Making experimental-guitar pop punk, the Soft Moon began as Luis Vasquez’s side project eight years ago. It started with a couple of singles and then a self-titled LP (stream it below) and an EP, Total Decay (stream it below), earning heady comparisons to the likes of Joy Division. Pitchfork said the music draws “from the coldest, most metallic zeniths of post-punk and industrial rock.” The material is the product of Vasquez—“I’m Cuban, so I grew up with a lot of Afro-Cuban funk”—and his surroundings—“There are no straight lines in San Francisco.” But while it’s a one-man band when it comes to recorded material, live, the Soft Moon (above, performing “Tell” live in studio for KEXP FM) are a three-piece, with the addition of Luigi Pianezzola on bass and Matteo Vallicelli on drums. Their most recent full-length, Deeper (stream it below), came out in 2015, and in a glowing review, NPR Music called it a “stunning new album” before suggesting, “The result is unnerving, but it’s also tenderly, eerily gorgeous.” With a new LP, Criminal, due to arrive next February, the band winds down a short American tour on Tuesday at Rough Trade NYC. As an added bonus, the duo Horoscope opens the show.
Tag Archives: Joy Division
El Ten Eleven – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 12, 2016
Was it an accident that the lights went down at Music Hall of Williamsburg for Saturday’s El Ten Eleven show at exactly 10:11? Maybe yes, maybe no, but with those guys, it doesn’t feel like anything is an accident. For Kristian Dunn on basses and guitars and Tim Fogarty on drums, precision is key. Their songs are constructions of riffs and loops and samples and beats, and in many ways it’s as much math and engineering as anything else. Within the first two songs, Dunn dazzled with complicated double taps on his double-neck guitar-bass, utilized an EBow, expertly layered multiple sampled melodies and had Fogarty bang out a riff on his bass with drumsticks. But as the show progressed, it was clear that there was an emotional core to that precision, that the serious gear and the serious talent made it possible to make inspired music that was fun to dance to.
“Living on Credit Blues” about “how annoying it is when you’re poor,” according to Dunn, found a moving melody, a humanity in the how’d-they-do-that playing. “Disorder,” a Joy Divison cover, exhibited a lyrical beauty in its instrumental El Ten Eleven form. “Fanshawe,” off their self-titled debut album, was a gorgeous piece of bass playing. Throughout the set, Dunn was a Seurat of the strings, a musical pointillist creating awe-inspiring artwork out of large numbers of individually expressed notes. The band sounded great, their constant touring and a genuine love of what they’re doing shining through. They also looked great, with their own onstage rig providing dramatic multicolored backlighting and atmospheric smoke to enhance the music. The middle of the set was dedicated to several yet-to-be-named new pieces, one feeling like the theme song for a video-game villain, another had light-touch six-string guitar notes melting in a floor of low-end drum-machine furnace that vibrated the room.
Somewhat unexpectedly, the band brought out Emile Mosseri from the Dig to sing vocals, quite possibly an El Ten Eleven first. Mosseri’s gliding falsetto worked almost perfectly with Dunn and Fogarty’s sound, pointing to perhaps a new direction for the veteran duo. The latter portion of the show was consumed by old “hits”—including “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool,” “Connie” and “My Only Swerving”—that had the crowd giddy at each ecstatic climax. When Dunn announced that they had reached the end of the show, it was a bit of a pump fake as they delivered three more songs, with the show-closing “Transitions” a lengthy, multipart composition that delivered on several levels, ultimately peaking at just the right moment, which was, I am sure, no accident at all. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Brooklyn, El Ten Eleven, Emil Mosseri, Fast Forward, George Seurat, Joy Division, Kristian Dunn, Live Music, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City, Review, the Dig, Tim Fogarty, Williamsburg
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Summer doesn’t actually arrive for another five weeks or so, but the summer-music season gets kicked off next week in a very big way.
