Thursday, April 30, 2009
Bouncy but not too beefy, Motorik hit the ground running on an infectious quasi-garage-meets-dance-rock groove on “Or So I Thought” which should not be second-guessed at all. The trio—guitarist Adrian Garver, drummer Hoagie Gero and bassist/vocalist Sio—have a sense of urgency on the songs and that comes through in their performances. This is also apparent on the galloping Cure-ish “Box of Knives” and similar but deliberate “Six Filters” with Sio embodying his inner Robert Smith. But it’s the passion and power packing “Robert Palmer” which moves things to another level—tight, angular and groove-riddled. While “It’s Just Sugar” isn’t as sweet as one would desire, Motorik return with “First Rule” that seems to mix the best of Franz Ferdinand, Joy Division and the Rapture. Although the album tends to revisit the same style time and time again, Motorik are able to make it work, er, klang quite well.
Multiple songs MySpace
Pictures Of Then - When It Stings
April 29, 2009 by Comfortcomes
Filed under Mp3s
Pictures Of Then are releasing “and The Wicked Sea” in August and were kind enough to allow us to offer up a track from that album. This will be the bands second album and they have an interesting Flaming Lips meets Dr. Dog vibe going on.
Download: Pictures Of Then - When It Stings
Songwriting trumps musicianship in freshman album
CD Review: "For the Cause" by Romeo Spike
The talent involved in the project is undeniable.
Mike Kunz and Donn Aaron, an industry-recognized pedal steel specialist, along with the magic of the studio - much of which was conducted by Grammy-winning engineer and producer Matt Still, whose resumé, visible at mattstill.net/albums.html, speaks for itself - are behind the album "For the Cause." According to their website bio, the accidental album materialized after a weekly songwriting contest between the two friends spiraled out of control.
Producer/musician Still, an Atlanta-area resident like Aaron and recent Chicago-transplant Kunz, got involved with the duo early in the production process and lent his producing talents and backing vocals to nigh half the album.
"Spaceman" opens the album with a bass hook and B-movie quality - in the fun, retro way - spacey science fiction sound effects courtesy of the pedal steel. Organ and other tracks overlay solid classic rock guitar work, and a breakdown and brief sci-fi-themed guitar solo display the extensive talent involved in the project.
The downside is that it seems like the talent is trying to force this song into a futuristic mode - promotional materials bill the album as "futuristic classic rock" - and maybe are not letting it be whatever it actually is. "Spaceman" sounds more like a thesis statement for the album than a real song itself.
Conversely, "Star Power" follows it with a more natural flow. It sounds like a good Shawn Mullins single with light techno-influenced overlays that nearly overpower the strong male/female duet. "Star Power's" futuristic pedal steel guitar solo feels like an organic progression of the song rather than a science experiment.
Romeo Spike dips into the alternative country vibe at times. "Cocaine Skinny" is a slow amalgam of Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes and an odd touch of Jamiroquai on the vocals that encourages a slow draw of whiskey and the tapping of toes.
"Candy Heart" is a movie soundtrack-worthy country-blues ballad of love and regret that haunts with a rich mix of pedal steel and classic sounds, a nearly syrupy duet and bittersweet lyrics. It's the easiest track to pick up and hardest to put down.
"Sara Baby" pales compared to "Candy Heart" but isn't bad; "Specter's Ghost" and "Laserbeams" are solid additions that are similar to "Star Power" in heft and execution, though the former suffers from some of the same over-producing and over-thinking as "Spaceman."
The tracks that are produced more evenly and are accented by Aaron's pedal steel rather than those that feature it are the ones that stick with you.
If nothing else, make sure to legally download - pay the men their 99 cents - "Candy Heart," but fans of more radio-friendly alternative country acts and radio-safe pop rock (think laidback Lenny Kravitz) should definitely give Romeo Spike an online listen and seriously consider picking up "For the Cause."
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
For The Cause
Guest Contributor: Marc Brubaker
Atlanta’s Romeo Spike bills themselves as ‘futuristic classic rock,’ an interesting choice of words that seems to be a contradiction in terms. A band born originally out of an online songwriting project between members Mike Kunz (who was in Chicago at the outset) and Donn Aaron, the duo has assembled an intriguing collection of dreamy throwback pop with heavy classic rock influences.
For The Cause launches forth with a bouncy dance rock number, “Spaceman,” that is built upon a catchy pop beat and layered with a significant amount spacey sound effects and complimentary fuzz before segueing into a bridge that would be at home on a Peter Gabriel record. The album then wanders through a slower, ethereal pop track akin to some of the Smashing Pumpkins lighter fare before revealing the odd “Laserbeams,” which sounds like the love child of Bryan Adams and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The entire album seems to lack identity, which is not hard to believe when one factors that only half of the album had an outside producer’s hand upon it combined with detail that these songs were originally constructed while being bounced back and forth over the internet. By the end of the record, the rolling bounce of the opening tune has long since faded away, subsiding into several slow-burning alt-country tracks. It seems quite odd given where the album starts, and For The Cause definitely suffers because of it.
