Sunday, February 28, 2010

Music For Animals: dedicated to the music, dedicated to the fans

Music For Animals: dedicated to the music, dedicated to the fans
February 26, 5:49 PMOakland Indie Music ExaminerNatalye Childress SmithPrevious Comment Print Email RSS Subscribe Subscribe

Music for Animals, photo by Debra A. ZellerMusic for Animals is one of those bands people can't help but love. The group is dedicated to the music and dedicated to the fans, and with a combination like that, the band is nearly unstoppable.

The San Francisco Bay Area-based foursome has been around for nearly five years and is arguably one of the more successful local acts for that very reason of dedication.

Members Jay Martinovich (vocals, guitar), Nick Bray (guitar, vocals), Eli Meyskens (bass, vocals) and Ryan Malley (drums, vocals) began playing shows together as Music for Animals in 2006, and have been going non-stop since then.

The band plays a mixture of catchy pop music with a heavy infusion of dance hooks, featuring bright jangling guitars, a deep and vibrating bass, steady solid drumming and breathy vocals bordering on seriously sexy – think Justin Timberlake’s pipes with a backup band akin to something like Hot Hot Heat or the Killers – but with a twist all its own.

The band’s sound isn’t something that was discussed or preplanned, but rather something that occurred organically.

“It’s just the music that came out when we started playing,” Meyskens said.

The natural ease and musical chemistry between the members is undeniable, and the group’s songwriting process is demonstrative of this very idea. When practicing, the band members will all start working on a song together by jamming until something formidable appears.

“We kind of play until the song comes out,” Meyskens explained.

Not long after the group officially formed, it self-released an EP, “Transmission”. Music for Animals then began playing small shows in and around San Francisco, until the band caught the attention of the folks at Three Ring Records, and was promptly signed to the label.

Next came the release of the first full-length, a self-titled album fondly referred to as “The Red Album”. Subsequently, Music for Animals took off on a national tour and gained a following, which eventually made the band a favorite with college radio stations nationwide and local station Live 105.

Since then, the band has gone on additional independent tours, and played South by Southwest last year. The group is now in its third year playing Noise Pop, but after two years of playing parties, tomorrow’s show at The Independent will be its first official showcase show, something the members are excited about.

Music for Animals also recorded another release with a producer it met on tour, but hasn’t made definitive plans about when and how to put out a recording in conjunction with a label.

“We’ve put it out in a couple different forms,” Meyskens said, referring to the availability of the album in digital formats like iTunes. “[But] it still hasn’t been officially put out, except for by us.”

And the group can’t say for certain if the EP – “If Looks Could Kill” – will ever be released through venues other than the band itself, particularly with the advent of online distribution for artists.

“The whole thing about the industry now is that you can really do a lot on your own…[and still] be successful,” Meyskens said.

Not only that, but the band is working on new material, which could end up released through a label with the songs from the EP, or alternately could be the basis for a new album.

But like most every band working hard to promote itself independently, Music for Animals struggles with the difficulties of musician life, particularly the balance between wanting to play music full-time and having to make a living.

“Everybody kind of thinks that you’re doing really well, [but] it’s hard to just survive off music,” Meyskens shared. “That’s all we want to do and there [are] ways to make it happen.”

Yet the road to becoming successful isn’t easy. And many musicians have to decide if its more important to make money or to make the fans happy. Music for Animals is one such band that has the tendency to put the fans first. The group routinely sacrifices making profit off its music and instead hands out download codes for free at shows, in order to gain more exposure.

“We want everybody to leave with music,” Meyskens said.

And that’s what is mainly unique about Music for Animals: the band’s overt love of its fans. Aside from the Bay Area, its largest fan base is in San Diego, a city the band makes a point of playing nearly once every six weeks.

As of late, the group’s main focus has been on playing shows on the West Coast, but members say they won’t limit themselves to California.

“We’ll follow where people want us,” Meyskens said.

For more info: Music for Animals plays the Noise Pop Festival tomorrow night at The Independent, opening for Nico Vega and The Soundtrack of Our Lives. 8 p.m., $16, 21+
More About: Interview · Band Profile · Noise Pop · Festivals

The Family Curse review

The Family Curse

White Medicine

By Christ Duda
(SugarBuzz Toronto)
SugarBuzz Magazine
Legend dictates that curses befell those who cross the evil dysfunctional American nuclear family (do they exist in this day and age?). Father with his new state of the art BBQ set and charming Donny Osmond whitened teeth; is actually more evil than a cartoon created ghost terrorist by the American government. Sharpening his cheap with imitation Henkel knives, drooling at the prospect of pulling off your limbs arm by arm and leg by leg. Grilled to perfection on the rotisserie and ready for the whole extended family. Don’t forget the steak rub!

Mother with her Martha Stewart insider grin and her well coiffed Play Doh barber set highlighted Victoria Beckham knock off hair do; sits quietly peeling carrots waiting patiently to shove the peel- o- matic deep within your spine while gleefully exclaiming “Isn’t this fun, fun, fun!” Billy and Martha sit quietly in their sandbox torturing small animals (serial murderers in the making) in between turns of “Condemned to Death” (a new video game for kiddies where you actually get to kill prisoners on Death Row!).

Much like the movie Blue Velvet things are not what they seem. Remember the scene with the perfect little house with the white picket fence and the well manicured lawn but beneath all the niceness lies a severed finger in the freshly cut green grass?

