Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Graveyard BBQ’s “Greatest Hits: Volume Two”

June 30, 2009

Written By: Mike Pelosi

Recently winning “High Times Best New Underground Artist of the Year” Award for 2009, along with a featured song in the first “Guitar Hero” game (“Cheat on the Church”), Graveyard BBQ is on a blazing roll that will destroy before being stopped. Formed in 2003 in Waltham, MA the BBQ consists of Howlin’ Jack Boone on vocals, Brown Bag Johnson on guitar, Bud Black on bass guitar, and Whitey Trasher on drums. The band is self categorized as being “dirtcore” which means good old sleazy rock riffs, monstrous rhythm sections, scantily clad girls dancing on stage, and testosterone driven topics. Graveyard BBQ is everything commercial radio hates. It just so happens that’s the way fans like it.

Graveyard’s latest compilation, the self titled “Greatest Hits: Volume Two,” is not only their best work to date but their most promising. Ever wonder what modern metal would sound like if infused with 1960’s southern blues rock? Look no further. Curious as to the energy-baby a down town strip club and an AC/DC show would create? You’ve found your answer! Every track on the album delivers a heaping dose of delicious groove rock and sinful pleasure…so sinful Ron Jeremy wears a Graveyard BBQ t-shirt to his photo shoots.

“The Clothes that Make the Man” rightfully begins the auditory assault. A repeating thunderous guitar and raw, yet tastefully produced vocals create a high voltage, head banging atmosphere. Midway through the track a vintage modified solo that doesn’t try to be what it’s not adds a melodic component displaying the band’s versatility as musicians. Our next stop is at the track “BBQ Nation.” The heavy shuffle rhythm and the repeating vocal line “If you’re not with us, yer’ against us!” is an underground anthem. Additionally, it provides the listener with statement about the band’s purpose in life. “Ride the Stache” features a catchy verse-chorus unison and authoritative vocals about that x-rated action. It cost five cents, by the way. Listening to these three tracks is enough to get the Graveyard experience but other gems like “BBQ Girl” and “The Road that Lies Ahead” make the story complete.

Of course it has what could be seen as short comings. Every track uses a similar formula that can dull the senses. This, along with straight-forward identical musical arrangements, has been the main criticism of Graveyard BBQ. However, there is something to be said about not ruining a good thing. Graveyard does a good job at infusing different styles but lacks transitional material that makes the track sound erratic. The choppy stop and go approach could be a little smoother but that, of course, would not be true. Whatever they are perceived as doing bad they do damn good.

Musically, Graveyard is not complex or even original. What makes them special, however, is they don’t claim to be. Band members have no problem admitting that they are carrying on the prestigious tradition of heavy rock and roll. In fact, they thrive on it. In an era where Nickleback and Theory of a Deadman sound the same (along with every other new rock-radio act), it’s refreshing to hear a band standing in a rooted position. Instead of trying to sound like the next big thing they put their energy towards feel good music that resonates with the soul of fun. Graveyard has an entertainment factor about them that could be too hot to touch. Their loyal following, the “BBQ Nation,” sees it the same way. When music becomes too serious it is painfully boring. However, when music can invoke emotion it’s a movement.

Graveyard BBQ is injecting rejuvenation into the underground rock scene. Their string of success, at the very least, shows rock is not dead; it’s just been to quiet. Overall, “Greatest Hits: Volume Two” gets three and a half out of four pitchforks and a side of chopped road kill for a final grade.

BONUS MATERIAL: AN INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST BROWNBAG JOHNSON

CWG: What is your weapon of choice?

BB: My Minarik Inferno Flying V which Satan hand crafted himself for me!

CWG: Why put so much into the music and production that is Graveyard BBQ?

BB: Because it’s our life. What else is their to live for? Music is the universal language. It doesn’t matter where you live, how old you are, what color you are, or your gender.

To be born with a gift and strive to be considered the best, and loved and respected at something is rare in this world. We eat, sleep, sh*t, and breath BBQ bra!

CWG: How long have you been doing this for? Is their an end date in sight?

BB: I personally have been playing music my whole life, since I was six years old. I started Graveyard BBQ in the summer of 2003 and we’ve been around for six years now kicking ass and taking names.

The BBQ will always live on forever no matter what. I know speaking for myself and I’m sure it’s the same with all the other bro’s; we’ll be playing or at least be involved with music for the rest of our lives. It’s hardwired into us!

