to interrupt its cinéma-verité sensibility.

This one-time showing on August 2nd features a Q&A with director Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte. Tickets are $16 and the show starts at 8PM. The IFC Center is located at 323 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10014

Soul Power

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jim Ward - "Quiet in the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins" CD Review (Tembloroso Creative Lab)

Sparta / Sleepcar mainman Jim Ward’s latest release, Quiet in the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins, combines his three solo acoustic EPs (which originally came out as a limited edition pressings on Ward’s Civil Defense League label) with a new 6-song EP that contains electric versions of selected tracks from the EPs.

The disc starts with the five tracks from “Quiet” (2007) which finds Ward occupying a similar space to A.A. Bondy / James Apollo and telling road-weary tales of relationships and breakups, accompanied predominately by his acoustic guitar. Maura Davis (Denali / Ambulette) adds some sparse backing vocals on “Take It Back” but this portion of the disc doesn’t really start to open up until the gospel-tinged “Coastline”.

While both “In the Valley, On the Shore” and “The End Begins” both have dark edges, there is a bit more energy behind these songs which, coupled with additional instrumentation and backing vocals, adds some rays of hope behind the darkness. Tegan Quin (of Tegan and Sara) sings harmony with Ward on “Broken Songs” and this song also brings in the use of a cello. “My Town” (also on “In the Valley, On the Shore”) is another stand-out track that bustles with almost the same energy that is found on the electric version of this track (which is on the bonus disc). Both the instrumentation and energy ramps up for “The End Begins” and one of the standout tracks is the liltingly bouncy “Waves in Spanish”.

In a MySpace blog post, Teagan Quin talked about hanging out with Jim “when his band Sparta [was] opening for Velvet Revolver”. While the electric disc doesn’t have the same intensity as Sparta did, one can feel the fires still burning. These six tracks sound like a great “lost” roots-rock album from the mid-80’s and captures everything that was right with college rock/radio after the new-wave bubble burst. The electric version of “Take It Back” shines with harmony vocals and ringing guitars and “Mystery Talks” is the sort of song that U2 forgot how to write after The Unforgettable Fire.

Quiet in the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins comes out August 2nd through Tembloroso Creative Lab.

Track List:

“Quiet” EP
1. On My Way Back Home Again
2. Take It Back
3. Mystery Talks
4. Coastlines
5. Easier Said Than Done

“In the Valley, On the Shores” EP
6. All That We Lost
7. Broken Songs
8. My Town
9. The Newest One
10. This Love Has Gone Away

“The End Begins” EP
11. Lake Travis
12. Waves In Spanish
13. Decades
14. The Beginning Of The End

“The Electric Six” EP (Disc 2)
1. Take It Back (Electric Version)
2. Mystery Talks (Electric Version)
3. Coastlines (Electric Version)
4. Broken Songs (Electric Version)
5. My Town (Electric Version)
6. Decades (Electric Version)

Jim Ward

Huff This! (Alison Clancy) Posts New Song "Lovin You" As Free Download

DOWNLOAD: Huff This - "Lovin You" (from tuff love, out Fall 2011)

Huff This (Alison Clancy) Posts New Song Alison Clancy and her dream-thrash band Huff This! have just released a video for the new song "Lovin You", which will be on the band's forthcoming album tuff love which is set for release this fall. The video was directed by Nick Atkins and captures band-leader Alison Clancy dancing on a trashed Coney Island shore as a lightning storm rolls in.

Huff This! is vox/piano-Alison Clancy, cello -Chris Lancaster and drums -Molly Allis.

Alison’s wild physical and vocal abandon ricochets through our hearts. Conventions are shattered. She makes people nervous and breathless. Alison has even has even been banned from a few NYC venues due to her habit of jumping off pianos and knocking shit over. She recently opened for The Kills and TV On The Radio at the SXSW SPIN Magazine Party and wrote that she "[s]tole the show, with a second stage performance that had sugar, spice, sunglasses and shiny gold spandex....combining music with visual imagery and dance for an eye catching, mesmerizing experience."

When not wreaking musical havoc, Alison works as a classical and contemporary dancer with The Metropolitan Opera and tours internationally with the critically acclaimed Israeli choreographer Zvi Gotheiner. Alison has also performed at the Guggennheim Museum, Robert Wilson's Watermill Center, Lincoln Center Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center and Alice Tully Hall. All this "uptown" pressure is furiously unleashed in her HUFF THIS! performances. Her primary band-mate, cellist Chris Lancaster, is a renowned composer for dance and film who's music is performed in the top theaters and opera houses around the world and who's collaborators include Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, and Larry Keigwin.

Alison Clancy
Huff This!
Electric Child

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cro-Mags: Buy a Ticket for John Joseph's Walking Tour, Get on the Guest List for Friday's Show at House of Vans

Cro-Mags: Buy a Ticket for John Joseph's Walking Tour, Get on the Guest List for Friday's Show at House of VansThere is something fundamentally wrong when the two Cro-Mags websites [Paris' site is and Harley's site is] haven't been updated in years. While Paris' site was registered before the release of Revenge, I don't remember either site being active before the "final quarrel" in 2001 .

Anyway, the RSVP list for Friday's free Cro-Mags / Pissed Jeans / Fucked Up show at House of Vans in Brooklyn is full but John Joseph posted to Facebook earlier today "Do this SATURDAYS walking tour and get free VIP tix to sold out Cro-Mags show FRIDAY."


What was it about the Lower East Side that attracted so much talent and crime in the last 40 years? Since my early days of punk the summer of 1977 I’ve been exposed of the best music and the worst crime. Everything from Max’s Kansas City to the Alphabet City Butcher Daniel Rackowitz who lived right above me and killed his girlfriend, chopped her up and fed her to the homeless in Tompkins Square Park. I was also in that park when the riot of 1989 kicked off and I played one of the last shows at CBGB’s.

