Archive for the ‘NYC’ Category


Posted: March 8, 2017 by Soda in NYC, Shinobi Ninja


Brooklyn’s own SHINOBI NINJA are just about to drop their best album to date. So, you should be aware that this Friday “Bless Up” will arrive a powerhouse of sound and songwriting. Few bands in NYC are at the level the Ninja’s are at. And I don’t say that due to the fact that over the past four years we have become good friends and have shared art, music, respect and bounced ideas off of each other, that is just a bonus. This would be a band I would migrate toward regardless. Watching artists grow and really corner what they want to represent is really a beautiful thing. And “Bless Up” is just that “thing”. Every song on this record could be a single, it’s like everybody in the band within their vast many roles have spit-shined what they do best and brought it to the table like it was the last supper. It’s Rock (Subcon), It’s Pop (Programmable Animal), Alternative (Funday), Trippy (Bending Spoons)…it’s a wonderful melting pot of everything you’d want in those styles. The songwriting is so fine-tuned that it’s hard to find a hole in the album to pick apart because it is that good. You can hear components of classic Incubus, Faith No More and 311 weaved through some of the compositions but saying that doesn’t take away from the freshness and originality that SHINOBI NINJA possess. The turntables are sickening, the rhythm section is tight and thunderous, the guitars are chunky, nimble and fun and the dual vocal strikes from Duke Sims and Baby G have never sounded better.

This is the kind of record you’ll spin a few times in a row and roll down those windows burnin’ up the highway. It’s a good time and it’s meaningful. Through clever marketing with videos, merch and a powerful live show these Ninja’s prove that as a unit of like minded people with drive and a multitude of talents that anything is possible. It’s hard not to get caught in this vortex, if you don’t know you will. “This is the right direction, the right direction…”  Minus the two fun little interludes you’ve got nine rock solid songs that are begging to be accepted by a multitude of formats. It’s a great record, no BS.


A band called…mUg bUg

Posted: February 8, 2017 by Soda in Dave Alvin, Live Shows, mUg bUg, NYC

Saturday Night’s are better for a lot more than fighting, this past Saturday was a primo example. Way East on the Island of Long, in a town called Ronkonkoma, sits a music venue called Backstage Pass. This little place over the last year or so has started to prove that it truly is a killer place for live music. This night a great set of bands took the stage there, but, I cannot lie, my mission was to catch the “one and only show” by this band called mUg bUg. Fronted by legendary howler and good friend of mine Dave Alvin, I was super excited to see this band because I grew up listening to Dave fronting Queens based icons White Trash (“Apple Pie”, “The Crawl”). I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’ve only ever known Dave from WT. I of course expected it to be quality, but I wasn’t completely prepared for how rocked myself and everybody in the room would become.


Right after War & Blues wrapped up their loosely conceptual set mUg bUg swiftly loaded on and nonchalantly took the stage with Alvin simply announcing who they were. The amount of thunderous riffage, pickle jar tightness and ease the band put forth was completely earth shattering. Alvin’s voice was edgier than ever and in tip-top shape. His fellow bugs were also clearly seasoned badass musicians. This was a no nonsense gig from a group of gents that wanted to do one thing, and that was to give an eager and very impressed audience a solid rock show, and, it transcended that surely.


mUg bUg Photo: Soda

Highlights of the short set were “I Lost My Mind In El Paso” and another tune called “Don’t Let the Old Man In” which is purely about hanging on to your youth and not letting age dictate how you should live your life. Dave, clearly taking a more serious approach to his lyric writing this time around also bridged the songs with his usual smart ass honest humor.

Quick and to the point leaving the funk at the door the band delivered a set of hard rock songs that left everyone eagerly wanting more. A great place to leave off. *Hint hint guys*. Very much hoping for another performance from this band who could easily rise to the top of New York’s hot list.

Follow along on their FaceBook page: mUg bUg Official Facebook

BST - In The City's Arms cover

The illustrious Andee Blacksugar returns with his latest effort, In The City’s Arms. This offering is a double disc affair boasting 24 tracks and slathered in organic and processed sound, ensuring that the listener gets a healthy dose of sonic greens and sweets to keep the meal balanced.

AND quite a meal it is. A veritable buffet of sorts, touching on Punk, Rock, Glam, Alternative, Electronica, Pop…a fusion free-for-all, which leaves you humming a tune or two after just one listen. Opening track “Machinegun Sun” harkens back to classic sounding NIN. A gloomy opener for what winds up being a fairly bright record. However, the grey clouds continue to roll in on “California Time” which features the much-missed feature of a Sax solo. Soon after this the climate starts to change and lets a few rays of sun in. Heads bob and feet tap through tracks like “Puzzle” and “Angel In Front Of Me”. You’ve also got your traditional and snotty cuts like “All Yr Heroes Are Dead” in which Andee so spits the line like Richie Rich to a poor kid. And ending Disc One is title track, “In The City’s Arms”. An absolute triumph, which leaves you with chills and puts a glitter bow on a labyrinthine aural orgasm. And, that’s only the first disc!

BST - In The City's Arms (back cover)

BST – In The City’s Arms (back cover)

Disc Two features a more experimental approach to the vocals. Beach Boys, Bowie and lullabies are all juicy influences as this colorful coaster continues forth with key tracks “Fairie Spring” lush with its Jellyfishesque jangly guitar work and one of my overall favorites. “Flashbulb Disease” in which Blacksugar takes sharp shots at a generation obsessed with social media, shallow selfies and soulless music. (One word, Pornado!)


The opus ends with the simplest contribution to the album, “Stuck It To You”. A mostly acoustic track teaching us that often less is more.

There is plenty here for any listener of any kind. Andee, being an accomplished guitar player proves to us again that he too is equally versed in production, mixing and beyond. The album also does not suffer from the multitude of guest spots by fellow musical friends. It only makes it for an even more pleasurable experience. So, get down to the “City” and treat yourself to this collection of songs post haste. (*Hint, put your headphones on for this one!)

Cheap plug

Posted: January 7, 2015 by Soda in Nox Cult, NYC, OfficialSoda

Hey everybody. I’d like to thank you all again for reading MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE. It’s been a blast writing this stuff each week. It sounds silly, but prepping only one of these every week and publishing has been a true test. My schedule is crazy and putting the quality I want into each installation weekly can be tough.

So, with that said, scheduling and what not. My new band NOX CULT begins gigging this month so I wanted to make this weeks drop into M-S-G a cheap plug for me and my band! I’m very excited about this venture, once again putting everything I have into another band and making music I believe in that I want to share with the world. Our first cult gathering/show is on 1/25 at Blackthorn51 in Queens, we are sharing the stage with Wednesday 13 and a bunch of really awesome bands. We go on at 5:30pm sharp! It’s gonna be killer.

Please keep up with us over at We are also on Instagram and Twitter and intend on having our official website rolled out before we hit that stage on the 25th!

So, to all who dare to dream and give a crap about independent artists of any kind. I sincerely thank you. Here’s to the paths less traveled!



Honored again I am to present to you another Interview with yet another Musical Monster, Mr. Andee Blacksugar. In conjunction with the interview (below) I also had the luxury of hearing the forthcoming Black Sugar Transmission record, Violent Muses. At first, I wasn’t quite sure of the statement Andee was trying to make, but 2 or 3 listens in I realize more than ever that BST is a place where ghosts and glitter truly collide. A gloomy, uber pop delivered with snot-nosed integrity at its finest. There is nothing subtle about what Andee does and it becomes more evident with every musical offering.

“Muses” is buried in juicy synths, fuzzy guitar and layered vocals, with tidbits of sonic assaults throughout and blasts of guitar wizardry cutting through the wall of sound. It is not however a guitar record by any means, and Andee does not overdue his prowess, however, he also does not neglect to let you know that it’s very much there with tricky solos thrown into precise pieces of the songs.

