Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

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I’ll be honest, I loved Joan As Police Woman‘s first album (Real Life from 2006), liked the second one (2008’s To Survive) and then slightly lost track. 2011’s The Deep Field and 2014’s The Classic had their moments but ultimate didn’t really do it for me, while Benjamin Lazar Davis collaboration Let It Be Me was bought, filed but shamefully I ‘forgot’ to listen to it…

Cue the power of a good old fashioned ‘catchy’ song. While a pop chart hit is fairly much out of the question these days, for an artist like Joan As Police Woman, the quality of first single ‘Tell Me’ was more than apparent. Like much of the album, the song concerns communication. It’s a plea for articulation, expression and directness. Literally, ‘tell me what you want and I can try and give it to you.’  There’s something fantastic about the honesty of the sentiment, and the economy and relatively simplicity of the arrangement.

JAPW’s Joan Wasser has an incredible singing voice, but prefers understatement rather than over the top vocal gymnastics. ‘Tell Me’ is slinky delight and memorable enough that my kids were singing along to it when I ‘forced’ my playlists on them on holiday in the summer!

But one song does not a good album make and I think there’s two key things at play here that make the Damned Devotion such a success. Joan’s adventurousness, in terms of experimenting and ‘beat-making’ at her Brooklyn home has really paid off and at the same time she has just hit a rich vein of form and written and produced an incredibly intimate long-player full of moving and memorable songs. It’s a very pure album – it feels like musical and lyrical ideas have flowed straight from Wasser (with the help of trusted collaborators like Kindred Parker) right onto the grooves of the vinyl, unencumbered by a band working out arrangements in a traditional studio environment, where something excellent can inadvertently be shorn of its magic.

Opener ‘Wonderful’ is a delicate rose with electric piano, beats and lots of atmosphere. That song semi-segues into ‘Warning Bell’, where Joan muses about missing the tell-tale signs in a relationship and how she ‘never sees it coming’ into a pillow-soft arrangement.

There’s some exciting rhythms in a more funky middle section with ‘Steed (for Jean Genet)’ and in particular ‘The Silence’ which continues the album’s lyrical themes (“we have so much to say, why don’t we say it?”). One highlight here is the chanting middle eight, which ends with a blistering and satisfying distorted guitar solo.

‘Valid Jagger’ has beautiful melody that sucks you in and a lovely organ denouement, while ‘What Was It Like’ is a moving tribute to Joan’s Dad. ‘Talk About It Later’ is another funky number with an amusing lyric (“later as in 2020…”) and ‘Silly Me’ and ‘I Don’t Mind’ are the ‘come down’ tracks and complete the album.

This is one of those life-changing records. It is that good. Sit back and listen to all 12 tracks from start to finish and you’ll discover that Damned Devotion messes with your body. It gets under your skin, squeezes your heart and perhaps occasionally stirs the loins. It’s Joan As Police Woman’s best album

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Catching Brooklyn-based punk band Public Practice live for the first time was an earth-shattering experience. Lead singer Sam York channeled Karen O throughout the performance, holding the crowd in the palm of her sweaty, beer-soaked hands as the rest of the band—a Bushwick DIY supergroup of sorts made up of members of the newly defunct Wall and Beverly—seamlessly transitioned between synthy post-punk and 70’s-esque, groove-inspired art-punk. All of that frenetic energy is clearly still on display on Distance is a Mirror,EP  the group’s first ever release, hinting that much more is on the way in 2019. With a funky breakdown here and blistering distorted guitars there, the EP has a distinct musical sound that’s entirely theirs, eclipsing their past work in other bands in just four tracks spanning twelve minutes. “Bad Girl(s)” sees York fight back at the industry and society that demands she look, act, and sound a specific way, screaming that “I won’t play your game.” That line dominates the ethos of Public Practice, a band that refuses to play by the rules, which in turn led to one of the best debut EPs of 2018, more than whetting our appetite for a full-length in 2019

Members of the bands Beverly & Wall doing punk-disco/danceable new wave that reminds me of Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads, Gossip, Radio 4, The Rapture and maybe LITHICS. The four members of Public Practice—singer Sam York, guitarist Vince McClelland, synth/bassist and vocalist Drew Citron, and drummer/programmer and producer Scott Rosenthal

The full EP, “Distance is a Mirror” by Public Practice,

01. Fate/Glory – 00:00 02. Bad Girl(s) – 02:38 03. Foundation – 04:45 04. Into the Ring – 08:26

Brooklyn supergroup FITS features members of popular local bands Big Ups, Fern Mayo, and gobbinjr. They’ve carved their own niche in the scene, though, creating an identity out of perfect pop instincts and sheer punk aggression. Their 2017 debut, All Belief Is Paradise, offered a wide variety of complex, oftentimes conflicting emotions: anger, fear, desire, joy, and everything in between. Its 12 tracks are served in quick, easy-to-digest bites — not a single one exceeds three minutes, but each is enormous in power.

