Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Spoonful of Local Flavor Pt. 2 :Tremarche

Hello and welcome to a brand new segment of The Chesterfield King that I'm calling "A Spoonful of Local Flavor." It will join the wildly popular "Songs to Blow Your Mind" as well as the decidedly less popular "Keegan Rants About the Bruins at Great Length" as a (hopefully) recurring post where I discuss bands that are from around the Worcester area or have people I know in them. Really sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that I have begun tagging appropriate posts with the 'Local Flavor' tag which included last month's review of Goddard's Ep. I'm counting that review as the first installment hence today's post being labeled Pt. 2. And what of today's post you ask? Today we're talking about a little Worcester band called Tremarche.

Back when Britney's Spear was alive and kicking, we played a couple of shows with Tremarche and they were pretty good guys. They gave me a pin and a copy of their record once which totally made up for the fact that I've never felt fully comfortable with how I pronounce their name (You'd have to ask them, but I tend to pronounce it like Tree-Marsh, but I'm naturalistically inclined that way).

Musically, their Ep contains six songs of tight, hardcore punk. Good screamy vocals and instrumentation that's more interesting and off-beat than I was expecting. The bass especially departs from the usual eight-note on the root to emerge as force with interesting lines and runs up and down the neck. Some standout tracks on the Ep are "Spraynard Kruger" and "Job Performance Self Evaluation" whose breakdown features an almost Clash-like ease of transition into funk licks and alternative rhythms. It might be the straight ahead hardcore of "Snap King" that is my favorite though. If you'd like to make your own call, you can download the whole Ep here.

Tremarche - Spraynard Kruger

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Cheap Girls/Lemuria Split 7"

Once upon a time I got an email from No Idea Records. It imparted in me the knowledge that Lemuria and Cheap Girls had released a split 7" and that I could BUY IT NOW!!!!! This email was no different from the tens of emails I get every day from No Idea and other labels and I am really good at ignoring all of them. Just ask the single Gaslight Anthem put out for Record Store Day last year. Do I own said record? No, I do not, because I am immune to marketing. But there was something about this email about this record perhaps coupled with the fact that No Idea 7"s are notoriously on the inexpensive side. What I'm trying to tell you guys is that I actually bought this record. Hard copy. Vinyl. And let me tell you: sumbitch is gorgeous. Half pink, half translucent red. And what of the music, you ask? Well I'll tell you (this review is rife with sentence fragments, don't think I don't notice. I like to believe it's my 'voice' and that it's what keeps the people coming back for more).

Musically this record was pretty much what I expected it to be. The Cheap Girls track was fine but it didn't floor me, and the Lemuria numbers split between one I loved and one I really really liked. There. You can go home now (some of you have gone home already. Adam, did you make it this far into a review with the name 'Lemuria' at the top????). Let's start with the offering from Cheap Girls; 'Pure Hate.' It's the same sort of bouncing/driving indie rock that was a hallmark of the better songs on their last album that I reviewed here. For something called 'Pure Hate' it's fairly understated. In fact my big complaint about the song was that when he said the title in the chorus, he kind of swallows it and moves on to the next line. It doesn't sound like pure hate when he sings it, it sounds more like diluted grumpiness. I know it seems like a nit-picky complaint, but it bothered me a little bit every time I listened to the song. Other than that, its fun to listen to, he's got a sweet, plaintive voice that complements well his confessional, personal lyrics, blah blah blah stuff I said in the last review.

Now, I make no apologies about my feelings for Lemuria, and their side of this record doesn't ask me to. I'm going back and forth between drummer Alex Kerns and guitarist Sheena Ozzella in terms of my preferred songwriter. On the last seven I was a much bigger fan of Ozzella's offering but on this record, it's Kerns' hands down. Which isn't to say Sheena's song, Lemons, isn't good. It's great and everything I like in a Lemuria song: swooping female vocals, uptempo musically in direct contrast with stark lyricism. I particularly like the stilted way she gets out the last syllables of the last line "You don't realize how much that hurts me" reproaching a lover who tries to maintain stoicism to the detriment of her feelings. The poignant lyrics that have always been the calling card of this songwriting duo almost seem to still be improving here in their (fourth? fifth?) release.

