Review: Ben Tan, Alex Marantz, Jasaon Zavala, Yankee Power, Só Sol @ Smokey Bear Cave (11/23/13)

BBT
Hi, I’m BBT. I come in peace.

Bands: Ben Tan, Alex Marantz, Jason Zavala, Yankee Power, Só Sol
Date: Saturday, November 23, 2013
Venue: Smokey Bear Cave (Allston, MA)

So yeah, as you can probably tell by the date above, this is EXTREMELY LATE.  However, as you may or  may not know, it’s okay, we here at KLYAM try to write about every single show we attend. Lately, we have been sucking at this! Too many shows, too much booze, too much school, too much work, and then not enough booze. Alas, I won’t waste anymore of your time droning on about our woes. Just dance to the music, and for a good cause might I add. This show here was a party to raise money for those suffering and starving in the Philippines. So bear with me (no pun intended) while I begin a series of dust blowing mini reviews and here we go…

Só Sol – Só Sol. So sick is more like it. They kill it. They kill it dead. Which, I haven’t decided how I feel about that phrase. It seems redundant. If you kill it, can’t we assume that it is already dead? But, in this instance,  the usage simply feels right. That extra confirmation that Só Sol in fact killed “it” and that “it” is in fact dead. What is it? It is any hint of monotony, tranquility, or apathy. On a freezing November night, this Latin, folk based trio permeate sweaty, sexy, sultry vibes and dance throughout the crowded, yet still comfy basement space.  I’ve seen these cats once before at  P.A.’s Lounge, but this place is a lot cooler. Then again, most places hosting music is superior to P.A.’s Lounge. Either way, catch these people anywhere you can, including PA’s. http://sosol.bandcamp.com/

Yankee Power – Ahh Yom Kipour, the holiest. I mean Yankee Power, so holy. Radically different from Só Sol, but just as sexy. This is a change of pace for these yankees. I am more accustomed to seeing these gentlemen in above-ground settings such as Middle East, Rosebud, and Precinct.  It’s certainly a different experience and an enjoyable one at that. They rock just as hard, but this time around I am not actually looking up to them on a stage or anything. There’s less breathing room. Bassist/vocalist Mark Fallon can attest to that as vocalist/guitarist Jeff Gallagher shreds on his guitar and shakes his booty in classic Jeff fashion, slowly planting himself on top of an uneasy Mark, with nowhere to go. They’re a fun bunch and my favorite song from this evening is “Because It’s Hard,” a Mark tune that always reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner at my house, which is a mere fours days away. Also, on this very night I bought myself a copy of the group’s bodacious rock beast: Zoo Traffic. And I got it on vinyl ooh la la, aren’t you jealous? Well, you can be just as cool as me starting today, starting right now: http://www.theyankeepower.com/

Jason Zavala – I was promised that Jay Z was playing this shindig and I won’t leave until Jay Z plays! I actually don’t even like Jay Z, but if I did then maybe I would belligerently shout this. Maybe. Jason Zavala, on the other hand, is a one man folk machine unleashing songs with his powerful, impassioned vocals. He truly is naturally gifted, which I can’t always say is true about most performers I see up to and including many of my own personal favorites. That aside, this sort of stuff isn’t exactly my thing, it’s too conventional and mainstream for my tastes. Some, if not all, of the songs are political in nature, but frankly half way through the set I find myself more enamored with the socialist, quasi lecture/rant my fellow Wakefieldian Chris Morrill is delivering elsewhere in the house. Still, here’s a shout out to Jason: http://jasonzavala.bandcamp.com/

