Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Pity Party - live at Pianos, New York for the CMJ Festival

The Pity Party made their triumphant return to New York City after nearly a year and a half, and I made sure I was there to witness it.

Slotting themselves in as part of the CMJ (College Music Journal) Festival that grips NYC every October, the Los Angeles-based duo played a tight 30-some-odd minute set that featured a mix of material from their two so-far released EP's.

For those that don't already know, the band consists of two members:

M on guitars, super FX pedals and backing vocals,


Heisenflei on drums, keyboards and lead vocals.

Heisenflei in particular has the unique ability to play drums and keyboards at the same time. All of her drumming is done with her right hand and left and right feet - and the keyboard playing is done with her left one. It really is one of the more impressive feats in rock music today.

As I had just mentioned, M has spendid collection of effects boxes and pedals. And rightly he should. As a two-person band, a lot of sound has to come from this source.

Along with showing herself to be a versatile musician and performer, Heisenflei is also quite the captivating vocalist. Her voice is solid and she exudes a veteran performer confidence that could only come from the constant touring and shows that this band does.

On this night the place was packed for the performance!

I was fortunate enough to catch up with the band for a pre-show interview.

Listen in as I discuss with M the current status of his healing hand (he had injured it in a bicycle accident)

In the much longer second part of the interview, we discuss how people's taste in music evolves, and how bands like My Bloody Valentine, A Place To Bury Strangers and The Pity Party influence this evolution.
Listen to it here:

With the show underway, the band started out with YR Life= Nice
Listen in on it here:

M pulls off some tasty guitar soundscapes, as H lays out a motioned percussion pattern, against deep synth-bass notes.

One of my all-time fave songs they do is from their first EP and titled
"Dronebots and Peons for Eons and Eons"

Have a listen here:

Growing stronger with each successive song, the band puts together a seamless combination of their songs "MAS" and the brilliant "Love Lies"
Listen to it here:

Following that was the crowd-pleasing "War Between 8 and 4" combined with "WMD"
In fact, you can hear audience members singing along.

The band played a particularly inspired version of "H.O.T.S. (Houses On The Sun)"
Dig on Heis' inspired high-hat work here:

I have been following The Pity Party from afar now for a year and a half (since I first saw them in support of The Ravonettes). I have followed their progress through posted videos of their live shows, and acquired all their subsequent releases, since buying their debut EP on the first night I saw them. However, getting to see them play again, up close and in the charged CMJ atmosphere in a packed NYC nightclub was an absolute pleasure.

The full set list.

They handed out these cards to people throughout the night. Surely its an offer you can't refuse?

So far the Pity Party have released two EP's. Their Debut and the second one titled "Orgy Porgy"
You can pick up a copy of this CD at their MySpace page:
They also have a brand new download EP entitled Hotwork, and it also can be gotten from their page there as well.
These EP's feature the artwork of RONALD DZERIGIAN.
Check out The Pity Party right away, because their music is too good not to!
For those who happen to be in the UK, that is where they will be performing next:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

East Hundred / SheKeepsBees - live at Trash Bar

I wasn't even planning on going out.

No really.

I didn't have any particular plans for any shows to see, so on a Saturday afternoon (this being the 18th of October, 2008) I was just casually reading through the MySpace bulletins when I saw one from the band East Hundred. It said "come see us at Trash Bar tonight". Now, all week long this band had been promoting their Philadelphia show. That is their home base, so I didn't think they'd be coming New York way any time soon. However, going to see them play when they did come to NY has always been on my "to do" list. And as regular readers of my blogs already know, Trash Bar is one of my fave places to see bands.

So, it didn't take me long to decide that, of course, I was going to see this show.

East Hundred are an impressive band that appear to be built in the Garbage (the band) mold. With a strong and dominant (yet delicate) female lead vocalist, surrounded by quality musicians, apparently content to play their parts with studied professionalism.

Much like Shirley Manson of the aforementioned Garbage, singer Beril Guceri is a pretty, petite woman with a rich and resonant voice. It is this voice that stands out on each and everyone of their songs. Beril credits influences like blonde redhead, mgmt, the duke spirit, the raveonettes, depeche mode and kylie as artists she admires.

