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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

4 Song Review: Your Favorite Assassin

(Official Page)
I first saw Your Favorite Assassin a few years ago at the Billiard Club. Later, I saw them play an opening slot at Cafe Bourbon Street. At the Billiard Club, they played a fine cover of Peaches' "Fuck the Pain Away." I honestly don't remember any of the songs they played at Cafe Bourbon Street, but I remember thinking that they had a more dynamic stage presence there than at the Billiard Club. Their live show is fast paced and pretty exciting. A lot of that has to do with their Frontwoman, known as the DBK. Their Myspace page lists their impressive influences (Notables: Bad Brains, the Dwarves, X, New Bomb Turks, Brainiac). They have a couple singles recorded and 1 full length album and an EP out now, with another full length due out this fall. I recommend checking them out if you can catch a live show.

This song is fast and furious. DBK's vocals are loud and fuzzy (both are good things) and backed by... well I'm not entirely sure, but I'll assume it is Mike the guitarist. Heavy guitars and drums through the whole song. The chorus sees the female lead wailing like a banshee with the male back-up singing behind her. I'm not a fan of that style (it seems too close to Linkin Park rap-rock to me), personally, I would rather just hear the chick scream. Bass is drowned out, which is unfortunate, but you honestly won't miss it. A fast dirty track, I could listen to this a few times in a row. In fact, I just did.

Deeper the Wounds
A slower, acoustic song. Not indicative of their other work. This song is has elements of the aforementioned 'X' in it. Unfortunately, it is kind of generic. The subject matter of the lyrics is nothing new. Everything you know is a lie, everyone you know will betray you, yadda yadda yadda. However, the recording is crisp and clear. I can see this song being a favorite for disaffected teenagers who have yet to come to grips with the fact that life sucks.

Like a Saint
This song reminds me of the glory days of 80's metal. I'm sure my metal purist friends may disagree, but the vocals and breakdowns just have a badass-ness that I can't quite put my finger on. Probably the singing. You don't hear too much actual singing in heavy songs anymore. It's either raspy screaming or dog-fart grunting. The bass is loud and clear, and the guitar compliments the singing. Good stuff. Like if DRI teamed up with Lita Ford.

Blood Oranges
The singing at the beginning of this song is ok, but what really caught me is when her voice got quiet about 20 seconds in. The transition from upper-register to the low, near whisper was very much like Jucifer (who are bad ass btw). This song seems like it was recorded as an experiment in using different vocal effects. FX aside, Blood Oranges shows the range of the singer and along with Like a Saint, really shows how powerful her voice can be.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

4 Song Review: Verner Caliper

Veteran Columbus rockers Verner Caliper seem to be a local enigma; they've been playing together for over 13 years and have yet to produce a full length album. They are also producing some of the most original rock songs that you (yes, YOU) have recently heard. Several of their songs are posted on their website, but to get a true sense of their sound, you must see their live show.


The recorded version of this song found on their site is a few years old. It is charming at times, but tends to drag on a bit. The current version of the song however, is something to behold. This song reminds me of an old steam engine. It starts with a slight jolt and quickly finds its chugging rhythm, pounding steadily down the track. The older version of the song arrives safely at the next station, but in its current incarnation, the train loses control and settles into a barreling rampage. It does eventually reach the station, but the passengers are shaking and the conductor is drunk.


This song is still one of VC's staples even after 10 years. It begins soft and sensitive with a chiming, almost hypnotic guitar riff. The drums and bass join in and soon we are on a march to musical freedom, at least until the chorus rips our heads off. The maturity of this song is impressive, especially having been written in high school.

Cut and Dried

This catchy, fun little ditty will have you tapping a foot and maybe bobbing a head. Its high energy, feel-good rebelliousness, and 2 minute length will leave you wanting more.

In Response

While not technically a "new" song, this song is "newer" in terms of the Verner Caliper timeline. The opening electric riff is accompanied by a twelve string acoustic which combine for a haunting effect. If I had to compare this song to any other band it would probably be Rush, simply because of the complexity of the material, the timing changes, and the chops to pull it off. Songs like this just aren't made very often.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Concert Review: Here Comes Your Weekend Parking Lot Blowout III

Surly Girl Saloon/Goody Boy Parking Lot, June 5 2008
Surly Girl (myspace), (Official Website)
Columbus Music Co-op (Myspace)

Here Comes Your Weekend Parking Lot Blowout is an annual concert/mini-festival sponsored by the Betty's-family restaraunt group, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and the Columbus Music Co-op. It is Free Admission, goes from 3 - Midnight, and had 11 bands play this year.

