New York Music Daily

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Tag: punk rock

The Juliett Class Bring Their Dark Roar to Bushwick Next Week

When’s the last there was a great, loud rock triplebill in New York that wasn’t all metal bands? One of the best lineups of the year is happening this Oct 7 at Our Wicked Lady with three groups that mix up psychedelic punk and new wave-era sounds. The centerpiece of the bill is the Electric Mess, New York’s answer to Radio Birdman. Movie Movie, who include members of that band as well as Twin Guns axeman Andrea Sicco open the night at 8. Darkly catchy, purposeful all-female power trio the Juliett Class headline at 10. The club seems oblivious to #cashalways and for the moment is onboard with the goofy online ticketing fad, which means that the cool kids with cash will most likely have to fork over $14 at the door. It’s hard to imagine a door person fumbling around with nickels and dimes in the dark.

The Juliett Class’ debut album is just out and up at Bandcamp. The first song, Shut Off is like an early version of Joy Division doing Transmission, but with a woman out front – right down to frontwoman Niabi Aquena’s wounded, angst-fueled vocals over Joan Sullivan’s incisive bass. Drummer Heather Wagner adds some theremin textures for extra swirl

They slow down for Highway Girl, a burning, swaying tune where Aquena multitracks her vocals for a haunting counterpoint. Ohio is an original, not the Neil Young protest song, the trio picking up from a slow simmer to a stomp. They wind up the album with Next Week, their Dead Souls: “I am trying to make it through next week,” is Aquena’s mantra. Simple, effective, dark and catchy and one of the best short albums of the year.

One of New York’s Best Powerpop Bands Stands Up For the People of Ukraine

The only side this blog takes as far as the war in Ukraine is concerned is with the people against the governments. Zelensky is a World Economic Forum puppet and evil AF. Putin is just as horrible: he claims to have poisoned the entire Russian army with a domestic version of the lethal Astra Zeneca injection. As usual, it’s the people of Ukraine and Russia who are being screwed. For those who’d like to help civilians in Ukraine, there’s a benefit concert on Sept 30 at Otto’s with a very diverse lineup playing to benefit Razom For Ukraine. Artists on the bill include songwriter and visual artist Kassaye Selassie, Granite to Glass, Americana harmony duo Raising Daughters, the reliably ferocious Giftshop, edgy powerpop songwriter Abbie Roper, country-folk two-piece Plane Station, sardonic powerpopstress Carissa Johnson and others.

The night’s centerpiece is the smart, wickedly tuneful Giftshop, who have been featured on this page before and play a slashing mix of dark powerpop and punk at 8 PM. They’ve gotten a lot of press here, not just because they’re a good band, but because they were pioneers in making practically their entire discography available as free downloads. It’s the best possible advertising for their live show.

One album of theirs that hasn’t made it to the front page here til now is their Blue Monster record, from 2017. It captures the moment when they transitioned from  the harder, original punk sound into the darker, sleeker, more lyrically rich territory they’ve been mining in more recent years.

The opening number is Despicable, a catchy riff-driven dis song that seems designed for audience participation. Track two is Cill the Choreographer, which with a luscious blend of Fender Twin guitar sonics could be a New York version of the Avengers. And it’s even more venomous.

The band hit a slashing minor key pulse in track three, Dangerous, frontwoman Meghan Taylor sending out a word of warning to everyone on the junkie tip. Then she and the band flip the script with Doncha Know, a detour into lingering Lynchian Julee Cruise pop.

Red Letter Day comes across as the UK Subs with a young Belinda Carlisle out front. Spooky Halloween Christmas is a ghoulishly good punkabilly tune to get you psyched for next month (and New York Music Daily’s upcoming, annual monthlong Halloween celebration!). They close the album with a brilliantly turbocharged cover of the Motels classic Only the Lonely. Grab this while it lasts.

Giftshop are also on a killer twinbill at the Parkside with the similarly fiery, female-fronted Castle Black on Oct 21 at 8 PM.

The Attacca Quartet Play Outdoors This Month. and Stagedive Into Punk Classical

Quick: name the New York string quartet who’ve played for a larger live audience than any of their peers. Obviously, that’s kind of a trick question since those groups typically all share a circuit of intimate spaces best suited to that repertoire.

