Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paper Tongues show review in (House of Blues, Boston, 10/13)

Paper Tongues, from Charlotte, N.C., opened with strong set of accessible rock music, which had a sometimes light edge to it. Rap is also part of the mix.

Lead singer Aswan North was a strong presence, moving about the stage and putting it across. While the crowd probably wasn't overly familiar with the group, he got them going on more than one occasion.

The songs tended to have an anthemic quality, and the band gave them room to breath. Drummer Jordan Hardee was a powerhouse, setting a very sturdy beat throughout. While Paper Tongues wouldn't be accused of being particularly original at this point, they acquitted themselves well in an energetic 45-minute opening set.


Monday, October 25, 2010

TRIGGERS on Tour!!! check out the schedule!


10/30 - Mojo's - Jamestown, NY
10/31 - The Cottage, North Ridgeville OH (****HOUSE PARTY)
11/1 - Happy Dog - Cleveland, OH
11/2 - Elbo Room - Chicago
11/3 - Cicero's - St. Louis, MO
11/5 - P&H Cafe - Memphis, TN
11/6- La Lucha Space – Conway, AR
11/7 - Circle Bar - New Orleans, LA
11/8 - Momo's - Austin, TX
11/12 - Rogue Bar - Scottsdale, AZ
11/13 - Freakin' Frog - Las Vegas, NV
11/14 - Pappy & Harriets - Pioneertown, CA
11/16- Ruby Room--San Diego CA
11/24 Crazy Girls-- Los Angeles CA

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CULTURE MOB:: Coffee Shop Confidential: an interview with Climber’s Joe Mengis

Coffee Shop Confidential: an interview with Climber’s Joe Mengis


Music can be a bit like a foreign language. If you don’t speak the language, it’s hard to really understand the beauty and complexities. You see, when two people speak the same “language”, a connection is made. Even though I don’t play music, I had that moment when you really connect with someone as if you both are part of a long lost cosmic tribe. What a relief to stumble upon Joe Mengis of Portland’s veteran indie rock band Climber,

We play phone tag for a week, and eventually hammer out a good time for the interview. After agreeing to meet Joe at his place, I quickly find myself in very familiar territory. I’m standing on the corner of SE 28th, literally two blocks away from the place of my birth. I was born a couple of blocks behind the historic Laurelhurst Theater next to the old Coke factory on the top floor of a duplex. Yes, hippie style.

So, when I meet Joe a couple blocks down in front of his apartment building, I have to smile and chuckle. I go on to explain that my childhood friend David’s house is directly behind his building, and point out his back yard visible from the street. Joe confesses he too is a Portland native growing up over by NE Prescott, before heading east with his family to the Gresham area.

We head up to his small studio jam packed with musical equipment, but quickly head back out to a local coffee shop.

With the last of the October sun pouring in through a nostalgic haze, we find a table and roll into an effortless conversation. Realizing the easy chit-chat will consume our time slot, I pull out the tape recorder and jump in.

Interested in the origins of artists, I ask Joe to recall when it all took off for him. When did he know he wanted to be a professional musician?

“When I knew? I don’t think I ever knew, I don’t even know if I still know,” Joe says and weighs the question for a moment. “I guess, I um… it was something I wanted to do when I was in high school, like in my high school years, I was like, ‘Whatta you want to be when you grow up? I’m gonna go to music school and be a professional musician.’”

He goes on to admit that he wanted to be a professional percussionist in an orchestra. “Yeah, like the Oregon symphony would have been perfect. I mean at that time, it was my dream job outside of playing drums on the Tonight show, that’s where my brain was at… I was in high school, you know?” He continues through the time-line after school and explains that as life went on it changed. “It has kinda morphed from, ‘I want to be a professional musician’, to ‘I really enjoy the fact I get to do music’.”

They love me in Japan!
I switch gears and dive into Japan. After hearing some time ago about his adventures there on a major tour with solo artist Becca (Summer Sonic ’08), I’m excited to get to the details. “It was a mind blower! I mean, it was like… first off, everyone there and everyone I met was awwwwesome!”

