Monday, April 30, 2012

Human Highlight Reel - Taking Drugs to Make Music to Sell Cars to

JS-NYC has been spinning a lot of the Aqualamb roster around the HQ of late and Human Highlight Reel have been topping the playlists with their aces instrumental post rock. Think Russian Circles or perhaps a more metal Seam purveying the rock via the conventional rock line-up of two guitars/bass/drums, but without the burden of vocals cluttering up the proceedings.

Taking Drugs to Make Music to Sell Cars to is four songs, comprising what I believe is their debutante release. I'll earmark Inaswinger! as the top track, but all four get high marks for their adherence to dynamics and obvious arrangement sense. There is an exceedingly visual aspect to the HHR tracks that definitely seems to beg for soundtrack placement. In the interim, in keeping with Aqualamb aesthetic, Taking Drugs to Make Music to Sell Cars to is available in a snazzy art book of sorts as pictured to the upper left. Whether you opt for tangibility or just digital satisfaction, the post rock stylings of Human Highlight Reel live up to the Atlantic Hawk that is their namesake. Here's hoping they have the same career run.

Get Taking Drugs to Make Music to Sell Cars to at the Human Highlight Reel bandcamp here and use this link to keep track of their live goings on (like the upcoming 6.1 show at The Gutter JS-NYC intends to be all up in) at their web presence.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spielgusher @ PopMatters


Those interested in my take on the new Mike Watt & Richard Meltzer collabo called Spielgusher can use this link to get over to PopMatters.

Thanks to Watt and Sarah Zupko

On bass,


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Live: Ceremony with Violent Bullshit @ Mercury Lounge 4.23.12

As I am, as many of you well know, a fucking idiot, I had Aaron grab me a ticket for this show thinking it was the evening of the 14th and the prospect of a late night hardcore show at Mercury seemed too good of a proposition to pass up for that weekend.  When it actually burned through the post-bday fog in my brain that it was actually a Monday night a week show a week or so later that was both 16+ and sporting a 10:30pm door time, I was a little less excited about the proposition, but dutifully posted up too early and caught all of the Violent Bullshit set.

It being late and them not being Ceremony aside, the Brooklyn fivesome that is Violent Bullshit was actually pretty fun, sporting a smart-ass front-guy (and a guy from Les Savy Fav, for what that is worth) that talked a lot of shit and laughed nervously between each song, most of which were cut from competent old-school hardcore cloth. One of their shirts was a rip-off of the Uniform Choice Straight And Alert t-shirt, if that gives you any indication of what VB are working with. Decent enough, and with enough local buzz to be getting a ton of quality opening slots, I trust I'll be seeing a lot of them at Brooklyn shows this Summer.

This was a headlining set from Ceremony, after their opening slot for The Refused show at Terminal 5. Didn't draw especially well, but did come courtesy of the estimable Ian Dickson and Hardcore Gig Volume, featuring their new lineup that appears to feature Philly scene staple, all-around decent guy Andy Nelson as a recording member. He was certainly holding down the bass slot this evening, adding to the odd Ceremony stage presence that begs the question if any of the members intended to join the same kind of band. Or perhaps if they all were on the same page as to where it is ending up. Our friend in the guitar slot brings an interesting Prince meets Hanoi Rocks vibe to the proceedings, and Ross continues to resemble the illegitimate son of Professor X, but the music is still 21st Century compliant hardcore punk rock that if not all that dissimilar from their new Matador labelmates in Fucked Up! Again, a not especially packed room, but one definitely filled with a gang of kids under legal drinking age that enjoyed frolicking in/around/on and off the Mercury stage for the duration. Not a real long set, and one that seemed to be taking its toll on Ross and his vocal cords, but all in all a pretty fun time. I wouldn't have been pleased if I had ridden out to Brooklyn to see this, but was a good time for a neighborhood show. Ceremony have been playing a fuckload of shows in town of late, and appear to be playing some more in town once they get back from some Australian dates. Keep track of all things Ceremony at their web presence here.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Live: Bridge & Tunnel @ ABC No Rio 4.21.12

While it was sad to see The Measure (SA) go the way of the buffalo, NYCers can take solace in the fact that we still have Bridge And Tunnel as our local No Idea franchise. This ABC show was the last local show before the foursome dashed off to Europe for a couple weeks and as it was a stone(r)'s throw from JS-NYC HQ, I figured I'd make the scene. In charming punk fashion, no one could offer any insights into when Bridge & Tunnel was going on, not had any band appeared to have played when I showed up an hour and a half past the start time listed on the flier to the left and in bouncing back and forth, I managed to miss all of the bands before I came back in the room a third time to finally see B&T setting up.

