Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Live + Interviews: The Dandy Warhols, American Darlings, Giftshop, Uni, Looms, Of Clocks and Clouds, Baby Shakes

A number of significant musical events occurred over the final weekend of February, capping off an already packed month of shows attended.  Vying for attention in between all that were the usual amount of interviews, song premiers and reviews that would fill up most anyone's schedule.  Crossing over into the month of March saw little drop-off in any of this activity, leaving only scant pockets of space to pause and take stock of it all.  With that in mind, what follows here focuses on the most interesting aspects of those enterprises.

Sunday February 25th saw Portland legends The Dandy Warhols play their third show of a three night run in the New York City area.

Headlining Brooklyn venue Warsaw, the psychedelic power pop garage rockers delivered a Big Arena level show.

 Gaining access to the front stage photo pit allowed for an up-close view into the Dandy's world.

For the uninitiated The Dandy Warhols are an American neo-psychedelia alternative rock band, formed in Portland, Oregon in 1994 by singer-guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor and guitarist Peter Holmström (pictured above).

Taylor-Taylor and his cousin drummer Brent DeBoer deliver the bulk of vocals in a frequently tandem style, before taking off into extended instrumental jams.

Contributing to backing vocals (and more importantly) the bands bass notes, keyboardist Zia McCabe presents a visual and sonic presence that appeals on multiple levels.

The band's over two decade popularity stems from the unique contributions each member brings, and how those four distinct personalities come together as a singular whole.

Check out this killer performance of "Holding Me Up" from this very show

The evolution over the years from raw garage rock through variations of mid-90's Britpop, television theme show and advertising success, 80's-influenced synthpop ultimately returning to psychedelic, guitar-oriented rock is an impressive stylistic journey.

Zia's striking percussive shakers.

Those aforementioned three-tiered vocals.

From the back of the venue, Warsaw's grand structure.

Bathed in that red light.

Another excellent recording of their classic song "Bohemian Like You" streaming below shows just how much the audience at Warsaw enjoyed this show.

Shortly after this concert ended, faithful fans (and those in the know) headed over to local Brooklyn haunt Ceremony 224 for a Zia McCabe DJ set and yet-another live performance.

Taking a moment to chat with Zia after he initially flurry of activity, I remarked how the music she played didn't fit the typical mode of other club DJ's.  "Oh, I'm all over the place" she said.  This came after it was pointed out her opening track sounded like some obscure 1940's big band era number.  "Yeah, I'll play things other DJ's might not," was her cheerfully casual self-assessment.

Not content with only playing the Dandy's show on this evening, drummer Brent DeBoer put together an impromptu version of his other band (that he fronts from behind his drum kit) Immigrant Union to play at this after-party.

Enlisting the aid of Australian Dave Mudie to play bass (he being the drummer in Courtney Barnett's band), DeBoer and his IU guitarist Bob Harrow entertained the tightly packed in revelers with an energetic set of tunes.

Recording post-show achievements.

With enthusiastic commentary in the days that followed.

If it happens on social media, it must be true.
-  -  -

Earlier in the evening, recent new found friends of this site Uni opened the show at Warsaw.

Having just wrapped up an east coast tour after appearing locally both here and here, the opportunity to provide support on this night was the perfect stop before heading out to Austin and the South By Southwest Festival.

Incrementally working new songs into their set, the band opened with a previously unfamiliar track that may (or may not) simply be titled "Blue"

That was followed by the more familiar "DDT" - a song the band has just put a video out for (and explain it's influences here).

Two more new one's where then played - first up was a number titled "Gen Y" (or possibly the full "Generation Y") which of course refers to the generation of people born during the late 1980's and early 1990's.  The name is based on Generation X, the generation that preceded them.  Members of Generation Y are often referred to as "echo boomers" because they are the children of parents born during the baby boom (the "baby boomers").

The second new one rolled out appears to be called "Mach Alien" and is anyone's guess as to what the actual subject matter might be.  Although simply based on those two words, one might conjure of the image of an extraterrestrial moving at a very quick speed.

-  -  -

Returning to familiar ground, the band launched into their most recognizable song "What's The Problem" which never fails to deliver satisfaction (especially on those "Ahhhh, AhhhHH, AHHHHH" harmonies).

-  -  -

The apocalyptic single "Mushroom Cloud" is always a crowd dazzler, with Nico's flaming torch poetically approximating total nuclear destruction.

-  -  -

While the saucy, fantasy loop that is "Adult Video" comforts with the illusion that we all can be "the star of the show" (well, at least for a few seconds).

Uni - to know is to love.

What they played.  With notes, scribbles and pictures for words.

Contributions to recaps are always welcome.

* * * * * 

Friday, March 16th saw long-time friends of this site American Darlings perform at show organizers Broken Records' SecretLoft event.

Playing as a power trio due to their regular bass player being out of town, the music performed did not suffer at all as multi-talented guitarist Tommy Cormier moved over from 6 string to 4.

In this stripped-down format the vocal harmonies between Tommy and motivating force Jason Maksymilian Szkutek were given additional space to be heard.

Playing most of the tunes off their wonderful latest record Glow, the band also slipped in some classic material from earlier works.