I soon learn his experience was very comfortable despite being on a tight itinerary. “It was an eleven a.m. call for the most part, and from an eleven a.m. it was a full day schedule… a lot of hurry up and wait. But for me, it was my first time on tour and at festivals like that, you know? Playing Summer Sonic was awesome!” Feeling like a loser having never heard of the music festival before, I ask for more info as I scribble on a notepad. I learn Summer Sonic is a major music festival bouncing between the cities of Tokyo and Osaka, drawing massive crowds and top shelf talent. I learn half the bands play in one city, with the other half doing the same, and then swap the next day. Burning with curiosity, I ask if he had any favorites.

“Alicia Keys,” Joe admits and nods with reverence. I pop with excitement and find myself becoming more impressed. With a long list of some of the raddest bands on the planet, including MGMT lurking around his hotel, I know I could talk all day about Summer Sonic. Instead, I jump into another juicy nugget I’d heard about Joe.

School of Rock's new location on SE Hawthorne.
Joe not only teaches private lessons three days a week, but he also holds a position as assistant director of band at the School of Rock. “It’s my favorite thing of all time. Right this second, it’s my favorite thing ever – I love it,” he says of the kids and lights up like a Christmas tree.

According to Joe, the kids bounce between private lessons and band sessions for three or four months until the goal of a live performance is reached. Joe delves into more detail about the inner workings of the program. “Yeah, they’re taking private lessons, they’re in a band, they also have theory classes, like Rock 101, and for kids just starting out, they go to that. We also, on Saturdays, are starting song writing/studio…” I suddenly have the urge throw up a high five, but I let Joe finish his thought. “…I can’t even contain how excited I am about it… teaching these kids studio and song writing at the same time, first off, is so progressive, I mean, that’s how people write now.”

I nod in agreement at his revelation, but a question is knocking at the back door of my brain. I ask if there is a kid who reminds him of himself at that age, and Joe smiles as he looks away to contemplate. “Yes, there is one in particular that is me at that age, yeah… one hundred percent.” I want to ask who this kid is, as I watch his face go through a series of changes, but I can tell he’s going to keep this little gem to himself.

The interview soon maneuvers away from the school and touches on a variety of subjects ranging from the Portland music scene, to favorite venues, and of course, the new album The Mystic.

I would love to include it all, so instead, I leave you with one of the best quotes I’ve heard all year. On the tail end of talking about an extinct club called the Blackbird and the regulars, Joe seems to wrap up the human experience in one swift blow: “I love people, being people.”

Last man standing...

By the way, Climber’s sophomore effort The Mystic is officially my new favorite EP of the moment. I’ve listened to the CD so much, I’ve had to cut back and use it only as a reward for good behavior.

The CD can be purchased through the website, and I’ve also included an interesting write up from indierockcafe.com

Thomas Pridgen's Rock-Soul Revival

east bay article here

Thomas Pridgen's Rock-Soul Revival
Ex-Mars Volta drummer forms a power-rock trio with soul roots.
By Rachel Swan


It wouldn't be an overreach to say that The Memorials are the rock group we've all been waiting for. Not just because the core members hail from Richmond, or because they do the Afro-punk thing really well, or because the band's main architect, Thomas Pridgen, used to drum for The Mars Volta. Really, it's a concatenation of all those circumstances. More importantly, it's the band's ability to drift between genres. Drummer Pridgen and singer Viveca Hawkins met in church when they were twelve years old. Now in their late twenties, they both sport sleeve tattoos and favor music with fast, pulverizing guitars.

To Pridgen, that combination is completely outré. He said that even with the growing hype around "Afro-punk," or Lil' Wayne brandishing his electric guitar onstage, there's still a deep rift between so-called "rock" and so-called "urban" styles. "It's not a lot of people playing rock from a black perspective," he said. "It had to be some people that come out and be like, 'Dude. I'm from the 'hood. I'm from the same neighborhood as everybody else who slang crack, and listen to rap, and fuckin' ride scrapers. ... And instead of me being like, 'I'm gonna look like Kurt Cobain, I still look like a motherfucker from East Oakland with dreads, with a beanie on my head, and my pants hang off my — you know what I'm sayin'?"