“Full of sharp turns, heavy lyrics, and bursts of righteous anger. A fierce will to survive animates these lean, scrappy songs.” – Pitchfork
“A hunk of sweet power pop that’s instantly delightful, but melts quickly.” – Bandcamp
“Everything about All Belief is Paradise is gripping.” – Post-Trash

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All Belief is Paradise, named after a line in a Lisa Robertson’s The Weather, honors the spirit of the early material while unveiling Fits’ evolution into a fully formed band. These songs are quick, loud, and rarely content with sticking to any one style, often holding for meditative intervals before launching into full-throttle caffeinated pop. The therapeutic drive behind the songs and the genuine fun of the group’s dynamic make Paradise a rewarding listen and Fits a band that can more than hold its own. Throughout the album Fits shows they’re capable of being thoughtful and bratty, accessible and weird, and tackling it all with confidence, humor, and great hooks.

Band Members
Nicholas Cummins,
Brian Orante,
Emma Witmer,
Joe Galarraga,
Originally released November 17th, 2017

It’s easy to overlook the latest album Nudes by Brooklyn indie-poppers Lucius. On the surface, it’s a stopgap release, a quickly recorded acoustic album of previously released songs and a few covers – the band’s Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig have been touring as Roger Waters’ backup singers and have no time to make a more involved record. But Nudes shows a stunning new side for the group. Songs like “Tempest” and “Something About You,” which were buried under heavy rock back beats and layers of synthesizer on their original LP versions, are reborn as rousing vocal showcases. Their cover of Tame Impala’s “Eventually” allows Wolfe and Laessig’s voices to cascade and blend into beautiful harmonies; and on “Million Dollar Secret,” previously a one-off single for HBO’s Girls, they let their voices build until they explode for a fiery finale.

Lucius performs “Feels Like a Curse” at The State Theatre in Portland, ME on March 16th, 2018.

Kevin Devine will transform into Kenny O’Brien and The O’Douls for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Boston-area and NYC . He’ll be playing at Great Scott in Allston, and early and late shows and at Mercury Lounge in NYC, and in his words: “It’s gonna be a party, essentially, the kind of punk, uptempo side of what I do with some Celtic instrumentation.” To get a taste of what it might be like, Kevin’s got a newly-recorded cover of The Pogues“The Body of An American,” It’s a pretty faithful take on the original, but it also has that unmistakable Kevin Devine touch, and it’s good stuff.

Kevin also put together a (pretty funny) video of himself explaining the reasoning behind the name “Kenny O’Brien and The O’Douls” and what these shows will be all about. He also includes a story about a St. Patrick’s Day 14-hour alcoholic blackout at SXSW.

To get a sense of what we’re doing, head over to BrooklynVegan (who’ll be presenting the shows), enjoy our cover of The Pogues’ “The Body of An American” & get some more info on the project & the weekend:

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Released December 13th, 2018

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“Modern Meta Physic” is the debut album of Peel Dream Magazine, the nom de plume of New York City-based musician Joe Stevens. Stevens, a talented multi-instrumentalist, wrote, played, recorded, and mixed the album in his apartment in Brooklyn — quite surprising, considering how much “Modern Meta Physic” sounds like it was played by a tour-seasoned band.

A nod to BBC Radio 1 legend John Peel, arbiter of all things underground, all things quality, and all things — it must be said — “cool,” Peel Dream Magazine is highly evocative of a certain strain of independent music. As Stevens explains, “I wanted to conjure media . . . to create an outlet for subcultural wanderers. Something you can subscribe to.”

Exhausted by what he thinks of as the manipulative aspects of contemporary pop music, Stevens harkens back to the early 1990s, when The Velvet Underground resurged as an inspiration to a new set of bands wielding synthesizers, off-set guitars, and a political bent. The Peel Dream experience is defined by a gentle, fuzzy psychedelia, largely indebted to London’s onetime “Scene that Celebrates Itself.” It’s a hypnotic bit of mod-ish lo-fi pop, recalling the best of early Stereolab, Lilys, and other shaggy haired kids with vintage fuzz pedals, slim trousers, and good record collections. Stevens conjures a distinctly 90s vision of the 60s. Not the actual 60s, mind you, but perhaps a 60s daydreamed about from the creature comforts of a suburban living room. An abstraction. Shag carpet turned to bowl cut. Jean jackets — disaffected but wholesome youth. It’s not irony, exactly. It’s the love that comes from loving. And a bit of whimsy. It’s the 90s, again. Post-post.

