Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Motherfish #17.5- Sorry Sam

Unfortunately, my finals are taking up more of my time then I anticipated, so today's review isn't going to be so much a review as me apologizing for how much it sucks and then briefly talking about another local band I really enjoy.


I extend my apologies to Diego Paulo, an incredibly talented band on my campus, because they aren't getting the recognition they deserve. Their review happened to fall on a week when I have a stupid amount of work to do, and apparently I need a new upgraded version of Flash to listen to music on Myspace now, and apparently I'm a fucking moron because every time I try to get the upgrade my computer shits a brick and doesn't actually upgrade.

Diego Paulo offers some laid back, folkish tunes which totally kick ass. They're a talented group of musicians playing a style that you don't seen in the mainstream too often these days. If you're into Bob Dylan, Fiest, or any type of acoustic-rock, you'll probably dig these guys. They play a lot of coffee shops and local venues around here, and they have a great vibe. Honestly, now that I think about it, they utilize vocal harmonies that sort of remind me of The Zombies. Bands with multiple singers aren't rare, but they aren't common (multiple singers meaning the duties of main vocals are divided up among two or more band members), and it gives the band variety. I'm going to be honest here, Diego Paulo lays down serious groove tunes. For fans of jam bands without the boring repetitiveness, jam bands without the boring repetitiveness, and jam bands without the boring repetitiveness.


Next week when local music May comes to a close, I'll have some more followup comments about Diego Paulo, because this band is seriously fucking amazing and they deserve more than this shitty spot I've given them. I promise guys, I'll make it up to you!

Go on and check out their music. Holiday is my personal favorite song.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Motherfish #17- Friends of Ellen DeGeneres

Album of the Week

I need to start out by apologizing; these next two reviews (today’s and next Tuesday’s) are going to be a little shorter than normal because as the semester winds down, my workload is becoming near unbearable. If that offends you or makes you think that I’m a worthless sonofa bitch and my writing isn’t worth reading, fuck you leave now and never return. If you’re a decent human being with even the tiniest shred of empathy, go right ahead and keep reading. So here we are, the second Tuesday of May, a month full of local music. I’m really glad that I’m taking the time to feature some of these bands. They work their asses off to make the best music that they can and well I’m trying to give them the recognition that they deserve. This week’s band is a gem of local talent that I came across at school, and I have the pleasure of knowing most of these fine gentlemen. They’re currently in the studio recording their first release, but they deserve the heads up anyway. Yes, I know it says Album of the Week right up there, but this is my blog and I’ll do whatever the fuck I want, and I want to review this band regardless of whether or not they have an album out because they’re awesome. And that counts for a lot these days. ONE MORE THING before I get to the music. Actually it’s not important. But somebody did pee on my fridge this past weekend.

Dancehall Throwdown

I have a lot of playlists for different moods or for different activities. And, like the big loser that I am, I have a playlist called “FUN!!” spelled exactly like that. It’s got a lot of high energy bands like Blink 182 (who I am definitely seeing this summer, by the way) and Jimmy Eat World on it, but other than those two it’s mostly ska bands. Ska? What the hell? Is that even a word? Yes, idiot. For those who were actually asking themselves those questions, ska is a music of genre which branched off of punk and includes a brass section, usually a trumpet or two, a trombone, and often a sax of some sort. A few of the big names in ska are Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto, and Catch 22. Right now every hardcore ska fan who reads this is yelling that I forgot to include his favorite band and is probably typing a very angry email. Don’t. I figured these are the most notable four. One of the more interesting facts about ska is that it’s a very well contained genre; aka a ska band is a ska band. There really is no discrepancy about it. You could argue for months over whether Cursive is art-punk or indie-rock or noise-thrash or goth-pop or whatever gives you a boner and never reach any conclusion (which is why I try and make it known that my categories are just rough ideas as to what kind of sound a band has). But when you hear ska, you know it’s ska. There’s no arguing about it. Because of that, it’s fairly easy to group ska bands together and talk in general terms. SO I WILL.

Ska is some of the most enjoyable music out there, the brass section adds a brightness and catchiness to the already energetic punk guitar and drums. Dancehall Throwdown takes this to heart. There’s a difference between playing a genre of music really well and being lazy. DHTD plays ska really well. They went with a larger brass section, adding a tenor sax and a baritone sax (a big one and a little one), which gives them, a much fuller sound because of the wider range of tones hit, something that adds to their overall appeal. I don’t know, maybe it’s because some of them are music majors, but they grasp a concept that too often a lot of ska bands fail to even recognize. Balance. Balance between the guitar and the brass. So many bands have songs where it’s one or the other and rarely do the two interact. DHTD utilizes a seamless blend of the brass and the guitar, something I greatly appreciate, and also it adds to the maturity of their sound. My astute readers just did two things: pat themselves on the back for knowing what astute means and recognizing themselves as one of the few, and noticed a recurring theme in the local bands I’ve reviewed so far. Maturity of sound, ladies and gentlemen. Dancehall has it. It’s what makes a band sound like a band and not a random assortment of musicians running around in circles with their cocks out. Although DHTD may or may not have their cocks out, they are certainly a band and they sound like it. Closing comment! Pure fun ska band with more than its fair share of talented musicians adding a well rounded sound usually only found in experienced, more established ska bands.

Unfortunately there’s not going to be a sample today, or next week, for time saving purposes. The good news is, you kind of actually get more than one sample! HERE is the MYSPACE link for Dancehall Throwdown, and I’m going to send you all over to their page to check it out. Listen to “Grogan”, that’s one hell of a good song. If you’re looking for a comparison, think Streetlight Manifesto plus a little Less Than Jake minus some of the pop-ish-ness and throw in badass guitar chops.