I've been building to my favorite song, 'Single Mother'. Lyrically it's simple, direct and honest. Maybe five lines to the whole song. It's the kind of song that made Jawbreaker great, deeply personal and without a hint of irony. The repeated line "I'm so terrified, so fucking terrified" grabbed a hold of me the very first time I listened to this record and still hasn't let go. The vibraphone/marimba shook me a bit the first time I heard but it seems to be a sign of the phenomenon I discussed in my Mixtapes review of pop-punk mixing with indie pop. Vocally, 'Single Mother' sees a return to the Ozzella/Kerns harmonies that first caught my attention on Get Better especially on the song 'Pants'.

My wrap-up shouldn't surprise anyone who is a regular reader of this blog. This split is another great offering from Lemuria with a decent Cheap Girls track thrown in as a bonus. I seldom regret a purchase less. You should go out and buy it for yourself. Seriously guys, they're such a great band.

Financial Support Goes Here

Cheap Girls / Lemuria

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: Mixtapes - Castle Songs 7"

Mixtapes is a band that only recently showed up on my radar when they were interviewed on a podcast I listen to, called Rocket Fuel. The host said that it was the funniest interview he'd ever done. Normally I would assume that was the kind of sycophantic bullshit interviewers are always saying (Mike Shea that one was for you buddy. Write about my bands???) but Jeff from Rocket Fuel is a cool dude (we email occasionally, no big deal) whose interviews are better than most so he got the benefit of the doubt. To be honest, I don't remember how funny Mixtapes may or may not have been in their interview, they did make me want to hear everything they'd ever done musically. I'm going to talk about the Lp they put out last year later but I wanted to sneak in now and talk about their brand new 7".

Mixtapes play the kind of pop-punk I'm starting to see more and more of lately with bands like Little Lungs and Candy Hearts what takes the bubblegum of pop-punk so far that it begins to butt up against indie-pop or even -gasp! the horror- twee. It's taking everything I've got not to christen this new movement 'twunk.' How great that does that sound?

But anyway, let's talk about this record. First off, it's short. Really short. By the time you've read to this point, the whole thing has played once, maybe twice if you're a slow reader. The two songs combined don't hit a minute and forty-five seconds so even if you don't like, giving it a listen isn't a huge time commitment. You will like it though. This record is a blast, equal parts snotty punk and adorable. The first song 'Cause I'm a Genius' is a little more on the punk side of things and bounces along to it's chorus(?) before you can really figure out what's going on. It's almost too bad because I would enjoy another 30 seconds of this song (which would double it in length). The second track, 'Hey Baby', is the standout of the two and a pitch perfect break-up song. The singer gets out a little bitterness takes a few shots at his ex's favorite movies (Tim Burton) and music (Strung Out) with lines like "I know, I know, Teenage Wasteland was good, but everyone says that and that record sucks so grow up" before reaching the final line "Hey baby if film school doesn't work out, well it probably won't cause you're not creative." How great is that? There's something about the conversational, lack of pretension in the lyrics that reminds me of some of Black Schwarzenbachs' for Jawbreaker when he channels Frank O'Hara ('Bad Scene, Everybodys Fault' 'Chesterfield Kings') and I can offer no higher praise than that.

I'm not going to post any songs off the album because it's a 7" and I don't do that, but also because you can download it at Death To False Hope Records for a donation. It's worth doing, they're a fun band and if you need a little pick-up for your day, this is the record for you.

Death To False Hope

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Truck Day!

Ahh Truck Day. The day that tells us that soon we will be once again basking in the glory of Red Sox baseball. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting on Sunday, the Bruins play the Canadiens tomorrow. This is like the calm before the awesome storm. Speaking of proverbial calms before proverbial storms; I'm hoping to bang out a few more reviews this week for a couple brand new 7"s and another local band and then I will throw myself into the music of 2010 (here in the second month of 2011). To help you make it until then, here's a video of a very young Jawbreaker playing 'Want' live:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Goddard - S/T Ep

It's fairly rare for me to get into a band after seeing them live. I'm not really taken in by a crazy-wacky stage show and it's rare to have the sound quality at a venue good enough that you can really get a good impression of a band from how they sound live. I'm more likely to find a record I love and then go see the band live rather than the other way around. I tell you all this so that you know how big a deal it is when I say that I saw Goddard play once and I was hooked. It's even more impressive since two thirds of them were incredibly sick when I saw them.

Goddard is a Worcester- based band that's a little hard to nail down genre-wise. So why try you ask? Because categorizing people is something we do here. I'd like to call them emo because they sound like they would fit right into the revolution summer with bands like Embrace, Rites of Spring and Fugazi. But no one really uses 'emo' like that anymore so I guess we can settle with indie. It's intelligent sounding, they aren't afraid to throw plenty of effects on the guitar or even the vocals (lotta reverb up in this one) and nobody's parts seem to be taking the easy ways out. There's an nice back and forth between aggression and atmospherics which puts me in mind of bands like Sunny Day Real Estate that you could just as easily mosh and head-bang to as play while you doze off.

