With Obsession Collection Music I will continue to help expose music I love, believe in and wish to share. It has been pleasure writing about music. It takes time and it is important to be accurate. I’ve worked hard this year finding my voice and developing a writing style that describes succinctly what I am hearing. Exposure is important for music but being accurate is necessary. So even though this is a laborious task it is something that I find quite satisfying. My writing has propelled some careers to move a little faster. Good words can help define a mission and redefine an outlook. I am not here to be critical. Although I do not like everything and find it painful to listen to the mediocre.
I am still doing this site with every spare moment I have. Maintaining Obsession Collection Music solo makes it difficult to see or hear everything. I’ve mainly concentrated on writing about music that you might not find elsewhere. I'm proud to have given some groups their first web copy.
Awesome Sites (Site Scavenger Series) I will continue to find great sites that expose music. Especially sites that are forward thinking and have a unique point of view, like If You Make It. It is nice to find sites that start out on the grassroots level, watch them develop and then analyze what distinguishes their sites from more established and sometimes corporate copycats.
Music Movements I will write about music movements and collectives that combine music, art and film like Wham City (Baltimore) The B3nson Recording Company (Albany) The Purple Van Club (Paris). Or publishers like Showpaper that are moving the music and art culture forward from a street perspective the way all great grassroots movements begin. This will continue to be a priority. Giving additional web presence to groups that are inventing new business models because the old one is antiquated and leaves so many behind. Most started out of passion and necessity. They are good people with Chutzpah and have the ability to shake things up.
Art and Music I also will continue to explore the melding of art and music. An interesting trend of the last few years is going to a museum to see music. The group Lucky Dragons is a good example. Their bookings are in museums around the world as well as basements, and venues. I will continue to write about the photographers, like (Crackerfarm) filmmakers, writers, artists who behind the scenes are moving the culture forward.
OCM 2008 Year (not a best of)
What I saw and wrote about has been inspiring and uplifting experience. So many of the people I’ve written about are doing better and getting the exposure they deserve. Many have been signed to independent labels this year that has given them the opportunity to tour with a little more ease. It is interesting to see a band open shows to headline shows. This is nice for them but hard on me. The thought of eleven o'clock start time has taken its toll. Being an opening act is over for many of the groups that I’ve written about this year. A year can make a difference.
Langhorne Slim spread the love around signed to a label toured the US several times this year and back to Europe. I’m waiting for them to become a household name, I think that’s possible. O’death signed later this year to the same label. Kemado has good judgment and taste. Peasant is a good example of someone I started writing about back in 2006. He has been a pleasure to watch develop and document. Drink up Buttercup, I’ve just had a blast seeing them and writing about them from the first show in NY in 2007 till now. What an awesome trip it has been. Another highlight was was meeting Geo Wyeth (Novice Theory) at a party and making the commitment to see him at The Trash bar on a Wednesday night. Glad I did. What an amazing talent.
OCM 2009 and beyond
What am I looking forward to this year: is the much-awaited CD by Hop Along Queen Ansleis, and the debut release of Drink Up Buttercup. Both groups are finalizing recording and in the mastering stages. Peasant’s re-release of On The Ground for distribution with the help of Team Love Records will give it the boost it deserves. I am also looking forward to seeing some bands that I have found that have not booked shows in New York yet. I’m waiting.
OCM’s 2008 The great live shows that I have seen this year and CD reviews are all documented within the pages of this blog. Many are in Google heaven and hopefully resurrected by this post. If you like: Deer Tick, The Felice Brothers, Langhorne Slim Peasant, Hop Along Queen Ansleis, Viking Moses, Golden Ghost, Drink Up Buttercup, Conor Oberst, Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, Novice Theory, The Lisps and more explore these pages.
Live reviews 08
CD reviews 08
The economy has fucked up my plans of moving OCM central to NYC. I’m still on it and remain hopeful. I will continue and hope for a brighter future with more readership. OCM has been steadily growing with one reader at a time since its inception in June of 06. Do me a favor, spread this shit around! Happy New Year to all from Obsession Collection Music.
With her DIY style is personal. Every CD was burned by hand and stamped with an artistic seal. Crossing oceans and states the goods were packaged in hand painted envelopes enclosed with a personal note. The return address Blue Moose Records a fictitious label with a rotating address due to the transient nature of college living.
Each summer, winter and spring break she would coordinate small tours with the occasional random house or venue show. Drives up and down the east coast and this last summer to the mid-west. She also has done various festivals such as Culture Shock 2007 and The Big She Bang 2008 in NY and a slew of College shows. While her fan base grew she made a tough commitment to remain at The Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore and obtain her BFA degree.
Finally graduated she is ready to devote her attention to music. This past year she has expanded her live solo shows to include two other musicians. Dominic Angelella on electric and slide guitar, and her brother Mark Quinlan an accomplished drummer. The last show of this year is with Kimya Dawson at the Rock and Run For Justice Concert for Midnight Run in Dobbs Ferry.
The future is wide-open and her palette of sound ready to be smudged, blended and applied.
Hop Along’s very ravenous fan base has waited patiently. This interview is for them to get a glimpse of what she’s been up to and what to expect from her upcoming release.
OCM Asks Hop Along Queen Ansleis (Francis Quinlin)
OCM Although you still do solo stints live, what were some of your thoughts behind adding additional players to your live show?