This is a shame, because the record boasts a few very solid tracks: “Starpower,” “Sara Baby,” “Specter’s Ghost” and “Cocaine Skinny” are quite good. But for every hit, there is a miss – “Laserbeams” contains an awkward character shift and lyrics, and the bizarre and overly deep vocals destroy “It’s Only Real” and “Yesterday’s News.” There’s also the matter of the good but out-of-place “Spaceman” at the outset of the record. There are a few middling tracks that round out the album, and these would probably benefit from a more unified personality between the songs. Hopefully, Romeo Spike will be able to solve this issue now that Kunz has moved down to Atlanta, because they are certainly capable of writing some good music.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
"For the Cause"
BY JOSH RUFFIN
"For the Cause"
Release date: May 19
AUGUSTA, GA - Right off, I’ll give Atlanta’s Romeo Spike credit for one thing: they provided me with the kind of surprise usually reserved for me when I research heavy-hitting bands like Cobalt or Plague Bringer. With regards to the latter two, it constantly astounds me that they can achieve, let alone maintain, the kind of racket they do with only two members each. Romeo Spike, however, manage to pull off this same trick, not in the context of blunt-force trauma, but with the series of sophisticated, stupefyingly layered pop mini-opuses that comprise “For the Cause.”
Seriously, these dudes take dream pop not just further down the same linear path trod by Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, but veer off into side roads that lead, presumably, to Yellow Submarine-like fields littered with stockpiles of cabernet, condoms and early '80s space-rock vinyl. “Specter’s Ghost,” with its keyboard-doubled-by-fuzz-guitar melodies, hand claps, and slow-funk bass line, is not only the album’s centerpiece and aural definition of this group’s aesthetic, but is quite possibly this writer’s favorite song of the year. And did I mention the Southern rock? Yeah, there’s Southern rock here too, somehow, both in style and in sentiment. Donn Aaron’s pedal steel is a clandestine secret weapon, and the bluesy, guitar-driven title track is the sexiest thing you’re likely to encounter not involving the words “Heidi” and “Klum.”
And then there are the heartbreakers and the soul-crushers. If “Candy Heart” is a futuristic hangover ballad that probably hit its head on the toilet after passing out, then “Seasick” is the hangover breakfast. Elsewhere, Mike Kunz ventures into the cellar of his vocal range, channeling his inner Nick Cave on “It’s Only Real,” while “Sara Baby” is that rare, elusive tune that can make both the day brighter and the night darker—it’s what you listen to at dawn during a rainstorm. If you know what’s good for you.
No Go Know
Meghan Vogel For the Times-Standard
Posted: 03/26/2009 01:16:06 AM PDT
I no know how to describe No Go Know, and it seems no one really does -- not even the band.
”People may say we sound like eight different bands, and even from song to song our sound changes,” said Scott Taylor, the Portland-based band's guitarist and vocalist. “It's difficult to categorize us, even for ourselves. I think when you listen to a piece of art you want to automatically categorize it really quickly as a way to understand it, but we have a hard time being grouped with anything besides 'rock.'”
No Go Know, which a tongue-in-cheek Taylor finally pinned down as “dill rock,” a phrase, he said, that roughly translates into “guitarded,” takes its name from a Fela Kuti song.
”Fela was great,” Taylor said. “He was like the Nigerian James Brown. He had his 30 wives up there as back-up singers and was out there dancing in this little blue Speedo.”
Fela, guitarded, dill rock, and what's this I hear about Taylor being a big Phish fan back in the day? Yeah, these guys are all over the place.
”Just say we're like Queensryche, but better. We're like the indie-Queensryche,” said Taylor, who uses something called a “chaos pad” when playing guitar, a specially constructed wooden box housing a ridiculous number of pedals.
Despite Taylor's penchant for nonsensical Dylan-esque evasions, it's evident No Go Know knows their stuff. Hiding behind the dill rock,
the occasional over-the-top guitar freakout and the interesting choices in time changes, lies a musical prowess lacking in many other bands. Perhaps, however, this works to No Go Know's detriment. Maybe the music world just isn't ready for a band that can master all styles and then throw them back into your face, a swirled conglomerate of sound? No Go Know can build layer upon layer of distortion, ride out a trippy space jam and then switch back to stripped down familiar indie-pop territory all within one song.
A three-piece, Taylor's partners-in-crime are Mark McIntire on bass and Sam Smith on drums. Taylor, the band's lyricist, was a double major in creative writing and music at Goddard College (yes, the place that spawned Phish), while McIntire plays in three other Portland bands, the bluegrass/Americana Velveteen Habit and The Sodbusters, and the folk-indie-pop Gratitillium. Smith spends free musical time working on his own stuff as a veritable one-man band playing and recording instruments one by one and then constructing songs. Other free time is spent on his visual artwork, and you can see Smith's photography on the packaging for No Go Know's latest album “Time Has Nothing To Do With It,” which is set for wide release in July.
