Monday, February 29, 2016

Live + On Record: The Veevees, Hellbirds, Cosmicide, The Vandelles, Heaven

Winter months rarely present the same choices for casual outdoor activity that warmer seasons offer. Those fortunate enough to afford fabulous vacations in pleasing locales can escape harsh winds and snowdrifts. The rest of us hunker down at home in front of our TV’s or head out to movies and restaurants. One other option is to attend live show performances put on by quality hometown bands in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Friday, January 29 served as a prime opportunity to re-connect with the dynamic live show The VeeVees are well-known for.

As good as this band is on their recordings (and you can check out their 2015 release "Cream Of Heaven" - along with the rest of their discography on Bandcamp) - this is without a doubt a band best experienced live.

The driving blues rock first envisioned by founding duo Garrett Cillo (guitar/vocals) and Andrea Belfiore (drums) is now further enhanced by the recent addition of bassist Artur Novoselsky.

However it is the thoroughly over-the-top non-stop energy of vocalist Sophia Urista that takes everything to another level.

This young woman's stage presence exudes an utterly confident, humorously bawdy sex appeal that keeps you glued to her every movement.

Clearly an accomplished vocalist, Sophia isn't content to just stand and sing, but rather engages in what is equal parts athletic, sultry and seductive movements.

Between song banter is frequent, and a refreshing change from bands that simply play their songs and say very little (if anything at all) between them.

Delighting in teasing audience members or the band that was on just before her, she'll then make a grand gesture of chugging down a shot of whiskey some eager fan has given her.

The VeeVees have come a long way since I last wrote about them on The Deli Magazine here and their live show coverage on this blog right here.

It would appear their time now has arrived, as they combine epic, heavy tunes with a captivating live show.

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Manhattan's Lower East Side music venue Pianos has a knack for booking artists  on the cutting edge, often just before they ascend to larger spaces.  So it's fortunate to catch a band there in one of NY's best sounding, still intimate settings.

No stranger to this blog, Hellbirds took to that stage on Thursday, February 11, further expanding their power trio dark-surf sound.

Having witnessed their evolution through various style and line up changes, the current streamlined three piece continues to expand on the previously established material.

Much of that can be attributed to a very active live performance schedule, which apparently has them playing out every week and something multiple times within one week.

Performing that frequently establishes a level of confidence between musicians, pushing them to inject nuanced improvised figures within the framework of each song.

In addition to honing their live show, Hellbirds have simultaneously established themselves through innovative studio recordings.  While the audio for those works have been exceptional, a creative new video style has now emerged.

The above song and video is the first original work posted by the band (their highly-acclaimed Pep Peppers creation considered a re-imagination of other material).  "Back From Black" cleverly displays all the final takes that go into recording one song in the studio.

The band appears ready to deliver in a big way on both ends of the performance spectrum.

Using all that studio technology presently has to offer for maximum creative effect, while simultaneously delivering a powerfully distinctive live show experience.


Instagram action on that particular show

And another Hellbirds show attended at BlackBear on January 19

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That Pianos show was in support of intriguing space-rockers Cosmicide's weekly month-long residency there.


Performing here as a fully live four piece, this musical endeavor is predominately the solo project of former Secret Machines co-founder Brandon Curtis.

The band played in front of a dazzling wall of lights that often cast them as shadowy figures.

Not surprisingly, considering Secret Machines pedigree, the music played features long, stretched-out expanses colored by synth washes and textured guitars locked down by a 'motorik' beat very much in the mold of Michael Rother and Neu!.

At times the vocal style reminded of a Bauhaus/Love and Rockets feel all the way up to modern expanse-rock, teutonic motorik beat practitioners Toy.

A big crowd packed this intimate venue indicating this music seems destined for a larger reach.

Listen to selected track here

* * * * *

One week later and back out to Pianos again for another night of Cosmicide's month-long weekly residency.

However the support act this time was a really big deal, as long-time CromFanFaves The Vandelles were playing their first live show in nearly two years.

Taking the stage just after 9 pm, the audience buzzed over how the sound may have evolved over that time.