A great idea, run by great people.

I did have a problem with the concert as the sound up front was pretty terrible. The vocals were coming out of speakers positioned about 10 feet in front of the stage, which means they were behind all the people in front of the stage. What this means in layman's terms is that if you wanted to actually be able to see a band play, you weren't able to hear the vocals.

Here is this years line up, from first to last (with nifty descriptions and links!):
The Kyle Sowashes (link) (another link): too early for me.

Bush League All-Stars (link): I've wanted to see 'em for a while, but didn't get there in time.

Vegetative State (link): They were finishing their last song as I was walking up. I wish I could have seen them, as I like their sense of humor and flashy ways. They describe their sound as "Shitt Christian homocore."

Church of the Red Museum (link): I'll be honest, they weren't as impressive as I had been led to believe. With the exception of the girl with the horn and violin, they were all very trendy and d-baggy. Sorry Tom Butler, but you seem cooler on the radio. Musically, I think there is simply too much going on. They're trying to go in every direction at once. Also, something else that bothered me is that everyone; guitars, bass, horn, violin, drums, electric piano, all played on the same beat. Hmm... maybe I didn't phrase that properly. Every instrument played a note at the same time as every other instrument. There was very little overlapping sound. It might seem like a minor point, but it makes the music sound choppy. Perhaps that was the intention, but I didn't care for it.

Lara Yazvac: Didn't see her as I went to the Surly Girl for some shade and a place to sit. Ms. Yazvac is the singer for the Tough and Lovely. It would have been interesting to see what she did on her own without the rest of the band. You can listen to the Tough and Lovely here, as Lara doesn't seem to have her own web site.

Brainbow (link) (another link): What hasn't already been said about Brainbow by better critics than I? They were incredible, which is pretty neat-o for an instrumental band that looks like Vikings who have been on vacation too long. They sounded great, they held the crowd in the palm of their hands. I really wish I saw them play with Blueprint.

Fly Union (link): This was one of the worst rap groups I've ever seen or heard. Unimaginative, derivative, unoriginal, boring. At one point their DJ simply slid in an M.I.A. CD and hit play. I swear to god I am not making that up. The organizers would have been better off resurrecting the Columbus Mob's carcass and putting them on stage. Columbus Alive should be seriously questioning why they put these guys on their "Bands to Watch" list.

Great Plains: Ron House's newest (actually, oldest) endeavor. Great Plains was House's band before the Slave Apartments, back in the '80s. Before watching (and enjoying) Great Plains play, I hadn't noticed just how much an influence Keith Morris (of Black Flag) had on old Ron. Which is both odd and sad on my part, as I've seen Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments more than a couple times and love early Black Flag. Meh, shit happens I suppose. Anyway, for looking like he's 100 years old, the Old Man still has more fire in his left pinky finger than most front men have in their entire bodies.

El Jesus de Magico (link): El Jesus de Magico... I'm not sure what to say. Darlings of the Columbus music press and, El Jesus de Magico sounds ridiculously good. Although the singing tends to sound like someone yelling unintelligible gibberish. All the members of the band are fun to watch; interestingly enough, the singer/frontman is probably the least fun to watch. Although I did like how he timed his thrashing with the cymbals. Also, i KNOW I've seen the young lady who plays bass somewhere else. Is she in another band?

Times New Viking (link): Ok, I suck. This is one of those bands whom I've been meaning to see for years and just never got around to it. Now they are blowing up and this was their last show in Columbus before going on tour all over the place. Fuck. Oh, and of course I missed seeing them again this time.

Deadsea (link) (another link): I vow, right here right now, that I will see both Times New Viking and Deadsea before I die. And as a side-vow I pledge to be sober enough to remember seeing them!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Concert Review: Fly Union

Surly Girl Saloon's Weekend Parking Lot Blowout III, July 5 2008
Fly Union (myspace)

Recently, a friend of mine asked me why I don't review Columbus Hip Hop. The reason I gave was my unfamiliarity with the scene. At that point, I had not yet heard Fly Union.