Pridgen loves irony. Specifically, he loves creating a disconnect between image and substance. That goes a lot deeper than applying a black mentality to a white form of music. For Pridgen, it's a philosophy and a way of life. He and Hawkins look and behave like rock stars. They're fashionable. They don't have day jobs. They take a lot of smoke breaks. They weren't always that way. The two met as young, church-going pre-teens. Pridgen was the drummer at Berkeley Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, and Hawkins was visiting with Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Pridgen got her attention by pulling her hair. "She had hella hella big-ass hair," he explained. Later they attended Berkeley High School and Berklee College of Music together, then parted ways for a while. Pridgen toured with R&B singer Keyshia Cole, then switched to The Mars Volta. Hawkins joined the Kev Choice Ensemble. By the time they decided to form a rock group, they were both better known for gospel, jazz, and soul. Pridgen said that if he'd had his druthers, he would have been a rock star from the jump. He grew up listening to Nirvana and Marilyn Manson.

"I didn't necessarily want to play jazz, I just had to at Berkeley High School," Pridgen said. "I was rockin' out all the jazz songs .... They would always be, like, 'You need to listen to more Elvin Jones,'" he said, mimicking a niggling, holier-than-thou, first-chair high school jazz band voice.

Today, Hawkins looks like a young Betty Davis, with her chic outfits and bronze afro. Pridgen has tattoos all over his chest, arms, and stomach, which make his entire body look like decorative trompe l'oeil. He talks in a flippant, stream-of-consciousness way, flipping from point to point and not always connecting the dots between ideas. Behind that slacker image, they're both incredibly savvy. Pridgen formed The Memorials roughly a year ago, after leaving The Mars Volta and enduring a spate of personal tragedies (including the death of a relative). He recruited Hawkins and guitarist Nick Brewer, partly because of their musicianship, but largely because they both seemed on top of their hustle. "They were the most down to get in the band and do it, like, hella ghetto style," he explained. It worked.

The Memorials' music is carefully mapped out. Pridgen said it mostly generates from jam sessions he has with Brewer, who currently lives in South Carolina. The two met at Berklee and formed their first rock band roughly a decade ago. They developed a composition process that's partly improvisation-based, in that most of their material generates from jam sessions. Brewer will submit a guitar riff, and Pridgen will fill in the beat. Once they have a scaffold, they'll add bass and keyboard lines. Hawkins writes her own lyrics and vocal parts, and over-dubs all the harmonies. At heart, it's a drummer-led band. Most of the material revolves around rhythmic concepts, rather than riffs or melodies. "We'll sit there until I come up with some groove that's just fuckin' odd, but you can still bob your head to," Pridgen explained. "We'll be sitting in the studio until that beat is came up with."

The results are often astounding. Drum patterns on The Memorials' debut, self-titled album are fast, abrasive, and asymmetrical. They seem to move in and out of time. On screamy opener "We Go to War," Pridgen pushes the second and fourth beat just enough to make the song sound loose and syncopated. Hawkins comes in with a wail, trying to cram as many notes as possible into one breath. On a mission that will end with both our deaths, I'm not afraid of letting go, she howls. "It was crazy to watch her try to write the lyrics," Pridgen said. "I'm like, 'You're not gonna be able to sing that shit live."

Hawkins laughed. "You can only sing as much as you can breathe," she said. "And you can only breathe as much as you can fit between words."

