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Monday, March 11, 2013

Brooklyn Beats

Spike Hill- Williamsburg (Brooklyn) 

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Maya Killitron

The Lounge Act

Of Clocks and Clouds


Revolving One 

Tattoo Money

Maya Killitron- (#1)

 This young lady is definitely going places.  She opened up the night with a bang, zap, pow, an explosion of R&B/Hip-Hop, electronic/dance-pop infused goodness.  Her voice is like buttah, seriously.  In today's world, it is hard or next to impossible to be a one woman show, but she does it with flying colors.  Dressed in black spandex, black leggings with pointy pockets, a gold necklace, and gold sparkly flats, she does not fool anyone with a girly girl likeness.   She is tough as nails as she spit lyrics like, "Your bullshit I hate it, finally I can face it."  DJ Denver had her backup electro beats.  But the start of the show was definitely Maya.

She hails from Toronto, a feisty, fiery Canadian.  I like that she mixes in different styles and often incorporates spoken word into songs.  She also knows how to work a crowd, serenade and talk to (not at) them.  You feel like you're having a nice, casual, intimate conversation with a dear, old friend.  After one of her songs, she told the audience that, "It's hard to get Brooklyn to dance" but even harder to get 'people in Toronto to dance' because Canadians are 'assholes'.  That's right, Brooklyn, we might be too cool for school with our aloof hipsterdom, but apparently Toronto is worse.   I also like her telling the audience, "Who here has date/fucked a musician?"  and responds "STOP-they're all assholes."  A comedian to boot.  

I like that she says 'sohrey' with that Canadian twang.  It adds to her charm.  I like Maya's free style vocals.  Her uninhibited nature causes her to dance and writhe on stage as if she's at home in front of the mirror.  My one complaint is that Maya's voice was often hard to hear.  And you want to hear her voice.  I wonder what she'd sound like backed by a live band, much like the late Amy Winehouse.  I would say Maya's voice is a mixture of Nelly Furtado, Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, and a tinge of Beyonce (without the diva).  Her vocals are SOLID!  She is the real deal!  And thank goodness I didn't dig her up watching American Idol.  She's too good for that trite, banal shit!  Even when she does a 'sad ballad', the song has a beat and is quite rhythmic.  She is definitely one to keep an eye out for.  She worked with a slue of artists and DJ's namely in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Toronto.  She plays multiple musical instruments including violin, saxophone, and piano to name a few.  She was asked, at only 17, to attend the Banff International Jazz workshop and got to play with Esperanza Spalding.  Impressive if I say so.  

Maya, if you're reading this,  you go get 'em, girl.  You are a spitfire and you will go far.  In today's music industry, to be female and talented (and good looking) is a blessing and curse.  But for you, I feel it will bring blessing upon blessing as you seem too street wise to fall for the pitfalls of stardom and fame.  I hope I see you as a Grammy nominee soon!

                                          Video for 'Red Dress'


                         cover of 'Rolling in the Deep' (by Adele)

Lounge Act- (#2)

This band was also pretty good.  With two guitars (Simon Guzman and Jordan Wuest), a bass (Roger Walsh), and a drummer (Nick Ciccantelli) they eased right from tuning and setting up into their set.  They have this 60's rock vibe, but more of the darker side of that era.  They were like a new age Doors mixed with The Animals.  That's the vibe I got.  The lead singer (Guzman) was no Jim Morrison (that's a good thing) but he had this dark, hypnotic quality to his vocals and lyrics.  They were certainly no One Direction!  Thank goodness for that.  I could see them opening for a band like Foxygen (who also have a vintage 60's vibe).  Foxygen and Animal Collective!  They all exist on the same plane of reference.  However, Lounge Act has a tinge of the British 60's too.  A very gritty 60's freestyle mix of hard and edgy with sensitive.  I call it 'hard emotional' with a 'rough glass sensitive' add mixture.  

I also like that they went from simple and basic riffs to more complex solos and chords.  At one point, one of their guitar riffs sounded a lot like Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five'.  I like that they build on chords and notes, making them get more complex.  I got visuals of walking down a 'dark desert highway'.  No, literally, a New Mexico desert night, open and vulnerable to the elements naked, cold, and alone with coyotes howling in the distance.  The guitar solos were lit on fire, they were nasty solos.  Some of the solos were trippy and reminded me of the underground  psychedelic bands like The Electric Prunes or Tomorrow.  And, the lyricism and melody glowed a very sinister green flame.  I also imagine this music in a Calvin Klein or Levi's commercial in the sense that it has that other worldly, dark, rebel quality that those types of commercials have.  This is the music that James Dean would cruise the highways to on his motorcycle.  Easily the soundtrack to Easy Rider.  

