Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Features: Tall Juan, Sketchy, Joseph Sant, Lost In Society, RANN, Public Memory, Syvia, Britanys, The Teen Age, gods, Writer

A number of Dave Cromwell written features have appeared on The Deli Magazine since the beginning of this year.  In an effort to shine additional light on these artists and their music (along with the descriptive insights written about them), they now are re-featured here.

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Far Rockaway, Queens resident Tall Juan wears his Ramones influences well on the most recent EP “Why Not.” Moving from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina to NYC and the borough that gave birth to the original punk rockers shows an admirable level of devotion.

Though Joey Ramone may be the obvious initial point of reference, there are elements of Richard Hell’s vocal inflections sprinkled throughout the songs. In keeping with that era’s initial punk ethos, all songs are approximately a minute and a half in length. Opening track “Why Not” may reflect Johnny’s quick chord change progressions, but are delivered instead on an acoustic guitar. “It’s True” (streaming below) channels the buoyant rhythm of “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” with lyrical content closer to “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” Third track “I Don’t Know What To Do” clocks in at barely over a minutes and leans a bit closer to Hell’s Voidoids than the boys from Queens. Final track is a cover of the Dee Dee penned “Chinese Rock” that playfully interprets its lyrics.

Original Tall Juan Feature on The Deli Magazine by Dave Cromwell can be found here.

Two solo sets are scheduled in Brooklyn before flying to Europe for more shows there.  He is appearing May 26th @ Sunnyvale and May 27th @ C'mon Everybody.

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Punk rock isn’t the first genre that comes to mind when you think of deeper lyrical content. That particular sound is usually about reaction and feel, most often rage or at the very least, discontent. A quick perusal of Brooklyn based Sketchy’s song titles, however show clever minds at work.

Opening track “The Thinkiest Guy In Thinktown,” off of their debut full length album “I Wanted This To Go Different,” hits like prime era Replacements only with growly emo vocals. Classic dual guitars pair Johnny Ramone hyper-speed strummed chords and hook heavy single note riffs. “Whiskey Nostalgia” thunders along like a college frat theme song where all the pledges have been given amped up electric guitars after listening to hours of The Clash. “I Wrote A Suicide Note” is a quick minute and a half burst, sharing kinship with LA punk pioneers Social Distortion’s seminal debut album “Mommy’s Little Monster.” The cleverly titled “Someone Else’s Hook” succinctly references rock music’s overall recycled nature, wrapping it in a sound style reminiscent of early Weezer.

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The ever expanding universe that is Brooklyn’s dreampop scene seemingly knows no bounds. While numerous bands explore that style’s noisier side, the recently released debut EP “Sea White Salt” from Joseph Sant takes a more introspective approach. Although a prominent drum track initially propels featured single cut “Nor’easter” along, the emergence of soft surf-rock guitar lines and whisper-sung vocals establish an unmistakable ambient mindset.

Textured guitar melodies appear within the tracks instrumental second minute, creating the sonic equivalent of swelling wind and ocean. A denser, layered crescendo explodes just after the 2:00 minute mark, and you get the sense that the storm has now peaked. The feeling is poetic without actually being able to pinpoint any clearly defined storyline. In fact, only at the very end when the instruments go quiet can you make out the lyric “all that I hated and struck at – lost its hold over me.”

While readily acknowledging Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing as initial developers of this sound, emerging bands like Lazyeyes and now Joseph Sant continue its forward progression.

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While New York City stands as punk rock’s authentic birthplace, neighboring New Jersey has also contributed to that genre’s gritty sound. The Garden State may be known for established acts like Springsteen and Bon Jovi, but power-punkers Lost In Society find muse in early era punk and 90’s grunge.

Single “I Want To Know” successfully touches those two bases in a concise two plus minutes. While the intro’s mid-tempo drum rolls and emphatic guitar chords suggest a classic power trio, subsequent tempo shift to a much quicker pace establishes truer intentions. Verses come fast and hard and tell the story of working class people barely getting by “check by check” and “sinking down to a hopeless debt.” With the chorus initially (and conveniently) namechecking the song title, the next lines echo the best of Nirvana in cadence tandem with lyrics “when you take what you get and you don’t look back, do you feel no regret, do you really keep check?” Their full length record "Modern Illusions" (produced by Pete Steinkopf, guitarist of The Bouncing Souls) was released earlier this year, and is well worth a listen.