Alex Marantz – This fucking guy, this fucking guy here. Haha, I don’t know why I just wrote that. It just felt like a “this fucking guy” moment. Often, you’re cocked and twisted and you point at some motherfucker from across the room and you say “this fucking guy.”  It’s a swine’s way of saying “hi, this is Alex. Alex, so and so. So and so, Alex.” Alex is a prolific singer-songwriter dude, a professed “lover of tape recordings and lo-fi bliss,” a fume hood, and a future day. That is to say he is a member of the bands Future Days and Fume Hood, both of which I have seen live. But, this is a solo effort and it’s a bit poppier than his work in those outfits. The set is relatively calm, soft, and dream like. Spacey – musically and lyrically. It’s accessible and not particularly controversial in any way. You could take your mother to see him, if she was hip. Yep, Alex does his thing and does it well, he’s still no Jeremy Piven though. http://alexmarantz1.bandcamp.com/

Ben Tan – Last and if you think least then I’ll knock you right square in the nads TWICE… BEN TAN!!!! Ben Tan, one of my best buddies and a talented multi-instrumentalist closes the show. One man pop guru. He cranks out BBT (Big Ben Tan) classics such as “Marielle,” “Upper Lower Middle Class Blues,” among others. Sadly, most at the party are not present for most of Ben’s performance and there is only a few of us remaining. This has nothing to do with Ben’s music itself, but rather the fact that by the time he goes on it’s  nearing 3 AM. The set skids its way into a peculiar jam session and better yet an impromptu Revivalists reunion. The Revivalists were a high school band in my hometown (Wakefield) featuring Chris Morril, Liz Sullivan, Brian Hickey, and of course Mr. Ben Tan. Check out Ben’s solo work here: http://bentan.bandcamp.com/album/inside-out

Review: Yankee Power @ Rosebud (5/11/13)


Bands: The Stampede, Yankee Power, Dave Crespo’s After Party
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2013
Venue: Rosebud (Somerville, MA)

The Stampede – I hardly feel it. The Stampede are loud and they do their rock thang, but it’s rock, not rock ‘n’ roll, that ‘n’/and makes a key difference. You ever hear anyone describe Nobunny as “rock?” I haven’t. It ain’t rock high school either, it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. Alas, The Stampede are a “rock” band playing typical, generic rock music you hear on modern, mainstream radio. To quote a pal of mine also in attendance, they have their Sublime song, their White Stripes song, their Chilli Peppers song. Now, to be fair, that very well may be the way you swang and in that case, The Stampede might be your thang. For what it’s worth, a large chunk of the crowd dance their asses off, so they must enjoy it.  Not the worst band I’ve seen, but I’ve seen so much better. For the first couple songs, I can give them a chance and nod along, hey the singer/guitarist looks like Jared Swilley, but after a little while all I can think is “damn, this is too normal!  Give me some punk slime, give me The Electric Street Queens! I’ll even take a whacked out Gangbang Gordon Karaoke session over this, please just make it stop, it’s been too long!”  Thank God,  my boys, Yankee Power are up next.

Yankee Power – I felt a kinship with vocalist/guitarist Jeff Gallagher the moment I met him at keyboardist Ben Tan’s party last August. He seemed like a gentleman, a Beatles man’s kind of guy, like a 21st century Beatle. I finally had the opportunity to see Yankee Power, which also includes Thomas Calvert (vocals/guitar), Mark Fallon (vocals/bass), and CJ Kanouff (drums) on December 29, 2012 at the Middle East Upstairs and that show was fantastic, featuring a cover of my favorite Beatles song “Hey Bulldog.” I told you Jeff was a Beatles man’s kind of guy. Well, nearly five months later, that charm is still intact and they are showing off some new songs to boot.

The Yanks, as I like to call them, are a fun live band and they play several of their classics from last year’s magnum opus Zoo Traffic. “Swing” is a slick, 50’s styled rockabilly number and one of the best from the aforementioned LP. “Real Folk” is also on display tonight and features some sweet vocals from Thomas Calvert. The band also play some new cuts from their latest release, Patriot Act [EP] including my favorite, “Hot Honey Jazz.” I can recall the band performing this song at the Middle East show, though up until this evening I haven’t listened to the tune since that show – nonetheless the song is so catchy, when they start playing it I recognize it immediately. “Hot Honey Jazz” has a smooth, 80’s vibe to it and could arguably be Yankee Power’s catchiest/finest song to date.

