Mid April saw pioneering psychedelic space rockers The Telescopes touch down in Brooklyn at The Knitting Factory and put on a one of a kind hallucinogenic show. In the midst of their “Exploding Head Tour” (named after their current album “Exploding Head Syndrome”) founder and frontman Stephen Lawrie enlisted support act The Cult Of Lip to flesh out his live band. What transpired was a wave of swelling sonic drone where the structure of fully complete songs would emerge inside of.
New material like the hypnotic “Everything Turns Into You” builds off of a throbbing pulse, static central tone, modulating guitars and singular jungle beat percussion as whispered recitations emerge. The effect starts to alter one's perception/reception sensation as it all unfolds, creating an elongated feel for what constitutes a “song.”
Other new material like “I Know You've Got Something Inside (Driving You Crazy)" seemingly rises out of dark mist via buzzing synths, cymbal rushes, oblique guitar figures and muted chant-like spoken word. What sounds like the line “do it some more” is repeated while scratchy, sandpaper percussion rides over top.
Layers of guitars alternately chug and dive bomb throughout, accurately creative the sonic equivalent of internal turmoil.
Check out the below clip shot at this particular show.
Bass guitar takes on a more dominant role here in this live environment, providing the driving pulse over basic four-on-the-floor drumming and churning guitar layers. Lawrie's vocals are delivered in an understated, stream-of-conscious manner.
The overall effect creates a hypnotic sensation where one is taken on a temporary ride into a less structured state-of-mind.
Layers of guitars contributed the pulsating drone, with occasional usage of a violin bow across the strings for additional sonic effect.
Special mention goes out to the visual artists who provided amazing lighting and effects - @spaghettijesus96 and @jupiiiiiiiter - enhancing an already transcendent experience even further.
Get the digital album HERE
Or the CD/LP HERE.
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As previously mentioned above, providing support for most of the dates on this tour was Minneapolis based, drone and psych rockers The Cult of Lip.
Making their New York City debut on this evening, the band played a captivating set of hyper-dreamy pitch-bended rockers.
The opening cut “Instead” off of their latest album “Sleep Receiver” is a prime example of that descriptive style. More punchy than what a lot of “dreamy” and “gazey” bands present, there's an underlying force that sets it apart.
“A Glow” takes that aggression a step further, with a bass-heavy groove and low-pitched, elongated-note vocals that feel closer to what a band like A Place To Bury Strangers does.
Other songs like “Walking” takes that pitch-bended guitar and low-throttling bass approach further, adding angular clanging notes for additional effect. Heavier guitar chords and waves of vocals dominate the middle and end-out sections.
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Pleased to see the band using a DaveCromwellWrites photo collage from this show in additional features and promo going forward.
Check out guitarist Ronnie Lee's feature on his favorite guitar pedals here.
Find out where The Cult of Lip will be playing next via their Website, including a show on on June 1 at Eagle's Club 34 in Minneapolis, MN and then a Summer Tour with Double Grave running from June 14th through the 22nd.
Their latest record "Sleep Receiver" can be acquired Here.
* * *Opening this evening's show was psychedelic synth-punk rockers Dinowalrus. Representing their hometown of Brooklyn on this bill, the band's full set of post-punk and psych-pop were the perfect complimentary local act for the touring headliners.
Sophisticated psych-rock tracks like “Falling to the Periphery” combine a variety of sonic reference points, all within the relatively brief confines of a three and a half minute song. The pulsating keyboard intro is reminiscent of The Who's “Won't Get Fooled Again,” while emphasis on both male and female vocals create a more “indie” rock feel.
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“Light Rain” bops along briskly, powered by a bouncy bassline, bright keyboard licks and slap-back percussion. Extended guitar melody lines emerge only after the vocal verses are complete.
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Another popular single “Tides” layers a bouncy synth-flute riff with multiple guitar embellishments over driving bass and percussion. The elongated vocal style on the verses coupled with a distinctive hooky chorus feels like an homage to the “baggy” era of psych-pop that emerged out of England in the mid-90's.
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Link to the entire Dinowalrus catalog of music HERE, which includes their most recent album "Fairweather" - available digitally, or on a Limited Edition Japanese Import CD.
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The following week saw a return to the very same Brooklyn venue for another, equally compelling triple-bill.
Toronto, Canada's post-punk industrial rockers Odonis Odonis touched down in Brooklyn, New York on April 18th, just six days after releasing their latest EP "Reaction."
Headlining an evening that would feature two other like-minded, complimentary acts, a dazzling tour-de-force of explosive lighting and sonic assault emanated from their stage.
