Review: Mikal Cronin, Shannon and The Clams, Roomrunner, The Migs @ Great Scott (6/17/13)


Bands: Mikal Cronin, Shannon and the Clams, Roomrunner, The Migs
Date: Monday, June 17, 2013
Venue: Great Scott (Allston, MA)

The Migs – HOLY SHIT, IT’S THE MIGS!!! Man oh man, it’s a huge pleasure of ours to see New Hampshire’s finest up on stage once again, it’s been way too long. Wayyyy too long. Vintage Migs Keven, Lukas, and Craig are joined by a new drummer by the name of Alex (well new to us, but apparently he’s been rockin’ with the fellas for several months). What up Alex?!

The Migs are one of the greatest live bands I’ve seen. The songs are solid, if a little bit rough around the edges, but in a live setting the songs simply hit you with a greater force. In addition to The Migs’ undeniable grasp on 60’s garage rock, R& B, soul, blues, and a pinch of doo wop, they provide pure entertainment.  It’s the little things that separate them from most other garage/rock ‘n’ roll groups. Their coy, innocent dancing and sudden bursts of laughter effectively match the joyful, tension free style of music they embody.  It’s fun. It’s joy, like the Black Lips taught me, joy could be an aesthetic – could be meaningful. And The Migs do their best to make sure everyone has  a fun time.

The band’s unhesitating interaction with their audience is a feature of The Migs that I have admired since day one (4/20/12 for me). I remember back then, fanatically telling people about  a band I saw the other night (which is what usually happens after I experience a special band). I extensively proselytized my love for The Migs, “you have to see this band, they play in the crowd, they play with the people!” It was like something out of Fugazi or Lightning Bolt or something crazy like that, something I had only seen in videos. Tonight, The Migs don’t play in the crowd or on the floor, but it’s not a big deal because it’s not quite the same unless it’s a grimy, crowded basement. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm and entertainment is still very much intact.

Up until now, I have suffered through endless months of Migs withdrawal, but this performance brings me back to the good old times. The quartet concludes with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic, “The Last Time.” I certainly hope it’s not the last time.  Go see em’ live! http://themigs.bandcamp.com/

Roomrunner – Naturally, going into a show like this I’m biased. I’ve been a longtime fan of Shannon and the Clams, seen Mikal Cronin in the Ty Segall Band (not to mention liking and enjoying some of his music) and of course I hold The Migs near and dear – taking in several of their shows in the previous year. Roomrunner, on the other hand, is foreign to me. For the first few songs, I can nod along to this Baltimore based band, but after a while I’ve had enough. It’s certainly not as upbeat as The Migs, but Roomrunner do have some power in them and they definitely write some decent songs, but they’re simply too sad for me or not sad enough haha. I did find their in between song banter to be quite amusing though. The vocalist/guitarist even introduces the classic “we have one/two more songs left” ( a line that practically every band utters at one point in their lives) as a phrase that everyone loves to hear; in this instance I concur. That being said, I do appreciate Roomrunner’s sense of humor, even if their sound is not exactly my bag. Apparently, they are also on a string of tour dates with Shannon and the Clams and Mikal Cronin. Kudos gentlemen. Check them out here: http://roomrunner.bandcamp.com/

Shannon and the Clams – I’ve been waiting two years to see this band! I love Shannon and the Clams and tonight I can finally cross them off of my “top 5 bands to see live” list. The trio, which includes vocalist/guitarist Cody Blanchard (King Lolipop), vocalist/bassist Shannon Shaw (Hunx and His Punx), and new drummer Nate are known for creating a raw, analog flavored, bizarre take on 60’s  pop music, implementing elements of garage and doo wop – not to mention 70’s punk, making the band a sheer bestial force.

So, with these elements in mind, one can understand why weird, off kilterish pop/rock ‘n’ roll,  garage punk rock fans such as myself would simply adore the music of Shannon and the Clams. Their recordings are near flawless, but seeing them up on stage is incredible. They open tonight’s show with 2011’s “Sleep Talk” off the album of the same name and what appears to be the main source of  this evening’s set. A solid opener and a favorite of mine at that, they continue with other Sleep Talk tunes such as the soft, doo wop morphed fast punker “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers” to the straight up slower, ballady gems in “Oh, Louie” and “Done With You.”

