December 17, 2009

Live Review: So Many Wizards

The Prospector // Long Beach, CA // Dec. 12, 2009

So Many Wizards, the melodic indie rock band from Long Beach, took the stage at the Prospector, a local restaurant, bar and nightclub in Long Beach, to promote their upcoming EP. The band, almost two years old (in February), has clearly made a name for themselves in the Long Beach community. As people start filling up the small club section of the bar, Nima, singer and songwriter for So Many Wizards, proudly promotes the band’s upcoming residency at Silverlake Lounge in Los Angeles, as well as their new Tree EP, which is “hand-crafted, 100 percent one of a kind and made with love” by the band themselves.

With a rocky start and a few re-tries, the band easily slips into their music, an enjoyable blend of guitar-driven melodies and strong vocals. Their live performance is interesting to watch, because the three men completely feed off of the audience’s energy throughout the show. If the crowd is smaller, like it was at the Prospector, then they play a more personal set, which even relies on audience participation during some choruses. Perhaps the most intriguing part of their live show is their long instrumental breaks during songs, which is nonexistent on the EP or on their Myspace. During one of their new songs, “Yellow Hands,” the band started to experiment with the verse after the second chorus. It seemed already written and no one makes a mistake or overplays. It's amazing to watch their songwriting process on stage and at the end of the song, the men look as if they are coming out of a trance as they face the ecstatic audience during the applause.

After the show, the band greeted members of the audience while packing up, and although the turnout was small, they were satisfied with the performance and their new material.

-Sasha Patpatia

Live Review: Almost Kings

New Earth Music Hall // Athens, GA // Dec. 11, 2009

The Almost Kings Dec. 11 show at the New Earth Music Hall almost literally brought down the house. Their rap/metal fusion was something to behold, live. Although their style could be classified as some quality headbanging music, their authentic hooks and experience ensure that they have more than just that to offer. These musical veterans are on the road touring for nine months out of the year, which has clearly paid off because these they certainly know how to work a stage. Their energy is explosive: singer Boze, bassist/guitarist Danny Helms and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Yunker commanded the crowd‘s undivided attention.

Shirts off to drummer Kevin Compton, as he never seemed to be still for the entirety of the set. That guy can melt your face with the contagious beats he was cranking out, well, shirtless. Boze, typically standing atop some piece of equipment on the stage, can rap with impressive precision for a live show. Especially with songs like "On Like That," the empowering and infectious hooks characteristic of many of their songs can be chanted along by listeners. If Boze was not the most entertaining member of this four-man group, Ryan Yunker on guitar would have to be Almost Kings’ secret weapon. Yunker tore it up with some guitar solos that would make your grandmother blush.

Almost Kings is a perfect show for one who is looking to let some of that pent-up aggression and inner-anguished teen out.

-Amy Ishii

Live Review: Inn Cinema // VulGarrity // Arma // Riot Inside

Subterranean // Chicago, IL // Nov. 19, 2009

Inn Cinema kicked off the head-poundingly loud evening of rock at Subterranean with a strong nostalgic streak. Vocalist Rasheed Thomas carved out well-rounded melodies over distorted power chords in a manner that could have fit perfectly between the acts of the late '90s post-grunge rock scene. The band evoked the feel of Collective Soul, but with intermittent metal breakdowns churned out between the two guitars and five-stringed bass.

Despite their edge, the foursome reverted to some of the sunny truisms of the '90s in songs such as the lyrically optimistic "Live Your Life." With a good few feet of hair between the four of them, the band maintained a solid stage presence, closing their act with a number of perfectly synchronized jumps into the air.

Multitaskers VulGarrity followed by proving just what sort of layering is possible with a well-used loop pedal or two. Multi-instrumentalist Shawn Garrity would play a solid lick on his guitar, loop it, then put down the instrument to play drums for the remainder of the song. Tracy Garrity for the most part stuck to her bass, but took her turns on the drumset as well while Shawn played guitar. Both Garrities layered vocals atop the fast-paced, melodically complex rock they created through several pedals at once. Shawn's riffs were unwaveringly catchy and intricate throughout as he jammed against himself. The duo climaxed with an epic instrumental track that layered guitar upon bass upon guitar, all over drums played so hard that Shawn had to stand up to get gravity on his side when he slammed his sticks against cymbals.

