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


o'death MHOW CD Realease Show

Nothing can compare to the exhilaration and exhaustion during an o’death show. Seriously, I had blisters on my feet from jumping up and down and at one point was thankful that the guard was trained in CPR. The sound was loud and eruptive. o'death played most of their new release Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin, along with some old favorites like “Only Daughter” From Head Home. The familiar drew an insane bump in the pleasure factor, but the new material weighed in heavily, less rhythmic but more muscular. o’death’s original mix of roots / punk / metal transmits energy with a velocity that can rival any strong-armed metal band, but they do it acoustically. Fans of o’death are there for the music exclusively. They are listening and responding with kinetic movements to every bold crash of a cymbal or electric slashing of the fiddle.
Nothing drew more interestingly erratic movement than the polka-like eccentric time changes in the song “Mountain Shifts.” “Vacant Moon” drove the crowd to new heights with an uncontainable burst of acceleration, the slow moments lending to a needed recovery. There were tender and solemn moments when they sang the beautiful but beefy “Grey Sun” and the lovely harmonic “Angeline.” By the night close, the crowd broke out in a wave of frenzy. Each person claimed a wider and more open space, not holding back another minute, while others less risky had to accommodate. I’m always up front next to the stage. So it was fun sharing that time with o’death’s slew of friends. Meagan of the “Yeah Bob” contingent was on my right, and the affable Jessica was on my left. GPphoto passed me his card as I willingly gave up my spot for art. He got a great shot. 

Openers Hoots and Hellmouth did a short set. I enjoyed their set more at the Mercury Lounge, where the sound system showed off their acoustic instrumentation and soulful gospelesque vocals coordinated with a foot-stomp wooden platform. I was told that they really let go on their home turf in Philly by one of their most beautiful and adoring fans Kim.

Below is a video by Krolick Production of the following night at Johnny Brenda’s with o’death.

PitchFork TV, "Low Tide"

Flickr Set o'death Flickr Set Hoots and Hellmouth


Novice Theory Getting UK Love

Novice Theory accordian center stage

I met Geo Wyeth (Novice Theory) at a party and was impressed by his intelligence and articulate description of his music that I made it a point to go to the Trash Bar in Brooklyn to see him. I was overwhelmed and moved and wrote a review entitled "Novice Theory Extraordinary Emerging Talent." I believe that was his first review. A few months later, he did a headlining sold-out show at Joe’s Pub, and I wrote this review, "Novice Theory, The Magic of Delivery." Here in the states, we don’t have DJs on the radio with their fingers on the pulse of the music. We have barometers of taste at Public Radio, emerging Internet sites like Daytrotter, and many dedicated Bloggers giving great music exposure regardless of label status. No nationally televised outlets like Later With Jools Holland are devoted to creating a well-produced segment for the newcomer. I’ll never forget Willy Mason's debut. And now, this incredible debut of Novice Theory. All the musicians I have featured have been very well-received in the UK. The most ravenous example is Willy Mason. Langhorne Slim and o’death have been well received as well. I am grateful to those fans and say thank you.

At Obsession Collection Music, we have written about many under-the-radar artists. What has been satisfying is witnessing their exposure spread around. Novice Theory’s talent is ready for exposure. Here are a few of Obsession Collection Music's most recent UK connections. Drink Up Buttercup 7" Single coming 11.10.08 on Make Mine. Another cool connection is Peasant, whose song “Raise Today” was featured in the TV show “Bones" (premier UK episode). I'm proud of this association with UK native Alex Newport, engineer extraordinaire. read.


CMJ Day 2 Seriously Happy

Ear Farm @ Pianos; Drink Up Buttercup, Project Jenny Project Jan After The Jump Fest @ The Knitting Factory (Old Office); The Beets, The Lisps I only had one day. I played hooky from my full-time for some Bloggers presented CMJ. My day started with Earfarm’s Matt and Mike (my inspiration) at Piano’s and ended at After the Jump Fest at The Knitting Factory. The Music Slut’s Matt and Jennifer we’re one of the many Blogger coordinators for this event, they are sweet and dedicated to music. Photographer Maryanne Ventrice was awesome to hang with.