Most people walking around on the Lower East Side today with its trendy boutiques and coffee shops have no idea of its history, the great music and violence that has always co-existed side by side down here. I’ll take you to the punk clubs, gang hangouts and drug spots where some of the craziest things went down. It’s a first hand account from someone who was immersed in the danger having myself grown up on the streets of NYC since the age of 14. I guarantee you it will be a true punk rock & crime history lesson from someone who was there way back then and is still here.

We will drop by the famous CBGB’s location where The Ramones and so many other legendary punk bands started. We’ll walk by Great Gildersleeves where the Hells Angels regularly ran people over on their motorcycles. Stroll down memory lane at Saint Marks Place passing Trash and Vaudeville (punk store), the Electric Circus where the likes of Bad Brains, Crass, and so many others jammed. All the while telling you my anecdotes and funny stories of the crazy shit I’ve seen go down. Then Tompkins Sq Park, giving first hand knowledge of the areas events. We’ll even hit MANITOBAS for Bob Gruen's famous Punk Rock photo exhibit before we go by the Ritz (now Webster Hall) and Irving Plaza where so many great bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Motorhead (first US gig), The Damned, Buzzcocks and where the late punk-rocker John Belushi slam danced his nights away. Finally our last stops on the tour will be Max's Kansas City where we end in Union Sq Park discussing the area and what is what like. Drugs, hookers, violence, the Palladium where The Clash's London Calling album cover was taken and many great bands played. Ever heard of Julien's Pool Hall? The porno theaters where I’d sleep in the dead of winter for 50 cents a night and the Gramercy Park Boxing Gym (now PC Richard’s) where my old man and many world Champions boxed. The bottom line is, whether you’re a seasoned New Yorker or someone visiting the city on vacation, this tour is not to be missed. I can guarantee you it will be a memorable experience.
Hosted by John Joseph
Rocks Off Walking Tour (Tickets are $35)
John Joseph

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tim Kasher Posts Free Download from Tour-Exclusive EP / Show at Mercury Lounge on August 24th.

Tim Kasher Posts Free Download from Tour-Exclusive EP / Show at Mercury Lounge on August 24th.     Last week, Cursive front-man Tim Kasher made available as a free download the rueful, subtly sweeping track, "The Jessica," off his upcoming tour-exclusive EP Bigamy: More Songs From The Monogamy Sessions. [Note: download via the widget in the right nav bar]

The Bigamy: More Songs From The Monogamy Sessions tour EP will be sold on CD and vinyl only at Kasher's upcoming August and September headlining shows and in the Saddle Creek webstore, where it is now available for pre-order. The EP will also be available digitally beginning August 16th.

The Bigamy: More Songs From The Monogamy Sessions tour EP features seven new songs loosely linked to and written during the same period as Kasher's debut solo album The Game Of Monogamy, released last October by Saddle Creek. Telling stories of mixed emotions, heartbreak, and adulthood restlessness, the songs range sonically from the slow-burning opener "No Harmony" to the syncopated pop of "A Bluer Sea" to the evocative swell of "Rabbit, Run". Bigamy... also features an epic cover of Azure Ray's "Trees Keep Growing" - all buzzing guitars and crashing drums - that Kasher has wanted to record for some time. The EP was predominantly self-recorded this spring in various local locations and at the Sleepy House studio in Omaha; "A Bluer Sea" was recorded at SnowGhost Music in Whitefish, MT, at the same time as Monogamy.

Tim Kasher Upcoming Tour Dates:

AUG. 24 -- NEW YORK, NY, MERCURY LOUNGE (Tickets are $15 and the show starts at 9:30PM)
* Aficionado opens on all dates

Tim Kasher

Cro-Mags - "The Final Quarrel: Live at CBGB 2001" DVD Review (MVD Visual)

Cro-Mags - 'The Final Quarrel: Live at CBGB 2001' DVD Review (MVD Visual)The latest incarnation of the Cro-Mags (with John Joseph and Mackie Jayson) have been touring pretty regularly over the last few years and it seems hard to believe that it had now been twenty-five years since the release of Age of Quarrel. I’ve read some recent interviews where John has been talking about recording a new Cro-Mags disc which should prove to be interesting as the band’s last recorded legacy was the “final quarrel” show that John, Harley and Doug played at CBGB back in May 2001 under the moniker Street Justice.

To give some background for this show, Harley & Parris (along with Rocky George and Gary Sullivan) released the Cro-Mags final studio disc Revenge (2000) but a major falling out between Harley and Parris resulted in Parris breaking up the band. The Revenge lineup reunited the following year with John Joseph and Doug Holland and started touring in support of Soul Brains (the reunited Bad Brains). Former rhythm guitarist Parris Mayhew attempt to stop this lineup of the band from calling themselves the Cro-Mags (see segment of Parris’ posted quote below) so I can’t remember whether the band was playing CBs as a ‘secret show’ or if this was to avoid Parris’ threatened lawsuits.

"This recent attempt to perpetrate fraud on the fans was easily stopped with the friendly notification to the venues involved in the SOUL BRAINS tour, that the use of the name CRO-MAGS was not permitted by the owner. As of today, most of the venues are voluntarily pulling any current advertisements using the name CRO-MAGS. Their reaction to the issue was apologetic and immediate. They knew and recognized the ethical and legal position they were being deceived into being put in and expressed their shock and regrets.” – Parris Mayhew ‘01

Taking a look back at the Street Justice / Cro-Mags show, this video does a solid job of capturing the vibe and experience of a Cro-Mags show. The band rips through almost the entirety of Age of Quarrel, substituting “Everybody’s Gonna’ Die” (from the band’s 1985 demo) for “Seekers of the Truth” and adding a breakneck cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop”. Both Rocky and Gary are solid players in their own right, so the absence of Parris and Mackie isn’t that noticeable.

The show is filmed with a single camera from above the crowd so I'd have to guess this was filmed from the soundboard loft. The sound is clear but the mix is "off" as Gary Sullivan's drums and Rocky's guitar are too high in the mix while John's vocals are too low. The reality though is that none of this matters as the Cro-Mags were all about aggression, energy and attitude (which is well documented here) and this is what they sounded like from the crowd on any given night.

