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Friday, February 27, 2015

Gasparilla Music Fest, BBDDM, The Jaguar Club, Leslie Paris Viking

It’s always great to see true indie acts getting a shot at performing on a bigger stage from time to time. More than a few will get that opportunity at the Gasparilla Music Fest, which takes place March 7-8 in Tampa, Florida at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Kiley Garden.

Among some of the bigger name acts like Modest Mouse, The Gaslight Anthem and Mutemath, indie road veterans Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will be afforded the opportunity to showcase their sound in a location other than the usual haunts they seemingly are always at (at least here in New York). Just namecheck every currently popular venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and/or the lower east side of Manhattan. In other words – all the places I usually find myself at.

Headliner Modest Mouse will release their new studio album, Strangers to Ourselves, via Epic Records on March 3 just prior to their appearance at GMF making this their first studio album since 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Modest Mouse gained mainstream attention when their 2004 single, ‘Float On’ became the band’s first #1 song on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart and was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

The festival is an actual Florida 501(c)-3 non-profit corporation whose mission is to nurture and promote the cultural life of the Tampa Bay Area by presenting a spectacular range of inspiring musicians and performers across all genres that leads to music awareness, education and the continuance of the urban renewal of Tampa. It was founded in 2011 with financial support from several Tampa Bay area based businesses and the organization’s founding members, The Ring of Fire.

New Orleans favorite Mutemath, whose sound fuses elements from psychedelia to traditional gospel to modern electronica yet still firmly rooted in New Orleans rhythm and blues, will also be releasing a new recording later this year. While Jamaican roots reggae trio, The Abyssinians, are famous for their close harmonies and promotion of the Rastafari movement within their lyrics. Formed in 1968, the band has gone through a number of lineup changes with the current trio touring since 1997 including dates at Reggae on the River, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival and The Bob Marley Day Festival in 1998. The group was also nominated for a 1999 Tamika Award.

I first wrote about and began promoting this wonderful fest over here on the great Dingus site

Full Artists lineups and participating Vendors can be found here

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It is an interesting genre of music where vocals are employed and yet the actual lyrics are completely unintelligible. The two most popular that immediately come to mind are black metal (where vocals are screamed) and the dreampop/shoegaze first popularized by The Cocteau Twins.

Brooklyn’s preposterously named Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk are firmly embedded in the latter category. Their sound however is a truly beautiful one. “Saturday” moves with the minor key melancholia and descending progression of prime mid-90’s dreamgaze practitioners like Slowdive.

 Additional tracks like “Burt” pops and crackles with the feel of a late night jam session. The melody is strong, but any semblance of literal meaning is merely suggested. The musical equivalent of an impressionists water color painting. A surprisingly soulful element emerges however, with the romanticism of early 1970’s R and B act The Chi-Lites discovered under a layer of Kevin Shields’ My Bloody Valentine filters. The band is currently in the studio recording new material.

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Reuniting this past summer after a four year break to work on other projects, Brooklyn’s The Jaguar Club prepare to release their latest EP “Close” on March 3rd. Having recently hosted a weekly Wednesday night residency at Pianos, the band continues to expand on its signature sound.

“Heat Of The Sun” pairs crooner vocals with distinct guitar lines, echoing The Smiths Morrissey/Marr relationship. The lyrical mood is more positive, however as heartache goes “bouncing off the ceiling,” giving way to the light (and heat) the sun produces. Spacious instrumental interludes emphasize ambient keyboards, jingly tambourine and brightly strummed guitar chords.

“Sleepwalking” builds around a dominant bass guitar progression, with loose jammy guitar and reverberated percussion. The overall feel leans closer to early Cure tracks like “10:15 Saturday Night.” Other tracks like “The Sirens” benefit from some inspired, aggressively soulful guitar work near the end of that song.

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Brooklyn based folk-pop artist Leslie Paris Viking showcases an ironic wit via a series of recently released tracks. With a vocal tone reminiscent of late 70’s/early 80’s troubadour Steve Forbert, the folk genre may be “alive on arrival” once more.

“This Machine” presents the sort of thoughtful wordplay any poetry fan can appreciate. Couplets describing the title subject as “A positive action machine” with “no regretting from now on” and being “hellbent on heaven and whatever else you do for fun,” point to the author using metaphor in describing his own feelings. Alternately, “The Greatest Singer In The World” morphs from over-the-top braggadocio to self-doubt. “No one approaches me” eventually becomes “that’s lonely.” Of “all the people on this train, I can’t be the only one who’s unsure of the bargain.” It’s basic two chord guitar progression with understated keyboard, guitar and drums accompaniment present what Forbert fronting The Velvet Underground might have sounded like.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Caught Live: Thurston Moore Band, Psychic TV, gods and The Parlor Mob

Having spent most of this past December in a feverish attempt to keep the proverbial wolf from the door, the comparative calm this new year brings provides a moment for reflection.  Although it often felt like it, not every activity I encountered involved either some sort of crisis to manage, or the never ending pursuit of a financial shield.  Wedged in between those tasks came some not-to-be-missed live music shows.

December 11, 2014 presented one such opportunity as Thurston Moore brought his latest music project to Webster Hall in New York City.

Appearing in one of that large venues subdivided side stages,  The Marlin Room provided  an appropriate environment for the former Sonic Youth frontman and his newly minted "supergroup."

My journey to the building (from the relative "outland" areas I seek out to park my car) affords opportunity for an inspired street scene snapshot.

The night, the light and the random-chance turn down 11th street between 1st and 2nd Avenue put Veniero's Italian Bakery inside the camera eye.

Once inside the hall it wouldn't be long before Moore and his band took to the stage.

Followers of this artist are keenly aware that for this latest project, none other than My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Googe is a contributing member, both live and on current album The Best Day.

Though she doesn't venture anywhere near a microphone, Deb's presence, legend and the sound she produces from her bass provides Moore with a heavyweight foil for his new material.

As does guitarist James Sedwards, who distinguished himself playing in the heavy/jazz/punk instrumental UK band Nought.

As expected, the set featured and expanded on the tracks from "The Best Day."

Sedwards, Googe and Moore played with an interwoven seamless familiarity that belied their relatively new configuration.

Although Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley played on the album and is the regular touring drummer, an injury prevented him from playing this show.  His fill in (who I've seen play with other bands on the local scene) more than capably handled the parts.  Such is the life of a professional musician.

Thurston's new music here is much closer to his Sonic Youth work, rather than his previous solo album.

Most noticeably here in the live environment, where the emphasis is placed on the full band contributions.

My fave tracks are the Sonic Youth-like extended jams“Speak to the Wild” and “Forevermore.”

Deb does the FX stomp

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It wouldn't be until a few weeks later before the next live music experience could be had.  The days leading up to December 25 have a way of consuming every available free moment.  

Fortunately Psychic TV's appearance on Saturday the 27th at Brooklyn Night Bazaar came after the Christmas deadline, allowing for post-holiday stress free attendance.

The rich history surrounding this band and it's central figure Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been documented thoroughly over the years.

The complicated nature of the lives involved there presents a unique portrayal of life outside the mainstream.

This live show and current personnel features a band revitalized by those additions, providing an expanded sound palette for  its central figure.

In addition to the deep catalog of music amassed over the years, the band can also put a unique spin on classic space rock compositions.

The backdrop at Brooklyn Night Bazaar provides one of the best sources for light and image projections.

Guitarist Jeff Berner is particularly animated, as he shines on select guitar solo moments.

Social networks provide additional gravitas to the whole experience.

Including post-show DJ sets at popular local Brooklyn bar Alaska

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The month of January can be a lean one as far as gigs go.  After the New Year's hoopla, many people tend to go into a shell and hunker down until spring.

The hard working, road-ready rock band can't afford such luxuries - and so continue to ply their trade  in venues of various sizes on a nightly basis.

So it was back to current fave haunt Brooklyn Night Bazaar on Saturday January 10th for a night of heavy blues-rock from a number of South Jersey's finest.

First up was the recently formed band gods, who feature founding member this night's headline act The Parlor Mob.

With the core members of Paul Ritchie (guitar), Sam Bey (drums) and Nick Villapiano on bass, a refreshing collection of new songs were presented to an early (but attentive) crowd.

The band also features Scott Liss on second guitar and backing vocals.  Scott continues to create wonderful music via his own long-running solo project.

Social networks continue to established an awareness level for the artists.

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Up next was a band that made the most of their opportunity in front of an ever increasing crowd.

Claiming New York City overall as their point of origin, Silverbird played a set that emphasized sophisticated vocals and intricate rhythms.  Their 2014 EP "Surface Life" has been met with significant critical acclaim and those songs went over well in this live setting.

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Long time South Jersey mainstays The Gay Blades dug deep into their blues-rock canon, putting on an exciting performance in front of the now sweat-soaked crowd.

Originally a two piece of guitar and drums (in classic White Stripes / Kills / The Black Keys mold), having a bassist for this live set provided the right amount of bottom under an already impressive collection of songs.

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Finally it was time for headliners The Parlor Mob

Having witnessed many shows from these guys over the years (one such show cromicled here), I knew their performance would be nothing less than amazing.

The crowd was pumped and the boys delivered a blistering set that pulled from their entire catalog.

With the better part of a decades worth of music to draw upon, classic tracks like "Real Hard Headed" were mixed in with newly composed material.

"Into The Sun" from their 2011 release Dogs perfectly captures what this band is all about.

As things continued to heat up, lead vocalist Mark Melicia cast aside his hoodie.

Already warmed up from his opening set with gods, guitarist Paul Ritchie was already sporting the trademark band white t shirt.

Paul is truly an accomplished guitarist (one of my all time faves) and he never fails to impress.

A real musician who plays with as much soul as any acquired technique (of which there is certainly an abundance).

The whole band interacts with the ease and intuition of having played together for a decade.

Mark, super drummer Sam Bey and founding guitarist David Rosen never sounded better as the audience head-bobbed to every deep and heavy groove.

Social media (once again) for the win.

The Parlor Mob (with gods supporting) have a number of additional shows upcoming.

With the west coast now on tap for most of February.

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