Bowling Green, Ky., quartet Cage the Elephant’s fourth studio album, Tell Me I’m Pretty (stream it below), produced by Dan Auerbach, came out last December, impressing Exclaim!: “If your sister were Anita Miller from Almost Famous, she might tell you to listen to Tell Me I’m Pretty with a candle burning. Matthew Shultz has hit the mark lyrically and vocally here, inviting listeners into the emotionally charged and honest world that Cage the Elephant inhabit. Although we still hear his lo-fi, distorted vocals throughout the record, many moments are left confidently unadorned and clear.” Known for their fiery live performances, Cage the Elephant play SummerStage, alongside Portugal. The Man and Broncho, on Monday and Tuesday.
From the land of Britpop, in Manchester, England, the 1975 (above, performing “Love Me” earlier this year on Saturday Night Live) have risen up as a band with global appeal. Their second LP, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (stream it below), arrived in February, topping the charts here and across the Atlantic. “When a band conquers the charts with a fun but inoffensive debut album, you don’t expect them to return with a 17-track follow-up that tempers pop tunes with swampy post-rock instrumentals and references mental health, religion, addiction, loneliness and fame. But the 1975, whose self-titled debut hit number one in 2013, aren’t concerned with playing it safe,” raves NME. They bring their arena-ready rock to Barclays Center on Tuesday night. Wolf Alice and the Japanese House open the show.
Another English band to hit No. 1, Rudimental, the London four-piece, have been making shake-it-don’t-break-it electronic music for just a few years, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming wildly popular. Their sophomore studio album, We the Generation (stream it below), recorded in Jamaica, came out last fall. The Evening Standard noted its “positive vibes” and “their sunny reworking of dingy old drum and bass.” And on Wednesday at SummerStage, they kick off a short tour with the like-minded North London electronic duo Gorgon City. Brooklyn duo Walker & Royce open the show.
Tags: Adam Hann, Almost Famous, Amir Amor, Anita Miller, Barclays Center, Ben King, Brad Shultz, Broncho, Cage the Elephant, Dan Auerbach, Daniel Tichenor, Double Vanity, Evil Friends, George Daniel, Gorgon City, Jared Champion, John Gourley, Joy Division, Kesi Dryden, Kye Gibbon, Kyle O’Quin, Leon Rolle, Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, Matt Robson-Scott, Matthew Healey, Matthew Shultz, Nathan Price, Oasis, Penny Pitchlynn, Piers Agget, Portugal. The Man, Ross MacDonald, Rudimental, Ryan Lindsey, SummerStage, Tell Me I’m Pretty, the 1975, the Japanese House, Walker & Royce, We the Generation, Wolf Alice, Zachary Carothers, Zoe Manville
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Savages – Warsaw – March 29, 2016
Every so often, the thrill of a concert sends a powerful reminder of the myriad ways that music compels us. In an age when accessibility to songs old and new is nearly effortless and the pleasure of listening to them on your own time is so technologically enhanced, the appreciation of being there in the midst of a live performance can be obscured. Then you see a group like Savages takes the stage on a cold night in Brooklyn, and it hits home: This is the essence of it all. Whether they’ve intended to or not, Savages have grabbed a commanding spot in the genre of post-punk with style and purpose, and with exhilarating live performances, they’ve grabbed the attention of many.
With the full arsenal of air-tight musicianship, charismatic presence and their sexy appearance, these London girls have created a buzz that has steadily swelled since their debut album, Silence Yourself, in 2013, drawing fans of all sorts to their shows in feverish anticipation. With the freshly released Adore Life added to their repertoire, Savages seized the spotlight in front of a sold-out room at Warsaw last night and rose up to the occasion. A striking edge of posture combined with the hard jabbing of the drum, bass and guitar that drives their sound, Savages delivered with focus and gusto—with the aura and dark mystique of predecessors such as Joy Division and Interpol.