”Time Has Nothing To Do With It” lived up to its name in the recording process. The band's third release, and an ambitious double album featuring 18 songs, much of the original recorded music was lost last summer when their studio engineer's hard drive crashed losing all of the original vocal and guitar overdubs in the process. Re-recording everything was a slow and painful process.
”We originally recorded everything by tracking live, with all of us in the same room,” Taylor said. “Wearing headphones while recording just doesn't feel natural, and we need to be playing together, looking at each other, feeding off of each other to either speed up or slow down. When I went back in to re-record the vocals and overdubs I was really afraid of losing that essence you capture when you just play instinctively. I didn't want things to be over thought or overly contrived, but then I read an article about Built To Spill's 'Perfect From Now On,' which is one of my favorite albums, and about how it had to be recorded three times. I then realized that it wasn't horrible that we lost everything, and if I was going to freak out, I'd really freak out and make it perfect.”
So, Taylor spent most of the fall listening to all 18 songs, taking notes, and working with Adam Pike at The Toadhouse Studio to get everything just right.
”We remixed and remixed and remixed,” he said. “I think we eventually remixed about six times. I'd take the album home and sit with it for a week and hear, like, eight things that needed to be fixed. I took time to get there, and nobody thought I'd ever really finish it, sometimes not even me. But then it was finally done right after the New Year.”
While aspiring musicologists and rock connoisseurs are certain to warm up to No Go Know's inspired eccentricities, Taylor remains humble.
”I'm really not good at playing guitar,” he said. “So, I just rip off stuff I like. Every song is a rip off, and I rip off everyone. I just steal the parts of songs that I like, learn how to play them, and then put them altogether. I can sit through the album and go through it song by song and say, 'Oh yeah. That part was when I was listening to a lot of Wilco, that part's Spoon, Radiohead, Sigur Ros.' My Morning Jacket's in there, and there's definitely some Pink Floyd. Just say we sound like cool stuff -- everything that's cool, yup, that's what we sound like. We're a good-time band! People, party band!”
Actually, one song off the new album is indeed a “people, party band” song, the feel good disco groove of “Yours is a Small, Still Voice.”
”That was my attempt at The Black Keys or Modest Mouse,” Taylor said. “It's more bouncy and jumpy. I tried to back out of our minor chord slightly depressive sound to have something people can dance to. But then, midway through the song it switches to minor chords. I guess we can't stay away from that.”
Currently on a West Coast tour, No Go Know plays at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles and then hits Reno before making their way back north to Eureka. Taylor fondly recalled their last show in Eureka in August, and said they're looking forward to swinging back through town as sometimes smaller, more intimate venues are preferable.
”We had a great time when we played here last,” Taylor said. “Sometimes smaller shows where people really get into are the best. One of the best shows we ever played was a house show in Olympia for all these hippies who were dancing and doing yoga poses the whole time. It was fantastic.”
While the band has been playing a few songs off “Time Has Nothing To Do With It,” it remains to be seen how well the songs will go over on this tour.
”Only a handful of people have heard the new album, and either they really, really, really like it or else there's no response,” Taylor said. “They either like it because it is all over the place or they don't like it for that same reason. There's a lot to deal with on first listen because of its schizophrenic nature. Every song is different from the last, which might be difficult. It's certainly eclectic. And it's definitely all over the map stylistically.”
Navigate that map for yourself by picking up “Time Has Nothing To Do With It” through No Go Know's label's website at www.theunionrecords.net, where a limited number of presale copies are on sale. More info, along with photos of No Go Know's “extra members,” a unicorn piñata and a life-size cardboard man named “Mr. Pat,” can be found at www.myspace.com/nogoknow.
No Go Know plays with The Zygoats and Paranaut at the Li'l Red Lion, at Fifth and Q streets., in Eureka on Saturday. Doors open at 9 p.m. $5.
Meghan Vogel laughed so hard during the No Go Know interview, Scott Taylor had to stop and ask, “What's wrong with you?!” She'll answer that question if you e-mail her at email@example.com.
April 23rd, 2009 | CD Reviews
Romeo Spike - For the Cause
By: Alex Young
Romeo Spike might sound like a martini, but the grooves on the band’s debut disc go down so smooth you might forget you’re out of your seat and on the dance floor. For the Cause showcases the dynamic range of Mike Kunz and Donn Aaron and their endless ability to craft catchy choruses. The group reveals that they can wield a variety of traditional song writing techniques while simultaneously yielding unique results. Kunz and Aaron teamed up with the Grammy Award Winning mix engineer Matt Still to create the album. Still took on the task of producing and mixing Romeo Spike’s debut album, while he also performed on it by providing backing vocals for almost half the album. Together Kunz and Aaron prove to be an effective tag-team by blending disco rhythms balanced out by a sensitive touch on guitar that can also transform into an all-out funk odyssey. The band back up gliding jazz-inspired guitar runs with electro-dance beats that echo a love for Daft Punk on the song “Spaceman”. As Kunz croons bittersweet lyrics like “the bad taste/ stays with you/ so count the stains/ and wash them away”, he can still make them sink into a melody that can moves gracefully overtop of a pop-symphony on “Star Power”. The groovy guitar chops on the song, “Laser Beams”, almost seem like the soundtrack to a trip to outer space with a searing electric solo as the centerpiece. For the Cause gets increasingly mellow with songs that combine lush acoustic chords (“Candy Heart”), emotional melodies (“Sara Baby”) and speak of love as well as loss (“Yesterday’s News”). Although Romeo Spike’s debut album does slow down after its energetic start, the band continues to reveal their own identity rather than recycle radio hooks. If the band’s intoxicating brand of pop continues to propel itself by infusing energy throughout an entire album, an interesting follow-up from Kunz and Aaron could be around the corner.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Get On With It
Caves has a sound that you think you have heard before but the longer you listen you realize they have taken what you have heard before and created something completely different. Their music is filled with rhythm and funk but still rooted deep inside is their pop influences.