The whole point, said Pridgen said, was to have a recorded sound that didn't require a lot of high-tech gadgetry, and could therefore be easily replicated by a live band. But that's not actually what makes their music interesting. Really, it's that much-maligned jazz and soul pedigree that informs a lot of The Memorials' music, and distinguishes these three musicians from their peers in rock 'n' roll. Their new self-titled album — recorded last year over a period of seven days, and set to drop in January — is littered with cross-genre source material, but it's also the most nonlinear rock album to come out of the Bay Area in quite a while. "Day Dreamer" is a soul song that hovers on two-chord guitar riffs and fast, grinding drums. "Westcoast" incorporates Meters-style pedal. In many cases, it's Hawkins' vocals that determine the personality of each song. She bends notes, stretches vowels, and slides between registers in the style of a crooner or balladeer. The guitar and drums may sound like a rock or metal band, but she's heavily steeped in blues.

In that sense, they're bucking the trend. Rock may be an ascendant form in the urban music scene, but it's still heavily programmed and digitized. Meanwhile, more and more three-piece rock bands are incorporating drum samples, laptops, or backing tracks to help fill out their sound. Hip-hop, with its driving, four-four drum patterns, has become the most pervasive force in contemporary music.

The Memorials are drifting in the opposite direction. Pridgen said he wanted to be "organic" — a favorite cliché among mid-career musicians. In this case, it actually fits.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Gaslamp Killer, plus a Portland standoff, jams, jazz, classics and a few benefits


The Gaslamp Killer, plus a Portland standoff, jams, jazz, classics and a few benefits


(Oct. 14, 2010) When William Benjamin Bensussen plays music, he calls himself The Gaslamp Killer. He has a slightly crazed steam punk look with wild hair and a mustache and chops from some forgotten era, but his name comes from his home turf, the Gaslamp District in San Diego, and he’s a modern DJ/producer in the electro/dubstep/mixmaster school. He left San Diego for L.A. a few years back and started making a name for himself at Low End Theory, a hipster hangout known in part for its weekly podcasts. Mix CDs followed, mostly with foreboding titles (I Spit on Your Grave, Hell and the Lake of Fire Are Waiting for You!, All Killer) although I’m sure he’s a nice fellow when you get to know him. I’ve been listening to his latest, an EP called Death Gate out on the Flying Lotus imprint Brainfeeder. It’s shot through with dark melody lines and insistent whip crack beats. Highlights include “When I’m In Awe,” with a Mulatu/Ethiopique sound and distorted vocals by Gonjasufi (who is part Ethiopian), and “Shattering Inner Journeys” (featuring Computer Jay), with a stuttering drum sample and what sounds like a Theremin working the old school sci-fi soundtrack tip.

A national tour finds GK sharing stages with Alfred Darlington, aka Daedelus from Dublab, another inventive star in the remix/DJ/producer firmament. He’s a smooth operator with a neo-Dandy look (more lambchop burns) and mad skills on the monome, a real-time step sequencer that looks something like a backlit Go game. Filling out the bill Saturday night at the Arcata Theatre Lounge for the World Famous show are a couple more L.A. dubsteppers, 12th Planet and Teebs.

The Gaslamp Killer
On the hip hop front you have Cameron Jibril Thomaz, aka Wiz Khalifa, playing an AS Presents show Sunday in the Kate Buchanan Room. He’s an indie rapper out of Pittsburg, a dude on the rise: already did the Rock the Bells tour and signed with one major after another. Believe it or not, he’s a stickler for grammar, at least that’s what he implied on a recent tweet (@realwizkhalifa): “if a chicks grammar sucks, then by default, she also sucks.” Of course he left out an apostrophe, but I suppose that’s OK on Twitter, where he has 409,507 followers (and counting).

The Portland band-o-the-week slot is a battle between two PDX bands that probably should be playing together instead of in different towns. In Arcata, the indie folk combo Blind Pilot plays a Saturday night set at the Jambalaya. As they note in their Facebook bio, “There’s no shortage of angles to Blind Pilot’s story.” They’ve done a full tour on bicycles and released an album on iTunes that was downloaded in mass quantities. They’re a new band but are already heading home after headlining a national tour that included a set at the prestigious Austin City Limits Music Festival (The Eagles were the headliners). Principal songwriter Israel Nebeker is out front strumming his guitar on songs with a gentle, friendly feel and sweet harmonies. They sound good.

