Friday, February 15, 2019

Live + On Record: BBQT, NY Junk, Beechwood, GIFTSHOP, a place both wonderful and strange, Lost Animals

The month of January ended with a serious bang as significant live shows combined once-a-year celebrations with road-tested rockers and emerging artists. Those celebratory events came in quick succession, allowing for only a momentary break in the action. Select early February performances were also captured, inspiring additional deep dives into the carefully crafted recorded works of those artists as well.

The Bowery Electric hosted a party on January 24th celebrating the imminent birthday of Cynthia “B Girl” Ross (which is shared by yours truly on the very same day – the 26th). Featured performers Beechwood, New York Junk and BBQT took to the stage along with a number of guests, making it the most downtown nyc scene show that night.

Having no prior knowledge of who or what a BBQT was (the name immediately made me think of Bar-b-que) the sight of three black-leather-motorcycle-catsuit-clad rocker chicks hurriedly setting up their guitars and pedals provided enough motivation to pay closer attention.

Filled out fully with a dude on drums and another dude guitarist over on the right (making for a 3 guitar and bass wall of sound) the look and attitude was a blend of Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers, Richard Hell's Voidoids and The Runaways.

Jammed in with the tightly packed audience just in front of the stage, the band immediately launched into one hyper-drive rock and roll song after another. Leading it all was the centered positioned, frenetic guitar strumming and lead singing band visionary Gabbie Bam Bam.

Playing tracks from her 2018 ten song album “Let's Go” ultimately lead to checking that recording out in it's entirety.

Lead (and title) track “Let's Go” shares the pop sensibilities and vintage rock qualities of those above-mentioned bands with original similarly-styled rocker Suzi Quatro.  The repeated refrain emerges as “come on let's go. Set yo feet on the flo” (which obviously is “floor” but comes out sounding like “flo” which of course rhymes with “go.” So – ya know). There's a droning quality to the buzzing guitar chords that points back towards the singular level rhythm of the 1977 Plastic Bertrand punk hit “Ça plane pour moi.” The drumming is a bit looser, however with active cymbals and eventual rolls creating a livelier feel.

Golden Twenty” takes a tip from British rockers Sweet and their “Ballroom Blitz” snare drum intro before launching into a churning rocker that promises “c'mon baby I'll take you to the moon, uh huh!” Those recognizably appealing Johnny Thunders-esque riffs are dropped in throughout this barely 2 minute song where dangerous desire come together in lyrics “well I'm lookin' to fight – then make love all night.”

Inmate” chugs along with more chords than anticipated, aided by alternately thumping drums and trashcan cymbal crashes under impassioned vocals that appear to bemoan someone's “lonely” imprisonment.

Captured in a momentary burst of rock and roll bliss . . .

. . . inspired this social media outburst

Oh, my soul!

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The whole record is incredible and you can listen to and acquire it here.

That Spring Tour is just around the corner.  Go see them if you can!

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As previously stated, hosting the night was the energetic, multiple project impresario Cynthia Bgirl. Initially establishing music cred at the dawn of punk rock's explosion with her band The 'B' Girls, now sees everything coming full-circle these days, ultimately leading up to this moment in time.

Unfortunately unable to catch her with one of her other bands opening the show – The ElectraJets (next time for sure), we were all once again packed in front and center for her rootsy rock n roll quartet New York Junk.

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Along with Cynthia's formidable bass playing, backup singing and organizational skills, the band is fronted by lead guitarist and storytelling troubadour Joe Sztabnik.

Supported by their in-the-pocket rhythm section, the two front-and-center rockers exudes Keith Richards' cool with Walter Lure's NYC grit (on Joe's side) and a Lucinda Williams-meets-Joan Jett vibe in Cynthia.

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Silver shoes and a confident ease.

With special guests taking the stage throughout the night, The 'B' Girls own lead singer Lucasta stepped up to deliver a knockout performance.

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Lucasta dazzled with a number of soulful performances - one of which you can check out right here:

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For the uninitiated, Cynthia gives a lively and concise explanation of The 'B' Girls via this Oral History Interview, which is well worth checking out.

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Celebrated poet Puma Perl was also featured during this set, delivering an inspired reading of her work set against a driving rock and roll beat.

You can't have a birthday party without cake, and this one was spectacular!

Celebrating dual birthdays!

Cynthia will be appearing next at the sally-can't-dance presents Suicide Sally event celebrating the music of SuicideTickets can be gotten here.

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Headlining the night were the continuing-to-emerge, breakout artists Beechwood.

Having previously been featured by yours truly here on this site and at The Deli Mag (multiple web and print features), their live set on this evening was a ferocious tour-de-force of riff-driven, sweaty rock and roll.

