Sunday, August 30, 2009

IN FORUM show review of GIANT SQUID
Weekend Watch: Giant Squid, Daredevil Christopher Wright and more
Tonight through Tuesday
The Aquarium, 226 Broadway, hosts a week of rising rock bands. Giant Squid kicks things off tonight.
By: John Lamb, INFORUM

Giant Squid performs at The Aquarium in Fargo tonight. Special to The Forum

Tonight through Tuesday

The Aquarium, 226 Broadway, hosts a week of rising rock bands. Giant Squid kicks things off tonight. The Bay Area-based band plays its brand of brainy prog metal from its recent disc, the MySpace-fueled phenomenon, oceanic rocker, “The Ichthyologist,” adapted from a graphic novel by singer/guitarist Aaron Gregory. Much quieter, but even more compelling, will be the harmonies of the Daredevil Christopher Wright on Sunday night. The La Crosse, Wis., trio opened for Caroline Smith in June, but it can hold a crowd’s attention all on its own with just vocals and spare pop music. The upstairs music hall also hosts Southern soul punks Black Diamond Heavies Friday and Twin City funksters, the Limns on Saturday, while San Diego rockers Dirty Sweet play Tuesday. All shows are ID-only with $5 covers, except for Black Diamond Heavies and Dirty Sweet – $6. (701) 235-5913.

Tags: weekend watch, arts and entertainment, the aquarium, giant squid, daredevil christopher wright, north dakota, communities, life, music, fargo

Knottsberry Farm's Wild West Stunt Show!
All the stuff you like, with most of the stuff you don't.

Saturday, August 1, 2009
Jonesin' -- Hi, We're Jonesin'
Posted by Alan on 3:22 PM

Knowing where to start with Jonesin's album, Hi, We're Jonesin' is a little bit difficult. It's a lot of things: electronic, synthetic, groovy, trippy, deep, cute, but most of all, it's fun.

Jonesin' is Matt and Jenny Jones, who are (I assume) in some way related. (I don't know how, exactly, as I can't seem to find out for certain. My top guesses are Brother/Sister, or Married. Anyone who knows, correct me!)

The majority of Hi, We're Jonesin is a crazy blend of synthesizer melodies and dizzy drum beats. Both Matt and Jenny feature on vocals, creating a interesting contrast between a somewhat traditional male voice, and a hypercute, high pitch female part. There are songs, especially Ice Cream where the cuteness is so strong, it might actually cause facial injury due to smiling. Some people might actually slip in to happiness comas. Such is the energy on this record.

Jonesin' is a different musical venture for Matt Jones, a member of Master Slash Slave (Also referred to as Master/Slave, not sure which is proper.) The two bands, when listened to together is an experience, as described by Jones, "kind of like having a shot of good whiskey followed by a smooth beer."

In addition to being a smooth beer, Hi, We're Jonesin' is also a fun listen for a PLETHORA of reasons! The almost ethereal quality of songs like "Hey Aliens!" is incredibly captivating and intriguing, while tracks like "Bummer Summer" make you want to dance your way around the room, and end with the splits and jazz hands. Between extraterrestrials and dance numbers, Jonesin' manages to ask the big questions in "What If?", an almost conversational song which is all metaphysical and shit. I've been throwing the word "versatility" around so much lately I feel like I've got an 80 dollar suit and a budget meeting to get to, but that doesn't make it any less true; Hey, We're Jonesin' is versatile.

To sum up, I like this band, and I love this album. It's an enjoyable 38 minutes (ten tracks). I'm not gonna give it a rating (I'm going to try and move away from that whole system for a while, see if it works out), but I will absolutely recommend it to those who enjoy some crazy music, or awesome music, or crazy awesome music.

Once again, I can't provide a download link, since Jonesin's people were awesome enough to send us this album for free, but here is a list of resources for those interested in the band!

"Rollerskates" Video
Master Slash Slave's website
Jonesin's MySpace (A lot of free tracks can be found here on the little myspace player thing)

P.S., Matt Jones mustache rules. Is that how you spell it? Or Moustache?

Friday, August 28, 2009

BLOG CRITICS reviews Caravan of Thieves

Music Review: Caravan Of Thieves - Bouquet
Author: Richard Marcus — Published: Jul 31, 2009 at 6:33 am 1 comment

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For all that I'm liable to complain about the system of labelling musical performers by genres, I find that I end up doing the same thing in my own way. It's only natural, I guess, to categorize music in some fashion — how else are you going to differentiate one piece of music from another? However, that's still a personal choice based on my own likes and dislikes and an understanding of the type of music I like to listen to when I'm in a certain frame of mind, not something that I'm going to use in order to answer the question: what kind of music do they play?

While it's true there are some musicians you can say play blues or rock fairly easily, there are other bands who just aren't going to fit into anybody's neat little categories no matter what you do. In fact, I'm discovering the music I'm enjoying most these days is that by performers who can't be pinned down as belonging to any single category. In some cases the number of genres they fall into is so great that they'd have more backslashes in any attempt to label them than the average website has in its address: they play a punk/jazz/folk/acoustic/blues/country/gypsy/swing sort of thing with some classical influences. By the time you get finished reciting a list like that it becomes meaningless and you might just as well have said they play music.

One of the most recent examples of this I've come across are the band Caravan Of Thieves. After having listened to their latest release, Bouquet, I could no more give you a one word answer to "what kind of music do they play" than I could explain higher physics equations. Even telling you that the four core musicians play guitar (Fuzz and Carrie Sangiovanni), violin (Ben Dean), double bass (Brian Anderson), and are occasionally joined by Bruce Martin on accordion, isn't going to help, as a lineup like that could indicate anything from a country group to a folk ensemble from the streets of Paris.

So what can I tell you about their music if I can't tell you what it is? I can tell you that lyrically they are sly and witty and musically they are full of life and vigour. I can also tell you that the singing of the Sangiovannis is perfect for the music as they harmonize beautifully without trying anything overly fancy, and have voices equal to the task of expressing the ideas, emotions, and humour in their songs. They are sufficiently skilled at playing their instruments to play fast enough to make your head spin and be equally effective playing something more pensive. Their music hops, skips, jumps, and swings through the twelve songs on the disc without once missing a beat or striking a discordant moment.

One of the interesting things about Bouquet is how they've divided the disc up into three acts, and an intermission; an instrumental piece appearing to be called "Zu Zio Petals". (I say appears because the text is so stylized that I couldn't tell you whether the first letters of the first two words were a Z,Q,J, or even something else - I don't know why bands insist on using type that is almost indecipherable when reproduced at the size required for CD liner notes) The impression this creates, when coupled with some of the other song titles, especially considering the name of the band, is that they are a group of less than reputable carnival hustlers.

While the opening track's title "Ghostwriter" might not at first glance appear related, when you realize the lyrics are referring to someone who is dead, not just someone hired to write something for you, they complement the overall theme with its suggestion of mediums and communicating with "other side". However it's songs like "Freaks" with its paean to the different in the world, and "Box Of Charms", which when opened has cures for everything and whatever ails you. Although not without risk of side effects - spontaneous combustion, decapitation, loss of limb, or turning you into a flesh-eating zombie.

However, you do begin to wonder whether it's not a medicine show or carney after all, after you listen to "Angels In Cages". The show that they describe in this song sounds suspiciously too much like the state of the world for it to be just some low rent carnival. "It's a lovely show with fire and explosions./We are sure you will all be charmed to death." Not what you'd call the most enticing of blandishments. I personally would think twice about stepping right up to see a show where the clowns are in charge of the heavy guns no matter how much I'm reassured that it's all in fun.

There's something about listening to Caravan Of Thieves' new CD Bouquet that put me in mind more of what I'd expect to hear from a European group than one from North America. While there are plenty of groups from this part of the world following the same configuration of instruments as Caravan, few of them ever play anything aside form zydeco or other music which has roots here. It was only because they sounded like a musical tour of Europe, rather than being from one specific point on the continent that distinguished them from European groups or ensembles who tend to only play the music of their homes. For not only can you hear sounds from the streets of Paris, there's also music that could only have come from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, plus a liberal sprinkling of swing spicing up certain songs.

Bouquet could have been recorded in New York City or Bucharest, but what really matters is the fact that the music is a pleasure to listen to and the lyrics are witty and intelligent. While there aren't many people who can play more than one style of music, the number who bounce around between quite a few on the same disc and yet maintain a continuity of music is very rare indeed. When it comes to this Caravan Of Thieves the only thing you have to worry about them stealing is your heart, as their music sweeps you across the dance floor and then bounces your around quite a bit.
read it here

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

JONESIN reviewed on dryvetyme onlyne

Jonesin’ – “Hi, We’re Jonesin’”
Category: Music In My Ears — dryvetyme @ 07:00
“Hi, We’re Jonesin’”
Turn Up; 2009

I’m a fan of the most excellent show How I Met Your Mother, with my favorite episode being “Slap Bet” (Season 2, Episode 9), mostly for introducing two key running jokes to the series: 1) the “slap bet” that exists between Marshall and Barney, and 2) the music of Robin Sparkles. According to the show’s chronology, Robin Sparkles was the stage name of character Robin Scherbatsky from her time as a mall-touring Canadian teenage pop star in the ‘90s. And yes, the show explicitly poked fun at Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, and Canadians when Robin stated that the ‘80s didn’t come to Canada until the mid-‘90s, explaining why teen girl pop stars were still singing in malls in Canada, much to the delight of Ted, Barney, Marshall, and Lily. The twist is that the anachronistic fake pop singer (with two videos, “Let’s Go To The Mall” and “Sandcastles In The Sand”) has a viral MySpace page in the real world that celebrates her “music.”

In an equally surreal alternate universe, Matt and Jenny Jones of Jonesin’ should also get to experience that sort of underground cultish affection. The couple has recently released a record entitled “Hi, We’re Jonesin’” and it too embraces the same uber-cutesy ‘80s synth-pop as that of Robin Sparkles, but does so much more earnestly. Using a small fleet of classic synths and processors (including a Yamaha DX100 and Casio CTK-550), this ten-song project features bouncy keyboard runs over some rather retread (but occasionally quite catchy!) beat patterns alongside “aw-shucks”-inducing boy-meets-girl vocals and lyrics.

Yet, as crass as this might sound, Jonesin’ could almost be interesting, except that there are instances when the group comes across as a novelty act, right down to Jenny Jones’ highly affected (and often annoying and grating) teeny-bopper vocals. The result is an album that seems more like performance art than an actual left-of-center quirky retro pop group. The songs themselves are charming little ditties about a young couple falling in love, including tracks about reading Harry Potter to each other, shoring up resources for the impending apocalypse in 2012, and enjoying ice cream sundaes together. Yet, for every song like “Rollerskates” or “Ice Cream” that rings with potential, there’s an offering like “Lil Wino” or “How Much You Wanna Bet?” that only makes me flip to the whatever might be next.

“Hi, We’re Jonesin’” probably won’t change the world with its re-imagining of romantic, high-school-dance-ready ‘80s pop, but if Robin Sparkles can have a fake career on MySpace (courtesy of CBS money), then Jonesin’ deserves just as much (if not more). In my estimation, if the Joneses were to employ more traditional vocal techniques, that dream might actually become a reality.

Willamette Week feature on NO GO KNOW

No Go Know, Sunday Aug. 2

[SCHIZOPHRENIC ROCK] No Go Know frontman Scott Taylor is a prick.

Not really, but that’s what he felt like when suggesting that the band’s second full-length be a double album. In crafting Time Has Nothing to Do With It, Taylor, bassist Mark McIntire and drummer Sam Smith opted to make like Peter North and get lengthy.

