Thursday, October 27, 2016

Shellac, Shannon Wright, Ghost Camp, Frontyards, and Lunch Ladies, 10/21-10/23/16

Shellac by Ken Geiger

Broken Pipes and Steve Albini

by Ken Geiger

Ghost Camp, Frontyards, Lunch Ladies at Paradise: Lost, 10/21/16

Without any plans on Friday night, I realized that I was in New Brunswick and there is always a show to attend. So, after a few scrolls through various event invites, I noticed that Lunch Ladies would be playing at Paradise: Lost with Ghost Camp and Philadelphia natives Frontyards. I knew about Lunch Ladies' music and had heard good things about the latter two bands, so my Friday night plans were settled then and there.

First band I caught for the night was Lunch Ladies. I remember seeing these guys starting out early on and skipping out on them, because they simply were not in my musical spectrum of interest at the time. But seeing them now, I could tell their evolution to a full-on shoegaze / dream pop type band has been paying off for them. They sounded tighter as a unit, the songs are pretty catchy now; and I hope that the album they have been working on for some time drops soon. It's the curiosity over how they will be able to contain their reverb-soaked sound within the confines of a studio that draws me to that. I recommend checking them out if they roll into your area for a show.

The next time I ventured back down to the confines of the Paradise Lost basement, Frontyards were on.  All I can really say is that this is a band you just have to see live in order to kind of understand what they are all about. Sure, they had some moments where they messed up whatever song they were playing. Yes, the audience was crashing into them at some points (and even broke one of the water pipes, too). But these guys reveled in that crazy environment with the upbeat nature of their music. Perfection is not everything in a live setting, and Frontyards showed that sometimes the most fun you can have at a performance is when things do not go according to plan.

Frontyards by Ken Geiger
After that pipe broke, I did not think the show could possibly carry on. But the owners made sure to give Ghost Camp the performance they were promised. And the band made every second count. Growing up a kid that was raised on new wave by his father made me appreciate that influence that Ghost Camp brings into their music. It fits in with the tinges of jangly pop and shoegaze they add into the mix. Does this sound make up the “witch-punk” genre of which Ghost Camp claims to be a member?  Who the hell knows honestly?  I am listening to their new album Great Lakes as I type this out in hopes of figuring out the answer. Maybe that's a question they can answer sometime. For now, I will label it as "good music."

Shellac and Shannon Wright at The Bell House, 10/23

After spending Saturday inside, I spent my Sunday going into New York City to see Shellac and Shannon Wright at the Bell House. Shellac had sold out two shows at this venue, and the fact that they even let one of them be 18+ was a blessing for a young fan like myself to witness. When I made it to the area of the venue I was greeted by a familiar face in Killer Waves bassist / Halicarnassus mastermind, Joe Manginelli, waiting, like me, for doors to open.  It's always great to have friends at shows, especially if it is in a bit of a sketchy area like Bell House is (They make NYC tour buses here. I'm convinced this area was just the birthplace of all the scum in the city.).

First act of the night was Shannon Wright, who at first appeared to be the polar opposite of the type of music Shellac does. Her songs were intricate in structure. She made some busy work of her guitar with a great finger picking style and had a much more melodic singing voice than Steve Albini or Bob Weston usually have. As the set went on though, I realized that they had a lot more in common than I originally conceived. Her chord choices were very interesting; and often, at times, quirky, almost reminding me of some Primus bass slapping (which can be a little hard to believe, I know). Her stage presence also was nothing extravagant, just straightforward. It was all about the music for Shannon, and in that sense, I can tell why Shellac picked her to open. She definitely made a few new fans with that set.

Shannon Wright by Ken Geiger
Then came the moment many of us were waiting for: Chicago's own Shellac. Although Albini and Weston are more known for their vast producing work, Shellac is nothing to sleep on. These guys have not played in quite a few years, but their precision in tackling their material is second to none. The fact that they never counted in for any of the songs is extremely impressive. Along with the music, though, there are several parts of a Shellac show to marvel at that I must touch upon as well.

First of all, is Steve Albini and Bob Weston's gear. Aside from the fact that they play very rare aluminum guitars from Travis Bean, they also managed to build their own custom amps. Those are just as essential to their sound as the guitars and songwriting. Those things are LOUD. Warning to anyone who wants to see this band live: You should stand center stage by the drums, or you will only hear Albini or Weston playing. The amps are THAT commanding. Along with the impressive gear though, is also the humor the band injects to their shows. Whether it was Q&As with the audience (I was lucky enough to ask Steve about discussing beef jerky with Neurosis), Steve talking to his "roommate" Jesus about hummus, or drummer Todd Trainer infamously yelling out "hard rock and pussy," the band knew how to keep the the audience laughing in between their manic tunes. I do not know if I expected to be riddled with laughter that much by the end of that show. I guess that’s another reason why Shellac has garnered such a great reputation over the years.

Shellac have a few more shows on the East Coast before they go back into hiding for God knows how long, so I suggest going to see before them before it's too late. Who knows the next time we will be blessed with great music AND great comedy of this caliber?