Having witnessed an earlier phase of this band back in 2013 (covered here), the evolution of their sound from those days to what they are doing now shows a striking progression. While comprising of the same three original members, the transformation from traditional three-piece guitar-bass+drums configuration to a synth heavy dynamism is noteworthy.
EP opener “Collector” typifies the harsh and foreboding feel this collective now presents. Deep, low-tone buzzing synths and hand-played electronic percussion sets the tone for the subsequent Reznor-like lyrical recitation.
Those vocals head off into a more “singing” style with the “hook” (of sorts) - “when will I collect? - collector.” Unexpected touches emerge like a total drop out of the harsh plod for an ethereal, angelic choir. Of course that only serves to set up the in-your-face tandem bone-rattling bass synth blasts coordinated with their lights (which are most impressive).
Other popular tracks like “Insect” establish a soundscape to some future world where mechanized behavior may now be replacing what once was the controlled existence of previous decades.
Showcase cut “The Rip” allows the tension to build up slowing from the pulsing synth waves of it's intro. Ambiguous vocal lines “they say forgiveness – don't be so cruel. Take it to the streets” and “it takes time – that's for sure” create an apprehension, before dramatic percussion bursts and a caterwauling voice takes over.
The atmospheric tautness continues to ebb and flow, with ominous lines like “time – stops for good” fueling an overall apocalyptic vision.
Check out the pummeling force of their sound live at this show.
Their live tour continues with a show on May 25 at Chop Suey in Seattle, WA, and the following day at the Astoria Hotel Vancouver, Canada. Find all of their tour dates HERE.
Filed under you-never-know-who-you-might-come-across-at-a-show, was pleased to meet up with seductive guitar-electronica band Turbo Goth. Check out what I wrote about them on The Deli Mag.
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Also featured on this night playing a full set of their music were fellow Felte Records label mates Public Memory.
After catching them live at their "Demolition" album release show last November, it was a pleasure to experience this band on stage once again.
Having previously written about Robert Toher's ever-evolving musical projects on The Deli and DCW here (both with Public Memory and ERAAS), the opportunity to experience the current material in a live setting is always rewarding.
Songs like the album's initial single release "The Line" impresses in multiple ways. Embracing a hypnotic trip-hop beat, layers of synths and samples create dark and mysterious melodies.
Vocals soon emerge within deeper padding textures as space is cleared for additional live drums. As the track continues to progress, elements of sampled voices materialize, adding one more element to its otherworldly nature.
A hypnotic pulsating rhythm permeates “Red Rainbow” with dominant shaker percussion moving out front of Robert's measured cadence and unmistakably unique vocal timbre.
There's something eerie and unsettling about that voice, as if possessed by mystical influences from darker layers of a multi-dimensional existence.
“Mercy” quickens the pace somewhat, before creating a sparser space for Toher to deliver his chilling theme. The percussion gets busier as it bubbles up from underneath, while bassy synth lines snake through the center.
Check out a clip of how they sounded at this very show.
All of Public Memory's music can be acquired via this link.
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Opening the show was this sites new found faves from over the last year or so - the always brilliant a place both wonderful and strange.
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Along with the dual creative forces of Russ and Laura, sometimes live show member (producer/remixer) Daniel K added guitar sonics at this performance.
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The band continues to roll out new material from their in-progress next record "matter + desire," with half of it now being played live during their current shows.
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The record promises to be loud, ravey, upsetting and fun. Check out this live performance of the song "W*tch" shot on this evening.
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Laura makes full use of the spacious stage area to immerse herself in the moment, engaging in an "interpretative dance" of sorts through yoga movements and a graceful athleticism.
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As Laura moves about, Russ triggers the carefully crafted sound waves.
Before joining in with his co-conspirator on the prayer carpet of performance.
Does "the city smell like cat spit?" Well - sometimes it does!
Mysterious symbolism occasionally find their way into these momentary snapshots.
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Venturing into that "other" New York City borough - the one called Queens (long established and also "up and coming") saw an end of month show go down on the central boulevard of 30th Avenue at Shillelagh Tavern in Astoria.
Up first were DCW darlings GIFTSHOP to once again dazzle their hometown crowd.
Putting together a set of both classic and new material, a number of songs from their current EP "Big In Astoria" featured prominently.
Well placed harmonies are a fundamental component at every GIFTSHOP show.
Megan's confident performance and polished vocals serve as the lighting rod, while Damian and Jordan lock the rhythm section down.
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Leading the way, both vocally and otherwise.
Explosive guitars and melodic keyboards.
A taste of GIFTSHOP as they performed on this night via this clip here.