“I said, ‘Let’s be assholes and make a double album,’” says 31-year-old Taylor with a laugh. He was phoning in from Philadelphia during the band’s three-week tour, which ends with the album’s release at Kelly’s Olympian on Aug. 2. “Everyone’s response was, ‘You’re a pretentious idiot. You don’t do that, especially when you’re an unknown band nobody gives a crap about.’”

Like My Morning Jacket, the four-year-old trio straddles the line between classic and contemporary rock, sometimes teetering toward jamminess before shifting to prog rock mid-chorus. On Time, No Go Know dips its fingers into nearly everything—space rock, funk, disco, pop, fusion—oftentimes during the same song.

“I think in really schizophrenic terms,” says Taylor. “Sam and I work in mental health. We’re used to that line of thinking.”

And schizo is just the right word. Still, unlike many double albums (we’re looking at you, Billy Corgan), there’s no clutter here. Rhyme or reason is scarce on the 90-minute opus, but it’s so well crafted it’s impossible for listeners to get bored.

THe BAcksliders covered on COSMOGAMING

Music: THe BAcksliders: Thank You
Our Take
Texas based THe BAcksliders have been around since 2005 and in that span of time have already managed to put out three full length albums. Now I know you’re thinking that the capitalization of the H in the and the second a in BAcksliders but this is typically how the band is referred to (which is more than likely due to the fact that a couple of other groups have used this name over the years). The group’s third full length Thank You just came out a few months back, and they are offering it as a free download on their website. And though it’s not necessarily going to be your new favorite album, one can’t deny that it does have some fun moments.

The instrumentals on Thank You are a mixture of rock ‘n roll, blues rock, and a little bit of punk. This is a pretty natural sounding mix as all three of these genres do have some common elements, and as a result the majority of the songs that THe BAcksliders have written have quite a bit of energy to them. However, it is worth mentioning that the group is a little more memorable when they are playing faster paced songs, as the more laid back blues rock songs on Thank You feel a little too generic and lack the intensity and hooks that the others do. It isn’t enough to drag the entire release down, but most listeners are likely to find that they go back to the fast punk/rock ‘n roll tracks more frequently because of how good the hooks are on those particular songs.

Singer Kim Bonner takes the spotlight for the majority of Thank You, but there are moments when two of the other members of the band are given the chance to shine. I’ve seen some other sites out there compare her vocals to Janis Joplin, and this is a fair assessment as she has a slightly raspy voice that is similar at times. However, this vocal style also has its disadvantages, as while Kim is able to keep things together for the majority of the album there is a song or two where her voice sounds as though it is danger of going out of pitch. When the other two members of the group appear as backup vocalists they do a surprisingly good job of creating some melodic harmonies. I don’t want to discredit Kim by any means but I do feel that it would do the band some good in the future to give the male vocalists a little more time in the spotlight.

There is still room for THe BAcksliders to improve, but they do offer some genuinely catchy moments that combine older blues rock with some newer rock ‘n roll/punk. And despite my criticisms, I honestly can’t be too harsh on a band that is willing to give away an entire album’s worth of material away for free to anyone that is willing to check them out. So with that being said, I look forward to seeing how this band is able to improve and evolve in the future but for now I’ll be happy listening to what they have to offer right now.
Chris Dahlberg
July 29, 2009

THe BAcksliders reviewed on Voice of Energy

THe BAcksliders – Thank You:

I’m not sure who we have to thank for Kim Bonner’s interest and appreciation of raw rock ‘n’ roll, but they should deserve some small stipend or plaque celebrating their wherewithal to help Ms. Bonner find the proper career path. Or a job as a guidance counselor. Kim Bonner’s scratchy, yet sweet voice is custom made for fronting a blustery, bluesy rock outfit like this Dallas, TX group. Their latest album (the band’s third) has a hint of pop treacle to it – the mark of some songwriters who have grown up listening to plenty of albums and singles from the ’60s – but what takes you by the lapels are the songs that encourage you to push the gas pedal down a little further, the open highway tracks that could add a few extra points to your driving record.

NO GO KNOW featured on REVOLT

No Go Know
By admin • Jul 28th, 2009 • Category: Features, Guest Editorials, No Go Know

Last summer, the end was everywhere. It kept turning up in books, meals, movies and dreams. There was something unnatural following me in short bouts of ruffled sleep. I did my best to ignore the obvious signs but the obvious signs were having none of it. Having just cusped 30, I was acutely aware of the fact that my youth was being fitfully torn from me by a cruel and tireless creator. I was spending a lot of time in bars by myself staring at vague reflections. No one was finding me fascinating.

While we, as a band, were experiencing a perpetual birthing of music, I was unsure what to do with this newly spawned material or even if any of it warranted being preserved. With a nine-day recording date looming ever-near, I was constantly overwhelmed by vast pages of drunken scrawl that I failed to recognize as my own. I wasn’t sure we’d make another album after this one. I wasn’t even certain this one would even get made.

Let me back up.

This is all Derrick Jensen’s fault. Bob Dylan had a hand in it as well. But I don’t want to get into all that.

You know the feeling when you’ve been moving with such forced purpose for so long in one finite direction that when you finally awake from your oblivious stupor, your own movements suddenly become amazing to you? Much like a marathon runner pushing through the inevitable wall of weariness or a baby discovering their hands and feet for the first time.

Well, this didn’t happen to me. Not then, at least.Or maybe it did.

What I most recall is being overcome by an all together different feeling. You know the one where you intrinsically know that something titanic is about to occur but you haven’t figured out what specifically that titanic thing is? Well, this peculiar feeling lasted so long that I started to worry that either 1. This colossal thing had happened without me noticing or 2. It was doomed to never occur.

I was spending an inordinate amount of time on a bike thinking. This was not helping any, either.

And, then, suddenly, the light arrived. Late one evening, having been again netted by the bar on the way home from work, I went through the usual dance of pushing all my precious scribbles about the table, crossing-out, underlining, fitting and stopping. And there, amid all the drunken nonsense sprawled out before me, my cigarette choking the air above me and whiskey and coke warming my belly, I realized what had to be done.

We were going to make a double album.
It was just ridiculous enough to be perfect.

Over the course of the next couple days, I proceeded to press this newfound affirmation onto everyone I knew with the utmost urgency. It was imperative that people knew just in case anything awful happened. Which, I was certain, awful would. And so people laughed along with my neurosis for what seemed like the first time in months. I was fascinating again.

Later, still fearing the worst, and when all the songs were (mostly) completed, I recorded the complete song cycle on my Radio Shack cassette deck and mailed it off to a friend just in case something immutable happened before the studio had the chance to absorb our work.

Six months later, it was done. And more than mildly exhausting. During the course of start to finish, hard drives crashed and entire tracks were accidentally lost, songs were written and rewritten, scores of different takes and feels were attempted and numerous overdubs were recorded only to be discarded. The time spent mixing and editing alone was more time than I ever spent on all the other recordings I’ve ever done combined.

As for the end, well, things began beginning as things usually do. And now I’m here and you’re there and we’re all in it together.

So hello.
And yes.

No Go Know
July 2009

Band’s Website | MySpace

Jessie Torrisi reviewed on WILDY's WORLD

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Review: Jessie Torrisi - Brûler Brûler

Jessie Torrisi - Brûler Brûler
2009, Wild Curls

Jessie Torrisi is a drummer/journalist turned Singer/Songwriter who moved from New York City to Austin, Texas for a different perspective on the world. Torrisi served as a drummer for several NYC bands; including Les Fleurs Tragiques, Laptop and Unisex Salon before making the switch to front woman (she’s vowed to never go back). Torrisi’s debut solo album, Brûler Brûler, drops October 28, 2009, and is a musical breath of fresh air that never forgets its musical past but looks stridently forward.

Brûler Brûler opens with Hungry Like Me, a musical wish list of the qualities of a perfect man in Torrisi's terms. The easy Americana arrangement is the perfect setting for a song full of longing and desire. As you get further into the song you realize Torrisi's not just casting a wish list but speaking to someone she hopes fits the bill. There's an ambivalence between hope and melancholy here, like a world-weary woman who hopes he's the right one but who's been burned a few too many times to believe it. X In Texas, on the other hand, is a breakup song of epic proportions. Mature and quiet in its tenor, Torrisi tells him why it's over, sounding like she has cause to be angry, but forgives him and wishes him well. She just asks to be left alone, even though it's clear she still cares. Cannonball is pure desire in song; it's the queen of come-on songs, like a cross between Patsy Cline, Chrissie Hynde and Martina Sorbara.

Breeze In Carolina is an amazing tune. Torrisi is singing to someone who's trying to run away, telling him that no matter how far he runs he's going to miss her. This is one of those rare songs that come along with the potential to be a classic. I could hear this being the melancholy keynote tune for a character in a musical or a movie. It's not your typical Country/Americana tune. The song is substantial in both content and emotion. Runaway Train is another song of longing, this time in an unrequited or inattentive love. Torrisi's vocals are on fire here, full of heart and a sultry country sound that's unlike anyone on Country or Pop radio.

Storm Clouds takes on a pop sway that's highly appealing. The melody here is highly memorable, and Torrisi gives a vocal performance not to be forgotten. It's yet another song of loss, but this time Torrisi decides she's had enough. There's a hopeful ending this time, with Torrisi looking to the skies and what is coming rather than behind. So Many Miles takes on an almost 1980's AM Radio R&B sound mixing with the Americana feel. I didn't enjoy this tune quite as much as the rest of the album, but it's still decent. Brûler Brûler closes out with The Brighter Side, a piano-based tune about the hope and outlook love can bring. It's a gorgeous tune, highly personal in presentation and heartfelt in delivery. It's the perfect ending to the album.

Jessie Torrisi is a bit out of the ordinary. She's a Country/Americana singer with an Alt-Rock sound mixed in with her Country Twang. Her lyrics are intelligent and nuanced; full of sensuality and a personal voraciousness for life that can be startling and then endearing. Torrisi's voice isn't what you'd call classically pretty, but you know you'll stay and listen as long as she keeps singing. The songs themselves are off the beaten track, full of a beauty and singular personality that could become a trademark. Brûler Brûler is a thrilling introduction for us here at Wildy's World, and we are excited to see what Torrisi does next.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Jessie Torrisi at or Brûler Brûler drops on October 28, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Maelstrom review for GRAYCEON


9/10 Chaim


GRAYCEON - This Grand Show - CD - Vendlus - 2008

review by: Chaim Drishner

This Grand Show is a surprisingly great folk / thrash metal combo of epic proportions. Grayceon is fronted by Amber Asylum's electric cello player (who presides both over her vocals and the cello), as well as a couple of dudes (drums and guitar/vocals) from a rather unknown band by the name of Walken.

This wedding of classical versus metal approach has turned to be an interesting and ambitious project. This Grand Show combines the sad and highly contemplative tunes of Amber Asylum and a more metallic, rock-oriented vibe that drives and pushes the musical plot forward and lends it its dynamic and abrasive character.

This Grand Show is ear candy on many accounts. The somber cello coupled with the powerful female voice and the progressive, folk-oriented elements enveloped by thrashing guitar and interesting rhythms, make this album a varied, highly original and very much entertaining release.

