Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

The Beer Burglars, DIY Punk Rock At Its Finest April 25, 2012

Filed under: Concert Reviews,Music You've Been Missing — NVMP @ 7:46 PM

Show Review by Angela Blasi

March 30th, 2012 at Seven Days Bar in Union Beach, NJ

Ride bikes, drink beer, get awesome.  That’s the running motto of hardcore punk band The Beer Burglars.  I had the pleasure of watching this group perform at the Seven Days Bar in Union Beach, New Jersey a few weeks ago.  I had no idea what to expect, except lots of songs about beer.  I have to tell you, no truer a statement has been uttered.  Releasing their debut album entitled The Punks , the band maintains its identity and refuses to play large-scale venues.  Ready to play anywhere, anytime, the bands persona is confident and carefree.  But does this translate on a stage?  Absolutely.  The night I saw the Beer Burglars, lead singer Steel English donned a full face mask that was part skull part ski mask and was a perfect replica of Satan meets V for Vendetta.  Although I never saw his face, he kept me entertained all night long with hardcore vocals, screaming incessantly about beer as he shot gunned cans and provided loyal fans with refreshment.  Now, I didn’t think it was possible to come up with so many songs about beer let alone like that many songs about the same topic, but it is and I did.  I think my favorite track of the night was “Beeranator;” a short but intense track where the only word I could make out was “Beerinator!” but I thought it was great regardless.  Besides the brutal in-your-face vocals with a sense of humor, I really loved the way guitarist Henry Scardaville lent his energy to the stage.  Fun to watch, he added the right amount of intensity and personality to his nimble technique and colorful vocals.  Granted, the vocals were a lot of screaming but it wasn’t annoying or overdone.  Rounding out the rhythm section was Kat Scardaville pounding away with effortless precision on drums and Hurricane Luke holding it down, locking in with the fat sounds that filled out the musical line up.

Overall I like what the Beer Burglars have started here.  No matter what show you go to, you’re bound to have a good time regardless of how many songs you may or may not know.  Just crack open your favorite beer, raise it to the sky and scream along like any of the regulars.  Everyone’s invited.


 

Local Bands You Should Know About September 2, 2011

By Jake Woodbury Davis

Connecticut.  When you think of good music, slowly infiltrating the ears of desperate high-schoolers, you may think of bands coming out of New York City or LA.  But no, as hard as it is to believe, the nirvana of underground music comes from this small, stupidly wealthy state.  Not only here but also from Massachusetts, and even New Jersey.  This semi New England collective generally falls under the Red Rash Collective,  a group started by the local bands in and around Southington, CT (which, fortunately, is my hometown).  These groups of musicians are no ordinary collection of garage bands but an intense brotherhood of sweet, sweet musical happiness.  The extensive list is as follows:
The Guru (CT)

Dads (NJ)

FigureHead (CT)

Robin Hood (NY)

Glocca Morra (PA)

Jack Tomascak + Segunda Etapa (CT)

Pachangacha (MA)

The Front Bottoms (NY)

Chalk Talk (MA)

High Pop (CT)

Toasted Plastic (NJ)

Hot Mess (MA)

Spook Houses (NJ)

Manners (CT)

Band Name (PA)

Beach Sleepers (NH)

Holiday City (NJ)

Barefeet (CT)

The Helveticas (CT)

Deer Leap (NH)

Old Gray (NH)

NunCunt (CT)

Two Humans (CT)

Braeburn (CT)

The Ferns (CT)

Dix (CT)

The Greek Favourites (PA)

Inflatable Best Friend (MI)

Brown Cow (MI)

Old Yeller (CT)

Young Mountain (NH)

The Worthies (CT)

Empty Houses (NJ)

Babytown Frolics (CT)

Make Wave (MA)

Mer De Blanc (SC)

Centennial (MA)

Maintain Radio Silence (NH)