Written and recorded over a four-week period in the fall of 2017, “Modern Meta Physic” fixates on the New Age universe of the Catskills region of New York. Stevens deals in generic bohemian fare — Far East philosophy, Native American tradition, mid-century modern cool — as he appraises the world according to privileged urban expats who increasingly call the upstate paradise home.

Not everything is tongue-in-cheek, however. Stevens also pays homage to Catskills as a place replete with natural wonder — a place of self-discovery and impromptu adventure. “I wanted to convey the Catskills the way that Brian Wilson conveyed Northern California on the post-Smile records. It’s a little trippy, a little childlike, but the feeling is real.” In “Living Room.” Steven’s surrenders to Mother Nature in a bit of dada-esque worship, transfixed by “sound, sight and weather.” On “Don’t Pick Up Slackers,” Stevens settles into a woodland getaway home as he tries to make sense of his neighbor’s “fruit diet.” One might get lost in the nostalgia of aimless road trips and cabin retreats, but there are moments where Stevens ventures on to new topics. On “Art Today,” he opines on what he sees as the maddening and thankless task of committing oneself to making art. “Us for Chanel, all are to sell. I want to tell, some days are well.”

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Leading off the album, “Qi Velocity” is a metronomic take on French pop that yields to a lush, twee chorus reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian. “Deetjen’s,” named after the much-loved bed & breakfast in Big Sur, would fit snugly on Unrest’s best Teen Beat material. The ambient “Levitating Between 2 Chords” suggests Oval in “94 Diskont” mode. There is an economy to these tracks — everything is distilled down to it’s essential elements, no gestures are wasted, no superfluous ornamentation taking up space. Where some might add effects, Stevens removes them, opting for surprisingly straight-forward arrangements of Farfisa, monosynth and guitar. “Due to Advances in Modern Tourism” displays a soft take on Neu!, while the organ that enters could be a sly wink to Steve Reich’s “Four Organs” or even Terry Riley’s West Coast take on minimalism. “Wood Paneling” is a lysergic trip, a memory of a memory of an experience not lived but learned — how can something feel so relaxing yet so … uneasy?

While Stevens is more than happy to show his influences on his sleeve — mind you, they’re great influences — it’s clear Peel Dream Magazine isn’t just a “sound”. The guy can write songs. And when he wants to hit a target, he hits it. Where he goes next is anybody’s guess.

Released October 5th, 2018

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Austin Texas band Sun June refers to their music as “regret pop.” Their sound exudes more heart and less theatrics, which is exactly how we see them in this Buzzsession. Filmed in the Brick by Brick studio in Brooklyn the five-piece band came to to perform two songs off of their latest album, Years. These recordings of “Young” and “I’ve Been” are bookends of sorts, each showcasing different sides of what encompasses the group. In true Buzzsession fashion, Sun June gives us a personal and vulnerable retelling of songs we already loved.

Directed by Scott Sweitzer, this session lets us see the band in a setting where their chemistry shines. Whether it’s the harmonies shared by Laura and Sarah, or how the intricate and groovy guitar lines brightens up “Young,” the musical connection between the group is almost tangible. As Laura sings “I’ve Been,” there is a passion behind each word making the emotions behind these lyrics just as fresh as the day they were written. As she sits on the ground playing the keys and singing, “I’ve been crying about you,” her voice rightfully becomes the center of attention. The sunlight that peaks in through the window and illuminates up the interior of this small Brooklyn studio seems to be metaphorical for the upcoming and noteworthy, Sun June.

Band Members
Laura, Michael, Justin, Sarah, Stephen
‘Buzzsessions’ is an original video series produced by The Wild Honey Pie. With each new episode, we capture footage of our favorite bands as they record alternate studio versions of their songs.

Take careful note of the album cover for this Buzzsession. Liz Kay embodies the energy of the recordings with her stunning illustration of a sun setting over rustic mountains. Hard not to fall in love with her whimsical typography as well.

sunflower bean king of the dudes

Sunflower Bean move fast. Two years ago, the New York trio turned heads with their sleek, dreamy debut, Human Ceremony. On this past spring’s Twentytwo in Blue, they sounded even cooler and more confident. Now, less than a year later, they’re leaping forward yet again with King of the Dudes, their fantastic new four-track EP, due out January 25th on Mom + Pop Records.

“Over time, we really just give less of a fuck,” says singer and bassist Julia Cumming. “That’s what rock needs in 2018, and that’s what the EP is saying. We’re free to be aggressive and fun and weird.”