Original core members Jas and Honey are the line of continuity that runs through every version of this band.

The biggest change this time comes by way of adding a powerhouse bassist in Rolando.

They opened with classic track "Fever of the Beat" before introducing brand new material.

One thing that can always be counted on at their shows is an array of creative lighting sequences, courtesy of Nick at Union Garage Productions.

The new material came fast and furious, as can be seen by this epic new song below:

When asked what provided the inspiration for this new song, the band revealed it references the desire to continue a friendship with someone you still "love" regardless of prior difficulties.

The evolution of their sound is attributed to "a balance between feedback and dissonant chords."

Eyes Wide Shut


The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Ferocious Throttle

Another new track titled "Techromancer" caught my attention for it's thematic similarity with William Gibson's seminal 1984 cyberpunk debut novel "Neuromancer."

The band revealed that a previous working title called it  “Midnight Sun,” and that certain members find lyrical inspiration via an “obsession with YouTube conspiracy videos.”

Honey Sticks


Ro let's his Bass Star Shine


Full Set List

New Portrait for Modern Times

* * * * *

Once again, residency headliners Cosmicide took the stage


The band delivered a similarly brilliant performance as the week before.

For the second consecutive week a solid crowd packed the room, with multiple cameras attempting to capture the magic on digital media.

* * * * * 

Closing out this "penultimate" residency show was another long-time friend of this blog - Heaven


With the full band lineup intact for this show, core founding members Mikey and Matt drove the performance forward with a confident ease that comes from having played so many shows together.

A frequent solemn undercurrent colors the material, as songs build from slow, buzzy keyboards before launching into the main progression.

Listen in to lead track "Colors In The Whites Of Your Eyes" from their debut album Telepathic Love out on Goodnight Records.


Keyboardist Lizzah shares a telepathic musical moment with drummer Mikey

While just a few feet over, bassist Yoichiro and Matt do the same.

Heaven continue to remain true to a core belief that great songs presented with impeccable sound quality are what still matters the most.



* * * * *


Misty said...

so much live show goodness in this one! of course I'm particularly drawn to the show I was actually at there, the Vandelles, Cosmicide, Heaven one. such a great and fun night. so glad I finally got a chance to see and hear these bands live.

also, Hellbirds I've seen before but had to miss that particular show. still, it wasn't too before that one that I got to see this trio play at Alphaville. That was a great show.

as for VeeVees, they look and sound awesome!

DaveCromwell said...

It's always a challenge to encapsulate the live show experience, Misty. Especially here in this still relatively "flat" medium of pictures and words. Videos help add motion and sound - and certainly words can engage your mind to expand the "view" as it were.

Ultimately, I still believe in the written word, however - as one of the strongest means of triggering whatever that thing is - that sparks the senses.

Glad you can appreciate this.

Mirror said...

Sophia Urista posts (on her own music page, linked below) and wrote:

Check out this awesome write-up of our last show Knitting Factory Brooklyn ! Thanks DaveCromwellWrites for the positive feedback. Makes us wanna rock harder!

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Courtney McFarland wrote:

This VeeVees piece is a great read and does a great job explaining Sophia's performance (not an easy thing to do).

DaveCromwell said...

The most rewarding aspect of composing reviews and detailed show reporting (after enjoying the actual music, of course) is when the individuals involved in bringing it to fruition (the artists themselves and their professional associates) show their appreciation for what you've done.

My sincere thanks to dynamic frontperson Sophia and manager Courtney for this thoughtful feedback here.

Mirror said...

HEAVEN ‏@heavenbandNYC Feb 19
one from last night at @pianosnyc photo by @davecromwell

Tennis System liked a Tweet you were mentioned in
Feb 19: one from last night at @pianosnyc photo by @davecromwell
Tennis System

Sent: Sunday, February 21, 2016 2:11 PM
Subject: HEAVEN (@heavenbandNYC) liked one of your Tweets!
Loved hearing you play live again, @heavenbandNYC ! Your sound continues to evolve in the most satisfying direction…
03:28 PM - 20 Feb 16
Liked by HEAVEN @heavenbandNYC
We are a band from New York City. Debut record TELEPATHIC LOVE available now on Goodnight Records.

