Aug 17, 2011

Courtesy Tier… refusing to believe the hype

Last night I had the privilege to see Courtesy Tier at Cameo Gallery with Hollis Brown and Governor. I have actually spent extended periods of time on the road with all three of these bands and while I consider them all “friends” I consider myself a fan with random bits of nonsensical self-indulgent critique like a confusing authority figure with the offensive kind of tourette’s. I guess you can think of a Middle School janitor, you don’t necessarily HAVE to listen to him, but you can’t tell him to fuck off without some sort of repercussion either.

Hollis Brown just finished recording their new album that beams with brilliance and honesty that could find itself in the homes/cars/radios of everyone with a soft spot for the lost art of southern blues… or be another gem lost in the oversaturated Brooklyn music monopoly dominated by electro-pop and trust funds. Nevertheless, someone somewhere WILL care and that’s why they will forever trudge along with shit eating grins as if they know the joke is inevitably on YOU. Once ALBERT sends me some initial mixes I will have MUCH more to say…

Governor would be Cameo’s very own “house band” if they were to still exist from the Bowery era fallout. A throw-back or quantum leap to legitimate guitar dominated rock AND roll, they will forever be swimming against the current, current. A shirtless frontman whose only instrument is the microphone, one guitar and rock star swagger sans cheesy hair and makeup (I HATE those bands) they smartly refrain from power chord addiction and over indulgent solos. Governor have suddenly found a confidence, possibly via their new beast of a drummer, but most likely through a finalized lineup, growing fan base and residency supported by some of the most talented bands in recent years. I seriously look forward to seeing them develop further.

Nevertheless the apple of mines eye is Courtesy Tier. A small in stature duo that create a sound so massive and intense its hard to imagine their isn’t a bassist AND guitarist hiding somewhere in the venue. I have often described Omer’s ability to play the guitar like a madman foaming at the mouth: “You gotta see this guy! It’s like the nerves in his hand are separated right down the middle and information is feeding to them from two different parts of his brain!” Whether or not that’s true, I do watch him play and think of a freak show Lobster Boy or the Penguin. He plays the guitar as if it were a grand piano… a choppy lead fingered progression on the high and a rhythmic bass strum on the low, simultaneous yet individual.

It was mind blowing the first time I saw them at Spike Hill, by chance and through actual tragedy, they had replaced a very ill fated and talented band on a lineup a band I represent was also on. And like any tall tale it all begins with speculation and a feeling that the universe works in its own cynical deviant way. I immediately booked them for one of my shows and without really knowing each other we decided to team up on a tour down to Austin for SXSW. Quickly, the awkwardness of professionalism was replaced by the bro-code of the road and their enthusiasm for all aspects of being an independent musician shined.

For those not in the know, Courtesy Tier have received some of the grandest accolades Brooklyn bands so desperately strive for, that they hire every recent Wesleyan graduate with a “business” to obtain. Yet, Courtesy Tier are navigating the unforgiving music industry like Lewis and Clarke… no manager, publicist or handlers of any kind, just the occasional guide that most likely leads them down the wrong path in the end. They have been pursued by numerous “industry experts” but see past the bullshit of the talking heads and connivers. Rather, they trek endlessly but not aimlessly, just with a subtle wisdom and confidence that success takes time if it ever comes to fruition. Their is no hesitation to play the same songs night after night for two years, because they KNOW that it is the fan and not their own egos that dictate the set list.

I have learned quite a bit from Layton and Omer over the past year. They have set the standard for any band I will ever work with and have recently advised me “not to believe the hype.” Sound advise from a band who just so happens to live every moment according to just that.

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