Meanwhile in Eureka it’s The Winebirds, a PDX indie folk/pop quintet with a male/female vocal sound vaguely reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian and hints of Fleetwood Mac. They stop off Saturday at the Li’l Red Lion on their way south for shows at the Elbo Room in S.F. and the Caspar Inn in Mendo (Blind Pilot plays the Caspar the night before).

In the mood for jam? Garaj Mahal is back in town for a Friday show at Humboldt Brews. They have a new album just about in the can — More Mr. Nice Guy — more jazzy East meets West jammyness with their latest drummer Sean Rickman contributing songwriting and vocals. Sample it in advance at www.garajmahaljams.com.

More jammin’ at HumBrews Tuesday: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is on their Fall Stay Gold tour (Stay Gold being their latest release). For those who have not seen The Fred for a while, the band is now in the post-Reed Mathis era with founder Brian Haas still on piano, claiming the split was amicable with “no drama.” Chris Combs‘ lap steel slides the sound to new places, somehow reminding me that they come from Oklahoma. Extra bonus: Organist Joe Doria‘s band McTuff opens the show doing the Jimmy Smith/Jack McDuff old school Hammond B-3 thing.

For straight-ahead jazz hit the Westhaven Center for the Arts Friday where pianist Darius Brotman and sax man Francis Vanek lay down cool tunes.


We All Got The Beat
Posted on 12 October 2010 by dubs
read here


Thomas Pridgen Makes Honest Sounds for Anyone and Everyone With The Memorials
Words by Robin Bacior

The most stereotypical complaint of any musicians attempting to form a band is that there just aren’t enough drummers in the world. Percussion is the heartbeat, that aggressive slap of stick to skin or steel, an intensity that can’t be mimicked by any other instrument. So why the lack of drummers when they add so much? There’s something so universally understood, yet confusing, about drums; but not for people like Thomas Pridgen, who started playing early on, not even as a conscious decision.

“My grandmother was a piano player in the church,” explained Pridgen. “Where I grew up, all the drummers used to switch off. It was kind of like playing basketball in the hood; everybody did it, so I had no choice but to.”

Pridgen quickly separated himself as a prodigious talent. Not only did he win The Guitar Center drum-off at age 9, and a year later become the youngest recipient of a Zildjian endorsement, but he also was given a full scholarship to the esteemed Berklee School of Music, at age 15.

“Yeah, I was a little badass,” said Pridgen with a laugh.

Now only 26, he’s played with musicians like Dennis Chambers and Walfredo Reyes, Jr., and enjoyed a stint with the highly regarded, extraordinarily progressive force known as The Mars Volta.

At one point while working as a musical director for a childhood friend, Pridgen received a somewhat out-of-the-blue invitation from prog-rock luminary Omar Rodriguez Lopez to hang out on Halloween. In the middle of a few drinks, Lopez casually mentioned he wanted Pridgen to join their set for the night, which happened to be opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers to an audience of roughly 20,000 people.

That was essentially the beginning of Pridgen’s time with The Mars Volta, during which he found a home for his somewhat aurally chaotic style that he thought was outside of most listeners’ realms of tolerance. In fact, they not only understood it, but liked it.

“Sometimes as musicians you kind of feel like stuff you’re doing is over people’s heads, and sometimes when the normal person can like what you’re doing, and actually gravitate toward it, it’s kind of big,” Pridgen said. “I learned I can play all my crazy shit and be as crazy as I want, and it wasn’t far from normal. It wasn’t too abstract that people didn’t get it.”

In December 2009, Pridgen decided to break from Volta and focus on his own creation, something to fill a certain void he felt existed in the current state of rock music. Something that’s purely about sound, regardless of style or ethnicity.

