Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Earlier this month, the members of the dearly beloved and dearly departed band Krill announced they were reforming, with an additional guitarist, as Knot. Their self-titled debut is going to be out at the end of August, and they’ve already shared a promising first glimpse called “Foam,”

Today, they’re back with another one. Knot’s latest is called “The World.” Here’s what Jonah Furman had to say about it:  “The World” is supposed to be about the experience of wanting to change the world — or maybe the experience of insisting on wanting to change the world. I guess in some basic way it’s just about anti-escapism — what it means to accept the world, your life, the political situation, as real, as something one cannot retreat from, and as something one should try to not want to retreat from, but to push through, look in the face, and demand some kind of transformation. In my head there was the phrase “another world is possible,” which is heard in movements and protests, and seems to be consciously or unconsciously associated with the idea that we can build something parallel or separate from the corrupted and horrific institutions and instantiations of actually-existing society. I want on some level to reject that; not that change can’t happen, but I want to insist that it happens through, not around, the sick and failed parts of human political experience.

The Band:
Jonah Furman: Vocals, Guitar
Joe Demanuelle-Hall: Guitar
Aaron Ratoff: Bass, Guitar (4, 9)
Ian Becker: Drums

Knot from the upcoming LP, “Knot” out August 28th, 2020 on Exploding in Sound Records.

There’s something special about an artist whose music reaches the full potential of a particular genre while also transcending it altogether. That can be said about Nirvana with grunge, Miles Davis with jazz, My Bloody Valentine with shoegaze and so on. One could also add Nation of Language to that list, with respect to new wave music.

The Brooklyn-based band, led by vocalist and songwriter Ian Devaney and featuring his wife Aidan Devaney on keys and Michael Sui-Poi on bass, unleashed their debut album Introduction, Presence last month, and it’s crowned them as the most exciting new synth-pop act in years. The band has been releasing invigorating, ’80s-indebted singles for about five years now—tracks like “I’ve Thought About Chicago” and “Reality” are undoubtedly direct descendents of Pet Shop Boys, A Flock of Seagulls and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, but there’s also a subtle glow that recalls 21st century anthemic indie rock à la Arcade Fire, The National and The Killers. While their decade-spanning influences can certainly be scavenged, their songs always sound bigger than them—Devaney’s songwriting feels essential and eternal.

It might not be the best time to release a highly-anticipated, highly-danceable album, but “Introduction, Presence” resonates in kitchens and cars just as well as it would in the animated bars of New York City. Ian Devaney is currently sitting by the bedroom window in his Brooklyn apartment, which overlooks an alley full of weeds that have grown far larger than normal. “It’s kind of sad actually,” Devaney says. “Over the last couple weeks, I’ve watched them grow from little tiny weeds into big bushes. It’s my little bit of nature.”

Like most of us, he’s feeling strange about the present circumstances, but his album release date was something to look forward to, and it also happened to be his 30th birthday. During quarantine, he’s been pinging between instruments, recording equipment, video games and books, which are all set up near him so he can simply “follow [his] spirit.”

It’s no secret that 1980s nostalgia has been prevalent in indie rock for years now. From Future Islands and Interpol to The 1975 and TOPS, countless bands from the last two decades have found success filtering their music through distinctly ’80s lenses. Still to this day, you can hardly swing a dead cat without hitting an indie band with one or more of these elements: interstellar synths, bass-driven songs, rich production and melodramatic vocals. To join these ranks is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, there’s a huge demand for music that sounds like it came from the era of big hair and goths, but on the other hand, it’s hard to stand out in such a saturated market—and even harder to make lasting, impactful songs that transcend its revivalist label. New York City band Nation of Language approach this weighty task with more grace and far better song writing chops than the vast majority of bands who attempt retro pastiches or something close to them. For starters, lead singer and songwriter Ian Devaney (formerly of Static Jacks) has a low-pitched, aching voice that just screams classic new wave, but more crucially, he has an ear for awe-inspiring melodies and synth lines that go above and beyond mere cinematic uplift. Nearly every one of his songs prompts a mental highlight reel of one’s own life, but without the stylish, candy-coated nostalgia that’s fetishized nowadays—it’s the profound kind that allows you to view yourself at your lowest and highest moments and see the beauty in having a finite amount of time to live.

Nation of Language formed in 2014, around the same time Devaney’s previous band, The Static Jacks, dissolved. The Static Jacks toured internationally and released two albums of garage rock-tinted indie-pop, and although Devaney hadn’t yet found his feet, you can hear his knack for song writing and budding interest in 1980s pop (see “Mercy Hallelujah” and “Katie Said”). With Nation of Language, Devaney didn’t start from scratch with hopes of becoming the next big buzz band—the group simply came from a place of musical experimentation.

