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Welcome To The Future

Written by Jonny-Leather on . Posted in Posts



On Friday night, while Lou Reed was joining Bright Eyes on stage at Town Hall, Trash Bar in Brooklyn played host to one of the most exciting new bands in rock. Walking Bicycles come from a mostly untapped Chicago music scene filled with promising young bands. For approximately 40 minutes, Walking Bicycles layed down a feast of tight, edgy indie rock, loaded-up with frantic, bouncing rhythms, chaotic post-punk meets shoegazer guitar and frontwoman Jocelyn Summers' icy vocals. While most of the set came from the band's first 2 E.P.s, it was the new songs, especially the set-closer "Obvious Path," that really set fire to the stage promising a bright future for Walking Bicycles.

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Mando Diao Electrifies Bowery Ballroom

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Seconds into the rumbling bass of opener “Welcome Home, Luc Robitaille,” there was no question that the Bowery Ballroom was the place to be on Monday night. Swedish rockers Mando Diao ripped through an electrifying set with the intensity of The Clash, enabled with the hooks and charm of the Kinks. Standouts from the set included “Got Knows,” “The Wildfire,” “Long Before Rock ‘N’ Roll” and quiet ballad “Ochrasy” which lead singer/guitar player Gustaf Noren performed with minimal percussion accompaniment.  During the harder songs, a usually motionless NYC audience was wild, bouncing to the beat with such passion that I could feel the floor shaking beneath my feet. Interestingly, in January part of the floor of Norlands Opera House in Umeá collapsed while Mando Diao performed at the Amplified festival. Luckily the floor remained in tact for the entirety of their set, including encore “Clean Town.”

The Films and Pop Levi  preceded Mando Diao, revving the audience up for the headliner. The Films played lively garage rock, while the much-hyped Pop Levi definitely made some new fans channeling T. Rex with their glam-rock jams.

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Cocksucker’s Last Show

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It’s hard to replace a good Cocksucker, and now Bling Kong is left with this objective as their lone male cheerleader took the stage with the band for the final time on Friday night at Mercury Lounge. The band, now down to only 2 drummers, 4 cheerleaders, 1 bass, and 2 guitars sounded as good as ever, taking their Choose Your Own (Mis)Adventure rock opera to new places. The performance was full of new story lines based around their characters Babe Blue and Snakedawg, whose fates the crowd decided.  Fans opted for sexual experimentation over domestic violence, and who could blame them, as Bling Kong radiated more sexual energy than Dirk Diggler’s “The Touch.”

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Space Rock: A New Hopewell

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Friday night, I arrived late to Luna Lounge and missed nearly all of J.Dimenna’s opening set. The 2.5 songs I did hear were quite impressive, especially the use of a drifting steel guitar.

Secondly came The Silent League, whose sound strongly resembled the elegant psychedelic nature of the great Mercury Rev. This comes to no surprise to anyone familiar with the band, as lead singer Justin Russo played keyboards for Mercury Rev at one point. That being said, the band created enough of their own magic on the stage of Luna Lounge to make a fan out of any casual listener that was in the audience.

NYC music scene veterans Hopewell followed The Silent League, with another Russo front and center. Brother of The Silent League’s Justin, Jason Russo led his band to the type of captivating performance that Hopewell has become known for. Taking cues from Mercury Rev, whom he also spent some time with, Russo displayed that he has learned exactly how to transform a space with an expansive sound. Much of Hopewell’s set focused on songs from upcoming release, Beautiful Targets, which promises to be a treasure.

La Laque brought close to the night with a mesmerizing set. As a first time listener, I was totally wowed by the group’s combination of moody organ, drifting mod/surf guitars, and singer Devery’s breathy French vocals. The eerily beautiful music comes across as Jane Birkin lending her most seductive vocals to a David Lynch soundtrack. Oddly enough the band, despite its French moniker and vocals, is not actually French, and is Brooklyn-based, so catching another one of their performances shouldn’t be that challenging.

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The Legendary Yo La Tengo

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Hoboken natives Yo La Tengo mesmerized a sold out crowd at Webster Hall Sunday night, with an eclectic set that covered material from throughout their 20-year career. Their set began with husband and wife duo, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley performing the gorgeous “I Feel Like Going Home,” from their latest release I Am Not Afraid of you and I Will Beat Your Ass. Following the soft mood of the opener, came “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind,” a lengthy experimental guitar shredder that would set the eclectic structure of the night. The first half of the set was loaded with recent material, but the band then drifted off into their guitar and feedback-heavy sonic rock of their earliest records. And after a set of true sonic bliss, the band returned to the stage for an encore. Ira went to the crowd for suggestions, and was caught a little off guard by the unexpected request (“The Race Is On Again”) of a fan wearing a Yo La Tengo shirt. That request garnered a hilarious response as a fellow fan then yelled “You Rock, T-shirt Guy.” After finishing a substantial encore, the band returned to the stage a second time for 2 more songs, including a brilliant cover of Devo’s “Gates of Steel.” Yo La Tengo may not be considered a legendary band, but last night’s concert was truly convincing of their deserved recognition as one of the most prolific bands of the last two decades.

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Friday Night Freak Folk

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It was Friday night and I had arrived to Warsaw just in time to see a bunch of bright yellow women (?), with 2-foot tall fright wigs singing a very odd karaoke style rock music. The group, The Girls of Karen Black, looked like Elvira on The Simpsons,  only without the cleavage. Their performance set a very odd tone for the night, especially with their cover of Celine Dion’s horrendous classic “My Heart Will Go On.”

French beat-boxer, Tez followed. With the appearance and mannerisms of a nerdy his mind-blowing abilities were even more breathtaking. Tez was able to pull off bass, drums and vocals at times with the most not an instrument in sight, beyond his own voice.

Although the sold out crowd seemed to enjoy the two openers, they were there for Coco Rosie, and the sister duo did not dispoint. The female leaders of the freak folk movement brought extra life to their songs that don’t always work as well on record, while a video screen provided for a unique visual backdrop to their playing. With toy instruments, a harp, a beat-boxer (Tez) providing percussion and other more normal instrumentation setting the vibe, the performance peaked whenever Sierra Casady’s phenomenal operatic voice went into effect. And while Bianca’s odd vocal style may not have as powerful as her sister’s, it did compliment Sierra’s vocals nicely. As for the set, it was loaded with songs off of their new album, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn, but it was the lovely “By Your Side” that really stuck with me after the performance had ended. 


The Casady sisters are Rainbow Warriors

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Art Brut, Top of the Pops!

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The stage went dark, and the air went silent, until the dedicated crowd began to chant “Art Brut. Top of the Pops. Art Brut. Top of the Pops” over and over until the band acknowledged their plea for more. This is one of the many dreams that every young musician has. There is probably no better feeling than having an entire crowd cheering for more. This is what an encore should feel like, not to say Art Brut didn’t already plan to return to the stage for one last hurrah. The band emerged back onto the stage and dove right into their biggest hit, “Good Weekend,” which was “#1 in Brazil, #1 in Germany…#1 in Disneyland, #1 in Narnia...”—you get the point. “Good Weekend” then transformed into personal favorite, “Formed a Band."

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Bang!Bang! Barefoot At Trash

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Wednesday night at Trash Bar  (Brooklyn), the crowd was small, consisting mostly of friends and the night's other performers, but that didn't keep Bang!Bang! from playing an explosive set of sex-charged rock and roll. The Chicago trio creates music that fuses the high energy squall of garage rock with glam and new wave, sounding very Go-Gos meets The Hives. Jack Flash (guitar), sporting a lightning bolt-shaped tie, shredded machine gun fire riffs, while sharing vocal duties with Gretta Fine (bass), who stood barefoot on the Trash stage. Bang!Bang! are a fun band whose name will begin spreading more and more as their new record (The Dirt That Makes You Drown) starts to take off. Performances like this one are what make small venues so wonderful. It's too bad we keep losing the best ones.


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The Black Angels’ Death Song

Written by Jonny-Leather on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts

In only a few seconds, The Black Angels can transform a standard music venue like Luna Lounge, into the trenches of warfare. And oddly enough, on Easter Sunday, they did just that, with swampy guitars, primal beats, and reverb heavy vocals that would be fitting as a soundtrack to Platoon or Apocalypse Now. Playing songs with titles like "First Vietnamese War" and Bloodhounds on My Trail" only further enhances the dark, brooding imagery of their '60s psychedelic influenced tunes. With only one album under their belt, the band seized the stage like veterans, dragging fans along through the murky depths of their 2006 debut album, Passover. Just as fans felt it was safe to leave, The Black Angels emerged back onto the stage for two more songs, finishing it all off with a perfect cover of Stooges classic, "I Wanna Be Your Dog."


The Black Angels wanna be your dog.

Fittingly, Brooklyn's Vietnam brought their beards and druggy 60s' rock revival sound to the stage ahead of The Black Angels. The highlight of their set coming from the stripped down ballad "Toby." The biggest surprise of the evening came from openers, The Cave Singers, whose washboard playing and a soulful folk evoked a rustic backwoods feel, not often associated with their Seattle home.

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