OCM Manifesto: 2008 Music Summary

It all comes down to 6 degrees of  OCM. The dots are getting smaller, and the connections are now quite intertwined. My affiliations have led to friendships. What started as a Blog to help expose music “I love and can’t get enough” has evolved into more. With Obsession Collection Music, I will continue to help expose music I love, believe in, and wish to share. It has been a pleasure writing about music. It takes time, and it is important to be accurate. I’ve worked hard this year to find my voice and develop a writing style that succinctly describes what I hear. Exposure is important for music but being accurate is necessary. So even though this is a laborious task, I find it quite satisfying. My writing has propelled some careers to move a little faster. Good words can help define a mission and redefine an outlook. I am not here to be critical. Although I do not like everything and find it painful to listen to the mediocre. I am still doing this site with every spare moment I have. Maintaining Obsession Collection Music solo makes it difficult to see or hear everything. I’ve mainly concentrated on writing about music you might not find elsewhere. I'm proud to have given some groups their first web copy.

Manifesto: Awesome Sites (Site Scavenger Series) I will continue to find great sites that expose music. Especially sites that are forward-thinking and have a unique point of view, like If You Make It. It is nice to find sites that start out on the grassroots level, watch them develop, and then analyze what distinguishes their sites from more established and sometimes corporate copycats. 

Music Movements I will write about music movements and collectives that combine music, art, and film, like Wham City (Baltimore), The B3nson Recording Company (Albany) The Purple Van Club (Paris). Or publishers like Showpaper that are moving the music and art culture forward from a street perspective, the way all great grassroots movements begin. This will continue to be a priority. Giving additional web presence to groups inventing new business models because the old one is antiquated and leaves so many behind. Most started out of passion and necessity. They are good people with Chutzpah and can shake things up. 

Art and Music I will also continue exploring the melding of art and music. An interesting trend of the last few years is going to a museum to see music. The group Lucky Dragons is a good example. Their bookings are in museums around the world, basements, and venues. I will continue to write about the photographers, like (Crackerfarm) filmmakers, writers, and artists who, behind the scenes, are moving the culture forward. 

OCM 2008 Year (not a best of) What I saw and wrote about has been an inspiring and uplifting experience. So many of the people I’ve written about are doing better and getting the exposure they deserve. Many have been signed to independent labels this year, allowing them to tour with a little more ease. It is interesting to see a band open shows to headline shows. This is nice for them but hard on me. The thought of an eleven o'clock start time has taken its toll. Being an opening act is over for many of the groups I’ve written about this year. A year can make a difference.  Langhorne Slim spread the love, signed to a label, toured the US several times this year, and returned to Europe. I’m waiting for them to become a household name, I think that’s possible. o’death signed later this year to the same label. Kemado has good judgment and taste. Peasant is a good example of someone I started writing about in 2006. He has been a pleasure to watch develop and document. Drink up, Buttercup, I’ve just had a blast seeing them and writing about them from the first show in NY in 2007 till now. What an awesome trip it has been. 

Another highlight was meeting Geo Wyeth (Novice Theory) at a party and committing to see him at The Trash bar on a Wednesday night. Glad I did. What an amazing talent. OCM 2009 and beyond What am I looking forward to this year: is the much-awaited CD by Hop Along Queen Ansleis and the debut release of Drink Up Buttercup. Both groups are finalizing recording and in the mastering stages. Peasant’s re-release of On The Ground for distribution with the help of Team Love Records will give it the boost it deserves. I am also looking forward to seeing some bands I have found that have not booked shows in New York yet. I’m waiting. 

OCM’s 2008 The great live shows I have seen this year and CD reviews are all documented within the pages of this blog. Many are in Google heaven and hopefully resurrected by this post. If you like: Deer Tick, The Felice Brothers, Langhorne Slim, Peasant, Hop Along Queen Ansleis, Viking Moses, Golden Ghost, Drink Up Buttercup, Conor Oberst, Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, Novice Theory, The Lisps, and more, explore these pages.  Live reviews 08 CD reviews 08 The economy has fucked up my plans of moving OCM central to NYC. I’m still on it and remain hopeful. I will continue and hope for a brighter future with more readership. OCM has been steadily growing with one reader at a time since its inception in June of 06. Do me a favor. Spread this shit around! Happy New Year to all from Obsession Collection Music.


Hop Along Queen Ansleis; Interview

photo Credit: Zac Geiger
Hop Along Queen Ansleis has been doing it DIY since 2005. Starting at eighteen, she released her acclaimed and cherished CD Freshman Year, which could be described as a folk fest gone haywire. She is a true original, and this release reached out and touched many. Her talented friends helped out playing a variety of instruments and complimenting the uproarious sound with complimentary hand claps, kazoos, banjo, drums, and singalong of merriment. Her voice wrapped around all the noise with complete abandon. Her DIY style is personal. Every CD was burned by hand and stamped with an artistic seal. Crossing oceans and states, the goods were packaged in hand-painted envelopes enclosed with a personal note. The return address Blue Moose Records, is a fictitious label with a rotating address due to the transient nature of college living.  Each summer, winter, and spring break, she would coordinate small tours with the occasional random house or venue show. Drives up and down the east coast and, this last summer, to the mid-west. She also has done various festivals such as Culture Shock 2007 and The Big She-Bang 2008 in NY and a slew of College shows.
While her fan base grew, she made a tough commitment to remain at The Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore and obtain her BFA degree. Finally graduated, she is ready to devote her attention to music. This past year, she expanded her live solo shows to include two other musicians. Dominic Angelella on electric and slide guitar, and her brother Mark Quinlan, an accomplished drummer. The last show of this year is with Kimya Dawson at the Rock and Run For Justice Concert for Midnight Run in Dobbs Ferry. The future is wide-open, and her sound palette is ready to be smudged, blended, and applied. Hop Along’s very ravenous fan base has waited patiently. This interview is for them to glimpse what she’s been up to and what to expect from her upcoming release.