“I didn’t think of it as ‘I’m starting a new band,’” Devaney says. “It was just an exploration of trying to write a different style song than I had been writing for years. Even after we had played a couple of shows, it wasn’t a very serious thing until Aidan joined the band. She’s a very ambitious person and wants to go out and play, and that made me believe in myself and the music more.”

While Devaney says making the music was quite a deliberate process, their debut album itself just sort of happened.

“‘Indignities’ has been out for a while, but when we recorded it, I didn’t so much think, ‘We’re piecing together an album,’” Devaney explains. “It was just like, ‘We’ve got enough money that we can go do this, so let’s get in there and make a song.’ I had a certain amount of unreleased material that felt like it lived so well with these things that we had released earlier that I was like, ‘Let’s just call this a bundle of our early works.’”

Introduction, Presence is satisfyingly 10-tracks-long, and it’s essentially a greatest hits album—excluding only the stirring early single “I’ve Thought About Chicago,” which was curiously left off the tracklist. Despite its compilation feel, it has mindful sequencing. The first half is exhilarating—almost like they wanted listeners to be fully impressed right from the jump. You can’t hear “Tournament” and “Rush & Fever” without imagining a crowd hanging on its every beat with their bodies intuitively swaying and eyes blissfully shut. Then comes the peak of this record’s poignant nostalgia, “September Again” and “On Division St,” followed by the rhythmic post-punk glory of “Indignities.” The latter half of the album is a bit more spacious and varies more in tempo and style, but it doesn’t conclude without one more life-affirming dancefloor filler, “The Wall & I.” It’s all packaged so thoughtfully, and it leaves you wanting more.

Devaney said he’s always striving to write something as good as LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends,” and you can hear nods to Brooklyn’s dance-punk gods and that wide-eyed NYC pulse rushing through nearly every song. However, he pushes back against the idea that Nation of Language are a distinctly New York City band. Yet, it’s still hard not to imagine Introduction, Presence as a soundtrack to the lives of New Yorkers who feel both uplifted and quashed by the mythology of the city.

“I think those are big brushes that I used to make the record—that hopeful melancholia thing,” Devaney says. “I think New York probably amplified that, but I think that’s maybe part of the reason I was drawn to live here in the first place—the hopeless, never-ending struggle aspect.”

Nation of Language sound refreshingly out of step with the gentrified Brooklyn scene’s trendy bedroom pop and tired art-punk acts, but they never felt a part of that world to begin with.

“We’re down south of Crown Heights and Lefferts Gardens, and so there’s this feeling of being in Brooklyn and a part of the action, but also very much separate from it,” Devaney says. “I think that’s probably good for me because if I lived right in the middle of everything, I might not leave myself the time to actually work on the music and just spend all my money hanging out with people. Just being in Brooklyn is a very important thing to me—just something about the fact that when you look around, it feels like people are pursuing something and striving for something. It’s inspirational and makes me want to get back to it.”

Devaney likes the primitive quality of early new wave, when artists were only just scratching the surface of the possibilities of synthesizer-based music. It wasn’t overly technical, but it still transmitted emotions in a way that was quite profound. When Devaney shifted from writing indie-pop tunes to new wave ones, he liked the idea of not fully knowing what he was doing, but he’s not worried about losing that charming novice quality that so many bands struggle to maintain beyond their first few records.

“There are so many different options out there for different ways of creating music using a synthesizer, that I think between that and the fact that I’m not very good at guitar or bass means that there will be that sort of beginners’ touch for quite a long time,” he says.

Jesse Malin had a shit year in 2018. His father, former guitarist, and producer all died. So his new album Sunset Kids, his first in four years, could have been a major bummer. Instead, it’s a celebration of survival that finds the New York City hardcore troubadour reflecting on life’s precious and fleeting moments.

“Shining Down” is inspired by Tom Petty’s final performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 2017, which Malin witnessed firsthand. “I act like nothing hurts/The bar becomes a church/A limousine or hearse and you don’t look back,” he sings over jangly Heartbreakers guitars and a euphoric chorus. In “Strangers and Thieves,” he teams up with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong to memorialize their punk glory days, delivering a blast of power pop that floats along on a curlicue guitar lick. And in “Shane,” Malin salutes the longevity of the hard-drinking Pogues singer Shane MacGowan, blending his nasally whine with that of Americana chanteuse Lucinda Williams.