Microphones were not kind to our heroes from the get-go, as Jeff caught a million or so volts in the mouth right before things jumped off. Vocals continued to be an issue for the duration, continuing the time-honored tradition of compression-free underpowered vocals at America's oldest DIY musical venue, but the band was pretty damn tight in the absence of vocals and monitors, blazing through forty or so minutes of recent-era Bridge & Tunnel to a small, but enthusiastic crowd.  New music is rumored to be in the pipeline, but in the interim check out East/West and keep track of all of all other things Bridge and Tunnel here.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Live: Vagina Panther @ Grand Victory 4.20.12

Aqualamb artists Vagina Panther have dropped a pretty aces new EP called Judge in recent times and followed it up with a surge of live activity. This show was on everyone's favorite stoner holiday at a curiously familiar address that turned out to be the old Bruar Falls. I rolled up to a pretty full room of VP-ophiles, some I recognized from previous shows, but with a pretty fair amount of new faces, as well.

Vagina Panther were up in short order, blazing in charmingly hirsute form through a gang of rockers old and new. Visually, the contrast between the Mountain Man half of the band and the Mod half make watching Vagina Panther live a pretty fun proposition. The new EP seems to be getting a lot of shine, as well. I suspect that it won't be very long before we have to work a lot harder to see Vagina Panther play much bigger rooms.

Keep track of the Vagina Panther ascension and grab a copy of the new Aqualamb release Judge here.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Live: Jeff Klein @ Mercury Lounge 4.16.12

Hey, Jeff Klein's back!

The erstwhile Gutter Twin has been off the road and back in Austin playing with My Jerusalem for a bit now. I'm pretty sure they have a band record coming out, but for whatever reason, Jeff was in town playing an increasingly rare solo show at Mercury. Even better, it was at a cranky old guy time of 7pm.

Klein was among the first of the new school of solo guys to play with loopers to fill in the spaces that expensive paid band members would normally occupy. This set had him doing a fair amount of tap dancing on his Line 6 pedalboard and featured a pretty good amount of tasty selection from his three solo records, peppered with some new numbers. He's one talented motherfucker. Switching between distorted and clean vocals for a Waitsian vibe and dodging irritating in-commentary from women who wanted to fuck him, it was a pretty good set from our Young Mr. Klein. I have a decent, albeit mildly distorted, recording of this set available, should anyone be of a mind to bask in my personal nostalgia. Mail me for a link. Else, keep track of Jeff here and check here for news of new New Jerusalem.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Descender - And So We Marched

Imagine a tasty cold brewed beverage in a sweaty glass bottle.

Isn't that refreshing?

Now imagine if someone took that bottle and smacked you in the mouth with it. That feels like And So We Marched sounds. Shouting and pummeling their way through four tasty tracks, Descender sound a lot like a 21st Century compliant post-hardcore band that was raised on metal and got dosed with a tab of AmRep before it showed up at the Aqualamb Christmas party.

And So We Marched is pretty crushing. I'm not especially crazy about the vocals, but the songs more than hold their own and the bellowing seems sincere in an adult, rather than latch-key stepkid with a PRS and daddy issues, sort of way. I bet there are a high percentage of sleeve tattoos in Descender, but they got them over decades, not months. I'd pick it up. If you like Planes Mistaken For Stars or Git Some as much as you do Quicksand, And So We Marched could be your aural trip to a brand new set of front teeth.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vagina Panther - Judge

I've had the pleasure of spending time around the lady and men of Vagina Panther over the last year or so. They are a pretty aces rock franchise and a pleasure to tip a fermented beverage or hand-rolled cigarillo to/with. Their newest release is the Judge EP. Sadly (probably to no one but myself), the record is not a collection of covers from everyone's favorite New York Crew, rather a quintet of dome-splitting modern rock from a quartet of forward-rocking Gothamites.

Let's not be hasty with the MR description: we are talking rock music here that is modern, not whatever dungheap of an ad hoc ensemble some management company is foisting onto our suffering ears currently. Vagina Panther combine big fucking guitars and a pummeling hirsute rhythm section with female vocals to serve up a heady brew of quality rock you'll want to beer bong straight into your earhole(s). And eyes too: Vagina Panther are part of the Aqualamb roster, a Gotham collective that releases music in digital and vinyl formats, along with exceedingly snazzy commemorative short-run printed books ala the Judge cover art above.