The finest cut from Sleep Talk/my all time favorite Shannon and the Clams song and the one that seems to generate the greatest crowd response is “The Cult Song.” This number showcases what is  fantastic and utterly strange about Shannon and the Clams. The song builds with a fast, pulsing drum beat backed by Cody’s  bizarro vocals and Shannon’s seemingly endless chants “one of us! one of us! one of us!” as made infamous by 1932 cult horror classic, Freaks.  The band attempts to persuade their audience that they are sane in the lines “WE ARE NOT UNDER MIND CONTROL” but by the end of the song I think most of us would happily join the Shannon and the Clams cult! This song in particular reminds me of why I admire a band like this what with all of their little idiosyncrasies and good old fashioned weirdness. Maybe, it’s not even weirdness. Just taste.

I’ve gone on and on about my love for Sleep Talk, but the band has actually just released their debut for Hardly Art entitled Dreams in the Rat House. I have to admit I am not overly familiar with the songs on this album, having only heard it once or twice now. With that being said, I do recognize them playing the song “Rip Van Winkle” tonight and as expected they kill it.

As I have noted thus far, the vocals are one of the hallmarks of Shannon and the Clams’ music. With this in mind, a rather distinguished moment in the set is when Shannon and Cody both see how loud they can sing with each Clam trying to top the other. This is entertaining, but also shows us just how phenomenal their voices are.

Point is, go see Shannon and the Clams live if you get a chance or better yet pick up one or all of their amazing records.

Mikal Cronin – For starters, I am only vaguely familiar with a couple of Mikal Cronin songs, but Co-KLYAMER Glen is a huge fan. He’s shown me some sweet Mikal Cronin tunes in the past and I agree that it is solid psychedelic pop/garage rock.

I mentioned earlier that we have seen Mikal Cronin before in The Ty Segall Band, well Mikal is joined by fellow Ty Segall band mate Emily Rose Epstein on drums. Mikal and Emily are just as talented as they were with Ty; the whole band is exceptional actually. If you like Ty Segall, then I’d recommend you check out Mikal Cronin, as you will most likely enjoy the similar style. Mikal and crew seem to perform more solos however, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but typically not my thing.

I mainly came to see Shannon and The Clams (and The Migs!), but Mikal Cronin and his band are also impressive. The crowd appears to be a bit of a mixture of Clams and Cronin fans with some natural overlap. Considering he is the headliner, more people probably came to see him, but I am positive that all four bands tonight left the sold out crowd with a lasting impression.

Album Review: Ty Segall Band – “Slaughterhouse”


Band:
Ty Segall Band
Label:
In The Red Records
Release:
6/2012

Comments: It would be reasonable for a KLYAM reader at this moment to think to themselves, “damn, they’re all about Ty Segall lately!” We aren’t secretly working for Ty, by the way. It’s just been that what the guy has been doing lately is nothing short of incredible. Slaughterhouse, as many of you may know, is the work of Ty’s live band, which in addition to he, includes Emily Rose Epstein (drums), Mikal Cronin (bass), and Charlie Mootheart (guitar). Technically speaking, this is the band’s first studio release. (There is a 2011 complete band live album called Live In Aisle 5.)

It’s hard to tell exactly how this record was produced. In many ways, it sounds like a ‘everyone ready? 1-2-3-4!!!’ click and record effort. The depth and clarity of each instrument is something else. Getting back to the record itself, I find it fascinating to look at this from a loose concept record whose name tells all angle. You think Slaughterhouse and you don’t think of a sunny afternoon walk in the town common. It’s more like the guitars and all associated effects are no longer producers of music, but are more like intelligently crafted guns. Even Ty’s vocals aren’t at all like the Ty that we’ve heard from the beginning. He’s vicious, carefree, and destructive. He screams and he says ‘fuck yeah’ and ‘fuck this fucking song’! The songs themselves don’t fall far from the creators’ tree. The band is on the same page as Ty and the three of them, well they don’t give a flying fuck either. Some might say well “Fuzz War” is just a loada shit noises and random chords. I would’ve said that two years ago. If you look at this from a macro perspective, it’s almost a perfect ending. We start with “Death” and work backwards to when the mayhem began. (Don’t go back and listen to every song in the reverse order — though that might actually be interesting to some… including myself.) At this point you might be thinking, so what’s the best song on this thing? Well it’s “Wave Goodbye”. I believe [after much deliberation] that “Wave” is the best thing that Segall has done to date. It’s a perfectly crafted song. From start to finish, it’s a monster. You know Ty’s up to no good when he starts off “I went to churches and I went to school, I played by all of your mother’s rules”. That solo never gets old, either. The pounding of Emily Rose Epstein. Mikal and Charlie. Man. “Wave Goodbye” is so supreme that it sort of leaves you wanting to compare the other songs to past Ty efforts. But you will find that you can not simply do that. Even the 1 minute 30 second “Muscle Man” most effortlessly can compete with the fuzziest and loudest there is on Melted. Speaking of loud and fuzzy.

