Tag Archives: II

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Two Nights of Metz and Their New Album This Week in New York City

October 3rd, 2017

Alex Edkins (vocals and guitar), Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) formed the fuzz-laden noise-rock punk trio Metz almost 10 years ago in Toronto. Their self-titled debut album (stream it below) arrived on Sub Pop in 2012. Sure, it was loud, but the A.V. Club proclaimed, “For all it’s abrasion and denatured noise, Metz isn’t a statement of nihilism or finality; it’s a bright, exploratory scalpel making the first of hopefully many incisions.” Fortunately, Metz (above, their video for “Acetate”) have indeed made more incisions. Their sophomore LP, the aptly named II (stream it below), came out in 2015 and has a clearer sound. Per Drowned in Sound, “There’s more space, and a better sense of dynamics as well. It’s a subtle change (if anything about Metz can be said to be subtle) but there’s a greater feel of depth here, the songs have more interesting journeys….” And furthermore: “Beautifully brutal weirdo punk.”

Their third full-length, Stranger Peace (stream it below), recorded with acclaimed producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Pixies), came out just two weeks ago to some rave reviews. “The Toronto-based trio Metz have incorporated harmony into their heavy sound on their third full-length. They shift away from all-out abrasion, adding color to their eruptions,” according to Pitchfork. “To be clear, Metz haven’t turned into a pop band. They’ve actually done the opposite, incorporating harmony without going soft. The fact that so few heavy bands have been able to pull that off attests to how difficult it is. With Strange Peace, Metz make it sound easy.” Out on the road, they play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday and The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday. Two Brooklyn acts—a duo, Uniform, and a trio, Bambara—open both shows.


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Metz Get Deservedly Loud at Music Hall of Williamsburg

January 15th, 2016

Metz – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 14, 2016

Metz - Music Hall of Williamsburg - January 14, 2016

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

Music Hall of Williamsburg has some punk-rock history, both as its own incarnation and as the DIY rock venue before it, Northsix. The certain alchemy of a noisy rock show can act as a séance for these punk-rock spirits of yesteryear, transforming an otherwise mellow New York City crowd into fans gone berserk. I’ve seen this happen in the exact location only once before, at a Leftover Crack show on New Year’s Day. But the loud-rock trifecta booking of Big Ups, Bully and Metz brought out these spirits to roost yet again. You know for sure it’s happened when the venue lights flick on at the end of a show and everyone looks instantly hung over, like every last drop of energy has been exorcised from their souls, at least for the night.

Music Hall was packed from the beginning for opening band Big Ups, a hometown group specializing in rock reminiscent of early ’90s band Slint. They showcase sound that’s as equally unsettling at a slow simmer as it is when it boils over unexpectedly, complete with angular riffs that’ll poke you the second you start to drift off. Their closing song was about wearing a turtleneck on school picture day, feeling anxious about it being around your neck and throwing up. Punk rock! Nashville’s Bully—following an impressive 2015 with the release of their debut album, Feels Like, landing on many critics’ best-of-the-year lists—were next, led by the formidable Alicia Bognanno, who has one of the most impressive, dynamic scream-sing hybrid voices out there right now, with an ability to stretch from one end of that spectrum to the other that’s as impressive as combining the two when her songwriting calls for that expression of urgency. A crowded venue for a band that’s not even headlining usually signals that much greater things are to come from them, something I’d place bets on in the years ahead.

Somehow enough energy remained for things to get exceedingly crazy for Metz, so much so that they had to make sure no one in the crowd was getting hurt a few times (no one was, but some cell phone lights were turned on to look for some guy’s glasses at one point). Let’s blame their relentless set, one that never really bothered lowering the energy. Frontman Alex Edkins introduced one song saying, “We’re going to slow things down a bit,” and I recall laughing at what was being considered slower. To call Metz a punk band is almost disingenuous. In many ways they’re fighting punk-rock orthodoxies. They play fast and loud not to gloss over mistakes but to highlight their precision. The three take pride in their tightness, a badge they can wear with pride. Metz are a live band first, if only because the sound they slay is one you have to see to believe. Take drummer Hayden Menzies as an example, who whips his entire body’s force into his drums to get the right sound. Consider them one of the loudest bands in the world right now, not just because they play at high volume, but also because they deserve to do so. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

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Double Your Pleaseure with Metz Tonight and Tomorrow

January 13th, 2016

Alex Edkins (vocals and guitar), Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) formed the fuzz-laden noise-rock punk trio Metz eight years ago in Toronto. Their self-titled debut album (stream it below) arrived on Sub Pop in 2012. Sure, it was loud, but the A.V. Club proclaimed, “For all it’s abrasion and denatured noise, Metz isn’t a statement of nihilism or finality; it’s a bright, exploratory scalpel making the first of hopefully many incisions.” Fortunately, Metz (above, performing “Acetate” on KEXP FM) have indeed made another incision. Their follow-up LP, the aptly named II (stream it below), came out last spring and has a clearer sound. Per Drowned in Sound, “There’s more space, and a better sense of dynamics as well. It’s a subtle change (if anything about Metz can be said to be subtle) but there’s a greater feel of depth here, the songs have more interesting journeys….” And furthermore: “Beautifully brutal weirdo punk.” Find out just how weird it gets for yourself when Metz’s newly launched tour brings the three-piece to The Bowery Ballroom tonight and Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow.

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New Meets Old with Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Warsaw on Friday

June 22nd, 2015

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Warsaw – June 19, 2015

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With a brand new album presenting a more mature, polished sound and a sold-out show at Warsaw on Friday night, it’s hard to say that Unknown Mortal Orchestra are really unknown any more. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for their older fans to worry that they’d maybe lose some of that off-kilter edge that brought a unique energy to their previous NYC appearances. By the end of the show, though, there was no doubt that while the band has moved in new directions, they still maintain the same old power.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra opened with frontman Ruban Nielson playing an electric sitar-guitar for “Like Acid Rain,” off of the just-released Multi-Love. The addition of a keyboard player was immediately felt as a swath of synth wrapped an already soulful vocal from Nielson, a sound that would persist throughout the set. If the original UMO sound was some sort of psychedelic extraterrestrial Beatles, the new material proved to be a similar mutation of Stevie Wonder. Older songs, like “How Can You Luv Me,” off their self-titled debut, whose space-out exploded into an early set drum solo, and “From the Sun,” off of II, straddled both worlds, rockers with a guitar-keyboard groove. New fans sang along to fresh material like “The World Is Crowded” while jostling the floor into a dance party. Evolved, domesticated, funked-up versions of old favorites “Thought Ballune,” “Ffunny Ffrends” and “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)” were a reminder that no one quite sounds like this.

Nielson’s stage presence was a laid-back exuberance, taking many guitar solos from his knees, making even this larger space feel like an intimate affair, but still gesticulating and percolating with each note like a proper rock star should. At one point he put his guitar down and mounted the 20-foot-high speaker stack on the side of the stage. I didn’t quite see how he managed to get up there and wondered, as the bass, drums and keyboards continued to jam, how he’d get down without breaking his ankle. Of course, he did and he closed out the new-meets-old set back on that sitar for Multi-Love’s title track, joined by many voices in the audience, the new fans now properly old ones and the new UMO sound just the UMO sound. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

 

 

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Get Psychedelic with Unknown Mortal Orchestra Tomorrow Night

October 9th, 2013

Following the breakup of a previous band, singer-songwriter-guitarist Ruban Nielson formed a new one, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, three years ago. Despite virtual anonymity, the trio (including Riley Geare and Jake Portrait) gained the attention of the music world thanks to a lone single, the fuzzy, psychedelic-tinged “Ffunny Friends.” The band’s self-titled debut was released in 2011 to near universal acclaim. In a glowing review, Pitchfork said the band “represents a similar merger of simple and catchy melodies lovingly marooned in a raw, buzz-cut production that puts an emphasis on the beats.” Touring in support of the album only served to raise their profile even more. Unknown Mortal Orchestra (above, performing “From the Sun” at this year’s SXSW for KEXP FM) followed their precocious debut with the aptly titled II (stream it below) earlier this year. The album—which again pleased critics and fans alike—traffics in a variety of genres, including psychedelia, funk and blue-eyed soul. See how it all comes together onstage, tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