Monday, February 29, 2016 12:40 PM
Subject: Goodnight Records (@GoodnightRecord) liked one of your Tweets!
Thanks, @likeherdincats ! Hope you like @GoodnightRecord #davecromwellwrites @heavenbandNYC…
12:22 PM - 29 Feb 16
Liked by Goodnight Records @GoodnightRecord
Goodnight is an independent record label from Brooklyn NY.Roster includes Friend Roulette, Heaven, Sun Club, Nightmare Air, Adam Franklin, The Big Sleep, KNTRLR

- - - - - - - -

Sent: Monday, February 29, 2016 12:42 PM
Subject: Goodnight Records (@GoodnightRecord) retweeted one of your Tweets!
Thanks, @likeherdincats ! Hope you like @GoodnightRecord #davecromwellwrites @heavenbandNYC…
12:22 PM - 29 Feb 16
Retweeted by Goodnight Records @GoodnightRecord
To 1185 followers.

HEAVEN and Goodnight Records liked your Tweet
3h: Thanks, @likeherdincats ! Hope you like @GoodnightRecord #davecromwellwrites @heavenbandNYC …
HEAVEN Goodnight Records

HEAVEN liked a Tweet you were mentioned in
@brandon_curtis @heavenbandNYC awesome post @DaveCromwell …

HEAVEN Retweeted a Tweet you were mentioned in
3h: @brandon_curtis @heavenbandNYC awesome post @DaveCromwell …

cosmicide and Like Herding Cats liked your Tweet
Special "Leap Day" DCW Out Now! …
cosmicide Like Herding Cats

cosmicide followed you

cosmicide Retweeted you
Special "Leap Day" DCW Out Now! …

- - - - - - - - - -

HEAVEN (@heavenbandNYC) retweeted:
cosmicide (@brandon_curtis) liked this Tweets:
Thanks for the retweets @brandon_curtis @likeherdincats + @heavenbandNYC #davecromwellwrites read it here: #review
03:41 PM - 29 Feb 16

DaveCromwell said...

Also satisfying is when bands (both mentioned and not-even-mentioned, but are clearly fans of those other bands mentioned) take to Social Media to further the word.

So, a big thanks to Dom of Like Herding Cats (who's great music has been covered on this blog previously) Tennis System (also previous coverage here) and of course Brandon Curtis of Cosmicide and the very cool people in the band HEAVEN (and their label Goodnight Records).

This is how we communicate now.

William said...

Fuck pitchfork they are just shills for beyonce and sam smith now... I prefer to receive my injection of real music directly into my eyeballs via crom in a clockwork orange style situation

love love love as always - good to see the bands I've heard so much about over the years are doing well still!

DaveCromwell said...

The bands featured here certainly DO deserve the attention of pretend-independent sites like Pitchfork, William. What may have started out as a good idea over there, sold out years ago. Fortunately there's still some places to check out (like this one) that care to feature independent and/or emerging artists.

Sure, there will be some classic 70's, 80's, 90's (especially) and beyond artists that can still sell tickets to larger venues occasionally included here. But you will never see that over-covered mass media stuff you just mentioned. Do we really need more of that?

Mirror said...

Nicholas Soto (@nEkoSoto) retweeted
Hellbirds - don't stop the Winter Waves @PianosNYC #newyorkcity #rockguitar #bass #drums #surf…
11:53 AM - 12 Feb 16
Retweeted by Nicholas Soto @nEkoSoto To 679 followers.

