Monthly Archives: February 2014

GYMSHORTS -“No Backsies!” Album Review

by Ryan, contributing writer

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GYMSHORTS’s debut album No Backsies! came out this past Valentine’s Day. It’s definitely a little album of tasty tunes for the grungy surf punk rocker in your life.

A bit heavier than your usual surf-rock fare, with chunky bass lines and aggressive guitar work, GYMSHORTS works its way into your earholes without any shyness. This album is the friend that comes over to your house party, hits on all of the girls, and ends up breaking something. But, you can’t help but love them because they’re the life of the party. As a friend from college once said, “You can’t really explain it. It’s just… punchy. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just the way it is.” Punchy is definitely something that No Backsies! is. It comes out swinging with the track Owed to the Bank. You can almost hear the imaginary horn section in the intro that’s reminiscent of a ska tune, but that’s all gone once Sarah (GYMSHORTS’ front-woman) comes in. That brief moment of ska-ness is definitely gone the minute the chorus portion of the guitar rails out a mini solo between verses. I can’t imagine how thin and high-strung that lead guitar’s strings must be. Whatever it is they’re doing with that, though, keep doing it.

The second track of the nine-track album, Herman Melville, is toned down from the in your face Owed to the Bank. This is the kind of track you bob along to at one of their bar gigs. You’ve got a beer warming in your hand, your head and your feet are moving, and you don’t care. But, then, towards the end it pushes you from behind and you’re getting into it. The shoulders start moving and the next thing you know, the mosh pit’s started up again.

One of my favorite tracks on this album is Oh Brother. It’s something I’ve heard Sarah sing at work. (Did I mention that we work together? Call it nepotism if you want, but I’m calling the shots, and I’m digging these tunes.) Fun fact: It’s also one of her go-to catch phrases when I make a really bad pun (which is often). It’s a track that’s stop-and-go with the interludes of “Oh, brother”, but is definitely more in the go category once it gets going. Prepare yourself for the pushing and the shoving when you hear this intro start at one of their gigs.

The intro to Viberator is something you’d expect out of a harder-rock outfit like the Foo Fighters, but it leads in very well into the meat of the track. The little trick with pulling the guitar track’s balance to one side and adding the other side was nice. It’s definitely something fun to catch when you’re listening with headphones. As in many of their tracks, the guitar solo in Viberator is almost on the brink of furious without being as brutal as something you’d hear from Lamb of God. The soaring guitar is the standout player on this track.

The only low point I can really pull out of listening to this album is that the vocals aren’t mixed very well with the rest of the track. They’re too muddled at times to make out what Sarah’s saying. However, it’s not the band’s fault. It’s more than likely a mixing/editing issue. Even so, the album sounds great, and you can feel the energy of what she’s saying. It’s punk rock, after all. Do you really need to hear the words when a giant sweaty dude keeps slamming into you at the edge of the pit?

As many of you may (or may not) know, I like to match up albums and songs with scenes, places, and times where they’d be most appropriate. This album definitely falls into the category of summer listening. With their grungy surf-punk sound, GYMSHORTS deliver an album of tunes that’ll help you get your night started after a hard day’s work. Get yourself into a dark bar or a house party where GYMSHORTS are playing, put a beer in your hand, and have yourself a good time in the mosh pit.

No Backsies! is available for download ($6) on their Bandcamp page (GYMSHORTS.bandcamp.com), where they can also be contacted for booking information.

Twitter: @GYMSHORTSmusic

Facebook: facebook.com/GYMSHORTSmusic

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Weekly Playlist for February 26th

by Cherie

There’s something cathartic about listening to rock music at full volume. Whether its the drums on “Arabella”, or the guitar riffs on “Inhaler”, the songs on this playlist are sure to put you in a better mood in a matter of minutes. If you’re ever having a band day, do yourself a favor. Plug your music player into some speakers and put on this playlist. Trust me, you’ll feel better by the time the first song is over. I know I sure did.