Although live footage may eventually emerge from this performance, some pro shot HD videos from their previous show have recently become available.

Check out "Take Me There" right here:

Those twangy, bended guitar notes instantly pull you in on a melody epitomizing the best of classic Americana rock. An alternately smooth and raspy vocal line declares: “Feel it fading fast- over the hill and down the line. Living in the past- Way too contrary, my sanctuary's in my mind.” What's most noticeable is how the band understands the dynamics of accents, creating sharp punctuation moments on key lyrical points. With this band, however – it's all about the chorus “hook” and Tommy and Jason's call and response on “Cause I wanna go, Yes I wanna go right now” is pure pop gold.

Into the Groove and Duck Yeah!

The trio grande from an elevated view.

Hair flying moments.

An audience of equally attractive coiffures enjoying the show.

Another quality live video capture from their previous show is the life-as-video-game homage "Game Over"

An instantly catchy descending guitar riff introduces this clever use of video game terminology as the basis for interpersonal relationships.  Precisely crafted lyrics weave the theme together with relatable ease. “If you wanna play another game, then hit reset and play another day. Don't burst into flames, without escaping through the window. Cuz life is a game you can start over without any code.” Like all of their songs, it's the chorus that is catchiest of all. “Break down, break down, Game Over screen. 1Up, 2P, Know what I mean?” An added treat on this one is Jason's smoking hot, killer guitar solo outtro.

-  -  -

A crisply paced set loaded with pure power pop hooks.

Taking a moment to chat with the the pop provocateur, post-show.

Interesting artwork adorned a few of the inside walls at the venues.

Someone actually did a painting of "how to assemble a bankers box."

Even more impressive was an enlarged detail of "The Prince of Hell" from late 15th Century painter Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights," inside the bathroom.  As a college Art History student, I always found this particular painting exciting and disturbing in equal measure.  Kudos to the anonymous artist who faithfully recreated this portion of it.

-  -  -

Immediately following American Darlings was another high energy set from Brooklyn and New Jersey collective Looms

Having recently interviewed them for The Music Building's Expose Yourself Campaign on The Deli Magazine, this opportunity to catch them live provided additional insights.

This past summer you released your sophomore LP ‘How It Has To Be’ which was the follow up to 2015's “Waking Days” (although you did released a 2 song EP called “Sleeping Days” in 2016). Are you satisfied with how that record sounds and the overall reception it received?

 I think any time you make a record, the vision that you have in your head and the finished product are always going to be a bit different. From start to finish, that record took two and a half years to make. We grew a lot in that time, so it definitely ended up taking a different shape than we originally imagined. While in the mixing stage, we recorded and released the 'Sleeping Days' EP, so that music is actually newer and has a different vibe (and our current drummer!). Lately at our shows, we've rotated a lot of those songs out for newer ones we're focusing on, but we’re all very happy with how it came out. It’s received a decent amount of attention and got some really positive reviews!

You released that album on Little Dickman Records. They seem to be dialed in to the young emerging local band scene. What are your thoughts and experiences working with that very active independent label? 

 Little Dickman are champions of the scene and true heroes to us little guys. They release a lot of really great records, and we couldn’t be happier to be on their label. I've known Amy and Chris for three years and have worked with them through various other bands I've been in. They are truly caring and supportive people whom I deeply love and respect. When looking for a label to release the record, they were my first email, and I'm so glad they said yes! I don’t know if this record would have come out without their support.

Although you are based out of Brooklyn, there appears to be consistent New Jersey connection with your records. Both of your albums were recorded and mixed at two separate studios there. What is the Jersey connection to what you've done so far? 

Harry, Andy and I are from New Jersey, and they still live there. We rehearse at Harry’s farm near Morristown almost exclusively which is an amazing escape from the city and a great place to focus without all the distractions/hassles of a typical Brooklyn rehearsal space. We've tracked everything with the exception of Sleeping Days (tracked at Converse Rubber Tracks in Williamsburg) at studios all in New Jersey. All of our post production has been done with our amazing engineer, Ryan Ball of Gear Box Recording in Paramus. Working with Ryan on three (with a fourth in process) records has been amazing. We really understand each other's processes so our workflow is really efficient and fun! Coming full circle, our label (Little Dickman Records) is based in Asbury Park!

What cities and towns did you tour your music through? What was the most memorable show that stood out in your mind so far? 

 We toured for three weeks supporting the record release in August. We made our way up through New England into New York State and had a couple days off, so we camped out in Lake Placid after our show there. Then, we made our way through Pennsylvania to Columbus, West Virginia and up the east coast back to Brooklyn. I booked the entire tour myself so I had the chance to make it a very convenient route. It was kind of a big circle! One of the best shows was in Vermont with Hammydown and Clever Girls. Both of those bands are great, and it was full of energy and great people!

Have you begun any songwriting and/or work on new music? If so, where are you recording it, and when do you expect it to be released? 

 We were touring with five unrecorded songs this summer. Once we got home, I took September off from playing live shows and wrote five more songs. Through the fall we started fleshing out the material and made plans to hit the Gearbox Recording Studio again in January. We tracked for seven days and now have 10 rough mixes that we’ll start mixing soon. With any luck, we’ll have another LP out this summer!