While I can’t promise that you’ll fall in love with every band on this list, I can almost guarantee that the following bands you read about will cause you to believe that good music isn’t dead, it’s merely hiding in the suburbs of the north-east.  The bands I enjoy the most, and have had the pleasure to attend the shows of, are Two Humans, The Helveticas, Nuncunt and The Guru.  Two Humans, while actually having three members, is a high energy, mildly depressed, indie meets punk meets folk, ear explosion of goodness.  The raspy vocalist Jason Rule can be heard singing of all the wonderful angst, drug abuse and lost love that joyfully accompanies the final years of school.  He is matched by bassist Justin Dubree (also bassist of The Helveticas) and Lucas who is the drummer of this wonderful trio.

The Helveticas, a jazz/dance/punk trio matches the badassery of Two Humans, but in a totally different way.  If you love to dance to songs that have serious rhythm, but are like me and physically incapable of forming dance moves recognizable to humans so you just bounce around awkwardly, this is the band for you.  Nick Charlton, the drummer, has created the only beats in my musical knowledge that are simultaneously jazzy, danceable and punk-ready.  Justin Dubree lays down a groove to be reckoned with.  Finally, guitarist and lead singer Oscar Godoy manages to sound reminiscent of Julian Casablancas while having a truly unique voice all his own.  He lays down a jazz guitar also punk in styling that I’ve never heard before.

Nuncunt, apart from having a truly offensive name, commands attention.  This female duo, one-part piano and one-part drums, is a sucker punch to the face, consisting of piano riot girl punk.  Don’t be fooled by the piano-filled melodies you hear; the words sung are full of venom.  The music you find online has no drums, but in live performances this essential piece gives the band more kick than they already possess in copious amounts.  Standing in front of pianist/vocalist Alex Saraceno I was embarrassed to have a Y chromosome.

Last but surely not least, The Guru.  This is a sound you never knew you wanted, but once heard takes a hold of you like no other drug.  This infectiously upbeat funk and disco-experimentalism pop supernova of music is like nothing you’ve ever heard, with a bizarre lead singer leading the way.  The band’s unusual vocal styling’s and oddball lyrics only make them exude double the charm the instruments provide.  I implore anyone who has ears to buy their album.  Also, they start each show with copious screaming and shouting and they tend to break their instruments at the end.  It doesn’t get any cooler than that.

This was your dose of local underground goodness.  Thanks for reading!

 

REPUBLIC OF LETTERS: The Band that Broke this Camel’s Back May 1, 2011

By Orin Louis

Ohhhh dammit.  After Wiki-ing “indie rock,” I can say that, from this genre, I enjoy and regularly listen to Elliott Smith, Interpol, Arcade Fire, and MGMT – but have only heard pieces of others, including The Killers, Modest Mouse, and The Get Up Kids.  Yes, I am one pathetic loser, because these bands are huge.  They sell out shows to tens of thousands of screaming little bastards; they are crucial links in our musical zeitgeist – indelible landmarks on our cultural landscape…blah blah…I know, and am hesitant to reveal this ignorance to you.  But I suck at lying.

So why is my opinion here worth a turd?  I’m rational, skeptical, and most importantly: fucking hard to please musically.  There’s a solid reason I’ve avoided this style so long – it’s often sappily two-dimensional.  I can’t ever tolerate country music because my dog hasn’t screwed my wife in the old Chevy pickup on the farm; likewise, I simply don’t relate to most indie.  It just doesn’t speak to me.  I was raised on classical, classic rock and a tinge of electronic.  Truth be told, I rarely enjoy music with any words at all, especially anything current.  High quality instrumentals plus meaningful prose is as common as hetero unicorns.  Lo, WTF – suddenly, my car’s been blasting an indie rock album on repeat for weeks?!  Republic of Letters’ new EP, Painted Hour, packs the emotion of Arcade Fire, the wisdom of E. Smith and the punchy pulse of MGMT.  The resulting sound floats past those less desirable, but all too familiar, indie rock traits, while staying true to the genre.  Artists of any medium who consciously work toward stretching a cluttered style in new directions – and are successful at it – are the only ones worth experiencing.  ROL’s music addresses common themes – love, hope, loss, desire, frustration, but from new angles.  Profound lyrics over meaty, hungry instrumentals take me somewhere else, somewhere I want to be.