There are few lead singers at the moment like Jehnny Beth. You simply can’t take your eyes off of her as she hurls herself into each song with an impressive range of vocal delivery switching between rapidly spitting bullets, extended bellows and slow enchanting croons. Behind her, the instrumentation was so true that even when pushed out at full thrust, it was clearly defined. Guitarist Gemma Thompson ripped through the set with slide distortions and sinister accents, periodically whipping around to spar with her amps. There was a collective excited feeling of awe among those in attendance that carried afterward with buzzing about the greatness of the performance just witnessed. You’ve got to give it to Savages. They throw themselves into it with everything they have, leaving it all onstage, giving you all the incentive you need to go see the band you love in your headphones in their fullest stature in the flesh. —Charles Steinberg
Tags: Adore Life, Ayse Hassan, Brooklyn, Charles Steinberg, Dana Distortion, Dana Yavin, Fay Milton, Gemma Thompson, Interpol, Jehnny Beth, Joy Division, Live Music, Music, New York City, Photos, Review, Savages, Silence Yourself, Warsaw
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Jackson Phillips grew up as a jazz drummer. He even attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. But once there, Phillips became more interested in making songs rather than simply mastering an instrument. (Plus: “I don’t know if you’ve seen Whiplash … it wasn’t to that extent, but it was very competitive and people weren’t nice to each other.”) So he learned to play the piano and moved into production. His first band, Carousel, made synth-pop tunes. But inspired by the likes of the Beach Boys, New Order and Joy Division, Phillips launched the guitar-based project Day Wave (above, doing “Drag”). His debut EP, the well-received Headcase (stream it below), arrived last month, and although he performs live with other people, it was strictly a solo affair: “I haven’t worked with anyone else on the Day Wave project yet. I really like it, compared to what I was doing the last couple years. It’s much easier for me because I’m not bouncing ideas off of anyone and not second-guessing, which is what happens when you’re working with other people.” He’s got a West Coast tour beginning next month, but you can catch Day Wave tonight at Mercury Lounge. Brooklyn duo Surf Rock Is Dead open the show.
Tags: Beach Boys, Carousel, Day Wave, Headcase, Jackson Phillips, Joy Division, Live Music, Mercury Lounge, Music, New Order, Preview, Surf Rock Is Dead
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Making experimental-guitar pop punk, the Soft Moon began as Luis Vasquez’s side project six years ago. It started with a couple of singles and then a self-titled LP and an EP, Total Decay (stream it below), earning heady comparisons to the likes of Joy Division. Pitchfork said the music draws “from the coldest, most metallic zeniths of post-punk and industrial rock.” The material is the product of Vasquez—“I’m Cuban, so I grew up with a lot of Afro-Cuban funk”—and his surroundings—“There are no straight lines in San Francisco.” But while it’s a one-man band when it comes to recorded material, live, the Soft Moon (above, their official video for “Far”) are a three-piece, with the addition of Matteo Salviato on bass and Matteo Vallicelli on drums. Their newest full-length, Deeper (stream it below), just came out a few weeks ago, and in a glowing review, NPR Music calls it a “stunning new album” before suggesting, “The result is unnerving, but it’s also tenderly, eerily gorgeous.” See them play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night.
Not too long after forming the post-industrial electronic-rock group Factory Floor in London nearly a decade ago, Dominic Butler (keys, bass and vocals), Gabriel Gurnsey (drums and vocals) and Mark Harris (guitar and percussion)—although Harris was later replaced by Nic Colk (vocals, guitar and samples)—began getting compared to the likes of Joy Division and New Order, thanks to a slew of singles, a pair of EPs and numerous energetic live performances. But since signing with DFA Records in 2011, Factory Floor (above, their video for “How You Say”) have streamlined their music, making it more danceable and winning praise along the way. The trio’s self-titled debut full-length (stream it below) arrived last fall to some considerable acclaim. NME says they “have evolved from steel-splintered noise into demented and minimalist techno. Undoubtedly there’ll be a handful of haters who’ll say something’s been lost from their early years, but they’re wrong.” The magazine adds: “No flash, no fripperies, no fucking about: just three like-minded souls making a nasty racket. Good place to start? It’s hard to think of many better.” Of course, with Factory Floor heading our way, one better place just might be Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night.