A few standout tracks are, “Taboo”, “God Loves War” and “Watch The Windows” which drips with a futuristic romanticism. I almost wish it was the last track on the record rather than second to last.

All in all Violent Muses delivers what the cover suggests. It’s dangerous and provocative. In this world there is no “safe word”.

Black Sugar Transmission - Violent Muses Cover

Black Sugar Transmission – Violent Muses Cover

MSG – Hey Andee, thanks for taking the time out to share some words! Let’s take a quick history lesson here. Back in the late 90’s you really started to make your imprint in a band called pOp stAr kiDs, pounding the NYC pavement and slowly building a name for yourself. Tell us a bit about that band as it has become a little bit of a cult thing all these years later.

AB – P*S*K was a solo project (despite the plurality of the “band” name) that I was able to turn into a proper live group just in time for a first gig at the 2000 CMJ music conference. The debut album was a CMJ-charting college radio hit that year, so it was easy to get the showcase gig at the conference that fall. All I had to do was find a band! Which, luckily I did: JB, G$ and Pete Angel came on board and a year later Pete left and was replaced by Clancy. By that time I’d made the second album, again essentially a solo record, and in 2003 we made our best record, The Revenge Of P*S*K, as a band.

In 2006 we split up – which was sad, because we were a great band and great friends, but morale had started to wane and it felt like the right time to bow out.

MSG – After that you linked up with Acey Slade (Muderdolls/Joan Jett) and worked in his project called The Dark Party. Can you tell us how you came to work with Acey?

AB – I met him at P*S*K shows; at the time he was playing in Dope and he and Andre (aka Virus) came out to see us a few times, including a great CBGB gig. Anyway, Acey and I stayed in touch over the years and in 2008 he emailed to ask if I’d play on a new solo track. I said “sure”, then ended up playing on pretty much the whole album. He and producer Shaun Morris had come up with some catchy electro-rock tunes and I did my parts in my apartment during an unbelievable heat wave. So there’s some real sweat on that album! Anyway, later that year the Dark Party became a live band with Percy Trayanov and Chris Kling joining Acey and I.

MSG – During this time you also focused on your own writing with your somewhat solo outing Black Sugar Transmission. At first it seemed like a bit of a side project and now more of a focus. Within BST you do just about everything yourself from the writing, to producing, to mixing and all mostly out of your own apartment. Tell us about your songwriting approach and how you manage to do most everything on your own. Let us inside that brain a bit.

AB – BST was something I started immediately after P*S*K broke up and the idea was that it would be a solo project of sorts with the option of involving any number of other musicians. Kind of like a collective rather than a “band”. But it’s always been my absolute #1 creative priority/outlet. It’s where I get to make the music I hear in my head.

It’s nice because I can work at my own pace (which is fast) and on my own time, in my pyjamas if I want, and then bring outside performers in later if I see fit.

The writing process itself varies: sometimes an idea falls out of the sky and hits me on the head while I’m walking down the street; other times a song comes from picking up a guitar, but mostly these days I start building ideas in the computer and developing them instrumentally. The ones that end up the most sonically, harmonically and melodically compelling get picked for further development (vocals and lyrics). Bringing in other players/singers is always the last piece in the puzzle.

MSG – The last year and a half has been pretty amazing for you. From releasing your own awesome Black Sugar Transmission records and putting together a live BST band to becoming the guitarist for the legendary Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) and touring the world with him. How did the opportunity with Peter come about? What’s it like working with him and what were some of the initial challenges?

AB – Acey had gotten wind of the guitar slot in Peter’s band opening up, and he recommended that they contact me. Peter went on Youtube, watched some of my videos and offered me the gig. No audition, just “can you fly to LA and start this tour in one week?” The initial challenge was to learn 30 Bauhaus songs in three days. And it was certainly a challenge which I took very seriously because that’s very iconic guitar work on those records and the fans of that music are religious about it. So I worked really hard to capture the “Daniel Vibe”.

