Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Features: Tall Juan, Sketchy, Joseph Sant, Lost In Society, RANN, Public Memory, Syvia, Britanys, The Teen Age, gods, Writer

A number of Dave Cromwell written features have appeared on The Deli Magazine since the beginning of this year.  In a effort to shine additional light on these artists and their music (along with the descriptive insights written about them), they now are re-featured here.

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Far Rockaway, Queens resident Tall Juan wears his Ramones influences well on the most recent EP “Why Not.” Moving from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina to NYC and the borough that gave birth to the original punk rockers shows an admirable level of devotion.

Though Joey Ramone may be the obvious initial point of reference, there are elements of Richard Hell’s vocal inflections sprinkled throughout the songs. In keeping with that era’s initial punk ethos, all songs are approximately a minute and a half in length. Opening track “Why Not” may reflect Johnny’s quick chord change progressions, but are delivered instead on an acoustic guitar. “It’s True” (streaming below) channels the buoyant rhythm of “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” with lyrical content closer to “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” Third track “I Don’t Know What To Do” clocks in at barely over a minutes and leans a bit closer to Hell’s Voidoids than the boys from Queens. Final track is a cover of the Dee Dee penned “Chinese Rock” that playfully interprets its lyrics.

Original Tall Juan Feature on The Deli Magazine by Dave Cromwell can be found here.

Two solo sets are scheduled in Brooklyn before flying to Europe for more shows there.  He is appearing May 26th @ Sunnyvale and May 27th @ C'mon Everybody.

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Punk rock isn’t the first genre that comes to mind when you think of deeper lyrical content. That particular sound is usually about reaction and feel, most often rage or at the very least, discontent. A quick perusal of Brooklyn based Sketchy’s song titles, however show clever minds at work.

Opening track “The Thinkiest Guy In Thinktown,” off of their debut full length album “I Wanted This To Go Different,” hits like prime era Replacements only with growly emo vocals. Classic dual guitars pair Johnny Ramone hyper-speed strummed chords and hook heavy single note riffs. “Whiskey Nostalgia” thunders along like a college frat theme song where all the pledges have been given amped up electric guitars after listening to hours of The Clash. “I Wrote A Suicide Note” is a quick minute and a half burst, sharing kinship with LA punk pioneers Social Distortion’s seminal debut album “Mommy’s Little Monster.” The cleverly titled “Someone Else’s Hook” succinctly references rock music’s overall recycled nature, wrapping it in a sound style reminiscent of early Weezer.

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The ever expanding universe that is Brooklyn’s dreampop scene seemingly knows no bounds. While numerous bands explore that style’s noisier side, the recently released debut EP “Sea White Salt” from Joseph Sant takes a more introspective approach. Although a prominent drum track initially propels featured single cut “Nor’easter” along, the emergence of soft surf-rock guitar lines and whisper-sung vocals establish an unmistakable ambient mindset.

Textured guitar melodies appear within the tracks instrumental second minute, creating the sonic equivalent of swelling wind and ocean. A denser, layered crescendo explodes just after the 2:00 minute mark, and you get the sense that the storm has now peaked. The feeling is poetic without actually being able to pinpoint any clearly defined storyline. In fact, only at the very end when the instruments go quiet can you make out the lyric “all that I hated and struck at – lost its hold over me.”

While readily acknowledging Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing as initial developers of this sound, emerging bands like Lazyeyes and now Joseph Sant continue its forward progression.

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While New York City stands as punk rock’s authentic birthplace, neighboring New Jersey has also contributed to that genre’s gritty sound. The Garden State may be known for established acts like Springsteen and Bon Jovi, but power-punkers Lost In Society find muse in early era punk and 90’s grunge.

Single “I Want To Know” successfully touches those two bases in a concise two plus minutes. While the intro’s mid-tempo drum rolls and emphatic guitar chords suggest a classic power trio, subsequent tempo shift to a much quicker pace establishes truer intentions. Verses come fast and hard and tell the story of working class people barely getting by “check by check” and “sinking down to a hopeless debt.” With the chorus initially (and conveniently) namechecking the song title, the next lines echo the best of Nirvana in cadence tandem with lyrics “when you take what you get and you don’t look back, do you feel no regret, do you really keep check?” Their full length record "Modern Illusions" (produced by Pete Steinkopf, guitarist of The Bouncing Souls) was released earlier this year, and is well worth a listen.