The band is currently on a sizable west coast tour, so catch them at one of those shows if you can.

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Dueling left and right stereo channel guitar bursts introduce RANN’s live-in-studio video recording of “Falling,” the latest track off their debut album “Yellogun.” The polyrhythmic structure is soon filled out with precisely placed synth, sharp drums and driving bass figures that allow for dramatic spaces between those notes.

“How does it feel?” introduces the essential vocal hook, with the songs title embedded in the answer line “right before you start falling.” When the arena sized chorus ultimately emerges, a catchy rising melody hook punctuates each passage through. The overall feel is reminiscent of ELO’s psych-pop Beatles influenced hits. Directed, edited, and shot by Ryan Ela of Midnight Treehouse Productions, the video makes use of high quality black and white imagery in showcasing the bands impressive live performance.

The band blitzed through a winter-through-spring tour including featured performances at SXSW in Austin, Texas before hitting significant shows in Los Angeles and New York.

Having previously admired Robert Toher’s work in the dark synth-percussive band ERAAS, his latest project Public Memory recently released a new album and live shows in support. “Wuthering Drum” was released March 18 on Felte Records with significant tour dates surrounding its arrival.

Standout track “Zig Zag” projects an ominous buzzing undercurrent with fluidly pulsing percussion that although mechanical and electronic, gives off the sense outdoor tribal communication. Vocals further enhance this mysterious sensibility, with alien landscape processing and frequent tandem synth lines. Its overall feel is hypnotic, possibly ritualistic, leading to an ultimate unsettling vibe. The soundtrack to a film sequence where the protagonist puts on a fright mask, douses his victim with psilocybin and proceeds to blow their mind. Initial lead single, "Lunar," and the follow-up, "Ringleader" can also be heard at the links attached to each.

Upcoming Performances - Spring / Summer 2016 - 05.27 Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade East - 06.09 Brooklyn, NY @ Trans Pecos - 06.11 Brooklyn, NY @ Palisades (Northside Festival) - 07.23 Philadelphia, PA @ MOCA - 07.30 Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus

From the opening double-stick flam pattern drum figure, heroic guitar notes and vintage sine wave synth pads, Brooklyn’s Syvia lay claim to a classic alterna-pop sound on “Anxious Animal,” the lead track off their recently released 5 song EP “Silent Violence.”

A repeated vocal hook “you will never be enough, you will not amount to much,” suggests singer Ruth Mirky may be speaking of more internal doubts than anything outwardly accusatory. Though some have stated Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a stylistic equivalent (and overall vocal tone and recording techniques do bear this out) the song structure leans closer to early 1980’s “new wave” monster hit “I Melt With You” by one-hit-wonders Modern English.

However the pacing of this track is more deliberate and laden with harsher guitar layers pointing towards early aughts Swedish indie rock band The Sounds, pioneer new wave acts Blondie and Missing Persons as sonic counterparts. In addition to the EP release, the band played dates in Norway, Sweden and Finland as part of The Brooklyn Sound Tour.

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Hip two guitar rock with underground panache is always welcome in NYC. Bushwick-based rockers The Britanys present a quirky mix of those attributes via current single “Basketholder” Securing producer Gordon Raphael for this track, a similar sonic clarity can be traced to his work with The Strokes nearly 16 years ago.

Defined riffs morph from tandem structured second guitar chord progressions to chugging counter polyrhythms. Vocals are delivered in feel that appear to echo Lou Reed’s street lingo sensibility with Julian Casablancas’ early sonic effects. While lyrics lack cohesive storytelling and are seemingly unrelated ideas strung together, perhaps that’s the intended point. “Well I’ll be your basketholder – if you’ll be my girl” speaks to something more universally relatable than a simple literal statement. Incorporated within the three minute length are a number of catchy hooks that establish urgency through staccato drum patterns and double-time emphasis. The lyric “but I can’t take it much longer, this running around the city all day” leads up to the tracks ultimate structural peak, where music and words come together with emotional force.