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An Inteview with Mike Hansen (Pentimento)

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by Vasilis

Pentimento are no strangers to The Studio at Webster Hall. The Buffalo punk band (who were featured as our “Band of the Week” in November 2013) opened for Reggie and the Full Effect on February 20, marking the third time they’ve played the downtown New York venue since December 2012. The band made the most of their half-hour set in front of the sold-out crowd, tearing through their setlist with a high level of passion and precision. The 8-song set included cuts from their Inside the Sea EP (It’s Okay, Any Minute Now…, Just Friends), their Wrecked EP (The Bridge), and their Self-Titled debut LP (Unless, Circles, The Wind, Almost Atlantic).

After the show, drummer/lyricist Mike Hansen was kind enough to sit down with me for a few minutes to discuss the band’s experience on their current tour, their relationship with their fans, the album that changed his life, and which band he would love to tour with.

Lyrically Addicted: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Can you just say your name and what you do in the band?

Mike Hansen: Sure, my name is Mike Hansen and I play drums for Pentimento.

LA: This is the third time I’ve seen Pentimento here in the past year and a half… you guys are originally from Buffalo New York, but do these shows here in New York City kind of feel like a hometown show?

Mike: You know what, New York City is actually a little bit further than most people think from Buffalo, but regardless New York City always treats us very very well, between all the times we’ve been here, especially last time with Real Friends, which was an incredible show. The support we receive in New York City is something that we never expected. It’s such a big place in a small area with a lot going on all the time, so we feel very lucky to have the amount of support that we have while we’re here.

LA: This is the last week of a five-week tour with Reggie and the Full Effect and Dads. Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to be on this tour and what it’s been like touring with a veteran like James DeWees?

Mike: Oh yeah, I mean touring with Reggie has been great because those dudes have been around the block more than a few times, so it’s been awesome to just pick up their insight on the way that things work just from being in a small band to being a band their size. You know, James with the whole My Chemical Romance thing and The Get Up Kids has just offered us so much insight from songwriting to just the ways to present yourself as a band. It’s been an incredible learning experience. We got offered the tour and just took it right away; we were really really excited about it. I didn’t know too much about Reggie and the Full Effect before this tour and now I think we’re all pretty much in love with this dude and these guys and the band and everything. It’s been awesome.

LA: You guys probably have a lot of down time during the tour, what do you guys do to kill some time on the road?

Mike: Killing time on the road… that’s tough. I would say eating. Eating is probably the thing that we do the most.

LA: A little while ago, you guys put out your Inside The Sea EP. Could you tell me a little about how the recording and the process of releasing it differed from your self-titled album?

Mike: For this one, we were a lot less rehearsed than we normally would have been going into a recording session. We got the call about the Real Friends tour and decided it would be smart for us to have a release to support on that run. So we wanted to get it out as soon as we could; we went in there and it was a very urgent feeling, which is kind of exciting. I don’t want to say unprepared but we were unsure of the things that we’re normally sure of like guitar tones, vocal parts, things like that. We tried really hard to do it on the spot and what you hear is the product. It took us a very short amount of time to do these songs but we’re excited about the way they came out and the response has been awesome.

LA: I’ve noticed that a lot of your lyrics reference the elements, the seasons, and especially the sea and the ocean and things like that. Is it a conscious decision and what is it about the elements that drives your lyrics?

Mike: I think that a lot of what happens conceptually, lyric-wise, relates to the idea of water in a few different senses. There’s a lot about that particular feeling I get when I’m thinking about the ocean – we live right by a lake – things like that. I draw a lot of inspiration from that lyrically because the bodies of water I have come across have been a great source of metaphorical inspiration, I guess. I feel like when I’m looking out at it, it gives me the sense that just based on the sheer vastness of a body of water like that; it makes me feel so insignificant. But the fact that you’re there at all is something really special.I don’t know, I just take a lot away from being able to reflect when I’m there. Spending time near a body of water is something I really really enjoy to do, but I find a lot of inspiration there and the metaphors that are relating to that. It’s just the connection I have with that sort of thing, I guess.