Some of the tracks are a tad bizarre and unorthodox, devoid of the aforementioned elements, but more in the dark ambient school. Some parts are sad, neoclassical lullabies in the Amber Asylum tradition, while others more straightforward and more simply structured. A few incorporate all of the above. This Grand Show is exactly what the title suggests: it is a weird, original, highly diverse and wonderful album. Get this grand show. (9/10)

All related articles (interviews, live, from the vault)

Prog Archives review of giant squid

THE ICHTHYOLOGISTGiant Squid Experimental/Post Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website Sgt. Smiles Music for the end of days.
With their self-released 2nd full lenght album, Giant Squid have themselves a masterpiece of exotic metal. While catagorizing their brand of music proves to be difficult, The Ichthyoligist is nothing short of immense. Elements of doom carry over from their first album in a lesser quantity, and the songwiting and raw texture are taken to the next level. Every track is practically a mini-epic in my mind, flowing perfectly from brutal to peaceful, delicate to explosive, droning to climactic, etc. Giant Squid have an earthiness quality that is hard to find in Math Rock/Doom/Sludge, something technically superior music is usually incapable of capturing. All of the instruments are blended to perfection on this album, and nothing is lacking. The Ichthyologist is an expected improvement on Metridium Fields, powerful and peerless!

1)Panthalassa has more interesting drumming than all of their debut album, and like the song, starts off quirky and ends in a wave of intensity.

2) La Brea Tar Pits (which I remember visiting as a child) has a grungy/sludge feel that intertwines softer, more elegant passages with some ugly distorted guitar riffs. The outro takes creepy banjo music to a level not heard since 'Deliverance'.

3) Sutterville is all beauty no brutal. Great melodies, fantastic cello and piano, lovely music.

4) Dead Man Slough starts off mellow and catchy, but eventually leads to something heavy, then comes full-circle toward a soft end.

5) Throwing A Donner Party At Sea rocks hard and fast(by Giant Squid standards) right from the get-go. Some very gritty bass accompanied by very gritty growling make this song a beast.

6) Sevengill is one of the more powerful and awe-inspiring songs I've ever heard. In just over 7 minutes you are transported from something sad and beautiful to the land of gutteral anguish. One of those songs that gets the neck hairs upright.

7) Mormon Island's tranquility is almost necessary after the previous 2 tracks. Equal parts nice and simple, with a hint of sadness.

8) Blue Linckia has both superb change-ups and fantastic lyrics, finishing off in a doomy fashion. Once again, transition from light to dark is ever-present.

9) Emerald Bay is similar in nature to Sutterville or Mormon Island, being a rather calm track, but with almost psychadelic guitar work closing the song, reminding me of early- Metallica melodic pieces.

10) Rubicon Wall has a good mix of all the elements that make up any GS song. Slow and organic in parts, upbeat in others, and always heavy.

Simply put, there is not a bad moment in the 60+ minutes of music on The Ichthyologist. I've heard it called Mood Metal, which seems fitting to me, considering the dark and heavy mood it conjures, regardless of the song. The music is both ugly and pristine, something I love, and something few bands can pull off. What seals the deal, however, are the vocals. I've never heard any bany in their respective genre harmonize as oddly or as beautifully as they do, and, much like the music, they are able to find the perfect balance in light and dark through singing style. For a relatively obscure band, Giant Squid has quickly become one of my all-time favorites, and I couldn't be more excited for what's to come.

Many bands are louder, many are more sinister, some are more progressive, and others crazier, but none...I repeat NONE, are heavier. In fact, I consider The Ichthyologist to be the 'heaviest' album I've ever heard.

Disturbing never felt so good.

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Knottsberry Farm's Wild West Stunt Show! GRAYCEON covered

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Awesome Band You Should Probably Listen To: Grayceon
Posted by Some Guy on 9:39 PM
Labels: progressive metal
I feel kinda bad for that massive review of Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. I suppose I really get carried away with game reviews, so it’s back to music for a little while. And today I have something quite wonderful for you, the person reading this.

Sometimes, an awesome album just isn’t enough. Sometimes, I feel the need to do plugging of the more extreme variety. Perhaps this is due to boredom of the highest caliber, who really knows. Today, I, the amazing Some Guy, am here with a band that will violate your eardrums with amazingness. Well violate isn’t exactly the correct word here. It’s more like the warm sensation you get after somebody hugs you.

Grayceon is an American progressive metal band that doesn’t sound at all like anything else in the genre. There is nothing about them that sounds like Dream Theater, Opeth, or Ayreon. What we have here is something unique and interesting. I can’t think of a single band that sounds like them, and they are so great I feel the need to plug them.

Now there are a few things that make this band interesting. First let’s start with the obvious. They make frequent usage of a cello! Any band that uses any stringed instrument often is instantly awesome, but oh there’s more. Instead of having just one vocalist, they have two, a female soprano and a dude. Songs are lengthy and frequently change between metal and a more quiet often atmospheric sound. Drumming is great throughout and will always keep you entertained if the awesome guitar and cello somehow aren’t capable of doing so. If that isn’t enough to impress you I don’t know what will. The only thing dislikeable about this band is how the songs are all fucking huge, and therefore their entire discography is only 10 songs. I’m amazed at how not popular this band is. It’s a crime!

Grayceon - Self Titled

Grayceon - This Grand Show Is Eternal

Grayceon + Giant Squid split (You get a shitty Giant Squid song as a bonus! Their other stuff is so much better they should be embarrassed about this song. It really is that shitty)

Grayceon covered on THE SILENT BALLET

Grayceon - This Grand Show

Score: 7.5/10

San Francisco's Grayceon offer a reviewer plenty to talk about with their second release, This Grand Show . This three piece band utilize a rather different set up from most bands in that they make their music using only drums, guitar, cello, with dual vocals. Fans of Giant Squid will instantly recognise the distinctive vocals and playing style of cellist Jackie Perez Gratz, but Grayceon are far more than an extension of her other band.

There are moments in the songs where similarities between the two bands spring up, as the cello and guitar ring in unison with the eerie echoed vocals that form the basis for Giant Squid's post-metal sound, but these comparisons are quickly crushed. Grayceon create music that at one moment verges on the fragile then the next lurches over and rips open a riff most metal bands wish they had written. Some of the joint guitar and cello work on "Still The Desert" would not be out of place on Metallica's S&M album or the Metallica covers released by Apocalyptica. That's not to say the sounds coming from this record are mainstream metal, very far from it. Grayceon use soft plucked guitar and cello to build atmosphere around the songs before they lurch forward and smash out a passage of music that would no doubt leave a live audience no option but to headbang along.

Many would expect the sound of a three piece set up such as this to be lacking and sound like something is missing. This Grand Show does not suffer from only having the three members and a large part of its success is due to the intricate, high energy work of drummer Zack Farwell. His drumming is comparable to that of a more controlled Brann Dailor of Mastodon; Farwell is not one to use the standard drumming formula but inserts drum fills to beef out the sound and complement his fellow members duelling instruments. It's invigorating to hear three instruments recorded as they would sound live; there is no added second guitar or bass, just three talented musicians using their instruments and voices to create a massive sound.

The album flows well using this interaction between the strings and the drums, and this interplay allows for slick transitions in the passages of songs such as "It Begins, And So It Ends" and "This Grand Show Is Eternal", where the songs jump from chilling post-metal to thrash with relative ease. Even the sprawling "Love Is (A Dream)" produces moments of ferocious sounds before falling away to more dreamy cello and guitar interaction without ever feeling like its an idea being stretched too far.

The only point in the album where an idea seems to fall flat is the middle song titled "Sleep." This twenty-one minute beast seems to encompass three different seven minute songs, two of which are very good pieces of work. The middle section, however, is comprised of background noises created by the overlapping guitar and cello that go nowhere. It is preceded by another fine example of their seamless ability to move from quiet to loud, which has a clear ending before the directionless segment of noise filters in. As the instruments begin to work together again, they build to create a slow burning song which they don't attempt anywhere else on the album. But, by the time the dual vocals are swirling round the slow molten drums, it is to late to save the track.

To an extent the record label was right: it is hard to compare Grayceon to other bands. The experimental post-metal bands, such as Giant Squid, are not as ferocious, nor are the heavier bands as creative and refreshing as parts of this diverse record. Despite the decision to release "Sleep" as one long song This Grand Show is an album that is full of inventive ideas played out in a unique style that leaves a gulf of textbook post-rock/metal hordes in its wake.

Gary Davidson

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WLUR review NO GO KNOW....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
No Go Know
Add Date: July 21

Artist: No Go Know

Album: Time Has Nothing to Do With It

Label: The Union

Genre: Rock

Comments: Portland trio No Go Know are new to me, but this two-disc, 18-track release was quite a pleasant surprise. Indie label The Union Records, admitting that the length of Time Has Nothing to Do With It is "ambitious," adds that the band "has been compared to My Morning Jacket and Built to Spill." I can see the resemblance to early MMJ, or to Doug Martsch's poppiest record, Keep It Like a Secret. No Go Know probably could have scaled this down into a more manageable 12-song, single-disc set, but that doesn't affect the quality of the standout numbers, particularly "Love Is War," "End of a Stay" and "Christmas Prayer."
Posted by Jeremy at 3:29 PM

Saturday, August 8, 2009

City Beat (cincy) cover Pictures of Then

Pictures of Then, Hooters, Walter Trout and More
By Brian Baker . . . . . . .
In terms of my daughter’s summer break, the season is nearly at an end.
Back-to-school time has become something of a bittersweet ritual in the
eight years I’ve spent at home with her since being relieved of my graphic
design career in 2001.

As a work-at-home dad, I have the flexibility to arrange my schedule but, as
it’s happened this summer, my schedule has been arranging me, leaving me
little opportunity to do much out of the ordinary with her. Luckily, as she’s
grown she has acquired the ability to entertain herself, which works to my

We have been able to sneak in some Wii sessions after having lunch together,
we hit the community pool several times a week and she runs most errands
with me, but it’s been a fairly uneventful summer. Our two-week vacation
(which I'm on at this very moment, having finished typing this up just hours
before departure) will likely feature a few more stimulating activities:
bike riding on Mackinac Island, some putt putt golf, lots of lake swimming.

In a lot of ways, even though much of the time we spend together is
ultimately passive, I think my daughter enjoys the fact that I’m on hand. If
she hears a song she likes on her Zune or sees something on TV that she
thinks is particularly funny or poignant or worthwhile (she’s been obsessing
over the first three seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD) or if the dog or one
of the cats does something noteworthy, she’ll run down and give me a quick
report. Sometimes it happens in the middle of a phone interview, which I’ve
explained repeatedly is disruptive and inappropriate (she’s ADHD; every day
brings a new challenge and a few of the old ones), and she’s gotten better
at checking to see if I have the phone in hand before she bolts down the
hallway to the Bunker.

Still in all, as frustrating and exhausting as she can often be in the
course of a day, I will miss her presence when she heads back to school at
the end of this month. Sure, the house will be quieter and my schedule will
be more continuously structured, but how will I ever keep up with the
comings and goings of the cast of Twilight on my own? It won’t be long
before her visits to the Bunker are few and far between and the bulk of our
conversations will be by phone, so I'm endeavoring to enjoy the next few
years of her distractions while I have the opportunity.

Wait, there’s something coming in now … apparently Hilary Duff is interested
in joining the cast of Gossip Girl but they’ve told her she’ll need to lose
some caloric baggage to compete with the walking sticks on the show. Oh, I
could get this stuff from the Web with a click, but that can’t match the
energy of it pouring almost incomprehensibly from a breathless teenager. I’m
missing it already.