Drink up Buttercup

Being the first New York Blogger to write about Drink Up Buttercup back in May of 07 and many times since has been a joy. It never ceases to amaze me the power and exuberance this band projects. Drink Up Buttercup is the zany jolting sound of crashing garbage cans, infiltrated with out-of-kilter skating rink organ, muffled guitar, brutal bass, pounding polka drums, and killer dead-on harmonies. Their sound of infectious delight drew instant smiles from the crowd of new listeners at Piano’s. Their short set consisted of many favorites, but the evolved version of “Farewell Captain” is a succinct intense punk-like rockabilly infused with a madcap circus-like keyboard. When it slows down, James Harvey’s operatic vocals astonish. Stage exploits are a given at any Drink Up show. Watching Ben Money banging a small red metal garbage can and abandoning it in mid-air as he seamlessly switched to bass and continued to move around the stage is exilerating. Listening to Frazad Houshiarnejad sing perfect harmonies while banging a giant metal trashcan with a maraca is admirable. Mike Cammarata will do anything for percussion, including positioning a tambourine between his teeth. An unintended mishap was James Harvey had to trade in his muffled acoustic for a baby blue electric. It was pretty! The set ended off stage with an acoustic stomp along with “The Lovers Play Dead.” What do they possess that other bands don’t? As audacious as their shows are, the band members are unassuming and unpretentious. They are happy to perform and welcoming. That enthusiasm translates. Drink Up Buttercup is a conglomeration of everything right with music.

Project Jenny Project Jan @ Piano’s

Project Jenny Project Jan was a treat to behold. Jeremy Haines (vocalist) is joined on stage with Sammy Rubin (programmer/keyboardist). Rubin’s feverish dance grooves are combined with Haines's extraordinary mock-speed rap. In front of a backdrop of video graphic editing, Jeremy includes every cliché dance move a geek dressed in a white suit, and black tie could conjure. Much like a Saturday Night Live skit, except this is not a joke, the talent is undeniable. Behind the digital setup, Sammy would smile and occasionally do an arm wave, creating a comedic contrast to Jeremy's intense kinetic performance. It was a rip and a roar of an art performance, full of sweat and energy. Hysterically, Karaoke gone Real. I loved them!

The Beets

The Old Office of the Knitting Factory was the appropriate setting to hear the beat-up sound of The Beets. The trio Juan Wauters (guitar), Jose Garcia (bass), and Jacob Warstler (two kick drums) all share vocals. They sound like a muted garage band with speakers at full throttle. Their vocal harmonies are barely audible but create an intentional direction of distinction. Something about it sounded like sloppy fun pop with a low-fi twist. Kind of like, The Monkees through a liquidizer. The Beets sound aesthetic has endearing qualities. Also, they had the best metal merch lunch box for their CDs and tapes.

The Lisps
My evening ended with The Lisps. The foursome creates quirky cabaret folk-art-rock whose vaudevillian staging augments their stellar sound. They combine great vocal arrangements with off-center instrumentation. The guitar, bass, and drums are combined with snippets of melodica and spiced with eccentric percussion accents like the banging of a soft mallet on a metal cabinet or hammer on a drum kit. The vocal synergy of the two main vocalists has a dynamic juxtaposition of pitch and style. Cesar Alvarez and Sammy Tunis sing/talk in a wordy patter in sync with precision and ease.

Center stage is the lovely star-lit Sammy. Her voice has Broadway-like clarity peppered with avant-garde finesse and a twangy bent. A little like Jenny Lewis meets cabaret. Cesar, her vocal counterpart voice is awesomely low in contrast. They present topical and contemporary savvy lyrics as editorial black comedy.  
The vaudevillian panache is highlighted with low-fi costume changes. Cesar and Jeremy Hoevanaar (bass) switched glasses and goggles between songs. They had a costume theme of sorts. Caesar wore a NASA suit, and Sammy a onesie (pants suit). A funny moment took place when Jeremy announced he was making a costume change advertisement. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt to reveal Drink Up Buttercup’s new brightly colored Tee shirt. The drummer Eric Farber was certainly part of the comic flair. I loved when he bounced on his cushiony drum seat, flying up in the air, looking like an oversized baby in a bouncy seat. His facial expressions were priceless throughout the set. He also weighed in on song selection, illuminating that this group is collaborative. The Old Office never sounded better! The Lisps music won me over, but their personal approach killed me. It was so inclusive. If they were a club, I’d sign up immediately. By the evening's end, my smile o-meter had risen off the charts.

Maryanne Ventrice Drink Up Buttercup Video / early date

flicker set


o'death "Home" Crackerfarm Video

Another acoustic beach entry from o'death. O’death and Crackerfarm do it again. Straight forward in Black and White on the beach. An acoustic version of the glorious “Home” from Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin to be released in the US October 28th on Kemado Records. Doing this Blog has given me the opportunity to bring great people together and sometimes move the music culture forward. Greg Jamie of o'death did an interview where I was mentioned. I am proud of this! Read interview at Static Multimedia.


Jeffrey Lewis Obama Tribute!