Where to go from here with that. Friggin “That’s The Bag I’m In” slaps “Muscle Man” around with its dick. You can’t help but smile when Ty instructs “extra fast” on the “Diddy Wah Diddy” cover. Ty and Charlie get extra giddy at times on that song and Ty. Funny dude. “I got a car with wheels. Who fuckin’ cares? Fuck this fuckin’ song. DIDDY WAH DIDDY…Wait, rewind it, let’s go again!” This is a tight band.  If we care to backtrack a bit, we can talk about some of the other tracks. “I Bought My Eyes” is insane. Some people who prefer damaging aural attacks might say this is the front-runner of them all. It sort of is. The other contender is “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart.” First. Any coincidence that they’ve been playing “Eyes,” “Wave Goodbye,” and Tell Me” live? They must love them long time too, right? If songs were people (as I often make the comparison), who would win in a 5k running race, “Eyes” or “Tell Me”? If you are a Melted purist, you might be more of “The Tongue” type (though that means you could be an “Imaginary Person” or “Caesar” purist…cover your ears, kids…and this isn’t an insult, those are my favorite songs, too). Or maybe you like yourself some “Oh Mary,” which indeed is a Ty Segall cover. And by Ty Segall cover, I mean one guitar/two drums one-man band 2009 style. This time around, Ty’s vocals sound nearly identical, but the instrumentation is more bopping, controlled, and clearer. Controlled chaos. I’ve seen it listed sometimes as “Mary Ann,” which either is a mistake of journalists or a purposeful re-branding made for an onslaught of first-time amateur Ty listeners. Let’s go to the bottom of Slaughterhouse.

I was about to say this is Ty’s best release. I’m not sure if it is entirely appropriate to say that though. I can’t imagine too many record reviewers have asked what the roles were of John Hassall and Gary Powell in the making of Libertine records. I don’t have any liner notes in front of me (still waiting for the record to arrive in physical form) so I feel bad coming to any conclusions and giving misinformed credits. I know the band has switched up instruments live and they are all capable of doing that kind of thing. Did it happen on Slaughterhouse? Either way, this really is a special record. This is only the beginning of my experience with it. I can’t wait to drop the needle for the first time and hear the first screeches of “Death” and the final barrage of noise on “Fuzz War”. And everything in between. Right now, I’m going to place it ahead of Hair, which I raved about. Like most great rock and roll, I can see this being under-appreciated. Maybe people aren’t on the same wavelength as I am about the capabilities of these four, but it’s really something that ought to be examined. Excellent!

Best Of 2011 – Glen’s Favorite Albums


1. Black Lips
Arabia Mountain – My excitement for this album grew steadily once the news came out that they were working on one in early 2010. The original release date set for “when school gets back in” was pushed back once Ronson joined as co-producer. As we all know by now, the band had a delightful time working with him. So it’s no coincidence that Arabia is filled with some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a while. The sound production is not as muddy and psychedelic as the band’s previous effort 200 Million Thousand; instead, it’s clean and clear. The songs themselves cross the kind of rock and roll terrain that the Lips have always found themselves in, including but not limited to: clangy, jangly, country, punk. This stuff is addicting (for people with an ear for it like me) and tough to remove from the record player. I guess that’s a quality that the best album of the year should possess. 


2. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread – This is another one that I was counting the days until release. Ty’s last record Melted received an ‘honorable mention’ in my Best of 2010, but would have comfortably cracked the Top 5 if I redid my list a few months later. Goodbye Bread was a quintessential summer listen and still holds the test of time as this part of the country is freezing over. The thing that Ty does so well (and has always done so well) is arranging his songs. There’s optimal fuzz, hard-pounding drums, and a lingering bass line in nearly every song at some point and a lot of it is unexpected and fresh. I love the opening of “You Make the Sun Fry,” and the ever so crunchy chorus in “My Head Explodes,” in particular. Goodbye Bread affirms Ty’s status as one of the most talented song writers in modern rock and roll. At the least, it goes to show that noisy relatively straight-forward garage isn’t all the dude is about. 