--------------------------------READ HERE
On Pictures of Then’s 2007 debut, Crushed by Lights, the Minneapolis quintet
seemed to be shining Billy Corgan’s flashlight through a 1966 Pink Floyd
prism, projecting a gorgeous psychedelic Pop rainbow across a Ziggy Stardust
tour poster. The combination of PoT’s respect for the vintage past and
desire for a modern future came together seamlessly in a soundtrack that was
both vaguely familiar and engagingly fresh. A handful of us here in town
were witness to PoT’s greatness two years ago when they appeared at 2007’s
MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati, following Superdrag’s triumphant
return at The Exchange, and those of us that stuck around knew we were
seeing a band on the verge of something special.

As telegraphed by the gorgeous New World-tinged woodcut illustrations
adorning their sophomore album, Pictures of Then and The Wicked Sea, PoT
spends a little more time perusing its sonic scrapbook of the past this time
around while still remaining committed to indie Rock’s vibrant here and now.
The Wicked Sea’s opener, “A Glimpse of Dawn,” nods to Superdrag’s modern
retro vibe in a perfect balance between Pop delicacy and guitar bombast,
which segues into “When It Stings,” a swinging Soul/Pop mind meld of early
Kinks and later Spoon and continues into “The Big Sell,” a similar treatment
that shivers and pounds like a Smashing Pumpkins tribute to The Pretty

Fans of The Shins and the 88s will find much to love on The Wicked Sea, from
the gentle lilt of “Ahead” to the simple Pop appeal of “7th Street,” and I
defy anyone (Chris Martin, are you listening?) to write a more beautifully
wrought love song than PoT’s “Nowhere is Somewhere,” which skillfully blends
propulsive and balladic pop under a lovely lyrical sentiment (“I’d rather go
nowhere together than somewhere alone...”). Pictures of Then are an amazing
blend of reverent classicism and modern vision, and The Wicked Sea is loaded
with glittering Pop diamonds that are never showy, always tasteful and
completely infectious.

----------------------------------- END HERE

I saw The Hooters in 1986 when they opened for Squeeze down in Lexington. It
was the year after the band had signed with Columbia and released their
label debut, the platinum Nervous Night, which also spawned some of the year’s
biggest singles; “And We Danced,” “Day by Day” and “Where Do the Children
Go.” They had a reputation as a great live act, but I wondered if they could
really replicate their exquisite Pop vibe outside of the studio.

I had a photo pass for the show, so I made my way down to the front of the
stage to get some shots. By the time I got into position, the band was in
full swing and they sounded amazing, tight but adrenalized, and they were
clearly having as good a time as their audience. As I began snapping
pictures, guitarist John Lilly saw me getting him in focus and pointed to
himself and gave me a smartass look that said, “Oh, you want a picture of
me?” I nodded and smiled, and he proceeded to wheel through his parody of
the big book of Rock guitar moves, all hilariously and stereotypically

Related content
Cale Parks with Passion PitRelated to:
Pictures of ThenThe HootersCale ParksWalter TroutJulian Plenti
When I took down my camera, he gave me another ironic look, like, “Was that
OK?” and with a smile he went right back to cranking out his riffs
effortlessly and flawlessly (although he’d never stopped doing just that
during his “performance”). Guitarist Eric Bazilian and keyboardist Rob Hyman
saw all of this and smiled between them and offered up similar moments when
I moved to get shots of them as well. It was obvious that as a band The
Hooters had no intention of taking themselves as seriously as they took
their music.

After The Hooters’ global success in the ’80s waned in the ’90s, the band
took a six-year hiatus, finally emerging in 2001 and playing sporadic shows
before releasing Time Stand Still in 2007, their first new album in 14
years. The Hooters’ new two-disc live album, Both Sides Live, documents four
live events over the past two years: a two night stand at Philadelphia’s
legendary Electric Factory in late 2007 and a two-night acoustic
live-in-the-studio session early last year.

The Secret Sessions disc is an interesting acoustic rereading of the band’s
electric set list in the studio, essentially recording a live album in front
of a studio audience. Stripped down and unplugged, The Secret Sessions plays
up the brilliance of these songs and the Hooters as musicians, but it’s the
Electric Factory disc that gets the blood moving. Listening to these
excellent renditions of “South Ferry Road,” “All You Zombies” and the
stratospheric “And We Danced,” I was instantly transported back to that
hair-raising Lexington show 23 years ago. And I’ll bet when they were
ripping it up at the Electric Factory that night in 2007, Lilly was probably
mugging for some photographer and giving him the old “How was that?” bit. To
him and all the rest of the Hooters, I can safely say: Two decades down the
line, pretty damn great, guys. Pretty damn great indeed.

The term “musical drummer” was invented for people like Cale Parks. His
contributions behind the drum kit as the heartbeat for both Aloha and White
William go far beyond mere timekeeping. His rhythms do not simply keep the
beat but are an integral and inextricable part of the melody and atmosphere
of the songs. As such, it’s little surprise that Parks has taken the solo
route, applying the mastery that he brings to his band situations to the
pursuit of his own personal sonic vision.

Parks’ latest solo excursion, the six-song mini-album To Swift Mars, is both
expansion and extension of his previous works which explored both minimalist
electronic beauty (2006’s Illuminated Manuscript) and the dark heart of ’80s
Synth Pop (last year’s Sparkleplace). Parks combines the two concepts to
craft a soundscape that channels a late ’70s vibe reminiscent of The Units
and early Human League as well as a Prog/Pop sensibility that propels the
material into the melodic stratosphere. Parks has a gift for tapping into
the chilly synth wash of Depeche Mode (“Eyes Won’t Shut,” “Running Family”)
and subtly injecting the humanistic warmth of Peter Gabriel or Todd Rundgren
in his synthier ’70s moments (“One at a Time,” “We Can Feel It”) for a
hybrid that is majestic and compelling. On the truncated To Swift Mars,
Parks takes another step toward the Electronic Pop magnum opus he seems
infinitely capable of producing.

The only thing more amazing than the 15 years that guitarist Walter Trout
spent sessioning and gigging for the likes of Big Mama Thornton, John Lee
Hooker, Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers is the 20 year solo
career he’s amassed since striking out on his own. Throughout his tenure as
a sideman and into his work under his own name, Trout has based his
reputation around doing unique things within the Blues form as well taking
well-worn genre cliches and casting them a new light. And while Trout never
achieved the kind of universality that Stevie Ray Vaughan enjoyed in his all
too brief time in the limelight, there’s no question that he deserved it.

Trout’s latest album, Unspoiled by Progress, is no greatest hits collection;
that would have required Trout to score a hit in the first place (he could
probably put a hits package out in Holland, where he was big enough to
displace Madonna at the top of the singles chart). Instead, Progress is a
document of some of his unreleased live triumphs over his two-decade solo
journey as well as a trio of brand new studio recordings (“They Call Us the
Working Class,” “Two Sides to Every Story,” “So Afraid of the Darkness”).

Trout’s studio work is exemplary without question but he clearly has
established his reputation on stage, and any random track on Progress proves
it, from the Santana lines of “Marie’s Mood” to his incendiary reading of
“Goin’ Down” to the slow Blues grind of “Finally Gotten Over You,” complete
with a rendering of “O Tannenbaum” in the end solo. Real Trout fans will
want Progress for “Sweet as a Flower,” featuring the last ever performance
of Trout’s longtime bassist Jimmy Trapp, who suffered a debilitating heart
attack two days after this May 2005 recording and sadly passed away three
months later. Unspoiled by Progress is not quite a live album, not quite a
hits compilation, not quite a retrospective, which is sort of metaphorical
of Walter Trout’s career; never quite what you think but always astonishing.

For a good number of years, Interpol frontman Paul Banks has played around
New York under the nom du rocque of Julian Plenti (Julian is his given
middle name; we’ll leave Plenti to your imagination) and has finally taken
the logical next step and recorded his debut album, Julian Plenti...Is
Skyscraper. It’s a great cross between visceral synth Pop (“Only If You Run”,
crunching guitar Rock (“Fun That We Have”) and lilting Folk Pop
(“Skyscraper”), with an even great range of influences than can typically
be found on Interpol albums. Banks has said in the past that he would never
try to emulate his influences because he could never measure up, but with
his Julian Plenti project he might have sailed as close as he’s ever likely
to get to sounding like Frank Black, one of his avowed heros.

Julian Plenti...Is Skyscraper swings like mad when Banks is thrashing away,
but in the quieter moments — and there are more than a few — he quivers with
that wonderfully restrained Pixies/Black energy, and all of it has the
tremulous expanse of a Brian Eno treatment. Interpol fans will clearly line
up for the Banks project, but lovers of quirky Pop in general will find
Plenti to love here.

Share Currently 3.5/5 Stars. 1 2 3 4 5

Blog (writing on the roof) covers Pictures of Then
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Busy band heads back home

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Pictures of Then.

Nearly two years ago, the self-described classic British rock band infused
with a touch of indie flair, was formed by Joe Gamble, Joe Call and Casey
Call, all natives of the Iowa Great Lakes.

A year ago, the three moved to Minneapolis, added keyboardist Tim Greenwood,
and began heavily promoting their unique sound.

“Once we got up here, we really came to fruition,” Gamble said. “It’s been
no looking back since.”

Originally, the Lakes natives thought it would be easy to occasionally make
the three-and-a-half hour jaunt back home. But, Pictures of Then’s
popularity has made that a little difficult.

“We’ve been doing over 100 shows a year, so whenever we do go home, we don’t
want to go anywhere,” Gamble said. “We end up just hanging out in
Minneapolis a lot.”

But, the band will be making a repeat appearance at the Green Wave Music
Festival on Sunday, Aug. 16, at Kenue Park in Okoboji.

“It’s cool, because it’s kind of like a homecoming for us,” Gamble said. “It
gives us a great excuse to go home, hang around Okoboji and visit our
families for a few days.”

What’s more, the members of Pictures of Then are very supportive of the
Green Wave message.

“What’s neat about Green Wave is that it’s clearly about the music, but at
the same time, it’s promoting something larger than that. And, what’s really
neat is that it’s not happening in Minneapolis, Madison or Chicago, it’s
happening in Okoboji. I don’t think people really understand how neat that
is. There are a lot of progressive cities that carry the green message, yet
Okoboji is a small town, and it’s doing one of the coolest activist
activities I’ve seen as far as getting the word out. That’s really neat.”

The Band:
Casey Call, vocals and guitar
Joe Call, drums
Joe Gamble, guitar
Tim Greenwood, keyboard and background vocals

Wicked Sea:
Check out Picture of Then’s latest album, “And the Wicked Sea,” before the
band’s performance at the Green Wave Music Festival.
The album, which dropped on Tuesday, is available for purchase on iTunes or

Minneapolis based Pictures of Then may have just released their latest
album, but that isn’t the only thing the band is excited about.
“Recently, we’ve just been licensed on five or six different MTV shows,”
said guitarist Joe Gamble.
Gamble expects the songs to be played this fall once the new television
line-up is aired.

1-2:30 p.m. Damon Dotson
3-4:30 p.m. Driftwood Fire
5-6:30 p.m. Lonesome Traveler
7-8:30 p.m. Pictures of Then

At a Glance:
What: Green Wave Music Festival
Where: Kenue Park, 2251 County Home Rd., Okoboji
When: Noon-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16
Cost: Tickets, $5; parking, $10
Contact: (712) 331-1493

This article appeared in the August 8, 2009 edition of DISCOVER! Magazine.