Complimentary patterned audience members show their support.
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A number of upcoming shows are on the horizon, presenting multiple opportunities to attend.
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Next up was the garage-punk fueled pop of The Carvels.
Lead by the charismatic Lynne Von Pang on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, the band ripped through a lively set of what is considered the classic downtown NYC rock and roll sound.
Including saxophone with the more traditional two guitar, bass and drums structure adds a timeless appeal, hearkening back to the original roots of 1950's-60's rhythm and blues.
The title track from their latest EP “Life Is Not A Waiting Room” is a two and a half minute chugger that's equal parts NY Dolls and The Shangri-Las.
“I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy” doubles-down on that early 60's rock and roll feel, transforming Antony and the Johnsons poignant ballad into a quicker paced rave-up, while honoring the originals lyrical revelations.
There's a hint of country-rock embedded in the pop stylings of the Morgan/Von Pang penned “Scarcity.” The easy-vibe chord progression is tempered by lyrical soul searching and the passionate vocal delivery that begets.
Other tracks like “Everything With You is a Travesty” from their previous EP (of the same name) thunders along via forceful tom-tom drumming, crunchy guitars and tandem sax rhythms. The lyrics are playful in that Ramones-style with lines like “Some people say a guy like you needs thearpy – Mama would say that boy's just slap happy.”
Check out a clip of that song from this very show right here.
Post-performance photo fun.
Catch The Carvels next show at El Cortez in Brooklyn on June 6 with like-minded west coast rockers Vicky and the Vengents
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Closing out this show was the rhapsodic garage-glam power-poppers The Hell Yeah Babies.
Sporting their now ever-present pink jackets (that give the appearance of punk-rock-appropriated wedding tuxedos) the band crushed through their set with expected screwball zeal.
Riding the year-and-a-half wave of their debut album "All The Things That You Believe" shows a band unified in their cohesive image and hook-laden songs.
Crowd pleasing favorites like "Attababy," "Dog of War" and "Vampire Girlfriend" were put under the Cromwell microscope in this feature here a year ago.
Additional lyrically insightful, melody driven songs like "Post-Punk, Post-Love" taking dating angst to new levels with lines like "to codify your raison d'etre" and "you're Hecate hyphenate." Not many other bands would bother to weave in references to the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy all wrapped in the catchiest of pop songs.
Other brilliant songs like “New York and I Love You” highlight that hometown pride those of us who live here have earned the right to feel. You know there's truth to the line “we're just where everyone else wishes they could be.” Special props to Julian's drumming on this, especially the tom-tom work on the bridge.
Personal Cromwell family favorite "Grenadine Nosebleeds" has been in constant car CD rotation ever since a certain radio-trained offspring latched onto it. That's a true testament to it's quality and potential for inclusion in the next coming-of-age film or television drama. Certainly some show on the WB network has room for this one? There's a universal wistful appeal to the hook "here comes the worst part - here comes the rest." Bass guitar features prominently throughout the sparser, funky-calypso sections. The vocally huge "I don't wanna go home" chorus unleashes a flooding wave of emotions that speaks to everyone's own individual experience. While the Brooklyn-Manhattan dynamic is name checked, it could easily apply to Long Island or for that matter anywhere else in the world.
Crowd pleaser “Everybody Knows (That You're In Love)” comes late enough in the set to capitalize on the partying atmosphere most everyone is feeling by this point. Obvious double-entendre (but cleverly turned) lines “now the world's your oyster, girl – don't you know that you're the pearl – and you can't wait to shuck all night” - indeed. Chunky, Chuck Berry guitar riffs take a star turn on this one before the big call-and-response vocal end out.
Connect with The Hell Yeah Babies here.
The band is currently out on tour, and well worth catching if they come to your town.
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Bill Dwyer wrote: Awesome!!🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶😎
Heather posted: 🎸😽🎨
Jennifer Vandestienne Gillow wrote: So many great bands!!! Thank you, Dave!!!
Early reactions are quite positive! Always rewarding to see. #writerslife
GIFTSHOP wrote: We got Cromwelled! And we liked it! Sweet words and hot photos of your fave bands. Our last Astoria gig profiled here with @hellyeahbabies and The Carvels. #davecromwellwrites #biginastoria #giftshoprocks #gigwords #livemusic
Who wouldn't love those well placed harmonies, confident performance, polished vocals, locked-down rhythm section, explosive guitars and melodic keyboards? Oh, yes – and the songs! 🎤
Scott DiPatria wrote: Phenomenal Dave! 🤘
You were there for that first show covered here, Scott - so you would know all about that! 😎 I even glimpses of you (up front and center) in some of my pics and vids. 😉
The Cult of Lip wrote: Thanks to DaveCromwellWrites for this great write up of our NY debut at Knitting Factory Brooklyn!
It was my pleasure to experience your captivating set of hyper-dreamy pitch-bended rockers. You put on quite an impressive show! It's good you were able to use that photo layout on a number of postings afterwards (like that pedal feature on KEXP). Very cool. 🚑🎼
Stephen Lawrie / The Telescopes wrote: Hey Dave, thanks for the review. Nice piece. Good to meet you and hope to see you again soon. Infinite suns.🔥 the telescopes @kickthewall posted: "Mid April saw pioneering psychedelic space rockers #TheTelescopes touch down in Brooklyn at The Knitting Factory and put on a one of a kind hallucinogenic show." @DaveCromwell #davecromwellwrites. https://tinyurl.com/y5m6kspv
Thanks for posting this! And also for taking the time to share your thoughts on your music in our chat after the show. 😎
a place both wonderful and strange wrote: "loud, ravey, upsetting and fun"---that's what we're going for!! thank you as always DaveCromwellWrites !!!❤ ❤ ❤ what a marvelous night captured here.
It's what I've now come to know and love at every a place both wonderful and strange show. 🎧
The Carvels NYC wrote: Thanks Dave Cromwell for the excellent live review. A great read all the way through! Check out Dave's entire feature if you wanna know about the best of #nycrocknroll. He really gets it!
Loved catching your recent show and digging deeper into your recorded works, The Carvels. Looking forward to upcoming shows!
The Hell Yeah Babies posted: Our last Astoria gig profiled here! https://bit.ly/2M5g4lx
Whoa this is a hell of a write-up. Thanks, Dave!
There is much to like in the “lyrically insightful, melody driven songs” and live show “screwball zeal” of The Hell Yeah Babies. 😺
Odonis Odonis posted: New DCW Feature- Covering Live Shows and Recorded Works Of thetelescopes @vatsthreetimes dinowalrus @odonisodonis @public__memory @aplaceboth @nicvan7 thecarvelsnyc @hellyeahbabies 😎 #davecromwellwrites
Loved that dazzling tour-de-force of explosive lighting and sonic assault, Odonis Odonis 👽
while all the bands included here are great, I have to confess to listening to The Hell Yeah Babies the most over the last year since I first saw them live. Special mention for the Tarot Card reference in “Post-Punk, Post-Love,” that goes: you keep pulling those cards, hoping they’ll come up hearts, but the spread says death comes before the lovers, so don’t turn over the others.” I love that. 💋
Ah, yes - "All The Things That You Believe" has been a steady soundtrack for you since acquiring that record, Misty. Discovering Tarot Card lyrics within only goes to further enhance it's appeal.
Phyllis Whitney posted on Twitter: @DaveCromwell Tweetin' and Freakin' - check out all that goodness inside! 😎😊😉 https://tinyurl.com/y5m6kspv #liveshow #Review
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Tara Adams wrote: Nice detailed coverage!
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Jenna Emens-Escalera wrote: #CROMS ❤️❤️❤️
Michael Laughlin wrote: Dave, I just got around to reading this, and I liked what you wrote about The Carvels NYC. I haven't seen them live yet, but I did meet their lead singer when I saw the Fleshtones and the Sonics on a boat that sailed around NYC harbor. I'm also going to check out the Hell Yeah Babies.
Thanks for digging in to it, Michael. Yeah, I can see how The Carvels are your kind of band. You'll like The Hell Yeah Babies too. They write really complete (and excellent) songs. 🎼
Pete from Dinowalrus wrote: Thanks for the write up Dave! Very cool.
It's an interesting take on psychedelic synth and guitar pop-rock that you do, Dinowalrus. 🎸
Damian Eckstein of GIFTSHOP wrote:
Dave Cromwell ... The Anthony Bourdain of Music analysis and assessment!
Wow. I'm honored by your comparison Damian! 🎼
Damian writes: I calls it as I see it. 😁
Walter Stewart of Tarbeach Records Associates wrote: cheers Dave Cromwell its all a pleasure xxx
Indeed, Walter. Love what you do with your Label.🙂
@spaghettijesus96 wrote: Some crazy photos from my collab with @jupiiiiiiiter for @thecultoflip, @dinowalrus and The Telescopes! Good photo cred goes to @davecromwell.
Those were some vintage combined lighting and effects you and your associate conjured up there. Blending current technology with the fluid projection style of 1960's era psychedelia made for some truly unique backdrops.
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