Friday, August 30, 2013

Let's listen to Let's be Loveless

  What do you want out of a band? Do you ever just, like, think what you're asking the from the artist? I think most people would declare a passive relationship with music. I think they log into Pandora (or whatever), and the tunes either grasp them... or they don't. When you write about music, you have to go at it with a scalpel; you have to open it up, climb inside its chest cavity with a geiger counter, a divining rod, and a ouija board, and take your data, superstitions, and gut influences back to your laptop, and figure it all out.

Let's be Colorless
  Anyway, Let's be Loveless is a joy to take apart and study. The four piece consists of Abby Camaya (keys/vox), Eric Arikian (guitar/vox), Christopher Whalen (bass), and Gary Elliot (drums), and released an airy and highly textured self-titled EP last spring. I've seen them perform live many times (they're a lot of fun, check them out!), and was immediately drawn to Arikian's guitar playing. But upon deconstructing the EP, I find it to be an extremely bass-driven work. Whalen's bass playing brings together the shoegazey reverb laden guitar and Elliot's poppy tight drumming. The bass adds to the melody, or strengthens the rhythm, depending on what the moment calls for. Camaya's soft, yet soulful voice hovers slightly above the mix, and her minimalist keys add a layer of depth, but still allow the other instruments space to operate.  

  Video Song, opens up the EP. The track fades in, which always leads to me turning up the volume and ending up playing it louder than I meant to (by the time the track is at full volume.) Nice trick guys. "We all just put on make-up/and try not to fuck up..." is the line that's stuck in my head after listening to this one. I love it when the shaker kicks in after the first refrain.

  Motivational Speaker starts up with a big guitar riff and driving bass line, and brings the overall volume and aggressiveness up a notch. After the intro, the song breaks into straight up arpeggio-laden indie pop. "Don't look behind you/This time get it right." Cayama's advice is worth taking. She comes off as pessimistic, but also strong and determined, regardless of her doubts.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Whiskey and (Fuzz) Tonic... Check out The Mad Doctors.

  Brooklyn's The Mad Doctors are like, kinda crazy. Not the kind of crazy that comes from mental illness in the traditional sense, more like the kind of insanity that becomes surf rockers who are forced to survive for years in a post-apocalyptic, highly irradiated, desert wasteland. There's a ghoulish, undead, skeleton/zombie overtone to their new EP, Fuzz Tonic. It's almost like three random Reavers picked up instruments and started a band. Overdriven everything rules this recording; you can almost feel the heat coming off the budget preamps as they struggle to maintain the signal over flow and not shit out.

The guys rock the LES.

  Fuzz Tonic borders on punk and surf (Black Magic and Alive and Well are pretty damn surfy), but I would consider their overall sound to be highly aggressive garage rock. They have a Iggy-esque devil-may-care attitude, and back it up squarely with a powerful rhythm section and bluesy guitar riffs that are interesting, but never get too cute.

 This a good album to pre-game with. I'd get a pint of Evan Williams, sit down with a friend, crank Fuzz Tonic, make sure the bottle is empty by the end of the EP, and then roll out to the bars and wreak havoc.

Give it a listen.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Laura V. video from The Meaning of Life!

  The Meaning of Life is more full, and lush, and deep, than a three piece really has any business being. If you're listening to Play Fuego and think it's studio tricks, I got news for you, I've seen them live and they pull it off, almost effortlessly. I've always felt that there was a sort of supreme beauty within an electrical circuit, a flawless math of humming electrons, a loop of echo and oscillation, an om made of ohms... Christian Gallardo coaxes that akashic entity out of his guitar rig like a snake charmer with an entranced cobra. With Gallardo's guitar providing the backbone of the band, bassist/vocalist Marta DeLeon drifts between drawn out melodic lines, and ornamental accents ad lib. DeLeon is one of the best lyricist around. Her deft use of imagery leaves the listener wondering if she's a surrealist or a symbolist, yet wholly satisfied, regardless of which conclusion is drawn.
Christian feels no pain from rose thorns.
  The Laura V. video officially drops today, and it's a perfect fit for the sensual, yet guarded, single off the Play Fuego EP. The "Instagram meets cabaret"-style video drifts from the absurd to the overtly sexual, and shifts between shots of the band on a beach, and a small group of people at dinner party (or perhaps a couple at dinner, depending on how you choose to see it). Anyway, it's stunning. Deep and artful, yet self aware, absurdist, and at times funny, the Laura V. video is probably as close to a visual representation of TMOL as one could really get. Check out the video at the bottom of the page. I sent Marta and Christian some questions via email, and here's what they had to say:

Hearts Bleed Radio: Is Laura V. a real person? Where does the inspiration for the song come from?