Posted by Lindsay at 7:20 AM
Labels: DISCOVER Magazine

COSMO GAMING review Pictures of Then
Music: Pictures of Then: And the Wicked Sea
Our Take
There has been a real resurgence of bands paying homage to old British pop
music, and though the style hasn’t become completely saturated yet there are
more groups now playing this brand of music than listeners may be able to
remember. One of the relatively recent additions to the genre is Minneapolis
based Pictures of Then, whose sophomore album And the Wicked Sea came out
earlier this week. And though these guys wear these influences on their
sleeves, they do so in such a natural way that they are likely to still
generate some buzz from those who give their music a chance.

I find it quite interesting that Pictures of Then is able to create music
that sounds so remarkably close to many of the older British pop acts,
considering that they are not from Britain at all. But despite this very
obvious fact, the instrumentalists are able to create material that sounds
completely natural and does emulate the original quite well (kind of like
when you go to see an animal like a zebra in a zoo, the habitat looks
natural but is clearly artificial). However, this may also be one of the
band’s biggest problems. You see, when one listens to a track from And the
Wicked Sea they will find that there are some decent melodic hooks that are
somewhat breezy and pleasant. Yet when one listens to the album as a whole,
every single track sounds like this and everything just kind of blends
together. I could still see Pictures of Then finding a decent sized
audience, but the group does need to work on making each song
distinguishable from the last.

Despite this relatively big flaw, one element that does help this band out
significantly would have to be their vocals, as their singer has a very
light and poppy voice that listeners are sure to enjoy. At times the singing
reminds me of Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal only without all of the twee
ranges, and it does seem likely that fans of that group will be able to
appreciate Pictures of Then. What I do also like about And the Wicked Sea is
that despite the fact that the vocals are very melodic and laid back, they
have a sense of energy that ensures they are often the focal point of the
music and don’t get lost in the background. It’s a small detail, but it does
help these guys out quite a bit.

I like And the Wicked Sea, but I don’t love it and the reason for this is
likely due to the fact that the majority of the songs sound very similar to
one another and have the same structure. If Pictures of Then can do this
then I could really see them becoming a major sensation, but for now they’re
a band that a select group of people will really get into and everyone else
will find to be good background music but not a whole lot else.
Chris Dahlberg
August 06, 2009

Pictures of Then feature on Borangutan

Interview: Pictures of Then
Author: CizzyAugust 3rd, 2009

Pictures of Then (left to right): Tim Greenwood, Joe Gamble, Casey Call, Joe
Call (Photo Copyright - Mike Minehart Photography)

(Editor’s Note: Minneapolis’ Pictures of Then will internationally release
their new album And the Wicked Sea tomorrow on Tuesday, August 4. We stole
a moment from the band and placed upon them some well-laid questions about
the new album, its inspiration, and where they most like to perform in the
Twin Cities.)

Cizzy: Minnesota has a dynamic music scene with many bands spanning many
genres. Where (or how) does Pictures of Then fit within this milieu and how
does your band define itself within it?

Tim Greenwood: Everything came about in the recording studio. There was not
a whole lot of forethought about what we wanted to do. We didn’t even
really try to go with a certain niche. Everything just fit into place in
how we create together. We just thought that “this is good and this feels

Download right click and "Save Link As"

“When It Stings” by: Pictures of Then

Cizzy: How did the creative process progress during the making of And the
Wicked Sea? Did the process change as you moved along or was the process
pretty streamlined?

Casey Call: In the studio, it was pretty streamlined. There were some songs
completely finished and some that were not. The dynamic of how we wrote the
songs changed a bit in the studio. Many of the songs were collaborative.
So it started with me coming up with a full song or a verse. Then Duane
Lundy helped the rest of us capture how we wanted to sound. We were able to
finish the songs that were not finished by bouncing a lot of ideas off of
him. Then he steered us in our creative process. Duane focused on the
holistic process. We could hear exactly how we sounded right away so we cut
the songs that did not feel right with the album. We started to realize
which songs were supposed to be on the album and which ones were not
(depending on the feeling). This way we were able to finish the CD a little
faster and try new things. What was really cool about the creative process
is that we recorded all of us playing in one room. This album is different
from the other album because we played live together.

Photo copyright: Mike Minehart Photography

Cizzy: What bands and recordings are a huge inspiration and influence in
your musical careers?

Joe Gamble: Everyone in the group has the Beatles in their story of
inspiration. One thing I really appreciate is the real, honest to God,
blues such as Zeppelin, the Black Keys and Dan Auerbach. It is such a
soulful experience for the person creating it. It is more of an honesty
issue. If the song is more honest, it is a lot easier to appreciate.

Cizzy: What things do you find inspiration in when you are writing your

CC: My imagination more than anything. Wanting to make an observation of
something that pisses me off. Or something in my life that I want to deal
with indirectly. I am a big fan of subtlety. And the Wicked Sea has a lot
of meaning behind it. And a lot of the lyrics have a lot of life experience
behind them. A lot of times I wake up, and a thought or word comes into my
head, then it becomes a song.

Cizzy: What Minnesota venues do you most enjoy playing live shows in? Why?

Joe Call: We recently made our home at the Uptown Bar. For many reasons,
one, being that it is in Uptown. There are many people checking out
something new. We tend to play to a wide variety of demographics. The
Uptown Bar frequents music heads and people in the music industry. It also
has great sound and great staff. A lot of the people that go there are not
jaded by music and are open to new bands.

Cizzy: Looking back, do you remember a point in your life where you first
realized and told yourself- ‘this is it! I am a musician. I will always
want to be a musician.’

JG: (At age eight) I got a guitar for Christmas. But my parents did not
know what to do with it. I did not know what I was doing but I liked making
noise with it. One by one though, the strings came out. I thought that it
was the coolest thing ever. But once the guitar strings were all out, I
smashed it. My parents were totally fine by it. It transitioned into
listening to music all the time and learning how to play. When I was
thirteen, I got the urge to play music and I got another electric guitar and
learned to play. I knew that it was me making those noises happen and that
was an exciting experience for me.

(Pictures of Then will play the Uptown Bar on September 11 w/ Van Gobots and
Guystorm. A review of Pictures of Then’s CD Release show can be found here
on Borangutan. And the Wicked Sea may be purchased via the band’s website.)


Pictures of Then – Website / Myspace

Pictures of Then on Rock And Roll And Meandering Nonsense

Monday, August 03, 2009
Review: Pictures of Then - Pictures of Then and the Wicked Sea
Label: self-released

Released: August 4, 2009

If Jeff Lynne was more quirky than slick, he may have found himself in the
neighborhood of Pictures of Then and the Wicked Sea. From the start, the
band makes it clear that they have both bombastic, big guitars as well as
carefully crafted hooks up their sleeve, yet they manage to be grounded at
the same time. They can be as easily driven by huge chords or swaggering
riffs as they can be by acoustic intimacy or 70s countrified pop. Like
Lynne, they borrow heavily from the Beatles' sound, but not as much from
that band's creative adventurousness. While they do operate in a safer zone,
it doesn't make them dull, because they give their influences a unique
voice. Throughout, there's enough hint of indie cleverness to bind it all
together, no matter which path a song takes, ultimately finding the happy
ground between wild and careful and drawing on the best of both worlds.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 6/10
Overall: 7/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.
Labels: 2009, 7, review, rock

posted by bob_vinyl at 11:36 PM

Delusions of Adequacy review Pictures of Then

Pictures Of Then – And The Wicked Sea
August 3, 2009 by Adam Costa
Category: Albums (and EPs)

Pictures Of Then - And The Wicked Sea
An overwhelming sense of guilt is the only thing I feel as I review this
second long player from Minnesota’s Pictures Of Then. Here’s a band that’s
had its music featured on two different MTV reality shows and even toured as
part of the network’s Choose or Lose Tour. This is also the same lot of
musicians who garnered decent billing at four respectable American music
festivals, and charmed a majority of the indie music critic coterie in the
process. Search the Web, and you’d be hard pressed to find any sort of
slander about the quartet that’s been dubbed an “amazing blend of reverent
classicism and modern vision.” Which brings me back to my guilt: I am
altogether lacking sentiment of any kind toward Pictures Of Then. The group’s
sound certainly doesn’t make my jaw drop with inklings of a musical
revolution, but on the contrary, it’s not bad music by any marker, either.
If I were to invoke a favorite buzz word of the aughties, the only one that
comes to mind is “meh.”

Certainly though, these guys deserve substantial credit for everything that
they’re able to successfully incorporate into their songs. Listening to And
The Wicked Sea, you’re likely to find fragments of Britpop, psychedelic
folk, alt-country, and indie rock spread out across its twelve tracks in
equal measure. There’s no weak link to be found here; Pictures Of Then sound
remarkably confident no matter which zeitgeist they seem to be chasing. The
album’s bookends, entitled “A Glimpse Of Dawn” and “Lands Uncharted”
respectively, feature the same yearning melody set to divergent styles. The
former has its roots firmly planted in the driving thunder of indie rock,
while the latter (also the album’s finest moment by a long shot) is a
psychedelia-tinged meditation on time and space with ghostly vocal harmonies
and lush piano chords. Yet for every genre that finds itself in the capable
hands of Pictures Of Then, there’s another group out there who has done it
better. That opening track? Were Casey Call’s lead vocals more unhinged, it’d
be a fantastic Modest Mouse tune. The closing number recalls Grizzly Bear,
recalling Radiohead.

And so it goes. Most of the songs on And The Wicked Sea seem to reference
either the wryness of Spoon or the fractured sentimentality of Wilco. “When
It Stings,” in addition to being absurdly catchy and fun with its jaunty
drumbeat and handclaps, finds Call ironically singing, “We won’t be spoon
fed like before.” With gossamer falsetto vocals and a tender acoustic guitar
groove, “Ahead” could’ve very well appeared on Wilco’s Sky Blue Blue back in
2007. Featuring an appealing dusty back roads sort of vibe (whistles
included), the same argument could be made for “Questions Anyone?”

“Nowhere Is Somewhere,” despite making ubiquitous use of that earworm rhythm
from Coldplay’s “Clocks,” is a welcome change in mood from the brash and
sometimes acerbic tone of the album’s sequencing. More of a piano driven
ballad, the tune works well as an ironic hipster ballad, replete with a
chorus that suggests, “I’d rather go nowhere together / than somewhere
alone.” If there’s any other track here that bears mentioning, it’s “Wicked
Sea.” While certainly not the album’s most affecting number, it helps those
who have never seen Pictures Of Then in concert understand the origins of
their stellar live reputation. With timbres that suggest, of all things, Van
Halen’s “Poundcake,” (remember that drill?), the dual guitar attack of Call
and Joe Gamble has a jagged and angular edge to it. With an occasional
crackle and howl in the lead vocals, the song flirts briefly with punk rock
chaos before quickly segueing into the austere beauty of the final track.

I want so badly to feel something discernible about this band, be it disgust
or profound adoration. I suppose then, that my guilt for not falling for
them on first (or fourth) listen has given way to frustration, as evidenced
within the fragile atmosphere of “Stuck”: “Stuck on this chain / makes it
easy to complain.” Meh.

File Under: alt. country, Britpop, indie rock, psychedelic folk,

Bring on Mixed Review cover Pictures of Then

Pictures Of Then – And The Wicked Sea – Review
Posted by Staff on August 2, 2009 – 1:23 pm -

Release Date: August 4th, 2009
Record Label: None
Genre: Jangly 60s Indie Rock

And here we are, listening to yet another 60s pop influenced indie rock band, borrowing heavily from both The Beatles and Built to Spill. Pictures of Then, hailing from Minneapolis, MN pack out a twelve track album with jangly tunes that honestly leave much to be desired. The two cornerstones when writing songs are to be well written and to be memorable. Pictures of Then seem to be lacking on both fronts.