Their song, Soldier is very upbeat and one that you could dance to, sing along to or go out on a road trip to that would keep you pumped to go where you are going or wanting to go. The next song on the album does a drastic change but that change creates a another emotion within the album, they are not only upbeat they are also emotional and are able to do it well without taking away from any of the songs or the music as a whole on the album.
Throughout the album from song one to song eleven, you have a new hearing experience and you have a creative edge off every song. After listening to Caves on Get On With It, you will feel alive and feel like you have listened to an album that was created for the music and for the people that listen to it, not an album that was created because they had a deadline or because they wanted to make music; it’s because they love what they do and care about what they are doing.
Mike Pardew (guitar),
Damian Erskine (bass), Micha Kasell (drums).
Composed by Mike Pardew.
Recorded: Portland, OR, 2007
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
In these troubled times it can be pretty chilly out there for young jazz/fusion players, tougher still on those trying to get their statements out on independently produced albums. Most get lost in the shuffle, buried under the avalanche of white noise masquerading as new jazz, fusion, avant-garde, jazz-rock or whatever. However, on occasion there comes a new artist who qualifies to take up the gauntlet laid down by the likes of Metheny, McLaughlin, Coryell, Kahn, Stern, and Scofield. Mike Pardew is one guitarist who may prove to be in this league.An active participant in the still-vibrant Portland music scene, Pardew has generated local buzz with previous recordings. Now, with the help of two accomplished sidemen, he has produced a mature, balanced and thoughtful album, spearheaded by the title cut, a Latin-tinged jazz-rock piece presumably named after a shade of blue. In "Azul," Pardew employs an effective use of space and harmonic simplicity. Solos are not overly showy and are relevant to the composition, two necessary elements of my litmus test for a noteworthy track. Mike's satisfying guitar work is augmented by bassist Damian Erskine's solid electrified solo, and Micha Kasell's crisp, in-the-pocket drumming. As for the third element in my litmus test – listenability – "Azul" passes with flying colors.
Reviewer: Bill Barnes
Friday, April 17, 2009
Tonight's recommended show: Motorik rocks The Funhouse
Submitted by Chris Estey on April 16, 2009.
One thing I'm really happy about this week is that not only is it the annual EMP Pop Con from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, but there are shows after each of the days worth seeing (and bringing out of town friends to).
In the case of Motorik, one of my favorite local bands based on their spartan, sinewy Killing Joke-infused bat-cave blitzkrieg bop nine track debut "Klang!" I will get to see them live for the first time AND at the Funhouse just across the street from the opening night commencement at the Pop Con.
I have been doing errands around town and writing to the dark vocals and disturbingly precise bass playing of Sio, the post-human drum pounding of Mr. Gero, and the Wire-loving guitar mesh of Mr. Garver for months, wishing I had been the one to write the review here.
But that critique sleekly captured the fine essence of this contemporaneous-retro sounding band enough, even if I wanted to be the one to claim CD-closer "Six Filters" the best damned Siouxsie song recorded since 1980. Much love to Seattle demigod Jack Endino for recording that track, and the one-two punch opening songs "Or So I Thought" and "Box Of Knives" as well. That's how to put your album together, kids.
It's also how to book your show, right near where I'll be taking people for drinks after the first night of the Con. Bravo to a creative young band with such ingenuity! (Show also features Minneapolis' International Espionage, and starts at 9 PM).
categories: Motorik | Self-released | Funhouse
Motorik, International Espionage!, Telepathic Liberation Army
(Funhouse) On their MySpace page, local trio Motorik get defensive about references to their moniker (they are not simply about the Apache beat immortalized by Neu!) and post-punk bands to which critics and other observers have compared them. On the first point, Motorik certainly don't overuse that eponymous rhythm; as for the second one, Motorik sure do sound enamored of OG British post-punk outfits like Bauhaus, Joy Division, and Theater of Hate (one passage in "Six Filters" closely emulates the main melody of JD's "Dead Souls"). The band's black attire and even darker bass tones don't sway one to think otherwise. Still, there are worse periods and styles from which to draw inspiration, and Motorik seem passionate and technically adroit enough to move on to more individualistic efforts in the near future. DAVE SEGAL
April 9, 2009
Caravan Of ThievesGypsy jazz with infectious harmonies
I’ve blogged about these guys before…when I caught the tail end of their set at the Gathering Of The Vibes last year. I saw them again this past weekend, opening up for the Ryan Montbleau Band at The Warehouse in Hartford. Once again I was struck by their unique sound and fascinating stage antics.