FQ I've pretty much always wanted to be in a band, ever since I became involved in music. I've always wanted to have a BIG sound that takes over a space; creates a space, really. It just took me this long to become capable enough to play alongside others onstage. I started the solo project after I left for college and my oldest brother Andrew and I couldn't get together to jam as much anymore, so that whole method came out of necessity, rather than preference (I'm also kind of lousy at jamming, if you want to know the truth). When I'd go to shows (especially ones where practically the whole audience danced) I'd get so hung up watching full bands play, and I'd get really frustrated about not having the kind of energy that only a great drummer can create. And not to sound cheesy, but Mark and Dom play with so much life onstage, they get into it, and people can't help but at least feel that, in my opinion. It's just so much easier to get excited about playing, especially older songs, being in that kind of presence. At maybe our fifth or sixth show, there were people dancing and crowd surfing for the first time during a Hop Along set.
OCM Has adding other players to your live roster changed your recording process?
FQ Absolutely, and in the best ways possible. Whenever I used to write a song, they would nearly always be intended to have more than one part, more than me on my guitar. But my ideas were usually vague and unrealized until I'd make an album. So I'd write the acoustic part and figure out the rest while recording. The fact that I've leaned toward creating a big sound for a while I think explains why freshman year has so much stuff going on all through it. I wanted so badly to fill up that space that an acoustic guitar just can't fill; so I recorded layers and layers of bells, whistles, toys instruments and noise, sparing no moment of nuance, just a ton of stuff. I was trying to give the record process, make it whole. Sometimes it worked there are some nice little moments. But mostly I think a lot of that extra stuff was kind of thrown in without much thought as to what could be lost. And I'd get such a little thrill when people would hear freshman year and think I was a band. But most of it was done haphazardly, and another thing, it's really hard to recreate any of it live, I can't even remember a lot of what I did.
But the way things are now, the songs take most of their shape during practice. And I've had to rewrite older songs since the band formed, because Mark comes up with these really interesting, surprising beats, and I've got to adapt to that. And then Dom works out these really pretty, captivating parts on electric that often make a small section pop and I've got to match his intensity, which is a big challenge, I've been learning.
A little over two weeks ago Tim from Sgt. Dunbar came down to Philly to help us record a demo, and we took care of the bare bones of songs, just drums, guitars, and vocals. Now I'm staying up in Albany, where most of the Dunbar kids live, and where I am currently snowed in. This past weekend Tim and I have been working the way I did on "freshman year", writing while recording, adding little things of character where we see fit, and being much more selective about it. So there is this awesome three-part system going; writing the songs with the band, recording t hem with the band, and then holing up in an old house in the snow and adding the elements that give the songs a personal quality on the record, the weird stuff. So we really get to make something great, that's big but still intimate. And I've been so lucky to have so many people as invested in this thing as me, and what's more, the songs are so much better. My sense of improvement has really speeded up since I started playing with Mark and Dom.
OCM Do you have different expectations for the release in the works having self-released Freshman Year?
FQ Freshman Year did well for a self-released project, especially since it was produced mostly by me, someone with close to zero talent as an engineer (Chris Archibald of Illinois produced four of the tracks, and he's got way more skills than I do). Phil Douglas really saved my skin when he mixed and mastered the whole thing for me; he did a wonderful job. So even then other people had their hands in the project, I was never completely alone. But during the whole process it all came down to my opinion, so you might say the expectations were automatically smaller then. Now you've got three people with different ideas, and when we started out I admit I was afraid of that. I'm not the best at collaborating, especially on big projects, a lot of the time I get more concerned about getting what I want in there rather than considering what's best for the song. And I didn't want to abandon the character that Freshman Year had (although sometimes for the sake of arguing I'll say otherwise), the chance to experiment at the last minute, while recording. But Mark and Dom both liked that album, so I got lucky and don't have to worry about it, in that regard.
We all want this record to be big, bigger sounding than Freshman Year (we're trying to get some bass on it, even), but it's got to be better thought out. There's even less of an excuse to put out half-thought out songs now that there are three (more than that, really) people working on them. So the expectations are pretty reasonable, certainly more so than mine were while I was making Freshman Year. I wanted to create the illusion of there being more people, now I don't have to; they're right with me and they're helping me make it happen.
OCM Will this release be self-released like Freshman Year or are there other strategies in the works?
FQ We've been talking about labels we're hoping to send this demo out to, there are more than a few who've got rosters I really admire, and those I'd flip out over if we were ever asked to join. But if we do end up self-releasing this, it still won't be as hands-on as the last record was; I'm not going to cut the covers myself and paint every CD (the stamp is all worn down now). It's kind of sad I guess, it's always nice to send each person a personally crafted item, but I'm really not all that bummed about the change. I've spent so much time making copies and I think I've gotten all I'm going to get from that kind of experience. I'd rather not use up that kind of time now, when I could be spending it working on a song, or at least making something new, not copy after copy.
OCM Finishing Art College did put some restraints on your music aspirations. What specifically did you gain from that experience and how has it informed your music? Any regrets?