My first exposure to Fly Union was at Surly Girl Saloon's 3rd annual Weekend Parking Lot Blowout. My second exposure is listening to their music as I write this.

To be as blunt as possible, Fly Union represents virtually everything I despise about modern Hip Hop. Shout outs, commercialization, uninspiring lyrics and beats, derivative sound, shameless and pointless sampling. the list goes on and on.

Seeing them live, I was less than impressed. They wasted more than half of their 40 minute set by instructing the crowd to "put your hands up," and "When I say fly, you say U." That's actually a pretty conservative estimate. I think I only heard about 5 minutes total of actual rapping. Four guys on stage and NONE of them rap?

Am I at a Mim's show?

At one point towards the end of their set, during yet another call for the crowd to throw their hands up, the DJ played the opening riff from The Clash's "Straight to Hell." I thought, "how many rappers are going to sample this song now? It must be the new 'hot' track to sample." But no, they weren't sampling The Clash, they were sampling M.I.A. In fact, they weren't even sampling, as the DJ simply played the fucking M.I.A. song! As in, he popped in the CD, and hit 'Play'.

Listening to their tracks on Myspace, I'm still not impressed. It seems that all they are trying to do is sound like every other mainstream, commercial rapper on heavy rotation on Mtv or BET. Listen to just one of their songs, and you will be saying to yourself, "Gee, this sounds like [insert lame rapper's name] with [insert lame DJ/producer's name]."

Originality is NOT a bad thing. To me, Fly Union is the rap equivalent of all the lame-ass rock bands that try (and unfortunately succeed) to sound like Chavelle and Jack's Mannequin; a fucking travesty.

I wouldn't mind having someone volunteer to write Hip Hop reviews for me, as I have no time to add more concerts to my calendar. But please God, PLEASE, don't make me listen to this derivative, pointless shit again.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Concert Review: Darynyck

Ruby Tuesday, June 26 2008
(Official Website)
Darynyck was playing with the Fancy Lads at Ruby Tuesday. Two bands I haven't previously seen live (but I have wanted to for a while) and a venue I like. So of course, I had to go.

I was sitting on the patio cooling off when my head started bobbing reflexively to some half heard music coming from inside. The sound was very poppy and joyful. I thought it was the Fancy Lads, as I thought they were first up. I went inside, and lo and behold! It was Darynyck pouring forth the joy!

This being the first time I've seen Darynyck live, I wasn't sure what to expect. How could two guys perform the rich tones and sounds I've heard on recordings in a live concert? Ok, the only recordings I've heard have been on their Myspace site and their official band website. And we all (should) know by now how sucky Myspace's compression is, combined with MP3 'quality' sound. But those MP3 Myspace recordings sound good. However, I reviewed 4 of their songs already so back to the show.

The stage lights were bright at Ruby Tuesday. So bright that the band had to ask the people in charge to turn 'em down. From an audience standpoint, one of the things I like about Ruby Tuesday's is that the stage is lit up while the audience area is dark. Think about it, how many other places around town are actually like that? A lit up stage and purposely darkened audience area? no strobes or disco balls? It's like being in a theater.

Like other bands I've seen and liked (foid, for example), Daryn and Nyck exchanged instruments for different parts of the set. This exchange didn't slow the pace of the show or ruin the mood either. That's a pretty good feat to pull off.

At one point, Nyck (I'm pretty sure it was Nyck, if I'm mistaken, I apologize) played a cornet while drumming. Literally. Now, it wasn't like he was blasting out some Louis Armstrong while beating out some Neil Peart drums, but the fact that he kept a beat with the drum AND played a cornet at the same time impressed both me and my date.

Speaking of my date, she was, in her own words, "swooning" for the band. The non-offensive but thoughtful lyrics and happy and rich music, as well as the two dudes' winning stage personalities made them a great band to see live.

After a somewhat stressful and tiring day, a cold beer and some Darynyck was the best possible way to relax.

My only regret was that I had to leave immediately after the last song (Chaotic, one of the songs on the 4 Song Review I wrote earlier) and missed the Fancy Lads (and missed picking up Darynyck's CD too).