3.26.2009

Drink Up Buttercup Acoustic Daytrotter Session

It is really nice when a group can create different versions of their songs both live and recorded. Drink Up Buttercup traded in the keyboard for piano, garbage can percussion for a more lightweight kick drum and some tambourine for this very special Daytrotter Session.

The session highlights the virtuoso James Harvey softer vocals while
Farzad Houshiarnejad and Ben Money harmonies are beautifully nestled in the background. This Campfire Metal is more like a marshmallow Roast. Soft, Syrupy and ready for consumption get your tasty free download at Daytrotter.

3.23.2009

Sgt. Dunbar 6th street SXSW

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned know how to take it to the street. I chose this video because I liked the comments from the crowd about the singing saw and mouth harp. Enjoy! Thanks neogondawanna for filming

3.21.2009

Viking Moses; The Quiet Restraint of The Parts That Show

Viking Moses AKA (Brendon Massei) new sophomore album release The Parts That Showed is Americana gem presented in a minimalist style. Recorded like chapters in a book; a silent pause gives the listener a moment to recover and turn the page as the saga unfolds.

Massei's uniquely original voice moans, hums and song speaks throughout. The overall somber tone is translated by gilded guitar riffs of electric and nylon string, unadorned piano, rickety rack quality percussion, occasional bass notes and the haunting use of the singing saw.

This collection delves into a harsh reality of a part-time teenage prostitute and portrays the story of sexual exploitation and the life consequences it permeates. The songs are presented from three perspectives the protagonist girl/woman, her obsessed admirer and Massei the storyteller each creating a diversity of mood and tone. Although there are lighter moments with Reggie like beats in “Jones Boys” and “Sole Command of The Day”, always present is the dark underlying subtext, juxtaposing the innocence of childhood with the burden grownup hardships and lurid predatory fixations.


“One Arm Round the Sinner” is the gestalt of the whole. As Massei sings / when I was a small girl / and things began to swell / I put my body right to work / and the people paid me well /. She claims / dirty towns you own me /and love is a sore upon the tongue /. But “Little Bows” with its stirring beat and Massei’s urgent vocals scaffold in intensity to capture the core of lost innocence. She reminisces and longs for reclamation of her fractured identity. I miss my little bed / where my mother come and bless my cornered head / remembering her painted name on the sign hanging on the door, / ain’t it mine / AIN'T IT MINE /.

Violence, coercion,
abuse have a price. Her emotional disconnect is skillfully portrayed in the passion of Massei’ s voice in “On and On In Sunsets”. She conceals her pain in laughter / masks her shame in laughter / frightened teary laughter /.

The obsessed admirers’ passages are the most disturbing dichotomy of obsessive love and aggression. Especially unsettling in “Old Buck Knife”. / I took out my old buck knife / and pressed it beneath her eye / and I turned to see that she understands / that I’m not to be taken lightly/ As he is engaging in this loathsome sex act he tells her she has beautiful eyes. She in turn runs back to the truck and says “are you gonna come or aint you”? Wow, all in a days work. Brutal.


His longings are unveiled in “Life Empty Eyes” with a striking seductive assemblage of voices singing / dance or collapse / while I hold you in my arms / loving arms after /. And with“ Under the Soda Sky” the nylon guitar instrumental and a clash shuffle kick beat starts and ends this surrealistic love serenade. / The sticky dark and lovely soda sky / dripping like the night you came to town / pressing skin we let our lips slip down / dripping like the night you came to town /.


One of the most poignant moments is the cover song “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton . It is Moses’ emotionally raw delivery that gives the song potency and context. The demo like approach to instrumentation blending the electric guitar, piano and knocking percussion are the backdrop for the man’s unrequited love and give the song an impromptu authentic feel.