Arma followed with a turn towards the prog side of things. Reminiscent of the Mars Volta at their most compact and least pretentious, Arma retained an incredible stamina, never wavering in their energy. Lead singer Taylor Brennan's vocal endurance was perhaps most impressive; he belted at full volume the whole way through the set, never once growing hoarse. Guitarist Alejandro Guzman played atop an army of pedals, feeding increasingly complex riffs through a variety of effects. Brennan danced across the whole expanse of the stage without any hint of pretense, just caught up in the energy of the song. The band dedicated their final track to "those that rock" and then proceeded to perform a no-holds-barred cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" at full blast.

Riot Inside kicked up the volume and the performative force as they entered to flashing red backlights. "Welcome to the Riot!" announced lead vocalist Gary John, and the frontlights came up to reveal the band dressed up for the occasion. John, like a sexier Hunter S. Thompson, performed in fedora, aviators, red shirt, white tie and vest. He had unbeatable stage presence as he strutted around the stage, mic in hand. He adopted the mic stand as a makeshift cane to complete the ensemble, swinging it around over his shoulder as he leaned in over the edge of the stage. His rough-edged, full-blooded voice perfectly complemented the bad-boy swagger.

Riot as a whole did not hold back on charisma or sex appeal; their aesthetic commanded as much force as their music as they rocked out bare-armed in suspenders and sunglasses. Lew Jones on a Les Paul cranked out stunning lead guitar atop rhythm
guitarist Stefan's Morello-esque riffs. The music as a whole was reminiscent of a vocally melodic Rage Against the Machine, though amidst all the testosterone-charged rock they did have a few more subtle Floydian moments. But the fivesome made it
quite clear that they were there for nothing besides filling the venue with as much balls-out rock as possible. "Now, I know this is Wicker Park," John said between songs, "but we're a rock band. Now, what I want you to do is make so much noise that the nearest guy on a double-decker bike falls on his ass." The mesmerized crowd acquiesced.

-Sasha Geffen

December 16, 2009

Check out the CDs we got in the office today...

Basement 247 - A Basement 247 Christmas Complication
Red Jacket Mine - Lovers Lookout
Wooster - The Heights of Things
Gills and Wings - Gills and Wings EP
Yellow Fever - Yellow Fever
Beautiful Supermachines - Shut Up
Seasick Steve - Man From Another Time
Quimera Music - Love Madness
Sachem's Head - Sachem's Head
Francesca Lee - The Pieces Left
Frigid Touch - Hello World
The Floating Men - The Sighing Hours Act II: Swimming with Gods
Coolzey - The Honey

December 14, 2009

New records in the office today

Lindstrom & Christabelle- Real Life is No Cool
Bob Blank- The Blank Generation, Blank Tapes NYC 1975-1985
Re-surch- Alcholic College Kidz
The Bay State- Haunted
Over Mountain Men- Glorious Day
Josh Canova- Adios
Dana Edelman- Blue Roses
Joy Kills Sorrow- Darkness Sure Becomes This City
Bomb the Bass- Back to Light
Rick DiDia & Aireene Espiritu- The Ten Ton Feather
Magic Heart Genies- Cardiac Arrest
Poanna- 10:10
State Champion- State Champion
Yours Til Death- Delivered
A Weather- Everyday Balloons
The Willows- Roots Run Deep
Graph- Graph
Honest Engines- Captain’s Log
AM- Future Sons & Daughters
Tindersticks- Falling Down a Mountain
The Seven Fields of Aphelion- Periphery
Agency- Revolutions
End Roulette- A Rival Sad
Ellsworth- Bright Red Road
Please Do Not Fight- Move
Another Perfect Crime- Get Out!
Vary Lumar- Plasticolor Coma
Before Lazers- Supreme Breakfast
Dublin- Ease the Pain
Tokyo Tramps- With These Hands
Brian Dolzani- Brian Dolzani
The Fancy Dan Band- Born Fancy
Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra- East Atlanta Passover Stomp
Jared Burton- Amerikana