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Best Behavior liked your Tweet
Feb 19: Vandelles are back! Heavy Techromancer sound. @pianosnyc #newyorkcity #Vandelles #rockguitar…

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S Knight liked your Tweet
Feb 19: Vandelles are back! Heavy Techromancer sound. @pianosnyc #newyorkcity #Vandelles #rockguitar…

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Nicholas Soto Retweeted
#SuperTuesday #blog featuring #hellbirds @nEkoSoto @pianosnyc #song + #video #review #davecromwellwrites #love

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Nicholas Soto @nEkoSoto Tweeted:

I'm always worried I'm going to type erection instead of election during an erection year

Nicholas Soto Retweeted:
Dave Cromwell Retweeted Nicholas Soto

Every year is an "erection" year ;-) Dave Cromwell added,

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Nicholas Soto ‏@nEkoSoto Retweeted Dave Cromwell
Insight on #NYC #rocknroll music scene featuring #Hellbirds & @thevandelles. Thanks, Dave! …

- - - - - -- - - -

Nicholas Soto added,
Dave Cromwell @DaveCromwell
New #DaveCromwellWrites #blog featuring thevandelles jasnoswarez @pianosnyc @nEkoSoto +more!…

- - - - - -- - - -

Learn Guitar and Brent McCluskey followed you

Learn Guitar added you to list learnguitar911/guitar-playing-fans

Learn Guitar liked your Tweet
Hellbirds - don't stop the Winter Waves @pianosnyc #newyorkcity #rockguitar #bass #drums #surf…

Sarah Hayes added you to list pinksars/writer

DaveCromwell said...

What can we surmise now from this latest collection of Social Media sharing? Well for one thing sonic waves are enjoyable, no matter the season.

A song titled "Techromancer" will more often than not catch someone's attention.

Yes, yes - #SuperTuesday did give some meaning in this "erection year"

and finally,

I'm more than a little thrilled to be added to the lists "guitar-playing-fans," and "pinksars/writer"

ViewFromSpookysDoghouse said...

Great preamble, Dave! It reads almost like a thesis.

DaveCromwell said...

Well, my intro statement IS put forward as a premise to be maintained. So, hopefully that is proven throughout the rest of the feature.

Mirror said...

Jasno Swarez writes:

Love this review!

In particular, the Kerouac style quick phrases and direct objective description.

The Hellbirds section is really well written. A fantastic job of cutting out all flowery BS and getting to the point. I love that.

Also enjoy the inclusion of screen comps from across all social media.

Ha! "the man the myth the legend"
that's my epitaph
mostly myth ;-)

Overall I love that a bit of a story is created with the intro and wrap up, but the phrasing of the actual reviews are very direct and succinct.

This is providing a great window into our scene, with so many people looking for that perspective. Not just of live performance but the complete experience.

DaveCromwell said...

Very cool feedback on what I wrote about your bands, Jasno. It is my mission statement to avoid all "flowery BS" and say what's necessary in the fewest words you can. Actually, that should be the mission of *every* writer, but sadly these days is not. What passes for music journalism now in the race-to-be-first is often a challenge to wade through. I'll often give a pass to the young who may not have the perspective and vision to see what should (and should not) be there, but that doesn't mean I'll ever think that kind of reporting is "good."

Anyway, I DO appreciate your commentary here, and look forward to the continuing evolution of your musical projects.

The Midnite Rambler said...

I liked the new song The Hellbirds a lot. I'm definitely going to be looking further into them. I'm not usually a music video guy but I thought it was an interesting and artistic. Nice to see Vandelles have new material too. Thanks...I may have miss these otherwise.

The Midnite Rambler said...

I liked the new song The Hellbirds a lot. I'm definitely going to be looking further into them. I'm not usually a music video guy but I thought it was an interesting and artistic. Nice to see Vandelles have new material too. Thanks...I may have miss these otherwise.

DaveCromwell said...

That Hellbirds video tickled me to no end when I first saw it. I hear it came about somewhat accidentally - which often some of the most creative ideas do - Brian Eno has long been known for calling those occurrences a "happy accident." The song is great too.

As for The Vandelles - I'm really excited to hear what they do with these new songs in a proper recording studio. I know it's going to sound HUGE!

Unknown said...

I am really enjoying reading your well essay writer
written articles. I think you spend numerous effort and time updating your site. I have bookmarked it and I am taking a look ahead to reading new articles.

DaveCromwell said...

Great to hear, богдан ян

I DO spend a fair amount of "effort and time" on all of this, so it's good to know internet readers from around the world drop by to see what's being shared here.

Mirror said...