CWG: What’s the biggest roadblock you’ve hit so far and how did you blast through it?

BB: I consider everyday to be a challenge, you got to blast through it every f*cking day-consistency is key to success. It builds character. We’ve always been a band that has always had the “goods” but never really caught a huge break or had anything or anyone behind except for us that was really driving it hard.

Everything we’ve accomplished, from GUITAR HERO to recently winning the High Times Magazine “Best New Artist” Doobie Award, we’ve f*cking pounded the pavement harder than any other unsigned band out there, and have earned everything we’ve worked for.

There’s definitely satisfaction in that, and when I look around at other bands that get it soooo easy and suck soooo bad… haha we’re there already though, we always have been. 2009 is the Year of the BBQ.

CWG: What makes you take a breath and say “It’s all good?”

BB: The fans… the BBQ NATION! And of course family and friends are extremely supportive of what we do; they’re all a part of it. When you got peeps all the way from f*cking sticks in Arkansas to Sunset Strip in L.A, to England to Sweden to Indonesia to Spain, praising what you do, its all gravy man!

Cause’ once we get the deal we’ve been working for the world is ours! A BBQ NATION awaits us all, only 1 God, 1 grill, Indivisible.

Interested in reading more about Graveyard BBQ as well as merchandise, tour dates, videos, and pictures of the band? Check them out at on Myspace.

Jesse Dee – Bittersweet Batch

June 20, 2009

Label: 7not
Rating: 5 Guns (That’s right. FIVE.)

Buy On:
Jesse Dee

Review By: Hilary Hughes

I’m just going to call it like it is: Jesse Dee’s sound is pure poetry. It’s not just the searing quality of his octave-leaping voice; it’s not the carefully constructed band complete with buttery background vocals and a vibrant horns section that supports Dee in his musical exploits; and it’s not the fact that I come from a biased place given that I’ve had the fortune of seeing him perform live every Sunday for the past few weeks.

It’s essentially a combination of all of these things that deliver a beautiful package encapsulated in his latest release, Bittersweet Batch, that have me listening in awe to this guy who’s going to be headlining sold out venues across the country in a matter of minutes.

Ever the sucker for good variation, I really love how Dee shakes it up by pairing soulful, intimate ballads (“Still here”, namely) with tracks that make you want to dance like a maniac (“Alright”, “Alive and Kickin’”). Dee, whose Boston roots have helped establish him as THE local act to watch, has a promising future if he keeps it up with the soulful sounds that incorporate blues, bluegrass, and good old-fashioned rock n’ roll.

Like Jesse Dee? You may also like: Jeff Buckley, Pete Francis, Braddigan, Jack Johnson

Papa Roach – Metamorphosis

June 20, 2009

Label: DGC/Interscope
Rating: 5 Guns

Buy On:
Papa Roach

Written By: Jim Markunas

“Holy F%&$!!!” is the only phrase I can think of to describe “Metamorphosis,” Papa Roach’s 5th Major label offering, and followup to 2006’s “Paramour Sessions.” Having abandoned their metal roots for a more dangerous, biker-bar sound, Papa Roach have crowned themselves the new kings of dangerous; one-upping fellow rock bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry.

Papa Roach made a promise to pummel their listeners with full-on rock, opening with the instrumental “Days of War,” and delivered, ripping immediately into the altruistic-yet-in-your-face, “Change or Die.”

Street-single “Hollywood Whore” follows third, and showcases the classic Papa Roach sound found on “Love.Hate.Tragedy” and “Getting Away With Murder.” The song is obviously about stereotypical Hollywood party girls, but the juxtoposition of Jacoby’s angry and bitterly comical lyrics take the old story to another level of rock; as does the anti-love song “I Almost Told You That I Loved You.”

Current single, “Lifeline” channels classic rock, and sounds a bit like U2 on meth (see video below). P. Roach’s guitar player Jerry Horton shows his stuff on this track, proving once and for all that Nu-Metal bands can play a guitar solo if they want to!

“Had Enough,” in addition to protesting this nation’s war-mongering spirit, in a way re-vamps “Forever,” the middle single from “Paramour Sessions,” but throws in a little bit of the Deftones’ and Interpol’s cerebral brand of rock.

“Live This down” just plain kicks ass. Enough said.