In my favorite track, “Running From,” a reverby piano accompanies lead singer Chris Venti’s mellifluous voice so perfectly.  Picture “November Rain” vs anything Radiohead.  “Running From” never loses energy as it effortlessly builds and breaks, hitting me deep in the gut.  Lyrics like, “Cause the writing on the walls today / yeah I don’t know just what they say / was stolen from a haunted past,” do not entirely make sense to me, but jeez, I don’t want to understand immediately.  Robert Frost said: “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.”  I say the most valuable art is not that which is immediately accessible, but that which reveals clear intention, while leaving room for discovery.  Every track on Painted Hour has this effect.  The music is intelligent; it holds back the right amount to keep me engaged yet, with each play, I hear something new.

I meet the band at The Red Fox Room in North Park, CA.  I’d expected lanky, drugged-out assholes; yet, to my relief, they are sharp-witted and genuinely personable (but still lanky).  They’re also snappy dressers.  I ask them to start at the beginning.  Guitarist Adrian tells of when he was a kid, watching his parents’ band: “She dressed up in cheetah print…they played so loudly, I’d go up the stairs and try to play along with them on keyboard.  But I really wanted to be a drummer, and began by playing bells.”  I asked if that was a helpful experience.  “Hell no!” He retorts.  “Carrying around a bell kit, you’re a target.  I got beat up a couple times.  But I used the bells on the last record for one tiny part.  Nick gave me shit, but it worked, ya know?  Now I practice guitar usually around eight hours each day.”  An aspiring, yet busy, guitarist myself, I can’t help but envy the guy – perks of being a professional.

Bassist Martin began on the recorder “‘Hot Cross Buns,’ dude,” he tells me (now regretfully).  “I played trumpet, then got good at baritone horn.  Even got to play in a Charger halftime show.  One day, my dad told me, ‘Get good at bass and you can be in any band you want.’  I started going to shows, even if I didn’t know which bands were playing.  I spent all my money on CDs.”  I ask if playing for a pro football stadium was difficult.  “It’s much scarier playing for friends intimately.  That’s the nice thing about touring—you can be whatever you want in front of people you don’t know.”  I imagine meeting ROL in a few years to see if they’re still pretending, or if they will have become these alter egos.
 The Venti brothers’ (singer and drummer) mother is a classically trained pianist and vocalist.  Nick recalls, “Music was always around.  We were always in a creative environment.”  I ask about how/when he knew he wanted to be a musician.  He tells me of a night in his teen years, at a Bad Religion show: “Riding the mosh pit, I got thrown into that space between the stage and the crowd.  Security was walking me out when they became distracted by two punks climbing the rafters.  Everyone rushed over there and I had a moment to decide…I jumped up on stage while they were playing.  My friends were like, what the fuuuu?!  Was just one of those moments.”  He reminisces on ROL’s early days: “We were a piece for a year, until Adrian came in to raise up the musicianship, and we finally found that sound. All our music now is about creating a mood. If we all like that mood, we’ll continue with it.”

I ask Chris from where he gets his lyrics. He explains: “I go through notebooks of crap to pick out a few winners. I’ll build a song after that. I’m always trying different writing methods to grow, like maybe starting with the idea in a chorus and then going to verses. Although, I’m not totally bound to that because there are songs I love that I have no idea what the words are about, but they’re my favorite songs.” I ask why. “Probably because you can attach your own meaning, and then start to build a story around it. You connect the dots in your own way. The interaction between music and listeners…I always thought that was cool.” His brother adds: “For our sound, the song is the most important part of the song, if that makes sense. The music around it should be tasteful and interesting, but if you were to strip down one of our songs and play it on the acoustic, that’d be the most important thing.”  ROL is not an acoustic band; they play electric guitars, basses, and keyboards.  I am still digesting this idea, that the song is the most important part of the song.  Something profound here.