OCM Asks Hop Along Queen Ansleis (Francis Quinlin)

OCM Although you still do solo stints live, what were some of your thoughts behind adding additional players to your live show? FQ I've pretty much always wanted to be in a band, ever since I became involved in music. I've always wanted to have a BIG sound that takes over a space; creates a space, really. It just took me this long to become capable enough to play alongside others onstage. I started the solo project after I left for college, and my oldest brother Andrew and I couldn't get together to jam as much anymore, so that whole method came out of necessity rather than preference (I'm also kind of lousy at jamming if you want to know the truth). When I'd go to shows (especially ones where practically the whole audience danced), I'd get so hung up watching full bands play, and I'd get really frustrated about not having the kind of energy that only a great drummer can create. And not to sound cheesy, but Mark and Dom play with so much life onstage, they get into it, and people can't help but at least feel that, in my opinion. It's just so much easier to get excited about playing, especially older songs, being in that kind of presence. At maybe our fifth or sixth show, there were people dancing and crowd surfing for the first time during a Hop Along set. 

OCM Has adding other players to your live roster changed your recording process? 
FQ Absolutely, and in the best ways possible. Whenever I used to write a song, they would nearly always be intended to have more than one part, more than me on my guitar. But my ideas were usually vague and unrealized until I'd make an album. So I'd write the acoustic part and figure out the rest while recording. The fact that I've leaned toward creating a big sound for a while I think explains why freshman year has so much stuff going on all through it. I wanted so badly to fill up that space that an acoustic guitar just can't fill; so I recorded layers and layers of bells, whistles, toys instruments and noise, sparing no moment of nuance, just a ton of stuff. I was trying to give the record process, make it whole. Sometimes it worked there are some nice little moments. But mostly, I think a lot of that extra stuff was kind of thrown in without much thought as to what could be lost. And I'd get such a little thrill when people would hear freshman year and think I was a band. But most of it was done haphazardly, and another thing, it's really hard to recreate any of it live, I can't even remember a lot of what I did. But the way things are now, the songs take most of their shape during practice. And I've had to rewrite older songs since the band formed, because Mark comes up with these really interesting, surprising beats, and I've got to adapt to that. And then Dom works out these really pretty, captivating parts on electric that often make a small section pop and I've got to match his intensity, which is a big challenge, I've been learning. A little over two weeks ago Tim from Sgt. Dunbar came down to Philly to help us record a demo, and we took care of the bare bones of songs, just drums, guitars, and vocals. Now I'm staying up in Albany, where most of the Dunbar kids live, and where I am currently snowed in. This past weekend Tim and I have been working the way I did on "freshman year", writing while recording, adding little things of character where we see fit, and being much more selective about it. So there is this awesome three-part system going; writing the songs with the band, recording t hem with the band, and then holing up in an old house in the snow and adding the elements that give the songs a personal quality on the record, the weird stuff. So we really get to make something great, that's big but still intimate. And I've been so lucky to have so many people as invested in this thing as me, and what's more, the songs are so much better. My sense of improvement has really speeded up since I started playing with Mark and Dom. 

OCM Do you have different expectations for the release in the works having self-released Freshman Year? 
FQ Freshman Year did well for a self-released project, especially since it was produced mostly by me, someone with close to zero talent as an engineer (Chris Archibald of Illinois produced four of the tracks, and he's got way more skills than I do). Phil Douglas really saved my skin when he mixed and mastered the whole thing for me; he did a wonderful job. So even then, other people had their hands in the project, I was never completely alone. But during the whole process, it all came down to my opinion, so you might say the expectations were automatically smaller then. Now you've got three people with different ideas, and when we started out I admit I was afraid of that. I'm not the best at collaborating, especially on big projects, a lot of the time, I get more concerned about getting what I want in there rather than considering what's best for the song. And I didn't want to abandon the character that Freshman Year had (although sometimes, for the sake of arguing I'll say otherwise), the chance to experiment at the last minute while recording. But Mark and Dom both liked that album, so I got lucky and don't have to worry about it in that regard. We all want this record to be big, bigger sounding than Freshman Year (we're trying to get some bass on it, even), but it's got to be better thought out. There's even less of an excuse to put out half-thought-out songs now that there are three (more than that, really) people working on them. So the expectations are pretty reasonable, certainly more so than mine were while I was making Freshman Year. I wanted to create the illusion of there being more people, now I don't have to; they're right with me and they're helping me make it happen. 

OCM Will this release be self-released like Freshman Year, or are other strategies in the works? 

FQ We've been talking about labels we're hoping to send this demo out to, there are more than a few who've got rosters I really admire, and those I'd flip out over if we were ever asked to join. But if we do end up self-releasing this, it still won't be as hands-on as the last record was; I'm not going to cut the covers myself and paint every CD (the stamp is all worn down now). It's kind of sad I guess, it's always nice to send each person a personally crafted item, but I'm really not all that bummed about the change. I've spent so much time making copies and I think I've gotten all I'm going to get from that kind of experience. I'd rather not use up that kind of time now, when I could be spending it working on a song, or at least making something new, not copy after copy. 

OCM Finishing Art College did put some restraints on your music aspirations. What specifically did you gain from that experience, and how has it informed your music? Any regrets? 

FQ It put physical restraints on it for sure. My original, totally unrealistic plan was to record an album every summer after I did Freshman Year, so the next one would naturally be called Sophomore Year, and so on. I didn't realize that I just can't write that fast. My sophomore year of college was a major dry spell in terms of song writing; I think I wrote maybe six songs that year and I only play three of them today. Plus I always get stressed over school, and sophomore year I spent mostly making bad paintings and working on my poetry and screenwriting homework (I wrote the worst screenplay; it was about house painters). But on the flip side, I also went on my first tour while I was a sophomore, during winter break. Dom and I went for 11 days, and he was in school too. It was a huge deal, for both of us. Dom and I would probably never have met if I hadn't gone to art school. And Freshman Year is self-explanatory, I wrote most of those songs during my first school year; furthermore, I blame it for the worst grades I received during my college education, which I got the spring semester when I was a freshman. I spent so much time recording rough drafts of Bruno is Orange, Elizabeth and Elizabeth, Two Kids, and so on; I neglected classes a little bit. It was cool though, my roommates gave me a lot of feedback whenever I'd show them a song (two of them being musicians: Wheatie Mattiasich and Molly O'Connell of Hittie Titty), and they usually helped me record them too. So my first year was actually a bigger deal for me as a musician than it was as a visual artist (I made some really awful paintings that year). After that I did get pretty caught up in school, doing more ambitious paintings (after sophomore year all my paintings have been no smaller than 6' x 7' or so) and investing more and more time in increasingly demanding classes. But every school year I still managed to go out on a little tour. My second one with Wheatie and Molly during winter break of junior year, and the third with Dom again during spring of senior year. Besides that, college is an incredible vehicle for discovering/ being shown new music. My freshman year was when Molly showed me Kimya Dawson and Joanna Newsom, sophomore year I heard Herman Dune and the Microphones (again Molly's doing) and Jonathon Richman and Zoe Keating, and it never stopped. It did a lot for me, certainly as a musician, and I always listened to that stuff while working. Music that creates space helps a lot when you're trying to build a visual space from scratch. Practically every painter I know works to music, and the ones who don't I automatically consider snobs. Regrets? I wish I could remember what I learned about building your own website. That happened my freshman year, spring semester. 

 OCM Any cool plans for the physical art on the hard copy of the new release? FQ Yes, very big, very vague plans. I know I want it to involve printmaking again (the cover of Freshman Year was result of the first etching I ever did), I've been talking to my former professor, who taught me lithography (it ended up being one of my favorite classes) and we might collaborate on something. I have no idea what the image will be at this point, but I'm thinking something over spilling or billowing maybe, with sparse color, if any. But I could be completely off. I always end up going way off course when it comes to planning a visual project and then realizing it. 

OCM Your songwriting and song structure is unusual in what way has it evolved since your last release? What changes can fans look forward to? 

FQ I guess I sort of answered a lot of this in the second question, since a great deal of songwriting happens for me during the recording process. It probably always will. But overall, I've gotten better at experimenting with a song without losing track of a central tone. The band has really helped me do that and filling a song's major form out during the first stages too, with less of a dependence on the later extra sounds, on bells and novelty. Those things can do a lot, I love them, but I'm relieved that I'm not putting a toy piano in every single song I record now. Now it'll have some personality when it shows up. I've also started writing more personal songs, more directly related to my own life and more mature. All in all, it's less cute. I hope fans can look forward to some of that. They can at least look forward to the cameos of a trumpet, the sound of knives being sharpened, and some badass ragtime piano. 
OCM You do not have typical fans they enjoy a broad variety of genres, yet they are drawn to your music. Has that helped you in the sense of not being pigeonholed in terms of sharing the bill with bands that represent a very different sensibility and genre? 

FQ I've been pretty lucky in that regard. Not only have I had the opportunity to play with some really unique and exciting bands (like WHY? and Fake Problems), I've also met a broad range of talented people with whom I occasionally get to work on music. Recently I became friends with a subject of one of your interviews, the B3nson collective, a perfect example of a broad variety of bands sharing a collective aim, that's to help one another realize visions and ideas, and to do it in ways one would not typically expect. Their music is full of surprise and adventure, and it's because they aren't afraid to delve into unexplored territory. I've tried to be careful in the sense that I don't try to surround myself with people trying to do the same thing as me. And playing with so many different bands reminds me that there's so much new territory still available. It encourages me to be unafraid. 

OCM Just curious how you were received touring with the punk outfit Fake Problems a few years ago? 

FQ Wheatie and I were so nervous about being totally overshadowed by a raucous punk band, we'd never toured the south and didn't know what to expect as far as a reception, but the shows were amazing, people were really kind and attentive and a good number of kids in every city came and spoke with us after our sets. I think Wheatie and I both benefited from a well-rounded audience after that tour. Plus every single guy in Fake Problems is, as my mom would put it, real good people. I got to hear their new record and it's unbelievable. Plus I met one of my new favorite bands, P.S. Eliot, through them. 
OCM How did the upcoming benefit show with Kimya Dawson come about? 

FQ It's funny, I was asked to play this show before the band even existed, way back in April. I'm not sure how it came about. Carter, who runs the Common Grounds Coffee House in Dobbs Ferry, e-mailed me and said he liked my songs and could I play a show with Kimya Dawson in December. He's a super nice guy, he came to a show Dom and I played together at ABC No Rio over the summer, and he's excited to have the whole band come up and play. I don't know what made him pick us. It must have been magic. It's been a pretty magical year, all in all. I get to play with someone who was one of the greatest influences on my musical development, and I'm in a band. I don't think I've ever felt so full of potential, it's like from now on I have no excuse to do anything but get better. Once you are shown your capacity for improvement, as an artist or a human being, you can't go backwards to exactly what you were without a sense of artificiality. You can't turn around without losing some of yourself. I'll take some of the old things with me, I have to, but I can't ever go back now.


Wildebeest Music Sightings, Book Release and Performance

Sad I missed it @ Space Space, a book release and chime performance by Wildebeest. OCM updated a while back about a sighting at an awesome garage show. Wildebeest has been busy. The book "TO TASTE LIKE PAPER Enduring Freedom at the Foot of Love" is the result and the first release by RECOVERED WRITINGS. Inscription on the back jacket: “A construction over which text flows and runs off The book began to talk to itself. The writing left. The Object was the only constant. No need to break a fourth wall when the entire box is made of mirrors." Henry Winn. OK peeps! if you were there, please leave some comments. Let us know. People do come here seeking out anything on the Beest.


Turner Cody Radio Hour with Special Guest

Thrifty, Brave, and Clean is Boy Scout Recording's radio turn into the best folk music traditions. This week's broadcast features a special guest and host, Turner Cody.

This is a treat for my readers who appreciate great finger-picking on guitar, banjo, and old traditional songs. A year and a half ago, I wrote to Joe Ahearn and asked if he could book a young musician who was sixteen at the time. I wrote a little copy. “After hearing him play, I thought I had just witnessed the reincarnation of Jimmy Rogers or a young Woody Guthry. He is a guitar savant, plays the harmonica, sings, and even yodels. He does share the sensibilities of the greats, but he delivers his own material and covers in a very original way.” Joe booked him to do a few songs as one of the openers for Turner Cody. Turner was blown away but was sorry to lose track of him. They were reconnected when the young man showed up at a show recently. The end result is this incredible hour of music and discussion on Brooklyn Radio hosted by Turner Cody called Thrifty, Brave, Clean. It is a little awkward at first but hang in there. Trust me, it gets very interesting. The first song he played was “I’m Tired Of Everything But You, " performed by Nick Lucas 1927, the jazz guitar pioneer. About midway through, he played an awesome murder ballad on banjo and a few originals later in the set. Their conversation is informed, relaxed, and refreshingly sincere, just two musicians talking and sharing what they love. This young man's talent deserves exposure, but I am embedding this discreetly without the usual pictures and links to afford him the space he will need to continue to explore and develop. Although some bookings would be great! Enjoy HERE “One of the first times, I was just blown away by a performer” Turner Cody.


Drink Up Buttercup; A Sick Night Of Catchiness!

Drink up Buttercup came to play the Cake Shop all geared up. Aside from the large metal garbage cans, melodica, assortment of electric guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, drums, and official mascot manikin head, they were armed with some new props. New was the baby head sound gear and hand-held sleigh bells. The all-time best prop that tells the sick story of the night is the little pink bottle of Pepto-Bismol propped on top of the side of the keyboard. This was intended for Farzad’s case of food poisoning. Maybe? Ben Money was recovering after having four wisdom teeth extracted presented another dilemma.

Whether they were sick or recovering, nobody would have guessed. They were their lively selves and, regardless of how they felt, put on a spectacle as if it was the most important show of their lives. What an awesome treat. They are eye and ear candy mixed with the roaring crash of metal and sweet swell of harmony. Moving about the stage, falling to the ground, operatic vibrato, tambourine in mouth, and theatrics abound, but the music is the essential ingredient of Drink Up Buttercup. I rarely go to shows and play a key role. Usually, I listen, observe, and take pictures. Tonight was different.

To be upfront, Farzad’s mic stand broke in the middle of a song. His harmonies play a key role. He looked at me with hand motions and gave me my marching orders,  So I held the mic through two songs, following his lips with a steady hand and making sure I didn’t hit his teeth. He moved quite generously from one side of the keyboard to another. It was finally resolved when Simon, their manager, found a small mic stand that he had placed on the keyboard. Relieved of my duties, I was able to take more shots. Although I have seen and reviewed Drink Up many times, I have yet to see them play in a big venue. I don’t always have the luxury of going out during a workweek, so when a Saturday shows come up, I take it.

Anyway, my intentions were to show some Roman visitors a good time. They were young, in their early twenties, so I thought going to an eleven o’clock show would not be too difficult. They left just as soon as the first note to get some rest. Shit, I have yet to find people who can keep up with me. Forget my age group. So I’ll continue to go alone to be mistaken for the band's mother, not the dedicated Blogger I am. What was assumed to be food poisoning was catching on. Some of the other members and traveling friends were feeling sick. The impending doom of a stomach virus was a predicament. As they packed their gear, the thoughts about throwing up the next day to come back the following night to the much bigger Union Hall would linger. I decided to come to the smaller Cake Shop after all, but I’m sure they put on an amazing show regardless. That is just who they are!


Novice theory & Aria Orion Unveil New Music @ Joe’s Pub

This was a night of vision, mood, presentation, and the unveiling of a new project Aria Orion from composer and performer Jules Gimbrone and headliner Novice Theory. Interestingly enough, Aria Orion includes Geo Wyeth (Novice Theory) on drums, accordion, and vocals. So to say I got my Geo on is an understatement. Aria Orion is a five-piece group of guitar, violin, stand-up bass, accordion, clarinet, drums, and percussion novelties such as Indian Cowbells and hand-held native skin drums. The dramatic dark stage lighting set the mood as Jules stood center stage dressed in a branch headdress in front of the ensemble. The music was an acoustic dream of eerie, ethereal, bold movements and spine-tingling combination of instruments. Jules's emotionally shaky high vocal range turns and twists within and mysteriously edges around the instrumentation. Opening with “When I Awake,” a trance developed. The folky classical guitar style and accordion softly began to interact as other instruments were slowly introduced. After some violin pluck, the full ensemble soared sonically into an acoustic feast. “Augur (Part 1)” began like a religious chant and segued into an experimental sound kaleidoscope. A vocal seduction, “One By One,” featured the awesome contrast of range by Jules and Geo singing / I am lucky to be here with you /. The short impressive set was an intriguing introduction to Aria Orion, leaving me wanting more.

Everyone left the stage except Jules, who was statuesquely poised playing Indian Cowbells. In the distance, Novice Theory entered the upper level with his guitar, singing / see me hanging on that yellow tree / walking towards the stage, he completes the song on the grand piano. Hearing Geo Wyeth perform is all in the details. In-between singing is huffs, grunts, and ticking that insinuate specific sounds. The piano chops were at an all-time high, infused with syncopated rhythms and classical offshoots intertwined with an improvisational attitude. Wyeth is transgender and biracial. While that has little to do with his incredible musicianship and performance acumen, it does factor into his songwriting process.

My hope is that a talent as bold and prodigious as his is not marginalized. Do I feel a commonality with the raw lyrics presented? Emphatically yes. We are all given a set of circumstances that we navigate the world with some are more challenging than others. The set was primarily new material mixed with a few performance staples and a Kate Bush cover song, “You Speak In Tongues.” The second song started with / maybe / maybe / maybe it’s the circus / that playfully coordinated piano styling and vocals like a round. A song about transformation formed a theme for everything that followed. An autobiographical dialogue of discontent addressed the schism of not feeling comfortable with birth-gender assignments. All pissed off, he extolled a litany of lyrics examining ages and stages, one example was / when I was eight, I wanted hair like Macaulay Culkin /. Novice Theory in the song strongly claims his racial identity. Pale skin is one biracial outcome that is a camouflage of deception and is hard to navigate in our society. / Black is my voice /black is my blood / we stay black /. A song for Harriett had curious inferences in lyrics. “Something Flat In Her Face” combined disconnected piano chords with the vocal phrasing of tic tic tic tic in-between. The encore was a negotiation of sorts and time constraints.

Geo pointed out that Joe’s Pub is serious, and they mean it when it’s time to go. So he gave us a choice “I can either play a Patty Griffith song on the piano or bring out the squeezebox.” The accordion was it and the night ended with “About a Dream,” a song that comes on strong and fades theatrically for emphasis. (Video About A Dream on Jools Holland) Glad I came out on this rainy Wednesday night. Driving home at moc speed, I listened to the stirring Aria Orion 35-minute EP Let the Sharp Stone Fly hot off the press. It had more clashing drum pounding than I expected. It knocked me out! Flickr Set!


O'death & Titus Andronicus Making Noise That Moves

I usually go to shows alone, but not this time. I ended up distracted and needed to pay more attention. Seeing three bands, knowing how exhausting o'death is, would be too much. I came to the incorrect conclusion that Wye Oak would be second on the bill, not first. I hadn’t heard of Titus Andronicus and now realize I’ll have to expand my regular reading list.  Titus Andronicus was a welcome pleasure. Not knowing anything about their music was a plus. It is such a great opportunity to hear a group for the first time without any preconceived notions. I like that. Beyond the noise and punk, there was an incredible nuance to their sound that rose above the revved-up amplification. It had order and structure with beautiful scales of lead guitars that could be heard above all the noise with wave-like variations.

While they sound raw and similar to the punk originators The Sex Pistols, they are more musically inclined. They manipulate instruments with the raging distortion sound, amplified at full tilt. This was witnessed throughout the set as all three guitarists had access to stationed platforms. There were also two keyboards, bass, and drums. Some songs have a balladry-type feel of The Pogues but are electrified. They also add beat-driven punk sing-along chants to the mix. Patrick Stickles's voice was unadorned, real, rough, and awesomely off-key. I just loved watching him. Lots of drama and strange moments, especially when he picks up a cold pizza and takes a few bites between verses.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what he would do with it. Some fans in the audience, thinking they were at an all-age show, started moshing to the chagrin of the rest of the crowd. The lights went on briefly to look for someone’s glasses. Don’t get me wrong, the crowd was engaged, including me! 

o'death ruled this night. I am always enamored by their ability to work up an audience but headlining at the Bowery Ballroom makes a difference. The sound system is just great, and the band was delighted and thrilled to be there. The audience at an o'death show is just awesome. There is unity and love that generates even among o'death virgins. And there were many. They immediately succumbed to the robust energy of the songs. The dancing is fascinating to watch and to take part in. Because the song structures are unusual, fans could dance to a waltz-like tempo and instantly break out into an uncontrollable frenzy of jumping, pumping, and head-banging. The smiles and nods among the crowd acknowledging a shared experience were a highlight for me. An artifact of the evening was a bra relinquished from an adoring fan that Jesse Newman gladly draped over the microphone. The hour-and-a-half set ended with a chant. David Rogers Berry jumped away from his drum set to the center of the stage, all instruments were abandoned, and the band member’s voices rose in unison. Suddenly Bob Pycior dove into the crowd of outstretched arms, willingly propping his sweaty body above the throngs of appreciative fans. That night music was experienced as a community, as it should be.


Peasant Daytrotter Sessions

Peasant (Damien Derose) has done the Daytrotter sessions. The recordings are pure and unadorned, like seeing him live alone with his guitar. Sean Moeller Daytrotter’s founder so adeptly described, “What becomes so beautifully clear in listening to Derose sing – in that clear mountain stream, weepy-voiced way of his – is that none of his characters and none of us are ever rid of any of the people that we’ve shared the dark or a kiss with.” Peasant's album On The Ground will have an official re-launch in late January to be distributed for exposure with the help of Team Love. This makes me happy for Peasant and those who long to hear the simplicity and beauty of songwriting with vocals that embrace the listener.

His music and voice have gotten under my skin since 2006, and I’ve written a lot about him. When I love something, I stick with it. I never waver. I never get bored. Damien’s voice is just one of those things. The effect was similar to how I felt when I first heard Conor Oberst eight years ago. While searching for Peasant, it is often difficult to find without typing his name Damien Derose. Hopefully, soon that will change.

Download Daytrotter Session

Go to peasant's myspace page for tour dates and be on the lookout for the upcoming WOXY session.

Record label Paper Garden Records


B3nson Recording Company; Thrifty Albany Music Collective

Site Scavenger Series B3nson Recording Company is a collective doing it independently. They remind me of the early years of Saddle Creek Records. Omaha & Albany have some similarities. And like the newer model Wham City that has taken shape in Baltimore.  The B3nson collective of musicians’ artists, and writers are friends with benefits. They benefit by living, working, and performing in Albany? Rather than moving to Brooklyn, they are staying put with a plan. Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, the largest outfit in the collective book, shows in the tri-state area about twice a month and regularly plays in Albany and upstate locations. Many bands pass through Albany, and Dunbar has opened for Rock Plaza Central, Deer Tick, and Avett Brothers. Staying put does have some benefits. They work as a collective recording, booking, video production, web design, flyers, and handmade merchandise. Their creative skills complement an aesthetic approach that is consistent with their ideals. Their music and artistic directions have a thrifty aesthetic representing a lifestyle of choice and necessity. Living cheaply and creatively from the outset makes choices about gas for touring, housing, instruments, food, and clothing a given. Sometimes the most interesting things to look at and hear are authentically represented and not commercially misrepresented. In tough times people who stick together help each other grow. The crews all have big hearts and can share a big tent. Their open spirit is represented candidly on the B3nson Blog, where members contribute articles about other musicians they meet. It is cool to read about music from a musician’s perspective. Take talent, commitment, focus, and the ability to say why not. This is a collective well on its way to contributing to the music culture while creating its own viable movement. Interview with Alex Muro of Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned conducted via email, in which he previewed a rough synopsis and answered the following curiosities. 

OCM What is the upside of forming and being a part of a collective?
AM I think the biggest upside is having so many great friends. Our house lately has become somewhat of a collective hang-out with the recent increase in B3nson activities, and its simply fun to have people around all the time, hanging out, playing music, making things, and playing Tetris. It's a great environment to conduct any sort of artistic activities. Beyond that there is the great advantage of talent and equipment sharing. We are lucky to have some really talented people in the collective who are good at all sorts of things from graphic design to recording and mastering to video editing, painting and all sorts of other stuff. The fact that we all enjoy hanging out together makes using those talents feel less like work and has allowed us to accomplish a great deal over the last month or so. 

OCM Were there any concerns? 
AM I don't think there were any general concerns about collectivizing as far as I know. We recently sort of "officially" added a bunch of new bands to the collective, like Beware! The Other Head of Science, Swamp Baby, and the Scientific Maps, but there was already all sorts of membership blurriness and good friendships going on that made the transition seem kind of obvious. 

OCM There seems to be a similar music sensibility between all the bands is forging a singular band identity a problem? 
AM There definitely is despite the fact that some our music sounds quite different with bands ranging in styles from laid back soundscapes to folk to synth-spazz rock and lots of other stuff going on. I think the similarity comes from the fact that most of us have similar-ish backgrounds and have been in bands for a long time and listen to some of the same music. In general I'm not really sure how come the B3nson aesthetic works as well as I think it does, but it's pretty cool. I think people are really going to enjoy the B3nson Family Funsgiving Compilation for that very reason, it fits together like an album way better than it’s supposed to. 

OCM Are there plans for a large group tour like booking all the bands or some on one bill outside of the Albany area? Is that feasible? 
AM There currently are not. I think that would be awesome and there is no group of people who I would rather spend an extended stay on the road with. Wham City has been doing something like that with Round Robin tour where they set up all the bands you listen around a big room each band plays a song and they go around in a circle the whole night. I think B3nson is still in much earlier stages than Wham City in that regard, we don't have any bands with national recognition like Dan Deacon or Beach House that can bring out the people to the shows that are needed to sustain so many musicians on the road. Give us a couple years though and we would really love to do something like that. 

OCM What does being in Albany offer the bands? 
AM The real answer is nothing, there is nothing in Albany that there isn't in any other city of similar size, we just sort of ended up here and the reason we are staying now is because we have made it a fun place to be. We are hoping that eventually b3nson and other currently growing facets of the Albany music scene make Albany a destination for new musicians but I definitely feel there is work to do before it really becomes attractive as a "music scene".

OCM Do you have other ambitions for the future? 
AM I know that the members of Sgt Dunbar all want to be professional musicians and we would love to be able to quit our day jobs. We are working on a new album for release next years, working with some friends of ours to help promote it and planning our route to SXSW in for March. B3nson Records will also be releasing the debut record from Barons in the Attic in January and following with an album from Pinguinos hopefully shortly afterwards. For now though our ambitions are mostly concentrated on putting on a killer release show tonight for our 10th release the B3nson Family Funsgiving Compilation. 

OCM Does working together build moral and help with a positive outlook for the future? 
AM Working together sure is fun. I personally am not so concentrated on the future beyond March 09. It just seems like we have so much stuff to do between now and then. Working together on our current projects though definitely makes for a more positive outlook because the stresses and concerns are shared among such a large group of people. 
OCM Were you asked to be a part of SXSW or are you going renegade and hitting the streets? 
AM We got invited To SXSW by way of some good luck. I was doing my daily blog reading during CMJ and there was post on Idolater about unknown bands at CMJ and I commented about my feelings on the subject. It must have been a good comment because someone from SXSW saw it and invited us to the festival. We are really psyched to know so early that we've been accepted it would have been much more difficult decision to make if we had found out on Feb 1. It allows us enough time to plan a really good tour. We will certainly be hitting the streets like renegades once we get there though.
Pocket Concert Series featuring bands in the B3nson Collective.
Sgt. Dunbar and The Hobo Banned “The Weight”, filmed in an open field.
Swamp Baby “Lavender” Nick Matulis is joined by Jen O'Connor, Donna Baird, and Frances Quinlan (Hop Along, Queen Ansleis)
B3nson is: Barons In the Attic Beware! The Other Head of Science Blood Desperately Obvious Pingüinos Littlefoot Scientific Maps Sgt Dunbar & the Hobo Banned Stacey Gets Drunk Swamp Baby The Hoborchestra We are Jeneric


Deer Tick, The Felice Brothers; Spiegleworld

Deer Tick won over the mostly Felice Brothers crowd with the first song. You would never think the assembled crowd wasn’t 100% behind them. I loved their CD War Elephant, which displays John McCauley’s incredible gift for songwriting and melody. It has been re-released on a new label. But seeing is believing, and Deer Tick delivers just as much and more live. Deer Tick musicianship is evident. They rocked strong and tight at Spiegleworld. John McCauley’s gritty, raw vocals contrasted with the clear, almost pristine musicianship. A polished rawness was the result, a weird but unexpected dichotomy. This band can shuffle it up acoustically, sing classic-style country tales and tear it up with rock n roll.
Deer Tick’s outstanding lead guitarist Andre Tobiassen, was unleashed at many points during the set. John also has great guitar skills. Chris Ryan on electric / double bass and Dennis Ryan on drums were the perfect accompaniment. Starting strong with “Ashamed” / what a crying shame / what we became /. John McCauley put his metal fingers to string on acoustic guitar and did nice shuffle drumming during “Art isn’t Real (City of Sin).” A killer song and heartfelt lament was “Song about a Man” / tugging at your lips to make you frown / that integrated harmonica and stand up with a bow. For “Little White Lies,” John abandoned his acoustic for a baby blue electric. Baltimore Blues # 1 lead guitar was amazing. Their 10-song set concluded with a fancy 50’s classic and an encore cover of La Bomba. Standing up front next to me were two enthusiastic, newly initiated fans. They were so smitten they asked Dennis Ryan for a drumstick souvenir, and he obliged.
I'm looking forward to a headlining Gig!

The Felice Brothers can wow. 19 songs and counting and counting. They feed off of each other and the audience. Their crazy, rambunctious, loose, sloppy barn stomp combining the guitar, bass, fiddle, accordion, washboard, and drums is unforgettable. The Felice Brothers are in constant motion and rotation. So their show is equally interesting to hear as it is to watch. There were tender moments as well, staged to provoke interest. Especially strong was James Felice on accordion singing “Mary Don’t You Cry” and “Ruby Mae” with the earthy, rough vocal of Ian Felice. Frankie’s Gun was a crowd-pleaser. They introduced two new songs from their upcoming March release. Run Chicken Run was great, and the accordion intro to Coney Island song / here comes the rain pounding on Coney Island /. Song 19 was the best audience participation chant directed by Simone Felice. He was perched on top of his drum kit, directing the crowd, saying, “You must repeat dying people, watch for the signal.” Longest encore... This was exciting. The band's staging area extended to the ledge where our coats and drinks were propped. Things revved up considerably when Deer Tick joined them for what I thought was a grand finale. Little did I know that the Felice batteries just don’t die. I put my camera and notes away, and they played an additional 45 minutes of unbridled music. Seeing The Felice Brothers is like having a hangover without even partaking in one drink. But I was drunk with excess and woke up in a haze singing I put some whiskey into my whiskey. Can’t get this shit out of my head. Flickr Set Spiegleworld


Jamie Lidell; Crackerfarm / Volcanic Productions Public Assembly

Jamie Lidell
A Little Bit of Feel good goes a long Way! When I was sixteen, I must have listened to Otis Redding for an entire year. I still love really good soul music. Jamie Lidell, as DJ, can move a crowd. Bring that up 100 notches when he takes the mic. His music and vibe are contagious and something to catch. Diagnosis: flushed face, sore feet, revitalized soulful spirit, happy. 

The Crackerfarm photography duo and Volcanic Productions presented Partyfarm for friends, associates, and passersby, with DJ Bonehawk, guest DJ Jamie Lidell, and Vinyl Life closing the festivities. This was not a typical dance crowd, but slowly, they got their dance on during Bonehawk's set. By the time Lidell came on, they totally let down their guard. 

Take a little bit of Al Green, Otis Redding, Prince, and some Stevie Wonder and infuse Max/MSP digital tools, and that is Jamie Lidell. The man knows how to use his tools. As a one-man band, he moves the genre of soul forward. His vocal styling can elevate, reaching the peak of exuberance in body and soul with auxiliary percussion. His timing is impeccable, and can sing and strut with attitude. His vibe is friendly-cool with a loving desire to spread his feel-good around. 

By Midnight I had to make my exit but lingered a bit longer by the bar to catch the awesome close of Lidell's set. Unfortunately, I missed Vinyl Life, who always draws a big crowd at Public Assembly.  

The Crackerfarm team is headed to document Jamie’s European tour supporting Elton John for the next month. Wow, it is perfect when talented people find each other. Just look at the videos down under! Also, check out Jamie's NEW ALBUM 'JIM'
"A Little bit of "Feel Good" filmed by Crackerfarm

Jamie Lidell and Kevin Blechdom sing "Relieving Our Power" filmed by Crackerfarm


Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band; Terminal 5

Bad photo just to prove how hard it was to get a shot.

Terminal 5, whoops, I mean Terminal Hell. I will never go back. I only went because for the last 8 years, I’ve seen Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) at every venue in the tri-state area. This is a long Obsession that won’t quit. I endured and tried to keep a positive outlook, and I’m glad I did. Having wandered around the event to find somewhere within viewing range for Ben Kweller's upbeat and engaging performance of countrified pop was close to impossible. His fans were vast and even with the two-story balcony, I didn’t find one slight opening to fully appreciate the music. 

