Posts Tagged ‘Review’

THE FLOWERING

Part two in the Black Sugar Transmission trilogy of 2020 continues this week with, The Flowering. Like any other great trilogy you cannot wait for the counterparts to arrive, I’m waist deep…and not disappointed. When an artist dares to release three records in a year you wonder how a blueprint may be laid out for such an endeavor. In the case of The Flowering (successor to Wandering Into the Bullseye) it’s not necessarily a step up, but more like a dynamic dart to the left. Which is wonderful. An intriguing thing I’ve always felt about Andee’s music is that it’s very familiar yet completely fresh at the same time. As The Flowering blooms, it is at times jarring like a classic NIN record (“Death Is Breathing”) and at others like a soundtrack to an 80’s movie drenched in neon (“Through the Torture”). Savory and decadent, it does its share of glamage to your ears but also has real proper indie rock street cred. This is just another trophy in the glitter lined sonic case in the Black Sugar Transmission world. I will await this quicksand to fully engulf me when part three arrives but for now I’m fully content clinging to the branches of The Flowering to stay afloat. Check out lead single and video “This Is Crazy Town” just below.

BST-WITB

Listener beware, you’re in for some intoxicating sensory overload courtesy of, Black Sugar Transmission. BST head-hancho Mr. Andee Blacksugar is at it again with new record, Wandering Into the Bullseye and it is everything you want in a musical meal. It’s got a ballsy dose of a cappella (“Like Glass”), a touch or two of nightclub danger (“Rescue Sirens”) it’s even got some 1980’s style snuff (“Padlock’s On The Cage”) and oh so much more. Look, it’s 2020 and we are overloaded (and overburdened) with computer and celebrity, we’ve digitized our brains to coma. Those of us surviving this chaos so ache for a troubadour like Blacksugar. Intelligent, witty and sharp-tongued. Andee certainly uses all his beta brain waves and frantic little fingers to the nth degree, presenting his sonic offerings as true artistic statements rather than just songs. This guy really wants to make it all matter. And, not to mention, this album is one part of a trilogy. Certainly prolific and poignant, this release sees Blacksugar isolating himself completely to perform it entirely on his own. This is music in a category all it’s own, from an unknown time and place. If you get it, then you GET IT. And if not, we don’t need ya. It’s always a pleasure to review a BST record, certainly one of MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE’s faves.

So, here’s your new soundtrack for a new year. Let’s dance, let’s break some shit. Let’s roll around in glitter and solicit sex from circus freaks while high on pixie sticks, and don’t forget…turn it up! Wandering Into the Bullseye will see the light in February.

“Don’t blame the horse cause you wandered off course”-BST

BST HQ

andeefence

Katie Toupic - Magnetic Moves

Jeepers! I AM SO HAPPY that this record was put on my radar! (Directly by the artist herself, mind you). If I were to put into words, quite literally, a vibe that I get from this wonderful piece of work…it would be (now picture this)…playing 16-bit video games in a 1950’s style ice cream shop at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Pretty F’ing rad, no? Now imagine that vibe translated to an album of songs and you get Magnetic Moves, the debut full length LP from Katie Toupin (former Houndmouth).

Title track and lead single is a fuzzy little dancey number that could have been plucked from the late 80’s or early 90’s in all it’s disc drive glory (accompanied by an equally nostalgic video). “Here’s my heart, my dignity too. Take it slowly like, most men do.” And you better listen boys AND girls (to this, and the rest of the record).

Although the album gives you a fun starting line as a launch pad there is a lot to offer here that digs a bit deeper. “Moves” is romantic, honest and at times even gospel and so well crafted in both lyric and arrangement. It’s the slow dance that is “Someone To You” and the yearning beauty of “The Hills Are Calling” that can get you really wrapped up in this record. And then there are songs on here like, “In Your Dreams”, a fun bopper you can put on while you clean the house. Katie’s got ya covered here.

Magnetic Moves is a record that is commercially and structurally sound without losing any of it’s indie street cred. And that is a huge nod to Toupin for penning such a wonderful record as that is certainly a fine line to tred. So, don’t sleep on this one gang!

KATIE TOUPIN

(For enthusiasts of Amy Correia, Metric and Amy Winehouse)

“I’m not here to tell you about a dying world, I’m here to tell you that you’re not dead yet…”

Blindside - Gravedigger

THANK GOD FOR BLINDSIDE. They have returned with new single, “Gravedigger.” Precise and urgent and full of power and soul. Plain and simple.