Nick tells me, “It’s not real methodical.  We all look at it like, how can we write a better song?”  I ask, “What’s a better song?”  “Cliché, but one that pulls on the heart-strings.  It’s a never-ending process.  If you feel it…the song will create an emotion in you.  It’ll make sense.  I mean we don’t wanna make people cry, but hopefully the song connects and make sense.  There are rules, but it’s cool to break ’em if you can do it.”  Chris adds, “It’s enjoyable when things click with four people.  You don’t have control of the other people but, from nowhere, you all tap into something and it just starts to work.  You might have heard that from other artists.”  Adrian interjects, passionately: “What was burning behind all of it was this feeling, this energy, this basic drive from the beginning.  We didn’t know how to write a song…we just kept putting one foot in front of the next and here we are.”

I ask their thoughts on the San Diego music scene.  Nick says: “It’s great.  Small, everybody knows each other, real supportive.  SD’s missing real industry though—labels to help bands move from here to there.  LA has all that, but it’s not real inviting.  You come to LA to play, just to do your thing.  SD’s more communal…supportive radio and people.  In the 90’s there were a few labels here…but there’s just not a lot of good deals anywhere out there anymore.  People who that think the music industry is dying are wrong.  It just needs to evolve.  It’s in that middle period.  I know groups who’ve signed to labels and it works for them…but the label takes a cut of everything…which is fine if they’re making you a lot of money, but often it’s not like that.  A band now gets momentum on its own.”  I ask him, “Advice for those trying to break into it?”  “Don’t quit,” he says.  “Every band that started when we started is not around anymore, at least on the local level.”  I can’t help but marvel at their determination.  Although, it doesn’t hurt that they rip and, should they ever forget, they will be quickly reminded by their massive local following.  They invite me to a rehearsal.

The following week, we meet at their studio, a room in a building made specifically for bands.  Walking down the hallway, I hear and see musicians all over, smoking and jamming out.  To my surprise, Republic of Letters sounds exactly the same or better than they do recorded.  I try hard not to lip-sync, though by now I know most of the words.  I enjoy a private show for myself and two photographers.  I don’t intend to stay long, since I’ve other assignments beckoning, but I end up staying the couple of hours through their entire set.  Each musician is focused, professional and deliberate.  It is clear in their expressions and through their playing.  I leave feeling extra special, having experienced this young band, no doubt soon to be a household name.  Imagine seeing the Stones before they were the Stones.  Yeah.  Feels like that.

Sigh.  Guess I’m into indie rock now.  Not ready for the tight jeans yet (I’m not lanky), but I am eager to check out some of the band’s other musical recommendations, including Louis XIV and Transfer.  At the bar earlier this week, Nick described Republic of Letters’ songs as “new kids, which we get to see grow and grow.”  Pick up their new album ASAP, catch them live and witness their talent and notoriety grow and grow.  Hendrix said: “Music doesn’t lie.  If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”  This band has something to say and the skill with which to say it.  If their music doesn’t change this world, at worst, it is guaranteed to alter the entire indie rock genre forever.

 

The Bloody Muffs at Local 269 in NYC March 18, 2011 April 3, 2011

By Angela Blasi

Off East Houston St. in NYC lies a club that deems itself, “The Last Bastion of Great Live Music in NYC.”  A small club with just enough room for a bar and a few tables and chairs (mainly standing room only), one could tell frills were not something of a major concern to the owner.  No, instead a simple back line and a whole bunch of punk rock bands held my attention for the evening.  Primarily, it was the Bloody Muffs.  A trio made up of drummer Kat Kaos, lead vocalist/guitarist Jonesy and bassist Jessica, the group doesn’t waste much time with fancy bio’s or elaborate songs.  Rather, it seems they put all efforts into the DIY mentality; straight and to the point, giving it all they’ve got on every song.

