Posts Tagged ‘jersey beat’

Antlered Auntlord, Bunnygrunt, and Try the Pie at Jersey Beat

Antlered Aunt Lord

This has me excited! Why? Back in the late 70s and into the 80s, there was some incredible music being made. There was a veritable explosion of diversity and experimentalism in musical styles in the wake of the disillusionment with arena rock and disco. Punk and hardcore won the day, in the underground, before evolving into somewhat more conventional grunge, pop punk, and indie-pop, but there was that brief, wonderful period where you could buy all sorts of records from bands playing weird, quirky sorts of stuff. And now you can again. Antlered Aunt Lord, the name used for Tunabunny drummer Jesse Stinnard’s solo work, has released an album so different from anything else coming out these days. Reportedly, the nineteen tracks here come from a vast library of recordings Stinnard has stashed away, and it seems that these represent his musical sketchbook, if you will. Some of the tracks are nearly fully realized, if a bit lo-fi in the recording department, while others seem to be ideas that are merely outlines with a promise of what might come if ever filled in. What comes through very clearly, though, is Stinnard’s exuberance; he is very obviously passionate and joyful about his music, and it shows in the recordings. The album opens with “Events of the Future,” itself opening with some noise and guitar doodling and tuning, before bursting into a keyboard driven garage-rock track, with undertones of doo-wop and hints of Spanish bullfights. The birds are singing along on this one, literally. You can hear them quite loudly in the mix. “Abandoned Car” has an awesome minimalist melodic line, super lo-fi recording, and nerdy vocals that you can barely make out. “Monopilot” is an out-and-out psych-folk-rock track that sounds like something out of the late 60s, while “The Beezwax” is a cool, simple nerd-pop track. “Epa” is humorous, with its loping rhythm and non-stop “boom-chick-a-boom” repeating over an over underneath the lead vocals. “Yr Right” is noisy, manic track that sounds like it could be an early pop punk track, heavy on the punk, but super distorted. “Sigil To Noise” may be my favorite track on the album, with angularities that belie the melodic nature, and a throbbing undercurrent that keeps propelling the track forward. The trick is the substantial silence that makes you think the track has ended, but then it bursts back for a powerful conclusion. “Hi Beam Hi Priest (Blinker Fluid) is just plain awesome in its new wave lo-fi pop-ness, with loud/quiet sections and tons of synth. The closer, “Save The Very Best,” is aptly named – because you save the very best for last, natch. It’s a drunken Cajun Irish reel of some kind from an alternate universe that lurches and staggers through to its uncertain conclusion. A few of these tracks have also been made into music videos, which are available on youtube and are just as creative as the music. Recommended!

Bunnygrunt

OK, folks, if you’re going to put out vinyl records, there’s a critical piece of information you need to include on the label: the speed at which to play the record. This is especially true if the speed is not the “standard” for the size of the record. This 12” album is to be played at 45RPM, not 33. That said, once I found the right speed, I found some pretty damn good lo-fi music that varies from indie-pop to punk to art-pop. Each side has four tracks, and the musical quality improves as the record progresses. The opener is a short, throwaway track that’s pretty much all instrumental, while “Just Like Old Times” is a pretty indie-pop track, as is “Open My Eyes,” though the latter is a little harder around the edges. “Chunt Bump” is the long epic track of the album, and it’s got a cool prog-rock feel to it, especially toward the end, when the strings come in, and it gets a retro 70s feel. The B-side opens with “The Book That I Wrote,” which also has a bit of a retro 70s psych rock feel, while “I Quit, Mr. White” is a nice Replacements-like track. “Frankie Is A Killer” is a full-on proto-punk track that could have come right out of the mid-70s, and the closer, “Still Chooglin’ (After),” is also proto-punk. I like the raw honest feel of these tracks – there’s no pretense here. I just wish the recording quality had been a little better, because these are good songs.

Try the Pie

Try The Pie is the work of Bean Tupou, a Bay Area musician who is deeply involved in the DIY music community. “Rest” is Tupou’s second full-length album as Try The Pie, and consists of a collection of early recordings made in the period of 2006-2008. Acoustic guitar and vocals, including overdubbed harmonies are featured on these lo-fi home recordings, plus occasional ukulele or percussion instruments. As a result, it certainly sounds more like song sketches and demos than a fully realized album, but I think that was the point. As a look into Tupou’s creative mind, it works. You hear all of the ideas, seemingly as they’re forming, and all of the mistakes, too. Tupou has a pretty enough voice, and the songs are sweet and melodic, but they aren’t groundbreaking or revelatory. As a person with a relatively short career (though certainly busy with a number of other projects), I question whether the world needs to have this sort of release right now. I mean, Try The Pie’s debut LP only came out this past spring. I think I would rather hear a regular studio album of fully formed songs that have been honed through live shows. Save the song sketchbook for several years from now, assuming you’ve toured extensively and developed some sort of following.