The last half of “Metamorphosis” becomes experimental and rock-opera-esq (not a criticism). Each song from track 8-12 fits into a running theme, showcases Papa Roach’s versatility, and channels the pomp of glam rock.

I don’t usually pester people to buy albums (afterall, I am a journalist), but… Everyone out there HAS to buy this album. Please click the links in this review to get “Metamorphosis” off iTunes and/or Amazon.

Papa Roach – “Lifeline” (Video)

Minor Keys – Pocket Knife

June 20, 2009

Written By: Michael Elwood

This review ain’t no easy task, seeing as PocketKnife eschews notions of genre. These Brooklynites self-identify as an Indie/Pop/Rock outfit (on MySpace, anyway), but there’s no denying substantive elements of Electronica, Ska, Funk and Jazz in the group’s sound.

PocketKnife rocked Glasslands Gallery (located on Some Dark-Ass Road, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, the United States of America, Earth) on Tuesday, same night ______ rocked ______ in the second Presidential debate. ______ spanked ______ like an unruly schoolboy! ______ in ’08!

Being a trio, they’re a bit of an endangered species. Sure, you’ve got your Creams and your Nirvanas and your Husker Dus (wish I knew how to add umlauts) and your Rushes and your Police and whatnot, but successful trios are going the way of the dodo. I’ve got a feeling PocketKnife is gonna be around for awhile.

They played eight widely disparate tracks on Tuesday night. Some fast, some slow, some old (I’ve followed these guys for awhile), some new. Two standouts:

“Buy Back the Boat”—Drummer Robby Sinclair embraces negative space in this, one of their more fully realized tracks. His restrained, syncopated beat allows the song to breathe, fostering an atmosphere of tentative expectation. The other two fellas respond in full, breathing color and texture into an already sexy song with a smoky, step-down bassline (compliments of Jordan Brooks) and emotive vocal by Colin Killalea. Minimal as hell, nary a stray note. I’ve no idea what this song “means,” nor do I care. Colin’s mournful (yet oddly optimistic) phrasing over the outro—“we know/nothing is wrong”—nearly breaks my heart every time I hear it.

“Color Guard”—My personal fave. Robby ditches the sticks and manipulates an electronic kit/synth/turntable thing (clearly I’m an ignoramus), blanketing Colin’s rhythmic strummings with a futuro dance beat. Now’s as good a time as any to mention that PocketKnife makes great use of dissonance—their non-traditional approach to key and timing challenges the tired song structures we’re all acquainted with. Here, the beat crayons wildly outside the lines, offering a Floydian approach (think the bassline to “Money”) to dance rock. PocketKnife builds “Color Guard” well, complementing that opening sequence with an animated electric bass (Jordan gets funky) ’til the whole thing disintegrates into jubilant cacophony.

Words, of course, are no proper substitute for the real thing. Be sure to see ‘em live—they play all over New York. Listen here

Leopold And His Fiction – Ain’t No Surprise

June 20, 2009

Label: Native Fiction
Rating: 3.5 Guns

Buy On:
Leopold and his Fiction
Link
Review by: Hilary Hughes

Leopold And His Fiction has put out an album that elicits a response akin to post-coital bliss.

When I put Ain’t No Surprise on, my eyelids flutter under the weight of an impending heaviness, the steady snares and ambitious, distortion-free solos envelope me, and finally, after the record has run through its track list, I suddenly feel the need for a long, hard drag on somebody else’s cigarette.

I don’t mean to make the latest release from Leopold And His Fiction sound like auricular porn or anything, because there’s nothing sexually implied in the slightest. I just can’t remember the last time I listened through an album in its entirety and thought to myself, “This? This sound is pure sex.”

What I appreciate most about Ain’t No Surprise is the consistency behind each and every track, and the cohesive sound that incorporates the talents of each piece in the band. It doesn’t hurt that Daniel James’ boisterous vocals trip and soar over the high-notes on songs like “Come Back (Now That I’m Here),” either. The song can start off careful and slow, like “Tigerlily or Adanelina,” or it could flourish from the strong percussive presence on tracks like “Sun’s Only Promise” and Hawk Eyes.”

Either way, a climax hits the ear on each track of Ain’t No Surprise, and maybe it’s this build up in 4/4 time delivering musical euphoria that has me thinking of Leopold And His Fiction along X-rated lines.