VP aren't just a pretty face (see: their rhythm section). The fearsome foursome purvey candy of the aural as well as eye variety. Judge is hands-down the biggest, best sounding record I've heard in a very long time. The five songs here sound a lot like Lush covering Blondie, with maybe a little Velocity Girl for good measure, recorded to crisp 21st Century tolerances by James Brown (not that one) of Foo Fighters/Jane's Addiction fader-rocking fame. I can't underestimate how great the production values are here. You can thank the big sound Judge sports for delaying my Falling Down-esque jihad against Williamsburg douchesters sporting full-on studio cans plugged into their iPhones, as this EP is tailor-made for headphone facilitated head-fuckery. Jeff's Song captures that aesthetic the best, but there really ain't a bad song here.

Get Judge here immediately from the Vagina Panther bandcamp presence and stop by the Aqualamb virtual HQ for all your tangible rock enjoyment needs. VP tourdates and news updates is here.


Thursday, April 12, 2012


As I put more and more decades behind me, it appears that the bad sign I was born under has manifested itself in the albatross that is having to have a million bearded drummers among my favorite people. One of that questionable lot is my dear Ruttypants, who currently brutalizes the skins for Brooklyn's own Vagina Panther.

The force is strong with Vagina Panther, but in this new millennium, rocking hard is only part of the equation. VP are a sharper bunch than the average bunch of outer-borough rockers. Having realized that no one really buys cds any more and possessing formidable multi-media savvy, Vagina Panther has decided to release their stuff in book, vinyl and digital formats through Aqualamb. It's a shrewd move: music nerds get their fix, vinyl collectors have something to hold in their other hand and artistic multi-taskers can marvel simultaneously at good design work while they enjoy their rock.

Beyond the Pantera de la Vagina, Aqualamb maintains three other bands on the roster currently, namely Descender, Human Highlight Reel and Black, Black, Black. Look forward to coverage of the Aqualamb roster in the coming days and wonder how JS-NYC will connive its way into the third bass spot in Human Highlight Reel.

While you're waiting, peep the Aqualamb web presence here.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Live: Restorations @ Acheron 4.6.12

Regular readers know that JS-NYC loves themselves some Restorations. Man, do I wish they were from Brooklyn. The acoustic show last week was a little lacking for me, so I was pretty eager to catch the full rock band version at Acheron. I was even more pleased that it was going to be an early show. I showed up as the band were wrapping their first track and judging by the turnout, it seems like Restorations are getting themselves a bit of a buzz. There's a new 7" coming down the pike that I'm pretty excited to hear, especially if it spikes the number of shows we get here in NYC.

Restorations bring it live. They've been touring a bit, and judging by the amount of collective grinning and headstock swinging taking place on the crowded Acheron stage, seem to be firing on all cylinders. Most of the new record was covered, with some dips into the back catalog that sadly did not feature personal JS-NYC favorite Linear Notes. Save for that omission, it was a great set, sadly cut short by the second show and mildly curtailed by the archetypically not-especially-capable sound guy who sadly did not receive a Facebook posting on the phone he couldn't put down about the fact that there were no vocals in the PA for most of the set.

Keep track of the release date of the new Restorations 7" and upcoming liveage here via the Restorations web presence.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Counting Crows - Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)

I've been a Counting Crows fan for almost 20 years now, having fallen pretty hard for their debut August And Everything After. I saw their first show in town at Wetlands (with Jeff Buckley playing his third live show) and the SNL taping, but it was big rooms after that and I've not seen them since. I still checked out the records. The follow-up Recovering The Satellites was pretty aces as well, but also found lead singer Adam Duritz upping the douche factor by moving to LA, tending bar at The Viper Room and dating most of the cast of Friends.

Since then, the band has released three or four studio records and a gang of live stuff, managing to become a pretty big deal in the offing. I can't say I've been all that crazy about their recent output. I've seen Adam around town in various melodramatic female situations that must serve as fine song fodder. Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) came my way a while ago and languished in the review pile until I had a hankering to hear Four White Stallions and played the new version from this record. Giving it the old run-through, I'm pleased to find the boys have come up with a pretty entertaining little collection of covers for their first independent release after 18 years of Geffen.