Included as a bonus feature on the disc is a full set from Harley’s War which was filmed during the final days of CBGB at the “last hardcore matinee” (where the bill also included Agnostic Front,Murphy's Law and Sick Of It All). The show is well filmed and looks and sounds great. Harley is a solid front-man with a great voice for the music and Craig Ahead (from SOIA) joined the band for "Hard Times". The set includes a mix of Cro-Mags songs and tracks from Harley’s War debut CD. Here is the full track list:

1 – Intro > Sign of the Times
2 - World Peace
3 - Show You No Mercy
4 - Malfunction
6 - Days of Confusion
7 - Street Justice
8 - Survival of the Streets
9 - Don't Tread on Me
10 - Do Onto Others
11 - Fuck the Middle East
12 - Down But Not Out
13 - It's The Limit
14 - Crush the Demonic
15 - Life of My Own
16 - Hard Times
17 - We Gotta Know

Other bonus features include Harley giving a tour of post-closure CBGB, Harley and his son in a pre-show warm-up and two live videos ("Life On My Own", "Down But Not Out") from 2002 when Harley's War first got started.

From this corner, I’d love to see one final Cro-Mags tour with the AoQ lineup. Harley’s been trying to bury the long-standing beef between band members but it sounds the likelihood of a full reunion is comparable to “hell freezing over”. A couple years back Harley posted: "Growin' up everyone has favorite bands that break up, and as fans, everyone always wishes they would reform or do a tour, and the fans don't care about the beefs, they just want the band back together. Very seldom do you have the opportunity to make a lot of people happy with one simple act. But unfortunately, it is not all that simple. People have a hard time growing up and old beefs die hard.

One can always hope though….

Harley's Cro-Mags Site
Parris' Cro-Mags Site
John's Cro-Mags Site

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground - "Introducing" CD Review (Suburban Home Records)

DOWNLOAD: Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground - "World's Entire"

It is hard to put any sort of musical genre label on the band Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground as, the minute you start to formulate such a label, the band changes direction. Their forthcoming disc Introducing (out July 26th on Suburban Home) is actually the band’s second and musically they jump through a smorgasbord of sounds which include orchestral pop, indie-rock and psychedelia, all of which is wrapped together by a Beatles’ (Sgt. Pepper era) style layered production. Regardless of however one wants to describe the band, their music is quirky, compelling and catchy.

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground was formed by Kirk Huffman (vocals / guitar) and Kyle O'Quin (keys) in 2006 when their previous band, Gatsbys American Dream, went on hiatus. The duo brought in Huffman's friend Phil Peterson (cello / backing vocals) to form the core nucleus of the band but the live show lineup expands to up-to-a-dozen members on stage. While the band’s new disc is due out later this month, they have been playing a few one-off record release shows and Sound on the Sound described one recent performance as a “weird and wonderful show that included bikini clad burlesque dancers wearing gigantic animal heads, hallucinogenic projections, dance sex and its very own hype man.

After recording a self-released cassette, Kay Kay first hit the national radar in 2007 with the release of the live CD/DVD, Live at the Pretty Parlor, that landed the band an appearance on “Late Night with Carson Daily”. This forthcoming ten-track disc (forty min.) is the follow-up to the band’s 2008 self-titled debut (Vinyl Collective / Suburban Home) and it stays remarkably coherent for all of its stylistic jumps. While the large number of members touring with the band may imply something of a rag-tag, freak-folk collective, the members of Kay Kay execute their musical twists and turns with razor-tight precision. The disc starts with the sweeping orchestral dream-pop number (“Sweet Strange Dream”; later returning to this style on “20th Century Boy”) and jumps from there into the 70’s freak-out stomper “You M*therfuckers”, which features P-Funk style backing falsetto vocals . Other parts of the disc touch on the breezy sounds of AM radio (“World’s Entire”), Paul McCartney inspired 70’s rock (“Diggin’”), alt-country swing (“I Hate You California”) and the slow-burning “My Friends All Passed Out” which sounds like something that could have come out of the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo’s camp in the late 70’s.

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground is in the midst of a coast-to-coast tour (which strangely skips NYC) and here are the upcoming tour dates:

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Suicide Silence - "The Black Crown" CD Review (Century Media)

Suicide Silence - 'The Black Crown' CD Review (Century Media)Last week, Riverside California’s Suicide Solution released their third full-length, The Black Crown (Century Media), consisting of eleven tracks of pissed-off, explosive deathcore. This new disc was recorded earlier this year with Steve Evetts (Poison the Well, A Static Lullaby, DEP, etc.) producing and features guest vocals from Jonathan Davis (“Witness the Addiction”) and Suffocation’s Frank Mullen (“Smashed”). The band has been playing some of these songs live over the last few months and the first studio track, “Human Violence”, premiered in May on Liquid Metal.

The disc seems to have caused a big stir in the press and on the message boards when Mitch Lucker told Kerrang that the album's lyrical themes would feature personal topics rather than anti-religious themes. Lucker explained: "I'm not trying to put people's beliefs down - it's about me and my life. This is my head cracked open and poured on the paper! I still have the same beliefs and same views, but I'm more open to everything," he adds. "At this point in my life, I don't see the good in making people hate you for something you say. This record is for everybody.” Personally, I’m not sure what all of the hubbub is about as solid playing and songs that rise above the generic “crush, crumble and chomp” approach that too many deathcore bands go for significantly outweighs any lyrics, regardless of whether the lyrics are good, bad or indifferent. Lucker may be showing us what is in his head but no one is ever going to mistake this disc for a Cartel CD.

What separates this disc from other deathcore bands is that Suicide Silence integrates into their music a number of influences from outside the genre. In addition to the expected death growls and blast beats, there is the technical precision and rhythmic change-ups of mathcore bands like Dillinger Escape Plan coupled with elements of the riff-oriented structures of nu-metal [Note: the iTunes version of this disc comes with a bonus track which is a cover of Rob Zombie’s “Superbeast”] and an aggressive underlying hardcore vibe. The first single / video from the new disc is “You Only Live Once” which provides a solid flavor of what the rest of the disc sounds like. The disc’s constantly changing musical landscape keeps the music engaging over multiple listens.