Some of you might be surprised to find out that the answer to that question is the Attacca Quartet, who were invited by Jeff Lynne to open for the Electric Light Orchestra at that group’s Manhattan appearances during the mid-teens. What may have endeared them to him is their dedication to material far outside of standard repertoire, as well as their fondness for unorthodox venues.

One unorthodox space they’re playing this month is Madison Square Park, where they’re holding down a three-week Wednesday evening residency starting on July 13 at 6 PM and continuing with shows on the 20th and 27th. While they tackle a vast range of material from 21st century works, to art-rock with songwriter Becca Stevens, all the way back to Renaissance composers like John Dowland, they also have a punk side. And a punk classical album, Real Life, streaming at Spotify. It’s possible they may air some of that one out in the park.

The album’s shtick is string quartet arrangements of EDM themes. They’re simple and repetitive and obviously weren’t originally conceived for any kind of close listening, let alone much of a shelf life. To call their insistent riffs and endless whoomp-whoomp rhythms minimalist would be giving them too much credit – and the quartet seem to get that. This is closer to the early Kronos Quartet at their cheekiest, or Rasputina, than it is to, say, the fluffy orchestral versions of RZA or J Dilla themes that have been staged in recent years.

Cellist Andrew Yee seems to relish the chance to dig in hard on the low end, whether with his bow or his fingers. Violinists Amy Schroeder and Domenic Salerni and violist Nathan Schram are most likely playing their parts straight through rather than simply looping them. There is also a percussive component, which seems to be electroacoustic: it’s not clear who’s on the drums.

The quartet have the most fun when they’re ornamenting the sound with saucy glissandos, pizzicato flickers, mimicking the sound of a backward-masking pedal, or building hazy ambience before the whoomp-whoomp kicks in. There’s a drifting, summery interlude which looks back to 70s disco, as well as moments of sheer chaos and a woozy, wallowing tableau. This is a gimmicky record, but it’s fair to say that these versions will outlast the source material. And you can do the punk rock dance to most of it.

Serious Fun: News and Songs for July 8

Because we don’t live in a bubble, today’s playlist is part funny and part really scary. The Covid shot is dead in the water and the pivot to monkeypox (which is really shingles from the Covid shot) isn’t catching on. So now it looks like Marburg virus is being floated as the next plandemic. Let’s keep our eye on it. In the meantime, tonight we have some awesome news, some snarky memes, some more sobering information to ground us, and then let’s close with a mix of songs which are all over the place stylistically but also a lot of fun. Literally something for everybody today: click on artist or author names for their webpages, click on titles for audio and visuals.

On the good news front, in the wee hours of July 6 the Georgia Guidestones were struck by lightning, taking out one of the obelisks and destabilizing the rest of the structure. The remaining pieces of the notorious edifice – erected under a cloak of secrecy in 1980 as a monument to future global genocide – were demolished by a bucket loader the next day. Celia Farber offers a characteristically smart, succinct take on it.

Dr. Monica Hughes has the best memes about it: ever notice how closely the structure resembled the World Trade Center?

Speaking of meme-meisters, here’s the latest from illustrator Bob Moran on the removal of WEF puppet Boris Johnson.

One more funny one before we get to the nitty gritty: the 2030 Food Pyramid, courtesy of El Gato Malo

Now we get serious. Brooklyn’s own Brucha Weisberger, one of this city’s leading freedom fighters, has put together a brilliant flyer comparing the events of 1942 with 2022: “You are a conspiracy theorist, a wacko and an antigasser!”

Dr. Pam Popper, author of the very first plandemic expose, Covid Operation and founder of Make Americans Free Again, has a very succinct video about the myth of cat-to-human Covid transmission…and how first the Nazis came for the Jews’ pets. The meat of the video starts at about 8:00.

Now for some tunes! At the top of the list is Johnny Bitcoin doing Take This Jab and Shove It: “The CDC can KMA for all the things they did, they’re guttier than hell to think they’re gonna shoot that crap in our kids.”

Van Morrison, who has reinvented himself as the hottest protest songsmith in the North Atlantic, admits that he’s Dangerous: “Somebody said I was dangerous, I must be getting close to the truth!”

Alice Cohen keeps the scary vibe going with Wild Wolf, a trip-hop tune with jangly folk noir guitar grafted on. On one hand, this is totally 90s, on the other it’s completely in the here and now.

Most Amy Winehouse imitators can’t compare with the original, but Long Island City soul singer Jennah Vox picks up where she left off with a cool hip-hop edge in her single, Cannibal. Scroll down the page a little for the audio: “Spent all these years trying to read these strange men.”