Like this band? You may also like: Basement Band, Cold War Kids, The Doors, Johnny Cash, The Strokes


Tour Dates ::
10.11 San Francsco, CA @ Hemolock Tavern (w/the dazzling strangers/candy apple/ EFS!!!!)
10.16 Portland, OR @ East End w/Candy Apple
10.17 Eugene, OR @ Awesome House (party)
10.22 Brooklyn, NY @ The Charleston (CMJ Show!)
10.24 Flagstaff, AZ @ The Monte Vista Hotel Cocktail Lounge
10.25 Tucson, AZ @ The Living Room (w/young mothers)
10.26 Phoenix, AZ @ Animal House (party)
10.27 Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
10.28 Amarillo, TX @ Golden Light Cantina
10.29 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
10.31 Ft. Worth @ The Moon Bar
11.01 Austin, TX @ Emo’s
11.03 San Antonio, TX @ The Mix
11.04 El Paso, TX @ The Percolator (w/Ralphenne)
11.06 San Diego, CA @ Chasers
11.07 West Hollywood, CA @ On The Rox

The Revisionists

June 20, 2009

Label: Loveless Records
Rating: 4 Guns

Written By: Hilary Hughes

Buy On:
The Revisionists

I feel like I need to preface this review by bringing to the reader’s attention that I, Hilary Hughes, am shamelessly, hopelessly, and unabashedly obsessed with “Empire Records.” The 1996 film chronicling the life and love of an independent record store was one that I watched at least twice a day throughout my adolescence, and I’ve owned more than four copies of its soundtrack due to the fact that I keep wearing it out.

The reason why I’m conjuring up remembrances of this cult classic is because I feel that The Revisionists and their new self-titled album would feel right at home blasting over the speakers inside my beloved Empire. I’m not stopping there, though: I’m sure that their album would be spinning in a Doc Marten-sporting Liv Tyler’s Discman, that a hash-happy Marc (played by Ethan Embry) would bounce around the stacks of vinyl like a maniac to “Broken Wing,” and that Renee Zellweger’s tragically beautiful Tina would be gearing up to belt one of their show-stopping anthems like “Monday” in order to save the store during the movie’s climactic ending.

It’s been awhile since echoes of the post-grunge alternative music scene have made an appearance in recent releases. The alt-rock roots of The Revisionists make them direct descendents, however: two of the three members of the band, Dan Lavery and Kevin Shepard, formerly of post-grunge phenomenon Tonic, are responsible for a couple of the most memorable hits of the 90s, “If You Could Only See” and “Open Up Your Eyes.”

My favorite track, “IDWK”, has a similar chord progression to The Martinis’ “Free,” the song backing Deb as she shaves her dome in “Empire Records,” but it’s also a haunting personal inquiry regarding the state of the future that asks questions on everyone’s minds [“it doesn’t matter how I vote/this is not your father’s war, it’s being sold as if it were/how do you explain it to your kids?]”. Though the lyrics cut to the chase, the fact that they’re spliced with an upbeat, sunny melody fit for dancing forces me to applaud the contrast fitting for these venerable, beloved veterans of the 90s.

In an age where digitally-enhanced voices and computerized accompaniment are now tools of the musical trade, it’s refreshing to hear imperfect voices set to fierce distortion and weathered chords. “Empire Records,” to me, is timeless, regardless of the musical selections appropriate to the time and place on its soundtrack and the “Sinead O’Rebellion” wardrobes rocked by the post-pubescent cast. The Revisionists to me have this same appeal: there’s no questioning where they come from musically, and there’s a reason why a sound like theirs can be valued today just as much as it would’ve been in 1996.

Like this band? You may also like: Tonic, Better Than Ezra, Semisonic, The Gin Blossoms

Thick as Thieves, True Believers in the Long Walk Home

June 20, 2009

Label: Self-Released
Rating: 4 Guns

Buy On:
Thick As Thieves

Review by: Hilary Hughes

It’s the beginning of October, and Indian Summer is over and done with in Boston: everyone has long since settled in since the semester started, the leaves are easing from vermillion to bleeding reds and yellows, and the biting briskness in the air is more welcome than waning. The best part of school being back in session is the reviving autumn wind and the extra dose of energy that blows into town with it… and the best way to make use of this seasonal enthusiasm is to head straight to the Middle East or a basement in Allston to dance to the downbeats and scratchy refrains screaming from the amps of the local, raw talent.