Family Curse is the soundtrack to this formula. American Dream turned American Scream! Much like a mutated Lydia Lunch or Diamanda Galas with a background Lost Sounds Muzak laugh track. Family Curse won’t be guesting on Hannah Montana anytime soon! Life ain’t pretty and either is the Family Curse but they are probably a hell of a lot more real than any pap smear top 40 being pumped by some underworld figures.


PRIZE COUNTRY – …With Love (Hex)

21. PRIZE COUNTRY – …With Love (Hex)
If they read their own press, PRIZE COUNTRY is going to be sick of seeing SNAPCASE comparisons, but hey, they’re the ones that decided to turn in the best post-End Transmission outing that anyone has heard since 2002. For all of it’s musical bombast, …With Love is lyrically ugly and caustic, and that makes this full-length all the more fulfilling.

Giant Squid - The Ichthyologist

Giant Squid - The Ichthyologist
Friday, January 01 2010 @ 02:00 AM PST
Contributed by: Sage

Genre: Progressive Sludge Doom / Experimental Rock

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This album has since seen a label-backed release through Translation Loss Records and it has been noted that several tracks are tweaked on the new version. Please keep in mind that the review for this album is based on the Independently Released version.]

Having had the pleasure to experience both Monster in the Creek and Metridium Fields, I think its safe to say that Giant Squid have found the ever-elusive middle ground in their compositional structures. By the end of “Sutterville”, one can hear both previous releases blending together as if lock and key, combining to open up a new world for this band. The Ichthyologist is based on a graphic novel that frontman Aaron Gregory created about “...a man stripped of his humanity and left with nothing but the sea in front of him. ...a story about adapting in inhuman ways to survive the shock of human loss and total emotional tragedy, becoming something else entirely in the process.” As writers so often do, we can perhaps assume that Adam too was facing some of his darkest moments through the writing process of this novel and album, perhaps paralleling in his mind the protagonist in question.

As stated, The Ichthyologist seems to blend both the initial independently released EP with their debut effort on The End Records. While the band's heavier and more melodically mature sound from the debut full-length can certainly be heard in full standing, the jazzier moments that are brought to life though rhythm and the cello and vocal style of Jackie Perez Gratz give the album a jazzier feel that was dominant in the initial EP. On The Ichthyologist, we're faced with a more definitive flowing element that we haven't seen before from Giant Squid, an equal amount of filth and beauty and less dramatic atmosphere. Jackie's cello teams up with Nate's trumpet to give another layer of melody that launches The Ichthyologist into a new dimension of music. People underestimate the emotional effectiveness of instruments that aren't typically seen in a band setting. The trumpet gives the music an uncannily human sound, and at the same time adds to the subtle melancholic atmosphere that is consistently present throughout the album. Songs like La Brea Tar Pits feature it as an instrument of trudging distraction, a death march of blades over the skin of the lost. The signature guitar play from light and less of a force and more of a structured compositional instrument as with the rest to heavy and deeply, slowly aggressive is ever present throughout The Ichthyologist. A general difference from the last album to this one is the chilling out of the percussive element. While it flows incredibly well and doesn't make itself of any notice, I fondly remember the percussive side of Metridium Fields playing out proudly. Keyboard work also seems less noticeable but that should be expected with the addition of cello and the appearance of flutes, oboes, and trumpets.

With all of the incredibly complex and beautifully written compositions on The Ichthyologist, the real heroic effort within this album is on the lyrical platform. Where Metridium Fields seemed to lack slightly in this area, The Ichthyologist comes out as surprisingly moving and descriptive. Panthalassa starts us off as somewhat of a dream-state precursor to what is to come, only leading to the narrator to awaken in La Brea Tar Pits feeling the pain in his gut that we all know too well from extreme emotional unrest. As the lyrics move on, the mental collapse of the narrator becomes apparent, and past that the lyrics become more and more abstract, though obviously deeply personal. The part that frustrates me is the lack of anger in the music itself in place of a seemingly cynical sense of humor. Dead Man Slough, for example, paints a perfect picture. Throughout the lyrics it becomes increasingly clear that the narrator's partner left him for another man. Perhaps even after he caught the two himself. This track paints the red on her fingertips, speaking in moderate detail of discarding her new lover into a slough. All the while, the music accompanying this track is rather quirky and laid-back. Fans of the likes of Voltaire will know exactly what I'm talking about. The track following features Karyn Crisis and thus lets some of that aggression out, but barely really helps continue to carry that aggression over into a prolific outburst.

The Ichthyologist features guest appearances from three notable female vocalists: Anneke Van Giersbergen, Kris Force, and Karyn Crisis, and includes three guest musicians in Cat Gratz (you guessed it, Jackie's sister), Lorraine Rath, and Nate Perkins whom has lended his trumpet skills on past releases. The appearance of Kris Force and Lorraine Rath shouldn't surprise anyone because of their ties with Jackie Perez Gratz through Amber Asylum. With this said, it should be noted that each Giant Squid album so far has had one impeccable, monstrously well-composed song amongst the already ingenious tunes. For Metridium Fields, that song was Ampullae of Lorenzini, in all of its dramatic beauty in the end. We could feel ourselves sinking as with the ship as Aaron bellows out in those last few minutes of so powerfully of his finding dissuasion of tides. That, for me, was the single most moving and powerful moment in metal in 2006. After perhaps the 5th listen, it became impossible to scream along with that last doomed and forlorn exclamation. With Ichthyologist, granted every single second of this album is capable of leaving one breathless, that track is without a shadow of a doubt the transformative moments in Sevengill. The track features Anneke van Giersbergen, and I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't impressed with her solo work, though I love The Gathering still to this day. However, her soaring vocals came across as absolutely flawless in this track and gave Giant Squid yet another dimension to their intensely personal effort here. Sevengill trudges along despondently, a memorial to the most self-destructive point on this record. Forlorn and grief-stricken don't quite define the narrative through Sevengill, a track that paints our narrator in his moment of wretched transformation. Woefully, Anneke's vocals repent regretfully from the female point of view while Aaron casts in his resentful and chillingly violent enmity. Just absolutely haunting in every imaginable way. His lyrics gave voice to emotions that few of us have experienced to such a degree, and nearly any of us had any power to manifest in any form. Personally, they sent me to a regretfully familiar place that made me have to stop the record for a bit.

