Sounds Of Thunder

Delving into the NYC music scene

Monday, February 20, 2006

Someone Still Loves You, Bishop Allen

For weeks before the 10th of this month, I was looking forward to seeing Bishop Allen play at Piano's, and to pick up my own January EP. I guess you could even go as far to say that I was "stoked". The plan was to get there early and get in before the bouncer got there (which normally works extremely well). However, by the time 6 o'clock rolled around, the bouncer was already there. I ended up trying to brute force my way in, but to no avail. God I really need to get a fake ID.

After recouping and realizing there was no way of getting in, I decided it would be a good idea to go see Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin at the Knitting Factory, and make the evening not quite a complete waste. I was interested in seeing if SSLYBY was really all they were hyped up to be. The first opener had dropped out, and the show didn't start until 10:30. SSLYBY proved to be pretty catchy and fun considering I wasn't all that familiar with their material. Songs, like "Pangea" proved to be espeically witty, with lyrics "Pangea/Where did you go?/Why did we have to drift apart?" All the band members were fairly talented considering their ages; they ended up switching instruments a few times, and the drummer (name?) even sung a few songs. The set was short, but memorable. At one point a string on the Squire guitar they were using broke, and an audience member was enlisted to change the string while a Gibson SG (which we were assured went out of tune by the end of every song as for the reason they were using the Squire the whole time) was used to replace it.

Catfish Haven was up next, but I didn't end up staying for the whole set. The singer had a raspy, unrefined voice, but what got me was that the songs were extremely repetitious and at a point I wasn't enjoying myself, so I headed for the door.

Thus ended one of the most disappointing nights of my limited memory, but no fault to SSLYBY. However, I did end up getting January through the mail. Well worth it.

Bishop Allen
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

Oh, and sorry about the really long delay on this post. I've been extremely busy doing engineer things, and other shows, which hopefully I'll be posting about soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Man Man Covers Etta James "I'd Rather Be Blind"

So, I can only remember back to the Interactive Playground show from last week when, as my friends and I exited, I couldn't help but ask, "Did they play a cover when the power to their mics was cut?" Even standing/sitting in the front, I couldn't tell, but was pretty sure it wasn't a Man Man song. But what song could it be. Enter PitchforkMedia. Man Man sure does like using Pitchfork for these exclusive releases.

I'd Rather Be Blind

As noted, it's a cool doo wop song, but still has the distinct voice of Honus, and the Man Man hallmark high pitched peculiar-sounding backing vocals. Pretty cool, though.

Man Man

PS - Anyone else having as wierd a Valentine's Day as me?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Built To Buy Presale

Tickets to the Built to Spill shows, which I mentioned previously, are on presale here.

username: spill
password: tickets

Another really hard one to crack.

Get them while you can. Last year they sold out all three days at Irving. Don't buy too many though. I haven't bought mine because I haven't figured out when my exams are, but I trust you guys (or that no one reads this site). I guess worse comes to worse I go to the show before the first day of finals. You could always wait for the 13th to buy the tickets regularly. Anyway, good luck.

Built to Spill
Irving Plaza

We Are Scientists v. The Willowz

By now it's well known that SOT darlings We Are Scientists are making a DVD which will contain at least one video per song on their latest "debut" album With Love and Squalor. What you, loyal SOT reader, may not know, is that The Willowz, a rock quartet from the land of the Mighty Ducks, will be releasing a DVD, titled See In Squares of 26 videos, all directed by different people. So it seems that the boys from Brooklyn have some competition. There's more information about See In Squares on the Willowz website, along with a trailer of sorts for it.

Oh, and I've got my money on the Willowz DVD coming out before the WAS one. Call me a pessimist.

We Are Scientists
The Willowz

And maybe one of these days I'll do that review of the Willowz album Talk In Circles, like I said I would months ago. Or maybe not. It's not quite a pressing matter. I will, however, do a review of the Isles EP Back To Terrific, which they were kind enough to send me. It should be up by early next week, as I have some shows to go to this weekend.

The Stills To Tour

The Stills (remember Logic Will Break Your Heart from '03?) will be going on tour through Canada and parts of the United States according to a release from the band. To quote it:

"To be really vague:

March: some very sparse stuff in ontario and south by south west
april: going through all the U.S.A. (but not all of it!!!!)
May: a big chunk of Canada but once again not all of it!"

This will be the first American tour since their guitarist Greg Paquet left the band. Their drummer, Dave Hamelin, is now filling in duties on guitar, and a new drummer has been brought in to fill the gap.

Their as-of-yet untitled new album is coming out on May 9th. The tracklisting is below.

1 In The Beginning
2 The Mountain
3 Oh! Shoplifter
4 She's Walkin' Out
5 Helicopters
6 In The End
7 Baby Blues
8 Monsoon
9 Outro
10 It Takes Time
11 Destroyer
12 Halo The Harpoons
13 The House We Live In

The Stills

Man Man Plays The Interactive Playground; Nearly Kills Entire Audience

I knew this show was going to be good when I saw that there was a Man Man BMX bike raffle and everyone was asked to wear monster masks. How could you go wrong? When all was said and done, it did not dissappoint.