What's Going On: 10/27, 10/28, 10/29 & 10/30, 2016

Philly's Primitive Finks play "Monster Surfing Time" at The Saint on Friday. GhoulDad will be there.

Happy Halloween

I used to love Halloween as a kid. Maybe my favorite holiday. I still love it, though I feel like it's become more and more about adults getting drunk than kids trick or treating over the years. Whatever, I guess. Lots of opportunities for both this weekend.

Things kick off tonight with a free acoustic night at the new Asbury Park Brewery featuring Renee Maskin, Dan Apy, Rachel Ana Dobken, Joe Galuppo, and Avery Mandeville. JoeP of Deal Casino and Brother Andrew go at each other at APYC. The Battery Electric open for David Cassidy at Red Bank's Count Basie Theatre.

On Friday night, it's "Monster Surfing Time" at The Saint with Black Flamingos and The Primitive Finks, DJs, costume contest, tiki drinks, and me doing something as GhoulDad. Should be interesting. Ribeye Brothers play APYC with The Long Defeats and Bamboo Kids. Von Mons and Creamer are in the basement at the Bond St. Bar complex. Nicole Atkins and WOLF! are at House of Independents. SICK SHIT play a show at Millhill Basement in Trenton with Crackfiller, Posers, and Josh Adair. There's some kind of thing with Hot Blood over at Red Bank Rehearsal doing KISS covers, I think.

On Saturday, The Asbury hosts the Black & Gold Halloween Ball with CeCe Peniston. Morgan Freemasons, Dirty, and Lunch Ladies are at APYC. Beatrix Potter and Cranston Dean are next door at Langosta. The Battery boys head over to Trenton for a show at Millhill Basement with Honah Lee, Cyclone Static, and Alpha Rabbit. Langhorne Slim & The Law play House of Indepenents with Susto and American Trappist. Streetlight Manifesto play Starland. Texas Is The Reason's Garrett Klahn plays Brighton Bar. The North American, dollys, Paper Streets, and Laketon play Cee Gee's in Jackson.

Saturday is also the second installment of Convention Hell. This year, bands will be covering INXS (Parlor Mob), No Doubt (Shady Street), New York Dolls  and Johnny Thunders (The Vansaders), Michael Jackson (Des & The Swagmatics), Elton John (Matt Wade), Black Sabbath (Deaf Rhino), and YES (Karmic Juggernaut). Also, skateboarding.

On Sunday, Eastbourne play Brighton Bar. There's another Halloween covers show at Scarlet Pub. Beartooth are at The Stone Pony.

Have a fun and safe Halloween. Don't act like an idiot.

THURSDAY (10/27)

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Renee Maskin / Dan Apy / Rachel Ana Dobken / Joe Galuppo / Avery Mandeville, 8pm, FREE

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): JoeP of Deal Casino / Brother Andrew, 9pm, FREE

The Asbury Hotel Soundbooth (Asbury): Open Mic, 8pm

Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank): David Cassidy / The Battery Electric, 8pm, $30 - $250

House of Independents (Asbury): Idiocracy, 9pm, $8 or $10 with a slice

Inkwell Coffee House (Long Branch): Open Mic, 8pm

Monty Hall (Jersey City): Dan Adriano In The Emergency Room / Dan P / Derek Grant, 7:30pm, $13 adv, $15 door

FRIDAY 10/28)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Ribeye Brothers / Long Defeats / Bamboo Kids, 9pm, FREE

Bond St. Bar (Asbury): Von Mons / Creamer, 9pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Johnny B. Morbid FAREWELL SHOW / Original Lineup Reunion / 30th Birthday Bash / Halloween Party, 6:30pm, $12 adv, $15 door

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): The Court Tavern's Annual Halloween Cover Show 2016, 8pm, $10

Decker Hall (TCNJ): Alex G / Clique / Brandon Can't Dance, 5pm, FREE to TCNJ students and guests

House of Independents (Asbury): Nicole Atkins / WOLF!, 8pm, $20 adv, $25 door

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): DJ Don Dazzo, 9pm, FREE

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Crackfiller / SICK SHIT / Posers / Josh Adair, 9pm, $10 or $5 w/ costume

Red Bank Rehearsal (Red Bank): Hot Blood is playing here with other bands, beer apparently. I think there will be KISS covers or something. $10, I think. Ask them.