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Bastards of Fate at Jersey Beat

The Bastards of Fate could be the finest examples of indie rock anti-heroes alive today-their brand of music is so deliciously bizarre and wondrously off-putting that one is unable to turn away but it is not due to some type of desperate attention seeking exaggeration, but the irrepressible intelligence on display. Shattering the conventional paradigm of song structure is a goal of many bands, but it usually defines power electronics, grind, or other more abrasive genres. Roanoke’s Bastards of Fate are as mysterious and confounding as the disappearance of their hometown’s initial settlers; Doug Cheatwood sings, croons, rages, and emotes feelings one did not even know were human throughout ten twisted anthems that should be what indie rock sounds like, but is far too daring for most bands to attempt. By no means will this ever reach commercial success, hence the limited knowledge of the band’s debut record, but for those who appreciate distorted visions spun through delightfully dissonant chaos, Vampires is a scintillating listen. Gentle piano gives way to squalls of guitar noise, shrieking explosions of anti-melody cuddles up to warm harmonies, and waves of noise hold hands with pristine serenity as a perpetual darkness permeates each effort. The opening “Winter of Our Discontent” leads the listener down a path of harrowing intrigue as the song grows increasingly unbalanced and intimidating, setting the stage for a deranged carnival of musical genius. The closing “Optometrist” features barreling rolls of thunderous noise, while “Go No Further” rivals anything constructed by Beefheart or Zappa in their most inexplicable moments. “One True Love “ is a swirling mass of heartfelt emotion, constantly teetering on the verge of unraveling, hovering effortlessly between the worlds of campy fun and deeply unsettling depravity. Occasionally, bands emerge whose place in music cannot be readily defined or explained, and their contribution to society may be ignored but all but a select few, but for those who are fortunate enough to embrace The Bastards of Fate, their lives are enriched and their minds are opened. I am lucky to call myself a fan of this band.

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Muuy Biien at Jersey Beat

What makes good punk rock worth listening to is its ability to redefine what “punk” is supposed to be. Muuy Biien is one of those young bands who simply do not care about rules, expectations, guidelines, or predispositions: they simply want to create angry, intelligent, hyper punk and if you do not like it, then you were not supposed to get it anyway. D.Y.I. is a throbbing, convulsing record that stands on a ledge and dares itself to jump- a highly kinetic explosion of force and sound accented by ambient touches and the most unexpected of harmonies. After the opening ethereal rush of “Cyclothymia I” passes, vocalist Josh Evans leaps on top of the listener with “Human Error”, an violent spasm of a song in which
the words “human error/its inevitable” have never sounded so authentic. With a throbbing bass line, “She Bursts” is a riotous slice of youthful frustration married with a level of control that defies the ages of the members. This could have been a song of blind rage, but it is instead a smartly crafted anthem of gender relations set to a furious and well-defined riff. Each of the members of Muuy Biien took time to release solo ambient projects before reconvening to create D.Y.I. and the three “Cyclothymia” pieces pay homage to that interest without deterring from the overall record-they actually allow for the listener to catch a breath before being doused again with a relentless wave of animated passion of “Virus Evolves” and “Dust”. Clocking in at under one minute each, Muuy Biien say much in a brief amount of time, declaring in the latter that “It doesn’t matter to me/the people say what they think/uneducated and vain”, while a schizophrenic guitar riff swarms the track. The highlight of the record for me is the pummeling title track that precedes the closing splintered piano of “Cyclothymia III”, as Evans orders with bile rising in his throat, “Be a man/do yourself in”; a call to depart this world rather to live by the naïve and empty standards set by others. This is a call for purity rather than self-destruction and is followed by a cacophony of angst-driven liberation. The aforementioned piano that lingers only briefly concludes an exhaustive journey through the staggering progression of a gifted and incredibly exciting band. Get
these kids opening for Night Birds and you’ll have the greatest tour in the world.

Eureka California at Jersey Beat

Eureka California actually calls Athens, Georgia home and features the sarcastic, snarky musicianship of Jake Ward and Marie Uhler. The two have a penchant for capturing mid 90’s indie pop with subtle nuances that make eleven songs on Crunch memorable and instantly relatable. Ward, who labels himself “overeducated and underappreciated” in the band’s bio sings of life’s general frustrations for the twenty-somethings who will instantly recognize themselves within his lamentations. “Oh, I’m a deep thinker/And I know who Descartes is” he announces on the wryly-titled “Edith (One Day You’ll Live in a Bunker)” and declares, “You know Athens is dead” on “This is No A-side”. Alongside simple but richly harmonic riffs and a steady backbeat from Uhler, Ward’s lyrics tell tales of emptiness on “No Mas” (“Nobody will remember your name”) and general apathy (“I’d like to think that I still care”) on “There’s No looking Back”, a song that displays a more rambunctious side of the band, and while its never abandons its steadfast pop sensibilities, the track incorporates more aggressive punk aesthetics into its structure, a trait matched on the brief “I Bet That You Like Julian Cope”. The apex of the record is the self-reflective and self-ridiculing “Art is Hard”. Ward is a clever wordsmith who demonstrates a keen sense of acerbic introspection when he states, ”Money, money is everywhere, but there’s not a cent to spend/So what do I care? If I don’t get my share?” The song bounces in a manner similar to the A-side’s closing “#1 in the State”, but it also retains a tangible despondency that makes the track so intriguing. Ebbing and flowing in intensity, the song encapsulates the talent and comradery shared by these two skilled individuals. Some may claim that they have heard this before, but only if one is of a certain age: the kids just gaging the frustrations of a burgeoning adulthood will find this refreshingly identifiable and those who appreciate agitated pop will also find quite a bit to like.