The final tracks lyrically become a bit sporadic. Its a whirlwind of decrepit limbs, suicide notes, goodbyes and pretty basic emotional agony that writhes in continuance until the very last “Goodbye, my love...”. The Ichthyologist is destined to become a classic if it isn't already considered to be one already. And given the press that its received thus far, it would seem that Giant Squid has accomplished making a huge name for themselves. Some will be confused by the scientific species names that accompany every track because of how they reference to the track they involve. Some are fairly obvious if reading the lyrics, such as Sevengill and Linckia Laevigata, but for the most part the others are vague or perhaps you'd need an education likes Aaron's to figure out. For instance, it would seem the death of the narrator is evident at the end of Rubicon Wall, so it would seem fitting that the Acipenser Transmontanus (or White Sturgeon) would be attached to the track because of its affinity for scavenging out dead flesh and other toxic matter. Other tracks like Mormon Island confuse me with their reference to Alluvial Au, or simply Alluvium. I'm aware that gold ore deposits are commonly found in these stones but in reference to the obvious lost soul, I'm pretty lost myself, unless it refers to the decomposed human body reformed into simple matter.

I believe the CD version of The Ichthyologist has already been released by Translation Loss, so you can look forward to the extremely limited 2LP version coming out via Vega Vinyl shortly. It has been delayed so anyone looking to get ahold of this masterpiece on vinyl should still have a bit of time. If the review above didn't do this album enough justice in your mind, then all I can say is I simply can't recommend this album, or frankly, this band enough. Go out and see them live if you get the chance as I'm sure that they are one hell of an act as well.


Music: The Burning Hotels: Novels

Music: The Burning Hotels: Novels

Our Take
The Burning Hotels created quite a bit of buzz around their hometown of Fort
Worth, Texas when they released their debut EP back in 2007. Since that
time, the alternative/pop rock band has been cranking away on their first
full length effort Novels and the amount of work that has gone into it is
almost immediately apparently. Although there are a few tracks that sound a
little too similar to one another, the effort as a whole offers atmospheric
melodies that are sure to hook listeners and give this band a much broader

Like many of the other genre acts out there, The Burning Hotels spend much
of their time moving between fast paced and slower numbers while always
trying to create intricate melodic soundscapes that create a ton of
atmosphere. It is definitely clear that the instrumentalists have spent a
lot of time on the album as a whole as every little element of the group's
music feels carefully calculated. This is most evident on the song "Where's
My Girl" where all of the little details come together to create a track
that is constantly changing while still offering shimmering melodies and
hooks. There are a few times where listeners will feel as though the
melodies feel a little too close to one another, but this doesn't hurt
Novels that much and most people will be able to look past it.

Two of the group's members handle vocals throughout the course of this album
and while each one has some subtle differences for the most part they tend
to sound very close to one another. But despite the fact that listeners may
have no idea who is singing which particular part, this never proves to be
an issue as they both have wonderful voices that have a decent range to them
and are able to enhance the soaring melodic choruses. Admittedly there are a
number of different bands in this genre that The Burning Hotels' vocal
arrangements are sure to remind listeners of but considering how enjoyable
their voices are this helps the band out.

There is room for this group to expand on their style and make their songs
sound a little bit different from each but overall this is a very enjoyable
debut that is sure to make The Burning Hotels a name that is known around
the country instead of just around their home town. If you're into
alternative rock that has some great melodies with a bit of an edge to it,
definitely check this band out.

Chris Dahlberg
February 20, 2010

Review: The Burning Hotels - Novels

Friday, February 19, 2010
Review: The Burning Hotels - Novels

The Burning Hotels - Novels
2010, Miss Press Records

Fort Worth, Texas quartet The Burning Hotels bring a delightful mix of
melodic Post-Punk New Wave rock on their first full-length album, Novels,
due in April of 2010. Shades of U2 can be heard at times rising out of the
rich musical tapestry constructed by The Burning Hotels with the help of
mixer Mark Needham (The Killers, Bloc Party).

Novels opens with the dense, compact Rock N Roll of Austin's Birthday. Tight
musicianship and strong production values produce a British New Wave feel.
It's an intriguing open to an album that both excites and disappoints in
equal measure. Boy Or A Girl keeps the same vibe with a quirky sensibility
added in, but by the time The River arrived I'd already begun to suspect
that the sound and dynamic of Novels was a bit too static. On Time, The
Burning Hotels pulled out of the rut, firing up a sound reminiscent of U2.
The energy level rises noticeably on this song as does the tune's virulence,
although lyrically The Burning Hotels don't seem ready to play on the same
fields as U2.

Silhouette is pure melancholic Pop Noir; a highly enjoyable venture that
doesn't so much reflect a change in approach for the band but better framing
of their strengths. The Burning Hotels find a niche here where their low-key
approach works well. Tempo and construction vary widely on Silhouette, and
the band appears willing to take a few more risks. To Whom It May Concern
lives on the strength of a strong chorus. The dynamic is still a bit too
narrow here, but The Burning Hotels at least appear to be trying to stretch
the boundaries a bit. Where's My Girl is pure New Wave Pop with a bit of
commercial edge to it; the sort of tune that will play well live. The
Burning Hotels close with their most vibrant track, One To Five. One To Five
is very catchy; a great ending that will entice listeners back with a great
last impression.

The Burning Hotels exploit a heavily layered wall-of-sound feel on what is
essentially retro New Wave rock on Novels. The effect is wonderful when it
works (and when The Burning Hotels decide to take chances), but can also be
stifling when the band allows themselves to get stuck in a rut. This is more
an issue for production than for the band themselves, as it is often
difficult to hear these sorts of critical points from inside the creation
process. It's the producer's responsibility to shape the overall recording
to avoid both the appearance and reality of complacency of a band. The
Burning Hotels manage to shake things up periodically on Novels, but not
before becoming a bit too settled in established rolls. Novels shows some
real potential; if The Burning Hotels keep pushing they're going to break
through some walls and create some really vibrant music.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Burning Hotels at Novels drops sometime in April, 2010, but
you can check out the first single, Austin's Birthday, available as either a
CD or Download from
Posted by Wildy at 7:47 AM
Labels: Bloc Party, The Killers, The U2

The Burning Hotels

The Burning Hotels
"Austin's Birthday"
From "Novels," due out April 27

So, we don't usually do this whole "gushing preview" thing (who do we look
like? Pitchfork or something? BA-ZING!), but it's also not very often that
we get our hands on a pre-release track this good. And seeing as how The
Burning Hotels aren't going to be featured on Discovery Download anytime
soon - Josh Kelly's misappropriated ego is currently hogging most of that
space-we feel it's our duty to fill you in.

Anyway. "Austin's Birthday" is the freshly-dropped single from their
forthcoming album "Novels," and while the record as a whole has something of
an Interpol-meets-good-'90s-alternative vibe to it, the sound here is
straight-up, flange-heavy mod-punk. The guitars, nailed down by a robotic
thump of a bass line, glimmer as much as they spit, all along to lyrics like
"I'm sorry girls, she stole my heart." It might start raining inside your
bedroom, is what we're saying.

And there you have it: gravity and moodiness you can tap your foot to. The
entire album drops in a couple of months, but if you need it before then, my
hacker handle is "Sockiboo." Code word, "Belinda Carlisle."

Check out the tune on their MySpace page:

artist spotlight burning-hotels

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Artist Spotlight: The Burning Hotels

The Burning Hotels is an indie rock quartet with a knack for coupling
post-punk riffs and melodic choruses.

Hailing out of Fort Worth, the band has been steadily building a name for
themselves ever since their first EP in 2007. The Fort Worth Weekly
described the group as, "One of the town's coolest bands, period."

The Burning Hotels' debut album, Novels, is set for release on April 27th,

On Novels, the band embraces an aesthetic for jagged guitar rhythms and
heady, driving beats. Tracks like "Boy or a Girl" and lead single, "Austin's
Birthday" sound ready for teen rebellions and college parties, while the
lush, introspective reverb of "The River" echoes to a coming of age.

Novels shows a band with a lot of promise. Sometimes we're left searching
for answers and occasionally we find them. If that sounds a lot like life to
you, they might be on to something.

Novels may not be revelatory, but it is certainly a lot of fun to take for a

For more information on The Burning Hotels, visit

MP3 Download: The Burning Hotels - "Austin's Birthday" (via RapidShare)

The Burning Hotels - "The River"


Forged under the inspiration of post-punk and angular melodies, the Burning Hotels cut through modern rock with driving sounds and propulsive rhythms. The band made their recording debut with a self-released EP titled, Eighty Five Mirrors, licensed by Razor & Tie. This EP won the Fort Worth Weekly’s Album of the Year. In the fall of 2009, the band will release their debut full length LP and continue to tour. Mark Needham (The Killers, Bloc Party) mixed this upcoming album tentatively titled, Novels. The Burning Hotels have previously supported the Cribs, the Horrors, Ladytron, the Octopus Project, the Appleseed Cast along with countless other major artists at various festivals across the nation.

The Burning Hotels - Austin's Birthday from You and Yours on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2010 sxsw plans for xo publicity::

2010 sxsw plans for xo publicity::

THURSDAY MARCH, 18th 2pm-8pm @ STOMPIN GROUNDS ( 3801 South Congress Avenue Ste. (Corner of South Congress and Alpine)

2:15 to 2:50 David Vandervelde (Secretly Canadian)
3:00 to 3:40 Lissie(Fat Possum)
4:00 to 4:40 Rocky Votolato (Barsuk)
5:00 to 5:40 Ben Sollee/Daniel Martin Moore (Sub Pop)
6:00 to 6:30 Matthew Mayfield
6:50 to 7:20 Joe Purdy

FRIDAY MARCH, 19th 1pm-6pm @ DIRTY DOG ( 505 East 6th Street)

1:15 to 1:45 One Pin Short
2:00 to 2:30 Jonneine Zapata
2:45 to 3:15 Gordon Voidwell
3:30 to 4:00 Fitz & the Tantrums
4:15 to 4:45 Jaguar Love
5:00 to 5:30 Twin Atlantic

Stephanie Schneiderman Takes Over Jimmy Mak's

Stephanie Schneiderman Takes Over Jimmy Mak's

Reinventing your sound is exciting, scary, adventurous, and a sign of a spectacular artist...that is, as long as it works. And yes, it did for Miss Stephanie Schneiderman.

