24/7, Tulsa, OK
January 29th, 2005
This one’s got some history, so hold tight.
I first saw Crew a year ago at a concert that had eight other people watching. I was highly impressed by their ability to rock out and yet still be melodic and technical. I resolved to see them again. I got a CD and memorized all the words.
I saw them again about 6 months later, and they were still pretty stinkin awesome. I knew the words this time, so I had even more fun enjoying their melodic rock.
Fast forward to now. I heard that Crew was going to be back in town on the 29th to play a show, and so -naturally- I was interested. For some reason though, I didn’t get all stoked. I usually flip out about concerts, but this time I didn’t. I almost didn’t go, in fact, until my two of my best friends convinced me that we should go.
Thus, at 8:00, I jumped in my car and drove over to the 24/7. My friends had never been there before, but they usually have a pretty good sense of direction, so I figured they’d be able to make the 8:30 doors. One hour and four phone calls later, they finally sauntered in (they have good senses- it’s just that I told them the wrong places. Go me!), looking none the worse for wear- although the driver was pretty ticked. I don’t blame her.
We walked in as Vertugo started playing. The easiest way to describe Vertugo is Dave Matthews Band without all the cool stuff and a tendency to rock out more. They weren’t bad at all- it’s just that their songwriting was inhibited by that major crutch of Dave-like rhythms, melodic ideas, and song structures. The musicians were technically quite proficient, although they could stand to mix up their music a bit more- the acoustic guitarist and the bassist looked downright bored. After mildly enjoying their acoustic-rock set with its hit-and-miss song effectiveness, they left the stage and let Crew get down to business.
Crew was performing the show for one reason- they were recording a live album off of the show. This immediately made me thankful that I came to the show- not only am I a part of history, I can review a part of history. They started up their set with some old favorites, and the crowd went nuts. They never stopped going nuts, either- they managed to injure someone with their moshing (I couldn’t see who or what), clear out a humongous space on the floor for the mosh pit, and invoke multiple nods from the band to ‘those crazies over there’. They sang, they danced, they moshed, they waved cell phones- it was the most electric crowd I’ve ever seen at a local band’s show. I ate it up. My friends looked more like they were on the ‘eaten’ side.
After Crew announced to the audience that they were recording a live album, lead guitarist Doug Brown carefully told the audience that they were going to play new stuff. In fact, they played new stuff for 3/4ths of their set- which made the show absolutely phenomenal. Their new songs bear a passion, a clarity, and a voice that isn’t present in their first recordings. All their new songs have the hallmarks of greatness attached to them, but two in particular stood out to me amongst the 12 or so tunes they played. “Shadow” is the song that is going to make Crew famous: angsty, tension-filled verses exploded into an anthemic beyond anthemic chorus that made me drop my jaw. His voice was already an amazing instrument on the independent [u]Day After Yesterday[/u], but with a new-found huge range, a good ear, and vocal preciseness, Brown’s voice personifies passion. Every note that comes out of his mouth seems to flow directly from the emotions the songs were built off. In “Shadow”, he lets his range rip on the chorus, sending a soaring, signaling, careening melody over a rocked-out instrumentation. The effect was nothing short of rapturous. The dynamic shifts and jumps in “Shadow” are just more proof that the song is the perfect rock song.
I didn’t even catch the name of the 4th encore that Crew did (yes, fourth), but it was the highlight of the night. With Doug Brown sitting behind a piano, Crew poured out its weary, traveling heart in a song about everyone’s enemy- leaving people and places behind. The piano was truly stunning, the arrangement was set up so that the band actually complemented the piano for once, and the vocals were just beautiful. They projected the words to the heart-wrenching chorus up on big screens, and had the audience sing along with them:
“I think I’ll be gone away awhile
Tell me all the things that I
will be missing here in this old life
cause I just don’t know…..no I just don’t know…”
The audience sang. The band smiled. The audience was amazed- the band was amazed. In the end, there is no way that I (or anyone else, for that matter) can argue against the claim that Crew is the all-American rock band. They know when to rock out, they know when to mellow out, and they know when to be in-between. They perform everything with passion, and they mean everything that they say. They love their fans- they love their home- they love life. They are the personification of the great American ideal of the rock band. Long live Crew.