Dennis Lyxzen might best be known for fronting the Swedish hardcore bands Refused and the (International) Noise Conspiracy, but about 15 years ago he began a folkish (yet still punkish) project called INVSN (pronounced Invasion), channeling the sounds of Echo & the Bunnymen and Joy Division. Well, initially the name was the Lost Patrol Band, but a name change eventually ensued, and what had begun as a one-man band blossomed into a five-piece with a much fuller sound. Last year they released INVSN (stream it below), about which PopMatters, in noting the album’s “passion and beautiful noise,” says, “The big beats and reverb-drenched guitar leads aren’t gimmicks—they’re actually great vehicles for the smart melodies and surprisingly sweet vocals.” See INVSN (above, performing “The Promise”) play the early show at Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.
Former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook formed Peter Hook and the Light three years ago—along with his son Jack Bates (bass), Paul Kehoe (drums) and Andy Poole (keys), and eventually David Potts (guitar)—originally under the auspices of performing both Joy Division albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer, live in their entirety. But things clicked, and in 2011, the group put out an EP, 1102/2011 (stream it below), shortly thereafter followed by Unknown Pleasures Live in Australia (stream it below). And now Peter Hook and the Light (above, performing “Ceremony” and “Digital”) are back out on the road, this time playing New Order’s first two albums, Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies. And you can see them take the stage tomorrow night at Webster Hall.
Tags: 1102/2011, Andy Poole, Closer, David Potts, Jack Bates, Joy Division, New Order, Paul Kehoe, Peter Hook, Peter Hook and the Light, Preview, Unknown Pleasures, Unknown Pleasures Live in Australia, Video, Webster Hall
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Making experimental-guitar pop punk, the Soft Moon began as Luis Vasquez’s side project more than three years ago. It started with a couple of singles and then a self-titled LP and an EP, earning heady comparisons to the likes of Joy Division. Pitchfork said the music draws “from the coldest, most metallic zeniths of post-punk and industrial rock.” The material is the product of Vasquez—“I’m Cuban, so I grew up with a lot of Afro-Cuban funk”—and his surroundings—“There are no straight lines in San Francisco.” But while
it’s a one-man band when it comes to recorded material, live, the Soft Moon (above, doing “We Are We”) are a four-piece, with bassist Justin Anastasi, drummer Keven Tecon and synth player Damon Way joining frontman Vasquez, plus Ron Robinson working the visuals. See for yourself live and in person just how well the band balances what you see and what you hear when on the strength of their newest, Zeros (stream it below), they play the late show at Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.
Making experimental-guitar pop punk, the Soft Moon began as Luis Vasquez’s side project three years ago. It started with a couple of singles and then a self-titled LP and an EP, earning heady comparisons to the likes of Joy Division. Pitchfork said the music draws “from the coldest, most metallic zeniths of post-punk and industrial rock.” The material is the product of Vasquez—“I’m Cuban, so I grew up with a lot of Afro-Cuban funk”—and his surroundings—“There are no straight lines in San Francisco.” But while it’s a one-man band when it comes to recorded material, live, the Soft Moon (above, doing “Tiny Spiders”) are a four-piece, with bassist Justin Anastasi, drummer Keven Tecon and synth player Damon Way joining frontman Vasquez, plus Ron Robinson working the visuals. See for yourself how well the band balances what you see and what you hear when they celebrate the release of their newest, Zeros, with a record-release show tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night.