Artists that evolve, break their personal mold and creative boundaries - that explore - are the elite musicians. Reinventing your sound is "risky business," according to Stephanie Schneiderman, but the risk factor is decimated when you have producer/beat-extraordinaire Keith Schreiner (Auditory Sculpture) on your team.

Stephanie's also kept her songwriting and voice, which smoothly floats over Keith's soothing trip-hop ambiance. It's sexy. It's relaxed. It's lovely.

The two bring their down-tempo, electro-beats and sensual vocal bliss along with James Beaton (Storm and the Balls) on keys to Jimmy Mak's on Saturday, January 23rd with Come Gather Around Us at 8:00 p.m. for $10.

And this girl is setting up and knocking down cocktail hours at Jimmy Mak's every first and third Thursdays starting in February through April. These shows will feature the keyboardist/singer Jade Vanacore, and Stephanie says, "I've been working on a more stripped down version of the trip-hop show involving beats, loops, keys, electric guitar and harmonies, so this residency will give me a chance to get really comfortable with all my new toys. Also, I'm going to try out a bunch of new songs!"

- Chris Young

Published on January 18,

Prize Country on PUNK NEWS

Prize Country
....With Love (2009)
Hex Records

Reviewer Rating:

Contributed by: Brian

Prize Country receive a number of Snapcase comparisons, but they're totally warranted, in a really weird way. ...With Love isn't really a hardcore record, but like End Transmission, it's relatively expansive with a strangely intense tilt about it.

Vocalist/guitarist Aaron Blanchard has a sharp, punchy, punctual voice, but it's not quite as high-pitched or jarring as Daryl Taberski's, instead cutting in and out of jagged, pull-and-push guitars more out of Fugazi's playbook. This works best in "Regular Nights," a pretty lyrically sultry song for this style of post-hardcore, but a catchy one at that, while "Bigger Picture" has a great, winding groove and "Cement" makes the best use of power chords, a carefully poppier slant and handclaps one imagines it could.

The dynamics here aren't quite fully realized and much of the record does blend into each other a bit. That being said, this is a pretty cool album that's worth a listen or few.

Regular Nights

Read more:

Prize Country ...with Love


...with Love
Hex Records

Portland Oregon punk/post-hardcore rockers Prize Country lovingly deliver us 9 new songs, just about 35-minutes or hook laden, catchy and easy to sing along to songs, entitled ...with Love. Although they've only been together for a few years now, the band has released an ep, 2 full lengths, and a couple of splits prior to this release. On top of that, they seem to always be out on the road, so I have no idea how they have time to record at all.

Prize country reminds me a bit of a cross between Fu Manchu and ASG with some Helmet or Fugazi thrown in. The music is full of heavy, catchy riffs that will stick in your head. The vocals are kind of that shouting/singing crossbreed that is also catchy and it is easy to imagine yourself singing along to them at a show. "Regular Nights" is the first track, and it will get it's hooks in you right away and not let go until the end. You'll be tapping your foot and humming along to this one in no time - and you'll probably be doing that all day long after listening to it a couple of times. "Gamble" is one of the standout track here, with some pretty comical lyrics ("place your bets on the dying horse and you hope he makes good glue"), and some downright kickass guitar and drum work throughout the song. Take a listen to "Bigger Picture" to hear some of the more technical guitar work on the disc - not noodling mind you, but just a bit more technical than some of the other work here.

Prize Country is a band that seems to do things their way. The numerous releases, the non-stop touring, and the flat out rock that they play all points to this. Check out this disc, you're bound to get dragged in by all the catchiness that is present, and if you're like me, it will probably make you want to see one of their many live shows.

B -Goz

NO DEPRESSION interview w/ jessie torrisi

10 Questions: Jessie Torrisi
Posted by Nichole Wagner on December 13, 2009 at 9:49pm
Send Message View Nichole Wagner's blog
Newly relocated singer-songwriter Jessie Torrisi left the Big Apple for Austin at the beginning of this year, following her musical dreams and creating her first record, Brûler, Brûler.

She took some time to talk with us about the move, being a drummer turned front-woman and the gift indie rock has given to the world.

Q: How did you decide to pack up and move?

A: I lived in New York City for ten years and I loved it but I got to the point where I was kind of, done. There were certain things I wanted and I knew there was just no way I would ever have them in New York. Some of it is things like nature but a lot of it is intangible like balance and being well-rested. A lot of people in New York are that way but they’re so hooked in they decide to stay. I think the thing that pushed me over the edge was the music.

There’s obviously a lot of great music and art in New York City but for me, every time I would leave, I lived in Brazil for four months and I lived in New Orleans one winter, I would go to places where it as more slowed down and lazy and I would be more productive. And it wasn’t so much sitting down to work, but a feeling like it was okay to be creative.

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t playing music?

A: I went to a liberal arts college in Connecticut called Wesleyan and I did the very hard to explain maneuver of majoring in music and minoring in pre-med. I don’t think anyone who goes to Wesleyan has a set idea of what they want to do, I think I was torn. I was a really good student and I really liked science and my mom is a nurse who runs clinics and it’s a more concrete way to make a difference.