King of the Dudes is all black-leather-jacket strut and New Wave sneer, as heard on “Come for Me,” the EP’s first single. “Do you really wanna come for me?/You know I got all night,” Cumming taunts. “Do you really wanna waste my time?/If you do, then do it right.”

“It’s about having my fists up — intellectually, proverbially, ready for anything,” Cumming says of the song. “Women are fed up. The public is fed up. Shit’s really bad, and we needed a way to express that. And, obviously, there are some sexual undertones.”

Sunflower Bean were on tour this past June — “driving around the United States, where we do most of our thinking,” Cumming says — when they first considered a swerve in direction. She had been texting with producer Justin Raisen, whose work on Angel Olsen’s My Woman(2016) and Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time (2013) had piqued the band’s interest, and later in the summer, Cumming, singer-guitarist Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber paid a visit to Raisen’s Los Angeles studio.

They didn’t have much of a plan beyond capturing the spark they were all feeling, but that was enough. “[Raisen’s] energy was really different from a lot of other indie rock producers,” Kivlen says. “Much more savage and vital. We were very measured with our last record, and we took a lot of time looking at each detail through a magnifying glass. Then we went to L.A. and just steamrolled right through this, working more on instinct.”

They knocked out the EP over a quick week in Raisen’s studio-converted garage. “We rented all these crazy amps, and tracked with about four amps going at the same time, with all these different aesthetics,” Kivlen says. “It’s the most happy I’ve ever been with my guitar sound on a record.”

“You could hear it down the block,” Cumming adds. “It shows that you don’t need a big studio with a bunch of isolation chambers to make something real.

‘King of the Dudes’ EP Out January 25th, 2019

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Frances Cone is an American indie pop band started in Brooklyn, New York and currently based in Nashville, TN. The band consists of Christina Cone, Andrew Doherty, Adam Melchor, and Aaron Hamel. They are named after Christina’s father and great-grandfather, both musicians themselves in South Carolina and both born on September 11. Frances Cone began in 2013 with the release of their first full-length album titled Come Back. In 2014, Frances Cone released a self-titled EP that streamed on Paste Magazine, which subsequently featured them in their “Best of What’s Next” series stating, “You’ll hear everything from folk-inspired harmonies, to driving bass drums, to grungy synths, all culminating in an arena anthem, where Cone’s roof-lifting vocals shine.”

When I listened blindly to nearly a thousand songs while attempting to make my schedule of bands to see at this year’s SXSW music festival, one of the few tracks that leapt to the top was “Arizona” by Frances Cone. I wasn’t alone. NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson also singled out this now Brooklyn-based band for the way it wraps its storytelling in a catchy, pop parcel. But it’s so nice to say that they have an album out on January 18th via Thirty Tigers. The first single, Wide Awake, is out now and is streaming on all of the platforms there are. It is also not a Katy Perry cover.

Songwriter Christina Cone says ,We invested so much of our lives into these songs and we sure did take our time. So much has changed over the course of these 3 years. It sometimes feels like music can’t possibly live in the realm of top priority and then it also feels like it’s the only thing, at least part of an indescribable remedy to all the things that ail us. I’m so happy to be here, at this time, in this moment, and I hope these songs become yours in whatever way you need. 

Led by singer and songwriter Christina Cone, the band is set to release Late Riser, its second full-length album this year. The first track the group performed for thier Tiny Desk concert is its just-released single, “Unraveling,” a tale of falling apart, of life becoming so overwhelming that the song’s character simply stops and lets go. With each verse of “Unraveling” the saga builds to a climax and then a calm. It’s this sort of craft that makes Frances Cone stand out. Think Lucius, another band that captured my attention years ago for similar reasons. In fact, Dan Molad, the drummer and producer for Lucius, mixed that first Frances Cone song that originally grabbed my attention, “Arizona.” This is wonderfully literate pop that won’t hit you over the head, but might gently find a home in your heart.

Musicians Christina Cone (keys, vocals); Andrew Doherty (electric bass, electric guitar, vocals); Adam Melchor (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals); Alex Baron (drums)

It was only January and there was a good chance The Royal They had already released one of the year’s best albums. Even though we are near the end of the year nothing has changed. From the colossally heavy beginning of Foreign Being through to the wildly energetic end, the Brooklyn based trio’s sophomore album is all smash hits. Power pop songs buried in heavy punk slime and surging post-hardcore deviations, The Royal They blur the lines between sweetness and primal fury, writing songs that are bright and hooky with enough muscle to shake the foundation of any DIY venue. There’s not a moment wasted throughout Foreign Being, a record that shifts between ominous and immediate with explosive grace.

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All songs written by The Royal They

Released January 13th, 2018