My only criticisms are that I wish the band had a standard 'look'.  I liked that the drummer had on a dark tie and a white shirt.  Maybe having the whole band attired in that look would be too referential to the sixties, but I feel like it might have been cool.  I also wish that some of the songs had more structured endings.  A few of the songs just ended abruptly, which is probably their style but it went against the build that they achieved during each song.  I liked that no band member was too important.  Every single member was featured at some point with a solo.  And they're ALL talented musically.  No one is being carried by anyone's coattails, which is refreshing to see.  You can easily get lost in the instrumentals.  I also like that though referencing the sixties, they also reference the 70's and 80's as well.  Some metal riffs get fused into the otherwise psychedelic sound.  Their song 'For What It's Worth' was their golden ticket.  I see this becoming a big hit.  The drum solo at the start is amazing.  I hope they get a break in a commercial (like Target who sometimes uses edgy music).  I don't think this will be the last you'll hear about them.  Not by a long shot.  Too much talent to let go to waste.

'For What It's Worth' The Studio at Webster Hall (6/12)

From Spike Hill (3/9) 

Of Clocks and Clouds- (#3)

This is the band that I mainly came to see.  They tweeted me and I listened to some of their stuff.  Because they were having a free show, and I liked their music, I decided to check them out.  I was NOT disappointed.  This is also a band to watch.  What's impressive is that it's just two dudes, the drummer and a guitarist who also does synthesizer/sound effects.  Joe Salgo plays guitar, does synth and vocals as well as writing all the lyrics.  The drummer is Ross Procaccio, but when I saw them Salgo's brother was filling in.  He did an amazing job filling in by the way.  If Salgo wouldn't have mentioned it being his brother, I wouldn't have thought anything was amiss.  Of Clocks and Clouds have a Kraftwerk influence, which I definitely can hear and appreciate.  Kraftwerk is an underrated band and being that I'm obsessed with machine/robotic sounds fused with music especially from the late 70's/early 80's I found myself really enjoying the Of Clocks and Clouds set.

The electronic beat seemed to be pre-programmed in, which is good since the guitarist was the one doing all the sound manipulation.  What a multi-tasker!   I mean he writes all the songs, sings them, and manipulates the effects.  WOW!  I used to sing and play bass in a band (in high school) and that's hard enough.  I can never understand how people multi-task their musical talents, not playing multiple instruments, but doing them all at the same time.  Respect!  I like the poetic lyrics and there is a nice balance of vocals, drums, and guitar.  Nothing overpowers or gets underscored.  Everything balances quite well.  There is nothing lacking or overwhelming which is too often the case, often the fault of sound technicians or the board operator.  Of Clocks and Clouds reminds me of an American Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, or White Lies.  The latter being newer.  However, they have this great 80's New Wave or underground alternative (Ultravox, B-Movie) sound but they make it fresh.  There is also a tinge of Stabbing Westward, something more gothic and dark.  I feel that industrial/goth/electronic element and it's not out of place.

Of Clocks and Clouds is very unpompous and not showy at all.  You feel like you can hang with them after the show and chat over some brews.  I also like that the music could be on a crime show like Bones or CSI.  It's dark and deep enough to make a show like Law and Order: SVU even more sinister.  The music is mainstream enough to be big but it's not cliche or ironic enough to be Mumford and Sons (who are annoying the shit out of me these days) and not vapidly mainstream like Blink 182 (who suck live).  I feel that there could be more interplay with the electronics and synth.  I really enjoyed the sound manipulation and lyric echos orchestrated by Salgo.  The vocal effects were amazing and like nothing I've heard.  Innovative like The United States of America (not POTUSA).  I loved the song 'Love Will be My End'.  That's definitely hit worthy and stands out as both intense and hypnotic.  Of Clocks and Clouds is much like Flaming Lips in that their lyrics seem simplistic but at a closer listen, you can tell they're very soulful and deep.  Great music for a foggy, rainy misty day.  Yes, a blend of Radiohead and Flaming Lips.  I hope I see them again, live, soon!  Bravo!

                                        'What Should I Believe?'(At House of Yes)

                                                                'It's Over Now'

                                                     'Need You Now' (at Pianos 1/6/13)

Dussel Has Friends (#4)- 

I have to be honest.  This was my least favorite band of the night.  They are a blend of alternative and hip-hop.  However, I felt like I was at a frat party.  This is just a really good college band playing at someone's fraternity house.  There are six people in the band: two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, a vocalist, and a guy on electronics.  Two guys are back up vocals.  It's an interesting mix in that the band is interracial which you don't see a lot.  It's either all black, all white, all Latino, etc.  I like when there's a blending of races and genres.  The labels get blurred.  That's one thing I, in fact, DID like about Dussel.