LA: One of the first things I noticed about your band is how open and communicative you are with your fans. Do you think that’s important, especially in this scene, to kind of be that open and transparent with your fans?

Mike: Dude, it’s just who we are as people, and it’s very important for us to be as transparent as we can because we’re human beings, and everyone who is kind enough to support our band is also a human being, so we should be able to connect like that. The whole band being on one level and fans being on another level or whatever is just bullshit. Being open and honest and being able to communicate with the people who are kind enough to give a shit about what we’re doing is the very least we could ever possible do.

To me, especially in this day and age where everyone is on the internet, it’s important for us to uphold our rapport there. But I feel like there’s a lot of people who are searching for something real within that. Everything is just so digital, it’s so artificial at that point and it certainly plays its role in the world. It’s a necessary tool at this point. We’re very active on social media, it’s just part of what we do now. But it also translates into the way we treat our live show, standing at the merch table talking to people, meeting people who come to the shows, it’s all part of it. It is really important to develop something that goes beyond the band and the listener relationship because we want to walk away feeling like we actually did something real.

I want this to be more than a band. I want this to be an experience. I want this to be something other than “Oh I saw Pentimento and it was okay” or whatever. I want people to feel like “they are aware of who we are” and we want to know who they are in a very genuine way. It’s not about selling a fucking t-shirt, it’s not about selling a fucking record. It’s about connecting with people because they’re human beings and we’re human beings and the reason that we do this is to pursue that idea. We share what we are with people because we want to know them too. That’s what makes us human beings. Dude, life is so fucking short. Shit comes and goes all the time, and I don’t have time to not be that way. We don’t have time to not be that way with people because if you’re not, then you’re missing out.

LA: It’s definitely interesting you bring up social media because it adds another layer that wasn’t there a few years ago.

Mike: It’s another dimension for sure, and it’s something you have to learn to use to your advantage. Instead of sitting on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr and acting like that’s all your band is, use that to transcend the barrier between the relationship that you would have with somebody online and what it would be like when they come to a show because that is one of the greatest parts. It becomes a reality when somebody goes “Yo, I hit you guys up on twitter. We joked around about this that or the other thing” or “you guys replied to me and I really appreciated it”. Now they’re at the show, they’re telling this to you face-to-face. That’s a beautiful thing. That is the way you put that idea to work and it’s so important for people to hold onto that because instead of being oversaturated with it or instead of being absorbed and swept away by the idea of social media… you can do something cool with it. You can do something real with it. I just believe in that because it literally takes no fucking time to tell somebody “thank you” or whatever it may be online for giving a shit about what you’re doing.

A lot of bands, when I was growing up, that gave me the time of day when I was a kid really shaped the way I feel about this now. The fact we even have a platform to do this kind of thing is fucking crazy because we’re just dudes and it’s important for us to maintain that. We’re just dudes, and that’s all we ever want to be. No matter how big the band ever grows – whether or not it grows is irrelevant – we’re here right now treating people the way they deserve to be treated.

LA: Is there any band in particular you remember going to see that had that connection with you?

Mike: Yeah dude… I would say that Rise Against was a band that made me feel like I didn’t have to put them on a pedestal. They were just great on their own. I met the singer when they were on a tour with Comeback Kid and From Autumn to Ashes, a long time ago. I went up to the dude after the show and he said “Thanks a lot for being here.” Our bass player was there, he also brought a friend who told the singer “hey man, I’m sorry this is going to sound really shitty but I downloaded your record; I stole it” and Tim from Rise Against just put his hand on his shoulder and said “dude, I don’t give a shit, you got the record… did you like it? Did you enjoy it? Did you have fun at the show? I don’t care, you’re here!” That was the way that Tim from Rise Against, who is now playing to no less than a fucking hundred thousand people every time they do a show, used the internet to his advantage, and all he cared about was getting the music he believed in to the people who believed in that band. It paid off because people came to the shows and people were singing the words.

That’s what he wanted out of it. That’s what I want out of it. I want people to enjoy what’s going on on stage or on the record. Anything else in the middle, I don’t give a fuck about. But yes dude, there was definitely some shit that happened to me when I was younger that made me feel like if I ever have the chance to do this, I want to do it right, I want to do it right the first time. I want to let every single person know that we really appreciate them because, as cliché as it sounds dude, without those people, we’re not shit. We would not be doing anything without the people who support this band. And we’re still a very small band, we don’t have any illusions about that, but we’re trying very hard to push forward to the next level and grow the band, but it’s all contingent on the people supporting the band in the first place.

LA: And I definitely think that can be the difference between a band that goes nowhere and a band that grows is that connection they form with the fans.

Mike: Absolutely, it does make all the difference. When people walk away from our shows, whether it’s a handshake or a picture or a hug or whatever, it’s something else rather than they saw us on stage and then they left. And that’s fine, some bands get away with that, but that’s not us. And in order to find our own identity, it’s important to take that into consideration. These people are spending money to get in, spending money to get to the show, and probably spending money buying merch that’s on the tour so… dude, what the fuck, talk to them, let them know that you give a shit, because unless you do, why are would they bother supporting your band?

LA: Okay I just have a couple personal music-related questions for you if that’s okay. If you were stuck on a deserted island with one album, what would it be?

Mike: Hmm. Crime in Stereo, The Troubled Stateside. It changed my fucking life.

LA: When was the first time you heard that album?

Mike: I was like 17 or 18 and at that point I thought I had music figured out. Like I was a hard-ass 18 year old sitting in a record store like, “dude, I’m never gonna get that band to happen to me again. I already know all my favorite bands, fuck everything else.” I called a friend of mine and said dude, I got some money to burn, what should I buy? And he told me to check out this Crime in Stereo record and I got it. I put it on, I’m driving home in my parents’ Kia Spectra and I pulled over; I could not believe what I was hearing. It connected with me in such a way that no song or band has ever done before. That record changed the way I look at music, it changed the way I felt about writing songs, it changed the way I thought about the world. I needed it at that time. I don’t know if it was right place right time but that’s one of those records where every time I listen to it, I’m transported so far away from this reality that it just makes me feel alive.

LA: Have you ever seen them live?

Mike: Yes, several times. I love that band.

LA: Yeah they put on a great show. If you had to tour with one band that’s currently touring that you’ve never had the chance to play with, who would it be?

Mike: A.F.I. They’re probably my favorite band of all time, but their live show is unrivaled. I love that band with my whole heart. Getting the chance to tour with them… I could probably die happy for sure after that.

LA: Is there any album or EP that you’re really anticipating this year.

Mike: I just found out today that a band from the UK called Apologies, I Have None is releasing a new EP soon; I’m really looking forward to that. They had a record called London that I really enjoyed.

LA: One last question… I know you probably don’t want to spoil anything big, but what can Pentimento fans expect for the rest of 2014?

Mike: 2014 you can see us on the road. We plan to use this tour to try to grow organically. We want to get out as much as we can, do as many support tours as we possibly can, do a lot of festivals this spring and hopefully something awesome in the summer.

LA: Okay thank you so much.

Mike: No problem, thank you so much for being here.

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“(Don’t) Bleed Me Dry” – Laura Marling

by Cherie

 

Not content to rest on her laurels, Laura Marling is one of those rare artists who not only is constantly working on new music but also performing it before its been perfected. “I’m going to play a new song now, and there’s a high chance that I might fuck it up,” she often jokes before playing a new track for a live audience. The end result is multiple live versions of a song that circulate on youtube before the final, polished and often strikingly different, version is released on an album. Since she released her debut album in 2008, Marling has released three more albums, with barely a year between I Speak Because I Can (her second) and A Creature I Don’t Know (her third). Once I was an Eagle, her fourth album to date was released just last year and has been highly rated by most critics, with some even going so far as to call it a masterpiece. Since its release Marling has since relocated to LA and ditched the band to tour solo, a first for the singer who has always been surrounded by a talented backing band.