“It’s kind of like if you’re a gangster rapper and you’re from the suburbs then nobody respects you, so in this [rock music], nobody cares where you’re from; but for us, we’re from the hood, from the ghetto, especially when I’m living in Oakland, where it’s predominately black and they’re not playing rock. It’s predominately hip-hop and R&B,” Pridgen said. “I could walk anywhere in my type of black neighborhood and they would not recognize me, but then when I come to more eclectic neighborhoods, they’re like ‘you’re the guy from The Mars Volta!’”

It can be hard to maintain a balance of equally representing your individual style and self with music, especially if the two haven’t historically gone hand-in-hand, but it’s something that Pridgen strives for, and feels like people can get behind.

“For me it’s kind of like a fine line, of trying to have people that respect you and know you’re from a place that’s predominately urban or whatever, and to do a music that most people of your color aren’t doing,” Pridgen said. “That’s why I feel like that voice is missing; Fishbone and Bad Brains, they’re super older than us, there aren’t too many young bands that come from where we come from.”

Pridgen wanted to assemble a band that didn’t have to build an image around the sound, but more just played honestly what they felt regardless of suit or trends.

“We don’t go play rock music and dress up like we’re in the ‘80s. We go and look just like we look when I walk in the hood, so for people my color to see that, it’s inspiring,” Pridgen said. “It’s inspiring to me to see other people—even if they’re not black—just to see people doing their kind of music with 100 percent passion,” Pridgen said.

From all this came the birth of his newest project, The Memorials.

The drums are the meat of The Memorials, with Pridgen’s impressively clean and rapid percussive builds that make for a thick base for their songs, melted over by Nick Brewer’s hammered/licked and sustained electric-guitar noises, drizzled with a glaze of Viveca Hawkin’s smooth, mellow vocals. Stacked and peppered with cameo contributions from various talented instrumentalists (Uriah Duffy on bass, Michael Aaberg on keys), it makes for a unique plate that at one point Pridgen might have questioned if people could even stomach, but now realizes they may even crave. “I never thought it would fail, but I never thought it would be this big so fast,” Pridgen said.

In the history of Pridgen’s impressively long resume of collaborating with other talent, this is the first time he’s actually the appointed head of a group. While it might sound like more pressure, it’s around the same level of obligation, just more hands-on in the entire process of a band’s duties.

“The only difference is I’m there from ground one—all the mixing and mastering, all the headaches—I’m getting the brunt of it,” Pridgen said. “It’s just a lot more on my shoulders, but it’s actually more fun.”

Not even a year old, The Memorials will be releasing their first record on Nov. 23, 2010, according to Pridgen. Coincidentally, the date is also his birthday. However, they’re more excited to go test them out in front of crowds.

“We made all these songs so we could go play them live,” Pridgen said. The core focus of The Memorials is to be able to play as many live shows as possible, to offer their eclectic creation to whomever wants to listen, and to be reciprocated with the experience of fine-tuning that very sound. Even though the group is now a solid trio, they remain open to guests and new ideas.

“I’m totally open to experiment, because I don’t want to make the same kind of records over and over again,” Pridgen said.

No matter who comes or goes, there will of course, always be drums.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


CLIMBER "THE MYSTIC" ...cool, calm, and collected bits of spacey, ‘70s era lite-prog.

read me here


Let’s get the open-ended declarations out there first: the music of Climber is much more disjointed in style and focus than I typically prefer, but there is good stuff here. When The Mystic is on point, it delivers this ambient, chilled-out sort of electro-funk that’s reminiscent of Moroder working with ‘70s disco outfits while they all pop Ambien. The strongest tracks here are the opener and closer, “The Simians Speak” and “Advice” respectively, though cuts like “Stepping Into New Rooms,” “I May As Well Have A Monocle,” and “Remember The Renaissance?” are cool, calm, and collected bits of spacey, ‘70s era lite-prog.

I dig the subtle grooves laid down by the excellent rhythm section, as well as the white-boy-soul vocals that give the occasionally ethereal music some heft so that it doesn’t wander off into the atmosphere. The lyrics are cryptically playful, the energy is up, and the keyboard riffs are whimsical in tone. The tunes might be tacitly akin to reconstituted New Wave, but I prefer to listen for the crisp ‘90s Brit-pop that peeks out of in the overall mix.

Unfortunately, there are far too many instances when Climber attempts to mix up the flavors of Air, Radiohead, and Yes, but the result is usually a bland, uninspired track like “The Risk Of The Middle Way” or “I Have Seen Everything.” Selections like “We Are The New Man,” “Flying Cars,” and “Gladly I Would Leave” evince someone trying to re-imagine Pink Floyd through the lens of Radiohead’s Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief. In short, I have no problems with bands trying to make “serious” music, but I took take issue when it results in a record with multiple personality disorder.

I am intrigued by what Climber endeavors to create with The Mystic – a sort of futuristic, science-fiction fairy tale set to music. I’m a nerd; I dig that sort of stuff, and you can tell just by looking at my bookshelves. It’s as if, when searching for influences, the guys couldn’t decide between The Princess Bride, The Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal, much less Bauhaus, The Cure, and the music of Thom Yorke and friends. If you’re going to tease me with quality white-boy-stlyed funk and electro, you’d better bring the goods and bring them often.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Willamette Week review of CLIMBER "THE MYSTIC"


Climber The Mystic
(Sparklet Records)

[BIG ROCK] Three albums and eight years into its career, Portland quartet Climber has perfected its spacey organ pop, and it’s only sensible that its fourth album, The Mystic, follows suit while showing musical maturity.

The Mystic is something rare in the era of disposable downloads: an album with definite A and B sides flowing together in tone and concept. It starts with the steady groove of “The Simian Speaks” before hitting driving orchestral swells on “The Risk of the Middle Way” and jackknifing into “I Have Seen Everything,” a piece of playful bliss prodded along with dot-matrix pop perfection.

Then Climber grows up, and in its second half The Mystic simply loses spark and control of its tone. “We Are the New Man” explodes from hard-rock riffs to melodic space-outs, but it soon morphs into a “Paranoid Android” clone as vocalist Michael Nelson transitions his unique cadence to fit a Thom Yorke mold. Were it a fleeting change, it wouldn’t be distracting, but The Mystic’s B side sounds suspiciously like a Radiohead B-side collection mixed by a sedate Muse. Even the introduction of a kids’ choir seems a bit forced, as though the band is aspiring to put out its own synthy Dark Side of the Moon.

Still, The Mystic is beautifully crafted, and the group melds the playful elements of the album’s first half and the epic drive of the latter half perfectly on the trip-pop of “Integration!” But Climber has honed such a solid, original sound over the years that it’s a downer when the band sounds like anyone else. AP KRYZA.

SEE IT: Threads, Portland Cello Project, Loch Lomond, Laura Gibson, LKN, Tahoe Jackson and many more play a release show for From the Land of the Ice and Snow on Saturday, Oct. 9. 9 pm. $10. 21+. Climber plays Someday Lounge on Saturday, Oct. 9, with the Ro Sham Bo’s and Viper Creek Club. 9 pm. $10. 21+.

Monday, October 4, 2010

K Será's pop punk with echoingly deep vocals and a piano prove to be the real power behind today's brand of Warped Tour.

June 11, 2010: K Sera (United States)


K Será's pop punk with echoingly deep vocals and a piano prove to be the real power behind today's brand of Warped Tour. Having only been together for less than two years, these guys get what it takes to leave an impressionable on an otherwise easily forgettable scene.

Originally a solo gig from lead singer and guitarist Michael Caswell, the five young guys came together to attack the touring stage performance lifestyle. After touring for the first time (including a stint on the 2009 Vans Warped Tour), they stopped in Seattle to record a sophomore EP that proved to be dynamic.

They will be touring again this summer so make sure to check out their gritty yet pleasant piano-infused pop punk and get swinging.

Songs we recomme! nd you listen to: "Me Before Women and Children" and "Edge of the Map."