On nights like these, when you see your breath curling in front of you in the cold, high-energy bands who shove you into an embrace with their guitar rock are just the ticket, and Cambridge’s own Thick as Thieves fit the bill with their latest release, True Believers in the Long Walk Home.
What I love about True Believers… is its variation and the balance it achieves with a smaller song list. If I fall head over heels for a new album, I need songs on it that’ll work for my tired train ride in the morning as well as my backing track for when I’m dancing around in my underwear before a night out (in the privacy of my own apartment, of course). Like a meticulous, composed game of tug-of-war, the tracks of True Believers… alternate between power chord pushing numbers and sleepy, heavily medicated melodies. Let’s make an example of two of the album’s stronger selections, There Were Sparrows and Weak End with No End.

With Sparrows, Tyler Litwin’s vocals approach the steady twang of the steel-stringed acoustic guitar effortlessly and two meld in the mellow, while the fierce percussive presence and sonic distortion in Weak End with No End leave the listener empowered and eager to take on the night in every capacity.

In terms of temporal taste, Thick as Thieves has a sound that suits a time in transition, be it seasonal or a little more difficult to define. True Believers in the Long Walk Home is a fulfilling listen that’ll soothe, stun and satiate you, and a band with this kind of might behind them may be just what you need to avoid a head-on collision with the impending doldrums of winter.

Like this band? You may also like: Avett Brothers, Neutral Milk Hotel

Skamper – Thunderbeast

June 20, 2009

Label: Second Floor Noise
Rating: 3.5 Guns

Buy On:
Skamper

Masters of styles is the first phrase that comes to mind after hearing Skamper’s new album, “Thunderbeast.” Seemlessly blending aggressive electronica with Killers-style indie rock, this album is an experimental delve into sound.

“Thunderbeast” was almost scrapped by its creator, singer Lawrence Lewis, but luckily a new mix brought the album to life and put it on our desk.

“Afterlife,” the album’s lead track, starts off with heavy synth, and seamlessly rolls into a rock opus. A lot of times bands can’t quite make electronica work with alternative, but this song breaks that mold in a great way.

“Evacuate” is a guitar-infused goth song about an insane person, reminiscent of Placebo and The Cure.

“Garden” reminds me of God Lives Underwater, starting slow and gradually transitioning into a ‘garden’ of distortion.

“It’s Blue” is a slow/cerebral song that bursts into the punk-infused “Ladyfingers.” Definitely a cool pairing.

“Number 9” is a B-52-influenced space-rocker. If I was blasting through the galaxy in a rocketship, this is the song I would be blaring to ward off extra-terrestrials. “Number 9” goes hand-in-hand with the experimental, “Planet Boy.”

What happens when you mix 30 Seconds to Mars with Muse? You end up with “Starbird,” a fluttery song that brings Grunge into the new millennium.

“Thieves” takes what A Perfect Circle did in “Thinking of You,” mixing porn rock with 90s alternative. Definitely worth checking out.

The journey comes to an end with “Two Feet, By Two Feet” and “Whistleblower.” Whistleblower jams slowly as it lands us back on earth, spinning from the journey into space Skamper just took us on.

Skamper – “Whistleblower”

_________________________________________
Interview:
Mixed by Jason Grossman (Flogging Molly, Thrills) Thunderbeast is Skamper’s new release, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born on a bed of sonic chunk and melodic noise. The band was born in 2001, with head maestro, founding member and songwriter Lawrence Lewis as the vortex that draws everything near its center – members and ingredients changing as the stew continues to take on strange new flavors. The one constant, musician and artist Devon Paulson is the perfect musical compliment to Lewis’ idiosyncratic imagination, and Thunderbeast does not fail to deliver a punch of sonic substance and intrigue.

You could describe their sound as glitter-punk-cronk-choas but handles don’t really do it justice. Lawrence has been cooking up these fascinating brews for the last few years in a Silverlake closet, and Phillip Haut (The Centimeters, Listing Ship, Veronica Lipgloss and the Evil Eyes) did the recording honors. But the albums’ mixes were scrapped just before mastering, and Jason Gossman (The Thrills, The Rumble Strips, Sondre Lechre, Flogging Molly) stepped in to lend a new set of ears and a masterful remix.