Tools of the trade.

Including portable recording devices to capture the live show.

What else might be in store for Looms in 2018? Are there any new cities or other locations that you may be bringing your sound to? 

 We’ve already booked a ton of shows this year and don’t plan on slowing down. With the new record will come another tour, and while it’s important for us to play the same cities to help build fan bases, it’s always fun to play in new places! One of our surprisingly favorite venues on the tour ended up being the King’s Rook Club in Erie, PA of all places. Go figure!

Bathed in golden light.

Experimental song design and a lyrically poetic approach.

* * * * *

A few weeks earlier I was able to catch the band Giftshop live (after having included their album "Blue Monster" in this sites Year End Best Of review).

Heading down to the venerable Lower East Side of Manhattan venue The Delancey, the band delivered a knockout performance in front of an eager audience. 

Drawing material equally from their entire catalog, songs from previous releases "Tourist Trap" and "800 Million" mixed in seamlessly with the newer "Blue Monster" material.

Sporting mermaid quality blue hair, lead vocalist Meghan Taylor exuded a confident and fun persona as she led the band through each song.

A particular favorite from one of their earlier records ("Tourist Trap") is the brilliant "Parking Lot Astronaut."  With a foreboding guitar riff echoing Metallica style doom, Meghan describes the wasted pursuit of drugs as entertainment.   “Is this the life you want to lead?” she asks – “Is this the thing you wanted to be?”  While the illusion of “chasing the dragon” can create a seductive allure, self-medicating to an anesthetized condition leads nowhere. The to-the-point punchy chorus “you're a parking lot astronaut” really says it all.  The “flight” is all in your head (and body) but – are you really going anywhere?  It's a perfect cautionary tale against wasting your life in a song that you can still pogo dance to.

Check out the song and official video for it here.

Meghan and backup vocalist/keyboardist Nicole take a spotlight showcase moment in the set.

Tandem vocals like sirens sweetly singing.

Take it away, maestro!

Meghan and her mighty men.

Rockin' hard with The Flash on drums.

Blue hair and I just don't care.

Everything they played.

Meet and greet's are always so much fun!

Just around the corner from the venue, a place where you can perhaps be a little bit of both.

Giftshop have two listed dates upcoming so far.  May 13th at Tompkins Square Park, and then back to The Delancey on June 29th.  Worth checking out!

*  *  *  *  *

Another interview I recently conducted for The Music Building's Expose Yourself Campaign on The Deli Mag was with respected jam-rockers Of Clocks And Clouds.

Hailing from the streets of Brooklyn since birth, Of Clocks and Clouds are truly a home-grown New York City band.  Focusing on a modern electronic psych-rock sound, founding core members Joe Salgo (vocals, guitar, electronics) and Ross Procaccio (drums, vocals, electronics) now include fellow Brooklyn born and raised Max Devlin on bass.  The music they make is powerful and deliberate, with a slow burn tension that builds towards explosive sonic highs. Riff heavy guitars and deep voices weave in and around each other over steady locked down rhythms.

All three of you were born and raised in Brooklyn. Do you feel this gives you a “street smart” advantage over other bands that may be more recent residents of New York and the surrounding boroughs? 

 Hey This is Joe Salgo (guitar/vocals) from Of Clocks and Clouds. Being born and raised in Brooklyn is actually a rare thing these days. We’re like unicorns- people are like: “WOW can I touch you?” It can get kind of creepy. And sexy.

 I will say that the Brooklyn that we grew up in, is very different than the Urban Outfitters, cold brew, thrift store, post 9/11 version of Brooklyn that was sold to the Mid West and the rest of the world. I got mugged for the first time when I was 10. You grew up fast here because you had no choice.

 As far as “street smart” goes- I guess you could say that. Whether it’s an advantage or not is up for debate. Brooklyn has changed so much in our life times. I’m sure even in the time that I’m replying to you three DIY venues in Bushwick have shuddered to make room for grey brick condos.

Read the rest of this interview and listen to select tracks here on the Deli Mag.

*  *  *  *  *

Earlier this month, the always entertaining Baby Shakes headlined a Dr. Martens sponsored show on March 4th at Brooklyn hot spot Baby's All Right.

Having attended numerous live shows by this band, the expected high energy, good time, glam punky rock and roll show had the audience bopping from the very first note.

Drawing material predominantly from their third (and latest) album "Turn It Up," the band blitzed through a ten song set delivered with Ramones-like precision.

Having honed their craft by touring around the globe (with multiple stops in Japan), Mary, Judy, Claudia and Ryan exhibit an evolving confidence with each successive show.

The overall experience of musicians and entertainers.

Sticking with the classics - denim and leather - personalized with their own individual touch.

Including silver Doc Martens boots!

Big smiles and big rock and roll fun.

The ultimate power chord.

What was played.

Merch table maneuvers.

Treasured keepsakes acquired over time.

Show openers Monograms got the party off to a rousing start.

Followed by Big Bliss and their power trio presentation.

Social Media accolades.

*  *  *  *  *