FQ It put physical restraints on it for sure. My original, totally unrealistic plan was to record an album every summer after I did Freshman Year, so the next one would naturally be called Sophomore Year, and so on. I didn't realize that I just can't write that fast. My sophomore year of college was a major dry spell in terms of song writing; I think I wrote maybe six songs that year and I only play three of them today. Plus I always get stressed over school, and sophomore year I spent mostly making bad paintings and working on my poetry and screenwriting homework (I wrote the worst screenplay; it was about house painters). But on the flip side, I also went on my first tour while I was a sophomore, during winter break. Dom and I went for 11 days, and he was in school too. It was a huge deal, for both of us. Dom and I would probably never have met if I hadn't gone to art school.
And Freshman Year is self-explanatory, I wrote most of those songs during my first school year; furthermore, I blame it for the worst grades I received during my college education, which I got the spring semester when I was a freshman. I spent so much time recording rough drafts of Bruno is Orange, Elizabeth and Elizabeth, Two Kids, and so on; I neglected classes a little bit. It was cool though, my roommates gave me a lot of feedback whenever I'd show them a song (two of them being musicians: Wheatie Mattiasich and Molly O'Connell of Hittie Titty), and they usually helped me record them too. So my first year was actually a bigger deal for me as a musician than it was as a visual artist (I made some really awful paintings that year).
After that I did get pretty caught up in school, doing more ambitious paintings (after sophomore year all my paintings have been no smaller than 6' x 7' or so) and investing more and more time in increasingly demanding classes. But every school year I still managed to go out on a little tour. My second one with Wheatie and Molly during winter break of junior year, and the third with Dom again during spring of senior year. Besides that, college is an incredible vehicle for discovering/ being shown new music. My freshman year was when Molly showed me Kimya Dawson and Joanna Newsom, sophomore year I heard Herman Dune and the Microphones (again Molly's doing) and Jonathon Richman and Zoe Keating, and it never stopped. It did a lot for me, certainly as a musician, and I always listened to that stuff while working. Music that creates space helps a lot when you're trying to build a visual space from scratch. Practically every painter I know works to music, and the ones who don't I automatically consider snobs.
Regrets? I wish I could remember what I learned about building your own website. That happened my freshman year, spring semester.
OCM Any cool plans for the physical art on the hard copy of the new release?
FQ Yes, very big, very vague plans. I know I want it to involve printmaking again (the cover of Freshman Year was result of the first etching I ever did), I've been talking to my former professor, who taught me lithography (it ended up being one of my favorite classes) and we might collaborate on something. I have no idea what the image will be at this point, but I'm thinking something over spilling or billowing maybe, with sparse color, if any. But I could be completely off. I always end up going way off course when it comes to planning a visual project and then realizing it.
OCM Your songwriting and song structure is unusual in what way has it evolved since your last release? What changes can fans look forward to?
FQ I guess I sort of answered a lot of this in the second question, since a great deal of songwriting happens for me during the recording process. It probably always will. But overall, I've gotten better at experimenting with a song without losing track of a central tone. The band has really helped me do that and filling a song's major form out during the first stages too, with less of a dependence on the later extra sounds, on bells and novelty. Those things can do a lot, I love them, but I'm relieved that I'm not putting a toy piano in every single song I record now. Now it'll have some personality when it shows up. I've also started writing more personal songs, more directly related to my own life and more mature. All in all, it's less cute. I hope fans can look forward to some of that. They can at least look forward to the cameos of a trumpet, the sound of knives being sharpened, and some badass ragtime piano.
OCM You do not have typical fans they enjoy a broad variety of genres yet they are drawn to your music. Has that helped you in the sense of not being pigeonholed in terms of sharing the bill with bands that represent a very different sensibility and genre?
FQ I've been pretty lucky in that regard. Not only have I had the opportunity to play with some really unique and exciting bands (like WHY? and Fake Problems), I've also met a broad range of talented people with whom I occasionally get to work on music. Recently I became friends with a subject of one of your interviews, the B3nson collective, a perfect example of a broad variety of bands sharing a collective aim, that's to help one another realize visions and ideas, and to do it in ways one would not typically expect. Their music is full of surprise and adventure, and it's because they aren't afraid to delve into unexplored territory. I've tried to be careful in the sense that I don't try to surround myself with people trying to do the same thing as me. And playing with so many different bands reminds me that there's so much new territory still available. It encourages me to be unafraid.
OCM Just curious how you were received touring with the punk outfit Fake Problems a few years ago?
FQ Wheatie and I were so nervous about being totally overshadowed by a raucous punk band, we'd never toured the south and didn't know what to expect as far as a reception, but the shows were amazing, people were really kind and attentive and a good number of kids in every city came and spoke with us after our sets. I think Wheatie and I both benefited from a well-rounded audience after that tour. Plus every single guy in Fake Problems is, as my mom would put it, real good people. I got to hear their new record and it's unbelievable. Plus I met one of my new favorite bands, P.S. Eliot, through them.
OCM How did the upcoming benefit show with Kimya Dawson come about?
FQ It's funny, I was asked to play this show before the band even existed, way back in April. I'm not sure how it came about. Carter, who runs the Common Grounds Coffee House in Dobbs Ferry, e-mailed me and said he liked my songs and could I play a show with Kimya Dawson in December. He's a super nice guy, he came to a show Dom and I played together at ABC No Rio over the summer, and he's excited to have the whole band come up and play. I don't know what made him pick us. It must have been magic. It's been a pretty magical year, all in all. I get to play with someone who was one of the greatest influences on my musical development, and I'm in a band. I don't think I've ever felt so full of potential, it's like from now on I have no excuse to do anything but get better. Once you are shown your capacity for improvement, as an artist or a human being, you can't go backwards to exactly what you were without a sense of artificiality. You can't turn around without losing some of yourself. I'll take some of the old things with me, I have to, but I can't ever go back now.
