Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Audio Cartel - Autumn, 2008

One band I've been checking out over the last month or so, is a musically sophisticated power trio called The Audio Cartel.

I first caught their show on the 29th of October, 2008 at a lower east side club called Fat Baby.

I was instantly impressed with the high level of musicianship displayed by each of the three members, as well as the solidly crafted songs.

Like I said, the band is a classic power trio where each musician is exceptionally proficient at their respective instrument. Their setup reminds me of the late 1960's supergroup Cream - whereby the bassist is also the lead vocalists, the drummer is a thunderous user of tom tom's and the lead guitarist is an impressively quick and soulful axeman. However, they are far less blusey than Cream - and more straight ahead rock and roll.

Check out their opening song on that night:
"dumb and the ugly"

In that song you can hear elements of Slash-style playing in the intro - and in fact the entire intro bears at least a bit of a nod to the best elements of "Appetite" era GNR. However, when the verses break in, the emphasis on those forceful downbeat bass punctuations, gives it more of an AC/DC feel (circa "Whole Lotta Rosie"). That is to say, the song encompasses (at the very least) two elements of traditional hard rock, that's very easy to get in to.

The members of the band consist of lead vocalist and bass player Jesse Hunter - lead guitarist Tyson Schenker - and drummer Justin Freeman. Jesse just happens to be the son of legendary Mott The Hoople leader Ian Hunter and Tyson is the son of legendary UFO and Scorpions lead guitarist Michael Schenker. Justin's dad is not Sting - but they guys like to kid him about it as there is a believably passable resemblance there (and makes for a funny story). These are simple facts that I feel I should report, but it shouldn't really influence your appreciation of their music, one way or the other.

Later in the set they played a tune called "Nothin"

This one has that "Train Kept-a-Rollin" feel that comes with somewhat angular, quick-chop progression. Lyrically, it has all the bad boy elements of rock you've come to know and love. "It's 9:05 and we're ready to go, we're pickin' up where we left off after the show, and it's 15 more cans up on the wall, piled high in the sky and gettin' ready to fall."

Jesse has a powerful and raspy voice, that fits these dude-on-the-edge lyrics perfectly.

Check out "Easy" from that same show:

I next caught the band three weeks later at the lower east side venue Arlene's Grocery

The lighting was much better here for video recording, so was able to capture the boys more clearly during this set.

Give a listen to this night's rendition of "Like You Flaunt"

This song employs a rapid fire rhythm and features a particularly tasty wah-wah pedal guitar solo-outro from Tyson.

"Lying Awake" is an interesting song. Its based around a descending guitar line that starts and stops at intervals, before hitting the full-on chorus. The drums in particular add a crispness to it all, as the quick stop motion is precisely punctuated.

Jesse sings "I'm here lying awake, waiting for the sun. Sleep is for the weak, which is what we have become"

Drummer Justin is particularly impressive with his quick and dynamic fills.

Give a listen here:

The band closed out the show with a particularly smokin' version of "You're So Good"
Check it, and see for yourself:

A week later I caught the band once more - this time at a venue I frequent so often I should probably get my mail delivered there. I'm talking about The Trash Bar in Brooklyn.

Again, the lighting was great here for both photographs and video footage. Although one particular spotlight on the stage tended to make a "star/halo" effect over Tyson's head.

And though he's much too humble to ever say so, can anyone argue that there isn't a "star quality" to Tyson's playing?

Jesse and Justin have been playing together for quite some time, and the intuitive interaction between them is apparent. Justin also adds backup vocals for Jesse's lead singing, with gives the songs an added dimension, admid the ferocious playing.

Tyson and Jesse conceived the idea for The Audio Cartel and began writing songs in January of 2007. Naturally, Justin was brought into the project right away.

Listen to them rip out a great version of their song "Nasty Habits"

It's another great tune, this one a bit in the Aerosmith style, built around a Joe Perry-esque riff.

It's more "bad boy boogie" attitude, with lyrics that go "I got nasty habits - straight back from hell I'm comin' to die" and "tatoos and aviators hide your disease".

The chorus is straight on and driving, as Jesse sings - "well you didn't care, that I'm not alone, yeah, I'm not alone" against a descending chord progression.
Not surprisingly, Tyson unleashes a cry-baby wah-wah guitar solo that is as expressively soulful as it is technically impressive.

The Audio Cartel have been a delightful new discovery for me this year, and are now one of my top area bands to go see live. They are presently working on their debut album, and based on the demos I've been listening to, is sure to be amazing.

For further info on this band, surf on over via these links:


Monday, December 1, 2008

Parlor Mob live at Wonderbar November 29, 2008

On Saturday night, the 29th of November, 2008, riff-tastic supergroup The Parlor Mob played a monstrous return-to-home show in front of a loyal crowd at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

When we arrived (thanks to driving pal, sometime video-camera holder and all around "wingman" Steve), the show was already in progress. So we missed first act. However, we did catch a few tunes from Sikamor Rooney - and I have to say on first hearing I was digging the live sounds.

You can find out more about them here:

Next up was a performer I had seen previously, but solo and in an acoustic setting.

On this night, Scott Liss performed with his three-piece electric band The Sixty-Six.

I enjoyed his show even more this time, now with the full backing, bigger stage and more dynamic presentation.

Listen to Scott and his band play at this show, here:

Fellow avid concert goer and good friend Laura was there.

Flannel shirts and rock-star scarves were the proper attire.

Finally it was time for the main attraction

The Parlor Mob launched into their set with coiled precision and energy, that only a hometown show could inspire.

The crowd was totally into it from the very first note.

Check out their opening tune - "Hard Times"

Here guitarist Paul Ritchie, drummer Sam Bey and lead vocalist Mark Melicia deliver the goods, in thunderous fashion.