The Coffee Banc, Broken Arrow, OK
January 22nd, 2005
I didn’t plan on seeing this concert- I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Damon Rexroad is an acoustic singer/songwriter the likes of which you would expect to find in a coffeeshop. He’s quite adequate as a guitarist, quite skilled as a melodist, but he just lacks a certain oomph that would make him more than just a coffeehouse singer.
He played for two hours with only a ten-minute break, but amazingly enough, he got better as it got later into the sets. His best moments came at the very tail end of his second set, when he played the bleary-eyed “Two Lovers” and the sing-along “The Edge”. There were more songs that I enjoyed, but he played a wide variety of songs and I wasn’t paying attention that closely during his first set.
Of that wide variety of music, his best moments came when he was at his mellowest, displaying solid vocal skill and consistently interesting guitar work. The main fault of his faster work was the lack of consistently interesting guitar work, but fortunately, he relied more on his mellow side.
I would recommend seeing Rexroad if you have the chance- of the bloated acoustic singer/songwriter genre, there’s definitely a lot of guys that stand way less of a chance than Rexroad does. If he pared his set down to a small number of his best songs, then I would highly recommend him, but until he does that, I can only say that I would recommend him.
Nordaggio’s Coffeehouse, Tulsa, OK
January 21st, 2005
So I walked into Nordaggio’s (affectionately known as Nord’s) with the expectation of getting a drink and seeing some guy with an acoustic guitar play some catchy songs that he evidently threw his life into. This often is a very, very boring thing- so I was looking forward to getting a drink and trying to ignore the music.
Fortunately, I saw a band carting in a drum kit. This made me happy- because I had some hope for the show again! I watched and waited hopefully as they ran through extended sound checks and technical difficulties, in hopes that there would be something behind this band. Even so, I didn’t get my hopes too high- I mean, it is a coffeeshop.
Goshen then started playing. Their first song was plagued by – you guessed it- technical difficulties, but they cleared up all the problems after the opener, and away they went.
Goshen sounds something like Oasis with a less nasal Robert Smith singing. Tough to imagine, yes, but they really make their indie-rock sound cohesive and enjoyable. In fact, their music is so varied and well-composed that Goshen will appeal equally to fans of such varied fare as Weezer or Pedro the Lion or Death Cab for Cutie. Their short set was straightforward- they didn’t mince words or get highly ornamental with any arrangements. Their simple approach to indie rock was almost part of the charm- any musician could tell that the music was technically not challenging, but the songwriting was definitely above reproach. Their last song was the highlight of the show, with the two guitars complimenting each other nicely, and the vocals hitting all the right places.
I would love to see Goshen play a longer set- their four songs felt more like a sampler of their music than a show. Leave ’em wanting more- isn’t that what every band wants to do?
– Stephen Carradini
Post-rock Takes Hold
This month’s three best tracks, oddly enough, all come from the world of ambient post-rock. The long songs, gentle movement, and sorrowful dirges of post-rock never really were in style, so they can never really fall out of style either. And even if they had fallen out of style, the IC wouldn’t care. Enjoy!
Song: You Still Playing…
Band: Industries of the Blind
Bottom Line: You can’t not be blown away by this.
While bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Mogwai seem to have a firm hold at the top of the instrumental ambient band charts, they can’t help but turn around to see Industries of the Blind quickly gaining ground. In “You Still Playing…” the band explores a healthy number of musical possibilities, a result of the diverse tastes of its seven members. During the nearly 11-minute long song, the listener is carried along on a journey. As the trip begins, soft violin and a mellow drum beat ease the song into an increasingly distorted, tense mixture of string and guitars. After a brief gap, held together by a lengthy fermata in the violin, the band is back, working off another melody. All the while, voices can be heard in the distance. While I’m doing my best to paint a picture of the song, my recommendation is to listen for yourself and experience it. Definitely do check out Industries of the Blind.