It took me a long time to totally give in to what I wanted to do. I wanted to play music but I didn’t want to end up like the guy in the suburbs of Philadelphia who taught drum lessons, that’s not rock ‘n’ roll. On one hand there were all these people who were very discouraging examples of a life in music and I didn’t want to be the nerdy guy with a bow tie teaching choir, I wanted to be a musician.

And you know that even if your family doesn’t say it outright, they’d much rather you be a doctor or a lawyer, anything where you don’t call them up every two months and complain about how you don’t know where you’re going to get next months rent.

Q: What were your first experiences with music?

A: My parents made me take piano lessons as a kid and I played saxophone and clarinet in the school band. But the real beginning was when I was 14 years old and I started playing drums. That was the first time was was like, “I love this and I want to practice.” I totally became obsessed with studying jazz, I went to music summer camp and tried to sneak in underage to some of the clubs in Philadelphia which at that time had really cool jazz clubs. That was the first wave of “This is it, this is what I want to do with myself.”

Q: How did you make the switch from drums to being more of a singer-songwriter?

A: There was this teacher who was everyone’s friend, she had a weekly meeting at the bar and people would go in there with their songs and it would be a lesson about musical theory and harmony but it was also a therapy session. I took a semester of lessons, but to play acoustic guitar you only need a few chords to start dabbling. It became a closet pursuit, I still was Drummer Girl, looking for bands but for a lot of years I’d sit in my bedroom and write songs but it was separate.

Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?

A: When you write them at the time, you think it’s probably the most brilliant thing that’s ever happened in the history of the universe but then a few months later if they’re not in rotation in your set you almost forget they exist. The oldest song that I’ve written that I still play, “Storm Clouds,” which is on the record and the other one is a song called “Talk About You, Babe” which I demoed but never really recorded. They’re songs I wrote when I wasn’t thinking about it or trying to write a song, they just fell out. I had been going through the break-up from hell and when I wrote “Storm Clouds” it was kind of like the punctuation mark, it was this great moment of being able to step out of the clouds and see it for what it was.

Q: What about making the record stood out to you?

A: The process of making it blew my mind, I’d never done it before and there was no reason for me to believe that I knew how to make an album. I teamed up with William Berlind and I met with him and played 25 songs or so and right away he locked into the lyrics and which lines should be changed and which songs the words fit the music and we had this language. I knew he had my back and anytime that I was doing it not as good as it could have been done he saw that and explained how to fix it. It was like playing a game of imagination. Once we had the skeletons we’d sit around and say “I can kind of imagine a tuba… no I think we should have a whole bunch of glockenspiel, well what if we have a dog barking in the background.”

Q: So there was a lot of experimentation?

A: Well, I love music and I like art that’s really accessible, I put a lot of effort into speaking to people with the songs. Most of my songs are verse-chorus-verse-chorus and once in awhile I’ll deviate from that but any weird diversion that I have isn’t good enough to put on the album, it has to be really sharp and tight so I want to get experimental and weird with the production. I think that’s the gift that indie rock has given to us… there’s a lot that’s annoying about indie rock but what’s cool is the experimentation.

Q: What are some of your musical aspirations?

A: In terms of literal aspirations, I just want to go from dreaming about this being my life to this actually being my life. I think I’m half way there. I want to be out of the road, I want to be opening for bands that I’ve admired.

Creatively, which is a much harder question to answer, the last record was all bout desire and what goes wrong and right when you chase it, mostly from a romantic point of view, like “go kiss the girl.” And I think in terms of lyrical content, this next record is going to be the same, there’s going to be a few more things about love can actually go right and I think it’s going to be a lot about chasing desire from the perspective of “do what you want to do with your life and don’t be afraid.”

Q: Who are some of your inspirations?

A: All the old Motown people. Like Otis Redding, I love the way he sings, the way he moves on stage, I love the lyrics they’re so simple but they say so much. I feel that way about some of the old jazz songs as well, there’s a lot of Cole Porter songs that are kind of naughty and yet so very clever and honest.

In terms of contemporary music – Feist, Regina Spektor, Elvis Perkins in Deerland. And Stevie Wonder at Jazz Fest blew my mind. And people like Rufus Wainwright and Joan As Policewoman that are like, “I have a big voice and I’m not afraid to use it.” That I really admire.

Q: You had lost your drummer before the Colorado tour, will you continue as a three-piece?

A: We’re going to see how far we can take it as a three-piece. I’m going to try drumming and singing on few songs or see if we can loop a drum beat. I have a band where everybody plays more than one instrument so I feel like we should play musical chairs more than we’ve worked it out so far.

I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I feel like there’s all these great innovative trios and that the less people you have the more you have to dig deep and see how you can use everything. There’s some guitar solos that get dropped or some layering but you’re left with this feeling of creativity or watching somebody do backflips on the rock ‘n’ roll stage.

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Originally posted on

Photo: Todd Chalfant

JESSIE TORRISI – Bruler, Bruler

JESSIE TORRISI – Bruler, Bruler

Jessie Torrisi is originally from Philadelphia but since she lived in New York as a professional jazz drummer for the past decade, she gets props as part of that music scene — from which she has emerged as a singer-songwriter in her new-found home in Austin. Jessie is engaging and fun, and her energy electric. For a drummer, she is a pretty good singer — one that others are taking notice of around the country. Jessie rooked new friend Alissa Schram into dusting off her old cello and getting back into the groove (taking her away from her day job only now and then), and pieced together one after another group of outstanding players for her various shows about town (including at times multi-instrumentalists Rob Jewett and Carley Wolf). Indeed, Jessie’s shows are sometimes circus-like as musicians switch instruments, she gets everyone involved in singing, and that includes the entire audience. Like the record title says, she just loves to burn and burn brighter.