The band is currently on a sizable west coast tour, so catch them at one of those shows if you can.

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Dueling left and right stereo channel guitar bursts introduce RANN’s live-in-studio video recording of “Falling,” the latest track off their debut album “Yellogun.” The polyrhythmic structure is soon filled out with precisely placed synth, sharp drums and driving bass figures that allow for dramatic spaces between those notes.

“How does it feel?” introduces the essential vocal hook, with the songs title embedded in the answer line “right before you start falling.” When the arena sized chorus ultimately emerges, a catchy rising melody hook punctuates each passage through. The overall feel is reminiscent of ELO’s psych-pop Beatles influenced hits. Directed, edited, and shot by Ryan Ela of Midnight Treehouse Productions, the video makes use of high quality black and white imagery in showcasing the bands impressive live performance.

The band blitzed through a winter-through-spring tour including featured performances at SXSW in Austin, Texas before hitting significant shows in Los Angeles and New York.

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Having previously admired Robert Toher’s work in the dark synth-percussive band ERAAS, his latest project Public Memory recently released a new album and live shows in support. “Wuthering Drum” was released March 18 on Felte Records with significant tour dates surrounding its arrival.

Standout track “Zig Zag” projects an ominous buzzing undercurrent with fluidly pulsing percussion that although mechanical and electronic, gives off the sense outdoor tribal communication. Vocals further enhance this mysterious sensibility, with alien landscape processing and frequent tandem synth lines. Its overall feel is hypnotic, possibly ritualistic, leading to an ultimate unsettling vibe. The soundtrack to a film sequence where the protagonist puts on a fright mask, douses his victim with psilocybin and proceeds to blow their mind. Initial lead single, "Lunar," and the follow-up, "Ringleader" can also be heard at the links attached to each.

Upcoming Performances - Spring / Summer 2016 - 05.27 Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade East - 06.09 Brooklyn, NY @ Trans Pecos - 06.11 Brooklyn, NY @ Palisades (Northside Festival) - 07.23 Philadelphia, PA @ MOCA - 07.30 Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus

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From the opening double-stick flam pattern drum figure, heroic guitar notes and vintage sine wave synth pads, Brooklyn’s Syvia lay claim to a classic alterna-pop sound on “Anxious Animal,” the lead track off their recently released 5 song EP “Silent Violence.”

A repeated vocal hook “you will never be enough, you will not amount to much,” suggests singer Ruth Mirky may be speaking of more internal doubts than anything outwardly accusatory. Though some have stated Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a stylistic equivalent (and overall vocal tone and recording techniques do bear this out) the song structure leans closer to early 1980’s “new wave” monster hit “I Melt With You” by one-hit-wonders Modern English.

However the pacing of this track is more deliberate and laden with harsher guitar layers pointing towards early aughts Swedish indie rock band The Sounds, pioneer new wave acts Blondie and Missing Persons as sonic counterparts. In addition to the EP release, the band played dates in Norway, Sweden and Finland as part of The Brooklyn Sound Tour.

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Hip two guitar rock with underground panache is always welcome in NYC. Bushwick-based rockers The Britanys present a quirky mix of those attributes via current single “Basketholder” Securing producer Gordon Raphael for this track, a similar sonic clarity can be traced to his work with The Strokes nearly 16 years ago.

Defined riffs morph from tandem structured second guitar chord progressions to chugging counter polyrhythms. Vocals are delivered in feel that appear to echo Lou Reed’s street lingo sensibility with Julian Casablancas’ early sonic effects. While lyrics lack cohesive storytelling and are seemingly unrelated ideas strung together, perhaps that’s the intended point. “Well I’ll be your basketholder – if you’ll be my girl” speaks to something more universally relatable than a simple literal statement. Incorporated within the three minute length are a number of catchy hooks that establish urgency through staccato drum patterns and double-time emphasis. The lyric “but I can’t take it much longer, this running around the city all day” leads up to the tracks ultimate structural peak, where music and words come together with emotional force.

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With the release of their latest EP “Bad Seed” on PaperCup Music earlier this year, Brooklyn’s The Teen Age celebrated that momentous occasion with two consecutive shows at premier Williamsburg venue Rough Trade.

Although the band explains that the 4 song EP was written as an “ode to growing older,” the single “Backwards” feels emotionally rooted in the now. Under the capable production eye of Jason Finkel at Converse Rubber Tracks studios, the band makes the most out of select intro feedback, immediately catchy guitar riffs and a joyously propulsive rhythm.

While the verses may bring to mind early days of The Strokes, the chorus serves to elevate the track into an instant classic. Pairing a guitar line melody in tandem with the vocal hook “I don’t want to live without you – I just keep on falling backwards” feels closer to the heart-tugging surf of Beach Fossils.

Two noteworthy live shows during The Northside Festival are scheduled, with the first at Muchmore's on Friday June 10th.  While the event is an early afternoon through rest-of-the-night affair, The Teen Age are set to play at 10 pm.

On Saturday, June 11 they'll be playing the PaperCup Music and Indie Shuffle Official Northside Showcase at Our Wicked Lady.

Looking further down the road, the band will take part in the Out In The Streets Festival, with a show on Sunday July 17.

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Asbury Park’s fertile music scene has had a long history of influence on the NY metro area and beyond. A recent offshoot of The Parlor Mob – a band I initially wrote about for the Deli here emerges as gods with their latest EP “Endless Stunner.” Leadoff track “New Future” builds off a forward driving snare and bass drum beat with tambourine-jingle enhancements, as guitar chord structures playfully invert The Beatles “Ticket To Ride.” Vocals begin as the drums drop out, creating a harmony-induced dreamlike sequence before the beat kicks back in. Lyrics “I have been waiting it seems until eternity brings me the light” underscores an accent punctuated chorus and riff heavy guitars.

“Creatures” rises out of an electronic bass pulse center, allowing space and sonic textures to float around it. With individual percussive elements emphasized through heightened studio effects, an overall sinister feel in rhythm emerges. One could imagine this as film score music behind a pivotal travel-to scene. The pure pop single “Puttin’ Me On” seems as if molded from prime era “Electric Warrior” T-Rex combined with joyous groove of 70’s psych-pop bands like Mungo Jerry. Bolan-esque vibrato infused verses are followed by the handclap punctuated hook “B-B-Baby, don’t you know you drive me crazy, you do!” As catchy a pop rocker you’re likely to hear, the best elements lock together bass, lead and rhythm guitars.

Clocking in under two-minutes, “dream, dream, dream” moves things further back in time with its mid-60’s British blues feel. The vibe is early Yardbirds, Eric Burden’s Animals and the Van Morrison fronted Them. Title track “Endless Stunner” serves as the EP’s big time rave up grand finale. Epic guitar hooks share sonic space with raucous vocal screams, abruptly staggered drums and dreamlike plateaus, bringing together the best of hard rock and prog.

All of the tracks from this record can be heard here on their Soundcloud Page

The band is featured in The Deli Magazine Artist Of The Month Poll, where you can cast a vote for them.

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Former Deli Album Of the Month and CMJ Indie Stage alum WRITER recently returned with their follow up full length album “Principle Web.” Out on Small Plates Records, the ten track long player can be acquired in either digital or the once again popular vinyl format.

The single “Neighborly” presents a hypnotic drum beat straight outta Creedence Clearwater Revivals 1968 hit “Suzie Q,” as buzzy, distorted guitar and bass hover on a singular note before moving into a three chord progression. Chanted vocals come delivered with a mantra-like “I love – all of you.” A full minute in and the vocal cadence quickens, delivering simple observations like “there’s a shortage of clean laundry, and a mound of plastic bags” with the following verse declaring “there’s a party” as well as “a new tree that was planted.” People living in close proximity of each other would be inclined to share this kind of information.

In place of where one might traditionally expect a guitar solo is a falsetto vocal melody, moving it all closer to David Lynch film soundtrack weirdness. Harder power rock guitar chords lead the charge towards an ending that conjures the sound of a car wreck explosion. The accompanying video directed by Brooklyn-based visual artist Paul Remund portrays moving images in stark black and white, distorted by a form of digital cubism.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ringo Deathstarr - Pure Mood - Album Review + Live with Stargazer Lilies & Dead Leaf Echo

A new Ringo Deathstarr record is always reason to celebrate. Their fifth studio album, “Pure Mood” released on home turf Austin, Texas label The Reverberation Appreciation Society, (with manufacturing and distribution by The Orchard) deliver twelve brilliant tracks that are arguably their most cohesive effort yet.


Opening track “Dream Again” pairs a simple strummed guitar chord progression with layers of angelic church choir voices from Alex. What’s interesting here are the “flat” (or possibly 4th note) harmonies she sings (with her layered self) on the repeated lyrical pass “a way you were – the way we were.” Immediately following is an even more appealing vocal sequence with the lyrics “eats you up all the things you love” that serve as an audio representation of the psychedelic dreamlike state.


“Heavy Metal Suicide” is built around a riff that echoes the hybrid alterna-metal that made producer Butch Vig famous. Less the looser Nevermind era Nirvana grunge, this places much closer to the breakthrough first two Smashing Pumpkins albums. That RD have toured with and established something of a relationship with Mr. Corgan and his band, the only outstanding question would be if this track is the product of subliminal influence, or an intentional acknowledging homage. The classic dual vocals of Elliott and Alex alternate between whispery cool on verses and shouts of “I don’t mind if you don’t love me, it’s alright if you don’t miss me, I won’t cry if you won’t let me, but you won’t know unless you try” on the chorus. The rubbery downbeat accent riff that punctuates throughout the song and ends it is the ultimate heavy headbang moment.

“Stare At The Sun” – Pairs a purposeful marching bass guitar pattern with industrial metallic clang percussion, as guitar static textures rise within the mix. Verses are delivered by Alex in a measured cadence that walks the line between sung and spoken. “Run - around - we need - to use it - let - it drip - but don't - abuse it - Ruff – enough - to make - it submit - run - around - you know - we can't quit - tear - it up - it does-n't matter - when - your mind - is a – disaster – hap-piness - can make - you sadder - when - you're stuck - inside - the pattern.” The chorus hits big with chiming guitars and percussive drum pattern reminiscent of early 90’s loops in songs like Chapterhouse’s “Mesmerize.” “Turn back to pieces when I saw you” becomes both a single line chorus and central vocal hook.

The sound becomes more stripped down on the second verse as the lines “Take – your car – and drive – it nowhere – turn – me off – you know – I don’t care” are sung in an even more clipped cadence. “Met - your friend - he's such - a cancer – touch - me when - you know - I'm not there.  Guitar textures behind that create a unique ambient progression with metallic scraping strings effects. The next lyrical sequence that goes “how - do you - know when - you're finished? - does - it feel - good to - diminish? - blow - it up - just to – replenish – dream-ers just - a stu-pid cynic” features a slightly warped audio texture underneath, in what has become something of a signature sound for this band. It’s not till deeper in does the song title come into focus, with the final statement – “your smile is a kind of torture - if you want something nice to look at - - stare at the sun and never turn back.”

Shimmering, flanged guitars introduce “Show Me The Truth Of Your Love.” Although primarily an Elliott vocal performance – with sincere romantic lines like “I want it all,” “I need to know,” “make me a vessel” and “I feel so special” – there is ample use of Alex’s softer, feminine counterpoint throughout. Overall the track gives off the feel of something The Cocteau Twins could have done. That is until a surprising and somewhat odd cinematic coda closes out the track, with an initial dreamlike buildup ultimately having some random Spanish music immersed within it.

The lyrically heavy “Big Bopper” serves as one of those songs where personal favorite pop culture, zeitgeist moments in both music and film are rapidly listed. Similar to R.E.M.’s "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” (although sounding nothing like either). Classic hybrid Alex-Elliott vocals with pitch-bend guitar support deliver the first verse: “Curtain with nothin behind it, Didn't lose a thing but I'm gonna find it, The tape is cued up but I'm tryna rewind it, Stuck outside but locked inside it, I've got a bad attitude, I'm tired of everyone in my crew, Waiting around for Hüsker Dü, To get back together and play some tunes” A centralized heavy chorus hook that goes “Bad trip - Someone tell her - Don't make deals with - the creep in the cellar” (played three times throughout the song) keeps the tracks overall wordiness sufficiently anchored. “You can't stop the cretins from hoppin” (first of two Ramones references).

“Died on a plane with the Big Bopper” (alluding to one of the worst airline tragedies in rock history, and obviously the song title. Was it just random to call the song this, or is there some deeper meaning?) The next lines “I saw your mom she's off her Rocker. I know a way to earn a dollar” seem simple throwaways that work out because they rhyme. However the following “I need a ride to the other side. Tripped on a sun beam, blew my mind. Close your eyes and try to drive blind” suggest self-discovery through the psychedelic experience. However, that segments closing line “feels like I'm going through an Eventide is something only those familiar with sound effects processors would get.

The musicians, songs, films and actors specifically listed in the final segment crosses more than a few decades, yet reflect things that most-likely only a Generation Y/Millennial would combine. “Walk me home Joey Ramone, Andy Wood, Motherlovebone, My Girl, Good Son, Home Alone Jeremy, Daughter, Even Flow, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Heaven's Gate was really a bummer, Neve Campbell and Liv Tyler, Oasis, Tony Blair, and Blur”

One of the first tracks initially released from the album, “Guilt” combines high production values with a looser, jammy drum track. Alex’s vocals layer the lyrics “Guilty/ it seeps through the ceiling/ a sinking feeling/ I'm kneeling” in a floating, overlay sequence, while drummer Daniel rips snare rolls, roughing up the sweetness. “Don't you see the colors are bleeding?/ your touch is misleading/ I'm pleading” (more mad drum fills). “Have you ever felt the prying?/ when nothings exciting/ stop trying.” Like many of the songs on here, the chorus is a simple phrase – “dumb angel.” The guitars throttle in hard downward strokes as drum rolls bridge between. What follows is a particularly snakelike guitar solo that shares a measured, professional quality to it. Inside liner notes credit “special guitar” to Jeff Schroeder (appearing courtesy of Gene Simmons) – an inside joke for sure as Jeff is the current Smashing Pumpkins lead guitarist, and has been since 2007.

Pumpkins friendships aside, the verses on this track shares a closer sonic lineage to female-voice-and-guitar-blend-wash 90’s UK band LUSH. Who coincidentally have reunited and are currently touring again after a 20 year hiatus. The concluding lyrics: “perfect/ a gift worth receiving/ now I'm believing/ I need it/ swallow/ your ideas are borrowed/ you fake all your sorrow/ you're hollow/ don't you love when everything's ending?/ and you're still pretending you're living?” You can listen to this song (where I first covered it back in November 2015) here:

Continuing the sugary-buzz female-male blend vocals is the curiously titled “California Car Collection.” Isn’t that something rich people like Jay Leno or Reggie Jackson are known for?

“I am waving goodbye” is the initial vocal refrain, supported by abundant synth and/or sample keyboard pads. Soon the mantra of “I waste away” takes over and is repeated over fuzzy guitar chords. Second pass through adds a bass guitar pattern providing unexpected circuitous motion. From the midway point until the end of the song’s three and a half minutes, it remains entirely instrumental.

Raw bass guitar notes introduce frequent live show favorite “Frisbee,” just before the full-on pitch-bend guitars and syncopated drumming arrive with force. “Free Your Head” is the alleged repeated lyrical refrain, although with so many of this bands repeated lines, they tend to float like amoebas. That is to say that with studio processing and layering, certain words or phrases take on an indefinite, changeable shape. However, the clearly enunciated Elliott vocals “Well I don't know if I'm wrong - I'd say I'm sorry but it's been too long - I don't feel it like I should - I guess it's bad that I think that's good,” leave little doubt as to the intended message.

The second verse (repeated as the third too) continues this theme with the words “I'm the same I've always been -But you still cling to my old skin -It's a feeling you can't shed - Don't expect to understand,” all while Daniel is free to cut loose with drum fills that make it all sound so lively. The subsequent guitar solo practically explodes out in an uplifting burst of elongated, sustained notes.

Heading into “deeper” tracks now, “Boys In Heat” has also been included in live shows over the last few months. Hyper-quick strummed bee-buzz guitars power over top of steady driving bass and drums. What distinguishes the track early (and repeated throughout) is the every 4 bar 1-2, 1-2 drum punctuation. “Having fuuuuuunnn – in the summer sun” give early indication as to which “heat” the song title refers to. Deep tom drum fills on the first change (and throughout) makes for a tasty headphone listening experience. So too for the bass guitar driven extended trippy instrumental break.

Also spotted on a written live show set list (a rarity in itself) is even deeper track “Never.” Emerging instantly at breakneck speed, the “deathstarr” is on full throttle until everything stops momentarily for quick, blended Elliott and Alex vocal statements. With the basic sentiment being “never should have let you in, and never let you screw me down again,” its lesson learned and not to be repeated. Another toms throttling, bass guitar rumbling change section delights as Elliott declares (with winking musical nod to a certain Scottish band who were an early influence) “I was on the chain – never had a brain.” The audio “argument” attached to the end is nothing short of hilarious. “You find yourself a place to work, girl!”

There’s a distinct “smooth soul” vibe to second-to-the-last-track “Old Again.” Opulent background vocals provide much of this sentiment, while a lively structured bass pattern anchors from within. Repeated lyrical refrain “feel old again” points out this sentiment can be experienced at any age. Verse two and three add shards of guitar driven “jet engine” sonics, keeping everything very much in the “noise rock” realm. A final tacked on coda of unadorned plunking guitar serves as a musical easter egg nugget for those who listened this far.

Final cut “Acid Tongue” closes out the album at breakneck pace with a nod to that classic Swervedriver sound. Speedy bassline and bendy-warped guitars power along under Elliott’s vocals. A hard heavy metal bridge segues into telling lyrics “don’t need a gun, but I got one – feeling dumb – like someone” with the final repeated phrase “and I was wrong.”

The album can be also gotten in the UK and the rest of Europe via their long time relationship with Club AC30, and in Japan via Vinyl Junkie.

Ringo Deathstarr headlined a triumphant return to New York performance at popular Brooklyn venue Baby's All Right on April 3rd.  All of the band live shots here are from that show.

Almost a month prior to that, they embarked on whirlwind European tour with shows nearly every night in different cities.  A safe holding place for their US touring vehicle was needed.

T-shirts, CD's and Love - are really all you need.


"Good evening, Angels"

A gift from Piazzale Falcone E Borsellino Pesaro Italy

Fun times.  The Best times.

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Just prior to that evening's headliners, ambient dreampop purveyors The Stargazer Lilies delivered their own exciting live performance.

Having perfected creating spacious, dreamy sonic landscapes. theirs is a sound that continues to grow and evolve.

Innovative forces John Cep and Kim Field present enhanced studio recordings via effects-heavy guitars and sugar sweet angelic vocals respectively.

Impressionistic colors blurred across a windswept sky.

Technology may make the creation possible . . .

. . . but the artistic emotions behind it all are why it actually matters.

Just a few weeks prior to this evenings performance saw them out in Austin, Texas for the SXSW festival with Cromwell coverage in The Deli Magazine Print Issue for that event.


The band will release their latest album, "Door to the Sun" on June 3 via Graveface Records.

First single “When With You” can be heard (and viewed) via the below video.  Filmed and directed by LG from Dead Leaf Echo at Aloft photo studio in New York City, with editing by John Cep.

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Speaking of Dead Leaf Echo - they too played on this evening, opening the show with their own brilliant set.

Having last covered one of their shows here, the overall changing dynamic first noticed on that night seemed more clearly defined.

The current four piece until has been together for quite a while now (maybe longer than any of the prior lineups) and it shows in the confident execution of their material.

A full room at Baby's All Right drank in the waves of sound (with an emphasis on newer material) throughout their set.

Guitars now dominate what once was (at times) a keyboards heavy, electronic pulse driven sound.

The weeks following this show saw the band head out on their first European tour.

Their social networks kept a nightly stream of info and updates about those shows, indicating a rewarding experience and successful endeavor.


Brand new Dead Leaf Echo music has now been announced as a 7" split single "" is set to be released May 13 on Moon Sound Records.  On the flip side is the track "Dirty Minds" by complimentary darkwave act The Harrow.  A full release party will be at Sunnyvale Brooklyn on May 14.

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