I did the remaining 20 shows of the “35 Years Of Bauhaus” tour in California, Russia, China, Australia and NZ last year, and this year in June we started the LION tour and a set list that comprised tunes from Peter’s solo catalog. So far it’s been a lot of fun and Peter’s been easy to work with. He allows me to play guitar the way I play guitar and gives plenty of praise, onstage and off.

MSG – Back to your own music, you’ve done everything from Remixes to TV/Movie soundtracks. Do artists contact you for Remixes? How about TV? Tell us some of your favorite experiences doing that kind of work. And some other musical projects you kick about, (Sheer Velocity, Sword Fight, iGOD.)

AB – As for remixes, sometimes the artist comes to me – dUg Pinnick has asked me to remix a couple of his solo tunes, for instance. And a gal named Chrissy Shefts, who played guitar on Seal’s massive debut album and now is in a band with Tony Sales (Iggy Pop, Bowie) had me do my thing with her new single, which will be out soon. Other remixes I do strictly for fun, like the GusGus and TV On The Radio ones.

As for TV, I have an agency that pimps my music to the networks. It’s a nice way to make money because I can let the songs do the work for me.

Sheer Velocity is my all-instrumental, guitar-centric, self-indulgent, musically absurdist alter-ego. It’s a musical letting-off-of-steam, sort of like hitting a punching bag or going to a shooting range. It’s all about getting my ya-yas out on the guitar. I make a ridiculous amount of that music, and put one or two albums’ worth on Bandcamp each year.

MSG – 2015 seems to already be a cool year for you starting with the release of another Black Sugar Transmission record, Violent Muses. How do you feel about this record? What are your plans for it and how do you juggle that and working with Peter now?

AB – I’m really excited about Violent Muses! I came off the road in early September and found myself with several months of essentially free time, so I immediately started working on an album. With the exception of two songs, I wrote and recorded the whole thing between September and November. My plan is to release it in early 2015 along with a record release gig with the band, which now consists of Ava Farber, John Clancy (from P*S*K!) and me.

I have no idea when more Peter Murphy touring will happen, but I am essentially on call. There are plans to do Europe next year but nothing’s been booked yet.

MSG – You’ve made quite the name for yourself as a guitar genius over the years. Anyone that has seen you play knows the skill that you bring to the table. Not only can you shred, BUT you are an excellent songwriter as well. How long have you been playing? Are you self taught? And how long did it take you to become the speed demon you are today?

AB – Thanks! I’ve been playing for more than half my life, but I hit my ceiling, speed-wise, fairly early on. What takes a long time to achieve is your own voice on the instrument. I’ve come leaps and bounds in that department over the last decade by getting deeply into exotic scales, atonality and unusual effects. And yes I’m self-taught.

Andee Blacksugar

Andee Blacksugar

MSG – Tell us a bit about your gear, from guitars to pedals to software. What are your weapons of choice? And do you consider yourself a gear head like so many people out there today.

AB – I am so NOT a gear head! Talking about speakers, tubes and potentiometers bores me to tears. That said, my main guitar is a custom job, which has essentially replaced my trusty old workhorse Stratocaster as my Number One. My good friend Tom King (Atomic Amps) helped me pick out the parts and he designed the headstock, too.

Pedal-wise, I am a big Eventide user. They make phenomenal sonic tools and they’ve been very good to me. Pedals are my favorite aspect of guitar gear. It’s where the ear candy really happens. I also must mention Fractal Audio’s AxeFX2, a world-class digital amp modeller/effects unit which I have used for every stitch of guitar I’ve recorded since 2008 or so. They also take great care of me, as do the folks at DiMarzio pickups.

I use Cubase 5 for my DAW and have an AKG mic. That’s about it, no fancy pre-amps or anything.

MSG – What else do you have planned for the coming year Andee? Share some stuff that’s on the horizon for you, BST, Peter Murphy and whatever other adventures are set to unravel.

AB – My only plans for 2015 are to get Violent Muses out there, play some shows with BST and whatever touring Peter Murphy has in store.