After skipping over the fairly boring intro track of “A Glimpse of Dawn”, you get to “When it Stings”, providing you a really familiar sound, pulling from Midwestern indie greats The Promise Ring. This is great news if you can get over singer Casey Call’s voice, which can at times be like pulling a cheese grater up your forearm. A couple of songs later is “Nowhere is Somewhere”, a track that actually shows what the band is doing right. When they put their minds to it, they can write a clean and catchy song. Only in the next song “One Day”, the band shows that they once again have no real sense of being an original band, with beats and grooves that sound like they were cut from Elton John’s “Rocketman”.

Unfortunately, this record seems to pander to the hipster suburbanite indie rock kids as opposed to having a sweeping, genre-less appeal to fans. The truth is that Pictures of Then will surely catch on and rock the 16-35 demographic of people who think that shopping at Hollister makes them awesome. This will band will be proof that they’re “not just radio kids”. There is no substance or memorable material on this album spare for “Nowhere is Somewhere”. After two rotations of the album, I felt like I was listening to James Taylor, Elton John, and Built to Spill all rolled into one band. There’s nothing wondrous about this record. If someone gives you a copy for free, check it out but don’t bother wasting money on it. ~Staff

Score: 1.5/5

Track Listing:
1. A Glimpse of Dawn (Intro)
2. When it Stings
3. The Big Sell
4. Nowhere is Somewhere
5. One Day
6. Stuck
7. Ahead
8. 7th Street
9. History of Bones
10. Questions Anyone?
11. Wicked Sea
12. Lands Uncharted

Pictures of Then in The Gauntlet

Spun: Pictures of Then
Jordyn Marcellus

July 16, 2009
Print this story And The Wicked Sea

Credit: (Independent Release)


In the era of overwrought and over-arranged pop music, it's nice to have a little bit of uncomplicated Americanized Brit-pop. With And the Wicked Sea, Minnesota-natives Pictures of Then don't try to shoot for the moon with epic instrumentation and high-minded orchestration but strip their arrangments down to just make some nice rock 'n' roll.

And the Wicked Sea opens with the high-flying vocals of "A Glimpse of Dawn," which moves into the more sharply rollicking first single "When it Stings." The smart guitar lick and the odd synth blast make "Sting" a great pop track, with the instrumentation further accenting vocalist Casey Call's silky smooth singing.

While Sea's songs are all solid, tracks like the grooving "One Day" offer up something a little different from their normal straight-up Brit-influenced sound. "One Day" is the sexiest song on the album, a mellow slow-burn that builds to a rousing crescendo. Don't you dare play it near your sister, lest she choose to give herself over to Call and company for chaste make outs and hand holding.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


THe BAcksliders
Thank You
Self-Released; 2009

When I initially came across the music of THe BAcksliders, You’re Welcome was brimming with solid rock chops and had plenty of energy to spare. Yet, though the band’s no-frills approach to making garage-y ‘50s bar rock was somewhat appealing, my primary concern with the band’s aesthetic was that I felt that the songs were too short and needed a bit more room in which the music could breathe. So when the Dallas, TX-based quartet returned with Thank You, I was curious to see if they had “corrected” what I felt needed addressing in the music. Much to my surprise, when I heard a band even more deeply entrenched in its genre of choice, I was astonished at how I enjoyed the music more than before and gained a better appreciation for the sounds at play.

To put it most directly, the dirty, ragged brand of bluesy bar rock performed by THe BAcksliders is fairly infectious. There’s a strength in the brevity of the group’s songs that I hadn’t detected earlier, especially when coupled with the simplistic production style. There’s nothing fancy going on here, with very little post-recording production tweaks and tricks seemingly in effect, as if the band went straight into the sound board to keep things as raw as possible. More importantly, as demonstrated by songs like “Have You Ever Been Down,” “Soul,” and “Twisted,” the band’s gritty, confident attitude carries the music down various winding, bending paths as the songs detail assorted stories from the road and about assorted hard luck characters. Thus, even though the quality of efforts like “Maybellene Don’t” and “Bitter Days” don’t quite match up to the greater whole, I must say “Thank You” for Thank You.

grayceon review on MAELSTROM


GRAYCEON - This Grand Show - CD - Vendlus - 2008

review by: Chaim Drishner

This Grand Show is a surprisingly great folk / thrash metal combo of epic proportions. Grayceon is fronted by Amber Asylum's electric cello player (who presides both over her vocals and the cello), as well as a couple of dudes (drums and guitar/vocals) from a rather unknown band by the name of Walken.

This wedding of classical versus metal approach has turned to be an interesting and ambitious project. This Grand Show combines the sad and highly contemplative tunes of Amber Asylum and a more metallic, rock-oriented vibe that drives and pushes the musical plot forward and lends it its dynamic and abrasive character.

This Grand Show is ear candy on many accounts. The somber cello coupled with the powerful female voice and the progressive, folk-oriented elements enveloped by thrashing guitar and interesting rhythms, make this album a varied, highly original and very much entertaining release.

Some of the tracks are a tad bizarre and unorthodox, devoid of the aforementioned elements, but more in the dark ambient school. Some parts are sad, neoclassical lullabies in the Amber Asylum tradition, while others more straightforward and more simply structured. A few incorporate all of the above. This Grand Show is exactly what the title suggests: it is a weird, original, highly diverse and wonderful album. Get this grand show. (9/10)

LOZEN Show Preview on Crappy Indie Music Blog for portland show AUG 5th @ east end

Monday, July 20, 2009
Turn this thing around, I'm going home. Lozen show preview 8/5

Now, not to date myself, if it isn't already painfully obvious that I am old and uncool, but I went to high school in the first half of the nineties. This was good for me in many respects, as I had moved from a small town in the rural south and shed my school brain image by growing very long hair and developing a habit of inappropriately wearing bathrobes long before "Pulp Fiction" of "The Big Lebowski" were a gleam in either creator's respective eyes. That was fine. This brief window of respectability enabled me to do a number of important things. One of them was to date beautiful girls in Doc Martens who listened to Bauhaus. That's not what I came here to talk about, though. The single most important thing from back then: the concerts.

Yes, the glorious shows. I think the very first show I saw when I first moved out here was GWAR, in some warehouse. I don't think they even had an opening band. There were so many shows after that with something about the sound of them that concerts now (or before, even) don't have. The Melvins, White Zombie, Slayer, Voivod, Blackhappy, Babes In Toyland, Anthrax, Prong, The Obsessed, Clutch, Corrosion of Conformity, The Misfits... not to mention all the great local bands (such as Wartime Chocolate, source of the title quote). Mind you, I've mentioned pretty much all metal bands, but that's germane.

I'm not sure what it is exactly about that sound. Was it hearing those bands at the Pine St. or the Roseland, or was it me being 14? Are we talking zeitgeist? On to brass tacks. Lozen's bio page mentions that the members, Hozoji and Justine, met when in '96, and while they started playing music much later, I have a feeling their musical synergy arose from the earlier millennium. What are their influences? I don't know. I'd like to. Yes, I know they list them on their myspace. No, it doesn't count.

When I first heard of Lozen, they had played Bob's Java Jive the night before Coeur Machant did, and my interest was definitely piqued. As far as what they sound like, on their music sampled here: well, in a refreshing counterexample to my usual method, I can't compare them to a single group. Instead they evoke that '90s sound that I have been trying to present above. Most people think grunge when you say "nineties sound," and that is why I went to such and elaborate and roundabout way of getting to it. Lozen is heavy. They thunder. Gracefully. They stomp all over shit, beautifully, and now that I have heard their music I am grateful their peeps notified us of the show, because I will be there to see them rip it up live.

Pretending that I am 14 again.

Lozen plays the East End August 5th.

THe BAcksliders review on WILDY's World

Review: The BAcksliders - Thank You

The BAcksliders - Thank You
2009, The BAcksliders

The BAcksliders are a Dallas, Texas quartet featuring Kim Bonner, also known as Kim Pendleton, lead vocalist of Vibrolux. The BAcksliders are filled out by Chris Bonner on guitar, Jason Bonner on bass and Taylor Young on drums. The BAcksliders play an aggressive form of Garage Rock based in classic Rhythm N Blues, and at their best will make you want to get up and dance. The BAcksliders 3rd album, Thank You, was released in May of 2009.

Thank You opens with Have You Ever Been Down, sounding a bit like Janice Joplin gone punk. Old school Rhythm N Blues with pink attitude makes you want to dance. The guitar work and energy are great, and there's a bit of a Garage quality to the overall sound. Maybelline Don't is a well-written tune that's highly listenable. Vocalist Kim Bonner has the rasp of Joplin without the extreme screaming dynamics. Last Call might be subtitled "Theme For A Career Bar Band", as it plays off the continuing experiences of the band on the road. The second half of the disc just doesn't match up the energy of the songs above with one exception. The BAcksliders' take on Little Richard's Keep A Knockin' blows the roof off.

The BAcksliders really know how to rock, even if they don't always sound the part. The musicianship throughout Thank You is outstanding. Vocalist Kim Bonner is competent but doesn't set the world on fire here. Male vocalist Chris Bonner was excellent; it would be good to hear more from him in the future. For the time being, Thank You made a strong if uneven first impression.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

THe BAcksliders review on ROCK And ROLL And Meandering Nonsense

Thursday, July 16, 2009
THe BAcksliders - Thank You

Label: self-released and free!

Released: May 16, 2009

Thank You's title may prefigure last year's You're Welcome, but the sound is moving forward. THe BAcksliders don't refine their previous effort, so much as distill what's clearly in their hearts. Whether it's the flat out energy of "Have You Ever Been Down" or the hard-edged soulfullness of "Last Call," the band has a great handle on the pure, simple energy of rock n roll. As further proof, they do right by Little Richard (a backslider himself, at times) on the cover "Keep a Knockin'" and channel the Shangri-Las on their own "Twisted."

Kim Bonner's voice has that beautiful rock n roll imperfection. It's raspy and gritty, relying on raw passion more than range and control, but it has so much substance that it's something almost tangible to hold on to. She works perfectly with the loose, open swagger of the band that bangs out songs with just enough hook to catch you and plenty of grit to hold you. They capture the wild mix of soul and garage rock that ruled late 60s Detroit and take it on a trip through their home state of Texas' fine tradition of outlaw music. As their name implies, the music embodies the internal conflict between worldly desire and divine goodness. I always hope the good wins, but for the BAcksliders, it still seems up in the air.

Best of all, you can download the album for free, no strings attached:

Thank You

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 7/10



More free stuff: Rootsy alt-country combo the Backsliders’ new record, Thank You, is available for both streaming and a gratis download at the band’s site. Download “Have You Ever Been Down?” …

Giant Squid Feature Interview on BLISTERING

Giant Squid - Undersea Dreaming
By: MetalGeorge Pacheco

blistering here

Hope you have yer reading glasses on, folks, because what follows is a fairly epic convo between your friendly neighborhood Blister, and Aaron Gregory and Jackie Perez-Gratz, both of the transcontinental subspecies, Giant Squid. “Why so lengthy,” you ask? Well, simply because the collective’s latest elpee, The Ichthyologist, is such a barnstormer that we just had to invade their personal space with question after intrusive question. Trust us, once you heard this record for yourself, you’ll be wondering where this Squid was all your life. From complex jazz arrangements, to delicate melodic sections, to mellow lounge bits (including brass) to that trusted ol’ heaviness, Giant Squid is as stylistically massive as their multi-limbed namesake. Add in guest appearances from Karyn Crisis and Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering) to the mix, and you have a “post-metal” act so intense that it defies every categorization. Isis better watch their back; there’s competition nipping at their heels. Where do I even begin, guys….seriously? The Ichthyologistis so much to take in, but I’m honestly blown away. I adore this record. Do you even take people’s perceptions into account when writing or recording, though? Do you ever feel aware that what you’re creating might be “difficult”, “progressive”, or just something which fans generally need to spend some quality time with in order to appreciate?