Suicide Silence is currently on the road with the Rockstar Mayhem Festival tour which runs through August and "local" tour stops are at PNC Bank Arts Center in Homdel on July 27th (tickets range from $25 - $85) and Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden on July 31st (tickets range from $25 - $85). Sharing the Revolver Stage with Suicide Silence are All Shall Perish and Straight Line Stitch.

Suicide Silence

The Dwarves: Photos/Review from Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

"It is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt" - Unknown

The show last Friday at the Knitting Factory started off fairly quiet but crowd really filled in prior to The Dwarves taking the stage. The Dwarves were more fired up than I've seen them in recent years and Blag was in and out of the crowd while beer was flying through the air.

The Dwarves - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

The band played as a four-piece - too many members have come and gone over the years for me to identify the lineup with certainty but a best guess would be Fresh Prince of Darkness, Gregory Pecker and Whölley Smökkes. The band blasted through their set, which spanned their back catalog from Blood, Gut and P*ssy to the present, and a very clean-cut looking Sgt. Saltpeter made a guest appearance on one song.

The Dwarves - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

The Dwarves - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

The Dwarves - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

The Dwarves - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

This is the first time that I've seen the band play without HeWhoCannotBeNamed (so no nudity at the show) but HeWho made an appearance toward the end of the set dressed in his wrestling mask and a pair of tighty-whities and stage-dived into the crowd. The show seemed to get cut short as there was one guy (photo below) who kept climbing onto and diving off the stage. His last time off - no one caught him so he hit the floor. He was bleeding (I didn't get a good look) and ended up in an ambulance and the show stopped there.

The Dwarves - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

The Dwarves

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yes - "Fly from Here" CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Yes - 'Fly from Here' CD Review (Frontier Records)It is starting to feel like 1979/1980 all over again, [Jon] Anderson and [Oliver] Wakeman both leave Yes, Yes regroups with vocalist Benoit David (a Trevor Horn sound-alike) and keyboardist Geoff Downes, Roger Dean does his first Yes album cover in years and the material focuses around songs brought to the group by keyboardist Geoff Downes and producer Trevor Horn.

The disc starts off with the twenty-four minute / five–part epic “Fly from Here” which was originally brought to the band as “We Can Fly from Here” by Downes and Horn in 1980 but ultimately left off of the Drama album. This new re-working of the song includes the original song plus “Sad Night at the Airfield” (a demo from The Buggles’ 1981 album Adventures in Modern Recording session), another previously unreleased Buggles demo “Madman at the Screens” and a new jittery composition by Steve Howe entitled “Bumpy Ride” that borders on Talking Heads' style funk. Continuing to leverage the some of the Buggles’ previously unreleased recordings, Chris Squire has said that "Life on a Film Set" is based on "Riding a Tide" (also released as a bonus track on Adventures in Modern Recording).

Of the remaining tracks, Steve Howe and Chris Squire both contributed separate pieces. The only song written by the full band (including Oliver Wakeman, prior to his departure) was “Into the Storm”, which sounds like something out of the 90125 era. Howe’s contributions are “Hour of Need”, where David sounds like a dead-ringer for Jon Anderson and the guitar instrumental "Solitaire", which is Howe's 'update' to "Mood for a Day".

Collectors Note: A significantly longer version of “Hour of Need” (6:45m) is included as a bonus track on the Japanese issue of Fly from Here.

Chris Squire takes lead vocals on his contribution, “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be", which has an early-Yes/Syn vibe. This song was written last decade for an aborted solo project and it was co-written by Gerard Johnson (who played with Squire in The Syn) and Simon Sessler.

Fly from Here is fairly mellow and nowhere near as edgy as Drama but it is a solid and mature performance from a band that had seemed to be running out of gas. As to be expected, the same “you can’t have Yes without Jon Anderson” drama is flaring up on the internet. Most interesting was a “sour grapes” comment from Jon Anderson who told Rolling Stone “I wasn't really convinced…The new singer is singing good, but it sounded a bit dated to me. Also, the production wasn't as good as I expected. They've got a great producer with Trevor Horn, so what the hell are you doing?" The nay-sayers should keep in mind that, while this disc doesn’t break any new ground, it is head and shoulders above some of the band’s releases in the 90’s (specifically Talk and Open Your Eyes).

Yes is currently touring the summer sheds on a co-headlining bill with Styx and the set list includes "Fly From Here" from the new disc and "Tempus Fugit" from Drama. In other Yes-related news, Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman will be playing a string North American shows in the fall.


Sky Picnic - "Farther In This Fairy Tale" CD Review (Classic Space Rock)

DOWNLOAD: Sky Picnic - "The Unknown Regions" (from "The Unknown Regions" EP)
DOWNLOAD: Sky Picnic - "Astronomy Domine" (from the Synesthesia sessions)

Sky Picnic - Sky Picnic released their first full length, Farther In This Fairy Tale early last year and the band just signed to Nasoni-Records who released a limited edition vinyl version of the disc (100 copies on colored vinyl and 400 copies on black). I can’t think of any disc in recent years that is more deserving of a vinyl pressing than this one as this is classic space rock that perfect to “turn on, tune in, drop out” to.

{Note: Sky Picnic is directly selling the color vinyl for $13 but has only 7 left. The color vinyl edition is completely sold-out on Nasoni-Records' site.}

Farther In This Fairy Tale is a throw-back to the days of Hawkwind, Pink Floyd and epic concept albums where you would take forty-five minutes to immerse yourself in the experience. Chris Sherman sings with a waif-like earnestness while bending taut guitar notes and swirling riffs around his vocals while bassist/vocalist Leah Cinnamon provides a steady bass-line which serves as the pulse of the songs. Drummer Pete Meriwether plays in a style similar to Earth’s Adrienne Davies and adds subtle brushes and fills that color the songs rather than dominate the beat. The band adds additional texture to some of the songs by bringing in middle-eastern sounds and rhythms, subtly mournful keys and flute and various electronic space squiggles and bleeps. This is an album that is perfect for headphone listening as you can hear different musical elements in each of the channels as you immerse yourself in the experience.