Some songs feel like beds of keenly constructed noise and feedback, cradles for melodies that sit tightly while they ride the waves. Others feel more like primal noise jelly and will drive you to jump up and rock your spasmodic body into blissful seizures. Internet and indie airwaves, get ready. Those of you hungry for a new aural ear-bang, be ready. This is one beast you’ll definitely want to meet on a dark street.

We ran into Lawrence Lewis, and threw a few questions at him. Enjoy!

CWG: Silverlake is a pretty diverse area. Would you say that living there has had an influence on the diverse sounds of Skamper?

It’s quite possible, but not in a musical way. I don’t feel any connection to the music scene in Silverlake, but I’m sure the city in general has influenced me to some degree. I started the band when I was living in London so it’s quite possible that there are some influences from other places in the world.

Also, I feel that my scattered little brain has fallen in love with so many different genres of music that it’s all come through in what I write. I love dark and ugly, happy and poppy, moody, frenetic… I think it just depends on my mood that day and what or whom I’m writing about.

This album ended up being sort of a reflection of my interpersonal relationships to some extent. You could almost say that each song is about a specific person, or a specific exchange or encounter with someone I know, and since people in general are quite diverse, and our moods as humans are quite diverse and can be a bit twisted or jagged, I think the songs took on those qualities.

CWG: Who are some of your musical influences?

I’m never good at answering this question… I always feel that the things that influences us as people and artists is a bit unknown to us… they operate in the subconscious level rather than in the subjective mind. Or at least they should.

I try to stay away from listening to bands or music I like and steering my songs into those directions. That wouldn’t be an influence, that would just be copying.

But to answer the question without sounding like a jerk, I have always loved the more theatrical forms of rock… glam rock… Bowie, T-Rex, etc.. punk rock and I mean the o.g. punk rock, not Green Day… I mean bands like 45 Grave, Dead Kennedys, The Damned… and the strong female performers have always sent shivers up my spine such as Siouxsie, Lydia Lunch, Debbie Harry, Toni Halliday, Chrissy Amphlett, etc…

CWG: Where’s your favorite place to hang out in L.A.?

My living room. Unless it’s between 4pm and 6pm when the sun is beating through my window, then it’s my backyard with a bottle of wine, friends and my rabbit.

CWG: Tell us more about the “Lost original mixes” of Thunderbeast, we smell a story!

The album was mixed once by someone else and it was a tough process.

Although we were involved throughout the whole process no one was really thrilled with the way it was turning out. Once the album was done we all listened to it as a whole and it just somehow didn’t seem to work. I sat on it for a long time. I was quite depressed really and almost decided to throw it out completely. I felt like I let everyone down so I didn’t speak to anyone in the band for quite sometime after that. We stopped playing shows, we stopped hanging out together.

Eventually I met Tony Hoffer, by some fluke, and sent him a few of my songs. He liked them a lot and was into mixing the album, but his schedule was booked so far in advance that he suggested I use his mix engineer Jason Gossman, who turned out to be incredible.

When we compared the mixes they were like night and day. I didn’t realize I wasn’t hearing the songs sound as good as they could be until that point. It completely re-energized me and got me excited about the album again.

It still took a long time to mix because he was doing it over nights and weekends, and I was out of town a lot, so it was all done through email between us. It was a long but exciting process.

CWG: (Besides Skamper) Who is your current favorite L.A. band?

I never really seem to have any favorite LA bands, but right now I’m really liking No Age. I think it’s the first band from here that I’ve liked in a very long time.

Like this band? You may also like: The Postal Service, The Killers, The Bravery, Muse, Placebo

Website:
Myspace:

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head

June 20, 2009

Review: Glistening Pleasure
Rating: 3 Guns

Written By: Hilary Hughes

First of all, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head: even if you weren’t the biggest fan of the Audrey Hepburn look-alike in “V for Vendetta”, how can you not want to listen to anything coming out of a band with a name like that?! The band hails from the Pacific North West, but there’s nothing in their set-list remotely reminiscent of Seattle’s acoustic, grungier musical preferences. Glistening Pleasure is essentially the soundtrack to a basement dance party in Brooklyn, where the boys wear girl jeans and where drinking PBR is an act of hipster pride of the most deliberate intentions. Though there’s plenty of electronically-geared tracks (think along the lines of early Le Tigre and The Gossip) to force people into that “I’m dancing! I can’t stop dancing! I WON’T stop dancing! Wait, my foot’s broken and I’ve practically twisted off both my legs, I need to pass out momentarily” state, the lyrics are clever (“She’s a bad candy apple and I can’t resist her charm”; “there’s a trail of hearts that are broken; the grapes on her vine are poison”) and the voices of singers Luke Smith and Shaun Libman are endearing and raw.

