Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned Muscular Live Sound @ Pete's Candy Store

Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned @ Pete's Candy Store 3/25/10

Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned
pulled out all the punches with their muscular sound and street savvy creds at Pete's Candy Store on Saturday night. Clearly their new material had more might and less folk. The heavy brass metal mash, double percussion and a slew of hefty instruments trumped up the acoustic guitar, banjo and violin to make way for an evolving new direction.

Sgt. Dunbar brings the street into the venue making music that is alive, in the moment and vibrant. Busking has raised their stamina and connectedness. They are energized performing for each other. The beneficiaries are the listeners.

This was their eighteenth show and the last stop of their tour to SXSW and back. All eight members orchestrated instrument changes with ease and precision. No easy task to accomplish especially on a small stage. I'm just stating the obvious but this takes practice and planning. They might call themselves Hobos but this outfit are a disciplined crew.

Hobo News on the horizon: Bob Boilen interviews Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned at the Studio SX. They were also interviewed by New York Times
so be on the lookout!

Awesome Flickr Set


Max Vernon Struts New Direction

Photo Credit: Sophie Anita

Max Vernon is giving his music a face lift adding electronic synths that evoke mood without loosing a pop edge. His cerebral minefield of twisted inferences, sarcastic commentary and uncanny play on words remain intact. Two songs from his upcoming Silent Sirens EP can be heard Here.

Below is his latest video. It is DIY Gone Slick created with the help of a talented crew of friends.


Upcoming Joe's Pub Debut April 5th Co-Headlining with Dan Fishback

Rockers Delight Festival; Liberate @ Ace of Clubs

Rockers Delight @ Ace Of Clubs

A Nor'easter in March couldn't deter the ardent fans from coming to hear Rockers Delight @ the Ace Of Clubs for a queer heavy mostly female line-up to benefit V-Day: A Global Movement to End Violence Against Women.

This night woman musicians ruled regardless of age. The rockers community had open hearts and welcomed the music with an outpouring of love and enthusiasm.

I managed to stay for only three sets out of six. The venue had gigantic speakers and the mix was loud leaving little in the way of subtlety.

Vero's set was the first in the line-up and my reason for being there. I recently reviewed Vero @ The Rockwood and was thoroughly impressed. Tonight the staging gave the band and Vero a chance to loosen up. The band debuted a new song with an urban cowboy vibe and a folk rock twist. The trotting hammered bass notes on guitar while the percussion kicked up dirt leaving the delicate guitar leads settling in the dust cloud. Vero's sultry voice picked up every nuance adding just the right mix of enthusiasm at its peak.

This set showed off Vero's versatility as a songwriter and performer. She is not genre specific and that's what makes her music so intriguing. Her awesome band mates ice the cake with intelligent playing.

Rockers Delight @ Ace of Clubs Hooray for Goodbye

Hooray For Goodbye a power pop outfit with kick ass rapper rocker front woman Genny Slag. Her small stature was deceptive because on stage she is power master of energy leading the bands segments of loud thrashing and sonic movements. The bands fluidity are driven by guitarist Sora An and were layered between expansive leads and power chord distortions giving Slag a chance to recover and come on like gang busters. Very engaging band.

Rockers Delight @ Ace Of Clubs Karyn Kuhl

Karyn Kuhl billed as old school's finest bad asses. The skilled line-up of players championing the power of confidence to play regardless of age. Karyn Kuhl is an accomplished guitarist with a voice that is a bluesy mix between Janis Joplin and Pati Smith. She was accompanied by saxophone lead guitar, bass and drums playing a loud, feisty set full of conviction. I wrote Karyn's colloquial banter specifically designed for the audience with some eyeliner on a piece of paper that I clearly can't find, but trust me they were good.

As I was leaving I realized how marginalized and over sexualized woman of rock are depicted in the hetero culture. Having lived all my life within the confines of a straight culture left me wondering how different everything could be if I just didn't give a shit what anyone thought. For women buying into culture constraints is an inhibitor of what is possible. I left the Ace of Clubs feeling liberated.

others performing after I left were: GSX and Sophia Ramos' and Swear on You Life



Drink Up Buttercup's Release; Born And Thrown On A Hook worth spreading / review

Drink Up Buttercup's debut full length Born And Thrown On A Hook released on Yep Rock Records has hooks galore and mixed to be heard in full. Between each glorious track are surreal conglomerations for the cerebral explorer. It is an earful of delight around every corner.

