Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Features: RavenEye, Col. Bruce Hampton + Aquarium Rescue Unit, Squirrel Records, Bowmont, Shana Falana, Lady

Looking to make a strong entry into the always formidable US heavy rock scene, UK based power trio RavenEye release their debut EP, “Breaking Out” on April 28th via Rook Recordings.

Established just a year ago by 25-year old multi-award winning guitar/singer Oli Brown (who spent ten years touring the world under his own name and releasing four albums), this power trio delivers rhythmically-heavy riffs that share a kinship with Seattle legends Soundgarden and local New York area heroes The Parlor Mob.

Brown has been referred to as “one of the best and brightest guitar heroes performing in the world today.” His work as a solo artist prior to RavenEye also earned him supporting gigs alongside such artists as Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter and Joe Satriani, but being part of a band was what Brown craved.

“I’ve been looking to find the right people to get together with for so long; it’s something we’ve all had a craving for individually,” says Brown, “I’m finally performing with two killer musicians, who are wicked on stage and are also close friends, it’s amazing how music can make people connect so differently.” 

Their first single and title track, “Breaking Out,” immediately define RavenEye’s musical foundation. The song is about “breaking out” of personal conformities. The lyric, “I am the soldier of my war inside” represents the constant battle between what you feel you should do and what you really want to do. Sometimes it’s so easy to obscure your own visions because of other people’s formalities.

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Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit reunite for a series of live shows this summer.

The influential jamband pioneers return with a classic lineup that originated in the late 1980’s before becoming a true force in the early 1990’s. Although splitting up to move on to other projects after 1993, the band periodically performed reunion shows over the last decade. Playing a mad frenetic style of improvisational fusion that encompasses amped up jazz, progressive rock and bluegrass country, this hybrid flourishes through a blazingly high level of skill and creativity. A sound and style that carries on the same spirit Jack Kerouac wrote about in the generational watershed classic “On The Road,” while describing his experiences at Charlie Parker shows.

Hampton’s freethinking point of view provides a central focus, allowing his fellow musicians Jimmy Herring (guitar), Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Jeff Sipe (drums) the freedom to expand their own sonic vision. If those names sound familiar, its because they’ve all gone on to establish themselves in other prominent acts. Herring (guitar) with Widespread Panic, The Dead, Jazz is Dead, the Ringers, and his own solo project. Burbridge (bass) with his band the Peacemakers and with the Allman Brothers and the Tedeschi Trucks Band; and Sipe with his own trio and collaborations with Phil Lesh, Béla Fleck, Susan Tedeschi, Trey Anastasio, Jazz is Dead and a host of others. For this tour they will also be joined by keyboardist Matt Slocum, who performed with them at their 2011 Georgia Theatre show.

The tour kicks off with a two-night run at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO on July 29 and 30. After a few more stops in Colorado, the band will head through the Southeast at the beginning of August before heading to the Northeast, where they will wrap up the reunion outing with a show at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York City on August 16. Tickets for all of the dates are now on sale and can be gotten here.

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Life-long purveyors of the true independent DIY culture, Squirrel Records stand as a defiant standard bearer for making music on their own terms. Already familiar with a number of prior releases from this Leeds, UK based label, the arrival of more uniquely packaged vinyl in the mail from them was met with eager anticipation.

“Bashed, Beaten And Broken (Trip The Switch)” pulses and pops with mechanical slap percussion originally forged in the dark industrial days of the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Deep bass synth tones sketch out a minimalist progression, while sparsely placed guitar notes add further sonic texture. “In a place where no one cares” introduces a bleak story of “sprawling tenements” and a sleeping city in decay.

The vocal delivery of “Sissy Space Echo” is stylistically closer to the work of Lene Lovich than Genesis P-Orridge, despite the tracks overall Throbbing Gristle feel.

Other heroines of that period are given a nod, as the vocal hook “all around the sky is falling, I hear a siren calling” is delivered with phrasing and inflection of classic early 80’s era Siouxsie Sioux.

Keyboard textures build and layer as the song progresses. A vocal choir sound sample expands the sonic listening area as layers continue to add on. This sonic build reaches cathartic high point – then goes sparse again as the vocals return. The sounds of screaming Armageddon can be heard at the very end.

Flipping this 7" gem over uncovers the second track “Made Out Of Perspex.” A quicker, bass guitar and synth hook driven pop groove, the catchy lyrics “I won’t care about you, I’m an instant automaton,” get stuck in your head.

Girl One And The Grease Guns record their tracks at an undisclosed, mysterious location called the Ghost Town. All 7” singles comes wrapped in a black and white printed sleeve with grip seal plastic bag and high quality printed insert.

Find out how to acquire this and anything else from the Squirrel Records catalog here at their official site.

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The original version of Brooklyn synth-pop collective Bowmont’s song “Just Cause You’re Right” off of their 2014 released EP 'Hovering' had a uniquely warped quality to the pulsating synth sequence. Although very much a pop song through its vocal presentation, a less predictable song structure kept the listener engaged.