Song: When Morning Comes
Album: Morose Code
Bottom Line: Trapnel will lull you into dreamland, but in a very good way.
Hailing from Puerto Rico, Trapnel presents us with “When Morning Comes,” a very gentle and hypnotic tune. As the songs opens with chords from the synthesizer, the listener may not be sure where the song is going, but the guitar line that follows assures the listener that the song means no harm. With vocals as equally tender as the music, you will find yourself drifting off in the music, possibly unable to move. After the first 5 minutes, the band kicks in more, but with the same mesmerizing effect. For fans of bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Trapnel will be right up your alley. With strong production and originality, they just might have what it takes.
Band: Darling at Sea
Bottom Line: Less is more.
Darling at Sea prove that you don’t need solos and whatnot to be powerful. With “Sleepwalk,” the band paints a beautiful image of being in a dreamlike state with their gentle song. With seemingly two guitar melodies and a bass line that could be argued is following the left foot- right foot action of sleepwalking, the song appears to have gained more promise though its limited parts. Any additions would impede on the simplicity of the song. “Sleepwalk” would fit perfectly in numerous movie soundtracks with pictures that it conjures. Feeling stressed? Need to relax? Check out Darling at Sea!
Song: The Sky Retreats
Band: The Crash Engine
Bottom Line: Listen, then see them live
Sounding much in the genre of Sparta, “The Sky Retreats” rocks hard with its addicting funky riff and driving rhythms. The raw vocals match the music well, substantiating its status as “above the rest”. The strong production and overall talent of all the band members seem to take the song a step up from its peers. After my first listen, I had the craving to see The Crash Engine play live. While some bands may be good for a listen in the car, this band is one with such intensity that a live show would seem to let the band display their strengths.
Song: Dead Ends and Cracks in the Pavement
Album: This Means Goodbye EP
Bottom Line: Long Island has churned out at least one more.
Just down the road from Long Island giants Brand New and Taking Back Sunday comes Brookside. After the first beat of “Dead Ends and Cracks in the Pavement,” the listener is immediately thrust into the high energy of the song. From the mid-tempo verse to the sing-along chorus, there is no denying that the band has written a gem. With the lyrical content based around looking back at a past relationship, it’s a song that anyone can relate to.
“We saw the world crash around our feet
We saw the world ignite above my street
You were the girl sitting next to me
You were the girl that made it all complete.”
Song: My Nightmare
Band: September Falling
Label: 9 Down Productions
Bottom Line: Think Three Doors Down, but heavier.
Yes, such is D.C. band September Falling with their song “My Nightmare.” Opening with chorus-soaked guitars in the verse, it sounds almost like a Metallica song. In the chorus, the rock element of the band comes in, fueling the song. Singer Brian Reese’s voice compliments the contrasting verse and chorus, starting gentle and then finding itself more aggresive. Halfway through the song comes the breakdown, one of the heaviest I’ve heard in awhile. I can only imagine how crowds are reacting at this section, being as that I felt the need to rock back and forth in my chair upon listening to it. Overall, September Falling is definitely worth checking out.
Band: Yes, Virginia
Album: We Will Never Be the Same
Bottom Line: You’re going to like this song.
While bands seem to be popping up by the thousands, it can be difficult for everyone to get the recognition they deserve. In that case, this is me giving Yes, Virginia my seal of approval. With “Christine,” they’ve produced an aggressive, up-tempo song about a struggling, lost soul of a girl. While many songs that play with great intensity seem to lose a sense of production, “Christine” still retains its sense of unity. The instincts of the band members clearly have led to a quality product. From the vocals to guitar tone to drum beat and everything in between, this song is refreshing piece of ear candy worthy of a listen.
