Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dead Leaf Echo, Ringo Deathstarr, Cool Serbia-live and on Record

The final night of 2012's CMJ Music Marathon (Saturday, October 20) presented a show on Manhattans upper west side at The Ding Dong Lounge.  Located in what many Brooklynites and Lower Eastsiders might consider a northern outpost of 104th Street and Columbus Avenue, the venue itself bore a familiar vibe to its southern counterparts.

Dead Leaf Echo were the first featured attraction on the itinerary.

Having spent the better part of this past year covering many of this bands shows, a keen awareness has been developed regarding their impressive sound quality and songcraft.

The familiar front three of LG, Ana and Christo continue to handle all vocals, guitar and keyboards - creating a lush sound that is simultaneously powerful and dreamy.

With the recent release of their single "Kingmaker" (from the forthcoming full length album "Thought and Language") the b-side features another quality track "I Belong"

Both the song and accompanying video create a dreamlike atmosphere that encourges your mind to slow down for a few minutes, and perceive the world from an alternate perspective.


A noticable shift in the live show dynamic could be felt as James played the drums more freely (though still very much controlled) - no longer playing to a headset delivered click track, as well as a live bass player now covering those traditional low end sonics.

Ana and LG's tandem vocals continue to give the band its distinctive signature sound.


A ghostly dancer engaged in ritualistic movements
With their seemingly floating hand levitating, while LG and the band played on.
For additional Dead Leaf Echo live show and record reviews by Dave Cromwell, see here:

Two live shows on Friday at SXSW:
 IATP showcase on Thursday at SXSW:
Expanded Deli Mag feature on the Kingmaker release:
Deli Mag features:
Published on September 29, 2010
Published on May 16, 2011
Published on June 29, 2011
Published on March 02, 2012
Returning to play New York for the first time since their July 2011 shows (and fresh off a supporting tour with The Smashing Pumpkins) Austin, Texas' Ringo Deathstarr took the stage with expected audience anticipation.

 The multitude of shows played via their extensive worldwide touring over the last year is readily apparent in the relaxed, confident way they present their songs.
Bassist/vocalist Alex Gehring fingers appear to fly even quicker across her three stringed instrument - a testament to the evolving skill level achieved from playing so many shows.
Daniel Coborn's ferocious drumming perfectly compliments the ongoing vision that Elliott Frazier (guitar, vocals, songwriting) continues to evolve.
After the success of the previously released longplayer "Colour Trip," the band has now released the highly anticipated follow up "Mauve."
Check out this amusing video and wonderful song from it:

Pitch bends and deep voices.

The model rocker (or is that rocker model?)

Whammy barred notes and thunderous strokes.

The inspired dancer returned to unleash a series of moves that beguiled and bedazzled the band!

Serious business

Brightest Star - metal pole percussion and impressionist painter guitar.
Playing a set of music that drew equally from all of their recordings, it was of most interest to hear a number of Mauve tracks live.

Burn and Drain are fast and brutal.  Quick driving guitar progressions with speedy drum rolls all over the place.  Thurston Moore frequently stated in interviews that Sonic Youth was really a punk band that merely chose to elongate passages and stretch the songs out.  A similar case could be made for Ringo Deathstarr now embedding a punk attitude and songwriting style within their signature pitch-bended, distortion pedal dreamgaze format.

"Girls We Know" - trance enducing.

"Fifteen" - rip my heart out (with your pitch bends).
Girls Croms Knows

The night ended on a particularly memorable note, as Elliott invited members of the audience to come up on stage, take the bands instruments and play one of their songs.  Being a former tub-thumper, I quickly volunteered to take the drums, while the bass and guitar were handed off to two other adventurous individuals.  We first lumbered, then ulitimately thundered through a version of the bands "Some Kind Of Sad" (my selection) with Elliott singing away with amusement.  Unexpected, and almost way too much fun!


Two nights later it would be back out once more - this time to The Cake Shop to catch Ringo Deathstarr again - as well as the former Austin, now Brooklyn based Cool Serbia.

Formed by former Ringo Deathstarr guitarist Renan McFarland, the overall sound this band produces has evolved considerably since first hearing them this past March out in Austin for the SouthBySouthWest festival.

Second guitar and lead vocalist Raz is now more controlled in his delivery of these songs, which have taken on a poppier vibe overall.

Listen in to one such performance from this show:

The backbeat is now more pronounced, as the joys of sawing between two guitar chords is highlighted by Beatle-esque vocal whooo's.

Once again it was time for Ringo Deathstarr to grace the reflectively tinseled opulence that is the Cake Shop stage.
Playing their third show in three days here in New York, the band sounded particularly focused as they stretched out during a number of songs.
For instance, here is "Swirly" from this show:

It is a batteringly  grinding and jam-tastic version played this evening.  While Daniel and Alex hold down the rhythm with sludge-bottom power - Elliot takes off on some particularly tasty guitar adventures.

Another fave track from Mauve is the Alex sung dream-trip song "Drag" - where the repeated vocal line of "don't make me say the things I don't want to say" rings so universally true.  A loop around celestial chime, softly pulsed guitar layers and additional repeated lyrics like "everybody knows" suggest the internal mindset of a psychedelic experience.

Additionally, "Nap Time" masterfully molds Sonic Youth-like tension with Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles drum patterns.  While "Waste" brings it back fast and hard.  Tandem vocals from Elliott and Alex take the lyrical put down and make it  applicable for either (presumed wronged) sex.
One of Alex's many admirers, gazing on
Post show at the merch table - Elliott and Croms
(who bought that t-shirt, and that's how much it may have cost me)
 - cash money, yo!
For further research on the above two bands, please dive into the DaveCromwellWrites research library:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Hurricane Show Recaps

A seriously damaging hurricane named Sandy ripped through most of the Eastern United States last week.  Some of us were lucky to only lose power for a few days - while others were not as fortunate and lost considerably more.  Relief efforts continue to demonstrate how people come togther and support each other in a time of crisis.  These efforts are to be applauded.

Prior to that wrecking force of nature, a recap of CMJ shows attended were being chronicled.  They continue here now.

Friday night October 19, 2012 had The Deli Magazine presenting it's Mostly Psych Stage at Pianos on Manhattan's famed Lower East Side.

Arriving in time to catch Deli Mag CMJ Issue front cover artists Foxygen beginning their set, the packed lower (main) stage floor  made getting closer a most difficult task.

With a little effort some forward progress was made - allowing for a closer perspective on their live performance.  While the band appeared to be enjoying themselves, their presentation was a bit chaotic and lacking in the tight cohesion one might expect from such a prime timeslot (and in front of such a large crowd).  Still, their recorded works exhibit a creativity that has garnered them the accolades and attention they've gotten so far.

You can read an in-depth feature on this band in Fall Deli Mag - Print Issue #32 Volume #2, found here:

Escaping the crowded downstairs room, it was a quick jaunt up the staircase to catch a set by the wonderful dreampop band Field Mouse

Having attended a number of their shows over the last year, I've come to expect a high quality presentation, and this show served to reinforce that.

The music they write, record and play live is lush and gorgeous.  It's everything I love about pop music that skewers towards the romantic, without ever crossing over into maudlin.

Rachel Browne is the perfect dreamy-girl frontperson.  Pretty, great voice, plays well and writes from the heart.  What more could you ask for?

Andrew Futral embraces his role as guitar maestro and studio wizard with a visible confidence that comes from knowing you've got all that down.  The fact that he plays lefthanded points towards an early and unwavering commitment to his craft.

The band has been featured by yours truly a number of times, both in The Deli Mag and this blog.

Read what I wrote about them on this occasion:

As well as a full interview here:

With a fuller expanded feature on that interview right here:

Find out more here:

Fortunately the next band on the need-to-see-and-hear itinerary immediately followed in the same location.

Ex Cops had been one of those bands on the 'must check out' list for a while now.  Having them perform here as part of this showcase provided the perfect opportunity.

Along with the pop sensibility and songwriting of Brian Harding, the band features vocals and keyboards from Amalie Bruun, who also performs her own material as a solo act.

Listen to this evenings performance of their song "Broken Chinese Chairs(z)"

First writing about this band earlier this year (which can be found on The Deli Mag here:
and in this very blog here:

The above posted “Broken Chinese Chairs” takes their cleverly self-described devotional tropical goth and points it towards a more classic new wave ethic of the late 80’s. Carefully layered chunky guitar chords, single note melody lines, brass and flutey synths all support punky-sweet female vocals. The mysteriously titled “S&HSXX” clacks with a percussive force reminiscent of Brian Eno ’s “In Dark Trees,” while “The Millionaire” evokes the kind of dreamy make out groove that a band like “Washed Out” is known for.

Having the good fortune to catch them perform again a mere four days later at Glasslands afforded the opportunity to capture this live performance of the above-mentioned song "The Millionaire"

Find out more here:

Shuffling down the stars again, I made it into the big room just in time to catch a set by the recently buzz-heavy Mac DeMarco (who apparently was playing absolutely every CMJ showcase he possibly could).

The room was once again jammed to the rafters. 

It was easy to see why as DeMarco puts on a most entertaining show.

Aided by some well placed promo earlier in the year, Mac has in recent times revealed his truer self.

That being a guitar weilding, humorously crooning, flannel shirt wearing Canadian slacker boy.

Check out this night's performance of "Baby's Wearing Blue Jeans"

Next up were a rather interesting percussion and synth ensemble called Hundred Waters
Hailing from Gainesville, Fla. the band played lengthy improvisational pieces that incorporated electronic elements with rapid percussion.

A dual tandem of female vocalists (who contributed on various keyboards and percussive instruments as well) presented their songs via a cascading and overlapping style.
Overall the band sound evolved across a spectrum between ambient, open ended jazz and a more familiar electronic rock.

As is often the case during these long festivals, projected starting times for bands tend to get pushed further back as the night goes on.  It turned out to be closer to 2:30 in the a.m by the time featured artists of the night - Young Magic hit the stage.
It was well worth hanging in there, however - as their music and visual presentation was magnificent.
Once again leaning on drone electronics, heavy percussion and adding bright guitar to the mix, Young Magic's sound draws from a considerably different global resource than the artists before them.

The lovely Australian/Indonesian-born Metali Malay provides all the vocals and guitars.

See and here how they presented themselves on this evening:

Focusing on electronic washes and soundscapes (when not also thundering in with percussive mallets) was fellow Australian (and founding member) Isaac Emmanuel.

Metali also put down her guitar at times to concentrate solely on vocals.

Listen in (and check out the stunning visual projections) in this additional clip from their performance:

An in-depth feature on this band (written by yours truly) can also be found in the latest Print Issue of The Deli Magazine (linked above), and on The Deli Website Here