August 27, 2014

Temples / Here We Go Magic at Pier 84, Manhattan

James Bagshaw and Samuel Toms play RiverRocks on August 7. All photos by Eli Jace.
   On Thursday, August 7, the UK band, Temples, released their day-tripping psychedelia over the calming night waters of the Hudson River at Pier 84 in Manhattan. Temples started in "a little town called Kettering, in England," singer-guitarist James Bagshaw said, and were playing New York City for only their second time.
   The young band have been traveling the globe in support of their honorable debut album, Sun Structures, released on Heavenly early this year. The album is a chunk of sun-draped melodic pop with garage rock urges. They blend Fleet Foxes harmonies with dirgy psychedelic rock and roll.
   The music jumped off the stage with mid-song time shifts. The songs were lucid like what you might hear from Tame Impala, but heavy and forceful like the songs of Muse. They performed most of their debut, with a few non-album cuts thrown in.
   The four members, bassist Thomas Walmsley, drummer Samuel Toms, keyboardist/guitarist Adam Smith, and Bagshaw, were all slathered with a glittery androgynous T-Rex vibe, but there was no glam to be heard in the music.
   They moved with an electric force, clearly ready to infuse the world with their music. Bagshaw jaunted from side to side. The crisp red lighting turned each droplet of sweat into a sequined sparkle. His big bouffant plopped and de-plopped with his movements like a water balloon that hits the pavement but doesn't explode. “This is the most hair I’ve eaten on stage,” he remarked between songs.
   The concert was the third and final installment of Hudson River Park's RiverRocks free series. In its 16th season, there was an unintended emphasis this year on European indie rock greats and newcomers. Wild Beasts, Teenage Fanclub, Honeyblood, Mutual Benefit, and others played the previous shows.
   The openers on this night though, Spires and Here We Go Magic, were from the next borough over: Brooklyn. Spires have a few digital singles online, whereas Here We Go Magic have been releasing music since 2009.
Here We Go Magic perform at Hudson River Park's RiverRocks.
   Here We Go Magic performed as a four piece, with some limited sound issues early on. They played their tiny indie rock songs, each one devolving into monotonous patterns of a few simple notes while singer Luke Temple weaved his wispy voice between them. The music was kindhearted and elementary, the salad before the main course.
   When Temples took the stage, they were prepared to stun. As most UK bands are wont to do when they start to climb their way through the States, the band--and specifically lead singer Bagshaw--brought a cockiness as thick as his English accent. He tried with some success to get the crowd more amped and more enthused, calling out for hand-claps like an overcrowded Hyde Park stretched out in front of him. They tried, but were a little anemic, more spectator than participant. 
   In all fairness it is very possible the audience were unaware of their dangling and crossed limbs. As Temples rattled through an encore of their album’s standout songs, “Mesmerise” and “Shelter Song,” everyone was left stuck in a trance as the floodlights turned back on.

See: Photoset: Temples / Here We Go Magic

PHOTOSET: Temples / Here We Go Magic at Pier 84, Manhattan

Temples released their day-tripping psychedelia over the calming night waters of the Hudson River.
Read the review for Quiet Lunch here.
All photos by Eli Jace.

August 22, 2014

Boris plays "Drumless Drone Set" at Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn

The Annihilated Decibel
Boris plays "Drumless Drone Set"
   No one can hear you scream at a Boris concert. Shrieks of terror, elation, and concern all go unheard, lost in the din. Last Monday, August 4th, the Japanese drone metal group melded Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn down to a tiny piece of flashing tin.
   The performance, billed as a “drumless drone set,” was added after the announcement of their current “Live Noise Alive Tour 2014.” They had played The Bowery Ballroom the previous night.
   Wata and Takeshi walked on stage, picked up their axes; Atsuo followed behind settling in a pit of black machines, a golden gong emblazoned above. They appeared in the normal pre-show light for only seconds before the smoke tumbled out into the room. It pumped all night, while the rainbow’s every color flashed one after the other ceaselessly the whole night though. From that point all anyone could see were colored silhouettes.
   They came out crushing what was left of the soundsphere. The ringing in the ears joined the all-encompassing chugs of thick, abrasive metal guitar as the fourth instrument. The feedback lept into one’s soul and shook the bones from inside the marrow. The sound had many heads and many tongues.
    Boris’ live performance unleashes the most unnatural, inhuman noise. To experience it is to experience the music of the Beast. When I closed my eyes, billowing flames flooded the walls and ceiling. When I opened them, Takeshi was taming the noise with his doubleneck bass/guitar, riding the hot white symphony of the annihilated decibel. He looked like a caged animal, trapped in one spot, but pulled left and right by the merciless waves. In the back, through the gauzy colors, all that could be seen from Atsuo was his arm clutching a mallet as it gathered the momentum to strike the gong.
   The set wasn’t much different from their usual one, but the lack of Atsuo’s measured pounds allowed the drone to spill out without restraint. They played a conglomeration of songs from their discography, which ones exactly could not be determined, but somewhere were compositions from their most recent album, Noise, released internationally June 17.
   Among the amaranthine expanse of hazardous noise were the briefest moments of calm. Midway through the performance Atsuo tapped a tambourine once every few beats while Wata sang so softly that the microphone could barely pick up her voice. Each rattle of the tambourine echoed down the hallways of time and the presence of continuously wafting smoke eliminated the parameters of the room.
   And it was all so peaceful until Takeshi rang in with sudden bolts of lecherous, intrusive guitar–unforgiving and scathing–and back into the molten sound we fell. The eardrums worried. The girlfriends, not quite sure what they’d gotten into, fretted. As the house lights returned everyone looked a little lost and hair-brained. The performance was merely a lamb short of being a slaughter.
   Later on, after the show, in a quiet room, the reverberations of what I had heard echoed through the walls of my ear canals. The entire concert played backwards in a roaming, fluctuating and glowing tinnitus. The chirping and whirring locked groove of ten thousand distorted sparrows wouldn’t start to deafen until the morning.

PHOTOSET: Boris Plays "Drumless Drone Set" at Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn

Takeshi [seen here] was taming the noise with his doubleneck bass/guitar, riding the hot white symphony of the annihilated decibel. 
Read the review for Quiet Lunch here
All photos by Eli Jace.

August 18, 2014

REVIEW: "Black Hours" by Hamilton Leithauser

Hamilton Leithauser Lurks in the Night
on Solo Debut, Black Hours
  "Do you wonder why I sing these love songs," Hamilton Leithauser sings against the wind, "when I have no love at all?" The track, "5 AM," opens his debut solo album, Black Hours. He coils his doubts around the cool air wave-lengths of haunting strings and sounds like he's trying to outlast his fatigue.
  Black Hours is Leithauser's first material since the cordial freeze of his last band, The Walkmen. [QL: "Walking Through A Musical History of The Walkmen"] The album is the sound equivalent of it's namesake--the space in time between one night's end and the inevitable first crack of morning light. The album is a full inward look at one's self and situation.
  The music on Black Hours is not a far cry from The Walkmen's blueprint. This isn't Leithauser's forray into trap music. He keeps it real with a personal downcast American rock album. It's more ethereal, looser and loaded with scatter-shot instrumentation. Nine people, including Paul Maroon from The Walkmen, play an array of instruments on it.
  Leithauser's vocals have warmed and buttered since the dry-rasp he spit on the first few Walkmen albums. A rat-scratching still lurks in each bellow, but he's more capable and willing to allow a single note to rise and fall in one breath.
  "The Silent Orchestra" jumps to attention with the staccato hits of a xylophone, an instrument that adds a hint of seasoning throughout the album. The track dips and ascends until it's overcome by a surge of strings. For "St. Mary's County," Leithauser sits at the piano for the casual lament as strings sneak around his pronunciations.
  "Self Pity" digs a hole in the center of the record with a long intro of lo-fi smoke. Two minutes in, the track finds its legs with knock-down drums, slack hi-hats and Leithauser making amends with the voices in his head.
  "I Retired" wakes the album up with a rumpled drum beat and a rousing shoobey-doo-wop. "Bless Your Heart" washes away with a pattering of bongos and more xylophone while "I Don't Need Anyone" sounds most like The Walkmen, with heat-rising guitar and a calming tambourine.
  For the most part, Black Hours hits all the right marks. Leithauser's still looking up at The Walkmen as his greatest musical achievement, but as he gets more comfortable at the command, that could soon change.

Key Tracks: "Self Pity," "I Don't Need Anyone," "5 AM," "St. Mary's County"

source: http://imp

"note to self"

August 04, 2014

Phosphorescent / Strand of Oaks at Tammany Hall, Manhattan

Phosphorescent (Matthew Houck).
All photos by Eli Jace.
"These songs are emotional," Timothy Showalter, leader of Strand Of Oaks, said during his band's opening set, July 23 at Tammany Hall. The smirk cut through his long, matted beard. "We're living in an emotional time."
   Emotional tunes, turns out, are a perfect soundtrack for a new line of backpacks. The event, which also featured a solo set by Phosphorescent, was sponsored by Urban Outfitters and JanSport. Two sexless mannequins modelling the newest gear greeted dwellers as they entered. Above the bar a colorful PowerPoint presentation of fashionable backpacks projected all night. Weird.
   Regardless, the four members of Strand of Oaks ripped through most of the songs from their new album, HEAL. Showalter was celebrating a birthday, grinning between songs, making backpack jokes, and downing tallboys of Pabst. "We're going to mellow out," Showalter said before introducing a pair of quieter songs. "It's like when you got your JanSport, you're on top of the Pyrenees, maybe you've got some peyote...and this song's on your MP3 player."
   During songs though, he had a stare that shot through anyone it crossed. It was calculated, direct, and gained power with his every lurking note. The music was a tough, rootsy, psychedelic rock. Sometimes it was soft and sauntered slowly. The songs are portals through Showalter's upbringing. He's caught looking back on "JM," "Goshen '97," "HEAL" and "Shut In," the night's best songs. 
   Matthew Houck, who has released albums as Phosphorescent for over a decade, played a subdued set. He brought his songs back down to their crust using only an electric guitar with minimal effects and his sweetly hiccuping voice.
   Houck played from his most recent (sixth) album, the excellent Muchacho, released last year. He also mixed in two Willie Nelson covers including "Reasons to Quit." He kept close to the microphone, hidden beneath the shadow of his hat's curved bill and moved with only slight bends. 
   The audience was speckled with diehards, clearly not there for the backpacks. They assisted Houck exuberantly on the chorus for one song, rising to a fever pitch in the tight Tammany Hall corridors. When a fan requested "Los Angeles" from 2010's Here's to Taking It Easy, he quickly obliged. It was a night of heavy, soul-baring songs, but what better cure for the aching heart than a slick new JanSport backpack to carry all your baggage?