A Basement, Flint, Michigan
January 7, 2005
So this newer band from the Flint, Michigan area called The Shades wanted to enter the already bustling music scene with a bang. To do so, they held a concert, which I heard about and decided to check out. Little did I know that it was being held in a regular basement! Once I got there, I started to think that maybe this was a huge mistake: I witnessed only a small stage, a cramped basement, and 13 people sitting around. Great- another night wasted. Or so it would seem….
While checking out the whole set-up, I realized that there was a huge crowd filling the basement. In fact, I couldn’t believe the sight as the music began: almost 60 people crammed into a tiny basement. The band started playing their Indie/Rock/Emo songs from their upcoming release [u]From Me to You[/u], expected out next month, and after their first song I was suddenly very excited. Everyone around me was having a blast, the band was nearly flawless in their performance, and the vibes couldn’t have been better. Halfway through the set I don’t think anyone could doubt the strength of The Shades, as they sounded better live then some bands sound in the studio.
Their soft, moving lyrics and well-played rock-out solos put this band in a category few bands fall in: fresh. The Shades sound almost like the Vines mixed with Dashboard Confessional, but with a twist all their own. The band itself was very moving- you could feel the passion invested every song through the energy and feeling invested in the performance.
It was much like a performance you would see at a Dashboard Confessional show, only much smaller. Despite its size and the fact that the show featured a generally new band with unfinished works, everything was astounding. It was everything Indie music should be: untainted, pure fun, and a great performance. I can’t wait until The Shades finish their CD, which I’m sure is going to be phenomenal. You can expect a huge amount of fans at every concert, and CDs going fast from The Shades.
The Shades proved themselves to be a powerful force to be reckoned with, as the Flint music scene couldn’t get enough of this new band. Keep an eye out cause they will be busting out big, soon!
– Tony Kennedy
The Backbooth, Orlando, FL
Friday, January 7, 2005
Tonight, I experienced the awesomeness that is Concisebloc live in concert. The show was held in downtown Orlando, FL, at the Backbooth. The Backbooth is a bar/concert venue which is relatively small, yet overall has great acoustics for live music. This, of course, is amplified by an apparently attentive sound man, as witnessed through observing the band’s sound check. It’s really a great place to see indie music, or just hang out and have a good time. They apparently only sell premium beers, as the typical Budweiser is not on the menu. The Backbooth knows quality when they see it – or drink it!
On to the show. At present, Concisebloc is having some lineup difficulties, as they are seeking a new drummer. The singer’s cousin filled in on drums for tonight’s show. Their bass player was also unable to make it, so the show was played sans bass guitar. This was obviously not a problem, as they still managed to pull off a well performed set, and the music was still able to achieve depth without the bassist’s presence.
As far as stage presence, can we say “phenomenal?” I think we can. They were full of energy, full of enthusiasm, interacted well with the very small audience, and exuded a broad spectrum of emotions. Needless to say, it was an intense set.
They opened the set with “General Warning”, the first track off of their new CD, All I Should Have Said. Right from the start, the band was pumped full of energy. In spite of the fact that there appeared to be maybe 50 people in the venue, they performed as if there were 1,000 people in the crowd, screaming along with fists in the air. If this had been the first time I had heard them, this alone would have instantly made me a fan. They are truly passionate about their music above anything else.
The song that stood out the most was “Perfect People”, a song that Cloud, the band’s singer, wrote for his late brother. The song was performed live with just Cloud singing and playing the keyboard. It is an incredibly honest and personal song, and seeing it performed live was moving beyond belief.
While any band has the potential to be great on CD, what is truly demonstrative of a band’s greatness is the quality of their live performance. Concisebloc is one such band, who sounds great on CD, but provides such an energetic and enthralling live show that fans can’t help but love them. I hope the next time I see them live, there are 500 instead of 50 people watching.
Perhaps the 18+ designation which kept some of the younger crowd away on a Friday night, or perhaps it was Bob Saget performing at the Improv right down the street, but anyone who was not at the Backbooth missed a superb performance.