Aubrey Haddad’s Future Boxes is a calmly defiant mashup of icy 80s new wave and late 90s neosoul with an understated message: don’t buy the false dichotomy,

Blixie Perestroika’s latest, Everything and Nothing makes a good segue: hazy trip-hop explodes into fierce darkwave, with a creepy gothic video. The gist of it is coming to grips with finding out that your idols are really hollow illusions

The charge continues with some classic CBGB style punk rock in Vixen77‘s witchy, chromatic single Your Love.

Let’s end this on a positive note with the Let’s Go Brandon mug, which is a predictable kind of funny, but will be a collectible once we get to the other side of this insanity – and it benefits a good cause. Thanks to Libs of Tik Tok for passing this along.

Punk-Soul Legend Jon Spencer Bursts Out of Lockdown With a Funny New Album

If Jon Spencer never made another record, his place in New York rock history would be secure. The genius of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was that they were able to carve out a distinctive niche in the gutter blues scene here by adding a more colorful, focused soul and garage rock-influenced sound. Where, say, the Chrome Cranks pursued an unhinged, doomed junkie fixation, JSBX played party music. And (along with their more lyrically inclined colleagues White Hassle) they beat the White Stripes to the bassless shtick by several years.

Fast forward to 2022: Spencer has a new band, the HITmakers, and a new album Spencer Gets It Lit streaming at Bandcamp. This isn’t the first time Spencer has worked without a guitar sparring partner: his foil on the record is keyboardist Sam Coomes. M. Sord plays drums; former Sonic Youth Bob Bert is credited with “trash.” His bangable metallic objects punch through the surface from time to time, but the effect is more organic than industrial. All of this you can dance to.

They open the record with Junk Man, a fuzztone Stooges take on roller-rink soul. Then they pull back on the fuzz and ramp up the catchy 60s psych-pop riffs in Get It Right Now.

There are a grand total of fifteen tracks on this album: Spencer does not cheat his fans. Among them, there’s a skeletal, hypnotic one-chord stomp punctuated by a couple of creepy surf interludes. Spencer cleverly pokes the TV Eye riff out over clouds of buzzy synth. He mashes up Roky Erikson clang with a 90s loopiness, then does the same a little later on with late 70s Rockpile twang and woozy new wave.

Sometimes he harmonizes his riffs with the keys, sometimes he lets the synth weave around: he’s never played more minimalistically than he does here. He often throws in some surreal, sometimes sinister spoken word that draws a straight line back to Iggy through the Eels’ Mark E. Beyond sheer craftsmanship, this isn’t particularly serious music, but there are lots of good jokes if you listen closely.

Faithless Town Release the Best Freedom Anthem of 2022 So Far

There’s been a lot of great freedom music released this year, but the best song of the bunch so far is Atlanta band Faithless Town‘s Live Free. It’s a defiantly swaying protest anthem, a mashup of ELO and peak-era Oasis, a bittersweet symphony for 2022. Frontman/guitarist Gene Owens reminds that now is not the time to be riding the fence:

Open your eyes
And see the lies
That you’ve been told
Your mind doesn’t belong to you anymore
Fear is not a virtue
It’s time to be brave
Do you wanna live free or die as a slave’

And the video is inspiring, a montage largely taken from the Highwire coverage of the London protests last summer.

The song is the centerpiece of the band’s new album Into The Light Vol.1, streaming at Bandcamp. It’s the first part of a full-length record that’s on track to be finished later this summer. The band have been through some personnel changes, but the current lineup of Owens with Aaron Rogers on lead guitar, Nathan Rudolf on bass and Vic Fischer on drums is arguably their strongest ever. Owens’ smartly crafted tunesmithing spans from punkabilly to Americana to lyrical, singalong stadium rock, occasionally bolstered by organ or strings behind the twin-guitar attack.

The opening track is Berkshire, a stomping, Celtic-tinged punk tune that brings to mind Stiff Little Fingers or Wormburner. The group follow with Not Goodbye, a soaring, bittersweet anthem in the same vein, with a tantalizing, slashing Rogers guitar solo at the center

What I’m Dreaming Of is a swaying, distantly Beatlesque, midtempo salute to being openminded in an era of endless divide-and-conquer: “Don’t trust the TV, don’t believe your feed,” Owens cautions. The band take a detour into a vein they explored earlier in their career with Coal Mining Man, a Nashville gothic-flavored workingman’s lament about the decline of the domestic coal industry.