A lot of this seems to be thanks to the guitar which veers wildly back and forth between heavily distorted crunch and single note explorations past the twelfth fret mixed with effects-laden washes of sound. The bass on the other-hand is a little harder to nail down description wise. It reminds me a lot of Chris Bauermeister's playing on the Jawbreaker records that aren't produced all to hell (cough, cough, Dear You cough). She isn't just playing 8th notes on the root, but the bass is omnipresent and driving like a root note line. And it has this nice crunchy but not to crunchy sound that you hear on a lot of melodic punk albums but without the metallic edge they sometimes get. The drums follow suit in eschewing stock beats and really pulling their weight in what is a really full sounding trio.

Have you noticed that I seem to gush even worse than usual about local bands? There was that time I said Britney's Spear was the future of punk rock (which looks biased in hindsight but wasn't I swear) and now Goddard. But the point is that these guys deserve all the success they can get and their Ep is only three songs so there's really no excuse for the five people out there who read this to not give it a listen, or if you happen to be in Easthampton tonight, head over to Flywheel and catch them live with Motel Mattress as well as another Worcester band, Tremarche (who I might be talking about as soon as tomorrow!). I'll leave you with a video from the show I first saw them at as well as a link to their bandcamp page and maybe even an mp3 here for those of you who are too lazy to click on through.

Goddard - Feedback 11/6/10 @The Firehouse Worcester from Shiner555 on Vimeo.

Goddard - N/S

Financial Support Goes Here (yeah it's free but I'm loathe to break formatting)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Slightly Video Heavy Entry

It's A/V time kids!!!!

But seriously, lotta video content, comin' atcha! (Why I am the way that I am?)

First off, the youngest of the bands that I'm in, the amusingly named Go Home, played our first show ever on Friday in a Battle of the Bands sponsored by my alma mater. Go Home has Sean and I from Kid Omega, Adam Linder from Sister City/(Person) (Noun) and Tristan Shippen from.....ITS (yup that's happening). The good news is: we won!!! The better news is: we got it all on video!!! In the interest of brevity I'm not going to post every song but I would encourage you to go watch them all here. Since I'm incredibly self-centered though, I'm going to post the one I sing on. Some of you may recognize it, it's a Kid Omega song (we haven't written enough Go Home songs, so we did one Kid O and three from Adam's projects). To be honest I'm posting it because it amuses me the most. Be sure to notice the number of times I drop lyrics or forget I'm supposed to be singing and Adam has to save me.

There, wasn't that fun? I thought so too. In other news, I've finished all the music for the new Kid O record, now I'm just finishing up some lyrics and we'll be in business. Maybe I'll even throw some demos up here and it'll be like the old days.

If you'll allow me to get a little serious now dear readers, life isn't all rock and roll dreams of winning battles and making money so let's end things on a serious note. Here's the video for the last song Warren Zevon ever wrote as well as his last appearance on David Letterman. I could be wrong but I think Dave stops several times to collect himself.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: Between the Buried and Me - The Great Misdirect

Here it is folks, my last (for the most part) review of an album to come out in the year 2009. Just in time to be done with 2010. Ah well, maybe someday I'll be all caught up. I wouldn't hold my breath though. This is going to be a short review today too mostly because I don't have the chops or the patience to really parse out enough from songs this long (three break double digits for minutes and a fourth is nine and a quarter).

Between the Buried and Me have always distanced themselves from the rest of their progressive/metalcore peers through their extreme technical proficiency and their willingness to flaunt their disparate influences (they're named for a Counting Crows lyric for god's sake). The Great Misdirect is characterized by switches back and forth between brutal metalcore and examples of the other, mellower and diverse genres the band is capable of playing. Sometimes these diversions are entire songs, like the mellow quiet first track, 'Mirrors' or 'Desert of Song' which has an Americana sound (complete with wind/highway noises in the background) that wouldn't be out of place on a Murder by Death record. Other times songs contain both aspects such as 'Obfuscation' which cycles between ambient music and all out hardcore or "Disease, Injury, Madness' which punctuates its frantic riffage with breaks featuring Weather Report-esque bass solos. The best example of this though, is the, um, differently titled 'Fossil Genera - A Feed From Cloud Mountain.' This track starts with a carnival, almost calliope sounding, bar room piano riff and maintains that feel throughout the track. Then at regular intervals, the band comes in for lots of screaming riffy goodness. Even when the main focus becomes the hardcore maelstrom, you can still hear the waltz beat going on underneath.