Interview with Zach Boswell of Crimson Addict
Brothers Zach and Catlin Boswell have been playing under the name Crimson Addict for over four years now, but the current line-up with Jason White and George Herron is the first line-up to stick. My impression from my conversation with Bassist Zach Boswell is that these guys are on the track to make it.
Scott: Alright, let’s start out with everyone’s name and position in the band.
Crimson Addict: Zach Boswell, Bass guitar and vox.
Catlin Boswell, guitar and vox
Jason White, lead guitar
George Herron, Drums
Scott: So, how long have you guys been playing together?
Zach: Well, my brother (Catlin) and I have been playing together since he was 14. We have been playing as Crimson Addict for over 4 years now but with different guitarists and drummers. The current line-up got together between a year and a half to two years ago.
Scott: Cool, so you guys just hooked up with Turnpike Records. How has that been going?
Zach: Turnpike has been great. They are a new label out of Phoenix, Arizona and they have been great for us. They have given us a lot of support and set up a lot of shows for us out here. Even thought they are new and small they have been great with our music and with us.
Scott: So will this release of Leaving No Space Untouched EP on Turnpike differ at all from the self released version that I have?
Zach: Well, we never officially released the EP by ourselves. What you have is the original version of all the songs that we recorded over about 6 months. We did that album all by ourselves. We paid for all the studio time and worked with guys from different record companies to produce the album and had plans to release it but Turnpike got to us and worked out a deal to stick their name on the album and release it through their company. So basically, you got lucky and got an EP that, officially, never got released. And to answer your question there are no differences on the EP from what you have.
Scott: Alright I think I got that. So what were your influences on this EP?
Zach: A bunch of bands. Each was different for each person so I guess I’ll let everyone speak for themselves on this one. Mine were Jimmy Eat World, Thursday, At the Drive In, Glassjaw, This Day Forwards and a bunch of others.
Catlin: Jimmy Eat World, The Cardigans, Further Seems Forever, any folk music and you got to love classic Bruce (Springsteen).
Jason: Jimmy Eat World, Deftones, The Early November, Glassjaw.
Scott: Awesome. So how is the scene out in St. Louis? Are you getting a lot of support form the local kids or are you really having to fight for support?
Zach: St. Louis is great. There are so many bands and they have hooked us up as far as shows go. We only moved out here in June to write and record the new album and we have already played close to 50 shows. Everyone is so supportive and the kids are out to hear music and just want to see you succeed.
Scott: So you’re out in St. Louis to do a new album, how’s that coming?
Zach: Everything is coming together great. We just finished up the demos for the album and are looking to sign to someone to release the album. Everything is written and recorded we just need to do production. There are going to be 11 tracks on the album. Nine new songs and the tracks “Dark Eyes Dreaming” and “A Bleeding Back” off of the EP. The two songs off of Leaving No Space Untouched will be done slightly differently.
Scott: So is there a timeline for the release of the album?
Zach: No definite timeline yet but we are hoping to have the album out late summer of ’05.
Scott: Great, so anything you want to say in closing?
Zach: Just to check out our new EP Leaving No Space Untouched and get ready for a lot of changes in our new album. Our sound has changed as we have matured.
Scott: Thanks man, good luck.
Zach: Great to talk to you.
Interview done November 30, 2004 by phone
Where Did the Music Go?
What happened to the music industry? Yeah, I know, big boo from the peanut gallery, but I want to know, why where there so few decent albums released in ’04? I don’t think I bought 15 major label CDs this year, and that includes all the half decent albums I bought with gift cards from Christmas. Of those 12 or so albums only 7 or 8 of them were full-length albums- the rest were comps or EP’s. Of those 7 or 8 albums I think only 4 were 2004 releases. I know you guys don’t care about my music buying habits but I am getting at a legitimate point, eventually.