Sunday, October 3, 2010




MP3 At 3PM: Bonedome

Hailing from Dallas, the nine-piece Bonedome brings a prog-rock sound to its debut album, Thinktankubator (Summer Break). Prior to Bonedome, singer/songwriter Allan Hayslip worked within the Dallas music scene and was an orchestral violinist and chorister as a schoolboy. All of that hard work and classical training is reflected in Bonedome’s musical stylings. “Steven,” the first single off Thinktankubator, is surprising, to say the least. Hayslip’s vocals are like those of a young Bowie, but the music has an appeal similar to the Hives. The overall effect is somewhat orchestral in scope with a lot of drive and a truly sublime guitar tone.

“Steven” (download):

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Texas post-punk artists, The Burning Hotels,

The Burning Hotels

Texas post-punk artists, The Burning Hotels, are Chance Morgan on
vocals/guitar, Matt Mooty on vocals/guitar, Wyatt Adams on drums, and Marley Whistler on bass. Their debut EP, Eighty Five Mirrors, was named Fort Worth Weekly's "Album of the Year" and three of its songs made the "Top 10 Songs of the Decade" list. They now tour in support of their first full-length, Novels. The group appeared as themselves in the film, Bandslam; and their song, "Stuck in the Middle," is featured on the Hollywood Records soundtrack.


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Burning Hotels 'We came to conquer'

The Burning Hotels to perform Sunday at The Strutt: 'We came to conquer'
By Rebecca Bakken | Special to the Kalamazo...


KALAMAZOO - Indie rock band The Burning Hotels from Fort Worth, Texas,
successfully blend contemporary alt-rock sounds with vocals reminiscent of '80s
pop-rock ballads, prompting comparisons to The Killers, Interpol and The

The Burning Hotels
with Maus Haus, Netherfriends and Astroline

When: Sunday

Where: The Strutt, 773 W. Michigan Ave.

Time: 9 p.m.

Cost: $5

Contact: 269-492-7200, thestrutt.com


Chance Morgan, who shares the frontman title with Matt Mooty, said the band's
latest album, "Novels," shows the growth the band has gone through since
releasing its first EP in 2007, "Eighty Five Mirrors," when the members were
barely 20 years old.

"A lot of the songs are about personal experience, growing up and getting
older," Morgan said.
Morgan said the band's music is minimalist to make for a better quality live

"We went into record a record that sounds like what we do live, and be able
to perform it live instead of making a grandiose record that sounds great
but is really hard to pull off onstage," Morgan said.

Part of putting on a good live show for The Hotels, which will perform
Sunday at The Strutt, is making sure the music doesn't stop. In other words,
bring your dancing shoes.

"This is what we came to do, we came to conquer," Morgan said. "I feel like
we've never played a show where people haven't had a good time or at least
been intrigued."

The band has performed at the popular Austin, Texas, festival South By
Southwest and appeared in the 2009 movie "Bandslam." The Hotels' single,
"Stuck in the Middle," is on the movie's soundtrack, alongside tracks from
Davie Bowie and The Velvet Underground.

Though the band has gained momentum over the past few years, Morgan said
getting their faces out to cities across the country is integral to the
success of "Novels."

"This whole year is dedicated to trying to get on the road as much as
possible, taking the record to places we haven't been before," Morgan said.

The whole band is involved in creating the music, with Morgan and Mooty
doing the writing and the rest collectively structuring the songs. As a
result, the final sound is a mesh of all of the band member's personal

"We definitely get enchanted with the kind of musical resurrection of
post-punk, garage rock," Morgan said, noting that some of his earlier
influences included Depeche Mode and The Cure.

The 11-track "Novels" is a solid album with energetic and skillfully-crafted
tracks. Those who attend the upcoming Strutt show will likely find
themselves humming the chorus to the melancholy yet quick-paced "Austin's
Birthday." "Where's My Girl," is hyper, spastic - in a good way - and
probably the most fresh and creative track on the album with its crisp
guitar riffs and clever lyrics.