Inscription on back jacket:
OK peeps! if you were there please leave some comments. Let us know. People do come here seeking out anything on the Beest.
This is a treat for my readers who appreciate great finger-picking on guitar, banjo and old traditional songs. A year and half ago I wrote to Joe Ahearn and asked if he could book a young musician who was sixteen at the time. I wrote a little copy.
“After hearing him play I thought I just witnessed the reincarnation of Jimmy Rogers or a young Woody Guthry. He is a guitar savant, plays the harmonica, sings and even yodels. Well he does share the sensibilities of the greats but he delivers his own material and covers in a very original way.”
Joe booked him to do a few songs as one of the openers for Turner Cody. Turner was blown away but was sorry to loose track of him. They were reconnected when the young man showed up at a show recently.
The end result is this incredible hour of music and discussion on Brooklyn Radio hosted by Turner Cody called Thrifty, Brave, Clean. It is a little awkward at first but hang in there. Trust me it gets very interesting. First song he played was “I’m Tired Of Everything But You” a song performed by Nick Lucas in 1927 the pioneer of Jazz guitar. About midway through he played an awesome murder ballad on banjo and later in the set a few originals. Their conversation is an informed, relaxed and refreshingly sincere just two musicians talking and sharing what they love.
This young man's talent is deserving of exposure but I am embedding this discreetly without the usual pictures and links to afford him the space he will need to continue to explore and develop. Although some bookings would be great!
“One of the first times, I was just blown away by a performer” Turner Cody
Whether they were sick or recovering nobody would have guessed. They were their lively selves and regardless of how they felt put on a spectacle as if it was the most important show of their lives. What an awesome treat. They are eye and ear candy mixed with the roaring crash of metal and sweet swell of harmony. Moving about the stage, falling to the ground, operatic vibrato, tambourine in mouth, theatrics abound but the music is the essential ingredient of Drink Up Buttercup.
I rarely go to shows and play a key role. Usually I’m listening, observing and taking pictures. Tonight was different. Being up front, Farzad’s mic stand broke in the middle of a song. His harmonies play a key role. He looked at me and with hand motions and gave me my marching orders So I held the mic through two songs following his lips with a steady hand and made sure I didn’t hit his teeth. He moved quite generously from one side of the keyboard to another. It was finally resolved when Simon found a small mic stand that he placed on the keyboard. Relieved of my duties I was able to take more shots.
Although I have seen and reviewed Drink Up many times I have yet to see them play in a big venue. I don’t always have the luxury of going out during a workweek, so when a Saturday shows come up I take it. Anyway my intentions were to show some Roman visitors a good time. They were young in their early twenties so going to an eleven o’clock show I thought would not be too difficult. They left just as soon as the first note to get some rest. Shit I have yet to find people who can keep up with me. Forget my age group. So I’ll continue to go alone to be mistaken for the bands mother not the dedicated Blogger that I am.
What was assumed to be food poisoning was catching on. Some of the other members and traveling friends were feeling sick. The impending doom of a stomach virus was a predicament. As they packed their gear the thoughts about throwing up the next day to come back the following night to the much bigger Union Hall would linger. Maybe I made the right decision to come to the smaller Cake Shop after all. I doubt it. I’m sure they put on an amazing show. That is just who they are!
Aria Orion is a five-piece group of guitar, violin, stand up bass, accordion, clarinet, drums and percussion novelties such as Indian Cowbells and hand held native skin drum.
The dramatic dark stage lighting set the mood as Jules stood center stage dressed in a branch headdress in front of the ensemble. The music was an acoustic dream of eerie, ethereal, bold movements and spine-tingling combination of instruments. Jules emotional shaky high vocal range turns and twists within and mysteriously edges around the instrumentation.
Opening with “When I Awake” a trance developed. The folky classical guitar style and accordion softly began to interact, as other instruments were slowly introduced. After some violin plucksthe full ensemble soared sonically into an acoustic feast. “Augur (Part 1)” began like a religious chant and segued into an experimental sound kaleidoscope. A vocal seduction “One By One” featured the awesome contrast of range by Jules and Geo singing / I am lucky to be here with you /.
The short impressive set was an intriguing introduction to Aria Orion, leaving me wanting more.
Everyone left the stage except Jules who was statuesquely poised playing Indian Cowbells. In the distance Novice Theory entered the upper level with his guitar singing / see me hanging on that yellow tree / walking towards the stage he completes the song on the grand piano.
Hearing Geo perform is all in the details. In-between singing are huffs, grunts, and ticking that insinuate specific sounds. The piano chops were at an all time high infused with syncopated rhythms and classical offshoots that were intertwined with an improvisational attitude.
Geo Wyeth is transgender and biracial. While ultimately that has little to do with his incredible musicianship and performance acumen it does factor into his songwriting process. My hope is that a talent as bold and prodigious as his is not marginalized. Do I feel a commonality with the raw lyrics presented? Emphatically yes. We are all given a set of circumstances that we navigate the world with some are more challenging then others.