The Blending of music, art, and now politics. Enjoy this "Quick Biography of Barack Obama by Jeffrey Lewis. Thank You, Mr. Lewis, for lending your art and music to this effort. Please Vote Everyone!


Avett Brothers "Murder In The City" Video

This is just too good not to share! Another Crackerfarm entry.



Sgt. Dunbar and The Hobo Banned; review

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned 2007 self-released The Thing About Time is a passionate collection of brass-centric gypsy folk rock featuring a community of spirited voices and an array of instruments that sound like weathered antiques given new life.  This band of nine multi-instrumentalists and counting play the guitar, accordion, trumpet, trombone, flugelhorn, French horn, mandolin, saxophone, violin, ukulele, singing saws, banjo, bass, typewriter. The phenomenal found object percussion of hot water pipes, stainless steel chairs, squeaky glass pot top, and coffee mugs imaginatively enhance the festive atmosphere. The songs fluctuate between intentionally sloppy melding of instruments and cohesive mixing, two distinct but agreeable directions. The large band sound is reminiscent of Bright Eyes touring band during Lifted. It has that kind of a charming mess and endearing qualities. It also reveals the admiration of The Neutral Milk Hotel. Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned is a lyrically smart outfit. The word Banned is cleverly chosen to highlight their culturally rebellious point of view. They weigh in on philosophical issues of life and time. Refreshingly nuanced is the term Wake Up which is repeated in several songs, affirming a commitment to staying awake and being aware. 

The first offering“Passing Time,” starts with a rumbling of guitar strumming, accordion, horns, and Alex Muro’s nasal fervent vocals that plea wake up. / I hear the sound months make when they disappear / gone into air, and only clues remain / that they were ever here / leaf floats freely down and turns into ground /. The full force of the orchestra is revved up as Wake Up, Wake Up is emphasized and harnessed between verses leading to an awesome prolonged lullaby chant, “Dave’s Song,” in the vein of “Hey Jude”. / Wake up / wake up / you can’t sleep all day / you can’t sleep all day/ the sun is out calling your name / the sun is out calling your name /. “Don’t Fall Asleep” is an appeal to those that have given up hope. / Dear little girl / I feel that your sadness is quite profound / chasing you around your mind / no place to hide / is dragging you down /. This song builds in volume and intensity, employing the singing saw to weep and the full chorus to implore / please don’t fall asleep / when you wake the world is a dream /. The song “The Weight” has a plucky bounce using the ukulele, guitar strum, and singing saw to launch a weighty message / some people's shame could fill up the ocean, some people's sadness can block all the sky/ some people's guilt could pave every highway, and some peoples fears makes many men die…then the reaffirming chorus / oh how heavy this gritty grating life / that the world is on / oh how silly is all you strain and strife / build a world so real and strong. “Realism Is The Purest Form of Art” features banjo, lazy horns, and clashing symbols with a pitter-patter beat. While "Telescope" is slower and examines how far you need to look away when love is untrue. / Do you believe in karma / does she believe in you / but what if I told you / that she wasn’t true? / Oh, what would you do? / Both songs exhibit Muro’s vocal range that strains higher to reach sighs of emotion. The under-belly of the beast is urgently felt in the stalwart rants on “Communist Father” with vocal force and added experimental accents that mimic the uncertain future. / Under the brightly blemished blanket of the night / an arrogant anthill with life / while weeping cities shed tears of light / into the unknown vastness of the universe / Sgt. Dumbo and the Hobo Banned recorded The Thing About Time in the living room and basement. 

This homegrown undertaking amplifies the community spirit they embrace and has enabled them to create ambitious and worthy music! B3nson Records CMJ Pete's Candy Store October 21, Brooklyn NY


Drink Up Buttercup; Talent Abounds

Drink Up Buttercup @ Cake Shop

No secret, I fucking love this group. My first impression back in May of 07 has not wavered. They are young, fresh, talented, and eager to venture into all creative realms. I like that they are true to themselves with a creative vision for their future. The unbridled energy they bring to the stage extends to other projects. They are in charge! Below is a music video for their UK single “Mr. Pie Eyes,” directed by Virgil F. Cardamone, which is a crazy comic book kidnapping heist and slapstick Russian roulette splashed with graphic zing.

"Mr. Pie Eyes"

I’ve been following two of their member’s videos and side projects. I’m hooked on Farzad’s (Captain Dum Dum) campy pop video called “Fever." Mike Cammarata, Drinkup’s youngest member is quite the thespian. His side project Yemen is a team effort partnered with Yoski Arocki is crazy as it gets. "Broccoli" Video.

Go to Drink Up Buttercup's MySpace site to hear the brand new “Young Ladies” track off LP recorded at American Diamond Recording.