New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

Tag: EULA band

Parlor Walls Entertain Bushwick, Then Hit Cake Shop with Their Goodies

Parlor Walls have a bracingly fun ep that for lack of a better word could be called noiserock, a free download at Bandcamp. But they’re way more than that – and they have a lot more material than just what’s up there. A couple of weeks ago at the laid-back new venue Alphaville in Bushwick, they did more onstage in barely half an hour than most bands could do in two. While there’s no predictable verse/chorus structure to their songs and they like noise as much as tunes, their material can be awfully catchy.: when they have to, they keep things simple. They’re playing at 9 PM on June 25 at Cake Shop; cover is $8 and worth it. They’re also at Trans-Pecos the following night, June 26 at 9, opening for no wave sax legend James Chance; cover is $10.

Even though the Bushwick gig was late on a work night, there was a good crowd in the house, and the band kept them there. Frontwoman/guitarist Alyse Lamb – better known as the leader of the very popular Eula – would switch in a split-second from throwing off shards of reverb, to apprehensive postpunk chromatics, a hint of Chris Isaak noir twang, and oldfashioned punk rock roar. Meanwhile, drummer Chris Mulligan held down a thunderously swinging pulse and anchored the songs with deep washes of organ at the same time. This band’s ancestor, lineupwise if not exactly stylistically, is cult classic dark blues duo Mr. Airplane Man.

Guest alto saxophonist Kate Mohanty added an element of surprise, switching between blustery postbop jazz clusters, trickily rhythmic indie classical circles, reverb-drenched no wave acidity, abrasive duotone washes and catchy, blippy, polyrhythmic phrases. There was a menacingly psychedelic, drony quality to a couple of songs, like the Black Angels on molly. Other songs introduced tricky tempos (if memory serves right, one was in 9/8), dreamy/biting organ/guitar contrasts; and half the time it was impossible to tell who was playing the high frequencies, Lamb or Mohanty, the sound was so immersive. Persistent Daydream Nation echoes surfaced and then resurfaced frequently, Lamb’s vocals somewhat less agitated than they can be in Eula. And the trio did all this within the constrictions of maybe three minutes per song at the absolute max.

And there were fringe benefits: Lamb had brought lots of delicious homemade oatmeal-banana cookies. A whole tupperware containerful! They were almost as good as the music. On a night when the trains were all messed up and there was no telling how long it was going to take to get home, and stopping at a deli might mean missing the last train and a long walk to Myrtle Avenue, that hit the spot. Not that there’s any guarantee that there’ll be free munchies at the Cake Shop gig, but…you never know. It is Cake Shop after all.

A Deliciously Noisy New Free Download and Some Brooklyn Shows from Parlor Walls

Guitarist/singer Alyse Lamb is best known for her work leading Eula, who’ve generated a ton of buzz over the past year, and deservedly so. But she has another project, Parlor Walls, with her partner Chris Mulligan. How do the two bands compare? Lamb is equally adept at noise and melody, and has a very distinctive sound: generally speaking, Parlor Walls is less minimalist and tends to be more straight-ahead, rhythmically speaking. You could pigeonhole both bands as postpunk or noiserock, but they transcend both labels. Parlor Walls have a debut ep up at Bandcamp as a free download and have been playing a lot this month. On Wednesday, June 10 they’ll be at Alphaville, 140 Wilson Ave (Snydam/Willoughby) in Bushwick, take the M to Central Ave. On June 25 they’ll be at Cake Shop at 11 for $8. And Eula will be at Palisades on June 13 at 8 for $15 followed by what looks like a big gay meat market night.

What does the Parlor Walls album sound like? About eleven minutes of corrosive fun. The guitars distort into the red and crack up, or throw off jagged metal shards of reverb. Creepy organ lingers back in the mix like a stalker, set against an  explosively tight beat. Mississippi, the opening track, hints at an industrial/drone vibe before hitting a punchy, bristling, tastily chromatic My Sharona groove. Lamb’s high, insistent vocals on Bon Nuit could imply seduction, violence or both over a menacing major-on-minor guitar/organ backdrop that goes completely off the edge at the end of the verse.

Cover Me, with its skronk and fuzz and feedback, is probably the closest thing to Eula here. The final cut is Seeds, conjuring up Sister-era SY in about 100 seconds of stomp. Fire up the wifi and grab this tasty slice of the good side of Brooklyn, 2015, while it’s here.

A Deliciously Menacing New Album and a Palisades Show from Edgy Postpunks Eula

Eula are one of the most individualistic bands in New York. As noisy as they can be onstage, the noise works because throughout their terse, relatively short postpunk songs, there’s always an underlying tune. Frontwoman/guitarist Alyse Lamb knows all the most menacing places on the fretboard and makes it to all of them on the band’s meticulously arranged new cassette album (which isn’t out yet, hence no streaming link, although a couple of tracks are up at Bandcamp and Soundcloud). Although they’ve been lumped in with the indie crowd, Eula are too edgy, purposeful and often downright Lynchian to be tagged with that logo. You have to go back a few years, to groups like the Throwing Muses at their most assaultive, or to Siouxsie & the Banshees, to find a real point of comparison. They’re playing the album release show at Palisades in Bushwick at around 11 on March 5, with psychedelic noiserock legend Martin Bisi, who produced it, playing earlier at around 9 along with a Swan and an ex-Sonic Youth: cover charge TBA. Eula will also be at Abbey’s Pub at 407 Monmouth St. in Jersey City on March 8 at around 11.

The album kicks off with Noose, which artfully scatters all kinds of eerily ringing, resonant shards of guitar over a percussively pitchblende, looping, qawwali-influenced groove. I Collapse reminds of X circa Wild Gift, bassist Jeff Maleri and drummer Nathan Rose giving it a galloping rhythm until Lamb’s guitar explodes on the chorus: “Can you handle nasty weather?” is the mantra.

Maleri’s creepy, bolero-ish bass and Rose’s murky cymbal washes open Little Hearts, which builds to another volcanic chorus before Lamb goes back to a whispery noir insistence: “And then you wake to find the circumstances are not so kind.” She anchors the snide, sarcastic Orderly in stomping, jagged, early Joy Division minimalism.

Rising slowly out of hypnotically misty jangle to a wistfully echoey sway, The Destroyer brings to mind Boston’s great Black Fortress of Opium. Like No Other also sways along, juxtaposing aggressive, late Sleater-Kinney style vocals against a swooping, looping backdrop. With its distant hints of Indian music and dark Appalachian folk, the subdued Your Beat is the album’s catchiest track.

Driven by Maleri’s gritty, circling bass, Aplomb is as punk as these songs get, followed by the noisiest number here, Meadows. The album – one of 2015’s three or four best up to this point – winds up with the trippy, disquietingly echoey Monument. Expect the band to rip these songs to shreds onstage, possibly with a power assist from some special guests.

A Killer Noisy-But-Tuneful Triplebill at Glasslands

Tuesday night’s show at Glasslands was as good as the segues were weird. You might not guess that a free jazz freakout followed by artfully if haphazardly assembled, psychedelically tinged soul music and then an explosive female-fronted rock band would make any sense together, but it all did. Was Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier going to break his sticks, shatter a cymbal or puncture a drumhead with his axe-murderer attack on the kit? After his barely half-hour set with the trio Short Nerve ended with a final wallop, it seemed that he’d gotten two out of three, at least. Marimbist William Mcyntire played good cop to Saunier’s relentless, Weasel Walter-ish assault, with lingering, resonant lines and rippling neoromantic cascades, while guitarist Ofir Ganon hung back with a spacious, often eerily echoey approach that brought to mind 60s avant garde great Gabor Szabo. That was the trio’s game plan early on, in an explosive, nonstop performance that rose and fell in waves, building to a couple of crazed cyclotron crescendos.

Adam Schatz of Landlady followed with a nimbly executed set of loopmusic soul that drew deeply on classic blues and soul music from the 50s through the 70s. Schatz began with a surreal, dizzying pastiche of dark blues motives and then played a handful of originals that evoked both Bill Withers and Al Green in places. Schatz’s gritty, expressive voice brought to mind the former more than the latter as he shifted from tenor sax to keyboards with the kind of split-second choreography you need if you’re going to construct a song out of loops, live onstage without a net, and make it work. He ended his roughly half an hour onstage by going out into the crowd with his sax to lead them in an animated singalong of P-Funk’s I Got a Thing.

Eula headlined. They’re an amazing band, plain and simple, with an intense, instantly recognizable sound, part postpunk, part noiserock, punctuating their jaggedly catchy themes with hard-hitting, hypnotic interludes that you could call postrock. The trio of frontwoman/guitarist Alyse Lamb, bassist Jeff Maleri and drummer Stephen Reader took the stage joined by guitarist Chris Mulligan – who played terse, incisive licks against Lamb’s searing, sinister chords – along with clarinetist Jason Shelton, whose washes of sound added a distantly flickering ambience. From the dusky, hypnotically galloping, qawwali-esque groove of their opener, Noose, they established a menacing ambience  that seldom relented. Why is it that so many lefty guitarists – Hendrix, Otis Rush, Randi Russo and Lamb herself – have such individualistic styles? She was inspiring to watch, leaping from flurries of abrasive noise, to ringing downstroke punk, the occasional dreampop swirl and on one of the set’s later numbers, an achingly unresolved yet wickedly catchy series of acidic chords that Thurston Moore would have been proud to come up with. While the band’s songs were short, seldom clocking in at more than a couple of minutes apiece, Lamb varied her attack and her dynamics as she explored every dark corner of the fretboard.

When she talked to the crowd, she was friendly and vivacious, but when she went to the mic there was venom in her voice and in an instant she’d reestalished a disquieting mood. The special guests stuck around for the second song, Your Beat, an even more hypnotic, one-chord minor key tune followed by the funky, Gang of Four-inflected Things, one of many new songs in the tantalizingly brief set. They brought back the qawwali sonics and raised them to a hardcore stomp on the next song, Aplomb, following with I Collapse, with its swaying groove and biting, vintage 80s Sonic Youth/Live Skull hooks. On the night’s last, savagely brief tune, Meadows, Lamb didn’t even bother playing chords or a melody, hitting her open strings and punctuating the wash of sound with rhythmic shrieks of feedback from her overdriven amp. It’s a simple trick, one you’d think someone else would have used before, and it was an apt way to close the show and sum up what this band’s about.