The Killers – Webster Hall – July 23, 2012
To watch the Killers in 2012 is an act of disjointed historical remembrance. This sort of anachronism isn’t simply a product of the band’s ability to resurrect the musical genres of everyone from Joy Division to Springsteen. Because these days, the Killers turn backward twice, using old influences with a wink and trying to escape and revive the songs that made them stupidly famous in 2004. It was then that the opening five songs of their debut LP, Hot Fuss, were as ambitious and outstanding as any popular rock album of the previous decade not made by the Strokes. This is and was the past, before the band nearly broke up, before the litany of solo records that take us up to present day. This sold-out crowd in the East Village would serve as the rough approximation of now, or the scene of where we might figure out the dimensions of the word. The Killers, four guys who wanted to lionize and transcend Las Vegas, the most anachronistic place on the planet, arrived at Webster Hall with a new single, “Runaways,” and a forthcoming new album, Battle Born, rich with the interstitial tension over whether to dig up or completely bury the past.
Appropriate to this dichotomy, the band opened with “Runaways” followed by their first American radio single, “Somebody Told Me.” The packed crowd was in full throat on the night’s third song, “Smile Like You Mean It,” before lead singer Brandon Flowers asked, “Are you guys in or are you out?” perhaps unaware that these fans had either passed up or taken advantage of the huge scalping price on the secondary market. For those who passed on the urgent, big offers in the line outside, they were, most definitely, in by the time Flowers climbed his stage monitor to shout the lyrics of “Spaceman.” It only served to raise the stakes, as the band oscillated from older material, like “This Is Your Life,” and new-album cuts, like “Miss Atomic Bomb,” full of future tense fatalism—Flowers soaring on the lyric “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”
The main set concluded with the Hot Fuss long-form anthem, “All These Things That I’ve Done,” arriving at this denouement by way of “Reasons Unknown,” “Bling (Confessions of a King),” “Human” and the band’s first UK single from 2003, “Mr. Brightside.” But it was the present perfect tense of “All These Things That I’ve Done” that suitably served as the ending for a band standing on the very fulcrum of itself. Those in the crowd screamed the meaningless and perfect bridge, “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier,” along with Flowers, a slice of 2004 in 2012, these things we’ve done acting as a beacon for whatever it is that comes next. —Geoff Nelson
Cold Cave – Mercury Lounge – February 4, 2010
It’s hard to even imagine what it would have been like to see the Cure perform in a club the size of Mercury Lounge in the early ’80s. You can’t just chalk it up to pure nostalgia—there’s definitely a reason their sound still resonates through any number of music subsets today. Cold Cave, a band whose name actually describes it perfectly, is one of the direct descendants of that sound. Legend has it the band formed when Wesley Eisold left a successful Boston punk band and started messing around with thrift-store Casio keyboards alongside friends Caralee McElroy, of Xiu Xiu, and Dominick Fernow, of experimental noise band Prurient. Their first 7″ single, “Painted Nails,” was released on Fernow’s Hospital Productions label and has brought about something of a resurgence of Cold Wave minimalist synth that traces its roots directly back to Kraftwerk, Throbbing Gristle and, of course, the original post-punks, Joy Division.
An emaciated Eisold barely moved behind a massive Moog voyager, but he worked up a sweat singing in his slight crooning baritone, with an ingrained punk burst of nihilistic vocals, hands clasped behind his back, looking scarily close to Mr. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” himself. Eisold barely mumbled “thanks” before going into the next pounding inhuman beat from Cold Cave’s debut, Love Comes Close. McElroy played off Eisold’s darkness with her own heavily echoed melodic delivery on songs like “Life Magazine” and providing a back-and-forth harmony on “The Tree’s Grew Emotions and Died,” sort of like an industrial Goth version of the Human League.
The three members of Cold Cave, all dressed in black, use their impressive display of technology, minus the nostalgia, thanks to Fernow, whose sheer massive solo catalog of sound manipulation takes each arrangement to a place other New Wave throwback acts just can’t follow. (Simply playing with every piece of an analog synth keyboard is no substitution for knowing which sounds you want to hear and actually willing them out of the circuits.) The music stays perpetually focused on the icy, emotionless sound, straddling a line between undanceable and undeniably catchy. And all of it comes from three keyboards, just like on Trans-Europe Express. The entire New Wave ’80s wished they sounded this good. —Jason Dean