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Though she seems to have taken a break from touring for the time being, Marling still shows no sign of slowing down. She performed several brand new songs while on tour, both live and for various radio stations. One of these songs, Bleed Me Dry, is stunning in its simplicity and features Marling at her sharpest. “I have left so many men asking why / why I go and change my mind overnight / they can’t figure me out / they’ll end themselves with doubt. / Well it’s love that they sought / and I was taught / not to give it away / unless your sure,” she sings. Ouch. Marling might look waifish and vulnerable in person but she packs a hell of a punch. With a voice that can be both sultry and heavenly, Marling has never shied away from telling it like it is. Even in its raw, unpolished form, the song in an absolute gem.

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First Impressions – The Front Bottoms

By Cherie

The concept is simple. Someone suggests two songs by the same artist and the person who’s turn it is has to listen to each song once and then write up their first impression of the band based on those songs.

Band: The Front Bottoms (suggested by Vasilis)

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Songs: Maps, Twin Size Mattress

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The second Maps started playing I knew I was going to like it. It had an upbeat tempo that drew me in immediately, and I was sold the moment I heard the violin. Vasilis warned me that I was probably going to have the song stuck in my head for days and I have to say he was right. The song was catchy and upbeat, and I liked the way that the song changed tempo throughout, never stagnating. The clapping and group vocals were used effectively to add an extra layer of complexity to the track. The lead singer reminded me a little bit of John Darnielle from Mountain Goats, vocally. Looking at the lyrics as I listened to the song I found a lot there that I could relate to. By the time the song was done I found myself wondering why on earth I hadn’t listened to their music earlier, despite knowing both my brother and Vasilis like the band.

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Twin Size Mattress I loved as well, though I’m glad I started with Maps because that one definitely drew me in a lot quicker. I liked the storytelling aspect of the song. Its a blend of fond memories with some regrets and bitterness mixed in. Its real and honest; not glossing over the bad aspects that make up personal memories, and that’s why I like it.

Overall I really liked this band and will be listening to more of them in the future.

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Bayside Celebrate Cult

by Vasilis, contributing writer

Bayside is a four-piece punk band that has been around for fourteen years. They write loud, ambitious songs and play high-energy shows. But for many, Bayside is more than a band; Bayside is a family. “Bayside is a cult”.

From the beginning of their existence, fans have adopted this rallying cry to show the community the band’s music has created. There is nothing negative about this cult. There is no psychotic leader, no brainwashed followers, and no mass suicides. The term “cult” is an endearing symbol of the struggles and hard work that exemplifies not only the band, but their fans as well.

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When Bayside announced that their sixth album would be called Cult, it felt like a second self-titled record and a refresh for the band. Following a bad relationship with Victory Records and an uneventful one with Wind-Up, the band signed to indie giant Hopeless Records (Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard, The Wonder Years), and marched ahead with resolve and determination. Leading up to the reveal of the Cult album cover, the band posted images of each of their prior albums, showing signs of a unified effort that drew on all their past work.

Musically and lyrically, Cult is the same Bayside you have come to know. The Queens NY rockers pull no punches on this 11-song album, delivering an unrelenting attack with the typical anger and aggression that has defined their back catalog. For those who thought frontman Anthony Raneri’s marriage and the birth of his child might slow down his bitter, scathing lyrics, they’ll be happy to know it has not. “Pigsty” angrily asserts “Your name is dirt/and I got you under my nails/from clawing to freedom/I’ve been buried below your dark trails”. The topic of Anthony’s ex-wife drives the album’s lyrics, continuing the trend from their 2011 album Killing Time. The chorus of “You’re No Match” proves to be as catchy as anything the band has ever recorded; the lines “you’re the monster I was scared you’d be/and now you’re blaming it on your surroundings/and your horns came out so gradually/but honey, you’re no match for me” are infectious in large part to Anthony’s confidence and bravado.