Fuzz (Deep Banana Blackout) and his wife Carrie (Rolla) team up with bass player Brian Anderson and violinist Ben Dean to create Caravan Of Thieves, and they’ve just put out their debut album, Bouquet:
The album is split into 3 acts, like a play. These tunes have really fun lyrics, and the gypsy jazz melodies will get you movin’ in ways you haven’t moved before. Definitely see this group live if you get the chance, it’s quite the experience!
One Response to “NEW Music: Caravan Of Thieves”
bpmcgackin said April 10, 2009 at 11:59 am
i was listening to them the other day, “The Butcher’s Wife” is awesome.
S E L F - R E L E A S E D
Off ering the listener a fresh genre creation, the self-proclaimed
label of “stargazer,” is befi tting of the music of
Benjamin Bear’s Lungs. The album is concentrated with
melodic intensity played out in the form of evocative
vocals, dark piano solos and heavy percussion. With
one half of the duo’s roots in classical and jazz and the
other in rock and blues, it is apparent how they arrived
together at the given variable. Though Lungs begins in
a very melancholy mood, the tempo quickens by the
fourth track, “Russ,” and from there oscillates between
solemn and lighthearted. At face value, the album’s lyrics
show a recurring pattern of unrequited love and breakup
ballads, but the emotional candor in which they are
delivered unmistakably guarantees relevance.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
NO GO KNOW
With so much music coming out these days in the rock world influenced by the same people it is a difficult task to stand out and be a unique artist or group. For No Go Know, they may fall into that progressive rock genre, but they do their best to stand out amongst the pack with the release of their sophomore album Time Has Nothing To Do With It. The first thing that will grab your attention about the album is that it is a two-disc collection with 18 total tracks. The ambitious release pulls you into the first disc by showing you the outstanding songwriting you can expect going forward into the album on "In Bleeding Kansas," which allows the vocals and lyric to soar over a simple acoustic guitar. But don't let the acoustic guitar fool you, this is a band that has come to rock and they show it on tracks like "My Black Dog," and "Yours Is A Small Still Voice" as the guitars drive you through the song and capture you making you move right along with them. Onto disc two you will find more of the same as the guitars hammer home songs like "Christmas Prayer" and "Life is Forever For Everyone." A collection of material like this one has, with some songs topping the 9 minute mark, is daring and unique in itself, but the consistency that No Go Know puts on display throughout the album shows you the talent that this band offers. If you like one song you will most likely like them all and that is what makes this album an easy listen. If it grabs you upon hitting play then keep on listening cause you will love this.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Mike Pardew - Azul
Album Reviews • Wednesday April 1st, 2009 • 12:15 am
Jazz fusion has been a much-maligned genre throughout the past three decades or so. Although groups like Weather Report have sold impressive numbers of albums (at least for jazz acts), there are a lot of jazz heads out there that wouldn’t be caught dead listening to “Birdland.” I had a History of Jazz professor in college who balked at even a mention of Weather Report and their ilk. But on the other hand, at its inception, fusion was one of the most progressive forms of music and a logical step from the still chiefly acoustic mode of the sixties. The same people who get airsick from “Birdland” get nourishment from Bitches Brew and On The Corner. But between then and now, something happened to fusion. It’s been banished to the tinny-speaker ghetto of elevators and shopping malls. For better or worse, contemporary fusion bands have to respond to this loaded history. Can you play jazz fusion per se without becoming indistinguishable from Muzak?
Mike Pardew’s trio does an admiral job splitting the difference on his record Azul. The album takes the tropes of fusion and stretches the boundaries, however slightly, and more singular interpretation of the genre elbows its way through. The record has the collaborative, spontaneous, and individualistic feel that a good jazz record ought to. All the players shine at one point or another on the record without always resorting to becoming too embroiled in their own individual talents, a common gripe in fusion. The first three tracks give ample room for each of the players to show off their strengths. Bassist Damian Erskine takes full advantage of the range of the instrument on “Shades,” floating above Pardew’s languid chords and venturing from smooth glissando lines to tight staccato stabs. Drummer Micah Kassell keeps impeccable time on “Road Worn,” but adds in polyrhythmic fills that feel like they’re stumbling away from you but get jerked back up a moment before hitting the ground heavily. Pardew himself is a creative if not overly adventurous soloist, sticking close to tonal centers while making lithe intervallic leaps and smooth chordal transitions (check “Transgression”). His rhythmic phrasing and tendency toward bluesy classic rock (“Bigfork”) saves him from sounding like he’d be at home backing Kenny G.
But the admixture of distorted, grooving 4/4 rock and jazz dexterity begins to become predictable as we reach the halfway point of the album. The numbers are either dialed-back clean Wes Montgomery explorations (“Azul”) or rocking, proggy, King Crimson like, compound time jams (“Velonis”). But while a guitarist like Robert Fripp was never afraid to stray far from the tonal center of the song, Pardew unfortunately tends to rein himself in before he gets himself to far into the intimidating freedom of atonality. By the time we hit “Stairwell,” we know that Pardew is going to spend some time taking liberties with the bass ostinato that the song is built on, and then re-align with it like he did at the head. In a music as vital and personal as solo-based jazz, its important that the listener can’t predict exactly where the soloist is going, but when he gets there it still makes sense. Pardew tends to lead us just where we expected him to.
Those themes that Pardew takes as his source material tend to become repetitious as well, just when the album gets to the point of demanding a new direction. It’ll most likely be a compound-time groove with some simple eighth-note leaps and wrapping up the bar or two phrase with a sixteenth-note run. Then the mellower numbers start sounding more and more like tired, watery nonsense. The couple divergences are so divergent that they are anomalies, like the guitar noise and processed phone-message of “Flathead Lake.” It’s a confusing minute-and-twelve seconds, and the album would be better without it. On the final track, “Alluvium,” Pardew pits his music-school chords against field recordings and delay washes that feel like affectations. And unsurprisingly, he switches back to the proggy territory he knows best a minute and forty-five seconds in.
For it’s faults, Azul is overall a solid showcase of a skilled trio grappling with fusion in the 21st century and trying to find their own voice in it, to mixed success. The trio is clearly one that could accomplish something much more original than Azul, and something that tends toward the spacy exploratory nature of early fusion and less toward the insular wonkiness of the contemporary stuff.
Ben Darwish Trio - Ode to Consumerism Anyone who is hip to the Portland (or at least...
Tagged as: Jazz, jazz fusion, Portland
What Benjamin Bear has described as "stargazer" is actually dramatic, piano-led dream pop. This record is a melodic and emotional effort, heavily reminiscent of a spacey rock band named Inouk. Other frames of reference are The Zephyrs, mellower Modest Mouse, and even Coldplay. The lead vocalist's voice is uniquely nasal-esque but oddly enjoyable, well complemented by the elegantly expressive piano parts. Ultimately, Lungs is a sprawling and heavy disc, although its consistent, rolling nature can result in it fading quietly into the background. I'm reminded of The Perishers to that effect.
At times, however, the songs are really quite enjoyable. Opener "Station Rest Release" and dynamic "Frictionless" see Benjamin Bear at their best. Conversely, there aren't any particularly dreadful moments on Lungs - it's more that the record tends to blend into itself, resulting in a blandly homogeneous mush. For all their dynamic instrumentation and intense crescendoing, these songs don't do much to differentiate themselves from one another. As a result, Benjamin Bear is a solid teenage post-break-up bedroom band, but a more varied approach might make their next record that much more engaging.
benjamin bear's myspace
DeseretNews.com blogger April 9, 2009 at 10:45 a.m.
Photo credit: www.benjaminbear.org
No, the Benjamin Bear I'm writing about is not a childrens story, nor is it a person. It's a piano/drum duo from Seattle, comprised of of Mychal Cohen, above left, and David Stern, right.
By incorporating crafty lyrics with an array of atmospheric compositions that lie in the dreamland between folk and progressive pop, Benjamin Bear has bubbled to the surface of the low-key music scene.
The new album "Lungs," available on iTunes and http://www.amazon.com/, and will be in stores April 21, is a nice unobtrusive creation that is perfect to hear on a road trip or at home on a rainy day.
"Station Rest Release" opens this 12-track outing and introduces us to Cohen's raw-but-honest vocals and the duo's dynamic musical intensity.
Tracks like the lamenting "Rusty Truck," the spiral syncopation of "Walls" and private confession feel of "Wilson Ave." show the duo's surreal textures, but also give a glimpse of the potential of the other songs such as the acoustic-guitar laden "Riverbed" and upbeat and jazzy "Frictionless."
The lo-fi recording adds to the flavor of the CD, but there are times when it does get a bit monotonous.
Still, it's in my iPod and I'm glad it's there.
Posted by Fense under Live Reviews & Previews, Live: M
Everything I’ve been reading says the same thing: Motorik takes their name from a style of Krautrock. More specifically, the 4/4 Kraut beat. But the band doesn’t necessarily follow the genre; they’re full-on post-punk with a female front and punchy bassline. But damn! It’s hard to ignore the deep female vocals, sounding an awful lot like Katie Sketch of The Organ.
I’ve been listening to Klang! for a while now and though the vocals remind me of Sketch, that’s all they have in common with The Organ. For one, Motorik is a trio and only the vocalist has no Y chromosome. Songs like “Or So I Thought” and “It’s Just Sugar” are sure to turn heads, while “Box Of Knives” finds the group at its pinnacle. Despite the post-punk influential origins, several songs are slow and, perhaps, even err on the minimal side of things.
Motorik will drop their debut LP, Klang!, on April 28. But for those who can’t wait, you can catch them live here in Seattle on the 16th at the Funhouse. Mark your calendar: this is one you won’t want to miss!