Fifteen tracks here, with the most familiar being from Big Star and The Faces. Those are good, but the real gems here are the covers from the band's early years in the SF Bay Area. The Kasey Anderson track is exceptional, and the Tender Mercies and Sordid Humor tracks are pretty aces as well. The Teenage Fanclub falls a little short, but for the most part Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) is well worth checking out.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Swearin' - What A Dump

I saw Swearin' play the Little Lungs show at Death By Audio the other night and thought they sounded like pretty a decent prospect to drink beer and rock to this summer. They sounded a lot like PS Eliot to these ears, just with a bunch of dudes backing this time. I picked up What A Dump after their set and it appears that it is indeed Allison from P.S. Eliot handling most of the vocals. The other guy who sings a bit is evidently named Kyle and used to play in a band called Big Soda that I've never heard. Not sure of the provenance of the other two gents.

What A Dump is six short sharp songs, only once nosing past the two and a half minute mark and mostly rounding it down toward the two minute end of things. Swearin' make the most of the time, matching Pavement-approved indie guitar with some Kristen Hersh/Mary Lou Lord vocal flavor. It's good. Really good, actually. I'd say Kenosha is probably my favorite, but Snag and the title track are pretty aces as well. Either way, you can check What A Dump out at pay what you will pricing here courtesy of the band and the good folk of If You Make It. Swearin' web presence can be found here.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Live: Little Lungs with Noun and Swearin' @ Death By Audio 3.30.12

Little Lungs have been up on blocks for a while now, with very little word as to their status. I feared for the worst, and as such was pretty pleased to hear that they were doing this one-off show at Death By Audio as a benefit for MS. I had hoped to rock star in as LL jumped off, but good old punk rock standard time stymied my old man plans and Swearin' jumped off pretty much as soon as I walked in.

They sound good. I'm pretty sure there is a PS Eliot connection with the Swearin' singer. The two ladies sure sound alike, as does the band, save for them all being dudes. The foursome knocked out a pretty aces set of tight-ish indie rock that sounded like they have heard the Throwing Muses. I'll definitely see them again and picked up their debut EP. Look forward to a review soon.

Next up was Noun, aka Marissa the guitarist/singer from Screaming Females in a quasi-solo incarnation. This live show had her backed by the drummer from Cheeky. In a nutshell: less soloing, more screeching vocals ala Kim Shattuck. The Moe Tucker drumming was fun to watch and both ladies seem to be having a good time, but I'm still not a fan. That said, a good bunch of people were there to see them and seemed to dig em. I say meh.

Little Lungs split the evening into sets by both incarnations of the band. Angie, Brian and Josh kicked things off for maybe twenty minutes before Brian tagged Jackie in and they romped through most of the exceedingly awesome Hoist Me Up. Angie mentioned this was the first time they had played in two years, but you wouldn't have known to listen. It was a pretty great set and I recorded it, so mail if you'd like a copy. It was nice to see the kids back in action. Good cause aside, it seems a shame to have this be the Little Lungs swan song. Ideally this overcomes some inertia and we'll see some more of Little Lungs soon.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Live: Restorations with Sad & French @ American Trash 3.29.12

The JS-NYC love for Restoration should be of no surprise to regular readers. Word is that there is a new 7" coming and they have stepped up the touring a bit. This date was an acoustic set at an MS benefit curated by a woman who had lost her mother recently and was friends with all the players. I was in it for Restorations, obviously. I'd missed Sad & French a couple times before and was looking forward to catching the end of their and dipping out early. The acoustic portion did not bode well, but ultimately it was a pleasure not to have to ride over a bridge to see a show.

So American Trash is exactly the kind of dive bar you'd expect to find on the Upper East Side: a little Hot Topic, but with the trappings of a punk bar, for those of you that like to slum. I came in as someone who I'm pretty sure was Anthony Walker played his final note and hoped that Restorations were next. Instead, a guy in a Descendants t-shirt and another similarly scruffy gent hauled an upright into position and worked through a half hour or so of decent enough Jeff Klein-y rock mixed with a cover or two. The sound left a bit to be desired, but the guy can sing and the songs intrigued me enough that I will show up early enough to catch a Sad & French opening set sometime soon.

Restorations acoustic in this situation was Jon and Dave playing a short, if not especially remarkable, set for the good cause. The stripped down Restorations may translate better at house shows, but they suffered in a loudish bar that didn't really have bands with any regularity. I took solace in things wrapping early (for me, at least) and figure the full band Acheron show will be the one to see.