However, a lot of the instrumentals were simple rock riffs.  There was some electronics, but not nearly enough.  It was hard to hear the rapping and vocals, as it was drowned out by the instrumentals.  I liked the energy and personality of the vocalist/rapper.  He has a lot of great energy and connected to the audience well.  He made their music into feel good music, and bearable for me.  I also did not like that they took riffs from known rock songs like Weezer's 'Say It Ain't So' and Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'.  Let me say this very clearly.  I HATE when any artist takes a well known rock riff and then doesn't do it much justice.  I'm very territorial about my rock and especially Nirvana.  I almost walked out the door when I heard the famous 'duh duh duh neeer neeer' that everyone associates with the anarchy cheerleaders in a pep rally gone awry music video.  I literally almost walked out.

Though I'm glad I didn't because I got to hear that this band does some great funk.  If they mostly did that, just did funk like Sly and the Family Stone infused withe some rap, then it might be more enjoyable.  However, most of the songs were 'cute girl shake your ass' stuff.  I felt it was too similar to Kid Rock or Nickelback (who I find irritating).  I felt the novelty of this band wear off by the fourth song.  It really wasn't until they did some funk, that I was woken up from my boredom.  Oh and they also stepped on a Harry Belafonte tune, 'Jump in the Line' (my fave).  I did not like Dussel's rendition, however.  Sorry, I'm just a Debbie Downer here.  I just didn't like the appeal this band may have had to some.  It is a talented band of musicians, and that's why I say doing more funk would bare their soul and showcase their high  level of talent.  I feel like they're selling themselves short, like someone handed them some music to play and they said, 'okay, the money is good' and threw away whatever they actually had planned.  More originality.  With their funkier stuff, they remind me of Living Colour (of 'Cult of Personality' fame).  I did like 'Summertime' and felt that could be a hit.  It was different than the other songs.  Maybe it's just my aversion to feeling like I'm in a fraternity, but it really was like a college kegger in Williamsburg.  Definitely not my scene!

                            'Summertime' (in Philly 2/11)

                       video for 'American Made'

Tattoo Money (#5)-

This was the headliner of the night.  They were doing a CD and music video release party.  Their video had zombies in it (big points in my book).  I actually liked this band a lot.  Three people: vocalist and guitarist, bassist, and drummer.  I actually enjoyed this band the most.  They have an IT factor.  I could easily see them on Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon.  They have swagger, a coolness factor.  You want to know these guys.  I liked that they handed out a card with a free download of their new album.  Most artists sell their stuff for $20 per CD at shows (if you're lucky).  These guys are definitely chill.  The drummer had on a dashiki (and he's white).  The vocalist/guitarist had on a stovepipe hat and blazer donning an Andre 3000 (from Outkast) look.  

I liked the opening, 'Diamonds in the Sky'.  A Rhianna cover but the originality of the song made me doubt it to be a cover at all.  I think of Tattoo Money's music as surf meets rockabilly meets doo-wop, kind of a fuse of Lenny Kravitz, Outkast, Yes, and Pink Floyd.  I'll call it 'funk-a-billy trip-hop'.  I loved the song 'Wolf Ticket' which has some nice psychedelic reverb.  I have never heard anything like this in my life.  The lead singer has tons of charisma and the dashiki donning drummer was insane.  His facial expressions were intense, letting you know that he is totally enveloped in his own music.  I also liked the song 'Melt With You' in its genre defying, face melting wonderment.  That was the real shit!  Golden shit!

  I liked that Tattoo Money did a cover of the Lumineers' 'Ho Hey'.  I cannot stand that song.  It is hipster bullshit and is the anthem of Williamsburg.  I heard it in the corner market on Bedford and W 7th, before the show and heard everyone in the entire store singing along.  BLECH!  But Tattoo Money sang it with swag and with sardonic irony.  That's why they're the shit, Tattoo Money, not The Lumineers.  Tattoo Money was the highlight of my evening, despite the other bands/artists having lots of talent.  I was reminded of Cee Lo Green and Dungeon Family injected with Moby Grape and Buffalo Springfield.   A little early Chicago circa '25 or 6 to 4'.  Funky, fresh, and dynamic.  I would see Tattoo Money again and actually pay some money to see them live!

                         video for 'DJ Please Don't Play No Dubstep'

The other band, 'Revolving One' did not show.  Maybe they played after Tattoo Money because I left early.  Not because I was bored but because I'm old and a dad (and my wife hates me getting home too late).  She lets me out to concerts and I don't like getting home past 1 am.  Anyway, that's my two cents on what I saw.  If you catch any of these bands/artists, I hope you enjoy what they have to offer.  And like I said before, they all have unmeasurable talent.  Even though I liked some acts more (or less) than others doesn't speak to their talent level.  It just speaks to my level of taste which is totally subjective.  Music is even more opinion forming than fashion and religion combined.  And I usually like stuff off the beaten path anyway.  So, I hope any of the bands who I write about don't take offense.  You're all very talented, and I'm sure you'll go far in the really nitpicky and grenade filled world that is the music industry.

Musically yours,


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