Aaron Gregory [guitars/vocals/keyboards]: Ah awesome! Thanks so much for the kind words. See, we definitely care what people think. It feels wonderful to have you express your adoration for this record. That reassures me that we did something right! Because, honestly, there are times when you get so engrossed in making a record, especially in the studio, you start to doubt yourself and the whole thing. Do we just suck, and will this even sound like music someone will give a shit about? It felt this way while recording at times especially since The Ichthyologistis a sophomore release, and we know people all over the world are going to hear it. Critics will be even more critical this time around, ‘cause they might be hung up on what they loved from the first record. It can be nerve-racking a bit, but then you just remind yourself that people’s opinion was never the reason you started playing music in the first place, and not to get caught up in it. It just becomes a sometimes annoying by product of exposure.

And yes, I think ALL truly good music should be absorbed for a while. All my favorite records were that way. We got a review on The Ichthyologistfrom a critic who hadn’t had the record more than a couple days, but wrote a review immediately with some kind of far-fetched judgments that were just off the mark. Giant Squid always creates stuff from far left field; if you’re ever going to “get it,” it most likely won’t be immediately, or even within the first several listens. This is art. Take some time to absorb it.

I’ve also read in some of the reviews of our music being difficult, but that this record is more approachable than the last, or vice versa (which is funny). The ironic thing is, if we’re difficult to anyone, I think Giant Squid is difficult for people that like difficult music!! We’re too melodic, we play soft/pretty parts constantly, there is no token metal cliché elements going on in this record, such as double bass or guitar shredding (probably because we can’t do either), and my voice can be out there for people, especially if all you listen to are bands with grown men trying to sound like goblins. Because of that, and other things in our mix, we know there is a good chance that extreme metal people who might casually rock bands like Origin or Behold… The Arctopus all day are probably going to hate us, and wonder why metal critics hype the band so much. I mean, are we really even metal? Do we have to be? Will we lose all this great press we’re getting?! Well fuck then. We’re SO metal then. Yes, that is a Rickenbacker guitar in my hand. Next question.

Seriously though, we never, ever said we were metal. The rest of the world did. And we’re proud to be considered that, regardless if we feel it or not. I just get perturbed when metal heads get mad about Giant Squid because critics tend to describe us in dramatic ways that may make them think they’re going to get some Leviathan-era Mastodon type songs, but instead get something more along the line of Black Heart Procession meets Blonde Redhead jams, just with really loud parts. I think it’s that reality though, that actually makes us drastically more approachable and possibly more appealing to the rest of the world than most heavy, underground bands, all the while never losing a drop of our integrity in the process. Further on this, is defying categorization something you consciously strive for? How much impact does critical or fan praise/response have on Giant Squid as a band, and as songwriters?

Jackie Perez-Gratz [vocals/cello]: Indirectly, we may strive for defying categorization, but only because part of our process is bringing in ideas that inspire us and putting them directly into the music. There isn't a specific genre or a band we are trying to imitate, so we tend to let the narrative move us in the direction it follows. For example, in writing Mormon Island - wherein the fiction is a woman's body that was found before her town was flooded to form a lake, because she was murdered and buried beneath a church unknown to anyone - we wanted the song to convey an underwater creepiness that had a church-music vibe. So, what we came up with are all the various sounds that we associate with that. I suppose if creepy underwater church-music was a popular musical genre we would be totally ripping it off! Basically, I'm just saying that by not aiming for any category, but instead creating soundscapes to convey the feeling of a certain place or situation instead, we usually don't end up writing in a common style.

Gregory: I don’t think we consciously try to defy anything. In ways I wish we could be easily categorized sometimes! It would be much easier to talk to strangers when the token question arises. Having said that though, I feel Giant Squid might feel like it defies categorization because extremely defined categorization is so out of hand today, especially with modern metal, where it’s the absolute worst. You just don’t see that rather pretentious need to perfectly categorize music down to the sub-sub-sub genre in any other musical genre, not even jazz. But, unless you’re trying to describe their music to an eighty year old woman, nowadays you couldn’t talk about even larger bands like Cattle Decapitation or Nile, by referring to them simply as “death metal”. You have to describe them so precisely in terms like “gore grind” this, and “melodic death” that, or whatever. If you pull Giant Squid out of the “metal” quick sand pit, you’ll find it suddenly isn’t a hard band to categorize.

Perez: In regards to the impact of critical or fan praise, we’re definitely aware of it, but it doesn't necessarily drive our musical choices. If we wanted to give the fans what they really wanted, we would have put out another album that sounds just like Metridium Fields. Instead, we went a different direction that still very much sounds like Giant Squid, but it's a direction that shows the growth the band has gone through as musicians and song writers. In your eyes, is Giant Squid a “progressive” band? What sort images does that word evoke to you? Do any of them fit what you feel Giant Squid is doing?

Perez: Yes, definitely. When I hear the word 'progressive' used to describe music, I think of fresh sounds, or fresh juxtapositions of familiar sounds, and I also think of new ways to approach writing music. I believe Giant Squid is offering both of these things.

Gregory: Giant Squid is rock. Okay, we down tune and embrace fuzz guitar tones, so… we’re stoner rock? I guess, sure. I’m okay with that. I like listening to us when I’m stoned! And yeah, we’re progressive rock too, absolutely. But, we don’t have fourteen changes of musical style in one song, or constantly changing time signatures just for the hell of it. It’s definitely not Mr. Bungle or Ozric Tentacles. This album takes larger steps forward from the debut, in a big way. Was there a conscious effort to really push boundaries this time around? How did you feel about how the last album represented you, and where do you think The Ichthyologisttakes the band in comparison?

Gregory: Metridium Fields (The End Records release) is a special record, but it truly didn’t represent the band who recorded it. Don’t get me wrong, we all loved those songs, but the line up that originally wrote those tracks had changed a lot since then. The original Metridium Field (the first self released version) was the perfect representation of who we were at that moment, as was Monster In The Creek for that era and line up. But Metridium Fields was more or less the Monster line up re-recording the old Metridium Field songs, as well as our producer’s (Jason Rufuss Sewell) interpretation of who he thought the band was on that record.

Thank god, The Ichthyologist actually represents the band that we are today. It also represents us emotionally and musically. We’re a little more pissed this time around than so sad, which makes since for me. Metridium Fields was written after living with the shitty aftermath of my parents splitting, and then losing my Father in a motorcycle accident, selling his legacy in the form of a beautiful mountain home, and watching my Grandmother die slowly every day. The Ichthyologist was written after I barely made it through a brutal divorce and then Giant Squid being dropped by our label. Musically, we were all so burnt out on playing those old Metridium songs since most of that line up had left long ago, and their was a lot of emotional baggage wrapped up in them. For the first time in a while, the people who wrote and recorded our latest record are also the people who perform it live with us on stage. That’s been amazing. Nobody is having to play parts they didn’t write.

And as far as pushing the boundaries, if you hear us doing that on The Ichthyologist, then that’s fucking rad, because there was no conscious effort to push anything when we wrote those songs. They came out as naturally as anything we’ve ever written. It seems impossible for Bryan and I to write anything that sounds remotely orthodox. You should have heard our old bands just out of high school! I wished someone had came in back then and stopped us from trying too hard to “push the boundaries”! My only concern going in to the writing process for The Ichthyologist was just making sure that we had a full, ten song album, and we didn’t stretch out five or six songs to make up an hour of music.

PAGE 2 How far back does the songwriting go with this record? Did you feel any pressure to follow up anything? Did this material go through many changes from their inception to what we’re hearing now?

Perez: “Throwing A Donner Party At Sea” was written by Bryan and Aaron about five years ago and it appeared on the Monster In The Creek EP but in a slightly different form than it does on The Ichthyologist. Some of the other songs have riffs here or there that have been stewing in our minds for a couple of years, but the songs were all written in about eight months. After a major transplant of band members and several line-up changes in a row, writing just wasn't possible until we settled down. But when we did, the album just poured out of us. We needed it so badly and without it we couldn't live as a band. The writing of this album was a healing process for all of us.

Gregory: We had started writing “Dead Man Slough” and “Rubicon Wall” in 2007 while jamming again for a while with the original drummer from Metridium Field, Jason DiVincenzo. There are even some riffs that I had been throwing around since the Austin days that never stuck, such as the main groove from “Dead Man Slough” and the intro from “Blue Linckia”. Actually, “Emerald Bay” - which we called something like “Last Bottle of Rum” or something - we were already playing in its entirety back in those days, almost to the point where we were going to perform it live on our second tour, but then it got shelved. It ended up being one of the last songs I showed everyone right before we went in to record The Ichthyologist. How would you say composition occurs, anyway? Do you guys still work the same way? What’s the process like?

Gregory: Giant Squid used to be way more about of all of us jamming in a room, stoned and/or drunk, whatever, and eventually a wall of melodies would emerge after just chugging away off of one persons riff for twenty minutes. Then we’d argue about how long to do it, when certain instruments should drop out to create dynamics, and whether it should be a verse or a chorus?! We do most of this the same way, except now Jackie and I will sit and write together, usually jamming of one or the other’s riffs, then we’ll bring that to Bryan who lays down his parts as we just sit there and jam on it for him repeatedly. Chris lays down his beats at the next practice, and then we start arguing about what goes where and for how long! We rarely ever sit at home by ourselves to write our parts privately, except for when I’m writing the second guitar leads and keyboards, which I need it all prerecorded on a four track to make sure I don’t write terribly clashing stuff. I created some messes on this record because I would write a keyboard part to one guitar riff, then another guitar lead to that same initial guitar riff, then vocals in the same way, hoping in theory that all three separate elements should work together since they were all written against the same initial melody. It made for some interesting dissident moments. Matt Bayles would joke about me “redefining jazz”. Then before I could take that as a compliment, he’d promptly eliminate the offending part in the mix! Doh!

A lot of time lyrics and vocals usually come once the song is fairly complete, though they may cause us to lengthen parts or whatever, which we did with songs on The Ichthyologist, even after we tracked them. I’d have to sing about all these things by the end of a verse, so we’d edit to make it longer. Problem solved. You incorporate so many disparate styles into this amalgamation called Giant Squid. Metal, rock, jazz, ambience, progression…even a laid back, lounge atmosphere all make their presence known, yet it all works and melds so seamlessly. Where are you all coming from inspirationally? Is this the whole point, to be this nebulous, impossible-to-pin-down force?

Gregory: Again, like I elaborated on before in the first questions, there really isn’t any point other than to create moods or pictures in your heads. I want a sense of escapism when you listen to Giant Squid. I want it to take you somewhere else, like a great graphic novel. I want you to put it in your car stereo and drive down the coast. I want you to lose yourself in it.

I could give a shit if anyone can or can’t pin down the band’s style. I think that it’s a sad portrayal of today’s music, even in the underground, that it’s such a big deal when a band like Giant Squid mixes different styles seamlessly. The Doors did it in every song forty plus years ago. Radiohead does it on every record today. But in the underground these days, it seems bands stick to their formulas and sonic esthetic in every song. If they do change it up with styles, they usually do it in some extreme fashion, turning on a dime to change it up mid chorus so it’s all Mr. Bungle-like, and then everyone gets really worked up and calls it genius. “Wow, to go from black metal to bee bop jazz in two beats! Unfathomable!” That can be fun to watch at a small bar when you’re drunk, but that’s not even musical to me. Skillful yes, but not musical. That tends to come off more masturbatory and showy than anything.