Almost exactly 8 years ago Blindside left us with their 2011 record, With Shivering Hearts We Wait.  If this new single is a sign of what’s to come, well, it could not come fast enough. Maybe I am biased as I absolutely love this band, but let’s face the facts here. We want to be moved and shaken and feel, it’s long overdue. Where is that passion? It’s right here. For what so many others lack, this quartet from Sweden are desperately trying to pick up the slack for. Blindside is that type of band, continuing to wear their heart(s) on a tattered and dirty sleeve that has survived storm after storm. – The band had done some teasing on social media late June and announced the new single on the 24th. After a brief delay it went live early July accompanied by a lyric video (see below). Waking from their slumber Blindside has let out a scream that must be heard. As perfect and tightly woven as “Gravedigger” is, the rawness that the band possess is still honored, and every shattered piece is spit shined. Have they outdone themselves? Quite possibly, but it is hard to say with just one song. That being said, the band always sounds fresh and well rested on every record and better and better. No need for unnecessary bells and whistles on “Gravedigger”, it stands firmly on it’s own with no disguise. – LISTEN AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS.

Last Tuesday night, it was Springtime in February in NYC, but…it was HOTTER. THAN. HELL. over at Berlin on Avenue A as Sate and her band took the stage for a free and early show. Small in size is Berlin but that did not deter the Toronto native and her beast of a band from making it seem like the biggest show in town. As her boys walked onto the stage the energy already felt different, a statement was about to be made. Moments later Sate would arrive right behind a sample from The Exorcist film… “Do you know what she did? Your cunting daughter!” looking like a powerful goddess with her braids tied back to appear like long ram-like horns with her head shaved on the sides in literal leather and lace boasting a shirt that read “Be Polite You Fucker” we were already all sold – You know how sometimes you’re at a gig and halfway thru it the band really hits their stride? Well, right out of the gate this outfit was absolutely on fire. As someone who reviews shows I don’t really like to be on my phone during them and I often don’t take a lot of photos or notes at gigs either, if any at all. I just stand there and try to absorb everything I can. – And on this night and millions of others I did just that –   “Sate”: Satisfy a desire to the full – no namesake could ever be worn more true as this woman, this powerhouse, lead her band thru a fierce 8-song set. Covered in sweat, Sate blurs the lines of everything you think you may know…about anything. It’s so goddamn refreshing. Don’t come to her shows with any preconceived notions, cause your ass best stay out in the cold. The chemistry between the singer and her band was so powerful, I’m talking Godzilla baby! It’s just a group of people absolutely on the same page, tight and in tune. These are real songs from real people and there is very little to apologize for.

Sate setlist 2.05.19 Berlin NYC

Sate setlist 2.05.19 Berlin NYC

Sate writes songs about making her mark (Famous), Family (What Did I Do), power (Warrior) and everything in between. During this show I felt like we were all a part of some killer party. The audience was a melting pot and hung on every song only wanting more in the end. To say that we were satisfied would be very true, but sated? Not at all cause everybody in that room wanted more and more and more! Brave and bold, every song was a burner, especially new single “Dirty Little Lie” which also has a killer new video to go along with it. Plain and simple, if you have the opportunity to see this outfit live, DO IT and thank me later, but thank them first.

SATE

 