Yankee Power live is a pleasant experience and I can’t recommend the band enough, on stage and on record, but this performance is a bit sloppy, which is unusual for the band. Often sloppiness is an intoxicating ingredient in the rock ‘n’ roll dish, but in this case, The Yanks are fairly clean folk, so the sloppiness doesn’t really help. With that being said, it doesn’t overly hinder their performance either and all of their great qualities emerge beyond some troubling, technical difficulties. Besides having exquisite songs, this quartet has a lighthearted, fun loving sense of humor, which can be quite entertaining for the audience. I always get a kick out of Jeff Gallagher’s dance moves, whether it be his smug booty shaking or the way he awkwardly positions himself up against his band mates. In either case, it’s a subtle, silly characteristic that I thoroughly enjoy about this band.

Listen to Yankee Power, so you can know, love, and sing along to all of the songs at the next show. http://theyankeepower.bandcamp.com/

Goddamn, I’m trying so hard not to make my reviews so flowery, but some of you cats are just too damn GOOD!

Dave Crespo’s After Party – Dave Crespo and his After Party have a lot of enthusiasm and attempt to make the Rosebud feel like a party for sure; Dave Crespo even pats my head, for whatever reason people like to do that. I say attempt because like the first band tonight, this is not the kind of music that sets my rocks off. “Generic Rock” is what I call it, it’s like the FM Rock music on the radio. No thanks.

I heard that this is the last show at the Rosebud. Is that true??? If it is, then RIP. I saw some of my favorite bands here: Fat Creeps, Fagettes, and now Yankee Power. I hardly knew ye, but so long. Twas great while it lasted.

Concert Review: Yankee Power, Space Bums, Moontowers, Your 33 Black Angels @ Middle East Upstairs (12/29/12)

Yankee

Bands: Yankee Power, Space Bums, Moontowers, Your 33 Black Angels
Date: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Venue: Middle East Upstairs (Cambridge, MA)

Act I: Yankee Power– Ahh, let’s take a look back at December 29, 2012. As I recall, a “major” snowstorm hit town and everyone was freaking out over the snow. Well, we braved the weather and entered the Middle East Upstairs, in intense anticipation for local favorites, Yankee Power.  The Yanks, I think that’s going to be my new nickname for them, are Jeff Gallagher on vocals/guitar, Tom Calvert on vocals/guitar, Mark Fallon on bass/vocals and CJ Kanouff on drums, and tonight they are joined by one of my best friends, the one and only, Ben “BBT” Tan on keyboards. These five upstanding gents look like ancient Greek warriors up on stage, but instead of spears they defeat their enemies with killer guitars, thunderous drums, and the frenetic keyboard stylings of Ben Tan. The idea is big.  There’s a big quality to Yankee Power’s music underneath their humble, every day man exterior.  The Yanks open with “Swing,” a flipping catchy tune from their magnum opus, Zoo Traffic, an LP that I devoured like a big chocolate cake, you know the kind that your grandmother brings out for dessert? yeah, that delicious. Listen to this bad boy right now: http://theyankeepower.bandcamp.com/ So yeah, “Swing,” one of my favorites from ZT is the first song of the evening and it’s a great rockabilly, country tune, an Elvis man’s kind of song.  They then pick up the pace with “Adopted Love Doll,” another stand out from the aforementioned album, there’s also a slick music video to accompany it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uorPdif39qs  With ‘Adopted’ the band rocks out even harder; it’s a heavier jam with howling lead vocals from Jeff and excellent backing vocals from Tom and Mark.  Not to mention CJ’s powerhouse drums.  This song and all the songs actually, translate very well in a live setting.  ZT has a nice, clean production style, and often when that is the case with bands, their songs don’t have the same impact when performed live, but with these dudes that is hardly the case.  The Yanks don’t simply mimic their studio work, but they produce a live set that is equally stunning.  I honestly can’t think of anyone around that I can compare to these dudes. My only comparisons are the best of the best in the canon of  rock and roll, many of which the band clearly derives their sound from. Two of which they cover; Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl,” which is outstanding and lives up to the original and The Beatles (or “The Be Atles”) “Hey Bulldog,” my favorite Beatles song and a fitting one (being on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack) considering the band also plays a select batch of “children songs,” including a tune that places the listener under water. Use your imagination! Other memorable moments (for me) include Jeff’s humorous, robotic-like dancing (Glen compares this to that of The Lovely Feathers) and Tom’s classic, shouted line “they’re insincere in all the answers they give” in the track “Real Folk.” Moral of the story, go see Yankee Power, listen to their music, and please give your mom a kiss goodnight, and an extra one for me.