Having recently reissued their Trash Glamour record, the band delivered an edgy, emotionally charged set to the eager audience.

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Check out this clip of one of their smoldering-to-explosive performances on this night:

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Beechwood hit the stage again on Saturday, February 16th at Our Wicked Lady

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A mere two days later saw the Crom-wagon rumbling back into NYC's "upper" Lower East Side again (that's what 14th Street is, right?) and the punk rock confines of Otto's Shrunken Head.

The dazzling and much beloved GIFTSHOP were featured during an afternoon show on January 26th, which just happened to be the birthday of a select few in attendance.

Sprawling slightly outside the stage's limited area, the band quickly launched into a wonderfully spirited set of music.

Drawing material from their entire catalog, a number of brand new songs from their latest EP "Big In Astoria" were highlighted throughout the show.

Damian, Meghan and Jordan locked in for some precise rhythms

While Matt and Nichole added melodies via guitar and keys

All the while Meghan in her vintage prom dress channeled the timeless elegance of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Power to the people!

Nichole providing those smooth background vocals.

And a tender moment saying "hello"

Check out this clip of recent single release "We Want You" here:

Post show shenanigans

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Also performing that afternoon were savage punk rockers The Bloody Muffs

Drawing influence from classic punk rock like The Buzzcocks, X, early Pixies and of course the eternal Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, the band delivered a wildly entertaining show.

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In addition to their own music, frontman Bryan Defiance has compiled a DIY collection of bands in the NYC punk underground, now available as a free download with this latest release Let's Make Some Noise Together NYC 2019 Volume 1.

"GIFTMUFFS" together

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The early days of February beckoned an investigation into the opening night of Ian M. Colletti's Lost Animals residency at Trans-Pecos.

Arriving in time to catch another set from the always creative a place both wonderful and strange provided yet-another immersion into their unique live show.

Having previously written a full review of their last EP here, the promise of new songs added another level of anticipation to this particular live show.

There's an obvious musical chemistry between vocalist/ laptop-visionary/ "mad genius" Russ Marshalek and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Laura Hajek.

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That interaction comes across brilliantly on the seemingly never-played-the-same-way-twice "Kristae (The Strawberry Girl)," a :15 second Instagram clip of which can be experienced here.

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Having floated the idea some new songs would be showcased, the band delivered on that promise a number of times..

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Check out this one featuring Laura on vocals.

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Post-show peace-out fun with this dreamy duo

and Laura's commentary on that "good good trans-pecos lighting"

Speaking of whom, in additional to her many other talents (acting being yet-another) the music she makes under the nom de plume Edith Pop is currently being featured in rock music friendly shoe guru's Steve Madden's latest ad.

With lyrics on display in shop windows all over the place.

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Ian M. Colletti is a film music composer, singer, multi-instrumentalist and live performer playing out now under the name Lost Animals.

The show experienced on this evening was a spectacular combination of virtuoso live instruments, looped percussion and synthesizers.  Much of the material was surely drawn from his concept album "On The Hudson," which explores NYC and in particular the areas located on or near the Hudson River.

Digging deeper into this recorded work elicited further analysis. “Love Is a Torture Garden” employs delicate keyboard layers, precisely placed within a carefully evolving movement. Momentary wind rushes share space with longer held pads and Japanese koto plucks. Deep percussive thumps further established the wide sonic range for a passionately expressive vocal performance. Elements of Bowie, Morrissey and the other more dramatic vocalists of the early Gothic heyday come immediately to mind.

Fall on the Sword” pulses along quickly, propelled by glistening arpeggiated keyboard sequences. Percussion is appropriately matched with full reverberated four-beat clack, making this a perfect dance floor number. As the sequences percolate, rise and fall throughout, emotionally-laden vocals soar emphatically over the progression.

With the sequenced keyboard fully orchestrated in live time, additional layers of guitar work was woven in simultaneously, adding another exciting level.  Listen to this :15 second clip of just one of the shows highlight moments here.

Additional album tracks like “Support” leans closer to the sine wave synth work and whip-crack percussion popularized in the 90's by bands like OMD and Depeche Mode. The vocals here, in fact, mirror the dual styles of Dave Gahan and Martin Gore of that aforementioned classic electronic new wave goth dance band. “I can only be so strong” is one passionate theme established vocally. Interesting single keyboard lines emerge throughout, adding yet-another dimension to the overall progression. “I support/supported you when you were wrong” becomes the tracks defining, concluding statement.

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A beautifully shot video for the song "I Will Follow You" has been released, capturing the spirit and aesthetic Lost Animals successfully projects.

In addition to Ian and a few other individuals, the above-mentioned Laura Hajek plays a significant visual role within the narrative as well.

Catching up with the artist at the show.

The residency continues with shows on February 19th and the 26th.

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