In an interview with Dirty Sexy Karma, Chris Sherman described the new album as follows: “We're not just making music...anyone can make music. We're trying to give you an experience and to take you deeper into an alternate world and give you something to think about. The concept of the LP is the end of innocence and a journey to find yourself, although I hope people can draw their own meanings from there…Themes of astronomy, mythology, dystopian societies and life and death are the basis of our catalog. Clearly, we're not trying to become rock stars, and have no ambition to do so. We're making music we love about subjects we love, in the matter in which we want to. Hopefully that spirit alone draws people to our band.

Sky Picnic has upcoming shows at Union Hall on Thursday, July 28th and Saturday, August 6th at Bruar Falls. At the Union Hall show, Sky Picnic is playing with The Stoned Ambassadors, (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope and Lead Stones. Tickets are $7 and doors are at 7:30PM. For the show at Bruar Falls, cover is $5 but no info. has been posted yet about other bands on the bill.

Sky Picnic

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fested: A Journey to Fest 7 (DVD Review)

Fested: A Journey to Fest 7 DVD ReviewI’ve heard about The Fest for years but never made the trek to Gainesville, Florida. For those who are similarly uninitiated, Fested: A Journey to Fest 7 provides a feet-on-the-street trip through Fest 7 (2008), a weekend-long "big, drunk, punk rock, bearded, tattooed family reunion". The title of the movie is a reference to one of the film makers’ friends who is completely drunk and they refer to him as being “fested”.

After watching this close to two hour documentary, I came away thinking that this is what Warped Festival was supposed to be (but never was). The movie is a DIY labor of love that filmed by Reese Lester and Tyler Neil which contains live footage of over twenty bands and interviews with both bands and fans at various locales around Gainesville. The location of the live footage ranges from a parking lot show where the band plays in the back of a U-Haul to rehearsal spaces to true stages. Regardless of the location, there is little-to-no separation between the audience and the band which reminds me of the early 80’s hardcore shows where it seemed like a unified scene.

The documentary follows Gainesville locals Dirty Money (now Spanish Gamble) and their friends as they both play and experience The Fest. Rather than just focusing on Dirty Money, the filmmakers capture live footage from bands on Fat Wreck, Jade Tree, Asian Man and other big (and not so big) punk labels. Most of the footage is from a single camera but the filmmakers do a nice job of bringing out the “you are there” aspect of the shot and they successfully bridge the gap between grainy punk documentaries like DOA: A Right of Passage and over-produced, multi-angle “MTV-style” footage.

Some of the live performances on film include:
▪ The Anchor - "This Is For My Friends"
▪ The Falcon - "The La-Z-Boy 500"
▪ The Flatliners - "July! August! Reno!"
▪ Hour of the Wolf - "Eat You Alive", "Fix Me" (Black Flag cover)
▪ The Lawrence Arms - "Great Lakes/Great Escapes", "Like A Record Player"
▪ New Mexican Disaster Squad - "Tightrope"
▪ None More Black - "We Dance On The Ruins Of The Stupid Stage", "Dinner's For Suckers", "Drop The Pop"
▪ OK Pilot - "No Sleeping On The Floor", "Too Hot To Stop"
▪ Paint It Black - "Past Tense, Future Perfect", "Atticus Finch", "Memorial Day"
▪ Dirty Money - "1-2-3 Fest!", "From the Corazon", "Sunday Curse"
▪ Static Radio NJ - "Big Man, Small Mouth" (Minor Threat cover)
▪ Umoja Orchestra - "Indocumentado"

The soundtrack from FESTED, which consists of a mix of previously released studio tracks and tracks recorded live at the Fest, is available as a name-your-price download and on cassette (from Jeremy Records).

Soundtrack Track Listing:
▪ Tiltwheel – “Fuck You This Place Is Dead Anyway” (from Tiltwheel/Off With Their Heads Split 7")
▪ Dirty Money – “123 Fest!” (from Far From Home CD)
▪ The Lawrence Arms – “Like A Record Player” (Live at The Venue during Fest 7)
▪ Dear Landlord – “I Live In Hell” (from Dream Homes CD)
▪ Off With Their Heads – “I Am You” (from From The Bottom CD)
▪ None More Black – “We Dance On The Ruins Of The Stupid Stage” (Live at The Venue during Fest 7)
▪ The Falcon – “Building The Perfect Asshole Parade” (from God Don't Make No Trash or Up Your Ass With Broken Glass CD)
▪ LaSalle – “Pretty World” (from Pretty World CD)
▪ Lagrecia – “Hey Medic” (from On Parallels CD)
▪ OK Pilot – “Too Hot To Stop” (from OK Pilot/Dirty Money Split 7")
▪ Fleshies – “Meatball” (from Kill The Dreamers Dream CD)
▪ New Mexican Disaster Squad – “Tightrope” (Live at the Failsafe Records Warehouse during Fest 7)
▪ Dirty Money – “We Are The Restless” (from It's All Coming Down CD)
▪ Paint It Black – “Memorial Day” (from Paradise CD)
▪ 10-4 Eleanor – “It's Alive!” (from ...Too Bad CD)

The Fest

The Stalkers: Photos from the Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

Stalkers - Lady Sonia by Oops Baby Records

Last month, The Stalkers released a limited edition 400 black vinyl/100 blue vinyl 7" and digital single, "Lady Sonia" / "When We Get There" on Oops Baby Records. This release is the follow-up to the band's debut album, Yesterday Is No Tomorrow, which was released in 2008 on One Little Indian. The record received positive reviews from the British press and the band has toured extensively, appearing at major UK festivals and playing packed houses all over the States. The band has built a steady following since forming in 2007 - the five members; Andy Animal (vocals), Dave (rhythm guitar), Danny (bass), John (lead guitar) and Josh (drums) create a live energy that brings to mind The Dictators and the MC5.

