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Folk/Country

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Zach's CMJ Day 3: Second Child, Ezra Furman, The Grasping Straws, and French Horn Rebellion

Wednesday night at The Bitter End in the West Village started with the understated majesty of New York/Philadelphia quartet Second Child (pictured). Playing warm, folk-inflected songs that found notable beauty with the harmonizing of lead singer Alex DeSimine and bassist Alex Tremitiere, the band subtly moved the listener but didn't forget to straight-up thrill; their funked-up cover of David Bowie's "Fame" enlivened the previously focused crowd, several hoots and shouts flying out. While Dirty Projectors are probably more similar to them, it's exciting to see that Second Child can get loose like The Thin White Duke did on some of his earlier tracks. At Le Poisson Rouge, Oakland/Chicago rocker Ezra Furman finished his set with a gloriously riotous rendition of Arcade Fire's "Crown of Love," the gradual nature of that 'Funeral' standout reverting into sax-backed wildness and the green-haired Furman's lightning-quick guitar picks. Back at the End, New York four-piece The Grasping Straws drifted into slow, drum-marched songs that, particularly with frontwoman Mallory Feuer's drawn-out and bluesy vocals, recalled the lo-fi glory of early Cat Power. Taking their time rather than rushing towards easy shock, these tracks intrigued with their very patience and calm and, perhaps most importantly, were ultimately moving, their tumbling quality enabling the audience to both engage and reflect. Down on the Lower East Side, Brooklyn's French Horn Rebellion sent the evening out with feel-good dance tracks full of both jittering electronics and rubbery horns. Brothers Robert Perlick-Molinari and David Perlick-Molinari wore matching Glasslands T-shirts and, with their hip sways and head bobs, they seemed to throw a party not just for that lost venue but for the institution of live music itself. - Zach Weg  

 

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Same Depression, Different Era

  Zach Schmidt looks like he sounds; jaw set tight even at rest and eyes that seem to have seen too much. He resembles a young Depression era prairie pastor.

Landing in Nashville two years ago, Schmidt came to town from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his EP Horse, Truck or Train as a calling card. With the EP's sparse production and lyrics which paint a picture that better days are coming, but sure as hell aren't here, the Townes Van Zandt influences are noticeable. Train and Schmidt's live performances have won over players in Nashville's Americana scene as evidenced by the help provided to his upcoming full length: The Day We Lost The War (set to be released at the beginning of next year). Engineered, mixed and mastered by Justin Francis, with bass and steel provided by Santa's Pub defacto house band rhythm section, Adam Kurtz and Carter Brallier. Aaron Lee Tasjan provided guitar for the album. 

Schmidt will be playing songs from both records when he opens for Tasjan's record release show on October 25 at The Basement. You can also catch him tonight at the 5 Spot for "Cover Your Friends Night," also featuring Cale Tyson, Caroline Spence and others. -Alex Vucelich

 

 

 





Album review: Bloodbirds - MMXIII

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Twenty-year veterans of the LFK/KC underground music scene, Mike and Brooke Tuley have played with a number of bands familiar to local rock audiences. Best known for their time with Ad Astra Per Aspera, they established Bloodbirds in 2011 with the intent of cutting loose and shaking things up.
 
And they have. Dense, dark—equal parts Fun House (Stooges), Spacemen 3 and Black Angels—Bloodbirds’ newest release MMXIII may also be their swan song, given the departure of bassist Anna St. Louis for Chicago. In some ways, it is St. Louis whose playing defines the band. Forward in the mix, and by no means shy, St. Louis plays with punchy authority, reminding of some of the other great “lead” bass players like Jon Entwistle and Peter Hook. Brooke Tuley is a powerful drummer; her parts are simple, but dead-on. She locks perfectly with St. Louis.  Mike Tuley plays on top of their aggressive foundation, a canvas for his arsenal of shimmering hammer-ons (“Modern Sympathy”), punishing riffs (“Did You Say”), and sometime dulcet tones (the comparatively clean Blue Mask jangle of “Convalesce”). Depending on the song, his sound can be metal harrowing or as ropey, surf-psychedelic as the theme from Repo Man.
 
About those songs: they’re functional, gripping, emotional soundscapes, not necessarily bound by pop hook conventions. They hit you with the shape-shift intensity of vintage heavy rock like Blue Cheer or modern darkness merchants like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Which is to say the focus here is not necessarily on hum-ability. Even allowing for that, it would be nice if the vocals had a dash less delay density and a bit more clarity in the mix. Lyrics and vocals on MMXIII are more about mood than meaning (or mood as meaning), stray lyrics emerging from the driving murk to arrest your conscious mind here and again.
 
The tough thump of “No Trains Coming Through” totally belies the song’s title. With Roky’s manic intensity, the song “Did You Say” features the ominous, repeated line “Did you say you want the end to come right now?” And the music echoes the sentiment. “Round Moon’s” cascade of guitar features some of Tuley’s most expressive fretwork, summoning up the incantations of bands like the Icarus Line and the guitar howl of the Stooges’ Ron Asheton. For an album that emphasizes a certain heavy-osity, MMXIII manages to shift mood and tone effectively.
 
Brothers and sisters, the Bloodbirds can make a show-stopping addition to anybody’s Psych Fest. Live shows may be few and far between, given the departure of St. Louis, but they have reunited in support of MMXIII occasionally and the members remain close friends and open to the odd gig. Go catch them if you have the chance.
 
—Steve Wilson
 

 

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Hazel English Releases Day Wave Produced Track - Fix

Hazel English is a singer-songwriter from Sydney, Australia. She currently resides in Oakland where she met producer, Jackson Phillips (Day Wave) in early 2015. They began recording songs together and the collaboration resulted in creating a blend of interspersed shimmering guitars and airy melodic vocals set amongst a nostalgic, dreamy ambience. Hazel's EP Never Going Home is set to be released this fall.

It´s exciting to hear about new music and new artists landing in town to share some great music. Check out Hazel English´s new song, Fix and we´ll keep you posted on the release of her debut ep, Never Going Home.

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SF´s Heron Oblivion Signs to Sub Pop Records Tours w/ Kurt Vile

The San Francisco based ¨funeral folk¨ band, Heron Oblivion has signed a worldwide record deal with the Seattle based independent record label, Sub Pop Records. Sub Pop was put on the map for releasing music from Nirvana, Mudhoney, The Shins, Band of Horses, Sleater-Kinney and more. It´s always good to see Bay Area emerging artists doing well! Keep your eyes open for their upcoming 2016 release on Sub Pop and their local shows with Kurt Vile:

Oct. 15 - San Francisco, CA - Slims
Oct. 16 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore

Heron Oblivion’s origins date to 2013 in SF’s Bayview district, where its four members-- fueled by a love of 60s/70s scuzz and commune jams, folk rock, noise, and P.S.F. Japanese underground—would get together for what Miller describes as "blistering, extended free jam sessions." The four musicians realized that their initial chemistry (which was strong from the outset) was undeniable and it’s vision unified. Heron Oblivion was born.

Ultimately, Heron Oblivion fused song craft to its improvisational leanings. What materialized is a mesmeric compilation of English folk rock and earthy West Coast psychedelia spiked with feedback and explosive dissonant elements. The sum of these elements will make up their Sub Pop debut.

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