Set List:
“Swing”
“Devo” (“Adopted Love Doll”)
“Real Folk”
“Wilco”
“Nautical”
“Bounty”
“Gepetto”
“Shiver” (“Shiver Of Sharks”)
“Oscapello”
“Neil Young” (“Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young)
“Hey Bulldog” (The Beatles)
“HHJ” (“Hot Honey Jazz”)

Act II: The Space Bums– Space Bums are quite different from Yankee Power. While Yankee Power play more straight forward pop/50s-60s rock and roll odes, Space Bums seem to be more fixated on the technical side of music. I mean actually I don’t know, I really don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, I’m just jerking off with my words. I’d say this band would appeal to people that like jam bands or The Grateful Dead.  I like some of the Dead, but I’m not a Dead Head, that’s just too much for me.  Moontower Tim Cushing, one of the many Wakefieldians performing tonight, switches back and forth between drums and guitar. Until now, I didn’t realize he was in The Space Bums, so it’s nice to see him up on stage again.  I’m having trouble remembering specifics from their set, but this is the only time I’ve seen them.  “Acid Girl” is a pretty catchy tune. Check it out and all the rest here: http://thespacebums.bandcamp.com/

Set List:
“Veins”
“Wuss”
“Shake”
“Junebugs”
“Acid” (“Acid Girl”)
“Blonde Wig”
“Bangers”
“Gotta See Her”
“Horseman”
“Crumbs”

Act III: Moontowers– Here’s a band I’ve been meaning to see for almost a year now. BBT and Tim Cushing are back again on the keyboards and guitar/vocals, respectively. They are joined by several other kids from my hometown of Wakefield. Some of which I have seen perform many times over the years, but not in this band. There is also a mysterious girl on sitar laying down in the middle of the stage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sitar in person, it’s about time. With Moontowers, it’s a big affair. There are so many bodies on stage, it’s hard to keep up, I lost count. But, they all jam together like one big family. They also have that psych/jam thing going, and I guess the most obvious comparison that could be made is to The Velvet Underground.  Moontowers are like apple pie, just when you think you’ve eaten, it’s eaten you. http://moontowers.bandcamp.com/

Act IV: Your 33 Black Angels– Your 33 Black Angels come all the way from New York for this show, so they really have to brave New England weather to get here. These fellas fit very well with the other bands on the bill and have a similar sound. They seem to have more energy than anyone else and people appear to be more into them than the other bands. The set goes on longer than I would have liked, but I guess they make it worth their trip. It’s not exactly my deal, but I can admire them for their musicianship. I also dig the Fat Creeps shirt on one of the members, that a boy! http://y33ba.bandcamp.com/

Best Of 2012: LPs and More!

year-end-celebration

In a few hours it will be 2013, but before I enter the new year I have to look back at my favorite releases in 2012. The following are my top ten:

1) The Barbaras- The Barbaras: 2006-2008 (Goner)

2) Fat Creeps- Fat Creeps EP (Self-Released)

3) Black Lips- Black Lips Live @ Third Man Records (Third Man)

4) Cumstain- White People Problems (Burger)- Okay, not officially released, but still, a favorite of mine.