The Stalkers - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-15-11

In keeping with The Dictators comparison, Impose Magazine did a write-up on the band in 2007 and said: "Five minutes with Andy and you know why they call him Animal. He's sometimes possessed, with a crazed look in his clear blue eye. He's been spotted wearing an eye patch, and his long hair has not had the rock washed out of it. He's garage in the sense that he looks like he lives in one. Upon mention that I was traveling with Andy, out came the stories… "That guy used to be our roadie," "This one time we were all so fucked up…" Seems we have a living legend here."

The Stalkers - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-15-11

The Stalkers - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-15-11

The Stalkers played immediately prior to The Dwarves and got the crowd fired up as the band came off the stage and finished their set from the floor.

The Stalkers - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-15-11

The Stalkers - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-15-11

The Stalkers

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lugosi - Photos from Knitting Factory, Brooklyn 7-15-11

Friday's show at the Knitting Factory started out with a great set by Lugosi and ended with The Dwarves set getting cut short and an ambulance in front of the club.

From Lugosi - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-16-11

I hadn't seen (or heard) Lugosi prior to the show so, for anyone who is also new to the band, their bio describes them as follows: "Lugosi is a Brooklyn-based punk rock band, originally hailing from San Francisco CA. Lugosi’s sound is heavily influenced by classic punk rock artists such as the Misfits and the Ramones, and as a result their music is enjoyed not only by fans of punk but also by those of all rock genres."

The band has been touring behind a well-received full-length, Bullets & Poison which was released last year. While I have only heard the tracks streaming on the band's Facebook page, I think a closer comparison to the band's sound would be Midtown (note: I consider this a positive) though I can hear some of The Misfits' "Hybrid Moments" in Lugosi's song "Cards".

From Lugosi - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-16-11

From Lugosi - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-16-11

From Lugosi - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-16-11

From Lugosi - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY 7-16-11

Alexander Ebert (of Edward Sharpe) Offers RZA Remix of "Truth" As Free Download

DOWNLOAD: Alexander - "Truth" (featuring RZA)
DOWNLOAD: Alexander - "Truth" (album version)

Alexander Ebert (of Edward Sharpe) Offers RZA Remix of Alexander Ebert's solo disc Alexander came out this past March (Vagrant). The song "Truth" was released as an advance single late last year and Pitchfork described the song as an "unlikely hit waiting in the wings, with Ebert whistling around a staggering beat and chalky rhyming that suggest Jason Mraz dazed on Dilaudid. It's sort of perfect." Alexander recently hooked up with Wu-Tang Clan's RZA who remixed "Truth" and contributed a verse to the song. As unlikely as this pairing sounds on the surface, the results are strong (free download link posted above).

For anyone who hasn't yet picked up Alexander, iTunes has the download on sale for $6.99 (click through on the album cover).


Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Million Years Headline Two Nights @ Mercury Lounge on July 21st and July 22nd

A Million Years Headline Two Nights @ Mercury Lounge on July 21st and July 22ndBrooklyn indie-rockers A Million Years had a lot of people stop and take notice after releasing their debut CD, Mischief Maker, last summer. The disc was produced by Shannon Ferguson of Longwave and AbsolutePunk described it as the "lovechild of Interpol and As Tall as Lions". The band played a number of high-profile shows last year with artists that included 30 Seconds to Mars, Phoenix, The Drums and Jesse Malin and ended the year being voted #4 in Deli Magazine's "Best of 2010 NYC Emerging Artists" poll.

After selling out Mercury Lounge (in advance of the show) this past February, the band has been asked to headline two shows at the club on July 21st and July 22nd. For the show on July 21st, A Million Years are playing with Bellevue's Finest (set time 10:15PM) and Whale's Belly (set time 9:30PM). Tickets are $10 are doors are at 9PM. For the show on July 22nd, A Million Years are playing a late show with The Canon Logic (set time 10:30PM). Tickets for this show are also $10 and there is a two-day ticket for $16.

A Million Years

Nucular Aminals - Portland Psychedelic Pop Band Plays Two NYC Shows in Support of New S/T Album (K Records)

Nucular Aminals - Portland Psychedelic Pop Band Plays Two NYC Shows in Support of Debut S/T Album (K Records) Recent K-Records signees Nucular Aminals just released self-titled debut for the label and are in the middle of a coast-to-coast tour that started in June.

Nucular Aminals’ self-titled debut release on K [KLP233] sounds like what would happen if you woke up in the morning and squeezed your tube of toothpaste, but a thick glob of sunshine came shooting out instead of minty freshness. This breed of Aminals was formed in Portland, Oregon by four distinctly rare species of musician who specialize in perfect pop melancholy.

In 2007, Robert Comitz (Hornet Leg, November Witch) and Erin Schmith (who played together in the San Francisco duo Marriage + Cancer) moved to the Pacific Northwest, with fellow musician Jheremy Grigsby. In Portland they joined forces drummer Wiley Hickson (Total Bros.) and they haven’t looked back since. Underneath Robert’s soothing delivery and flavorful guitar musings, the Aminals collective expertise reveals itself: Jheremy's bass stylings are the propulsive pace that holds the entire rhythmic canvas together like warm glue (I know, that sounds gross), Wiley plays the traps with youthful swing and sway, and Erin's fanciful fingerstrokes on the farfisa cuddle and purr.Dreamy sounding and tin-toned, the only thing awkward about this band is their name, all else is lazy days and cracking smiles.

Local tour dates are July 18th at Bruar Falls and July 19th at Cake Shop. At the Bruar Falls show, Peels, American Sun and Octant are also on the bill and Nucular Aminals are playing third. Tickets are $7.

At the Cake Shop show, Nucular Aminals is playing with Little Victory and Household. Cover is $6 and Nucular Aminals is playing second.