The first cut is her signature song, “Hungry Like Me,” which I recall singing with her in an impromptu performance indoors at the Irie Bean months ago. Then there are the “travelogue” songs — “X in TeXas,” “Breeze in Carolina,” “Runaway Train,” and “So Many Miles.” “Cannonball” has an old-time Broadway feel — or better, off- off- Broadway, Bette Midler style. Which is to say this is a showtune dance number (I can even envision this interpreted by a mime) — and if you look at the waiflike Jessie on the cover of the EP, you can also see her with broom in hand making mischief wherever she flies (somewhere between Eastwick and Practical Magic). “Runaway Train” has a calliope feel, and “Storm Clouds” showcases Jessie’s vocal strength. “So Many Miles” is a true ballad — slow dance music. “The Brighter Side” encapsulates Jessie’s own hope for her future — keep your chin up and full of smiles and magic … the piano opens up and then Jessie sings that, “I’ve been down so long I can’t tell the sky from the ground….” But then there is her inspiration, of whom she sings – “It seems you’ve been through everything and never lose your shine…..” A song of hope and depth — a fitting ending to a nice debut, a song that tells us she has something real to go home to after the circus tent goes down.

Prize Country feature in ROCK SOND MAGAZINE

Elin Palmer - Postcard - Review - Chronicle of an artist in love strings

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2009 - Elin Palmer - Postcard - Review - Chronicle of an artist in love strings

I can not resist even a Swedish exile in the States, in Denver to be exact. Elin PalmerYoung blonde beauty with blue eyes like the ocean (ouhhh) is a brilliant multi-instrumentalist: harp, accordion, nyckelharpa (Swedish folk instrument bowed stringed ancestor, and violin), guitar, cello, bass, etc.. nothing seems to resist it. The true gift allowed him to work with many artists: 16 Horsepower, Mr. Ward, The Czars, Basia Bulat, The Fray, Kal Cahoone, DevotchkaEtc.. and leave at the end of the first few years of Lp 8 songs: Postcard. It will be easy to succumb to the freshness and originality of his music divinely orchestrated masterfully by the young artist.

Postcard an album is extremely concise and well done for a period of just over 30 minutes, we are transported with delight in the musical string Elin: sophisticated, delicate and feminine both traditional and sleek, modern . Not to mention that her soft voice is very ethereal and haunting. The title track Postcard starts the album on a note wonderfully invigorating, full of light contrasting with his suite enchanting and melancholy that is the sublime PaintOne of my favorite songs from the album and even the distress that can be felt on Time. The charm and the scenery reaches its apotheosis on the titles in Swedish: Stora Stoular and Duvardar. Balloons the song is more "mainstream" of the album with a fine touch pop / rock air. The epic and dark Whaleboat Closing the album on a note of the most sumptuous americana. Maybe the best song on the album.

A very exciting first opus that showcases the talent of the young fool Elin Palmer. Following his adventures musicals should be exciting.

Final Note: A +

The Very Foundation Record

The Very Foundation Record

My friends Mike and Bevan, who make music under the moniker The Very Foundation, just released a new album called This Restless Enterprise. I got to contribute several imposing stacks of trumpet harmonies (I think one section uses 8 trumpets simultaneously) and had a great time (as always) working with producer Patrick Kearns. The album gels into a truly ambitious piece of music- the orchestrations are very broad in scope and include not just brass but also string sections and any number of other sonic treats. Mike and Bevan brought in a host of talented players to achieve this, including Jenny and Nate from The Decemberists, my former Acoustic Minds band mate Chris Chard, the Blue Skies For Black Hearts crew, and members of such other Portland bands as Fast Computers, Oh Darling, and The Upsidedown. Bearing in mind that the lyrics aren’t for the faint of heart, this record is well worth a listen.

Transient Songs review on Fort Worth Weekly

Cave Syndrome (Indian Casino Records)
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 09:53 Ken Shimamoto

This full-length debut effort by a Seattle-based ensemble built around Haltom City expat and former Hasslehorse member John Frum marks a significant step forward from 2008's Plantation To Your Youth EP. In some ways, Cave Syndrome is the culmination of a musical journey that began with Hasslehorse's 1996 CD The Chicken Factory.

A couple of Cave Syndrome's songs are older. "Greenwood Backyards" is a retooled version of a Plantation track, while "A Burrow Patch" dates back to the Pine Barrons, an earlier incarnation of sorts of HC's The Me-Thinks. The majority of songs here, however, were written around the time Frum was recovering from a painful bone break in early 2009. That experience, the gloomy Pacific Northwest winter, and some other personal dramas inform Cave Syndrome's bleak mood.
Sonically, the disc is a textural feast. On several of the tracks, Frum's hallucinatory dream-pop is adorned with strings (violin and cello) that give the sound the same richness that distinguished Bob Mould's similarly themed Workbook. As always, Frum layers on the crystalline acoustic, distorted electric, and slithering slide guitars. He also adds some novel touches, like the piano intro to "Greenwood Backyards" or the fuzz bass on "Sin Through the Summer." More to the point, he's become more adept at writing for his vocal range; the sense of strain that was evident in some of his earlier recordings is wholly absent here. This new assurance and the overall unity of sound and theme make Cave Syndrome a particularly striking achievement. Cop via
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

SXSW 2010: Elle Bandita - Spinner

SXSW 2010: Elle Bandita - Spinner

Elle Bandita hail from Rotterdam, Netherlands. The band draws inspiration from the sounds of '90s grunge, but it doesn't end there; they credit Elton John and Dead Kennedys as inspiration, too. Spinner caught up with singer Ryanne van Dorst in advance of the band's SXSW 2010 appearance.  