Sadartha - Eden cover

Richmond Virginia based, Sadartha return with their sophomore release, Eden. Sadartha is the type of band your Mother would always yell at you to turn down. Loud, nasty, raw, imperfect. These are all ingredients that make up something truly great. Few bands today possess an effortless punk rock attitude like these guys. It’s simple because IT IS just simple, and genuine. Album opener “Nautilus is an instant eye-opener, hard and fast. Singer/Guitarist Johnny Noxious groans his artful lyrics “Singing siren, pull me deeper. Like the Kraken, hold me tighter” over a swimming pool full of flange and distortion while the drums and bass drive you into instant madness. The record continues on the creaky tracks of it’s fairly gloomy rollercoaster ride until it uncomfortably parks you at the top only to be screamed at in “You Lack The Courage of Your Convictions, Sir” which just begs for a mid 80’s CBGB’s style moshpit to erupt out of thin air scaring the shit out of the suits as punk rock aliens invade – “Fire in the sky, dance in the ashes!” – This brings me back to what I had said earlier, simple and genuine and it all just works so well. We now push forward to the part of the ride that leads you to loops and uncomfortable twists and turns. From the Silverchair style “Dragon Opal Goddess” to the dark tunnel that is “Deep As Blue”, which is probably one of the most cohesive tracks on Eden up until the final slow burning cliffhanger, “Dancing Flames” only to make you want to take the stomach churning ride all over again. Did these guys reinvent themselves from their debut, Heavy Sound Damage? Nope. But the growth is there in every aspect. Production, songwriting, vocals…everything has been brought up a notch but not to the point where Sadartha loses themselves. They stay true to their style and message. The grunge band from the future flying their dirty tattered flag true and proud. Another year or two and I feel like album number three will be THEIR album. You have been warned.

Buy SADARTHA music here

SADARTHA on Facebook

It’s rare nowadays for a band to not really care about fitting in to some bizarre piece of the puzzle that has become a diluted and soulless musical landscape. It is just that very thing, the soul, that is truly lacking in today’s contributions to sound. To find quality in the current you must dig, peel back a layer, turn over a stone…it IS still there. And my friends, THIS gold nugget of a record is a firm statement that the above is indeed true. After 10 plus years from their debut EP, Captain Black Heart has delivered a full length debut record so well thought out in structure, lyric, melody and beyond. Upon each listen it grows like a flower reaching higher for a sun that seems so easily obtainable.

The duo of Captain Black Heart, Erwin Herceg and Dino Malito make this seem all too easy. Both hailing from a band in the very early 00’s, Serum, who had a criminally shelved and unreleased album ready to give the universe have prevailed and moved onward and upward. The years have been good to these gentlemen and Budgie is them tipping their hats to that gesture. Opener “Of Things To Come” swells with waves of vintage sonic psychedelia that could easily transport you back to a 70’s era garage band who knows how to twist a tone knob while tubes glow and burn up a hot Summer day. The somber dreaminess of the whole record is so pure and even at times delicate. Lead single “Surf” could easily make you wish for the sand between your toes. Herceg’s voice is painfully beautiful. “Don’t you think that they should just drop the bomb, cause it just doesn’t matter anymore…” A dark lyric painted so sweetly by his fair and tender rasp.

Budgie is so rich with instrumentation, both Malito and Herceg lend many a talented stringed thing or synthesizer to the album with help from a few friends along the way. Over the last two weeks I’ve listened to this album only to find a new song subtly announce itself to me, it’s hard to pin down a favorite. “Turn Off The World” is another vintage sounding cracked desert beauty with some growling bass buried so slightly under a lonely slide guitar as Herceg sings about the fondness for his seemingly wise Father. A tribute to life and love, “Someday youth will pass you by…I hope you get it right.” And, we all have tried to…get it right.

This record is a trip through the milky way, a sunburnt canyon, a night under the moon. Just listen to “Dead Crows” and tell me you can’t get lost right there. There is beauty in this pain and the Black Heart boys have the perfect prescription in Budgie. 

While most of the album is a mellow trip ala the 70’s they do sneak in a tune like “Sundowner” which reaches even farther back, dare I say even two more decades. It’s a welcome ice cream sundae slow dance on a prom night long lost.

As retro sounding as the album might be it’s also refreshing and confident without being even slightly pretentious which it has every right to be. It’s just a couple of guys that wanted to make a good record and whatever will be will be. A humble reflection on simple beauty. So, put on a big pair of cans and let that coiled wire dangle as you close your eyes and leave this world for 50 some odd minutes. You’ll be happy you did.