Nucular Aminals

Friday, July 15, 2011

Patti Smith - Photos & Setlist from Castle Clinton, NYC 7-14-11 (River to River Festival)

Patti Smith and her band played to a standing-room only crowd on Thursday night for the last show of the season at Castle Clinton. In addition to the capacity crowd inside the venue, there seemed to be a large crowd outside listening to the show as you could clearly hear their enthusiastic roar from inside the venue when Patti gave them a shout-out from the stage.

From Patti Smith - Castle Clinton, NYC July 14, 2011

From Patti Smith - Castle Clinton, NYC July 14, 2011
From Patti Smith - Castle Clinton, NYC July 14, 2011

Patti and her band played a full set which was somewhere in the neighborhood of ninety minutes and the setlist for the evening was one of the more eclectic mixes of song that I've heard the band play.

Patti Smith - Setlist @ Castle Clinton, NYC 7-14-11
01 - "Because the Night"
02 - "Ghost Dance"
03 - "Birdland"
04 - "Helpless" (Neil Young cover)
05 - "Beneath the Southern Cross"
06 - "My Blakean Year"
07 - "Rolling in the Deed" (Adele cover)
08 - "People Who Died" (Jim Carroll cover)
09 - "Pissing in the River"
10 - "Ain't It Strange"
11 - "Peaceable Kingdom"
12 - "People Have the Power"
13 - "Land/Horses/Gloria"
14 - "Perfect Day" (Lou Reed cover)
15 - "Rock n' Roll Nigger"

From Patti Smith - Castle Clinton, NYC July 14, 2011
From Patti Smith - Castle Clinton, NYC July 14, 2011
From Patti Smith - Castle Clinton, NYC July 14, 2011
From Patti Smith - Castle Clinton, NYC July 14, 2011

Patti and her band have announced upcoming shows at the Escape to New York Festival (August 5th) and the Virgin Mobile FreeFest (Sept. 10th) but the most interesting looking show is a one-off performance at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Dec. 2nd. Patti Smith, Jesse Smith, and friends will salute Alfred Stieglitz and his circle, focusing on his collaborative relationship with Georgia O'Keeffe. The roles of artist and muse are interchangeable, resulting in work elevated above any conventional concept of love and gender. Only Upper Mezzanine tickets are still available for this show and tickets are $40.

Patti Smith

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Natur - Brooklyn NWOBHM Band Signs with Earache / Upcoming Shows at St. Vitus and Union Pool

Natur - Brooklyn NWOBHM Band Signs with Earache / Upcoming Shows at St. Vitus and Union PoolEarache Records announced the signing of Brooklyn's heavy metal warriors, Natur, to a worldwide recording deal. The band issued the following statement: "So here we are, on bellies full of free Thai food and drink, somewhere in Long Island City. We've just signed our souls over to legendary metal maniac label Earache. We are very excited to take our OLD METAL to a new level and look forward to working with these guys. HAILS!!!"

Commenting on his choice of Natur as "band of the week" ( in May 2010, Darkthrone's own Fenriz says it best: "...awesome band playing old metal with old sound. What's not to like?"

Formed in 2008, Natur channels the old school, high energy sound reminiscent of legendary artists Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, and Motorhead with New York intensity. The band has already achieved cult status among Brooklyn's developing metal scene, joining prominent acts like Tombs, Krallice, and Black Anvil and catching the eye of popular publications Revolver Magazine and Vice. Steadily gigging locally and abroad, Natur has earned a reputation for putting on an explosive live show. Appearances at Maryland Deathfest IX and the Live Evil Festival have established them as a force to be reckoned with. The band has shared the stage with Ghost, Marduk, and Aura Noir, as well as Earache's own Cauldron and Hour of 13.

Natur have a few upcoming area shows:
- July 31st: Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY (w/ Barn Burner and Ramming Speed)
- August 6th: The House of Vans, Brooklyn, NY
- August 26th: Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY (w/ Aggressor and Mutant Supremacy)


Sarabante - "Remnants" CD Review (Southern Lord)

Sarabante - 'Remnants' CD Review (Southern Lord)One of the newer releases on Southern Lord is Remnants, the debut CD from Sarabante, a five piece aggressive thrash-core band from Athens, Greece. The band was brought to the attention of Southern Lord by Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise and has a lot in common musically with bands like From Ashes Rise and Tragedy. Similar to these bands, Sarabante incorporates elements of d-beat crust and blackened gloom into their music.

There isn’t a lot of info about the band on the ‘net but, according to a blog entry posted by the band earlier this year, they took a long-term hiatus from the live stage and just started playing out again in advance of the release of this new eleven track/ 35 minute disc. Below is a live video from the band’s first live show in almost three years.

Sarabante pushes the thrash-core envelop with a cleaner sound than most of their contemporaries and songs that are long enough to grow and musically take root. The disc starts with dark keyboards and down-tuned guitars that sound like something from Candlelight Records' roster of bands before kicking into their pummeling metal attack. This isn’t all “speed blitzes” though as there is enough diversity in the band’s sound which keeps the music sounding fresh. One example is that the two guitarists slip in some melodic leads (which leads to a comparison to Neurosis) to complement their thrash attack and there is even an instrumental track on the disc.

This CD is limited to 1,000 machine numbered copies and is available through Southern Lord’s webstore for $10.

Sarabante is: Vagelis - Guitars/Vocals, Manos - Guitars, Aris - Vocals, Antonis - Bass, Markos - Drums


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bugs in the Dark Play St Vitus on July 16th and Cake Shop on Aug. 13th

Bugs in the Dark Play St Vitus on July 16th and Cake Shop on Aug. 13thIt seems like Brooklyn art-punks Bugs in the Dark have been on quasi-hiatus "forever" but the band has just announced two local shows and an upcoming European tour.

Hey Everybody,

We're having a great summer and we have lots of good news!

First off, we have a super exciting show coming up with new songs!
SATURDAY JULY 16th from 8-12
at ST VITUS (new venue in Greenpoint, BK)
With Raccoon Fighter, Living Days and Unstoppable Death Machines. This is not a show to miss - the bands are amazing & the whole night is only $7. Be cool, bring friends.