Paul's fretwork is particularly tasty.

Bassist Nick Villapiano was all groove and feel as stayed in a tight pocket worked the rhythm with drummer Sam.

Guitarist Dave Rosen ripped off one blistering lead after another.

In addition, he showed equal dexterity and sensitivity on the acoustic.

Paul too, added acoustic brilliance.
As can be witnesses on their down-homey feel tune "Can't Keep No Good Boy Down"

"Clappin' our hands when were out on the weekend"

"Stompin' our feet with the people we believe in"

One more song - "Read Hard Headed"
This one opens with an unbelievably cool, long instrumental jam. Then it takes you higher.

The Parlor Mob is one of the most exciting new bands on the rise today.

Check 'em out for yourself and you'll see what I mean.

Their debut album "And You Were A Crow" is available digitally on iTunes and the CD can be gotten in music stores Everywhere.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

violet violet - live in New York, November 2008

It was somwhere in the middle of October (this year) that I was pointed in the direction of the band violet violet. A mutual music fan friend who shares similar taste suggested I check them out. So I did, and very much liked what I heard and saw. As it turns out, they were soon coming to the fair city of New York (where I reside) , thus I made a mental note of the dates and locations.

Making contact with the band via these social networking sites that now connect us all, I offered an opportunity for an interview and feature. A positive response was received, so it was all set then. On Wednesday, the 5th of November (still 2008) I trodded on down to my increasingly familiar stomping grounds of the lower east side of Manhattan (which I like to call rock club central) - this time The Cake Shop on Ludlow Street to see violet violet on their first US tour.

Entering the venue (which is an actual cake shop upstairs) I spotted one of the violets coming toward the door. Quickly introducing myself, it would be the band's lovely drummer Fliss that I would meet first. However, since it was guitarist Cheri who initially wrote back to me, I asked where she might be presently located. Fliss indicated she was downstairs with the third member of the group, bassist Kylie - watching the opening band, as well as socializing with their friends, and headline act The Nightingales. Fliss then hurried off outside in an attempt to get her cell phone to work.

Cheri, Kylie and Fliss

I quickly located Cheri downstairs, which wasn't hard to do, as she is a tall, striking blonde, with an outgoing and friendly personality to match. Making the quick introductions with she and Kylie, we headed upstairs to a somewhat less noisy location to record some pre-show chatter.
Listen to this clip as they talk about the music scene in their hometown of Norwich, among other things:

In the second part of my pre-show interview, we discuss the band's influences, and the style of music they strive to create, as well as the recorded works they already have produced.

As it was getting close to show time, the band then headed off to set up and I to find the best location to record some of the set.

In short order the moment arrived for violet violet's first ever show, not only in New York, but all of the USA.

Here, their opening song "Baby's Going Down"

Listen to the whoah-ah-oh

My next recorded clip is of the curiously titled "Dick Van Dyke". Though I doubt it's actually about that actor from the 1960's television show.

I do like the angular rhythms and syncopated vocal phrasings.

Next up is the riff-n-rhythm-heavy "Love This Band"

It's not a love song. Unless you love having a heart attack.

Cake Shop's bright lights

Fliss is a drumming dynamo

Cheri sings, plays and enjoys reading blogs about My Bloody Valentine

Kylie is a study in concentration and grace.

On to the set closer, and the low-note driven, somewhat menacing groove of "The Crush"

Bright Lights Big City

Full Set List

Which in true rock & roll fashion, was written on the back of this receipt.

Apparently, Fliss needed some new drum sticks.

Right after they played, I was able to engage them in a bit more conversation.
We discuss (among other things) cats and hot dogs.

The girls (or "goils" as they like to refer to themselves as) were supporting the wildly entertaining Nightingales for select shows on this US east coast tour.

Here the Black Country, UK ensemble play their particular brand of Jamison-fueled, stream-of-conscience storytelling.

If every picture tells a story, then certainly these video clips tell an more graphic tale:

"When I'm with you - I can't control myself" Indeed!

10 days later, after a successful series of shows in Boston and surrounding areas, violet violet returned to New York City for one final gig before heading back home.

This time at Arlene's Grocery, which is just round the corner from their first show at Cake Shop.

Prior to their performace, I did a catch-up interview with the band, and that can be viewed here:

and part 2 here:

It did rain slightly - but then cleared up

This t-shirt would result in some unexpected attention later on in the night.

Respectability, I tell you!

Photos and pre-show interview out of the way, it was soon showtime.

With a bit of borrowed equipment, the ladies delivered another blistering set of tunes:

Here, the song about how they lost their C-C-Cat's to boyfriends:

Here the band delivers a song so new that it is in fact untitled.

Any suggestions you might have as what might make a good title would be given serious consideration by the band. The drums totally rock in this one.

violet violet play a style of music that is very appealing to me. I like their quirky and edgy songs. There is a tremendous amout of vocal interplay between them, with one member frequently inserting a single word inbetween what another is singing. The chord progressions are unique and creative. What gives it all this tremendous rock feel is the never-lazy drumming. Not content to just tap out a 4-4 beat, Fliss uses her entire set throughout each song.

After their set, a young man came up to me and told me he liked my AC/DC shirt. He asked if I liked the band. Of course I said yes. He then said "my dad is in the band". I looked at him and said "who's your dad?" He said "Malcom Young".

Since AC/DC were playing show in New York this week, I guess I shouldn't have been all that surprised that members of their entourage and family were out and about. As he had just seen the show, he said he was quite impressed with violet violet as well.

It only added a very cool twist to what was already a great night out.

Before I said goodbye to the band, I demanded they write me love notes on photos:

Sweetly, they obliged

Come to the UK? My bags are half-packed.

Good times, good times!

Find out more about violet violet at these significant links: