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/

LP Review: “Zoo Traffic” (Yankee Power)

Artist: Yankee Power
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Track list :
1) Adopted Love Doll
2) Swing
3) Wrong Kind
4) Given Into Contrary
5) Dr. Daisy
6) Fuzz Minisery
7) Because It’s Hard
8) Stray
9) Real Folk
10) Modern Change
11) Shiver Of Sharks
12) Dear Old Friend
13) Two Quarters
14) Open Breast

Comments: I met half of Yankee Power in the year Two Thousand and Six. Mr. Tom Calvert (guitar/vocals) and Mr. CJ Kanouff (drums) were WHSTV production icons, legends. So, when I heard that these dudes were unleashing some jams, I had to see what all the fuss was about. Now, we are in the year Two Thousand and Twelve, and just recently I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jeff Gallagher (guitar/vocals), who is nothing but a straight shooter, a real charming man. I have yet to meet Mr. Mark Fallon (Bass/Vocals), but I am confident he is an upstanding gentlemen.
Okay now, I listen to a lot of music, way too much music. In fact, as I am writing this, my ears are splitting because I have been blasting tunes on my ipod and from my computer all day. I can’t live without it, and with this I have come to accept that I will be deaf before I’m fifty (hopefully, hopefully not thirty), but I’m optimistic that by that time technology will bring all sorts of fun gadgets to keep my musical intake flowin’. Working on this site, I certainly come across TONS of bands, but few are as diverse as Yankee Power. That’s not a stock line, that’s the truth.  Zoo Traffic is a colorful album filled with all sorts of styles, it constantly switches up its sound, yet maintains an overall distinct character, unique to Yankee Power.

The opener, “Adopted Love Doll,” (which is accompanied by a hilarious video that can be seen below) is a savage, powerhouse, quasi-heavy metal pop song that brings to mind everyone from Andrew W.K. to Alice In Chains (especially in some of the vocals) to many of the garage/party rock bands we champion on this site. Point being, ‘Love Doll’ is a fast rocker, guaranteed to get you headbanging and fist pumping or else you’ve sniffed too much glue and should perhaps stay at home next Saturday night. Definitely a contender for my new alarm clock; the song just has that let’s get up and go! motivational quality to it. I also can’t forget to mention the outstanding drum work of CJ Kanouff – simple, but the song’s driving force for sure.

The next number, “Swing,” is a dramatic change of pace in which the band slows things down a bit.  On “Swing,” we hear a much more folk/country oriented sound for the band, which appears frequently throughout this album. I truly appreciate the vocals of Jeff Gallagher, the dude has an amazing voice, but what I really dig is his range. Just like the band’s overall sound, Jeff’s vocals are never quite the same – track by track. He is able to scream and shout, like on the album opener, and yet on other songs, such as “Dear Old Friend,” his voice is soothing and soft, drawing comparisons to John Lennon and Paul Simon, at least to me.

But, Jeff isn’t the only top notch singer here. Often fellow guitarist Tom Calvert delivers some fantastic vocals as well. My favorite song with Tom’s lead vocals is the country fueled ballad, “Real Folk,” which I find equally humorous and sincere, and I mean that in the best possible way. It reminds me of Ween in this manner, which is awesome because Ween is incredible. Two great moments on Zoo Traffic include dual vocals from Jeff and Tom on “Wrong Kind” and “Stray.” In a sane world, the latter would be a top 40 hit. But, that’s whatever… music charts are silly and irrelevant. “Stray” is a beautiful pop song and one of the catchiest I’ve heard all year. Just further evidence of how powerful these songs really are. I must have listened to “Stray” at least forty or fifty times by now, maybe more (time I could have spent selecting the president and other political scum, completing homework assignments, wacking off [well, moreso anyway], among other wholesome activities.) But, NO! this song just hooked me in and won’t let me go.

Another cut that runs deep, so deep, so deep, puts her ass to sleep, is “Because It’s Hard,” sung by bassist Mark Fallon.  This ditty is a total stand out and is the unofficial Amish Anthem. Whenever I hear this, folksy, Celtic  Poguesian tune, I picture images of Amish men and women, and children smiling, laughing, working, and reflecting the light they have come to know. This year, I am blasting this song on repeat during Thanksgiving Dinner, just for the Amish. Amish Rock. Amish Core 2015, get on that bro.

I can’t recommend Yankee Power’s Zoo Traffic enough; I have had a real pleasure excessively listening to and reviewing this puppy. I can truly say this album opened up my tastebuds, which is a rare feat as some miscreants have noted in the past. This LP is definitely a twenty twelve gem and continues the trend I’ve noticed with other twenty twelve favorites of mine (Fat Creeps, The Barbaras, etc.) which is basically creating such strong songs that when you listen to the music it feels more like a greatest hits compilation than simply one album. My next mission in life is to see all the Yankee Power hits on the live stage! To quote the Sneaky Pinks, I can’t wait.

Check out their music here! http://theyankeepower.bandcamp.com/