Still, what forces me to refrain from dubbing Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head a band with a set worthy of four guns is the fact that they’re almost… too saccharine, maybe? I’m a big fan of the more biting songs on the album (Hush Hush and Mouth Full of Bones being two of my favorites) so perhaps I’m biased towards the bitter. However, songs like Bearded Lust and Sophisticated Side Ponytail sound like they were written for the sole purpose of making an appearance in future iPod commercials. They’re great to dance to, don’t get me wrong, but the combination of obscure lyrics (“Look at my facial hair! / Oh man, hot damn, it’s everywhere! / I really wish I could grow a mustache / but frankly I don’t have the cash”… really?) and computer-generated beats are sweeteners so artificial that a dance party hangover is inevitable.

Long story short: Glistening Pleasure makes for a great listen, a party standard, and possibly the stuff of basement bash legend. Though it can be exhausting playing this album on a loop, you can’t deny its ability to get you dancing in each and every circumstance, be it on a commuter train on your way to work or in the privacy of your own room before an epic night out.

The Red Romance – Self-Titled EP

June 20, 2009

Label: Self-Released
Rating: 3 Guns

Buy on:
The Red Romance

The Red Romance are making quite a splash. Already having toured with one of the biggest bands in modern rock (The Killers), these Indie Rockers are ready to go with their Self-titled EP.
Happy, poppy, feel-good music at it’s finest, the “Red Romance EP” gives stereotypical Indie Rock a much-needed breath of fresh air. Picture The Cure and The Killers on a weekend bender, and you’ve got The Red Romance.

The Red Romance – “Break Away”

Bio:
“You only get one shot,” sings The Red Romance’s Matthew Dublin on their self-released, self-titled EP’s first track. The band’s first big shot came in 2007 when the Killers who, after hearing band’s early demos, invited them on the road for an arena tour. The unsigned band played across the country from Madison Square Garden to the Red Rocks Amphitheater to the Hard Rock Hotel, heaping up positive reviews from across the critic board. Entertainment Weekly.com boldly states that “The Red Romance is the best thing since [insert any band name here],” while Spin.com praises the band’s “affinity for the finer things in life: pop hooks and all their trimmings.”

The New York City-based band—Dublin and Darren Beckett (drums), both former members of Ambulance LTD, Adam Chilenski (bass), Wes Carnes (keyboards), and Irina Yalkowsky (guitar)—has steadily won over both fans and music critics alike with their tight live shows and unique pop style. Dublin describes the band as sounding “modern” and being “very much influenced by the Smiths and Roxy Music.” But fashioning the pop genre into something innovative and fresh, like their Brit-pop inspirations, isn’t all the Red Romance is after. Dublin continues: “We also want people to dance. That’s real important.”

And they certainly make people dance. Commenting on the band’s 2007 CMJ show, Spin.com’s William Goodman writes “at a skin and bones level, The Red Romance’s tunes embody cut and dry musical infection…‘Break Away’ exemplifies its zenith; a thick frosting of synths and simple, hum-worthy lead guitars float atop a solid Motown bass and backbeat spine — something other bands often refuse to do: accept simplicity.”

Be sure to catch the Red Romance at this year’s Planetary South by Southwest party.

TOUR DATES :
03.07 @ The Luna Lounge (New York, NY) w/Looker and The Orion Experience
03.12 @ Volume SXSW Show (Austin, TX)
03.13 @ Maggie Mae’s SXSW Show (Austin, TX)
03.22 @ Mercury Lounge (New York, NY)
04.01 @ Dublin Castle (Camden, UK)
04.02 @ 229 Club (Marylebone, London, UK)
04.03 @ The Enterprise (Camden, UK)
04.04 @ Water Rats (Kings Cross, UK)
04.25 @ The Rock and Roll Hotel (Washington D.C.) w/Telograph

Like this band? You might also like: The National, The Killers, The Cure, She Wants Revenge.