The set was primarily new material mixed with a few performance staples and a Kate Bush cover song “You Speak In Tongues”. The second song started with / maybe / maybe / maybe it’s the circus / that playfully coordinated piano styling and vocals like a round.
A song about transformation formed a theme for everything that followed. An autobiographical dialogue of discontent addressed the schism of not feeling comfortable with birth gender assignment. All pissed off he extolled a litany of lyrics examining ages and stages, one example was / when I was eight I wanted hair like Macaulay Culkin /.
Novice Theory in song strongly claims his racial identity. Pale skin is one biracial outcome that is a camouflage of deception and hard to navigate in our society. / Black is my voice / black is my blood / we stay black /. A song for Harriett had curious inference in lyrics. “Something Flat In Her Face” combined disconnected piano chords with the vocal phrasing of tic tic tic tic in-between.
The encore was a negotiation of sorts and time constraints. Geo pointed out that Joe’s Pub is serious and when it’s time to go they mean it. So with that, he gave us a choice “I can either play a Patty Griffith song on the piano or bring out the squeezebox”. Accordion was it and the night ended with “About a Dream”, a song that comes on strong and fades theatrically for emphasis. (Video About A Dream on Jools Holland)
Glad I came out on this rainy Wednesday night. Driving home at moc speed I listened to the stirring Aria Orion 35 minute EP Let the Sharp Stone Fly hot of the press. It had more clashing drum pounding then I expected. It knocked me out!
Titus Andronicus was a welcome pleasure. Not knowing anything about their music was a plus. It is such a great opportunity to hear a group for the first time without any preconceived notions. I like that. Beyond the noise and punk there was an incredible nuance to their sound that rose above the revved-up amplification. It had order and structure with beautiful scales of lead guitars that could be heard above all the noise with wave like variations.
While they sound raw and similar to the punk originators The Sex Pistols they are more musically inclined. They manipulate instruments with the raging sound of distortion, amplified at full tilt. This was witnessed throughout the set as all three guitarists had access to stationed platforms. There were also two keyboards, bass and drums. Some of the songs have a balladry type feel of The Pogues but electrified. They also add beat driven punk sing along chants to the mix.
Patrick Stickles voice was unadorned, real, rough and awesomely off key. I just loved watching him. Lots of drama and strange moments especially when he picked up a cold pizza and took a few bites between verses. Honestly I wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it.
Some fans in the audience thinking they were at an all age show started moshing to the chagrin of the rest of the crowd. The lights went on briefly to look for someone’s glasses. Don’t get me wrong the crowd was completely engaged, including me!
O’death ruled this night. I am always enamored by their ability to work up an audience but headlining at the Bowery Ballroom makes a difference. The sound system is just great and band was just delighted and thrilled to be there.
The audience at an o’death show are just awesome. There is unity and love that generates even among o’death virgins. And there were many. They immediately succumbed to the robust energy of the songs. The dancing is fascinating to watch and to take part in. Because the song structures are so unusual fans could dance a waltz and then instantly break out into an uncontrollable frenzy of jumping, pumping and head banging. The smiles and nods among the crowd acknowledging a shared experience were a highlight for me.
An artifact of the evening was a bra relinquished from an adoring fan that Jesse Newman gladly draped over the microphone. The hour and a half set ended with a chant. David Rogers Berry jumped away from his drum set to the center of the stage, all instruments were abandoned and the band member’s voices rose in unison. Suddenly Bob Pycior dove into the crowd of outstretched arms willingly propping his sweaty body above the throngs of appreciative fans. That night music was experienced as a community, as it should be.
For more in-depth o’death live postings, click the o'death label on the sidebar!
Peasant's album On The Ground will have an official re-launch in late January to be distributed for exposure with the help of Team Love . This makes me happy for Peasant but also for those who long to hear the simplicity and beauty of songwriting with vocals that embrace the listener.
His music and voice have gotten under my skin since 2006, and yes I’ve written a lot about him. When I love something I stick with it. I never waver. I never get bored. Damien’s voice is just one of those things. The effect was similar to the way I felt when I first heard Conor Oberst eight years ago.
While searching the name Peasant it is often difficult to find without typing his name Damien Derose as well. Hopefully, soon that will change.
Go to peasant's myspace page for tour dates and be on the lookout for upcoming WOXY session.
Record label Paper Garden Records
B3nson Recording Company is a collective doing it independently. They remind me of the early years of Saddle Creek Records. Omaha & Albany have some similarities. And like the newer model Wham City that has taken shape in Baltimore.
The B3nson collective of musicians’ artists and writers are friends with benefits. They benefit by living, working and performing in Albany? Rather then moving to Brooklyn they are staying put with a plan. Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned the largest outfit in the collective book shows in the tri-state area about twice a month and play in Albany and upstate locations regularly. Many bands pass through Albany and Dunbar have opened for Rock Plaza Central, Deer Tick, and Avett Brothers. Staying put does have some benefits.
They work as a collective recording, booking, video production web design, flyer's, and hand made merchandise. Their creative skills compliment an aesthetic approach that is consistent with their ideals.
Their music and artistic directions have a thrifty aesthetic that represents a lifestyle of choice and necessity. Living cheaply and creatively from the outset makes choices about gas for touring, housing, instruments, food and clothing a given. Sometimes the most interesting things to look at and hear are authentically represented and not commercially misrepresented.
In tough times people who stick together help each other grow. The crews all have big hearts and are able to share a big tent. Their open spirit is represented candidly on the B3nson Blog where members contribute articles about other musicians they meet along the way. It is cool to read about music from a musician’s perspective.
Take talent, commitment, focus, and the ability to say why not. This is a collective well on their way to contributing to the music culture while creating their own viable movement.
Interview with Alex Muro of Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned conducted via email, in which he previewed a rough synopsis and answered the following curiosities.
OCM What is the up side of forming and being a part of a collective?
AM I think the biggest upside is having so many great friends. Our house lately has become somewhat of a collective hang out with the recent increase in B3nson activities and its simply fun to have people around all the time, hanging out, playing music, making things and playing Tetris. It's a great environment to conduct any sort of artistic activities. Beyond that there is the great advantage of talent and equipment sharing. We are lucky to have some really talented people in the collective who are good at all sorts of things from graphic design to recording and mastering to video editing, painting and all sorts of other stuff. The fact that we all enjoy hanging out together makes using those talents feel less like work and has allowed us to accomplish a great deal over the last month or so.
OCM Were there any concerns?
AM I don't think there were any general concerns about collectivizing as far as I know. We recently sort of "officially" added a bunch of new bands to the collective like Beware! The Other Head of Science, Swamp Baby and the Scientific Maps but there was already all sorts of membership blurriness and good friendships going on that made the transition seem kind of obvious.
OCM There seems to be a similar music sensibility between all the bands is forging a singular band identity a problem?
AM There definitely is despite the fact that some our music sounds quite different with bands ranging in styles from laid back soundscapes to folk to synth-spazz rock and lots of other stuff going on. I think the similarity comes from the fact that most of us have similar-ish backgrounds and have been in bands for a long time and listen to some of the same music. In general I'm not really sure how come the B3nson aesthetic works as well as I think it does, but its pretty cool. I think people are really going to enjoy the B3nson Family Funsgiving Compilation for that very reason, it fits together like an album way better than it’s supposed to.
OCM Are there plans for a large group tour like booking all the bands or some on one bill outside of the Albany area? Is that feasible?
AM There currently are not. I think that would be awesome and there is no group of people who I would rather spend an extended stay on the road with. Wham City has been doing something like that with Round Robin tour where they set up all the bands you listen around a big room each band plays a song and they go around in a circle the whole night. I think B3nson is still in much earlier stages than Wham City in that regard, we don't have any bands with national recognition like Dan Deacon or Beach House that can bring out the people to the shows that are needed to sustain so many musicians on the road. Give us a couple years though and we would really love to do something like that.
OCM What does being in Albany offer the bands?
AM The real answer is nothing, there is nothing in Albany that there isn't in any other city of similar size, we just sort of ended up here and the reason we are staying now is because we have made it a fun place to be. We are hoping that eventually b3nson and other currently growing facets of the Albany music scene make Albany a destination for new musicians but I definitely feel there is work to do before it really becomes attractive as a "music scene".
OCM Do you have other ambitions for the future?
AM I know that the members of Sgt Dunbar all want to be professional musicians and we would love to be able to quit our day jobs. We are working on a new album for release next years, working with some friends of ours to help promote it and planning our route to SXSW in for March. B3nson Records will also be releasing the debut record from Barons in the Attic in January and following with an album from Pinguinos hopefully shortly afterwards. For now though our ambitions are mostly concentrated on putting on a killer release show tonight for our 10th release the B3nson Family Funsgiving Compilation.
OCM Does working together build moral and help with a positive outlook for the future?
AM Working together sure is fun. I personally am not so concentrated on the future beyond March 09. It just seems like we have so much stuff to do between now and then. Working together on our current projects though definitely makes for a more positive outlook because the stresses and concerns are shared among such a large group of people.
OCM Were you asked to be a part of SXSW or are you going renegade and hitting the streets?
AM We got invited To SXSW by way of some good luck. I was doing my daily blog reading during CMJ and there was post on Idolater about unknown bands at CMJ and I commented about my feelings on the subject. It must have been a good comment because someone from SXSW saw it and invited us to the festival. We are really psyched to know so early that we've been accepted it would have been much more difficult decision to make if we had found out on Feb 1. It allows us enough time to plan a really good tour. We will certainly be hitting the streets like renegades once we get there though.
Pocket Concert Series featuring bands in the B3nson Collective.
Barons In the Attic
Beware! The Other Head of Science
Sgt Dunbar & the Hobo Banned
Stacey Gets Drunk
We are Jeneric
Deer Tick musicianship is evident. They rocked strong and tight at Spiegleworld. John McCauley’s gritty raw vocals were in contrast to the clear almost pristine musicianship. A polished rawness was the result, a weird but unexpected dichotomy. This band can shuffle it up acoustically, sing classic style country tales and tear it up with rock n roll. Deer Tick’s outstanding lead guitarist Andre Tobiassen, was unleashed at many points during the set. John also has great guitar skills. Chris Ryan on electric / double bass and Dennis Ryan on drums were perfect accompaniment.
