guitarist drummer death lock stare

guitarist drummer death lock stare

     First and foremost I need apologize quickly for my lack of updating as I have had pressing home matters to deal with as of late.  Anywho back to the music.  This excellent group out of Purchase, New York has certainly been turning some heads lately.  A three piece with ex Ra Ra Riot drummer Cameron Wisch its fairly simple to peal back the influences going on here but to their credit they certainly are an intense musical force in their own respect.

     Harkening back to the heyday of 90’s heavy math rock there is more than enough of the old school Pittsburgh soul that helped power bands such as Hurl and Don Caballero to go around here.  It should be said as well that spicing up each of their songs are hardcore influenced speak shout vocals from all the members. Never intrusive to the pieces but honestly the true magic here is the instruments, and boy is this some busy music for a trio.

Its hard to find math-rock especially in america these days that is as tight as its over sea’s counter parts and a little mess is ok but Zona certainly keeps things crisp between guitar and bass.  As a drummer though and while perhaps unfair to say its excellent to see Cameron Wisch really doing some interesting things on the kit.  Using highly syncopated licks and knowing when to reign it in or let loose is very much the style going on here. Often times though i find myself paying more attention to the little things he does like stick clicks where a milisecond pause may occur or taking a fairly straight forward beat and speeding it up to the point where you’d have a hard time knowing what you just saw.

These boys are currently on tour right now with the also fabulous Monster Machismo (whom i will be covering tomorrow) tour schedule obviously located on their myspace.  I plan on attending their show in Ithaca NY July 30th at the always lovely Pirate House, so if anyone is in the area I can promise a show to be remembered.  Check the link and the video below.

Zona Mexicana

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rainbow bass drum

interdimensional bass drum head

 

 Ahleuchatistas mix the kind of music that most bands are still trying to distillate after years.  From North Carolina they have healthy jazz influences with equal parts classic prog and avant garde leanings that  produce a very unique instrumental sound for just bass, drums, and guitar.  There are also some interesting undertones of the wild energy of punk proving that this is not just music for beard stroking hipsters. 

Mostly clean toned guitar work that can shift from choatic stabs to locked in grooves with the bass. Drums also play similarly moving from more straight forward beats to fill laden licks.  As said before they are a tight instrumental group that shows considerable practice has taken place during off time.  The song structures themselves follow no set path and as such lend themselves well to various time changes.  This is of course not for their own sake such as in some straight math rock.

Its in this formula that the group sometimes heads into repititive territory but for the most part this is the exception.  While not having a general effect on the music production wise they have always been a bit lacking.  It has an older sound which plays well into the songs but can also disguise some of the tech. fills and runs being played.

Discography:

On the Culture Industry (2003)

What you Will (2005)

Even in the Midst (2007)

The Same and the Other (2008)

 

aladdin is that you?

aladdin is that you?

 

Australian rap outfit Curse Ov Dialect skirts a fine line as far as independant hip-hop is concerned. On one hand they seem to want to be experimental with beats and word play but in the same instance there is certainly a great love for touch stones of the game: straight forward drums and varying mc’s taking turns.  Its a tuff call as to what sort of group they want to be. 

Not nearly as challenging as something like Clouddead, these 5 individuals do have serious flow as far as spitting verses.  Not to mention they tend to do so in various languages and inflections of english. While mc’s are the lyrical content to any rap outfit it is the music providing a solid backbone. DJ Paso Bionic samples from such a vast area of material youll be lucky to identify more than one or two sources yourself.

It is very interesting for the most part but can get messy as there is not a lot of breathing room for the music at times.  The mc’s tend to be a bit long winded at times and with each one waiting their turn, tracks can become long true time investments.  Other than slight problems which all music has its important you check them out.  My personal favorite is 2003’s “Lost in the Real Sky”.  With a new album on the way we will see how this group pushes it further. 

goggles is the new black

goggles is the new black

Ex members of rock group Gruvis Malt find a calling that is less indebted to the present or future and more revels in the past.  Now im certainly not saying that they are some kind of folk group or classic rock revivalists but their decade of choice just happens to be one that twenty somethings may remember very well.

Video games, saturday morning cartoons and a hint of prog rock make up this three piece self described “action/adventure” band.  Drums, bass and keyboard fill out the sound without you ever wondering why theres no lead guitar.  Hate the bleeps and bloops of chip tune or the endless video game covers? well then rest assured that none of these exist here.  High energy, thoughtful song structures and excellent musicianship is what you recieve time in and time out and thats a winning combo in my book.

Debut “Chase Scenes 1-14” is an excellent first effort but perhaps suffers a bit from sounding “samey” with songs running together and production that leaves you scratching your head as to what your really hearing.  Aside from this its a very self assured release that is of course bested by its follow up.  “Worlds” marks a culmination of ideas split into smaller “suites” and tends to be a much more diverse and dynamic affair.  However both have their merits and should be checked out accordingly.  In any event this is a band that should be checked out as soon as you can.  If you are also unfamiliar with previous project “Gruvis Malt” do yourself a favor and check out “Maximum Unicorn” trust me.

 

Band Overview: Polvo

May 26, 2009

polvo

polvo

Biography:  The four piece from Chapel Hill, North Carolina played a indie noise rock all their own in the 90’s.  While being accused at times of sounding like sonic youth, pavement or anyone of their art rock contemporaries they jammed to something a bit different.  Indie noise rock, heavy use of alternate tunings with eastern style riffing and yet still a good melodic sense within “structured” rock songs.

Whats the big deal?:  Polvo has informed a lot of our current underground music today (The Joggers have even taken similar chord progressions from them).  They brought together a pop rock sense of structure to otherwise left field chords and beats.  Attributed also to “math rock” due to off kilter rhythms (ive never been one to label them as such but they frequently are) As with many bands like them they never were keen on the labeling.

Albums:  Cor-Crane Secret,* Today’s Active Lifestyles*, Exploded Drawing, Shapes

News: Polvo has reformed and after 12 years is currently working on a new album! Not only that but cytunes has made me aware that theres also a live album on sale with proceeds going to brain cancer research.  For 7$ and a good cause you cant beat that. Link below.

cytunes

Thomas Bonvalet

Thomas Bonvalet

Say that you like math-rock but some is just too video gamey and on the other end its just too cutesy and not as technical, enter Cheval De Frise.  A french duo of acoustic guitar and drums that play some seriously excellent music.  The closest as far as bands go would be the obvious choice of Hella, and at times i would agree but its really a lazy comparison just because they have two members and change time signatures throughout a song.

Thomas Bonvalet’s guitar style is extremely varied in its attack.  Moving from gentle sporadic plucks to hyper composed math style riffing.  The overall melodies that he seems to favor are more spanish guitar type in comparison to the more obvious metal or indie style math rock that is more widely used.  This gives the music more of a relaxed feeling even through the faster sections. If i had to sum them up in a few words id say “crazed gypsy band that discovered hard bop” and even that falls short.

Vincent Beysselance can seemingly play anything anyone has ever imagined on drums.  This is (probably) untrue but listening to him play is really something that goes beyond impressive.  Sometimes he plays with the guitar and sometimes its as though he’s playing his own thing but it never sounds forced or bad.  His playing style is incredibly natural and flows just as well as thomas’ guitar.  If ever two people were meant to play together its these two.  Although they have sadly broken up it means nothing as they’ve left several releases of excellent material.

This is sporadic type music though with little in the way of structure so by no means go in thinking that its going to follow any sort of patterns. These guys take preexisting ideas and extend them for their own means, which is what i look for in my music.  Not a sense of breaking new ground because I cant even recall the last band to do that as it is certainly a rarity.

Both members seem to thrill in throwing musical curve balls in at every turn playing wrong notes on purpose or just dropping the beat entirely.  This is the kind of stuff missing from today’s musical climate.  Sometimes its more in what you dont say musically than what you do.  Honestly though isn’t surprise the thrill of art?  I tend to believe so and if i can get my art with some sick riffs and fills then even better .

Band Overview: PIGLET

May 7, 2009

i dont remember this part of space mountain

i dont remember this part of space mountain

 

Piglet are a math rock band by way of Chicago.  While there output is slim (one release Lava Land ep) and have since disbanded, it is hard to ignore a band that was this good.  With two members of Seyarse in the line up youd swear on your dusty vinyl that there had two be another guitarists going at it on these tracks or even another drummer but youd be very wrong as its just three members.

Surprisingly no looping is used either and with several listens its easy to see why. Structurally their songs are too complex to add any sort of extended groove.  As a point of reference it could be likend to many of their influences (Don Cab, Volta Do Mar ect).  I’d say more realistically though that its like if someone sped up American Football and dropped the whiney vocals.  We could sit here all day and argue if something so indebted to others is even relavent musically, but  give this one listen and those pretentious thoughts will melt away as fast as you can say “holy polyrhythm’s”.   

Lava Land their only release would be impressive enough for a band that had been playing for many years, but its hard to imagine cranking this out as a first ep.  What is nice about these songs are that while very technical there is a true appreciation in the guitar playing for memorable melodic lines.  Sometimes i find math rock to be forgetable once ive walked away from it but i find myself all the time humming these tunes to myself.  This is of course not to bring the focus away from the drumming which i think not only keeps up with the guitar but dare i say it is at times more interesting to follow. 

Even though this group has disbanded doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out and make this a must purchase.  It is a rewarding listen and there are always new things to enjoy with each spin.  Just goes to show you that pretty rock need not pander to love sick men and impossibly slow tempo’s.

http://www.purevolume.com/piglet

horse head, check. children playing, check. actually not a bad approximation on how this sounds

horse head, check. children playing, check. actually not a bad approximation on how this sounds

Welcome to the first band im covering that….GASP has a vocalist! I have chosen a very special group to kick this off as i tend towards bands without singers for one reason or another but boy are these vocals a kicker.  Theres really nothing like this band around today and certainly more people should be aware of this group.

Mostly made up of members of avant hardcore group Racebannon, This is spazz pop rock that gets away with occationally borrowing ideas from a variety of places (spanish music, kids songs, old school hip hop to name a few) As said before, the vocals are how should i say this like a high pitched rambling crooner from another dimension.  If that isn’t enough Mike Anderson (vocals) multi tracks his vocals, so while one might be singing another might be off key and another talking about animals or something. Lyrical choice runs from nonsensical (talking about going on dates with catapillars, eating ice-cream) to talking about crushes and other school yard topics.  Guitars add to this frantic meyhem with odd chord choices bordering on noise rock but with more funk thrown in for good measure.

As for a good idea of what you might be getting into with this band check out their two earliest albums “Stage Fright Stage Fright” and “This is My Big Night” Their newer material for me sometimes gets a bit lengthy and pointless so i tend to listen to earlier stuff.  “Rock Against Mapquest” is a great introduction to the group and displays what they do best. Starting off with a homemade cheer section you know your in for some fun. Vocals attack, guitars bend and weave making it all sound like a ridiculous carnival where everyone accidentally dropped acid but seem to not care at all.  Through out both disks thankfully the band do mix it up like on the ballad “Lick Me on the Face, It Feels Funny”.

Capturing that fun element in music is something a lot of bands try to do or claim they do but its represented in spades here.  While this is pretty far from being in the category dance music you can certainly do so ( i know i do) and makes excellent party music (heads do turn).  Certainly check out their other releases including there split with Mae Shi if you end up falling head over heals. Also Racebannon’s “Satan’s Kickin’ Yr Dick In” for those of you that enjoy the hardcore rock, myself included.

TERA MELOS

April 17, 2009

nick from tera melos

nick from tera melos

 

  It is a funny thing about finding great bands.  Initialy a search will begin and yield maybe 7 bands. 5 out of the 7 will never be listened to again citing any of the following adjectives, boring, samey or unorignal. the remaining 2 will be listened to for a few months and revisted periodically in the years to follow.  I mention this because a truly great band for me happens maybe once a year. That year was 2007 and the band was Tera Melos.

      It is odd to think that a band can right off the mark give you goosebumps, but this is that kind of band.  Discovered while checking out their split (complex full of phantoms) with By the End of Tonight, i had heard BTEOT’s previous work and heard this was a great extension of their ideas.  While there side is very good and does extend their MO very well (metal-tinged math rock) from 2005’s effort “A Tribute to Tigers” it was side two that knocked me over the head. 

      Math-rock with interesting melodic sense is what i would say when describing it but really that could be said about many bands in the genre.  The true meat and potatoes of the operation is in songwriting and execution. 

     First off is drums. The best way to say this is reigned in free jazz chops mixed with fast “traditional” math drumming.  Never really playing with the guitars they often compliment them though mostly share there own path. The closest comparison would have to be zach hill from hella.  Both share in frenetic math tendensies but where as zach is more technical (not another word for better) vince rogers (old drummer replaced by john clardy) plays a more varied approach hardly ever doing the same thing more than once.  John just recently joined which is why i mostly speak of Vince’s playing. the only release he has played on to my knowledge is the new Idioms release.  As they are covers its hard to say what sort of style Clardy uses without having a proper release following.  I am however seeing them play soon so i will be writing a review.

    Guitars.  Full tilt manic riff roaring good times, swing from video game shredding to metal tinged strumming back to saturday morning cartoon anthems all in a matter of 20 seconds.  The one thing all these styles have in common is a sense of nostalgia.  Nick Reinhart and Nathan Latona have a great ability to turn their songs into true emotional anthems without the crutch of lyrics.   Their great intensity and love for what they do is what puts them head and shoulders above the rest of the don cab clones (don cab now included, buuuuurn).

Upon listening to their output it is easy to see this group has true staying power.  While not wildly different, each release is a natural progression. 

  “Untitled” lays the ground work and while not as “challenging” it is a more than impressive deput.  As a four member group (Jeff Worms, second guitar would end up leaving before the recording of their second release)they have a similar set up to most math rock.  Shades of future turns do pop up but it is a fairly straight forward affair. Some songs do better than others with album cohesion lacking.

“Drugs to the Dear Youth” their 2007 follow up finds the group focusing on their awesome energy.  What i mean is that where “untitled” followed normal avenues drugs is a tera melos in love with dynamic shifts and more free form jazzier passages.  As stated Jeff would leave the band before recording began.  As to what effect this had on the band it could be said that a lot of the more angular guitar work was let go.  Vince especially seems to let go off expected “odd time signature” drum patterns and weaves in and out for much of the album.  Guitars finally find their own identity and are let loose flying everywhere at once then shifting in almost the same breath.  Miss steps could be pointed out in that the shear “rock” traits are somewhat absent, bending more to slower avenues of free jazz. 

“Complex Full of Phantoms” brings a fully realized group back at the tail end of 2007 almost a brand new beast.  A coming together of both releases see’s all their disperate elements molding into one big deal after another.  Song structures are far more jam packed with faster changes from guitars.  Recast are the huge guitars that were missing in drugs chugging and shredding where necc.  Drum work evolves as well taking what was once small dips into jazz drums into a whole style that could only be Vince’s.  Blistering poly math that few drummers would ever dream of writing let alone playing. Other interesting changes sneak in as well as a dip into vocals on several tracks.  These add an extra layer to their attack and not that you can decipher lyrics, they offer an interesting pop sense.

   With a new album in the works, tera melos is going to be a true force to be messed with.  Currently on tour (I will be seeing them next month) It will see them enter a new level of notability and success.   Hopefully there will be many more to come.

Check them out in action…