3. Atlas Sound
Parallax – Last year (as I just said above) I made the folly of overlooking some records. Another one of them was Halcyon Digest. Sure, it was among my Top 10, but I didn’t really appreciate as much in 2010 as I should have. With Parallax, I gave it several listens before reviewing it and over the course of listening the real beauty of it really came out. It’s mainly a light affair with several streaks of brilliance that some could dub ‘experimental’ or ‘odd’, but to me is just as pop as anything typically labeled that. Bradford knows catchy better than most. The by product of this is a mass of songs that are inspirational and healing. 


4. The Beets
 – Let The Poison Out – The Beets are one of those bands that I regret not getting more into earlier on in my KLYAM career. After seeing them open for No Age at Wellesley College back in April 2009, I failed to do significant follow up research. Well, now I’d say I’m fairly well versed on the Beets; all the credit to them for infectious releases and superb live performances. Let The Poison Out works so well because it’s just so hard to not be hooked on the Beets raw rock, pop, n’ roll . It makes me want to start pounding on some drums while blasting it loudly. “Doing As I Do” and “I Think I Might Have Built A Horse” are sing-alongs like none other. 


5. Mikal Cronin
 – Mikal Cronin – You can tell this guy has spent some quality time hanging around Ty Segall. Not to say he hasn’t spent quality time with other musicians. The Moonhearts are nice. Well anyway, this album really captivated me as it fits in perfectly on a scale of Ty and Thee Oh Sees. Like those folks’ records, Mikal Cronin is quite instantaneously hooky (with like two exceptions, but those are still real good). Picking favorites is a challenge. I love “Situation” a great deal, because right from the get-go it is extremely fun. The San Fran rock ‘n roll region had quite a 2011.

Honorable Mentions

Shannon and the Clams – Sleep Talk
The Orwells – Remember When
Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Natural Child 1971
Mark Sultan Whatever I Want
The Hussy Cement Tomb Mind Control
Davila 666 Tan Bajo

CD Review: Mikal Cronin – Mikal Cronin [2011]


Band:
 Mikal Cronin
Release: 9/2011
Label: Trouble In Mind

1. “Is It Alright?” – A-
2. “Apathy” – A
3. “Green and Blue” – A-
4. “Get Along” – A+
5. “Slow Down” – A-
6. “Gone” – A
7. “Situation” – A
8. “Again and Again” – A-
9. “Hold On Me” – B
10. “The Way Things Go” – A+

Comments: Mikal Cronin. Get used to that name. For those of you particularly in-the-know, you might not have to put that much effort into getting to know Mikal. In his own right, he is quite prolific. Perhaps not to the degree of friend Ty Segall, but still prolific at that. Now Ty and Mikal, I’m sure they both listen to the same kind of music. I don’t think picking a song to jam to on a crisp California night has been at all difficult. Hell, when you live in the same state as Oh Sees John Dwyer, it’s tough to imagine anything less than a spectacular event of music making. Of course, we have Dwyer’s flute on the first song and a — oh snap is it that a saxophone? — on “Apathy”. So yes, Cronin has been fed a healthy diet of mixed greens and fuzz rock by farmers near and wide. The bent, so to speak, that Cronin has is a bit more melodic than what we’ve historically seen from Ty. The core of the apple we call pop is ever present on Mikal Cronin. Even in such a heavy assault as “Green and Blue,” we get a drained out sort of Radiohead at their heaviest kind of thing going on. “Get Along” deserves a place right next to the “My Sunshine” and “Melted” of the world. It’s the heavy strumming, brah. Brah-Naymith. “Slow Down” is like “Get Along” slowed down seventy-five percent. Like that time Justin Beiber was slowed down to sound like Animal Collective. Gangsta slowcore shizz. Sounds like an organ/reed to me. A droning one at that. Notes are held. Chord progressions change like seasons. The Beach Boys revival ode “Situation” features Ty Segall on drums. “The Way Things” is particularly odd, but really great bait for the experimental at heart. If you like slow, heavy, weird, funny, etc, this is a particular nice one. There’s like six song ideas all combined into one closer. Good way to go out, I’d say.

Grade: A- (92)