Check the shit out of that band! Join me next week for something completely different.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Motherfish #16- Homegrown

New Music Tuesday

I’ve got a lot to talk about. For starters, many of you may have noticed a Twitter post from a few days ago stating that the months of May and June are going to be pretty big. Let’s discuss that. Here we are in the month of May and this is going to be a special month. This month is going to be purely local music. I’m going to feature the best of the best from both here where I go to school and from back home. I’m fortunate to know a whole host of talented musicians who have written some of the catchiest, most earnest music I’ve come across in my life. These people are all really good friends of mine and I’m proud to call them that. I’ve seen them in concert, I’ve eaten meals with them, and I’ve even sat through classes with some of them. I’d do whatever I can to support them. Growing up, the local music scene was very important to me. Our weekends comprised of going to shows at the Elk’s Lodge, or one of the many Rec Centers in the surrounding towns. The first time I played guitar in front of an audience was at that very Elk’s Lodge. Having such a strong local scene was the best thing that could have happened; it fostered my love of music and my love of performance. It provided an opportunity for anyone to be able to be a rock star for a night. You didn’t have to be talented. Fuck, you didn’t even have to be good. All that mattered was that you were putting your body and soul into it, and if you were you instantly had the crowd’s support. Some bands from my area have made it reasonably big, some have reached moderate success, but most don’t. Nobody cares. We weren’t in it for the money or the success. We were in it because this is what we wanted to do. For everyone who was a part of that scene, for all of us who decided that we wanted to be a part of something big, for everyone who’s in a band that practices in your drummer’s basement or garage, for everyone who plays shows in coffee shops and considers a Battle of the Bands a big deal, for every guitar player who regularly fucks up at least chord progression per show, for every drummer who loses himself in the music and breaks a stick at the end of a performance even though he doesn’t have money to buy new ones, this month is dedicated to us.

All of my Pride by The Skyscrapers

This is a review that I’ve been waiting to write since way back when I started this blog. I remember sitting at my computer typing up my top 5 favorite albums and writing a tiny little paragraph about each one and talking to my friend Armen online telling him about what I was doing. He seemed into the idea so I offered to review his band when their album was finished recording, and here it is. Had it been any other person, I wouldn’t have made that promise because there would have been a chance of their album sucking so much dick I would have no choice but to write a bad review, and that would make it awkward whenever we talked, like I walked in on him masturbating or something. The only reason why I did was because I know Armen, and I know how talented this little son of a bitch is. The kid knows his way around an acoustic guitar like you couldn’t imagine. Now, he’s no Joey Eppard or Kinsella, think more of a Jesse Lacey, but he’s a damn fine musician. For a first release, All of My Pride is very strong. There are some obvious weaknesses, but they’re more than overshadowed by the overall quality of the album. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to write songs. These songs don’t sound like your typical garage band. They show a surprising depth of musicianship both in the skill of those involved and in the way the different parts interact.

The songs sound remarkably polished and almost unbelievably mature. He utilizes a lot of different production techniques to clean up the tracks but refrains from overuse for the most part. In the spirit of being as fair and impartial as possible, the reverb-guitar does show up quite often, leading me to wonder what some of the songs might have sounded like without the effect. What are you getting when you listen to The Skyscrapers? That’s a good question, I’m glad I asked. What we have here is a solid alternative rock album that has a predisposition to lean into the territory of folk –rock and often dips into some of Armen’s more emo influences. The album opens with The Incision, a pop-punk masterpiece that comes right out of the Brand New playbook. It’s no carbon copy, but fans of the Long Island band will feel comfortable and at home with this track, and will smile at the way Armen takes Jesse’s vocals and uses them as a basis for his own unique half whining half belting style. Kid’s got pipes, that’s for sure. Most of the album plays a little slow, but it’s deliberate. The songs are well crafted with solid intros and build up to something epic, though I would have liked a few more songs like The Incision which starts high and ends high, but I’m impatient sometimes. It’s a quality album that does a lot of great things, and can mobilize a lot of interesting reactions from anyone who listens. If you’re looking for something that is more consistent and has a more focused theme, you may want to wait to check out All of My Pride. The album draws from a lot of different sources and plays with a lot of styles that Armen’s been exposed to over the years growing up in a constantly changing music scene, but he does so in such a way that it doesn’t sound disjointed or unorganized. I anticipate that as he continues to grow, he’ll start to hone in more on what exactly he’s going for. All of My Pride is a great starting point because it puts Armen in a place to take his music in a lot of different directions, none of which look bad from where I’m standing. He’s got potential, hopefully he doesn’t fuck it up.

*Edit* It just came to me that Armen's friend Nick played guitar and contributed vocals to the album and that the good lads at Double D Studios were instrumental at putting together the album and he wants to shout out to all of them.

Well ladies and gents, that’s the first of four extra special reviews featuring local, unsigned bands. It’s nice to be able to do something for friends of mine to help support them. Keep in mind that even though these are friends I’m reviewing, I will still give honest reviews. Details on how to nag yourself a copy of this album are still a little sketchy (because I’m lazy and haven’t asked him about it) but when I know, I’ll be sure to pass along the information. If you’re interested, though, just email me with “All of My Pride” in the subject line and we’ll figure something out. I’m going to be talking a lot about local music scenes and how important they are both to kids in general but also to me when I was growing up during the rest of this month. Enjoy. Join me next week when we shift gears a little bit, and get into some fights.

Here, try some:

Skyscrapers- www.myspace.com/skyscrapersnj
Double D- www.myspace.com/doubledstudiosmusic