In fact, the band shares another similarity with Blonde Redhead, in that the core of the group is comprised of two brothers (though not twins) who play drums (Will Blair) and guitar (Brooke Blair) respectively. Rounding out the band is quintessentially "quiet" bassist Dave Sunderland, and angularly attractive female keyboardist Susan Gager.

Beril also plays additional keyboard and evokes special vocal effects (from a second microphone) in that myserious looking brown box there. Its just one more unique quality about this band that makes them so appealing.

Give a look and listen to them playing live on this night, here doing "Slow Burning Crimes":

Their music is anthemic. Its radio friendly and loaded with give-you-the-chills hooks. The choruses are big and dynamic. Yet their sound remains quite rooted in what has been deemed "alternative". I really like the way the two women blend their hooky keyboard lines at key moments of the song.

Despite evidence that drummer Will Blair is a keenly aware, sarcastic individual (see the band's MySpace page and the videos there for evidence of this) - on stage he grinned through much of the show - like someone who is just truly happy to be playing out live.

Beril displays all the qualities necessary to front a band. Great looks, a beautiful voice and a confident, genuinely friendly personality. When the music is playing, its quite easy to fall under her spell.

Check out another clip from the show, this one "Numbers":

Susan's keyboards give the band a decided link to all those great 80's and 90's-era bands that dominated the music scene then. Bits of The Cure, Depeche Mode and even (gasp) The Thompson Twins are swirling around in those synth patches. Bassist Dave drives along the rhythm with precision and an elevated musical sense.

Listen in on this next clip, "Sigh and Wave":

The bassline is classic Simon Gallup Cure. Beril sings so emotively here. At times I'm reminded of The Sundays and wonderful Harriet Wheeler.

I hear elements of many classic and unique vocalist referenced. The "uh, oh!" of Bjork on "plus minus". The sugary smooth "ooooh, oooooh's" on "deadpan" and "autopilot". The lineage is all there. Referencing the best that classic alterna-pop has given us in the last two decades. Yet each song is uniquely their own.

Overseeing it all was the watchful eye (and ear) of soundman Nick Vivid. You can always count on impeccable sound with Nick behind the controls. In addition to being a top flight sound engineer, Nick also is a musician in his own right, and plays a dazzling, smoking (literally) guitar!

Opening the show was a new band to me called SheKeepsBees

Brooke from East Hundred urged me to check them out and I'm glad I did.

The band consists of the increasingly popular 2 person set up - initially established by The White Stripes and The Kills.

Singer and guitarist Jessica Larrabee is out front, while Andy LaPlant provides the drums (in the live setting) and handles the recording aspects back in the studio.

Since I'm a sucker for long-haired, low voiced rock women playing their raw version of delta blues - I was immediately drawn to this performer and these songs.

Jessica sings in a powerful, blusey voice - all the while crunching out dirty guitar chords throughout.

Dig this clip of of their wonderfully suggestive song "Gimme"

In between songs, Jessica chattered to the audience in a conversational style that was part informative and part thoughts-in-her-0wn-head. It was an energetic, self-effacing patter than was only neutralized by the start of each successive song.
Songs like "Wear Red" remind me of those rubbery, organic bluesy Led Zepplin songs like "Friends" and "Celebration Day". Stripped down and minus the bombastic Jimmy Page production (naturally). But the spirit and vibe is similar. Whereas the song "Strike" is darker and more ominous. It slithers like a snake - that is until the tempo changes and Jessica soulfully wails. "Cold Eye" is a low-note driven groove, not unlike The Raveonettes "Bowels of the Beast". Its dark, menacing and powerful. Dramatic drum breaks puncutate the spaces between Jessica's vocals, till it all builds to an emotional peak.
Brilliant stuff.

Before and after the show, East Hundred's Beril took time out to meet and greet her fans and friends.

Here East Hundred's Susan and Brooke enjoy the ambiance that can only be The Trash Bar.

Post show, Beril insisted that I take a photo with her. Or did I ask her? Well, one of us wanted the picture.

Another take on the same pose - taken seconds later by band friend Diedre (who happens to be a Picture Editor at Time Magazine, so apparently these artfully lit shots are second nature to her).

Beril and Diedre surround a contented friend.
It is always my pleasure to discover great new music.

Both East Hundred and SheKeepsBees fall firmly in that category.

Check out East Hundred here:

And SheKeepsBees here:

And be sure to enjoy a tater tot while listening to them.

East Hundred have a new album titled "Passenger" coming out in early 2009.

They've also got some shows coming up:

Nov 5 2008 9:00P
Silk City
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Nov 7 2008 8:00P
The Note
West Chester, Pennsylvania

Nov 20 2008 10:00P

M Room
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Nov 21 2008 8:00P
The Velvet Lounge
D.C., Washington DC

So check them out if you are in the area.

SheKeepsBees has a new album titled "Nests" that is out now and can be gotten at

Other Music

They also have a show coming up on Nov 21 2008 8:00P at
Smith College
Northampton, Massachusetts

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Steve Shiffman & The Land of No live @ Pianos 14th of October 2008

I told Steve Shiffman that I might just do this blog "quick and dirty".

He said, that's ok - cause that's the way he likes it (oh!)

So, here are the facts:

Steve Shiffman & The Land of No (the whole band) played a show at the lower east side haunt called Pianos (though as far as I could see, there was no actual piano in the place) on Tuesday night, the 14th of October, 2008.

With each successive time I've seen this band, I become more and more impressed with their songwriting and playing.

The songcraft is structurally tight, yet there is lots of room for guitar explorations and and sonic mayhem.

Steve Shiffman is the type of unassuming "everyman" frontperson. Comparatively, he's more Steven Malkmus than Steve Tyler (the only dominating frontman named Steve I could think of at the moment). Plus, he plays guitar. And more like Thurston Moore than Joe Perry (yes, another Aerosmith reference - just deal with it).

The real Joe Perry of the band is legendary axemeister dAve Hollinghurst. You know him. He also plays in Nicole Atkins & The Sea. He plays a wicked slide guitar. He also has as many effects pedals as Kevin Shields (the big tuna from that My Bloody Valentine band).

Drums and bass from (respectively) Pete Hayes and Kent Heine.

Alec Ferrell provides solid (semi-hollowbody) guitar work as well as essential background vocals. In fact, despite the obvious guitar love - this is very much a vocal band. Everyone has a mic in front of them and they all contribute harmonies and things. Though I think Kent the bassist doesn't - but Pete the drummer takes a lead vocal on one song to make up for it.

The ever changing bass drum head is a delight to behold.

Check out the band playing their classic song:
"Waiting For The Cigarette Girl"

Kent and dAve lock in.

Another song, then:
"Death In The Newsgroup"

It must be noted at this point that the band's secret sonic weapon is the Maraca
The real star of the band

dAve demonstrates how to draw on its power.
Mr. Hollinghurst also has a somewhat magical and dreamlike resource of FX pedals.

One more song - the show's closer:
"It's OK"
The band lists their influences as:
Gun Club, Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline, Big Star, Velvet Underground, The Holy Ghost, Jeff Lewis, The Band, The Figgs, Hula, Magnetic Fields, Patti Smith, Wave Pictures, Guided By Voices, Decoy, Small, Sebadoh, Loretta Lynn, The Who, Television, The Slits, MC5, Love, Pecola, Yo La Tengo, Squirrel, Dream Syndicate, Replacements, Modern Lovers, Neil Young, Polvo, Charlie Parker, Sonic Youth, The Kinks, The Teenage Prayers, The 4-Star Movie, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds...
I hear bits and pieces of all that - but if I had to narrow it down to only two - it would be The Replacements meets Sonic Youth.

The set list

Catching some quality chat time with The Shiff

I like 'em.
Go see them play.
Whattya got to lose?


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mondo, October 3, 2008

On Friday October 3rd , I headed on over to my fave bi-weekly club night - Mondo.
Props again to the DJ's there - especially Maz - who plays great stuff and always makes it a point to keep the party going. Miss Mondo also dances as much with the crowd - as she does when she's doing her sets in the DJ booth. The third DJ of this unholy triumvirate - Kev - appeared to show no apparent "guilt" at playing the ulitimate DJ-back-slap - that being The Ting Tings "Great DJ". That it was also the most fun dance of the night only underscores the good vibes all around.
Check out Mondo here: