I have been taking an extended vacation in Columbus (my hometown) as RethinkPopMusic preps for our largest experiential marketing campaign to date… which will coincide with our upcoming CMJ showcases. Details for both of these will come soon.
In the meantime I will be entrenching myself in the “scene” here covering Music Week Columbus and a few shows at The Basement and Newport Music Hall. If you’re in Columbus I highly recommend attending Music Week Columbus as it reminds us of our very own Bushwick Walkabout Festival. 3 days, 3 venues and a slew of local, regional and national talent that should NOT be missed considering limited three day passes are only $30!!!
We have worked with quite a few of these bands in the past and are excited to see Brooklynites Deluka and Beast Make Bomb and Columbus locals Way Yes (recently signed to Lefse records) and Phantods. While these may not be the massive national acts one typically associates with a music festival, founders Jacob Wooten and Andrew Dodson have got the formula right: Book the best local talent and keep the money-grubbing “industry professionals” away. Regardless of attendance, in my opinion Music Week Columbus is already a success.
The music venue at Maxwell’s in Hoboken (for those not familiar) is housed in the rear of what strongly resembles an Applebee’s restaurant. Past the swinging doors is a small, cave-like lair with exposed brick and stone juxtaposed against harsh red lighting. Hugging the rear and stage-right walls are limited vinyl bleacher-like (though only a single row) seating, complete with a no-frills bar to the adjacent side which should have made for an intimate setting for a highly publicized act such as Twin Shadow. However, at the same time one could not help but feel a slight disconnect from the NYC scene. The streets of Hoboken are eerily quiet, the crowd subdued, and the bar underutilized… compared to the socially acceptable alcoholism of Brooklyn. This slight lack of scene “authenticity” could be felt in the room throughout the night, but didn’t fully distract from solid performances by both Diamond Rings and Twin Shadow.
One-man glam band Diamond Rings took to the stage first. Clad in red leather, a white tee and sporting a Vanilla Ice quiff the stringy blonde joked he was “doing his best Bruce Springsteen impression.” His haunting baritone voice filled the room the way The Boss might, though he had only the support of a synthesizer and drum machine rather than the celebrity laden E Street Band. A lesser artist might have difficulty carrying a performance with vocals that at times seemed to drown out the electronic instrumentation, let alone man the stage solo for an audience that didn’t appear overly familiar with his work. Admirably, Diamond Rings conquered both of these tasks as he dazzled with strong performances of “Play By Heart” and “Something Else” all while charming the crowd. He received a particularly strong response when he strapped on a guitar and rocked out to a very uptempo “Wait & See.”
Fresh off tour and recently the subject of adoration from both GQ and Spin, all eyes were on front man George Lewis as Twin Shadow opened with a stirring rendition of “Shooting Holes”. It could instantly be noted that the house sound better suited the full instrumentation of the band than it did Diamond Rings. The crowd came to life for the catchy synth-driven “When We’re Dancing” and “Castles in the Snow,” though it was a tempered excitement. This presents what seems to be an issue in seeing a band like Twin Shadow live. Described by their publicist as “hazily new-wave tinged pop” it often gets a little too hazy and sucks excitement from the air. Regardless, the band showcased a very tight sound and the left the crowd wanting more as they closed with “Tether Beat” before a encore (sans backstage) performance of “Forget.”
The small size of the venue allowed for unique opportunities as both Twin Shadow and Diamond Rings could be seen mingling in the audience before and after their performances. I caught up with Diamond Rings who admitted to feeling “somewhat limited” by the stage space. Fans can expect him to continue to push the envelope as he excitedly noted his “rapping skills” which will be further displayed on his second album, due out Summer 2012. The yet-to-be-titled LP, halfway completed to date, will attempt to “add fullness to the sound while not abandoning the bare-bones, almost folk-esque style of composition.” While that seems difficult at best to accomplish the pending attempt is admirable and interesting.
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Beast Make Bomb was introduced to me earlier in the summer, but in order to see them I had to take my middle aged ass (Brooklyn standards) out into the real Bushwick. Not the gentrified East Williamsburg coffee shop mecca, I had to go to a sweat shop of a room beneath the elevated train, between the liquor and .99 cent stores. Upon arrival no one knew the set times, which was probably a result of being over an hour behind schedule and half the bands still yet to load-in. Typically, I would have huffed and left, but instead I gave them the benefit of the doubt and once they took the stage it instantly became obvious it was worth the wait.
Beast Make Bomb has the typical aesthetic of a mixed-sex Brooklyn post-punk melodic-pop band. However, unlike their counterparts BMB stay far away from the token girl on bass or synth. It’s the guitar responsibilities that have been handed to / taken over by the ladies (Ceci Gomez and Glenn VanDyke). While Glenn takes the helm with the more complex lead roles, Ceci shows her chops often and skillfully. There’s also a sultry and confident vibe to Ceci’s stage presence that is so captivating, that I dare to say reminds me of Patti Smith. BMB recently released a video for their current single “Party Monster” which is just the tip of their potential iceberg.
While Beast Make Bomb’s current recordings reflect a more simplistic party style that is yet to push any musical boundaries, recently at Cameo Gallery they did debut a yet to be named/recorded track that I hope represents their sound moving forward. It’s a more sinister and complex soundscape, with off-tempo percussion and far more intricate guitar parts that allows their talent to truly shine. Beast Make Bomb are without-a-doubt on to something big… which is needed as they single-handedly lay to rest the stereotype that girls are limited to keys, bass or power chords.
You can see Beast Make Bomb on Thursday October 20th at Bowery Electric when they play our CMJ showcase.
Austin, TX outfit The Black Angels are a band who wouldn’t be out of place on the bill for The Isle Of Wight Festival in 1968, or Woodstock the following year. All fuzzed up, psychedelic guitars, eerie organs and lazy, hazy vocals, when listening to them you can’t avoid images of fortified cigarettes, peace sings and hair-adorning flowers. Obvious reference points are The Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane, Brian Jonestown Massacre and 13th Floor Elevators. You get the (rather smoky, twirly) picture.
In 2010, with two full lengths to their name, they signed a deal to release their third LP, “Phosphene Dream”, with the revamped Blue Horizon label (also home to our friends Scoundrels). The imprint was brought back to life after some success in the 1960s (with the Peter Green fronted Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack) by Seymour Stein and Richard Gottehrer, both of Sire Records fame, with Black Angels spearheading the label’s new dawn.
Of the deal, Stein declared: “Great musicianship and performers, mesmerizing vocals, and songs that penetrate the subconscious. That’s the best way to describe Black Angels, our first signing to Blue Horizon records. In every way the band is perfect choice to re-launch to this iconic label.” Quite.
Currently, the band are on tour in Europe promoting “Phosphene Dream”, and play a headline show at London’s Scala on Monday 19 September.
In the meantime, we’ve teamed up with the band’s distribution company, The Orchard, to give away TWO copies of the aforementioned LP. After deliberating with ourselves about the best way to do this, we’ve decided to keep it simple – we’ll ask you a question, and you Email lfclubrecords [at] gmail [dot] com with your answer to be in with a chance of scooping the prize. Think you can do that? Here goes:
-What was the name of The Black Angels’ 2006 debut LP?
Deadline is 12 noon, Friday 16 September. We’ll pick two winners at random from the people that answer correctly and post you the album shortly after that. We’re keeping it UK-only on this occasion – sorry to any fans in Indonesia, or Cape Verde. Next time. Anyway – good luck. We’re off to watch a re-run of Almost Famous.
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