Published by sinisterurge at 1:54 am under Reviewed!, Reviews Edit This
Let’s get the bad part out of the way first, ‘Catfight!’s ‘In Stereo’ is only five tracks long.
Now, onto the good part, which pretty much is everything else. ‘In Stereo’ offers a lot of looks throughout, including two different singers (band members Bobby Rotten and Christine respectively), as well as some songs that sound like they should have been written 30 or 40 years ago.
Catfight! play a very refreshing blend of somewhat distorted fuzz pop/indie rock that you would be hard-pressed to hear anywhere else. The band walks a seamless line between noise and pop in order to produce their songs, which while overly simple and albeit short, manage to get their point across rather bluntly.
‘Get It On’ kicks off the effort with a thorough, driving bass line that doesn’t let up until the track switches over to the early 90’s clean pop sheen of ‘Alone Today’ and the quasi-dance floor anthem that is ‘Ready Steady Go.’ Catfight! has the ability to change its look with different singers – Bobby and Christine switch off between vocals. When Christine is behind the microphone, there is a definite Veruca Salt vibe and adversely when Bobby mans the mic, you surely envision the White Stripes. Well, Catfight! on the whole summons a Stripes-esque feel, but still. ‘Candy Cane’ might be the catchiest contribution of ‘In Stereo’ with its airy, winding guitars and memorable hook, and the album’s closer, ‘Sheila,’ offers a deep, trudging bass line to finish off the record.
It may be under-produced, but for Catfight! this is a good start. Unfortunately, ‘In Stereo’ plays too quickly at only twelve minutes across five tracks, but luckily for this duo they are good enough to leave a lasting effect.
Rocks like:- Veruca Salt – ‘Eight Arms to Hold You’- White Stripes – ‘White Blood Cells’- Sonic Youth - ‘Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star’
Motorik - Klang!
Ready for something a little more explosive? Per their suggestive name, Motorik launch out of the starting gate with all 400 hp of post-punk, Gang of Four-inspired engines revving. A female-fronted Seattle three-piece with Sio on bass and vocals, Adrian Garver on guitar and Hoagie Gero on drums, Motorik are like a massive blast of the some of the best art-punk, angular post-punk funk of the eighties infused with a new found fountain youth in the form of Sio's driving, repetitive and absolutely addictive bass playing. And did I say angular? Let me tell you, this disc has so many angles it could be a geometry teacher's wet dream. Edgy, punchy, anxious, and tighter than a banker's wallet, Klang! showcases a burst of infectious post-punk and is well worth the effort of tracking down.And when I say energetic, I mean this album absolutely pulses with a heartbeat all it's own. "Or So I Thought," bubbles out on the back of a darkened funk bass line that plays like a fine burst of cotton candy, it's so sweet. Then, just like that sugary confection, the sugar high hits you in the form of Adrian's fits and spasms of guitar and Hoagies never-wavering beat. Sio has a voice so much entirely her own, it's not even worth searching for a comparison, but overall, this song reminds of one of my lost favorite old post-punkers, Get Smart. But here's the trick. The songwriting is so strong, and the band's sense of melody and dynamics so dead-on, that songs come off as angular without ever being disjointed. This is art punk that has lost none of its accessibility. "Box of Knives," takes this vibe one step further, brimming with Gang of Four angst and urgency. Sio's voice once again inhabits a realm of her own naming, a voice that certainly wouldn't work well with a more traditional sound, but is just dynamite here, that extra layer of high fructose corn syrup to layer on top of our energy buzz. Again, Adrian drops in epileptic seizures of guitar a la Andy Gill and the whole song sears down the lost Au Pairs highway. Beautiful stuff."Robert Palmer," brings on a more menacing bass line, shrieks of dissonant guitar, and Sio's quirky coodles, gulps, coo's and chirps as vocals. Shades of the Mekons with massive looping bass lines. Damn, she can play. And again, Hoagie does his damnedest to anchor this whole conglomeration of disparate parts into one cohesive song with his Teutonic drumming, and what a song it is. "It's Just Sugar," finally catches up with my sugar analogy chiming with that infinite buzz. "Utopia Parkway," hints at the excellent Crocodiles-era Echo and the Bunnymen. Wire? Pere Ubu? Pylon? The Pixies? Name your favorite, intense post-punk artists, who's music cringes with palpable tension and a venous system full of anxiety, and you'll be able to place Motorik comfortably by their side. The more I listen to this disc, the more I love it and more I respect the unity of the band; the space they allow Sio to plow her bass lines, until the time comes to pile on the sound in a massive fit of claustrophobia. The band likes to think of their sound as futuristic garage, and that holds well for me. If a bunch of androids were suddenly given life, a collection of instruments and a killer record collection, they'd have a hard time beating this.--Racerbuy here:
☆ Opening act(s): Apparently Nothing, Color Radio, Santa
City Beat magazine praises Minneapolis-based Pictures of Then as having "a sonic balance between reverence for the past and vision of the future." Their sound is fresh enough to appeal to even the most discerning of indie-rock fans while still containing essential ingredients to have the masses "reaching for the repeat button just as soon as it ends." (MyxerTones.com)
Despite their recent emergence into the music industry, one would never assume they were anything but veterans. Pictures of Then has been hailed as "helping to further shape the new Minneapolis sound," (perfectporridge.com). Their songs have been described as "well-crafted" and "memorable", while onstage they are "dramatic without being pretentious," having the "polished and confident stage presence of an out of town band seasoned by months of touring." (howwastheshow.com) This comes as no surprise since Pictures of Then is continually on the road, attracting an ever-growing fan base both on the club scene and at college campuses nationwide.