Roxy & Duke's Roadhouse (Dunellen): Zombie Beauty Pageant, 9pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): Monster Surfing Time ft. Black Flamingos / Primitive Finks, 7:30pm, $10

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Old Dominion / Steve Moakler, 7pm, SOLD OUT

Vimana Studios (Clifton): Casual Friday / LKFFCT / NGHTCRWLRS / The Subcultures / B3B3 and The Unfukwittables, 7pm, $7

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Midnight North ft. Grahame Lesh, 7:30pm, $15

SATURDAY (10/29)

The Asbury Hotel (Asbury): Black and Gold Halloween Ball w/ CeCe Peniston / DJs, 7pm, $25

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Morgan Freemasons / Dirty / Lunch Ladies, 9pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Garrett Klahn of Texas Is The Reason, 6:30pm, $16 adv, $18 door

Cee Gee's Bar (Jackson): The North American / dollys / Paper Streets / Laketon, 9pm

Convention Hall (Asbury): Convention Hell (locals doing covers), 7:30pm, $20 adv, $25 door

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): The Court Tavern's Annual Halloween BASH, 8pm, $10

House of Independents (Asbury): Langhorne Slim & The Law / Susto / American Trappist, 9pm, $16 adv, $18 door

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Beatrix Potter / Cranston Dean, 9pm, FREE

Millhill Basement (Trenton): The Battery Electric / Honah Lee / Cyclone Static / Alpha Rabbit, 8pm, $10 adv, $12 door

The Saint (Asbury): Bumpin Uglies / Psychotic Submarines, 7pm

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Streetlight Manifesto, 7pm, $20 adv, $23 door

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Jackie Greene, 7pm, $20 adv, $23 door

Tierney's Tavern (Montclair): The Porchistas / The Defending Champions, 8:30pm, $10

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): The Blasters, 7pm, $20 adv, $25 door

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

NY / NJ Grrrl Bands Come Together for Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls: Band Cramps Volume 1 Out 11/1.

Artwork: Tex Buell

Rioting for a Good Cause

According to Naomi Scott of Brooklyn's Basic Bitches, "I was thinking about all the great bands I had been playing with around NY and NJ and how great it would be to try to collect us all together in the style of the punk compilations and label samplers so many of us listened to in the 90s /early 00s. Bandcamp seemed the best place to do it, in order to keep costs down, and it seemed like a great opportunity to raise money for a good cause."

Basic Bitches
The result is Band Cramps Volume 1. Scott was able to wrangle together 17 bands for the initial Band Cramps comp. Sharkmuffin, Desert Sharks, The Rizzos, Basic Bitches, and many more contributed tracks. The comp will see a digital release on November 1st with proceeds going to benefit Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is a non-profit music and mentoring program serving over 500 New York City girls, women, and gender non-conforming youth. They run summer camps, after-school programs, and community events; and, thanks to their Fairness Fund, tuition is either free or on a sliding scale. In that way, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is able to encourage campers to take control of their creative process and to build a community regardless of applicants' financial resources.

Band Cramps Volume 1 is a great introduction to some of the amazing bands toiling and ripping it up in NJ and NY. You can discover something new while helping out a great cause.

Pre-orders for Band Cramps Volume 1 are live now over at Bandcamp.

On November 9th, several contributors to Band Cramps Volume 1 will celebrate the compilation's release with a show at Brooklyn's Good Room.

Check out the full line-up of bands below, go pre-order your copy, and head out to the show.

Answering Machine
Basic Bitches
Damsel Trash
Desert Sharks
Ellen And The Degenerates
Four Eyes
Heavy Negatives
Lady Bits
Lady Bizness
The Rizzos
The Subtexts
Tonya Harding

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fake Limbs, Matronly, 2016

Album Review

by Ken Geiger

I need to admit that underground music I hear today lacks a certain element of organic danger. Sure, you have plenty of your GG Allin knock-offs harming themselves onstage every night. Then, there's the macho hardcore culture that always promotes that everyone moshes until they drop dead. But that's not what I mean when I think of organic danger. Those tropes have reached the point of boring predictability. Where are the new bands that make you think, "Holy shit! This has attitude" when you listen to them? Where are the songs that make you want to unleash that pent up anger that you've bottled up for the duration of your work week in the most animalistic way possible? I find myself going to or playing shows far too often in hopes of finding something like that, only to be met with disappointment. But, thankfully, Mr. CoolDad Jim himself dropped off the new Fake Limbs album to me this week, as if he knew this was what I needed to hear.
Matronly kicks off with an absolutely savage opener in "Murderbar." The quirky guitar riffs, pounding drum beats, and vocals that resemble something along the lines of a drunken ramble make me immediately think of bands like The Jesus Lizard and Halo Of Flies, who reveled in that type of sound over 20 years ago. But do not take that as a sign of second-rate imitation on Fake Limbs' part. The heaviness and jarring dissonance they add to these songs make for a sound that is unique to them.

If I had to mention a highlight on this album, it would probably be the track "ICE 2 C U." The guitar work here manages to combine some absolute moments of noisy chaos with some cool high-end melodies thrown into the mix, particularly at the song's climax. I love the use of the galloping drum beats on this track, as that is a personal preference of mine in more rock / punk styles of music. But I have to say that the vocals layered with reverb and distortion in the middle of the song were probably what sold this track to me as a favorite that I would point out to first-time listeners of the band. I just think they add to that aspect of insanity Fake Limbs possess, and they fit the mood of that particular song very well.
For anyone who does feel as hopeless as I do at times in search of weird, yet rocking music in the underground, then look no further. Fake Limbs are your solution.

Matronly is out now on Don Giovanni Records.