Musically, the album doesn’t fall too far from the band’s past work, but that doesn’t mean they sticks to one formula. Opener “Big Cheese” is heavier than most fans are accustomed to, charging in with Chris Guglielmo’s explosive drum work and Anthony and Jack O’Shea’s dynamic riff. Like most Bayside songs, Jack O’Shea steals the show with a face-melting guitar solo on almost every track. Lead single “Time Has Come” is the closest the band has come to writing a catchy radio-ready punk song. The middle section of this album shows how Bayside can continue to create relatable hits by sticking to their unique, identifiable sound.

The album hits its stride with “Transitive Property”, a rare Bayside love song which sees Anthony asking forgiveness from his wife after a fight that almost ended their relationship. The song is the closest the album has to a slow ballad and works due to its anthemic chorus and honest lyrics. “Objectivist on Fire” is one of the most well-thought out Bayside songs in recent memory, a slowed-down tune that showcases Anthony’s vocal range as he questions if he will ever find the true love he has desperately searched for and lost. To anyone who has ever lost “the one”, the chorus, “And I am feeling older all the time/running out of days to get it right/I can’t believe I’ve wasted all my life/chasing after something I was never meant to find” will hit very close to home. Cult is a stellar addition to the Bayside collection and one that fans will continue coming back to.

To celebrate Cult’s release, Bayside cleverly planned a secret show in a small bar in Amityville, Long Island. The band released a video for “Hate Me” which was performed by the imaginary band Caraboo. A Caraboo twitter page popped up and announced they would be playing their first show on Tuesday, February 18. The venue posted an image of the Bayside bird and announced that Caraboo tickets would be sold in person the night before at the bar at 9pm Fans wised up to the surprise but the anticipation and excitement at seeing such an intimate Bayside show was palpable.

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Following an acoustic performance at Looney Tunes in West Babylon, Bayside took the stage shortly before 10pm in front of 200 devout fans and drew a wild ovation. The band opened their set with the first five tracks from their new album. As fans cheered on the live debuts of the new songs, the band announced they would play some older tunes before diving into “Devotion and Desire”, “Montauk”, and “Blame it On Bad Luck”. These cuts whipped the audience into a frenzy, inspiring the sweat-soaked crowd to sing along to these Bayside classics. The band played everything from old (“Guardrail”) to new (“Big Cheese”) and even threw in a cover of “Good Things” by The Menzingers for good measure. The crowd gave every last bit of energy they had when the band closed their 13-song set with their Bayside closer “Dear Tragedy”, sending the fans home happy.

Though only playing for about an hour, Bayside commanded the stage with ease and showed their consistently solid live show is just as good in a small room as it is in a large concert hall that holds thousands. The band seemed genuinely enthused by the crowd reaction and happy with the work they have put in with Cult. Bayside has stuck around for so long mainly due to their hard-working attitude, great songwriting and live show, and die-hard fanbase; these elements were on full display on February 18, a day the band celebrated the release of their newest album and fans celebrated the love and devotion they have for Bayside. It was a special night for everyone involved.

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Drowners Deliver Solid Debut Album

Drowners have been getting some buzz lately with the release of their debut self-titled album. With most of the songs clocking in at just under two and a half minutes, each song is short burst of pop infused indie rock energy. There’s no slow build of tempo or tone, most songs kick in full force and don’t let up until the song is over. The lyrics aren’t particularly deep or meaningful, but they have just enough charm to get stuck in your head for a while. The band shines the most when it shies away from the middle of the track. “Bar Chat” is slightly darker than the jangly pop guitar driven tracks before it, and is slightly reminiscent of a Strokes track. “You Keep Showing Up” had the potential to be a melancholic ballad, but Hitt’s flat delivery detracts from the emotions of the lyrics. His accent shows through clearest on this track, though, a reminder that this NY based band is headed by a Welsh former male model.

Drowners have been compared to many notable bands, from the Strokes to the Smiths, but I’m not sure those comparisons are completely accurate. The band themselves claim to deliver “friendly post-punk” which is a much more accurate description of their music. It’s a solid album for a debut though, and they’ll certainly be a band to watch in the future.

Check out their video for “Luv, Hold Me Down”, which is easily one of the best tracks on the album.

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