They go back to a Reducers-style garage-punk punch with Someone to Think Of and close the record with Do Not Comply, a relentless, hard-hitting, cynical singalong:

One shot to buy your freedom
Two shots to go outside
Three shots to see your family
Four shots and then you die
Do not comply
See through their lies
Do not comply or you’ll die

Faithless Town’s next gig is May 27 at 9 PM at Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave NE in Atlanta with swamp rockers Handsome Jack; cover is $10.

Catchy Powerpop and Dark Female-Fronted Punk Sounds in Astoria This Friday Night

Giftshop have been one of New York’s most distinctively catchy bands for more than a decade. Under the best circumstances, that kind of tenacity is rare. At this point in history, it’s even more of an achievement that the punk/powerpop quartet not only survived the lockdown but managed to put out some great singles over the last several months. Frontwoman Meghan Taylor is bringing the band, her powerful pipes and simmering, sardonic songs to a gig on May 20 at 9 PM at the Shillelagh Tavern, 47-22 30th Ave. in Astoria; take the N/R to 46th St.

Giftshop are also the rare band who have figured out the marketing value in putting their studio work out as free downloads: truth in advertising. Their most recent album, Biginastoria, does not seem to be the least bit sarcastically titled. A previous release, Tourist Trap goes back to 2013, has a louder punk rock crunch.

The opening track, Left Right would have ruled the college airwaves if the band had existed thirty years earlier. It’s a snide antiauthoritarian blend of skittish late 70s XTC new wave with a harder-edged, syncopated New York stomp.

Shine is not the Psychedelic Furs classic but a catchy, slurry riff-rock anthem. Anything Anything is a throwback to Garbage (or Missing Persons, ten years before that), with a surprise bass solo.

Taylor sends a ridiculously funny shout-out to a distinctly New England breed of dirtbag party animal in Parking Lot Astronaut, then the band blast through You Can’t Make Me at practically hardcore speed. They wind up the record with C’mon, which seems designed for audience participation. This is a fun look back to a time when the group wasn’t quite so dark or complex; then again, that could be said for the world in general.

Giftshop Bring Their Catchy, Powerful Tunesmithing to a Benefit for Ukraine on the 30th

Giftshop are a throwback to an era when loud guitar-driven three-minute songs were an art form. This blog has called the band the missing link between Blondie and the Distillers. At this point in their career, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re a crunchier version of the Go-Go’s. Their worldview is sharp, their songwriting is wickedly catchy and retro in a classic late 70s CBGB-style powerpop vein, and frontwoman Meghan Taylor has one of the most memorable, powerful wails of any singer in New York They’re headlining a benefit for Ukraine this weekend at Otto’s at around 9 PM on April 30. It’s a pass-the-bucket situation with all proceeds going to Razom for Ukraine. The Sloe Guns, who have been one of New York’s smartest Americana bands for going on two decades, play before at around 8.

Giftshop also know know something about marketing: practically their entire output since 2012 is up at their music page as a free download, and all of it is worth owning. This is the giftshop that keeps on giving! Their most recent singles are particularly choice. The newest and best one is More Than That, a searing reminiscence of the “wasted time and wasted years” since March of 2020, referencing Big Pharma fearmongering and “weaponized hugs.” It could be the best song of the year so far.

Another good one is Kewl With Me, a pulsing, riff-driven early new wave era-style number and showcase for Taylor’s powerful pipes. Matt Santoro varies his guitar textures from jangle to roar over Damian Eckstein’s buzzy bass and Jordan Kramer’s drums in Stylish Junkie, a snarling, sarcastic slap upside of the head of a girl who puts “the under in underwear.”

Their most recent album, Biginastoria came out in 2019. It’s one catchy, tantalizingly brief nonconformist anthem after another, They open it with We Want You, a sarcastically marching, synthy new wave tune, then Taylor takes aim at narcissistic trendoid groupthink in Same: “The rest of us just don’t buy in,” is the mantra.

They reach an early X-style punk stomp in Stacked, a dig at phony rebels, and then hit a hardcore sprint in Things I Feel, over in less than a minute and a half. They close with a deliciously rampaging cover of the Motorhead classic Ace of Spades – it ranks with the Avengers’ version of Paint It Black.