With only one album under their belts and a new release expected in early 2009, Pictures of Then has still managed to make quite a spark. Their music has been featured on MTV's The Real World and The Hills and licensed by other programs on MTV, USA, Oxygen and Lifetime. In 2008 Pictures of Then had the opportunity to attract new fans after being selected by MTV to appear on the "Choose or Lose Tour" with Locksley (Brooklyn, NY). The band has also appeared alongside such renowned acts as Green Day, Interpol, and Motion City Soundtrack on multiple compilation albums - the latest of which is available at Hot Topic stores across the country.
Their debut album "Crushed by Lights" (July 2007), was played on more than 220 college stations, and has earned them premier showcasing spots at competitive conferences and festivals such as Red Gorilla, MPMF (Midpoint Music Festival), NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) and Crossroads Entertainment Conference. With their ever-growing fan base and the rising anticipation of their 2009 release, "Pictures of Then and The Wicked Sea," it is only a matter of time before this band, firmly rooted in indie soil, becomes one of the few independents to branch out into mainstream success.
READ IT HERE
Saturday's opening act, Caravan of Thieves, is a perfect fit for the evening and, no doubt, a group that found some inspiration in Hicks's catalog.
The band is led by the husband-and-wife team of Fuzz and Carrie Sangiovanni, both singers and guitarists. They began making music together in 2004, first as an acoustic duo and then in a band called Rolla, which released two records and played hundreds of shows.
Early last year, the Sangiovannis recruited violinist Ben Dean and double bassist Brian Anderson to create a quartet that draws on diverse backgrounds to create folk songs in frenetic gypsy swing time. In the past year, the Northeastern quartet has released a debut CD of 12 original tracks, "Bouquet," drawing comparisons to Gogol Bordello and the Decemberists.
Motorik at the Funhouse, Thursday, April 16
Motorik, which translates from German as “motor skill”, is a Krautrock term for the 4/4 beat — but it is also the name of an excellent, local goth-rock band. Borrowing from bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus and Echo and the Bunnymen, the sound is instantly accessible and familiar — but they still rock. I saw them at a Factory Records tribute night flawlessly executing Joy Division’s “She Lost Control” — which is no small feat considering that the song has its own legacy and has aged well over twenty-five years. Still, Motorik made it look seamless. This Thursday they’re at the Funhouse, playing stuff from their recently released debut album Klang!.
Laughing loudly everywhere,
Chris Burlingame*Three Imaginary Girls*
Romeo Spike - For The Cause - Review
Release Date: May 19th, 2009
Record Label: None
Genre: Futuristic Classic Rock
There is rarely anything more funny then the simple oxymoron. The nature of putting to conflicting things together seems to work double for humor. This is what came to mind when I checked out Romeo Spike and their latest effort “For The Cause.” Before I listened to it, I went to their Myspace to get a feel for them, and they had themselves listed as a “Futuristic Classic Rock” band. Wouldn’t it just make it rock then? After a few minutes contemplating, I decided to slide the CD in my stereo for a listen rather then a brain storm.
Well it turns out that what Romeo Spike (Mike Kunz, Donn Aaron) meant was a collection of a classical soul rapped in a 1970’s synth heavy wrapper. In a few words it sounded like chill lounge music if it were to be done by Queen. I don’t mean to cut these guys short though because this is another example of a creative duo coming together and putting forth an effort that sounds like it could have been from several people. Musically, Mike’s vocals are light and soothing while a collection of instruments such as a Rhodes electric piano, a Casio, more effects than you can throw a stick at, as well as the standard guitars/bass are able to create an earthy and relaxing atmosphere for “For The Cause.”
So you can expect that from gentle waves of dissonance you will also get “far out” lyrics. Well you do most of the time. The words are memorable but cross into the chuckling section with lines like “cash in your guns, give in to star power.” Like I said earlier, this feels like something straight from the 70’s so this wasn’t a big surprise.
So how do I feel about it you ask? Well, the lax yet fluid motion of the record feels so warm and fuzzy that it’s almost impossible to ignore. Like a Lionel Richie album, you will be swooned from start to finish with simplistic but futuristic 70’s flow. So if you like synth and loads of effects that will hit you like massaging waves in the ocean, then you will want to check out Romeo Spike because “For The Cause” will do the same to your ears. ~Staff
2. Star Power
4. Specter’s Ghost
5. Cocaine Skinny
6. Candy Heart
8. Lipstick Lesley
9. Sara Baby
10. It’s Only Real
11. Liars Are Good Lovers
12. Yesterday’s News