Although their set was short that night at Local 269, I have to say it was a good one that I enjoyed.  Maybe they aren’t taking on politics and challenging the government with each verse and chorus, but I can not deny how much fun singing an entire chorus of “Fuck Your Mom” can be.  With songs about various whores, people sucking, drunken sex and feeling alright no matter what happens, I found myself laughing and simply enjoying the music all night.

Despite technical difficulties in the first number, the band carried on effortlessly, letting the mistakes roll off their backs like seasoned professionals.  I liked their inclusion of all three members on vocals, adding texture and a conversational nature to many of the songs that gave for a sense of inclusion and light heartedness.  I also must add, that as a group they were musically solid.  I particularly enjoyed the song, “Love Me Like A Drug” where each pause and blast beat were seamlessly integrated into the music, all members executing the rhythms perfectly.  Sure, a seasoned eye can catch mistakes from any player but the errors are not important so much as it is the performer’s ability to overcome them and keep going.

I’d recommend this band for anyone who isn’t into taking themselves too seriously and enjoys punk rock that does the same.  A great band to go see, have a beer and hang out with, the Bloody Muffs are a good time live.  For your listening pleasure, check out their two albums Heavy Flow and Sloppy Seconds, both available on Amazon.com and iTunes.

 

What You’ve Been Missing – Brendan Perry March 27, 2011

by Mark B.

For the better part of a 30+ year musical career, he has been known as one half of the mystifying group Dead Can Dance, known for masterfully arranging unique soundscapes from blending numerous musical genres and movements (Chant, Irish folk, African poly rhythms, Medieval, Renaissance, Middle Eastern and Punk, to name a few).   Co-led by his distinctive style of chant singing, Perry provided a powerful presence with a radiant counterbalance to partner Lisa Gerrard’s booming mystical voice, helping to guide the listener through beautiful poetic verses entwined within world influences.  But the world of musical wonders was not to last forever, as DCD decided to call it quits not long after the release of their final album in 1996.   Fortunately this would not be the last we would hear from the cathedral voiced musician, as he chose to continue with the release of his debut solo effort Eye of the Hunter (1999).

For fans, one of the biggest issues when a hugely influential group breaks up is whether any solo career is worth following.  Will the solo efforts be any good?   Will the new works be a stretching of their musical abilities or will they simply rehash their previous groups for years to come?  Most thankfully, Eye of the Hunter turns out to be a finely executed debut, managing to explore new musical ground and allowing Perry to vocally stretch his wings, successfully avoiding a complete rehash of DCD.   It is a beautifully ethereal, folk inspired experience featuring acoustic based arrangements, orchestral electronics and sparse instrumentation.  The tracks seamlessly shift between hopeful and melancholy with each passing track without ever becoming a cheap copy of DCD.   As the capacity to grow as a new solo artist continues after a long period of inactivity, he finally returned with his most recent release Ark (2010).  Featuring predominantly electronic arrangements and lyrics which could only be described as inward gazing outward, he manages to flesh out a more haunting, yet strangely uplifting sound without falling victim to the ever clichéd Emo-misery and gloom.  When it comes to finding beauty within the empty or experiencing the gloom without the doom, Brendan Perry is definitely an artist that you can count on to deliver, regardless of what incarnation he exists in.

Required Listening
With only 2 albums having been released since 1999, the best way to truly experience solo Brendan Perry is to get a hold of both Eye of the Hunter and Ark.  Get to it!