It’s the presence of Williams, who co-produced the LP with her husband Tom Overby, that ties Sunset Kids together. A master lyricist, she helps Malin refine and focus his own words, especially on the introspective “Room 13” and on their duet “Dead On,” a slashing blues-rocker that evokes Williams’ own kiss-off “Changed the Locks.” The seemingly odd-couple pair — he’s from Queens, she was raised in Arkansas — slap their way through the verses. “You talk like an angel/You spit on the floor,” Williams growls, before Malin answers, “but you look just like the girl next door.”

There’s some repetition on the album, three of the 14 tracks, including “Revelations,” have appeared in various forms on past solo projects, but only fans who’ve followed Malin’s career closely will notice.

“Meet Me at the End of the World Again,” released as a one-off single in 2017, benefits from the redo. Elevated by Catherine Popper’s funky Lower East Side bass groove, it’s a soundtrack to the apocalypse, a command to reconnect before it’s too late, and makes you believe that the P.M.A. (positive mental attitude) that Malin has been preaching for decades just might be enough to save us.

Growing up in Queens, Jesse Malin was all of 10 when he made his first public appearance with a band, performing Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite” at his public school—“I spit ketchup for blood,” he remembers with a laugh. He was a member of the Kiss Army in his teens but eventually graduated to punk, forming a band called Heart Attack—all of whose members were under 16—only to be told that punk had already peaked. “We went to an audition night at CBGB and they told us that we missed it all. Bad Brains had broken up, The Ramones were going power-pop, Blondie [was going] disco. They said, ‘Try something new like rockabilly or New Romantics.’ I said, ‘I’m not dressing up like a pirate.’”

He soon discovered that the genre wasn’t dead. It had simply sped up, grown more outspoken and morphed into hardcore, with bands like the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks taking the music to the next level. Heart Attack stayed together for four years, after which Malin founded the band Hope, which carried on until 1989.

But it wasn’t until he joined D Generation that Malin truly became a force to be reckoned with. The band not only opened shows for Kiss but also those other Queens natives, The Ramones (Joey Ramone became a close friend). They released three full length albums, an EP and numerous singles during their initial eight-year run. It was while making their self-titled debut in 1994 that Malin first connected with Bianco, who produced and engineered it. (The second album, No Lunch, was produced by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek, and the third, Through the Darkness, was produced by David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti.)

“We wanted to make D Generation into a band that we felt we missed; we felt music had become really safe and funky, with people dressed up like they were farmers from Seattle with no style. We wanted to be in a band that was like a gang,” Malin says. The band was respected but never did cut through commercially. “The people that liked us loved us, but we became more of a cult thing and an artist thing. We had a few bad breaks, but also internally it was so intense. It could be like a five-headed love affair or a five-headed war.”

Malin eventually started growing creatively restless. And punk was also moving in a direction he wasn’t entirely comfortable with. “People thought punk was about swastikas and fascism until the Dead Kennedys said, ‘Nazi punks fuck off.’ Sometimes people misunderstand things,” he says.

After the demise of D Generation, Malin cut an album with a band called Bellvue, To Be Somebody, before making the difficult decision to go the solo troubadour route. “It was kind of nervewracking to call it Jesse Malin,” he says. “I was used to hiding behind four other people and writing for four or five other people. But I think there’s a real connection between punk-rock and folk, from Woody Guthrie to The Clash to Bob Dylan to Crass or the Dead Kennedys. It’s about a message and a couple of chords and an attitude. A lot of my friends that heard me do louder stuff would be kind of surprised when I first did more acoustic-based music. I had people going, ‘What the hell?’ But my real friends knew that I had liked Jim Croce and Elton John since I was eight, and Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen since I was 15. I like songs, whatever they are—the craft.”

His highly regarded solo debut, 2002’s The Fine Art of Self Destruction, was produced by D Generation fan Ryan Adams, whom he’d met in 1996. “It was a very personal first record,” Malin says. He followed it with The Heat (2004) and thenGlitter in the Gutter, which featured a guest vocal by none other than Bruce Springsteen, who took note of Malin’s debut.

“I got into Bruce Springsteen late,” he says. “In the ‘80s, I got into Nebraska, and I was like, ‘This guy’s a millionaire and he’s speaking the truth. It’s real and it’s dark and it’s about people on the street, and it’s believable and it’s haunting and it’s so good. And it’s just him alone.’” Springsteen invited Malin to do some holiday shows with him and agreed to lend backing vocals to Malin’s track “Broken Radio.

From there, Malin’s next move was an all-covers set, On Your Sleeve, featuring favourite tunes by classic rockers like Lou Reed, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Paul Simon, and a live album, Mercury Retrograde. His next full studio album, Love It to Life, arrived in 2010; that same year, he and the members of Green Day killed time with a short-lived band they called Rodeo Queens, releasing one song, “Depression Times.” His five-year break between solo albums was alleviated when a reunited D Generation released their first new album in 17 years. That band also embarked on a well-received tour with stops in London and the U.S., among them a couple of shows opening for Guns N’ Roses. One observer of the tour was Lucinda Williams, who had never seen D Generation during their heyday.

“It was a whole different side of Jesse,” Williams says, “and he was amazing. He had his shirt off, like Iggy Pop, and his microphone cord was long enough that he was able to go all the way to the bar from the stage and drink a shot of tequila and still make it back to the stage. He was great.”

Now 51, Jesse Malin still lives in Manhattan’s East Village. “I tried living in Los Angeles but, if you walk in LA, they think you’re a male prostitute,” he says. These days, he can often be found, wearing his trademark suspenders and newsboy cap, at one of the bars or clubs he owns a stake in. “We try to keep a little bit of old New York, New York going somehow,” he says about the establishments, which include popular destinations like Bowery Electric, Lola, Niagara and Cabin Down Below. “Going back to Queens and Brooklyn and places that I tried desperately to get out of, it’s strange to me that there’s now art galleries and gluten-free donuts. But I like that stuff, too. I just love making music and talking about music, then having a few drinks and talking even more.”

As Sunset Kids (titled after a children’s shop in LA—he liked the name, which nodded to his recent losses and nocturnal nature) began making its way out to fans, Malin was looking beyond his own neighbourhood, though. “We’re going to do a lot of touring behind this record,” he says. “It’s a privilege to play live after you’ve worked on a record; it’s an exorcism for me to get up there each night over some dirty microphone and spit out whatever it is. So I’ll be doing a bunch of touring around the world—Europe and Japan and the States—and then another record. I want to do something pretty quiet next time and really keep it intimate. And then I want to do a very physical record— something that can be played live. I want to make something that I can move my body to and that’s just completely fun and rhythmic but still aggressive. That’s what I’m thinking now. In between, as Warren Zevon said, I just want to enjoy every sandwich.”

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments and night

Sometimes a synth-pop song’s only purpose is to make you feel alive on the dance floor, and that’s fine. You can still feel a deep emotional connection as you latch onto its pulse and forget your worries. But the kind of life-affirming synth-pop that makes you cry—think giants like Robyn or LCD Soundsystem—are the artists that will ruin your life (in the best possible way). New York City’s Nation of Language have been releasing singles since 2016, and their lead singer and songwriter Ian Devaney recently collaborated with Strokes drummer Fab Moretti on a project called machinegum for an album last year. It was obvious, even several years ago, that Devaney was an unusually consistent songwriter—every song was capable of making you pull over your car for a quick sob or triumphantly stick your head out of the sunroof with outstretched arms. His ’80s-indebted electro-pop meshed beautifully with the dance-punk sounds of the city’s yesteryear, and his songs had an emotional immediacy that was un-rivalled. Now, having finally unveiled their debut full-length, which contains some of those incredible early singles, it feels like Nation of Language have more of a right to claim the “soaring synth-pop” mantle than anyone else right now.

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Released March 26th, 2020
Written by Nation of Language

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments and night

Sometimes a synth-pop song’s only purpose is to make you feel alive on the dance floor, and that’s fine. You can still feel a deep emotional connection as you latch onto its pulse and forget your worries. But the kind of life-affirming synth-pop that makes you cry—think giants like Robyn or LCD Soundsystem—are the artists that will ruin your life (in the best possible way). New York City’s Nation of Language have been releasing singles since 2016, and their lead singer and songwriter Ian Devaney recently collaborated with Strokes drummer Fab Moretti on a project called machinegum for an album last year.

It was obvious, even several years ago, that Devaney was an unusually consistent songwriter—every song was capable of making you pull over your car for a quick sob or triumphantly stick your head out of the sunroof with outstretched arms. His ’80s-indebted electro-pop meshed beautifully with the dance-punk sounds of the city’s yesteryear, and his songs had an emotional immediacy that was unrivaled. Now ready to unveil their debut full-length, which contains some of those incredible early singles, it feels like Nation of Language have more of a right to claim the “soaring synth-pop” mantle than anyone else right now.

From the debut album Introduction Presence

New York’s very own Rebounder are releasing a new song every month as a part of their ambitious The 2020 Project. Like all prior songs, the band’s Noah Chenfeld self-produced the track in his bedroom and wrote it along with his brother Dylan Chenfeld.

“Lovers” is an ear-worm of a track with a big confident chorus that mixes elements of a more synth-based sound with the homegrown rock sound that is always found so fondly in Chenfeld brothers’ DNA.

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Written, recorded in the east village of New York City. by Dylan Chenfeld & Noah Chenfeld

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Brooklyn post-punk outfit Public Practice built up a wave of buzz with their debut EP, Distance is a Mirror, back in 2018, and for good reason—its New Wave-infused post-punk was as sharp as it was funky. The band, which features members of Wall and Beverly, recently announced their debut album Gentle Grip is out on May 15th via Wharf Cat Records, and the news arrived with one of their best tracks yet, “Compromised”—a motoring punk-pop romp.

Public Practice is band based in New York City
Members include Sam York = Vocals, Vince McClelland = Guitar, Drew Citron = Bass/Synth/Vocals, Scott Rosenthal = Drums

From the debut album Gentle Grip out 5/15 on Wharf Cat Records.

Image may contain: 4 people

We have been quietly working on a lot this year and here’s the first taste we can share! Public Practice release their first new single ‘Disposable’ since their critically acclaimed EP ‘Distance Is A Mirror’. ‘Disposable’ is the first track they have recorded in their newBrooklynstudio where they are recording their first album. before hitting the UK at some point later this year.

The Brooklyn band have channelled existentialism and post punk witin favour of their new track. The question that put this project in motion was: “How do you fight something seemingly so much bigger than yourself, for someone else?” The B-side ‘Extra-ordinary’, their take on the Yukihiro Takahashi’s classic recreated some sounds of the original track with some own sound design.

Public Practice wanted to pay homage to the song but also to the original synth programming which blends in perfectly with the subdued minimalism of their sound. The lyricism and eerie but soothing vocals of Sam York can be contradicting at times but it’s just one facet of the many interesting things about Public Practice.

Public Practice is band based in New York City
Members include Sam York = Vocals, Vince McClelland = Guitar, Drew Citron = Bass/Synth/Vocals, Scott Rosenthal = Drums

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing

Brooklyn punk trio Thick have seen a lot over their six years as a band. They’ve seen venues close, and they’ve been repeatedly tokenized by men in the music scene, so they’re not sorry who’s offended by their in-your-face punk. Last year, they signed to Epitaph Records, and their debut album, “5 Years Behind”, is finally coming out on March 6th. Expect jumpy, melodic punk where the personal is political. Samples of men using phrases like “Girl bands are really in right now” characterize “Mansplain” while the rambunctious title track perfectly depicts internal combustion: “I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed / If I didn’t let time take control.”

The band’s third EP and first release since signing to Epitaph Records, THICK bottles up the reckless energy of their live set and adds new textures to a gloriously scrappy sound they’ve labeled “girlwave.” The three-song release also reveals THICK’s particular brand of lyrical genius: calling out the stupidities of the status quo and claiming their own space apart from the masses.

THE BAND:– Kate Black, Nikki Sisti, Shari Paige

“5 Years Behind” by THICK from the album ‘5 Years Behind,’ available March 6th

WeepingIcon_Cover_1400.jpg

Listening to Weeping Icon’s debut album is too enter a dim catacomb of psychical catharsis. Urgent yet calculated riffs rip through a thunderous pummel of percussion, with a blend of punk and psychedelic drumming which carries the songs with an atmosphere of organized chaos. Lyrically they are both serious and sarcastic, trading off vocalists to confront issues central to a generation, dosing listeners with the controlled sense of horror and humour like flavors in a dish.The band’s debut record “Weeping Icon” is a collection of 7 songs that archive the metamorphosis into heavier and more provocative territories.

In keeping with their live performance’s, a sequence of dystopian sound interludes complete the album, serving as guided meditations between the candid subversive fury of the main tracks. Recorded and mixed by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and mastered by Jonathan Schenke in New York City.

Weeping Icon’s self-titled debut album, out now on Fire Talk and Kanine Records, is a chilling adrenaline rush. It’s the kind of record that will make you run faster out of fear. Their gothic psych-punk is a noisy, dark tunnel, and the only way you can get out is by riding their wave of pummeling rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s an undeniably underground record, and this trio’s maniacal cacophonies will appeal to those on the fringes, but all the better given that New York City has more than enough outsiders.

Weeping Icon’s debut self titled album on Fire Talk Records.