We've been playing with the fantastic Rich Crescenti on the drums.
We have two new songs we've been playing at shows and we're gearing up to record them asap.

This fall, we're playing an exciting festival (can't announce it just yet). And we're taking a jaunt across the pond to Europe to play in France, Germany and Denmark! We're so excited, we're already picking out matching luggage.

Stay tuned for our upcoming fundraising campaign - in which private house concerts and custom tattoos could be coming your way!
The show at Cake Shop is on Aug. 13th and Bugs in the Dark is playing with Gone Bad (Download "Live at Tommy's Tavern", recorded 10/21/10) and The Denzels. Cover is TBD.

Bugs in the Dark

Friday, July 08, 2011

My Brightest Diamond & yMusic: Photos from Castle Clinton Show on July 7th

DOWNLOAD: My Brightest Diamond - "All Things Will Unwind" (from the forthcoming disc Reaching Through to the Other Side)

My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden and Brian Wolfe) premiered their forthcoming disc All Things Will Unwind (Asthmatic Kitty) backed by six-piece chamber-pop ensemble yMusic at the second-to-last River to River Festival show for 2011 at Castle Clinton.

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

yMusic (who have just launched a KickStarter campaign to raise funds for their new album) started the evening with an instrumental piece prior to Shara and Brian taking the stage.

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

My Brightest Diamond played the entirety of their forthcoming album (out October 18th) along with three instrumental pieces that Shara composed for yMusic and dancer Jessica Dessner. These instrumentals were slotted in between tracks from the new album and Shara donned a "Residents-like" mask while Jessica danced.

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

From My Brightest Diamond - Castle Clinton

To echo a comment from The Indie Handbook's review of a recent My Brightest Diamond concert - I was transfixed throughout the show. The tight interplay between yMusic and Shara was incredible and Shara's "stream-of-conscious" stage banter made this seem like a concert in your living room as opposed to a decent-sized outdoor public space. There was a warmth and a sense of unity and purpose between all the members of the band that added to the charm of the evening.

My Brightest Diamond's next local show is opening for Sufjan Stevens at Prospect Park Bandshell on August 2nd. Tickets are still available and are $35.

My Brightest Diamond

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Cars - "Move Like This" CD Review (Hear Music)

The Cars - 'Move Like This' CD Review (Hear Music)I remember liking The Cars in junior high as they were a welcome change from bands like Supertramp and Journey who seemed to dominate rock radio at the time. My interest in the band waned as the band seemed to lose their edge with each subsequent album as they went after a more mainstream sound. Ric Ocasek produced some brilliant punk albums in the early 80’s (Suicide’s second disc and Bad Brains’ Rock For Light) so I kept thinking there was something about the band that I was missing but, by the time I got to college, throwaway pop (and the accompanying “cheeseball” videos) like “You Might Think” finally made me write off the band completely. My opinion of the band has changed though as with their new disc, Move Like This, as I can finally hear the link to the jagged synth-punk of bands like Suicide.

Move Like This is The Cars’ first new disc since 1987’s Door To Door. After “The New Cars” debacle, it is probably important to start by noting that all surviving members have returned with uber-producer Jackknife Lee stepping in for Ben Orr (who passed away in 2000). Across this disc, The Cars don’t stray far from their roots (which is both a good and bad thing) as the material ranges from the edgy new wave sound of the band’s early days to the commercial pop of their late 80’s records. There are small snippets of riffs and musical structures that sound like they were lifted straight out of the band’s back catalogue but the overall tone seems darker and more moodily introspective than I ever remember The Cars sounding.

The disc starts out strong with "Blue Tip" (the disc's second single) which has the quirky rhythms, bleeping keyboards and taut guitar lines of the early Cars material. The disc's first single "Sad Songs" borrows ever so slightly from "My Best Friend's Girl" but takes the music in a different direction so that the tune is nostalgic without being derivative. On a similar note, "Free" brings back memories of "Bye Bye Love" (from The Cars' first disc). Staying within the framework of The Cars' sound, "Keep on Knocking" is a harder-edged piece that is driven by Elliot Easton's crunchy power chords. The disc falls a bit short when it take an ill advised turn into the 80's-style new wave ballads: “Soon” is being compared to “Drive” but unfortunately falls short and "Take Another Look" is a "Top Gun soundtrack" style cheese ballad.

Some of Ocasek’s obtuse stream of conscious lyrics may not lend themselves to easy interpretation and/or sing-alongs but (he isn’t trying to be Bono) this is a case where the textures of the music hold more weight than the lyrics.

There are some nice guitar licks on some of the songs but the heavy use of a variety of keyboard / synthesizer sounds and crisp drumming are a predominate part of most of this disc. As tight as the drums sound, it is hard to believe that David Robinson said in a recent interview (with Consequence of Sound‘s Cap Blackard) that he hadn’t played since 1987.

In the weeks leading up to the album’s release, what’s life been like?

We’re getting ready to tour and I haven’t played drums since 1987. So what we’re doing is relearning everything and I’m practicing to relearn how to play, basically. Also, we are doing a lot of stuff electronically; we aren’t going to use a bass player, so we have to program either bass parts or keyboard parts to play on stage and that requires click tracks that I play along with and percussion tracks and stuff like that. So, it’s a lot of work.

There is no mistaking that this new disc is a Cars album through-and-through. While some of the songs worked for me and some didn’t, this disc proved that The Cars aren’t back for a “greatest hits tour” cash-in and their new music is very relevant within today’s musical landscape.

On a related note, it is worth making a point of picking up the “Best Buy” edition of this release for the three bonus tracks:
- “Rocket USA” (Demo): A blistering Suicide cover
- “Hits Me” (Demo): Much looser and rawer than the "studio" version; I actually like this version better
- "One By One" (Demo): Previously unreleased and in the same style as "Hits Me" (Demo)

The Cars