In other news, I got in a car accident three days ago so I'm going to wrap this review up early, because my ears are still ringing and the last thing I want to do is go back and re-listen to a metalcore album to see if I missed anything. I've said it before and I'll say it now, if you like hardcore music you'll find this to be a challenging (in a mentally stimulating kind of way) listen. If you don't like hardcore music, this probably won't be your gateway band. Though now that I think of it, if you're really into music and technical proficiency, interesting time signatures etc, BTBAM kind of have the goods to make you see beyond the screamy bits (which are a bit hard to deny, dude can growl, scream and bree with the best of them) and to recognize this for the impressive and adventurous album that it is.

I was also going to write in this post about how I just saw the two Scorpion King movies. Let me just say, don't make my mistake. The first one is technically a prequel to the movie The Mummy but was made before the most recent Mummy movie (you know, the one set in china that they couldn't get anyone except Brendan Fraser to come back for? I'm sorry, once Rachel Weisz was gone my interest dissipated rapidly). I tell you this because it was also subtitled The Mummy 3, which was presumably a bit of a snafu when they decided to actually make a third Mummy movie, but I digress. The first SK is not totally mind numbingly bad. Anyone who has heard me talk about Van Helsing, The Brothers Grimm or the Transporter franchise knows that I am a big fan of the bad but entertaining action movie. They have huge budgets, lots of special effects, and everyone knows they aren't taking home an Oscar at the end of the day. If you go in not expect much, it can be a great use of a couple hours. Obviously, the first SK is toward the bottom of that category, presumably hanging out with XXX. It's kind of fun watching The Rock run around pretending he can carry a real movie all by himself since he has two whole years before Walking Tall proves unequivocally that no, no he can't. In the end spoiler alert bad guys get jacked up, the good guy ends up with what could charitably be called the 'hot chick' and the fair citizens of whatever backwater Greek? Egyptian? Macedonian? city get a new and more just ruler who some how is going to turn out to be the asshole in the second installment of The Mummy. Sumbitch doesn't pass the Bechdel test (though weirdly enough the second one kind of does) but it won't make you cut your eyes out.

Which brings me to the second one, which apparently and unsurprisingly went straight to DVD. First of all it's prequel to the first SK which makes it a prequel to a prequel to an only moderately watchable trio of big budget summer action movies which, and I can't stress this enough, STARRED BRENDAN F***ING FRASER, heir the Nick Cage-school-of-Drama- Valedictorian robe. Where was I? Ah yes, Scorpion King II. This is an abomination. I think it should suffice to say that probably the best acting in the movie is done by former UFC fighter Randy Couture. That's right, a man who used to get beaten around the head for a living, is the most convincing actor in this movie. And don't get me wrong, he's awful. But everyone else is so much worse. Our main character looks like the most ethnic of the Jonas brothers but then has this freakishly huge chest and keeps hitting poses like he's going to be on the cover of a romance novel, which to be fair is probably right up his alley. His supposed love interest is so caught up in trying to be the convincing wannabe- warrior tomboy while at the same time avoiding anachronism (HA!) that she never really does anything. Sample dialog:
Girl: I could easily beat you. I could be a warrior, you know I can fight.
Boy: Yes, but you can't ever be a warrior because you are a girl.
Girl: This is true.
She's so busy not being empowered she even forgets to establish any sort attraction to our dummkopf hero until right toward the end of the movie. Even then she never says she loves him, she instead yells to the goddess of death that our hero would never choose said-goddess because he is in love with her. This is literally the first we've heard about it, since other than simply being differently gendered, presumably heterosexual people of similar ages there is little to no chemistry between them. As for the aforementioned goddess of death she shifts back and forth between trying to be frightening and trying to be seductive and fails wildly at both. I'm afraid this makes me sound like a shallow person but I find it hard to believe we couldn't have found attractive people for these roles, since talent clearly wasn't a requirement.

Ok I've run out of steam on what might be my longest post ever, So I guess I'll just put up the video from BTBAM and call it a night. Sorry no mp3 on this one since there were only 6 tracks on the album and I don't like giving away that high a percentage even if it is for sampling purposes only -wink- (that's going to get me in trouble). Anyhoo... here's hoping everyone had a good new years, has a better next year and that the ringing in my ears goes away soon.

Financial Support Goes Here

Between the Buried and Me