The dirty town permeates the broken home as Massei brings the story to a head with a murder ballad “Ma Moses” The nylon string,
continuous beat clank, singing saw and Massei song speaks the saga. The protagonist claims her anger and makes the ultimate decision to put a gun to his head. / You’ll take your paper somewhere else / and keep your damn hand off my young / you never know how good it felt / la la la.....

“Tattle Tell” comes on like a whisper as she flees into the night through a maze of backyard junk, leaving behind her chained up dog Princess. She claims / Oh Hell there’s no shame in what we’ve done / The story concludes by track thirteen with the instrumental “Pa Moses” and a recycled melody hangs thickly in the air as Massei moans.

This collection can be compared to two standout records that featured parts of a better whole. Will Oldham’s (Bonny Price Billy) I See a Darkness and The Sunset Tree by the Mountain Goats. This recording has those qualities.


The Parts that Showed totally captured and moved me. It will forever be a highlight in my collection of favorites and there aren’t many. Viking Moses can powerfully move his voice but has chosen a quiet restraint to fulfill a vision with a magnificent outcome.

The Parts That Showed was recorded by Paul Oldham, featuring the talent of Spencer Kingman piano, voice (of Spenking), John McCauley III electric guitar, voice (of Deer Tick), Cody Brant bass and Jacob Soto drums (of Flaspar) and Evelyn Weston on singing saw.
MySpace

Purchase @ Music Fellowship

Jones Boys mp3

Jones Boys Video


3.14.2009

Viking Moses Diverse 09 Tour

Viking Moses

Viking Moses and friends have put together a diverse month and a half long tour that is DIY all the way. Filling a slot in NY took longer then expected so at the very last moment Todd P offered Monster Island Basement a space on River Street in Williamsburg.

The tour consists of PictishTrail (Scotland) co-owner of Fence Records and Rozi Plain (United Kingdom), Golden Ghost, and Viking Moses (US). Joining the long trek are an awesome duo DARYL from Pulse Films (UK) are filming a documentary about Viking Moses AKA Brendon Massei.

Whenever I venture into the night to an alternative space I take my chances. Starting time means later and the unexpected is always a part of the equation. The building was isolated and a beautiful girl appeared out of nowhere and knocked on the metal door. She gave up a little too soon. As she disappeared into the night the bands van pulled up and a few moments later the doors magically opened. Just walking down the steep steps I'm thinking of a dank basement only to be surprised by a nice almost finished loft-like space.

I have always felt privileged to be present at shows with a small audience and this was one of them. During all four short sets each solo act was joined by the other in one form or another.

Pictish Trail (Johnny Lynch) dreamy tenor is an outstanding instrument. Playing his acoustic electric guitar he mixed in extra detailing with a Micro-Korg, Kaossilator and alternated between two mics one with an echo effect. The expanded sound literally filled the room mixing folk, pop and elecronica.

Finger-picking her Epiphone was Rozi Plain. I like her skills and calluses. She embellishes her unadorned voice with quirky detailing. “Sting Sing” sounded like an offbeat folk scat. Her straightforward homey approach to music is a welcome charming delight, creating frills in all the right places.

Golden Ghost

Golden Ghost (Laura Goetz) played the electric guitar striking chords and notes between passages in song. Her voice rose above the loud muffled acoustics creating an edgy flair. While her voice is beautiful it often breaks out and beckons for full tilt rockin' band. I see that happening. A highlight was the song “The Woman Who Ate Small Metal Objects” with Brendon Massie's muscular vocals.

Viking Moses is original. I’ve never heard a voice so strong. It can rise seemingly out of nowhere and resonate thickly in the air. He plays the electric guitar as soulfully as he sings with bold chords and strong riffs that follow. For the set Laura Goetz backed him on keyboard and vocals. A really cool cover song started with the beat of the Johnny Lynch’s drum machine. The intensity rose when all three repeated the word seven in a full throttle chant.
Starting a tour with jet lag is a drag; a few yawns in-between songs were the only signs that they were all exhausted. I got a taste of the possibilities and know how pumped they are to get their touring groove on.


The night was a low-key event but a joyful time to hear diverse music in the company of lovely people and our courteous hardworking host Todd P and his assistant Patty.

Pulse Films EPK Viking Moses
Check Myspace for tour Dates / don't miss out!

Viking Moses Live in Portland @ the Artistry


3.03.2009

Sgt. Dunbar Packed Full Of Sound

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned miraculously packed all eight members and an army of instruments onto the small stage Saturday night at Pete's Candy Store. The band twisted and contorted their bodies to accommodate the large expanse of the trombone or the scale of the tuba. Even in cramped quarters their musical competence was not compromised. The sound of full-bodied percussion and brass burst with energy. Sgt. Dunbar delightfully gave it their all as the crowd chanted for it not to end!

Dunbar has solidified their roster to a solid eight of talented multi-instrumentalists. They are adept at switching instruments; within seconds a banjo is abandoned for a sax or a trombone to an accordion. The rough and tumble and charming quality of this band has not been lost but upgraded to a tightly woven ensemble with every member contributing to a robust sound.

The mix is a folk / jazz infusion with pulsating inventive percussion, big bold brass instruments that escalate with guitar, ukulele, banjo, violin, accordion and awesome full band of voices that swell in-between. Percussion is strong suit; whether they are playing the bass guitar with drumsticks, mouth harp, hand-held bass drum, and saw. It is the web and flow of acceleration between more subtle takes that builds the big stirring dialogue.


They played an energetic nine-song set of old, new and reclaimed songs. Starting with a new song to be released “The Table and the Cup” that had a continuous pounding drum and a four / four time accent of the full orchestra.


Highlighting the influx of weathered jazz was another new one “A March Through Charles Mingus’ Garbage Pile”. Alex Muro singing solo flanked by a chorus of passionate hobos and mashed with the one two punch of brass orchestra strut and crashing cymbals. It is an awesome new direction.


“The Weight” was revised with an accelerated tempo going from upbeat to mock speed and a full band chant / sometimes everything seems perfect / sometimes everything just sucks /.

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned have come a long way. From the ambitious band that I reviewed a year ago with so much promise to a band with vision and purpose that is ready for prime time. Filling Pete’s is easy but after tonight I see them in larger yet intimate venues like the Mercury or Bowery.


As many NY Bloggers are reviewing the likes of David Byrne, I was happy to be there witnessing a new generation of great musicians.


Get ready for March 13th the release date of Sgt. Dunbar and The Hobo Banned’s new EP
Charles Mingus’ Garbage Pile. It is also the date of their tour send off as they make their way from Albany to SXSW. Check their tour dates on MySpace and don’t miss out

Scientific Maps opened. They are sometimes a twosome or foursome. Tonight it was Aaron Smith and Donna Baird. She is also a member of the Sgt Dunbar. Together on stage they are adorable.

Aaron’s witty comments to the audience and affectionate interaction with Donna added to the delight in sharing time with such an affable duo. Tuning his guitar he says “Donna play that trumpet part when you know this happens”. Laughter followed as Donna’s played it straight as if she were just waking up and didn’t realize she was performing. Something about her is zany in the best possible way.


The tunes Aaron writes are easy to love kind of a quirky pop with memorable melodies and offbeat lyrics. Their voices are great together. Aaron on guitar sings and captures attention and Donna adds the charming response with trumpet and vocal. The bands recorded material is upbeat with the addition of drums, keyboard and experimental surprises. I’m ready to spend some time with their music and tonight was a nice introduction.


Scientific Maps nice site

Get ready for March 13th the release date of Sgt. Dunbar and The Hobo Banned’s new EP
Charles Mingus’ Garbage Pile. It is also the date of their tour send off as they make their way from Albany to SXSW. Check their tour dates on MySpace and don’t miss out.

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned
Flickr Set
Scientific Maps
Flickr Set