Along with there being very few good albums released in ’04 there were almost no moves by the semi-major labels such as Ferret, Trustkill, Victory, Razor and Tie, Vagrant and Drive Thru (even though I hate what Drive Thru stands for, they do have a few good bands). Militia Group is the only label that has made any moves. They picked up Cartel and three other bands around October of ’04. But they seem to be the only ones to have done anything remotely resembling major moves. This lack of movement has caused a backlog of quality unsigned bands, which in turn has caused this zine to be established- so I shouldn’t complain. But at the same time I still listen to music outside of what I review, so I want to have something to enjoy.
Though I feel this backlog of bands is due to stupidity on the semi-majors part, I don’t blame them. This problem is being caused by the major labels no making moves. The majors have decided that people steal so much music off the Internet it doesn’t matter what label the bands are on because the record executives won’t see the money. The majors believe that because the CEO’s of Atlantic, Columbia and Island won’t get their 1.5 million dollar bonus there is no point in moving music, which means they won’t pick up bands from labels like Victory and Vagrant- which means Victory and Vagrant are stuck with the same old bands.
In 2001 and 2002, labels like Victory, Ferret and Trustkill loaded up on new unknown bands. A lot of this was due to the popularity of Thursday and Thrice off Victory. Thursday and Thrice had been signed to Island after putting a single album out on Victory and Sub-City/ Hopeless. Other labels saw this and assumed the same thing would happen to a majority of the bands they picked up. Then the majors got even weirder than usual and refused to pick anyone else up, leaving the semi-majors over-extended and broke, which caused the semi-majors to freeze their signing of new bands. This puts us in the situation we are in now, with very few new bands coming up. You know the music industry is in a bad place when I’m only looking forward to the new Open Hand album on Trustkill and Victory’s only new band The Black Maria’s new album for ’05.
Band Name: Travisjames
Album Name: Instinct
Best element: Alternative/Jazz fusion
Label name: Self-released
Band e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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What happens when you fuse the calming sound of jazz and and the modern alternative vibe? One-man band Travisjames aptly answers this question with his first release, Instinct.
What we have here are nine delightfully soothing tracks which conjure images of Incubus, but refrain from falling entirely into the alternative rock trend by incorporating some modern pop-jazz-rock elements, reminiscent of John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band. This is the perfect soundtrack to a quiet evening of reading, sipping coffee, and feeling relaxed.
In addition to this CD’s soothing nature, the music also has a straight-from-the-heart quality, which is likely one of the benefits of having completely written, performed, and released your own music. There is sincerity to both the vocals and lyrics which makes the listener feel connected to the message Travisjames is conveying in each song.
Band Name: Three Feet Cats
Album Name: Formatting Rising Generations
Best element: I forgot how fun ska music was until now!
Label name: GPS Productions (http://www.genevapunkska.com)
Band Email: email@example.com
This is one angry ska band, make no mistake about it – angry guitar, angry horns, screamy vocals. Anyone who was into ska-punk in the mid 90’s will remember a band called Link 80. Three Feet Cats has the same general feel – like Link 80, their sound is comprised of the horns of ska music, the metal guitar line, hardcore breakdowns, and screamy punk vocals.
There are two weaknesses that Three Feet Cats needs to overcome to be truly great. Their recording leaves a lot to be desired for the vocal track. It is incredibly muffled, making it hard to understand what is being sung, even when following the lyric sheet. Even on the tracks where the vocals are clear, however, the words are very hard to decipher. Then again, it is important to note that, judging by the content of their website, their first language is most likely French. That is as good an excuse as any to forgive the lack of coherent lyrics. As far as the lyrics themselves go, there is definitely some substance, but the writing style lacks maturity. Again, this can be possibly be attributed to having English as a second language. They get an A for effort, nevertheless.
While Three Feet Cats is weak in the language area, it is still a fun band to listen to. Being nearly 10 years removed from the days when this music rocked the indie airwaves, it’s nice to be reminded how fun it was to put on some ska music and skank the night away.