Six Ways To Experience Brendan Perry
6. “Inferno” – from the album Ark – An intense and otherworldly song which cries of longing.
5. “Severance” – from the album The Serpent’s Egg­­ by Dead Can Dance,
4. “The Trial”- from the album Dead Can Dance by Dead Can Dance – A fast paced world music tinged almost punk song that gives glimpses of Perry’s roots in the Punk scene of Australia.
3. “Anywhere Out of the World” – from the album Within the Realm of a Dying Sun by Dead Can Dance – Music for the world-weary romantic dreamer.
2. “Medusa” – from the album Eye of the Hunter – A dreamy Waltz through the tale of seductress.
1. “Utopia” – from the album Ark – A glimmer of hope from someone who has been overwhelmed by all the hardships of life, and is still standing.


 

Sandi Thom February 23, 2011

Filed under: Music You've Been Missing — NVMP @ 9:13 AM
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By Angela Blasi
I have to say, technology sometimes serves its purpose.  I was just trolling the pages of YouTube for Sandi Thom’s “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers in my Hair)”, when I decided to delve deeper.  I have to tell you, I like what I hear.  This may be the most random artist review I’ll ever do, but it needed to be done.  I had no idea she was classified as a blues/rock artist, but as I take on track after track, I can hear the blue notes she touches and it gives her music powerful melodies as well as character.  A trend I’ve come to notice in the singer’s artwork is the beauty in its simplicity.  It is so refreshing to hear a track stripped of fancy production edits, punches and the dreaded autotune.  Thom’s voice, with all its unique accouterments’, is the most colorful and alluring part of the piece.  I fell so in love with her hit single partly because of its simplicity.  Through the first 30 seconds of the track, you are flooded with nothing but her voice; a voice that washes over you with the force of a tidal wave yet rocks you slowly like the bay.  The entire song retains that crisp cleanliness of sound as the natural groove of her voice is accented perfectly by the one-two punch of a kick drum that grabs you by the heart-strings, forcing it to beat simultaneously with every pitch and note.  Other tracks such as “Superman” retain that very haunting simplicity.  Slower track, “Superman” cries with the sweet sadness of your first honest broken heart.

In the trend of Sandi Thom, simply stated, she carries a powerful instrument in her soul expressing it beautifully in a tirade of melodies and harmonies that delve deep inside the listener.  Accentuated charmingly without ever losing it’s focus, Sandi Thom’s songs brilliantly shine track after track.

 

New Music and Videos February 8, 2011

“Cameras” by Matt and Kim
What makes a great pair?  A phenomenal song with a video that keeps your full attention!  I love the catchy pop hooks that keep me grooving and I’m loving the sounds of the fight behind the song, what a great addition.  The chorus gives me the impression that the song was meant for none of this to be caught on camera, in a way telling us to go live our own lives; not everything needs documentation.  “No time for cameras, we’ll use our eyes instead / No time for cameras, we’ll be gone when we’re dead / No time for cameras, we’ll use our minds instead / I see flashes of gold.” Well said Matt and Kim.

“Born Under A Bad Sign” by Moneybrother
I can’t get enough of this song!  I love to listen to it while working out.  It has a familiar sound, like Kaiser Chiefs meet The Clash.  NVMP will be sure to let you know how Moneybrother is live, as they will be opening up for Flogging Molly on the Green 17 Tour, more details to follow.

“What You Know” by Two Door Cinema Club
I am loving this indie track.  The video is fun to watch, as in “what the hell am I watching here?” all while falling in love with the track.  I can’t put my finger on it as of why, but when I watch, all I can think of is the chick in that Robert Palmer video for “Addicted to Love.”  Oh well, just enjoy some new music.

“Sail” by AWOLNATION
If you haven’t head of AWOLNATION by now, then wise up fools!  Finally, a new video has been released, but maybe you can blame it on my ADD.  The piano and the la-la-la’s tie the song all together, with the ‘sail”s stretched out ever so slightly.  The electronic dance beats with an alternative vibe leaves us craving more from AWOLNATION.  We have no idea what will happen next in the video, but we hope to find out soon.