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Two Bands Worthy of the Hype

March 1st, 2013

Unknown Mortal Orchestra/Foxygen – The Bowery Ballroom – February 28, 2013

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

The first time I saw Unknown Mortal Orchestra (or UMO) a couple years back, they were a support act you could just tell wouldn’t be an opener for too much longer. So it felt like no coincidence that their big sold-out headlining show last night at The Bowery Ballroom would feature an opening band riding an acclaimed debut album and the justified hype to sold-out headlining gigs of their own before too long. That band, Foxygen, took the stage in a blaze of manic energy and echo-reverb ooh la la’s, twitching their way through pretty much all of their new We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic album. Those recorded tracks come off as retrofitted rock gems, but live they were a delightfully jagged and ragged set. Untethered from the studio, the sound felt like 1960s rock and roll in a blender: a juicy cocktail of Jagger’s vocals, McCartney’s bass, Morrison’s lithe, wild-eyed stage presence, the Who’s bombastic energy, an occasional dash of Dylan’s off-kilter harmonica, topped off with Neil Young’s hat. It was a delicious brew that the expectant crowd guzzled down happily, highlighted by whiplash versions of “On Blue Mountain” and “No Destruction.”

If Foxygen offered a look back for Unknown Mortal Orchestra, UMO returned the favor. Riding on a next-step sophomore album, simply titled II, the Portland, Ore., trio crackled with the confident, cohesive energy of a band in control. On paper, UMO are a standard power trio—guitar, bass and drums—but their sound has a subtle surrealistic edge. This is a power trio as painted by Salvador Dali, melting over the limbs of trees and walls in a distorted reality. They opened with a splash of older material, centered on the catchy, off-center “Thought Ballune,” every bit of music crunched through just the right amount of distortion. From there, they unveiled track after track from the new album, the heavy-hitter middle section of the show characterized by a nonstop, groove-rock bass playing from Jake Portrait, which propelled along each tune. Frontman Ruban Nielson, looking downright wizardlike in poncho and hat, took over from there, leading the band through the set’s final third, which seemed to get better with each passing riff. Centered on a surprising sing-along version of “From the Sun,” Nielson fit powerful guitar solos into perfectly orchestrated pieces, with each sound from the pummeling drumming of Riley Geare to Nielson’s vocals locked into place. That tune relented into a wonderful Frank Zappa section, which kept at it through the remainder: The band sounding as if Zappa were leading Zeppelin as a power trio through an updated psychedelic catalog.

While the late-night packed crowd thinned out a bit around midnight, those who remained to the end seemed to hear pretty much everything from both albums by the end of the night, from the just-weird-enough “Ffunny Ffriends,” off the self-titled debut to the soulful “So Good at Being in Trouble,” off II. I was struck by how much better the already-darn-good band had gotten since that opening hit, getting me to already contemplate their next time through town, as well as what the future brings for Foxygen. And of course, most important, who will be opening for them when they’re playing their big sold-out headlining show. —A. Stein

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Lose Your Inhibitions Tomorrow Night with Nude Beach

January 17th, 2013

Singer-guitarist Chuck Betz, drummer-singer Ryan Naideau and bassist Jimmy Shelton all grew up on Long Island’s North Shore, but they began playing music together in Brooklyn. At first it was “just a really fun way to get together on the weekends and get drunk and play music,” said Naideau. But it eventually became something more. In 2008 the power-pop trio took the name Nude Beach and began making rock music in the vein of Tom Petty, the Replacements and Elvis Costello, or as Consequence of Sound puts it: “Nude Beach echoes the past without drooling in the rearview mirror.” This becomes totally clear upon listening to last year’s II (stream it below) just once. Check out Nude Beach, above, doing “Walkin’ Down My Street,” and then do yourself a favor and go see them play the late show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.