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band set started similarly. I stood by the WFUV Tables and had a side view for the first half of the set. Speaking of die-hard fans, standing next to me was a pregnant woman with her mate, lovingly hanging on to every word. I laughed and got such a kick out of watching Conor dance and lead the band in a new and out-there sort of way. Doing moves that seemed so unlike him. He sang and added sign language to outline certain lyrics in a pop-rap fashion. It was a hoot. I find it endearing after seeing so many shows with him literally shaking with fear. I still love those special shows and hold them dearly in memory. A very comfortable and very much in command Conor emerged. Maybe it was the hat. That always helps. It gave confidence to the new and unfamiliar persona of Conor Obeast.  

The band was tight and explosive. Most of their sound is countryesque mixed with a solid rock and roll spirit, guitar leads, and bluesy piano riffs. The sound was loud and emphasized the muscle of the music but too loud to appreciate the nuance. “Moab” shined, showing off the great melding of vocals. They played quite a few new tunes. A very strong new song, "Ten Women," highlighted Conor’s gift for writing. He ended the set with “Milk Thistle” and returned with a strong four-song encore, including one with Ben Kweller. “I Don’t Want To Die In The Hospital” was spectacular. They ended on an experimental new song, "Breezy" that spoke volumes about future endeavors. It had atmosphere and strange distant scratchy sounds of what I thought was metal on guitar. Better Photos from Prefix

o'death: Broken Hymns Limbs and Skin review!

If music was a hard-on, then o'death's new release, Broken Hymns, Limbs, and Skin, is it. This is not a casual listen but a hard one. Listener Profile: Risk Taker The exhilaration and exhaustion that succumbs to experiencing o'death live is well known. The instruments, vocals, and power penetrate straight away. Their mix of punk, metal, and roots with Americana corner originality. Influences that morph, not mimic. On Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin production tricks are not apparent. With the help of Alex Newport, they have captured the gestalt of their live sound and more. 

This recording highlights the robust sound of muscular instrumentation, stellar song structure, and composition, evoking a rollicking acoustic symphony. Every track is constructed with contrasting movements: mock speed, measured nuance, and scaffolding volume. I’ve always had an affinity for string instruments. Bob Pycior plays the fiddle like a lead guitar creating riffs that jolt and intone. The characteristic sappy sound of the fiddle can’t be found here, and good riddance. Greg Jamie’s vocals evoke a subtle swell, rise to a nasal pitch, and segue into guttural channeling that inspires his voice of distinction. Gabe Darling’s awesome vocal accompaniment, ukulele, and banjo playing are staples of the music. The foundational force of o'death's masculine sound is fueled by Jessie Newman’s beefy bass accents and David Rogers Berry’s psycho-punk drum auxiliary of chains, cymbals, and gas tanks. He rears them in with unbridled force. 
It is difficult not to highlight all the songs on this release because the penned words and striking music is alive with death. The intensity of “Fire on Peshitgo” about a historical lake fire where many died, sets the context for the remaining songs dedicated to an individual, Eliza. Her short life ended abruptly but is celebrated and mourned. / and robbing life of dignity / to every desperate end / alone / breathless air / lake on fire / land too /. The lamenting slow tribute “Angeline” is breathtaking in its beauty and honesty / the leaves have turned / your ways have burned / your naked flesh against the sun /. The concluding full-bodied chorus / Angeline / Angeline / all your friends on their hands and knees / tired of your tragedies / is like a joyous funeral music procession. The first track “Lowtide” starts with the ukulele plucking and continues to build in volume with the fiddle strong-arm enunciation. As the drums crash and burn, the vocals rise in pitch, and pathos ends on a pluck. / I plant the face in water / I held her broken feet / I taught the wave that caught her / now she is yours to keep / hang the hardship baby / we go to sleep and then we die/ is the choral interlude of “Grey Sun” and cries out like a folk epic with words that kill, literally. Greg Jamie’s Neil Young-like vocal and Darling’s harmonies are highlighted in “Home,” which slowly begins with the chorus of / home / home / the air I breath / and is broken up by a fiddle interlude scaffolds to a full orchestration emphasizing the urgent chorus. Greg Jamie’s vocal flurry is in nasal overdrive on “Legs to Sin” and catapults into a screaming metal-head. “Mountain Shifts” polka beat lends to the muscular masculine all-band chant that increases with a breathless pace in this experimental song arrangement. / Her hair lays violent / dead in the stream / I hope that she’s peaceful / wherever her body may be /. Bridging the fast to slow sounds of contrast that are brutal “Vacant Moan” combines slow fiddle interludes and chains-hitting cymbals. / I plant my feet / I left the ground / I sought the wind too / I fought this out /. Then adds the most intense fast rant chorus gone haywire. All my / all my / all my own / could have grasped a vacant moan / then the lush of violence / crushed the pride of naked wind / dance the dance of broken veins / by the hand of all attained / left before you all the same / broken from the start /. “Crawl Through Snow” has a rock opera structure, then it softly enters into a divine passage / and on that foggy night / the trees fired up / and grew endless / I held the beast at bay / grew tired / from the light fading /.... ending with an impressive finale of the full orchestration. With Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin, o'death has moved the music culture forward, displaying their capacity to experiment with what is and evolve into what isn’t. In contrast to death, o'death's music is alive. It breathes and celebrates the importance of living and feeling everything fully. 

Side Note: Jimmy Joe Roche's Packaging design is top-notch. Collage and handwritten lyrics are placed on pages in the likeness of an authentic artist's journal with pasted artifacts, scribbling, and photographs. Starting off organized and evolving into a living document. o'death website and blog!! Myspace