The band has now released a stunning remix of this track, moving it closer to the environs inhabited by the likes of Swedish electro masters The Knife. With DJ/Producer Rasmus Vestervig handling the remix under his 99 Blows nom de plume (and who is also a celebrated guitarist in a number of his own bands), an intoxicating blend of sparse percussive pulses share open spaces with deep bass synth notes.

When Emil Bovbjerg’s vocals ultimately emerge to tell a tale of loss and heartache (“if you ever come back to this street, I’m going to change the locks on the door”) they are propelled forward by bright high-hat cymbal percussion and bubbling synths. In addition to this new release, the band recently played a highly anticipated show at the visually spectacular Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAMcafé Live on Saturday, April 11th.

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Kingston, New York’s Shana Falana have been a part of the Brooklyn dreampop fabric for a while now. Evolving and perfecting a uniquely nuanced sound through constant touring and individual track output, the band has now released their debut album “Set Your Lightning Fire Free” on April 7 via Team Love Records.

Recorded at Woodstock’s Isokon Studios and produced by Dan Goodwin, core members Shana Falana (vox, gtrs, keys) and Mike Amari (drums) enhance their sound with Jane Scarpantoni on cellos and Matthew Cullen on sitar. Debut single “Heavenstay” hit all the right sensory marks for classic dreamy escape. Shana’s vocals emerge more suggested than literal as they soar over deep guitar notes and tom tom heavy drums. Brand new single "Go" raises the energy level with a harder charging drum pattern, while chiming guitar textures evoke the original psychedelic sound of 60’s trailblazers The Byrds classic track “Eight Miles High.”

The band is currently on tour and more info on how to get their record and where they are playing next can be found here

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The early 90’s dreampop/dreamgaze movement created a style of music that continues to spawn new bands seemingly on a daily basis. The latest entry into this field is New York’s LADY, who have recently released their current EP “Washer.” Opening track “Creatures of the Night” captures the combined noisy-yet-pop sound that Mark Gardener and Loz Colbert so masterfully employed with their iconic band Ride.

Adding layers of fuzzy guitars and emphatic snare/cymbal crashes create dramatic peaks as the song progresses. While the extended guitar solo end out reminds why the track “Like A Daydream” was so appealing in the first place. With influential bands of this era like The Jesus and Mary Chain and the aforementioned Ride currently on tour, the niche LADY occupies has never been stronger.

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ViewFromSpookysDoghouse said...

Breaking Out by RavenEye sounds comfortably familiar in production and lyrical matter, but it's delivered with top-notch professionalism and this is certainly not a bad thing. A great "first" effort.

DaveCromwell said...

I get what you mean by putting the word "first" in quotes, VFSD. Since Oli Brown is actually a grizzled veteran (even at his relatively young age) with numerous recordings already in the bank. Still it technically IS a "first" - for RavenEye. And I wholeheartedly agree that the sound quality is magnificent.

Mirror said...

Den Entertainment

Thx @DaveCromwell for the @Bowmontmusic x #99Blows "Just Cause You're Right" feature #Bowmont #HoveringEP

DaveCromwell said...

My pleasure, Den_Ent.

Plus - what a magnificent venue for some equally worthy music!

Mirror said...

The mysterious members of GOATGG’s say:

A really great review of our Bashed, Beaten And Broken (Trip The Switch) b/w Made Out Of Perspex 7" by Dave Cromwell. Nice to see a reviewer who understands where we're coming from....much appreciated!

To which Sissy Space Echo adds:

fine words once again ...

DaveCromwell said...

I enjoyed deciphering the lineage and musical history running through these tracks, GOATGG's. Additionally, your cloaked-in-mystery persona's inhabiting and recording in a place called "the Ghost Town" enhanced the fascination of discovery.

Buggles said...

Holy Moley! Feasting my ears on Raveneye's Breaking Out track. Even people not really into metal scene ( like me ) are raving about this....I can see why! Hendrixified blues meets Led Zep meets Metallica, and more! This should go viral like the raging beastie it is!
Also I ( quite ) liked the Soft Celluloid, Kraftwerky low-fi synthpop of Girl One and the Greaseguns, but maybe appetite overstimulated by Crom's enticing eloquence...but didn't quite lift to the sonic urban doomscapes I was expecting. Great fine-arty packaging though. Personally, I find something like Goldfraap's 'Supernature' album is a penultimate reinvention of early 80s synthpop. I Couldn't get into the Aquarium Rescue Unit stuff really.....not my thing, though incredibly skillful musicians no doubt, and the jazz-buffs will love it. Musically and visually Shana Falana packs a hell of a sci-fi pop art package featuring UFOs and space vixens in the vid pics ( which is fine by me ) and a gushing torrent of fascinating spaced-out sound.

DaveCromwell said...

I love your enthusiasm for RavenEye, Mr. Buggles! You reference 3 major influences on any worthy blues-guitar based heavy music.

And solid point on Goldfrapp having raised the profile on early 80's synthpop a half-decade or so back. But - that shouldn't stop anyone else (especially going forward from the here and now) from trying. Because its all cyclical - and it's all reinvention.