*For enthusiasts of Blind Melon, ZooKeeper and Prophet Omega.*

Budgie spreads it’s wings on October 6th. Please do yourselves a favor and discover some new music. Independent bands need ya!

www.captainblackheart.com

 

heavysounddamage

I would say if a time machine did actually exist that the boys in Sadartha may have been the ones to discover it,  AND the story would go… Somewhere between the years 1990 and 1992 Singer/Guitarist Johnny Noxious and Bass slinger Mello Cefola were dragging a smashed Jaguar six string through a pumpkin patch donning their best ripped up flannel and middle fingers held high. Suddenly, a blinding light ripped through the field and, bang…Sadartha found themselves smack in the middle of a confusing 2017 armed only with copies of their debut record, “Heavy Sound Damage” and ready to push it straight into the face of authority.  What I’m trying to say is that these young guys from Virginia have delivered a true grunge record. It’s kind of scary actually how well executed it is. I mean, let’s face it, most everything comes back around (sigh) and people try to recapture that special time and far too often it’s lacking the soul and true artistry the original possessed. But here, without pretense and very naturally, Sadartha have delivered a wicked album heavily inspired by a genre they obviously are flying a flag for, and it’s great! Noxious wears his moniker proud with his full of attitude vocal approach permeating the record coupled with his dirty/clean/dirty/clean guitar tendencies. Cefola does a great job holding down the fort with Drummer/Engineer Eddie Payne.

Heavy Sound Damage opens with the gritty punk infused “Never Knows Best” which sounds like it could have been a lost single for an old SubPop compilation. Centered in the middle of the record is “Brittle Bullet”, arguably the best song on the record. It’s heavy, dark and one of the better written contributions to the album. “Permeate The Ether” is the discs finale, and it’s a sort of alterna-type space jam which is a tasteful way to go out for a fairly dark record.

With an image and a sound to match, these guys aren’t shy about what they are trying to achieve here, and with some outside production and another year or so under their belts I wouldn’t be surprised if they wound up leading some sort of NuGrunge movement. A solid effort with some scrapes and bruises, but that’s what makes this a truly honest work. Check out lead single and video, “Insects Last Moments” then head to the skate park and tear up some concrete!

GET THE RECORD HERE: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sadartha2

Less than a week ago I had the pleasure of seeing Lisa Loeb perform again. I’d seen her only once, and it was 20 or so years ago in NYC when I was kid. I remember being so happy after watching her play and being able to be a part of that time when she was really at a peek and I myself was just learning how to be a singer and a songwriter and really absorbing the moment. Now, so many years later and having seen her again was a similar experience but different at the same time. I realized her influence even more.

Promptly taking the stage at 8pm, Lisa and her guitar looked more petite than usual in the Boulton Center on Long Island. Moments into the performance you knew that you were truly in on something special. The room was full of people that were very eager. It was obvious this woman’s work had come to be adored.

Lisa Loeb Live @ The Boulton Center, Long Island 03.30.17

Lisa Loeb live @ The Boulton Center, Long Island 03.30.17 (Photo by Soda)

 

Lisa played and sang and regaled us with a number of stories that spanned the course from her time just starting out up until that very moment. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear stories of someone coming up in the early to mid-nineties in NYC. Sign me way up! This particular performance was full of those stories and just about equal to the songs given like precious little gifts, and, I was one of the lucky people there for the unwrapping, (thanks Blacktop Records). Hits like “Truthfully” and of course “Stay” were delivered so delicately with connections to the stories that went along with them. Lisa told us about how “Stay” of course changed her life. She was at number one without a record deal, we learned how that happened thanks to the film Reality Bites. It all sounded so magical. We were also treated to songs like “The Disappointing Pancake,” a tune true to it’s title. If you didn’t know, Lisa has also become successful in writing songs for kids, she also has an amazing foundation called Camp Lisa in which all proceeds from that recording of the same name goes to help children who can’t afford a summer camp experience to have one.

Myself and Lisa Loeb, Boulton Center 03/30/17

Myself and Lisa Loeb, Boulton Center 03.30.17

We could sit and listen all night long. It was intimate and personal. She has the charm to make you feel like you’re the only one in the room. Throughout the performance Lisa may have forgotten some words and had to poke around a few chords as well as a very nimble guitar intro in which she was very happy to have learned because it was “the guitar AND bass part rolled into one”. Those happy little mistakes made only for a better show, one in which a successful songwriter, an actor, an author and more…can just seem so, human. Tales of her friends and her children made you feel like you’d have known Lisa your whole life, and…that is a true gift. I certainly hope I don’t have to wait a bunch of years to see the one and only Lisa Loeb perform again as some shows you want to just get lost in. Thanks Lisa!

Check out the latest Lisa Loeb album, Feel What U Feel, out now.

Lisa Loeb - Feel What U Feel

a4081562883_10

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.

http://www.shinobininja.com/home.html

BUY BLESS UP