Smart, Sarcastic Punk Band the OC Rippers Hit Otto’s This Weekend

This Friday night, April 29 there’s a solidly good punk rock bill in the back room at Otto’s. Headliners the No-Heads work an acrid late 70s/early 80s postpunk sound that sometimes rumbles into hardcore. Before them on the bill at 11 PM are the Slaughter Boys, a San Diego act with short songs and a straight-up melodic sound.

From what’s up at the OC Rippers’ Bandcamp page, the New Jersey band, who play the 10 PM slot, are the highlight of the night. Big Brotha, the A-side of their latest single sounds like the Dead Boys covering the Stooges. On the band’s Born to Fuck ep from the fall of last year, they go for more of a pummeling Raw Power Stooges sound.

They also put out a full-length cassette, Wasteland Blues, in the spring of last year which is up at Bandcamp. That one’s thrashier, with the kind of short songs you might expect from a band who’ve covered legendary/obscore Long Island punks the Alan Millman Sect. There’s a dance tune (Do the Whip), some tasty, menacing chromatic stomp (Brats), some sarcastic hardcore, and Stoogoid rampages (the cleverly shapeshifting Feed Me and the funny, bass-driven Born in Waco)

Never Coming Down sounds like Sham 69 with an American accent. The best song on the record is Forced Vaccination, which speaks for itself with its creepy, techy touches.

There’s also a mystery band opening the night at 9 who call themselves the Kartel; presumably, they are not the excellent Greek metal band. One thing that is not a mystery is that the door goon at Otto’s cards everybody. You could be eighty with white hair and on a walker and you would have to show ID. What’s more is that they have an ID scanner and use it mercilessly. Thankfully, ID scanners don’t work on passports, so if you’re going, bring yours.

And from what we know now about the rollout of obedience programs in the years leading up to the 2020 global fascist takeover, it appears that the East Village was a pilot program for Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum’s Glate Leeset. Right around the end of 2009, all of a sudden, bars and restaurants in the area started using ID scanners. It was a gimmick that never caught on anywhere else in town until Andrew Cuomo’s infamous vaxxport from the summer of 2021.

The Neighborhood Brats Blast Through Bushwick

The difference between the Neighborhood Brats and a lot of punk bands is that the Brats are more musically imaginative than most. Guitarist George Rager plays big, fat, blasting chords, not just crunchy little two-string power chords, and chooses his spots for solos. Frontwoman Jenny Angelillo projects with a big, powerful wail; likewise, the group’s sound is a throwback to classic first-wave bands like the Avengers, Dead Kennedys and Adverts. There’s been some turnover in the rhythm section, but the current one is as strong as ever, They’re making a rare New York stop on April 26 at 7 PM at Our Wicked Lady; cover is fifteen bucks at the door. There’s a screamo band on afterward who are good with song titles but not so good with music.

The Brats’ latest album Confines of Life – streaming at Bandcamp – came out about a year ago. It’s arguably their strongest release so far, both musically and lyrically. Rager’s multitracked, overdriven tube-amp guitar sonics are especially juicy this time out. As usual, they don’t shy away from disturbing issues. They tackle eco-disaster in Who Took the Rain, the catchy opening track, then take a venomous sprint through Signs and Semantics, Rager tossing in a couple of wry Dead Kennedys references.

Angelillo raises a middle finger to the objectification of women in Miss America Pageant while Rager shifts from Flamin’ Groovies jangle to fullscale roar. “I am not a model, I don’t act,” she wails in FFBF, which is over in less than a minute and a half. Transitional Housing is a spot-on, funny dismissal of the homeless-industrial complex, followed by We’ll Find You. Is this about surveillance, or us finding each other? Hard to tell.

The band reach hardcore escape velocity in Harvey Weinstein (Is a Symptom), then shift to ghoulabilly for the catchy instrumental All Nazis Must Die. It’s hard to think of a more spot-on appraisal of the state of the world right now than I Weep for the Future and its macabre undercurrent.

The longest and most musically interesting anthem on the record is Migraines: you can hear echoes of PiL and the Buzzcocks along with a peak-era DKs acidity. “All you do is talk and talk, I’m not standing quiet in the shadows,” Angelillo sings in next-to-last track, LeBron James. They wind up the record by punking the hell out of Joan Jett’s I Want You. This is one of the best rock records of the past several months.