Starting strong with “Ashamed” / what a crying shame / what we became /. John McCauley put his metal fingers to string on acoustic guitar and nice shuffle drumming during “Art isn’t Real (City of Sin)”. A killer song and heartfelt lament was “Song about a Man” / tugging at your lips to make you frown / that integrated harmonica and stand up with bow. For “Little White Lies” John abandoned his acoustic for a baby blue electric. Baltimore Blues # 1 lead guitar was amazing. Their 10-song set concluded with fancy 50’s classic and encore cover of La Bomba.
Standing up front next to me were two enthusiastic newly initiated fans. They were so smitten, they asked Dennis Ryan for a drumstick souvenir, he obliged. I'm looking forward to a headlining Gig!
The Felice Brothers can wow. 19 songs and counting and counting. They feed off of each other and the audience. Their crazy, rambunctious, loose, sloppy barn stomp combining the guitar, bass, fiddle, accordion, washboard and drums is unforgettable.
The Felice Brothers are in constant motion and rotation. So their show is equally as interesting to hear, as it is to watch. There were tender moments as well and they are staged to provoke interest. Especially strong was James Felice on accordion singing “Mary Don’t You Cry” and “Ruby Mae” with the earthy rough vocal of Ian Felice. Frankie’s Gun was a crowd pleaser. They introduced two new songs from their upcoming March release. Run Chicken Run was great and the accordion intro to Coney Island song / here comes the rain pounding on Coney Island /. Song 19 was the best audience participation chant directed by Simone Felice. He was perched on top of his drum kit directing the crowd, saying “You must repeat dying people, watch for the signal”.
Longest encore... This was exciting. The bands staging area extended to the ledge where our coats and drinks were propped. Things revved up considerably when Deer Tick joined them for what I thought was a grand finale. Little did I know that the Felice batteries just don’t die. I put my camera and notes away and they played an additional 45 minutes of unbridled music.
Seeing The Felice Brothers is like having a hangover without even partaking in one single drink. But I was drunk with excess and woke up in a haze singing I put some whiskey, into my whiskey. Can’t get this shit out of my head.
The Crackerfarm photography duo and Volcanic Productions presented Partyfarm for friends, associates and passersby’s with DJ Bonehawk, guest DJ Jamie Lidell and Vinyl Life closing the festivities.
This was not a typical dance crowd but slowly they got their dance on during Bonehawks set. By the time Lidell came on they totally let down their guard. By Midnight I had to make my exit but lingered a bit longer by the bar to catch the awesome close of Lidell's set. Unfortunately, I missed Vinyl Life who I here always draws a big crowd at Public Assembly.
Take a little bit of Al Green, Otis Redding, Prince and some Stevie Wonder and infuse Max/MSP digital tools and that is Jamie Lidell. The man knows how to use his tools. As a one-man band he moves the genre of soul forward. His vocal styling can elevate reaching the peak of exuberance in body and soul with auxiliary percussion. His timing is impeccable and can sing and strut with attitude. His vibe is friendly-cool with a loving desire to spread his feel good around.
The Crackerfarm team is headed to document Jamie’s European tour supporting Elton John for the next month. Wow it is perfect when talented people find each other. Just look at the videos down under! Also check out Jamie's NEW ALBUM 'JIM'
"A Little bit of "Feel Good" filmed by Crackerfarm
Terminal 5, whoops I mean Terminal Hell. I will never go back. I only went because for the last 8 years I’ve seen Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) at every venue in the tri-state area. This is a long Obsession that won’t quit. I endured and tried to keep a positive outlook and I’m glad I did.
Having wondered around the event to find somewhere within viewing range for Ben Kweller's upbeat and engaging performance of countrified pop, was close to impossible. His fans were vast and even with the two-story balcony I didn’t find one slight opening to fully appreciate the music.
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band set started out in a similar fashion. I stood by the WFUV Tables and had a side view for the first half of the set. Speaking of die hard fans standing next to me was a pregnant woman with her mate, lovingly hanging on to every word.
I laughed and got such a kick out of watching Conor dance and lead the band in such a new and out there sort of way. Doing moves that seemed so unlike him. He sang and added sign language to outline certain lyrics done in a pop rap fashion. It was a hoot. I find it endearing after seeing so many shows with him literally shaking with fear. I still love those special shows and hold them dearly in memory. A very comfortable and very much in command Conor emerged. Maybe it was the hat. That always helps. It gave confidence to the new and unfamiliar persona Conor Obeast.
The band was tight and explosive. Most of their sound is countryesque mixed with a very solid rock and roll spirit, guitar leads and bluesy piano riffs. The sound was loud and emphasized the muscle of the music but too loud to appreciate the nuance. “Moab” shined showing off the great melding of vocals. They played quite a few new tunes. A very strong new song "Ten Women" that highlighted Conor’s gift for writing. He ended the set with “Milk Thistle” and came back with a strong four-song encore including one with Ben Kweller. “I Don’t Want To Die In The Hospital” was spectacular. They ended on an experimental new song "Breezy" that spoke volumes about future endeavors. It had atmosphere and strange distant scratchy sounds of what I thought was metal on guitar.
Better Photos from Prefix
The exhilaration and exhaustion that succumbs experiencing o’death live is well known. The instruments, vocals and power penetrate straight away. Their mix of punk, metal, roots with Americana corner originality. Influences that morph not mimic.
On Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin production tricks are not apparent. With the help of Alex Newport they have captured the gestalt of their live sound and more. This recording highlights the robust sound of muscular instrumentation, stellar song structure and composition evoking a rollicking acoustic symphony. Every track is constructed with contrasting movements: mock speed, measured nuance and scaffolding volume.
I’ve always had an affinity for string instruments. Bob Pycior plays the fiddle like a lead guitar creating riffs that jolt and intone. The characteristic sappy sound of the fiddle can’t be found here and good riddance. Greg Jamie’s vocals evoke a subtle swell, rise to a nasal pitch and seguay into guttural channeling that inspire his voice of distinction. Gabe Darling’s awesome vocal accompaniment, ukulele and banjo playing are staples of the music. The foundational force of o’death’s masculine sound is fueled by Jessie’s Newman’s beefy bass accents and David Rogers Berry’s psycho punk drum auxiliary of chains, cymbals and gas tanks. He rears them in with unbridled force.
It is difficult not to highlight all the songs on this release because the penned words and striking music is alive with death. The intensity of “Fire on Peshitgo” about an historical lake fire where many died sets the contextual backdrop for the remaining songs dedicated to an individual, Eliza. Her short life was ended abruptly but is celebrated and mourned. / and robbing life of dignity / to every desperate end / alone / breathless air / lake on fire / land too /.
The lamenting slow tribute “Angeline” is breathtaking in its beauty and honesty / the leaves have turned / your ways have burned / your naked flesh against the sun /. The concluding full-bodied chorus / Angeline / Angeline / all your friends on their hands and knees / tired of your tragedies / is like a joyous funeral music procession.
First track “Lowtide” starts with the plucking of the ukulele and continues to build in volume with the fiddle strong-arm enunciation. As the drums crash and burn the vocals rise in pitch and pathos ending on a pluck. / I plant the face in water / I held her broken feet / I taught the wave that caught her / now she is yours to keep /. Hang the hardship baby / we go to sleep and then we die / is the choral interlude of “Grey Sun” and cries out like a folk epic with words that kill, literally.
Greg Jamie’s Neil Young like vocal and Darling’s harmonies are highlighted in “Home” that slowly begins with the chorus of / home / home / the air I breath / and is broken up by a fiddle interlude that scaffolds to a full orchestration emphasizing the urgent chorus. Greg Jamie’s vocal flurry is in nasal overdrive on “Legs to Sin” and catapults into a screaming metal-head. “Mountain Shifts” polka beat lends to the muscular masculine all-band chant that increases with breathless pace in this experimental song arrangement. / Her hair lays violent / dead in the stream / I hope that she’s peaceful / wherever her body may be /.
Bridging the fast to slow sounds of contrast that are brutal “Vacant Moan” combines slow fiddle interludes and chains hitting cymbals. / I plant my feet / I left the ground / I sought the wind too / I fought this out /. Then adds the most intense fast rant chorus gone haywire. All my / all my / all my own / could have grasped a vacant moan / then the lush of violence / crushed the pride of naked wind / dance the dance of broken veins / by the hand of all attained / left before you all the same / broken from the start /.
“Crawl Through Snow” has a rock opera structure then it softly enters into a divine passage / and on that foggy night / the trees fired up / and grew endless / I held the beast at bay / grew tired / from the light fading /.... ending with an impressive finale of full orchestration.
With Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin, o’death has moved the music culture forward displaying their capacity to experiment with what is and evolve to what isn’t. In contrast to death, o’death’s music is alive. It breathes and celebrates the importance to live and feel everything to full capacity.
Side Note: Jimmy Joe Roche Packaging design is top notch. Collage and hand written lyrics are placed on pages in the likeness of an authentic artists journal with pasted artifacts, scribbling and photographs. Starting off organized and evolving into a living document.
odeath website and blog!!
O’death played most of their new release Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin along with some old favorites like “Only Daughter” From Head Home. The familiar drew an insane bump in the pleasure factor, but the new material weighed in heavily, less rhythmic but more muscular.
O’death’s original mix of roots /punk / metal transmits energy with a velocity that can rival any strong armed metal band but they do it acoustically. Fans of o’death are there for the music exclusively. They are listening and responding with kinetic movements to every bold crash of a cymbal or electric slashing of the fiddle. Nothing drew more interestingly erratic movement then the polka like eccentric time changes in the song “Mountain Shifts”. “Vacant Moon” drove the crowd to new heights with uncontainable burst of acceleration the slow moments lending to a needed recovery.
There were tender and more solemn moments when they sang the beautiful but beefy “Grey Sun” and the lovely harmonic “Angeline”. By the nights close the crowd broke out in a wave of frenzy. Each person claimed a wider and more open space not holding back another minute while others less risky had to accommodate.
I’m always up front next to the stage. So it was fun sharing that time with o’death’s slue of friends. Meagan of the “Yeah Bob” contingent was on my right and the affable Jessica on my left. GPphoto passed me his card as I willingly gave up my spot for art. He got a great shot.
Openers Hoots and Hellmouth did a short set. I enjoyed their set more at the Mercury Lounge where the sound system showed off their acoustic instrumentation, soulful gospel-esque vocals coordinated with a foot stomp wooden platform. I was told that they really let go on their home turf in Philly by one of their most beautiful and adoring fans Kim.
Flickr Set o'death
Flickr Set Hoots and Hellmouth