The show was set to be at a place called the Interactive Playground in a fairly less than desirable area of Philadelphia. Once I got there with one of my friends and a couple of his pals from school, we headed up the stairs to a fairly empty room with a small mock up of Mayan pyramids on the floor, various cardboard cut outs hanging from the ceiling, and a puppet interviewing someone in front of some cameras. A bit surprising to say the least. I watched attentively for a few minutes before one of the people behind a booth announced that the whole taping thing was going to be wrapped up, to be finished after they got on to the concert portion of the night.

A lone man took the stage, whose name we learned was Ramòn. Everyone was seated and it was a really cute set up. He explained that his first song was about a boy named Giver, and began to sing his light, classical sounding "Introduction." His sound was a very interesting mix of, what sounded to me, Devendra Banhart and Seu Jorge (he was even wearing a red hat ala Life Aquatic). A little bit more research done at home found the information to me that Ramòn actually opened for the Jorge when he was in Philadelphia on his last tour. Unfortunately I was only able to stay for one and a half more songs before I had to leave to pick up a friend at a subway station a mile or so away. I really need to see this guy play again; from what I've seen and heard, he's absolutely amazing. He's playing a few small, cheap shows in Philadelphia this month, and I'm fairly certain I'm going to make at least one. I think you should too.

Make A Rising was on after a short break. They came on, two in robes, one in a cape, and all wearing masks (as per instructions on the show info). On the whole, they turned out to be a noise band, although they did have some interesting piano parts, and there were glimmers of actual music here and there, but the cacophony in between was, at points, barely tolerable.

Next, Blood Feathers, the apparent side project of Mazarin bassist Mickey Walter, was a stark departure from the band before it. Their very straight forward rock oriented sound was entertaining and upbeat, and they kept enough of a variety up as to keep one interested, bringing in a twelve string for the last two songs. Their volumes were up a bit too high, actually inducing pain at times for those brave souls up front (including myself), but otherwise, they were a nice band, if not one that seemed a bit out of place opening for Man Man.

After Blood Feather's set, Man Man's equiptment started to be moved out. We we treated(?) to a short puppet show of a sock monster before a short sound check (the marimba wasn't loud enough), and finally the set started. All of the Man Man essentials were met. Eyeball lights on the naked electric piano, spatula playing, screaming, etc. It was pretty wierd seeing three cameramen swarming around the edges of the "stage," and they became more and more of a nuisance as the crowd became rowdier and well... drunker. After about half of the set had gone by, a large security guard/bouncer type pushed through the crowd to Honus, signalling for him to stop, and saying something about the floor. Once he left, Honus could be heard commenting to Sergei something along the lines of "we're playing until the fucking floor collapses." The guard apparently remarked to the promoter, "People could die" moments later. The music continued (the new stuff is sounding great), with the addition of a saxophonist/flutist, whom I hadn't seen at shows before, helping out on two of the songs. The guard then came back once more, and got into a bit of a tussle with a drunk kid, whom was then shoved back. Honus made after the guard, and all was seemingly in disarray. Honus came back and told the audience that the floor was in danger of collapsing, and that we could no longer dance. This somewhat allieviated the problems I had with the drunkards, and the set continued. After a few more songs, we were asked to be seated, which we all did, so as the show could continue. After some time seated, the power to all of the microphones onstage, to which the band continued to play one more song percussively, all pounding on drums, only after Honus had told us to stand again. The show was cut short (Honus pushed his chair over in frustration), but on the way out, the floor was noticably tilted.

The show is apparently going to be podcast by the makers of the PSP, for a fee of course. More information on that here. Man Man is supposedly making a music video out of footage from the show as well.

Man Man

Ramona Cordova
Blood Feathers MySpace
Make A Rising

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

BtS NYC-bound

Yup, you heard me right Brian. Doug Martsch and the rest of Built to Spill will be at Irving Plaza May 3-5. Tickets are $22 and go on sale on the 13th of this month. They'll be playing with Camper Van Beethoven and other as-of-yet unannounced opener(s).

This means I have to figure out my finals schedule.

Built To Spill
Irving Plaza

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wayne Coyne Gives A Track By Track Of At War With The Mystics

You know the new Flaming Lips album will be good when one of the tracks was inspired by one of Wayne Coyne's dreams. You know it will be even better when this dream dealt with Devendra Banhart talking down a suicide bomber from his mission to destroy something.

At War With The Mystics, is due out in the States April 4th (April 3rd in the UK), but you can already buy the first single "The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)" off of iTunes, Napster, etc. Or you could just listen to it on their MySpace. This is where the fun starts to happen.

Wayne Coyne went through the trouble to explain the origins, inspirations, or otherwise ramble about every track of of the Lip's upcoming album. It's definitely required reading for all the cool kids. You can do it here.

The Flaming Lips

Sorry about the loss of time with this post. I forgot that I had begun to write it last week.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Matt Rabbit

Well... I guess this is about 3 months overdue.

