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.