5) Yankee Power- Zoo Traffic (Self-Released)

6) Hunx- Hairdresser Blues (Hardly Art)

7) Ty Segall- Twins (Drag City)

8) Gravys Drop- For the Love of Gravy (Burger)

9) Maine Coons- Maine Coons 7″ (Stencil Trash)

10) Fat History Month- Live at the Bruce Manor (http://fathistorymonth.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-bruce-manor-super-xxx-ebition)

2013 shall be a year of great releases I predict.

My Top Shows Of Twenty-Twelve

I saw more shows this year than any other (47 total) and all of them were FUN . The following is a list of my top ten (most fun) shows all year:

10) The New Highway Hymnal, Creaturos, Leamers, The Migs, Nice Guys @ Big Stink (10/6/12)
Damn, this was a solid night. I mean with the bands on this bill, how could it not be? Going in to this show I only knew NHH and The Migs, but I came out a fan of local stalwurts, Creaturos and Nice Guys, and our neighbors to the North, Montréal’s Leamers. Kids bashing and bopping around like they ought to. I’ll link you up to the KLYAM review: https://klyam.com/2012/10/09/concert-review-nice-guys-the-migs-leamers-creaturos-new-highway-hymnal-big-stink-10612/

9) The Migs, Nice Guys, Cult Fluorescent, Slimers, Chillcity Icon @ Wilder Zangcraft (11/24/12)
Best Migs show I’ve seen! Nice Guys played a sick set of Coachwhips covers and it was great to see the experimental one mon band Cult Fluorescent again. This show was also my introduction to the mighty Migsian two piece, Slimers and the twisted no wave/noise duo, Chillcity Icon. https://klyam.com/2012/12/06/concert-review-the-migs-nice-guys-cult-fluorescent-slimers-chillcity-icon-wilder-zangcraft-112412/


8) Hunx and His Punx, Heavy Cream, Radio Control @ Great Scott (4/2/12)
I’m a Hunx freak, so words can’t describe my excitement for this show. Having missed the past two Hunx Boston gigs :( I’ve waited for two and a half years to see the band live again. The first time back in October ’09 was opening for Jay Reatard and this served as my intro to Hunx. This time around was even better because I actually knew and loved all of the songs. Throw in Infinity Cat noise makers, Heavy Cream and Somerville rockers, Radio Control and you have one of the finest shows all year. https://klyam.com/2012/04/04/concert-review-hunx-and-his-punx-great-scott-4212/


7) Fat Creeps, Earthquake Party, Fedavees, Fagettes Halloween Show @ Rosebud (10/13/12)
2012 very well could be called the year of the Fat Creeps, especially on this site. We’ve seen a dozen Creeps shows this year, more than any other artist. In fact, I think I’ve seen them more than any other band I’ve seen. Every show has had its own special quality, but for Halloween they played a set of Ramones covers and the crowd ate it up. It was the marriage of two of my favorite bands, and on top of that there were stellar sets from Earthquake Party! (Nirvana), Fedavees (The Wipers), and The Fagettes (Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood).
https://klyam.com/2012/10/16/concert-review-halloween-show-featuring-fat-creeps-earthquake-party-fedavees-fagettes-rosebud-101312/


6) On Broadway Fest 2008 @ Dirty Douglas/Ant Cellar (5/5/12)
I haven’t been to any music festivals, except this one, well and the first On Broadway Fest, but I arrived at night for that one. Therefore, this show was a unique experience. It was a blast seeing 15 or so bands all in one day, especially with memorable performaces from Fat History Month, Big Mess, The New Highway Hymnal (shit water yay!), and Guerilla Toss – I literally felt the Guerilla Toss, woooo. https://klyam.com/2012/06/08/concert-review-onbroadway-fest-2008-5512/


5) No Age, Make It Up @ Chum’s Coffeehouse (3/10/12)
KLYAM and No Age go way back, way back before there even was a KLYAM. The first show we saw at Middle East was No Age, and that took place in 2008. They were one of the first of our beloved, HONORARY KLYAMERS. As popular as No Age is, they still carve out their own DIY aesthetic and playing a little Coffeehouse in Waltham is a testament to that. Some of the best moshing/crowd surfing I’ve seen all year! https://klyam.com/2012/03/12/concert-review-no-age-chums-brandeis/


4) Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, K-Holes @ The Well (9/22/12)
This is one of the few shows I have seen outdoors. I need to experience more of these! Outside on a rainy night in Brooklyn with a thousand or more bodies. I usually prefer smaller gigs, but Ty Segall’s music is so gigantic it feels right in this setting. Of course, this show is also special because this marks my first and only experience with Thee Oh Sees, one of America’s greatest live bands. Can’t wait for the next NYC trip and/or Ty/Oh Sees show. K-Holes, stay solid. https://klyam.com/2012/09/23/concert-review-ty-segall-thee-oh-sees-k-holes-the-well-92212/

3) Ty Segall, White Fence, Strange Boys @ Space Gallery (5/14/12)
Ty it is again! You just can’t stop this guy from popping up on our year end lists. Ahh, our first Ty Segall show ever! An event in heavy anticipation for nearly two years. The Space Gallery is one of the finer venues in the New England area that I have attended: larger capacity without that corporate rock feel, art gallery, steady rock ‘n’ roll, and two dollar PBRs! Yeah, so if the show above at the Well felt like a big time House of Blues event, then this Space Gallery show was more akin to a rowdy, packed Black Lips show at the Mid East Downstairs. And of course, Strange Boys were better than ever!
https://klyam.com/2012/05/15/concert-review-ty-segall-white-fence-strange-boys/


2) King Khan & The Shrines, Hector’s Pets @ Brighton Music Hall (7/23/12)

As far as showmen go, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that competes with King Khan. We were blessed this year to catch Khan and all the classic Shrines at a sweaty, fun filled show this past July. It’s just one big party y’all. https://klyam.com/2012/07/25/concert-review-king-khan-the-shrines-brighton-music-hall/

Who will be number 1?…..

NO NO NO NO NO!!!
NobunnyTyOhSeesNYCSep2012 009
NOBUNNY!!!!

1) Nobunny, Bad Sports, Xray Eyeballs, Liquor Store @ Living Bread (9/21/12)
For the past three years, the almighty Black Lips have filled the number one slot in this category. Alas, we did not see them this year, they had bigger plans – touring the Middle East. Beautiful, those kids need em’ more. Fortunately, we witnessed somebunny else on stage, this bunny we’ve also consistently seen the past 3-4 years, and he’s never let us down. 5 Nobunny shows deep and this was the best. I felt like I was watching Darby Crash or Keith Morris, but singing bubblegum and garage. I love that feeling, when you look up at a bunnyman in his underwear and say to yourself “this is the only kind of rock ‘n’ roll that matters.” https://klyam.com/2012/09/24/concert-review-nobunny-bad-sports-xray-eyeballs-liquor-store-living-bread-92112/

Ahh what a year, 2012, the best I’d say. In this year I saw the following exceptional/favorite bands for the first time (some of which I noted above): SKIMASK, Bleached, Smith Westerns, Dirty Virgins,  Fat Creeps, The Migs,  Ty Segall, Beach Boys,  Bent Shapes (as Bent Shapes), Colleen Green (two nights in a row!), Thee Oh Sees, Nice Guys, The Fagettes, The Electric Street Queens, Yankee Power.

And now I’m off to bring in 2013 with Fat Creeps,  The New Highway Hymnal, Color Channel, and Yale, MA at Great Scott. Peace.