Describe the sound of your band or music in your own words.

That's always a hard one, but I would call it hard rock with electronic influences.

How did your band form?

Well, I started out solo. I recorded an EP. But for this record and these songs I was a bit more ambitious and I wanted to use acoustic drums and a real bass, instead of a synthesizer bass. I looked around in the local music scene. There were some people that I really admired for their musical abilities and I asked them to come play in my band. Luckily, they all said yes. I'm held responsible for breaking up a lot of bands here, because all these guys, they came to play with me.

When did you first start playing music?

I started playing in a grungy noise band when I was 12 or 13, but the first time I picked up a guitar I was about 11. I was a really big fan of Nirvana. I got an acoustic guitar and just started playing it.

What are some of your biggest musical influences?
Nirvana, Sonic Youth and, like, all the '90s grunge bands. I grew up with that, that's what I really liked. I don't think you can hear that a lot on this latest record, though. For this record I used influences from Iron Maiden, Rod Stewart and Elton John. I wanted to have this "rock-y" kind of songwriting, but with an '80s pop vibe flowing through it. I mainly focus on rock and punk. I love the Ramones and Dead Kennedys. It's hard to choose, but I try to take a little bit of everything, and make it my own, regardless of any musical borders that there might be.

How did you come up with Elle Bandita as your name?

It's half French and half Spanish and it means "she, the band." It can also mean "she, the rebel." I thought it was kind of cool.

What is your biggest vice?

I'm a very addictive person. I pick up addictions really quick. I can really get possessed by things, so to speak. So that's not really good for me, or my health, or my social life. I quit smoking. Now my biggest addiction is eating!

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

I'm not ashamed of music I like. Maybe '90s R&B, like R. Kelly. That would be the lamest kind of thing, but that's what I like. 

Do you prefer the Beatles or the Stones?

The Beatles, for sure.

What is the craziest thing you've experienced on tour?

Two years ago, at this big festival. There was a really nice party going on and we were playing, people were dancing and partying. A guy from the crowd climbed up onto the stage, and he was just dancing. The singer of the band was dancing with him and it was really quite spectacular, funny and spontaneous. Then one of the the security guys pulled him by his leg and the guys falls off the f---ing stage, falls with his head and neck on the fence in front of the stage. He was just laying there -- he didn't move anymore. They had to carry him away, and I don't know what happened after that. But that was really sick, because there was nothing violent going on. Sometimes the security guys can be such f---ing bastards! They try to maintain the peace but have an aggressive way of approaching people.

Have you ever played anything like SXSW before?

Never in the States. This is actually our first time coming over there. I am very, very excited! I want to see if it's just like in the movies!

What are you most looking forward to seeing in the States?

Seeing other bands that don't make it this way. I want to meet people, just have a good time, get drunk and have a great party.

What inspires you to make music?

A lot of my music comes from anger, frustration -- stuff that happens to me in daily life. The frustration of things that you cannot change, things that are bigger than you. I could say world problems, but then I would sound like Bono.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Burning Hotels review in FORT WORTH WEEKLY

The Burning Hotels

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 09:44 Caroline Collier
A maelstrom of cymbals and aggressive, feverish guitars, Novels sets a hectic pace from the get-go. A chaotic feeling pervades the 37 minutes and 11 songs, but an underlying mathematical genius rules. Every note complements every other.

Novels (Miss Press Records)
Burning Hotels guitarists and co-lead singers Chance Morgan and Matt Mooty started the band when they were teens. Now they're precocious twentysomethings who have mastered the kind of post-punk that's rampant on the airwaves and in Novels, the group's first full-length and second overall long-form recording. (The first was the EP Eighty-Five Mirrors.) Novels' highly polished precision displays maturity, as every turn and every verse is well planned and executed without error. Drummer Wyatt Adams seals the deal with machine-like perfection - his drumming suits the music while remaining richly textured and imaginative. Producers Will Hunt and Chad Copelin outdid themselves. Novels sounds like a five-star production.

Morgan and Mooty trade off songs and, when sharing songs, often bolster each other via harmonies and calls and responses. Bassist Marley Whistler sings lead on a track, "One to Five," and also holds the low end peacefully - like a good bass player in a post-punk band should.

The frontmen's voices are easily distinguishable. Mooty's musings are airy and pensive, lyrically and sonically. Married and a father, he tackles existential subjects, most notably in "Time" and "Boy or a Girl," in which he brings listeners into the world of a nervous first-time dad. Morgan has an optimistic yet sometimes discontented voice, and his compositions tend to be more festive. In "To Whom It May Concern," he succinctly captures a bacchanalian spirit. You can almost imagine him leaving a bar at closing time wearing his trademark skinny black jeans, eager to keep the party going.

The Burning Hotels recently made a performance cameo in Bandslam, a tween movie that showed great promise but flopped at the box office. But who needs Hollywood anyway? Novels has the mettle to stand on its own.