William said...

Raveneye are cool! and Shana Falana i have heard a few times from your blogging ways. Just another couple things you have brought into my life, like Santa Claus on a cold night cept you don't only come once a year - or atleast that's waht I was told by various blog groupies (bloopies) #innuendo

DaveCromwell said...

I'm glad to know you are aware I've written about Shana Falana a number of times here on this blog. Also pleased to discover you have responded in the positive to the Eye that is "Raven"

As for Santa's yearly arrival - I surely DO hope my annual "tally" is a bit more frequent that that. :)

Mirror said...

RavenEye (via Twitter) retweeted and favorited!

Latest #DaveCromwellWrites featuring both @ItsRavenEye and Col Bruce & Aquarium Rescue Unit here: #love @MADInkPR !

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Parklife Unlimited (via Twitter)
retweeted and favorited!

Latest #DaveCromwellWrites featuring both @ItsRavenEye and Col Bruce & Aquarium Rescue Unit here: #love @MADInkPR !

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Doug Edwards retweeted + favorited!

Latest #DaveCromwellWrites featuring both @ItsRavenEye and Col Bruce & Aquarium Rescue Unit here: #love @MADInkPR !

DaveCromwell said...

Always great to see the artists themselves reacting positively to the pieces presented on them here. Remember that hashtag = #davecromwellwrites :)

Mirror said...

Michael Laughlin writes:

Good stuff, Dave:)

I like that name "Raveneye."

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DaveCromwell said...

If Raven has come visiting you it can mean any number of things. Most powerful of all is the synchronicity that Raven assures you is pending. He is a master of bending and folding time and space so that you are exactly in the right moment at the right time. As a messenger you are reminded that those around you are reflecting back at you the things you most have to learn about yourself.

NYCDreamin said...

This will surprise you but my pick for best in this batch of bands I've never heard of goes not to RavenEye, who you might expect to get my vote, but instead to Shana Falana. Very, very interesting sounding music and really very out of my ordinary listening boundaries. The track you posted here "Go" immediately grabbed my attention as something unique sounding (to me) and I will be checking out more music from her in the coming days for sure. Thanks for the introduction.

DaveCromwell said...

You got me there, NYC Dreamin. I would have figured you for a RavenEye man. But - I'm always pleasantly surprised when someone digs deeper down into the feature - and takes the time to find a gem embedded within. Good to know that my focusing on and inclusion of SHANA FALANA's hard work and efforts creating music has been heard and appreciated.

Mirror said...

Marlene Marlene writes:

Time for a listen!


DaveCromwell said...

Oh, nice.

I hope you do, Marelene.

As much as the words can help frame the genre and sound, ultimately it's the listening that matters.

Mirror said...

Ray Kimura writes:

I think Bowmont and Shana Falana sound so good!

Thanks for your kind recommendation of new good music as always!

DaveCromwell said...

Oh, good to know the music of Bowmont and Shana Falana struck a chord with you, Ray.

I'm sure those artist appreciate you checking their work out.

Bruninha said...

My dear friend Dave, sorry for the delay, here is well run, but come on.
This band RavenEye, pleased me a lot, like how soft and heavy at the same time, and really reminds me of the sound of Seattle. It's certainly something I would have on my Ipod.
About Col. Bruce Hamptom and the Aquarium Rescue Unit, it is just amazing that they have gathered to do some shows, the sound of them rwealmente lazy loop me excited and happy, especially when you come home at the end of the day, and places to play , following a nice glass of wine or whiskey dose, it is just perfect.
Speaking of One Girl & The Grease Guns, the band has an optimal musical performance, but it is not kind of music I like, too keyboards texture. But in short, it is a great band.
About Bowmont, they have caractrística electro music, and reminds me a little of clubbers, but it is well run, and appeals to the public to enjoy, I do not particularly like. Maybe they did not use both voice effect, it would be more understanding and a little more pleasing to the ears of someone not as style fan. But overall they are nice and do exactly what it claims to do.
About Shana Falana, despite feeling a bit of electro music, something soft, and that appeals to me, I think the band reminds me a bit the band The Pink Slips, of course the sound of Grace McKagan is much drier and heavier but the vocals reminded me a bit.Really I enjoyed the band.

What about you my dear friend, always writes beautifully and puts us in touch with this wonderful music scene, so thank you for always providing us a good read and good music.

DaveCromwell said...

Wonderful thoughts and commentary, Bruninha. Its fascinating to read your analysis of the bands presented here. I can see your point clearly about each artist you speak of. Although I view their music from a somewhat different point of view, I can fully understand how they sound to you.

Some of your thoughts actually triggered similarities that I had not originally thought of. Like your Grace McKagan/Pink Slips comparison. Well done!

Bruninha said...

Thank you, my dear. I'm not a music expert, but I love when you ask my opinion. And whenever you want, I'm here for anything !!! Count with me !!! And Thank You ...

smork said...

nice recap, dave. at least i can appreciate mr. brown. :)

DaveCromwell said...

Ah, Mr. Smork - of course I knew you would like RavenEye!