MSG – And, like me, you are a music lover first and foremost. Hit us with some bands/records that we should check out. Throw some of your favorites our way!

AB – Recent faves: Niki & the Dove, Dum Dum Girls, Phantogram, Sunn O))), Fantomas, Little Boots, Little Dragon, MIA, Roisin Murphy, Santigold, Autechre, The Sea & Cake, The Knife, Squarepusher, The Netherlands, Actress, Bassnectar, GusGus, Deerhoof, DFA1979

To experience some of Andee’s music please visit his bandcamp site:


1:15AM with White Trash

Posted: October 22, 2014 by Soda in Live Shows, NYC, White Trash
White Trash - Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda

White Trash – Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda

Saturday night, Autumn. A bit chilly, but perfect for a mid-October in the town of Amityville which may be best known for a horror that happened back in 1975, but we are not here to talk about that, now are we? Not too far from that very home sits one of Long Island’s more prominent rock venues, Revolution. A moderate sized venue that has seen all walks of music pass through its doors within the short time it’s sat on the corner of Merrick Road and Broadway.

This night was a birthday celebration for…Andrew, no idea who that is/was, but I’m sure he was happy. I mean, a full-fledged rock show for your Birthday, not bad, eh? Anyway, let’s cut to it. Hometown heroes (well, kinda hometown anyway, Queens ain’t that far) White Trash, sprang a last minute announcement on the world of Facebook that they would be performing this night at 11pm. It had been a while since their last performance and they teased the aspect of new material at this show as they have been hard at work on a new album.

I raced from Far Rockaway after a show I myself had performed to make it back to Amityville for said 11pm set, I bumped into drummer Mike Caldarella and he promptly told me that it’d be a little while before they hit the stage, sure, normal for a rock show and it WAS Saturday night.

The guys were all hanging around the club, smiles on their faces and welcoming as always. The night proceeded and 11PM turned to Midnight(ish), the crowd dwindled and the openers honestly started to bore everyone in sight until finally, a young band from Connecticut called Switchblade Serenade came on and woke people up with their kick ass brand of hard rock a la 80’s style. I took serious note of these guys, they absolutely rocked (more on them in a future installment, on we plow!)

Finally, at about 1:15AM, spirits a little deflated, White Trash finally got on stage. Now, a WT show is never dull. This one in particular was a little raw, but nonetheless extremely entertaining. This night’s line-up consisted of a mix of members from the self-titled debut and Si O Si Que? the bands second record with guitar madman Craig LeBlang being back in the fold. Now, 1:15AM even on a Saturday night can be somewhat of a drag when that’s the time you hit the stage. White Trash, once a “big” band back in the early 90’s with heavy video rotation on MTV with their breakthrough hit “Apple Pie” played to a fairly small crowd, but once again and as usual we were treated to a fun and funky raw set of dirty rock that only they can deliver. The band ripped through a short set which featured music from each of their records, including the promised new tunes from a forthcoming release. Highlights of the night were “Minor Happiness”, a new song called “The Return of Buzz” and the nasty “Fat Ethyl”.

Battered but not beaten by the late entrance to the stage and ill attendance singer Dave Alvin still proved that he can work any kind of room with his classic sarcasm, no bullshit attitude and a remaining vocal style that can still give you chills. All in all it was a good set with a few bumps in the road. The end of the show came fast with the above mentioned “Fat Ethyl” being the closer. Fun and a bit sloppy the band tore through it ending the show in noise and the almost bizarre antics of one of the more eccentric members of the band, trumpet player Damien Rich as he grabbed the lead vocal mic and left us with such poetry as “Fuck your Mother, Fuck my Mother and if you Fuck with my Mother, I will Fucking kill you!” Words to live by, thank you White Trash, see you next time!

White Trash - Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda

White Trash – Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda

White Trash - Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda

White Trash – Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda

White Trash - Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda

White Trash – Live @ Revolution, Amityville, NY 10-18-14 photo by Soda