One of my favorite bands lately is Grails, because they seem stylistically to be so many things at once. If they had amazing vocals, they’d be one of the greatest bands today. Speaking of which, the vocals are so diverse; I’m hearing everything from Tom Waits on “Dead Man Slough” and “Sevengill”, to Serj Tankian on “Throwing A Donner Party At Sea” and “Blue Linckia.” This is not an insult, by the way! This isn’t even mentioning Jackie’s contributions, or those of your guest artists! Are you approaching the vocals with this sort of narrative atmosphere, considering this album is based on Aaron’s own graphic novel?

Gregory: Absolutely. If the lyrics are meant to be sung by an old man who is part sea star, living at the bottom of San Francisco Bay, hoping his old lover will jump off the Golden Gate some day so he can have some last words, then that is what I try to capture, such as in “Sevengill.” Or, like Jackie mentioned before, she needed to sound like the fragile, forgotten spirit of a women murdered and left at the bottom of a lake in “Mormon Island.” “Emerald Bay” is a drunk and delirious man in a small boat, seeing things in the water as he waits for his eventual demise, contemplating whether to drink his last swig of rum. When he hears a voice in his head from the lover he lost, almost taunting him, those lines are harmonized with me by Jackie to represent that.

Not all the songs are meant to be that theatric, and are just more pissed off, and so I’ll sing in my more natural voice, which unfortunately gets labeled as the Serj voice. That is a comparison that I don’t necessarily take insulting, it just seems really limiting. I was singing in punk bands sixteen years ago and haven’t changed my vocal style much since. I still worship the Subhumans and Dead Kennedys, and so I get frustrated when singers like Jello Biafra or Dick Lucas are hardly ever mentioned when people describe my voice. Whatever. [I hear the Jello influence, now that he mentions it.-mg]

I’ll never mind being compared to Tom Waits. Speaking of which, would you mind telling us a bit more about this lyrical thread and theme? How did the novel idea come about, and was it difficult to work that into this body of music?

Gregory: It’s based off of an elaborate story that I’m writing in to the form of a graphic novel of the same name. But, the album is a much more poetic, abstract telling of the origin events of the main protagonist, which in some obvious and some not so obvious ways, reflects my own life and what I’ve gone through in the last couple years.

Basically in order to survive what he’s gone through, he ends up becoming something more as he adapts rather inhuman forms of self preservation, which brings in the significance of sea stars to the whole record. What follows are moments of revenge, murder, delirium, self doubt, and eventually suicide. There is a bit of time traveling that takes place through out the record, which won’t make a whole lot of sense till you read the graphic novel. But still, those songs as well as all the others can definitely be interpreted in whichever ways the listener wishes. Anyone who has been lied to, betrayed, manipulated, or taken advantage of will hear that familiar anger in these songs, whether or not the song is “supposed to be” about sharks or sea star men.

PAGE 3 Going back to “Sevengill” for a moment. Anneke’s vocals are gorgeous, as always—truly a coup for the band, as is Karyn’s always devastating presence. How were you able to get everyone together, and how was it working with all the guests? I’m guessing that Kris and Lorraine were kinda like family, getting involved in the whole thing, right?

Perez: Well, my actual family IS on the album! My sister, Cat Gratz, graciously appears on “Emerald Bay” playing oboe. But, yes, Kris, Lorraine, Karyn, Nate, Anneke are all like family to us. Kris, Lorraine and I have collaborated for several years in Amber Asylum, Karyn is a collaborator of Aaron's and friend to us all, Nate goes waaay back to Aaron and Bryan's Sacramento days, and I believe he played trumpet on some of the very first Giant Squid recordings. And I cannot go without mentioning Billy Anderson here as well, because he’s an unofficial member of Giant Squid and is truly one of our biggest supporters. Billy tracked all of the local musicians except for Kris at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, CA. We had everyone come in for three hour chunks of time back to back over the period of two days/nights. It was a lot of fun just playing director, and not having to do any of the work myself! All the guests came in and slammed it out like it was nothing for them. I made Billy play Karyn's vocal tracks solo over and over because I just couldn't believe such a sound could possibly come out of such a sweet little woman.

Anneke and Kris recorded themselves off-site and their contributions are not without special stories because of it. With Anneke, we didn't get her vocal tracks until the very day we were supposed to do the final mixing of the song, “Sevengill.” We were so stressed out and nervous, because we had given her lyrics and mapped out where in the song there was room for her to sing, but we had no idea what she was going to do. Was it going to work? What was the song going to sound like? After we got the tracks late that afternoon and heard them with the mix for the first time we were smiling from ear to ear. What were we thinking? Of course she was going to sound amazing. Of course her performance was going to be gorgeous and inspire the jaw-gaping reverence we were hoping for! We’re so thankful she wanted to be a part of it.

Kris gave us multiple violin tracks and they were not very obvious how they were to be placed within the context of the song, “Mormon Island.” She had given us some idea of what we should listen for in order to align her tracks properly and we relayed this information to Matt when he was doing the preliminary mix of the song. When we first heard violin in the mix we thought the violins sounded truly supernatural and perfectly dissonant for the narrative of the song. Later we found out that her tracks were not placed correctly at all, but in fact were placed several beats earlier than she had intended which is why there is such dissonance. By that time, we were so in love with the way it sounded and committed to the mix the way it was, so we decided to leave it. I am a firm believer that sometimes mistakes lead to people's best ideas! How was it laying everything down in the studio, then, particularly with Matt at the helm?

Perez: Recording was challenging for all of us, including Matt. It was definitely worth the effort, though, because we’re all so happy with the way the album turned out. Musically, Matt really strived to get the best possible performances from us, which sometimes proved difficult because we would get tired of playing the same section of a song over and over, or we would lose sight of the emotion behind the music because we were trying so hard to nail it technically. We also had limited time recording so towards the end when we were overdubbing all the extra instruments and vocals, Matt bit his tongue and let us track everything we wanted, even if he didn't think we had enough time or whether or not he liked the idea in the first place. He had the enormous task of mixing everything together so that it sounded cohesive and not like a garage sale, so we could understand his position, but we had a vision for the songs so we just pushed forward. In the end, some of our ideas ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, but other ideas turned out exactly the way we envisioned them and surprised everyone, including Matt. I think the songs didn't really sound like much of anything until the final stage when all the pieces were put into place. Certain songs that band members originally did not favor turned out to be their top picks, because the songs made so much more sense to them once the vocals and additional melodies were added. There was a lot of faith held between us during the recording process. What kind of transformation-if any-would you say the music goes through when filtered through the live performance? How about you as people? Would you say that you yourselves are severely affected when you unleashed the live set?

Gregory: It’s definitely more raw, for damn sure. Obviously we’re only a four piece and again, we can’t really be knocking out trumpet and keyboard parts yet until we get some additional people on stage.

It’s also nice and loud and kind of pissed sounding when we play live. Performing sometimes inspires a bit of anger in me, personally. Maybe because of the logistics of playing little clubs is always a nightmare, and we can never hear ourselves that well vocally, and so singing in key becomes a bitch. But we don’t dare turn down too much, because it generally sounds weak and ineffective, since these types of clubs have little sound reinforcement or token inexperienced sound guys, who don’t know what to make of a band that isn’t just all loud riffs and screaming.

Honestly playing live is just really emotional for me, and so if I’m feeling indifference from a crowd, it tends to make me more pissed, and thus making me play louder, harder, whatever. We’re not ever there to entertain anyone, we’re there to share, and some crowds don’t grasp that. I’m not up there regurgitating riffs and memorized lyrics. I’m actually trying to go somewhere in my head where these songs exist as stories or feelings more than verses and choruses to be performed in order. Personally, I could see you guys playing this album in its entirety, and I’d be perfectly happy! Do you think The Ichthyologistlends itself enough to this narrative that you COULD pull off something like that? Will we be able to catch you guys live this summer?

Perez: Wow, that would be a major feat for us indeed! We’d have to add about three more people to the band and clone Aaron at least twice. There are so many intricacies with the various instrumentations and melodies that are weaved throughout the album, a lot of it would be very difficult to pull off live without additional musicians. That doesn't mean we wouldn't consider it; we’re already currently performing several of the songs from The Ichthyologistwith just the bare essentials. But if we were to attempt to perform the album in its entirety, I would hope we could incorporate more of the instruments and layering that's on the recording. How do you go about incorporating all of the diverse instrumentation—Jackie’s cello, for example—into the music?

Gregory: Jackie just writes perfect, timeless sounding cello riffs that compliment anything she puts them up against. Incorporating her was never a problem. She’s absolutely no different than having a second guitar player. The songs either wrap around her, or vice versa, but it’s never a case of, “shit, where do we fit cello parts!?” No, we write everything together simultaneously.

And when it comes to the guest stuff, I always just tell them to play whatever they want, and usually wherever they want, though there are moments in certain songs where I would picture a trumpet part or whatever. We would then take all this riffing and soloing that they lay down, and just have our way with it, using pieces here and there depending on how they benefit the songs. That was definitely the case for Lorraine’s flute and Nate’s trumpets.

With Kris Force, we just gave her free reign of the entire song. I knew she could never do wrong (not as if anybody else would, but you know what I mean).

As far as Cat’s oboe parts, Jackie had written them out ahead of time, as she knows her sister doesn’t like to just jam on stuff since she’s classically trained. Cat then transferred Jackie’s melodies to sheet music while in the studio, and then laid it down verbatim! I’ve asked this to many bands before, but I was wondering whether or not you feel that the Left Coast possesses a different, unique vibe amongst the fans and bands who call it home? The scene out there seem to be really close knit and supportive.

Perez: I've lived and played music in San Francisco for almost seventeen years, so I can't really compare it to anything else, but I will say that I feel very special and honored being a part of it. I love running into my friends at shows, many of whom are also in local bands, and asking about what they are up to musically and vice versa. Then we toast our drinks and stand back to listen to an amazing performance from other peers, together. There is nothing more satisfying than that.

Gregory: For me, moving to San Francisco has been amazing. Through Jackie I’ve met and befriended people who are or were in bands that I am such a huge fan of! And of course, you run in to each other at shows and you talk about each other’s music for a bit, but then before you know it you’re talking about your dogs or some movie you’re both nuts for, or something totally unrelated to music. And then you stop and go, “dude, you were the singer for Dead and Gone? I saw you when I was like 16!” There’s very little pretentiousness in the SF music scene. You’re drinking at the same bars and shows as the members High On Fire or Hammers of Misfortune. Everyone is, for the most part, good friends and very sweet and accepting of new comers like little ol’me. What else lies down the pipeline for Giant Squid?

Gregory: I don’t want to give too much away, but I can definitely talk about a 12” split with our sister band and Jackie’s other main project, Grayceon. Our half will be one enormous song called “Cenotes”, that will compliment the story of The Ichthyologistin the way Tales of the Black Freighter compliments The Watchmen. Other than that, pushing The Ichthyologist, deciding which labels to go with on it especially in terms of getting it out there on vinyl, as well other stuff like the split 12” and previous albums we’d also like to see on vinyl like Monster In the Creek and Metridium Fields. Then touring behind The Ichthyologistas much as we can in these ridiculous economic times.