Chris Mills wrote:

Here's my thoughts

Cream of Heaven - The VeeVees Some YouTube live renditions can be audially dodgy, but checking out their release 'Cream of Heaven' Youtube live, some other tracks like 'Death is Love', and the friggin' EXCELLENT 'Gold Blooded' ( which could teach Sheryl Crow a thing or two ) I've rarely seen/heard casts so reflective of what the band are all about.

Why bother post your live performance if it sounds like a bucket of shit? And yet so many artist do this, somehow expecting our poor ears to penetrate the gooey expulsions from the inebriated sound-person's mixing-desk. Sorry to whinge...just a bugbear of mine.

The backbone of driving-loops come from similar bass territory as Flea of RHCPeppers, with lots of energy fizzing all over the place - threatening stage-riot and general anarchy all-round, but not quite getting out of hand. The VeeVees have their audiences well-behaved it seems - possibly middle-class Gucci-rockers? Well, whatever! Who cares? Maybe they're just awed into submission by the sexy, formidably bawdy front-woman, Sophia Urista, and who can blame them? Great rocking, rippling and splashing in the music, and screams from the gospel of Suzi Quattro. I really like this band!

The Hellbirds - Back From Black Hmmmm! With a different rythym this could be akin to something by Joy Division, owing to the vocal quality and Bauhaus-like sombre ambiences, so it is odd to hear a Lord of Darkness in such merry spirits! I feel that where this track falls is that it should reach a certain precipice - a climatic cliff-edge to fall over, but it seems to stop short, like bottling out of a dangerous sea-dive. It's good but should go further in some way.

Cosmicide - Talo's Corpse – this particular track not mentioned here in this blog, but it's one I checked out for myself. I had doubts. The title suggests some third-rate death-grunge band comprised of 15 year olds, but I was very positively surprised.

This band's music has tremendous baroque intricacy and I can't help thinking of Bauhaus among other influences. Like so much of the best music, repeated listening reaps more rewards...soundscapes and immersions, like prog-rock but without the dressing up as wizards. This is a band that wants you to bliss-rock out, but above all really wants you to listen! So listen because they're very good.

DaveCromwell said...

Love reading this additional analysis of all the music presented here - from your own unique point of view, Chris. You definitely get to the heart of The VeeVees appeal. I like that you dug deeper into their catalog - and what YouTube has out there on them. One of the best ways to further investigate what a band is all about - short of attending one of their live shows (which, of course, is the best way).

Interesting feedback too on Hellbirds and Cosmicide. You mention seminal goth-rockers Bauhaus in your thoughts about *both* those bands. Though I see where you are coming from in the "vocal quality" (quiet phrasing) of the Hellbirds track, your acknowledgement of a "merry sprit" (which I perceive as the surf-rock element) also rings true.

When I saw Cosmicide live, one of my first thoughts went to Bauhaus and Love & Rockets too. However, deeper listens (which as you correctly state "reaps more rewards") see them more accurately associated with that extended motorik-jammy Hawkwind/Toy genre.

Mirror said...

Ray Kimura wrote:

I enjoyed reading your great live review here. As always, thanks for your kindly sharing these new sounds.

I listened to all of the band featured.

The Veevees: This band sounds pretty punk-esque and very catchy in my ears though, I need a bit more 'twisted' sound!

Hellbirds: This band is difficult for me to judge indeed...
Some tracks are so good but others are not...very different style and impression, so, I was not able to get them due to this 'too much variety of sound style'.

Cosmicide: I think I like this band the most among those five bands which you introduced this time. As you mentioned, they reminded me of TOY, Bauhaus etc. The vocal style is my favourite.

The Vandelles: They look pretty photogenic and cool, though, their music sounds a bit 'too much garage punk' for me. However, I'm sure they will get more fans as long as they keep doing good shows. They sound very 'professional' I guess.

Heaven: This band is the best of those five bands technically, I thought. However, I don't know why, I prefer Cosmicide, Hehe

Thanks again!

DaveCromwell said...

Not surprised to discover that you like Cosmicide and Heaven the best, Ray. We've previously discussed at length our mutual love for music that leans towards classic era British dreamy psych pop. Those two bands certainly fit that description!