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With the release of their latest EP “Bad Seed” on PaperCup Music earlier this year, Brooklyn’s The Teen Age celebrated that momentous occasion with two consecutive shows at premier Williamsburg venue Rough Trade.

Although the band explains that the 4 song EP was written as an “ode to growing older,” the single “Backwards” feels emotionally rooted in the now. Under the capable production eye of Jason Finkel at Converse Rubber Tracks studios, the band makes the most out of select intro feedback, immediately catchy guitar riffs and a joyously propulsive rhythm.

While the verses may bring to mind early days of The Strokes, the chorus serves to elevate the track into an instant classic. Pairing a guitar line melody in tandem with the vocal hook “I don’t want to live without you – I just keep on falling backwards” feels closer to the heart-tugging surf of Beach Fossils.

Two noteworthy live shows during The Northside Festival are scheduled, with the first at Muchmore's on Friday June 10th.  While the event is an early afternoon through rest-of-the-night affair, The Teen Age are set to play at 10 pm.

On Saturday, June 11 they'll be playing the PaperCup Music and Indie Shuffle Official Northside Showcase at Our Wicked Lady.

Looking further down the road, the band will take part in the Out In The Streets Festival, with a show on Sunday July 17.

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Asbury Park’s fertile music scene has had a long history of influence on the NY metro area and beyond. A recent offshoot of The Parlor Mob – a band I initially wrote about for the Deli here emerges as gods with their latest EP “Endless Stunner.” Leadoff track “New Future” builds off a forward driving snare and bass drum beat with tambourine-jingle enhancements, as guitar chord structures playfully invert The Beatles “Ticket To Ride.” Vocals begin as the drums drop out, creating a harmony-induced dreamlike sequence before the beat kicks back in. Lyrics “I have been waiting it seems until eternity brings me the light” underscores an accent punctuated chorus and riff heavy guitars.

“Creatures” rises out of an electronic bass pulse center, allowing space and sonic textures to float around it. With individual percussive elements emphasized through heightened studio effects, an overall sinister feel in rhythm emerges. One could imagine this as film score music behind a pivotal travel-to scene. The pure pop single “Puttin’ Me On” seems as if molded from prime era “Electric Warrior” T-Rex combined with joyous groove of 70’s psych-pop bands like Mungo Jerry. Bolan-esque vibrato infused verses are followed by the handclap punctuated hook “B-B-Baby, don’t you know you drive me crazy, you do!” As catchy a pop rocker you’re likely to hear, the best elements lock together bass, lead and rhythm guitars.

Clocking in under two-minutes, “dream, dream, dream” moves things further back in time with its mid-60’s British blues feel. The vibe is early Yardbirds, Eric Burden’s Animals and the Van Morrison fronted Them. Title track “Endless Stunner” serves as the EP’s big time rave up grand finale. Epic guitar hooks share sonic space with raucous vocal screams, abruptly staggered drums and dreamlike plateaus, bringing together the best of hard rock and prog.

All of the tracks from this record can be heard here on their Soundcloud Page

The band is featured in The Deli Magazine Artist Of The Month Poll, where you can cast a vote for them.

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Former Deli Album Of the Month and CMJ Indie Stage alum WRITER recently returned with their follow up full length album “Principle Web.” Out on Small Plates Records, the ten track long player can be acquired in either digital or the once again popular vinyl format.

The single “Neighborly” presents a hypnotic drum beat straight outta Creedence Clearwater Revivals 1968 hit “Suzie Q,” as buzzy, distorted guitar and bass hover on a singular note before moving into a three chord progression. Chanted vocals come delivered with a mantra-like “I love – all of you.” A full minute in and the vocal cadence quickens, delivering simple observations like “there’s a shortage of clean laundry, and a mound of plastic bags” with the following verse declaring “there’s a party” as well as “a new tree that was planted.” People living in close proximity of each other would be inclined to share this kind of information.

In place of where one might traditionally expect a guitar solo is a falsetto vocal melody, moving it all closer to David Lynch film soundtrack weirdness. Harder power rock guitar chords lead the charge towards an ending that conjures the sound of a car wreck explosion. The accompanying video directed by Brooklyn-based visual artist Paul Remund portrays moving images in stark black and white, distorted by a form of digital cubism.

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