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

in the running for worst album cover 2009

in the running for worst album cover 2009


Chicago four piece Them, Roaringtwenties are relativly new on the circuit but have drummed up a lot of talk in their wake.  Focusing mostly on jazz based math-rock its hard to get excited about yet another contender for the non existant math-rock crown.  These boys do try and stand out in several ways, some more effectivly than others.  Overall a very fun time.

Most math rock you will likely find rarely takes itself too seriously (see don-cab’s song titles) but not to the level that is achieved with Future Sandwhich.  Not only featuring ridiculous song titles but also completely odd lyrics and confusing use of auto tune.  Granted they are used very sparingly across the songs it really doesn’t add much of anything in my opinion.  In fact id say it takes away from the instrumentation a bit.  The strange thing is that the more you listen to it the more you’ll start to warm to the strange vocals about sandwhiches and womens “hair” styles.  Sampled childrens story book audio is also used in the first couple tracks but just ends up a little too gimmicky.

Honestly though do you really care about math rock vocals? because i sure dont.  As far as instrumentation goes it is actually more impressive than i had anticipated. Track 2  “Harry Carry Frontier Guide Hawkeye” blasts out of the gate and rarely lets up using tightly wound jazzy guitars.  Harmonica also makes an appearence and is used really well to dance over the controlled hoe down math rock stomp.

 The one thing i noticed about this group and its hard to notice unless your paying close attention is one guitar always seems to be playing something rhythmic but atonal and the other something melodic.  Often times switching which guitar does which or joining the other in unison.  It really shows that there is a high value for varied instrumentation as some songs pull out some pretty big time changes.  Drums stick pretty close with the bass but are expertly played with well placed fills and open hi-hat use.  They dont typically add to the guitars but it sounds like it might be a bit hard to compete with those flying guitars.

Aside from the vocals another stumble which is really only a minor gripe is when the group chooses to slow things down it gets a bit “Kinsella” if you know what I mean.  This wouldn’t normally be a problem if it wasn’t such a shift from fast slightly inventive melodies.  Those boys do tend to have a monopoly on pretty math styled offerings as they are incredibly prolific.   As I said a very minor fault as they are very nice portions of the songs, I could have dealt with something a bit more original. 

For better or worse the vocalist and keyboard player ended up dropping out of the band recently so we will see if future releases will find them replacing that aspect or not.  I have a suspicion though that they will probably go instrumental as most of their songs are already that way.  Will be looking forward to a proper full length.


RATING: A NERD ROPE.  Very pretty to look at and tastey.  A little too sweet at times but satisfied in the end.


"the shallow end of a creepy futuristic building"


The great and mighty Damon Che (of Don Cab fame) drummer supreme and…..lead singer? guitarist? Yes, so what type of math rock super twisted structures do we have here? well none to be honest.  This is indie rock and to be more specific indie rock meets Van Halen.  Now I’m sure at this point some might be grumbling (which i was when i first heard this years ago) but give it a chance and you’ll find an album full of rewarding songs and some serious guitar.

Its a shame that this band was never given the proper chance (it was featured in Rolling Stone for god sakes and went no where).  Really to get right down to it these are epic in the style of some kind of alternative indie band giving way to their 80’s pop rock demons.  As it is not as clumsy as that description there are some seriously catchy songs on this release.  I’ll come out and say previous releases were plagued by bad production and songwriting. This their last album finds a band finally comfortable with its place and exploiting it to the fullest.  It could also have something to do with Che playing almost all of the instruments here as opposed to other releases but who’s to say.

“I Wear Glasses in the Most Brutal Sport Ever Invented” tricks you into thinking this could get a little don cab esque with odd timed riffing but just as suddenly the song gives way to “Menopause Diaries” which stands as a prime example for what you are in for.  Riff rock with pretty vocals, memorable guitar lines all equal out to some  nostalgic 90’s melodies.

In my opinion though the best part is the vocals which really suck you into the grooves.  Unfortunatly all is not perfect as a  problem later in the album creeps up as songs start stretching to longer lengths and vocals become less present.  To say these extended songs are  horrible would be incorrect but a little aimless would be more like it.  Incidentally there is also an extended album version  that almost doubles the album length.  Thankfully we are only treated to the best portions on the normal release and do not miss anything from the extra intros, bridges and outro’s on the extended version.  One other thing id like to point out and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out but this is pretty much 90’s indie guitar rock with some extras.  So if things feel familiar its ok as its also a part of the charm.  Gladly i can take these missteps with stride and at times i do even enjoy them.  Its funny how well it has with stood the test of time while other 90’s rock has mummified.

Speaking Canaries is the perfect vehicle for Damon to flex his guitar muscle its just that maybe his guitar muscles aren’t as big as his drums ones.  Still an excellent last album for Che who now seems content to resurrect the ghost of Don Cab.  There are many times I wish he would come back to Speaking Canaries and I doubt that I am alone.


RATING: A Twinkie you’ve been saving for years. Still good.

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.