Marta: Christian called it Laura originally after Laura Palmer from "Twin Peaks" as a nod to his affinity for "her" and for us to have something to call our new jam in the practice space yelling over loud amps. The song is dedicated to a close family friend, Laura Vasalo who is deceased like the fictional Laura. It's not directly about either ladies. But I guess to me, both were laughing smiling ladies in the high school hallway surrounded by a group of friends. A lady's name as a song title never gets old.

HBR: Marta, as a lyricist you rely heavily on imagery. I feel like in Laura V. there's a battle between the spider and the halo. I see the spider as representing temptation or the guilt of giving into said temptation. Wearing the biggest halo, and/or waiting the longest to run is the other side of the coin; a partner is trying to have the upper hand (or possibly even do the right thing) in an obviously failing relationship. Is that accurate? Is it more open to interpretation? Or did I miss the point completely?

Marta: Thanks! I never put those two together as a narrative in the lyrical lines literally but I like listeners to project their own emotions and interpretations of what the song means. I think pop songs lend themselves also to that quite well. Using pop references words like "spider" or "red dress" can be open-ended yet emphatic. A spider could be menacing or helpful and protective like in "Charlotte's Web". A collage of emotions, whimsy and longing are the common thread. Someone who waited for the perfect love and when it showed up with all it's complexities they ran away. Not too get too deep, too much bodega Redbull at 11:30 pm.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Breaking Down "With Our Thoughts We Make The World" by Jane Eyre

  I don't know how a band can go from referencing Flannery O'Connor to referencing a Macaulay Culkin movie with a straight face, but Jane Eyre makes it seem as natural as hot air rising, electro-magnetism, and the pull of gravity, which now I think about it, are all actually kind of bizarre phenomena.  Jesse Rifkin's voice has a familiar timbre that I can't place, and as I sit here detoxing for an upcoming mini tour, sweaty/shaky, huddled with cats and tea, I can't help to be pulled into this album's orbit. With Our Thoughts We Make The World is a Buddha quote, overall this album is a bit of a meditation; a stoned, psychedelic jam that slips in and out song-form like thread through a needle. It really should be played through as an entire piece. I wouldn't call it a concept album, or maybe it's a concept beyond explanation, but take some time and sit down with it... just be in the moment.

Due out August 8th, 2013

  Hazel Motes 1 & 2 start the album off with sampled chatter from some ethereal scene of normalcy; guitar drones build the songs into aural waves, up until about the 3 min. mark in HM2, at which point St. Aubin's drums and Gordon's bass settle into a groove that pushes the epic along in a manner reminiscent of Can or later era Sonic Youth. Rifkin and Seretan's guitars sail overhead, then decrescendo back to about where the first track took off.

  Be Still, Be Silent is bass driven and absent of percussion. The track reminds me of something off of Astral Weeks, and overall, I think WOTWMTW is on a similar wavelength. You can question the accessibility of an album that doesn't jump out with an uptempo single, OR resign itself to atmospheric background music. I don't know if I consider it a fault that this album requires a deeper listen; it's just a rarity these days. However, if you're looking for a single, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York is it. The catchiest vocal hook on the album spearheads a song where 60's jangle guitars give way to 80's, almost Smiths-esque shimmering arpeggios, then to indie guitar squeal, then back for a chorus... and end scene.

 Borrowing Body, is a minor key ballad with a 6 feel. St. Aubin's drums shine through on this track. Quick fills between cymbal crashed downbeats mark the first half of the song. After a rest in the middle, the drums re-enter with a kind of awesomely anti-climatic snare roll. That's the best I can describe it. Just listen to it.

  Boy King Island comes out with pianos upfront and a simple grove. As guitar heavy as Jane Eyre's sound has been up to this point, it doesn't seem strange or jarring at all when the keys take over the role of the main chordal instrument. Bells Bells Bells fades in from a loud manic solo, to some tape noise, then a slow, jagged vocal serenade. About midway through the track, we get one more chance to rock, before the album decays into tape loop nothingness.

The band in the heat of battle.

  With Our Thoughts We Make The World is worth a listen. Actually, it's worth four. That's about what it took me to catch most of what is going on. This is an album that was made for a time when you sat down in front of a record player and did nothing but listen, (and drink and smoke pot and maybe make out). It's not an album for a 3 min. commodity to soothe your soul on the way from your apartment to the bodega, or to listen to on the train with all the background noise; it's not an album to blast while you pre-game with your buddies, or to put on a jukebox at a bar. It's an album for when you go home, and learn to be alone.

Pre-order the full album ---> here.

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RSVP to their record release show ---> here.

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