Now, claims of nepotism, or whatever it may be called when it's between friends, aside, Matt Rabbit, a band consisting of four hip characters, Jon Stelman, Darren DeFranco, Matt Johnson, and Alex Grippo, can stand up to any band, be it Bon Jovi or the Boss, to claim to be the best thing to happen to New Jersey since rec soccer gave suburban grade schoolers a purpose in life.

Entirely recorded, mixed, and otherwise produced in the summer of '05 in Darren's basement, Matt Rabbit's debut album, taking its name from the first track and presumable single, "What I Did On My Summer Vacation," is just what it says it is. The album itself, housed with a primary colored sleeve, was distributed somewhat unexpectedly to friends at the conclusion of their Last Show Ever Party Show, which was documented and now lies in DVD format. The aforementioned show saw the police showing up, and the last four songs of the set being turned into a medley so as to finish the entire set without getting shut down forcibly.

The album itself is as clever as it is a well rounded depiction of MR's sound. The album, set up as a traditional album as it would be on vinyl, includes the noises of putting a needle on a record, the noise of flipping the album, and finally taking the needle off at the end; the tracklisting is even set up as A- and B-Side. The A-Side, as mentioned before, starts off with the title track's hallmark drum intro, followed by the successive layering of all of the other instruments, Darren's bass, Jon and Alex's guitar, and crescendos to the inclusion of Alex's vocals. This song transitions into a much more funk oriented song "Extremist Static Dancehall." This is then followed by a slow, jazz influenced number "Historical Fiction," which was cowritten by Alex and Jon. "My Sweetie", which comes as an adaptation from Alex's solo project, Picture Perfect, changes the mood once more, as the teenage anthem softly lulls you in, until those drums kick in and the song takes off. The B-Side is, on the whole, has a much more rockin' selection ("Cream Filling," "Don't Miss Me," etc.), although it gets it's share of jazz in "The Sex Mime."

The wonderful thing about Matt Rabbit is that they're always changing it up, but it's always something spectacular. This is thanks, in part, to the fact that they have two unique songwriters. Darren, who pens the more jazz influenced songs, has an uncanny ability to still make them accessible and catchy. Where Darren's song crafting skills come from his head, Alex, the other brain behind MR songs, writes his contributions more from feel. It's this inimitable blend of styles that takes the band one step above the rest. But the devil is in the details, as they say. Jon and Matt are assuredly well aware of this, and complement each song accordingly. Jon is a guitar virtuoso, adding jazz chords and solos, occasionally over a CryBaby pedal for the funkier songs, and switching it up effortlessly to straight up awe inspiring guitar solos for others. And ever at ease, Matt keeps the whole shebang rolling with his laid back rhythms with no sign of strain whatsoever. To see the group operate is unforgettable.

But I'm sure you've had just about enough of my banter. You want to get to the heart of the matter. Well, you're well in luck. Matt Rabbit is planning on touring through the Northeast this summer, most likely July. Although no dates are yet set (you can help out by emailing me here), the group has produced a promotional EP of sorts, which is here for the taking. If you like what you hear, leave a comment, or check them out at MySpace.

Matt Rabbit Promo EP:

01 What I Did On My Summer Vacation
02 Cream Filling
03 My Sweetie
04 Don't Miss Me
05 The Sex Mime

Matt Rabbit MySpace

Picture Perfect MySpace

EDIT: Photo courtesy of Maya Wadya.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

More Reason To Live In Sweden: The Legends

They've got beautiful scenery, beautiful women, a high standard of living; they even have ABBA for Christ's sake. Well, now they've got another one, The Legends, and let me tell you, these guys are good.

On the whole, I'm usually fairly skeptical of bands from foreign countries. Call it unreasonable, call it xenophobia, call it what you will, but sometimes the singing is just too wierd to take seriously, and the lyrics generally lack complexity (although this last part goes for plenty of American/British bands as well). Whatever the case may be, it takes a little more for a foreign band to earn my respect, I won't lie.

Now, enter the Legends. They've been around for only 3 years, forming in early 2003. They already have 2 albums out, and from what I've been able to hear from them (thanks to MySpace), they're nothing short of incredible. While their vocals are distinctly European, it in no way is distracting. The effect on the vocals which seems to be used often is again, not distracting as one would imagine it would be, but only accentuates the music being played. The music is sufficiently complex as to keep ones attention, but songwriter/guitarist Johan Angergard found the formula to keep the songs confoundedly simple and catchy all the same. I just regret that, being poor, I'll most likely never hear an entire album of theirs.

As a side note, Johan and his brother, Niklas, are collectively in four other bands, The Acid House Kings, Club 8, Red Sleeping Beauty, and Poprace, however, The Acid House Kings and Club 8 seem to be the only active ones besides the Legends. The Acid House Kings (Johan and Niklas) is much slower and sort of retro-pop oriented. They do site Burt Bacharach as an influence, as a matter of fact. Club 8, featuring only Johan and a mystery woman Karolina Komstedt is fragile, minamalist pop, with Karolina pulling most of the vocal duties. They pull the venture off excellently.

Anyway... take a listen for yourself.

The MySpaces:

The Legends

Club 8 I
Club 8 II
The Acid House Kings

The Websites:

Club 8
The Acid House Kings

The Label: