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Friday, December 28, 2012

December Live Shows-Lazyeyes, Sparxx, Dead Stars + more

December 2012 has been something of a whirlwind month regarding live shows attended.  That combined with event previews, longer writing assignment and interviews has made for the kind of alternating anxious/euphoric feeling that seems to dominate my activity at this time of year.

Things kicked off on the first Sunday night with a show at Legion, located nearby the ever-growing-in-popularity neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn.


Hippy quickly won the audience over with their appealing brand of alterna-rock that places emphasis on vocal harmonies.


The songs are well-crafted and capture the essence of what made a band like The Pixies so initially appealing.

Up next was the female-fronted heavy-thrash sounds of Sharkmuffin.


Their explosive, high-energy set ended with vocalist/guitarist Tarra smashing her guitar to bits.  The shock value was not lost on the audience.

Worthy of a photo op, the artist proudly displays her handiwork.


Finally getting a chance to catch my friend Lindsey's project for her original songs - BabyAcid.


Kyle and Linds have a chemistry that works well together, and it can be felt in songs they presented on this night.

*****

That following Friday afforded an opportunity to venture out again (after staying in all week to review music and prepare interviews) - checking out Brooklyn Bazaar for A Night Of Curated Music presented by that very publication I spent all week staying in and writing for - The Deli Magazine


Of particular interest was catching the set from a band who impressed over the summer (at the 4 Knots Fest) - Devin


Devin the band (and their charismatic frontman) put on a most entertaining, hard rocking show.


The tunes are killer - the show dynamic - there is a lot to like here.

The venue itself is something of anomaly as far as the Brooklyn rock scene usually goes.


L-shaped with a huge flea market vibe, the area furthest from the stage has a bank of ping pong tables and the above wide open room for this huge game of kickball ongoing.


Joining me for the fun on this night was Young Unknowns singer/songwriter/guitarist Meredith.  Her recorded works and live show is definitely worth checking out.  Give a listen here:



Emily Wells headlined the night.  Her sound a unique one-woman show that put emphasis on synth loops, electronic and acoustic percussion.

*****

The very next night it was out again, with the first stop at Pianos on the lower east side of Manhattan to catch  Lazyeyes.


Having written a preview for this show that ran on The Deli Mag website, I described their song "Wait" as wrapping itself in a lush atmospheric bed, with butterfly high-hat percussion syncopating between dueling open note arpeggios and rising guitar melody lines. While the vocals come across as impressionist colors against pastel blue and pink skies.


"Nostalgia" is paced a bit quicker as more distinctly dominant guitar riffs drive to a delightful instrumental conclusion. Iconic 90's bands like Ride through present day jammers Diiv act as reference points, as they all share similarly appealing qualities.


The revelers at Pianos, checking out the band.

*****

Rushing over to Muchmore's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I arrived just in time to catch the set from Marlon Rando.


Their sound was properly guitar heavy - as one sporting a flying vee should be.  Additionally, that mini keyboard pictured there produced a rich background wash of lush textures.

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Next up was the band I've come to know and love over the last two months - Sparxx


Fronted by the captivating presence that is Heather Sparx, the band delivers tightly crafted dreampop.


Both guitarist Justin Matthews and drummer Cinque Kemp exhibit a highly evolved level of musicianship that is both impressive and entertaining.


Heather is very much out front, however, and embraces this central role with appealing charm.


While the boys keep the sonics a bed of swirling synths, thundering percussion and soaring guitar textures.

_____

In under a weeks time another Sharkmuffin show was experienced, and although no instruments came to destruction this time around, the high energy show was still there.



Tarra takes command of the proceedings with catchy songs and impressive guitar riffing.


There is still a recklessness lurking just below the surface, and the set ended with her charging out into the crowd and body slamming a number of the audience members.

*****

Four days later is was back at Muchmore's to catch a night of music kicked off by the mighty Quiet Loudly


Faulty guitar cables and FX boxes cannot hold this band back for long, as Max and the boys laid down the gospel of rock as it should be.


When you are a badass drummer - you just know it. Serious beard too.



Quiet Loudly play exactly that way. (The quiet bits set up the Loudly one's so much better!)

Check out this amazing song by them:



_______


Next up was the now increasingly familiar sounds of Lazyeyes


The boys delivered tight, efficient set that keeps the focus firmly on their hook-laden songs.


A few audience members attempted to engage in some enthusiastic slam dancing.


The band did their part by crunching out it's signature sound.


While the further audience members jostled for maximum rock stomp n' view position.

_______

After hearing about the next band for the last few months, it was finally time to check out the explosive rock of Dead Stars


These guys are the definitive power trio, crushing out a tightly coiled set of hook-laden pop songs.


Ferocious bass, thundering drums and classic 90's era grunge-pop guitars compliment vocals and lyrics that exhibit intelligence and wit.


The often delivered in tandem voices of cousins Jeff and Jaye Moore give the band a fuller overall vocal sound.  That combined with killer guitar melodies and overall strong songwriting points to a band that is clearly on the rise.

 _______

Heliotropes came on and proceeded to whip the the audience with their guitars like a Steve Albini sledgehammer.


These four ladies present a deep heavy sound that (to my ears) take the best of 70's metal pioneers like Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent and put a female voice on the front of it.


There is a refreshingly early 1970's vibe to it all.  The pace is measured and foreboding - until it explodes into  a burst of hair whipping frenzy.


Time signatures change - the pace quickens from doom-laden plod to speedball ferocity.

Fellow show chronicler Dean Keim covered this night as well, and can be read here:
http://deankeim.tumblr.com/post/38344041158/heliotropes-dead-stars-lazyeyes-and-quiet-loudly


******

Keeping with the two day rule, Friday December 14th had me back out at Brooklyn Bazaar for another really big show!


Arriving in time to catch some of Habibi's set I was left with a positive impression of both image and sound.


Black Marble followed, and their near-gothlike sounds appeared to find much of their inspiration by way of Andrew Eldritch and his Sisters of Mercy


Headliners The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart ripped through a fast-paced set of tunes that drew equally from their first two albums.


Pretty Peggy Played in Platform Shoes


The Pains continue to put on high level, professional shows, while still managing to hold on to their indie kid roots.


*****

A mere two days later it was back out again for what was being billed as a new indiepop party called "Rough Smooch." With TPOBPAH frontman Kip Berman and WNYU's Maria Sherman on DJ duty, the crossroads of neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick bar Legion was a particularly happening location on this evening.


Maria and Kip played songs that drew from their own unique, personal collection which included tracks by The Indelicates and pre-Loveless era My Bloody Valentine.




The Grand Resort opened the night's live show and quickly took charge with their tightly coiled pop songs.  In addition to their excellent originals, they covered one of the best songs the 1990's produced.  Check it out:







Following them were local rockers Kissing Is A Crime, who kept the party going.


Meanwhile, out in the DJ room, Kip was busy keeping interested fans entertained in between song selections.


Jen snapped a photo of Lisa, myself and Monica - reminiscing about the show we attended together just two days earlier.


Back to the stage area, The Hairs finished off the night's live show entertainment.  Earlier this year I wrote a Deli Mag feature on this band, which can be found here:
http://nyc.thedelimagazine.com/node/9686


Two days following that had me dropping in to a coffee and wifi establishment frequented by IT types to catch up with an old friend.


I first met Ed Van Beinum in 2008 while he was on tour playing drums in the band The Indelicates.

Detailed accounts of their New York shows can be found chronicled in this very blog at these links:






******

In keeping with an event every two days, it was out again on Thursday the 20th - this time for shows happening at two separate venues.

First up was Glasslands and the opportunity to reconnect with last years new friends and faves The Mast


I had previously done an extensive interview with them for The Deli Magazine last October, which can be found here:


Though vocalist Haale is still the central focal point of their music, the overall sound has evolved significantly since then.


Gone are percussionist Matt Kilmer's live drums, with the duo choosing to go a strictly high tech electronic route for all instrumental backing.


Matt now plays a variety of keyboards and electronic-trigger hand drums to create the full and magical sound they make.

Listen in to how they sounded on this evening:


******

Immediately following their set I rushed on over to The Lab in Bushwick for an event I had written a Deli Mag preview for earlier on in the week.

My fave new discovery of the last two months - Sparxx - was headlining a night where they would be shooting footage for their debut music video.
Arriving just in time to catch the set from emerging rockers Slonk Donkerson


these boys have the right attitude and musical chops to build on.


Their songs are good and the approach dynamic enough to keep everyone interested.

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Once again, the melodious tones of Brooklyn rockers Hippy graced the stage.



Nick and Jenny have really catchy songs that are so much fun everyone immediately starts dancing with a smile on their face.  The true essence of the live show experience.



In addition to being a cool bass player, Jenny works at SiriusXM Satellite radio, which I've been a subscriber to since the mid 2000's.  There are so many great channels on there that I'm never bored in the car (and especially for the late night journeys back from these very gigs).




There's a lot to like about Hippy


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The main event on this evening was the live performance and video shoot for Sparxx debut music video.


Heather looked even more resplendent than ever, with cat patterned coverup frock and the jeweled headpiece that graces her bandcamp page image.


There is a punky edge to the glamour, however - for all the dance trappings - Sparxx never strays too far from the rock band they really want to be.


Or perhaps it's all just the perfect hybrid of both worlds.

Listen to how they sounded on this evening:



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The boys and girls who love Sparxx


Heather approves

******

Staying consistent with the every other night out pattern, it was off to the final night of Brooklyn Bazaar's wonderful series of free shows on Saturday, December 22nd.


Battling the traffic into and the subsequent nightmare scenario that is finding a parking spot in Williamsburg on a Saturday evening, I made it just in time to catch the set by new friends Dead Stars


Jeff Moore and his band sounded better than ever on the bigger stage.


Having a kick-ass drummer that also sings background vocals will certainly enhance any band - and Jaye fills that role masterfully.


The boys sounded awesome on this day.  One of my fave new bands!
Check out the killer music here:


Following Dead Stars was the electronic textures of Dan Friel


The man cranked out a sonic stream that paid homage to early Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk
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Tiny Victories were next to take the stage.


Once again, electronic textures were the dominant sounds, but more defined songs with vocals.


Full trap drums kept the rock element alive throughout many of the selections.


But hammered on electronic percussion was also employed in equal measure.

*******

Finally it was time for previously unannounced super secret headliner - none other than Toronto hardcore act Fucked Up


Having first caught their show the previous summer at The House Of Vans, I knew what to expect and was fully ready for it.


Frontman Damian "Pinkeye" immediately launched himself into the crowd, getting lost and winding up on the far wall - charming the audience there.  Though "Event Security" were initially prepared for potential wrestling matches - the audience actually behaved perfectly according to "slam dance rules" and there was no unnecessary trouble in that regard.


The band behind Damien is a full on throttling machine.  Quite proficient at that speedy punk sludge so necessary for this kind of act.


I particularly enjoyed the playing of bassist Sandy Miranda (a/k/a "Mustard Gas") who can be learned all about via this link here:
http://heartymagazine.com/features/sandy-miranda-of-fucked-up


Smart looking girls with glasses like to hardcore slam jam too.

******

A fitting end to a month of far too many shows to actually blog about (and yet - here it is).  Body slamming in a pit in front of a thrash band with a crazed lead singer and followers who enjoy the physical contact of random smashing into each other.

I guess I haven't outgrown this yet either.

15 comments:

Misty said...

what a thoroughly jam packed entry you have here!

there are so many great bands to give a listen to. i am going to work my way through them all, then post back on which ones are my faves.

DaveCromwell said...

Great idea, Misty.

Yeah, I know there are a lot of artists covered here. Though a number of them I actually feature twice (more than a few bands presented with two shows).

I'm curious to hear what you like best!

Ivanka said...

that's amazing time spending Dave!
Beautiful review as always filled with great photos !
I enjoyed it!
Thanks for sharing!

Patricia said...

Wow great review Dave and great shots, i see you had much fun there with all those nice bands. I love the song "You are a young unknown" the rhythm, the style... so cool and the sweet voice... really lovely, i played it for three times, honestly...hehehe. :D

DaveCromwell said...

Happy to read your thoughts Ivanka and Patrica. Ah, Meredith of The Young Unknowns will be happy to know her song is a hit with you, Paty!

Mirror said...

here's another live Sparxx vid:

http://youtu.be/_L7HtnFlTBs

Anouk vdM said...

Nice review

Mr Smork said...

looks like an adventurous time you had lately.

some of them i like more some not that more, but i got to admit that "young unknown" (that dark haired chit somewhere near the beginning)really caught my ear.

this entry is kind of long, so i am still processing some other bands. :P

sweet.

DaveCromwell said...

Sure, I get that there's a lot of digest here, Mr. Smork. I'm glad to see that Meredith and her band Young Unknowns is getting positive feedback. It's good stuff, so not surprised. I think a number of the bands deeper down deserve attention as well, but understood that all might take some time.

Misty said...

ok, after having spent some time here i'm getting a chance to post about which bands featured are my faves.

i have to say that Lazyeyes, Sparxx, Quiet Loudly, Dead Stars and The Mast all really do it for me. there is something unique in each of their sounds, and i found myself enjoying their music the most!

The Grim Reefer said...

I stop in here from time to time because the "regional music scene" is where it bubbles & brews...and its intrepid souls such as yourself who're out there, searching for clues, looking for the diamonds in the dirt. No one looks anymore for "the next big thing", it seems listeners have gotten hip to the "star making machinery behind the popular song." "reality show celebrities" and an assortment of "mutants, freaks, and musclemen" have hijacked the diminishing collective reality even as the titans of the Music industry scream like dinosaurs in tar pits..
...new "stars" sizzle & fade while the real music is aborning nightly in clubs an' barns, basements, sheds an'garages all over the country......
.....And that's where you come in Dave. You & others like you are out there risking time and tympani to bring us sounds that are bubbling up....and who knows?
......So..go off into the New Year..bring us what you find..and thank you.

DaveCromwell said...

What beautiful prose, Grim Reefer. I thank you for your truly kind words. Of course you are absolutely correct about having to wade through the constant bombardment that is "American Idol" type "star making machinery" (Joni really nailed it lo these many years ago with that description) - to get to the heart of it all. These young, emerging bands are the true essence of what its all about - at least for me. This is where the heart of it all lies. Just like the CBGB's scene in the late 1970's - that spawned so many (now) legendary artists. So today - Willamsburg and Bushwick Brooklyn and the lower east side of Manhattan carries on that tradtion. I'm just happy to still be a part of it all.

The Midnite Rambler said...

Thanks for your article, Dave.. I always find new music I want to try out whenever I read them. I like the multi-media presentation very much.

Davey said...

As always you bring my ears new music Dave! Thanks for highlighting some great bands. I checked out your blog today mostly for Sparxx, as we have recently chatted about them, but you have a few others here I will want to give a solid listen to also.

Thanks again!

William said...

that is a very busy month crommers even by your standards! or maybe its just cos its all in one!! looks like fun though and they do all sound great- Sparxx are a great new band! looking forward to doing it with you in person again sometime perhaps this year!