They have created a contagious commotion worthy of note splicing the ruckus orchestra and highlighting the bands many strong suites one of which is James Harvey's vocal gifts. Ben Money and Farzad Houshianejad harmonize beyond perfection and Mike Cammarata lays down unpredictable drumming. The sound they create using drums, bass, guitar, keyboard and melodica with a host of bells and shakers can be categorized with the following descriptors; Psyche pop, Crash and Burn Pop, Hardcore Pop, Barbershop Vibrato, Campfire metal, and Psychedelic Mayhem. I can go on.

This release proves their musical inventiveness that includes revisiting beloved genres like the Beatles, Beach Boys to splice and dice and re-mash into a schizophrenic whirlwind. While all the songs create an uplifting levity there is a darker almost tragic subtext. This is just one of the many dichotomies of Drink Up's broad stroke style.

Slower numbers are delightfully beautiful forgoing the loud and chaotic for harmonic delight. "The Lovers Play Dead"
gives the tired genre "Barbershop", a vibrato edge going full tilt acoustic with some shakers, kick drum and the bang of a cymbal. "Young Ladies" is Drink Up Buttercup Light, airy, bouncy and sweet with lots of bells, shakers and melodica. And "Pink Sunshine" weighs in on the light side showing off Harvey's Angelic vocals, rippling keys with a contrasting slaphappy beat.

They save the full assault for "Mr. Pie Eyes", "Heavy Hand", "Gods and Gentleman" and end with their most inventive, "Maestro Monsignor". These tracks escalate off the rafters with a delirious juxtaposition of instruments and vocals.

The first song "Seasickness Pills" starts with strange trippy intro and the familiar NBC sound logo hook adding vocals that rise and descend. The Boing of the bass, the clinking clash of cymbals, mashed with horror organ and dramatic opera leads to a frenetic ending.

The disjointed song structure in "Heavy Hand" jumps between fast and slow creating a full mashed up mesh of voices that escalate to uproarious levels, the bass mimicking melody, drunken keyboard, interim yelp hooks and drums that pound at abandon. This is one muscular song.

Three "dance Tracks" should appeal to the geek in everyone are "Doggy Head" with its throbbing tribal beat trot combining awesome harmonies and rhythmic bass scales. "Even Think" has a pop beat catchiness that layers keyboard hooks between vocal harmonies. I dare you not to move to "Sosy and Dosey" although awkwardly, to the
broken keyboard and one / two polka like beat with so many time changes it will make your head spin.

The collection concludes with the experimental rock opera "Maestro Monsignor" that blends strange musical reverences sequenced together like a broken kaleidoscope into four distinct parts. Beginning with sing story style, macho vaudevillian vocals, loonie bin choral howls and ending with surreal multi-layered chants of frenzied exaltation.

Born On a Hook Debut is worth the anticipation of waiting and proves that Drink Up Buttercup's stubborn conviction to work it all out on the road before laying down the recording worked out. They nailed it.


Drink Up Buttercup is:

Jim Harvey
// multiple octave singing, sleigh bells, borrowed guitars
Mike T
// hand painted trap kit accompanied by maracas, sticks, and tambourines
Ben & Farz
// harmonies, hollow body lead bass, melodica, electrically tweaked yamaha electronic piano, and low end bent Casio keyboards


Drink Up Buttercup Record Release @ Piano's review

Explosive and Strong like duct tape!

Drink Up Buttercup Record Release @ Piano's

Drink Up Buttercup's record release show set at Piano's was strong, flexible and explosive. The affect is long lasting much like pink duct tape used last night to coordinate their makeshift set up. Duct tape on the run.

Drink Up Buttercup has muscle and flexed it with experimentation creating an urgency of sound. The guitars were amped up, the bass notes held down to contort and extend beyond recognition, and James Harvey proved that his thoracic diaphragm can scream, do opera and harmonize simultaneously.

The rain didn't put a damper on the enthusiastic crowd who waited till 12:00 for the lively set.

How they will sustain this kind of energy for all eleven dates at SXSW will be a testiment to a band that could. I'm sure they will proove their might. I wish them well!

The official release date for Born And Thrown On A Hook on Yep Rock Records is March 23rd but you can pre-order here and get two bonus tracks.

Read all my Drink Up Buttercup write-ups literally from the beginning till present Here

Drink Up Buttercup Record Release @ Piano's


The Accident That Led Me To The World @ Rockwood Music Hall

The Accident That Led Me to the World are an all-acoustic chamber modern folk band that stay true to their music, unwavering in their formal presentation at the Rockwood Music Hall. What a treat. It had the feel of music that is planned, rehearsed and arranged to perfection. As flawless as each note sounded the emotional quality of the singing created a dynamic urgency.

Their intimate set quietly expressed the subtle tonality of the nylon guitar, clarinet, banjo and stand-up bass. The power punch came in the way of harmonies to die for!

Mandeville guitar /banjo and lead vocalist has such a distinct voice. It's raspy without sounding hoarse and exudes conviction. He was joined by Raianne Richards guitar/clarinet who added mirroring vocal harmonies and Zack Ciras with the most perfectly edited bass accompaniment.
This wasn't your finger picking fare but more like a dialogue of chords and notes between the guitars.

I've been following their music from a far and always looking out for NY dates. The band is from Webster/Dudley, MA and plays more of the New England circuit of festivals, venues and house shows, where the booking scene is curated and more friendly. Unfortunately, in NY and in most venues it is in and out and onto the next group.
I was so pleased get my hands on their
2008 release Island Gospel and was blown away by the beauty and quality of the recording. No shakers, or bells and whistles just straight- forward instrumentation, great story telling and awesome harmonies.

The Accident That Led Me To The World is a solid outfit whose mere presence defies the fickle taste and fast paced music buzz agenda of the latest thing and rise to a higher level.

With that said I just feel it is unfortunate that a band of this caliber has not garnered more recognition that should change!


Peasant: Shady Retreat

With the release of Shady Retreat Peasant AKA Damien DeRose has reclaimed his intentions. Shady Retreat establishes a winning combination of the quirky/folk I fell in love with on his self released Fear Not, Distant Lover and the folk/pop of On The Ground released by Paper Garden Records

The quirky treatments throughout the recording give DeRose's distinct melodies the folky charm of a favorite old shirt or the warmth of a familiar feeling. His voice captures a raw sincerity always on the verge of breaking, gathering teardrops and sentiments of love, loss, hope and promise.

Don't be deceived by short or seemingly simple aspects of DeRose's writing, he is a thoughtful writer and editor. It is what he leaves out that is important.
His lyrics fluctuate from the global to the personal where he pushes and pulls those competing themes. Especially in "Hard Times" where the guitar and vocals echo through old speakers creating a poignant timeless feel. Kind of like a lullaby for a young generation loosing hope through difficult times../ Hard times / aren't good times / but we'll still try to see them through /.

This collection starts with
"Thinking" combining the organ, shakers and harmonies to contemplate our place in the world.. / We just can't go on without thinking /. I don't any lyric could be so perfectly clear and relevant.

"The Distance" continues in a reflective tone one that is more personal rather than worldly with a slow strum that ponders the future while listening to the distance of the past. / where have you been my lover / where have you gone my friends / fading to the distance of each other.

Three cool songs in a row propel the unique offbeat percussion. "Well Alright" has an awesome sloppy drum beat with simple piano,
"Pry" adds shakers and pot beat to a sad waltz and "Prescriptions" has great clopping horse trot with soft harmonies.

Capturing mood is another aspect of his song structure. The use of metaphor in
"Into The Woods" creates the dreamlike setting with female harmonies. In the song "Tough" the mood is love with a capital L. With its soft plucking guitar it is drenched in the morning sunlight of appreciation. / Can't you be the only one for me / your like the rising sun /.

Shady Retreat ends with "Slow Down" using twangy guitar chimes while ending appropriately singing / I wouldn't change a thing /. And he didn't!

Peasant's instincts were right to record Shady Retreat alone in a 200 year old farmhouse where he crafted a full blast of

Enjoy "Well Alright"