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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Carabar and "Post Rock"

Tonight I went to Carabar to buy cigarettes and a beer. I didn't realize it would be crowded, since Carabar doesn't promote any shows ever, and I hadn't heard of any of the bands playing before I got there. Couple things...

Carabar is pretty awesome for 3 reasons. The first is that it is two blocks from my apartment. The second is that Carabar's food is ridiculously good. The Helen Killer Cafe kills it. Taco Tuesday is possibly the best kept secret in Columbus. The Black and Blue burger is unlike anything you've ever had, and is delicious. It's vegan friendly with seperate fryers and cooking area for the vegan options. The third is that, when you actually, finally, get the attention of a bartender (not their fault, the bar is always crowded with "it's my first time at a bar" fuckbags that don't know to exit the area after they get their draft), they're friendly and nice and pour damn good drinks.

Tonight's band line-up was a series of rock bands. Unfortunately, at least one of these bands want to label themselves as "post-rock," a completely meaningless label that is used by hipster musicians and hipster non-musicians to describe progressive rock music. Oh! Your band plays melodic rock instrumentals? No "rock" band has ever done that before, so it MUST be, "post-rock," right?

 No... no band has done that before; Rush, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Joe Satriani, The Grateful Dead, or a hundred other bands that don't give themselves the pretentious and idiotic label of "post-rock," have ever done that before. No. Fucking. Way.

But anger at the semantics used by fools aside, I got there in time to catch a band called, "If Trees Could Talk." As my brotha J-fi said, if trees could talk, they would tell us to stop killing them; but that's not important right now. If Trees Could Talk the band was pretty damn good. They played tight (a couple mistakes but nothing to write home about) and heavy, and had a strong crowd that dug their music. I liked them... a lot.

The next, and headliner (I assume) was The End of the Ocean. The End of the Ocean was also pretty good, but they are the ones I point my "post-rock" ire at. I'm pretty sure it isn't "post-rock," to have two pretty girls in your band. Because other than that, there was nothing remotely close to "post-rock," about them. They played hard rock instrumentals; using two guitars, a drum, a bass, and a keyboard. Does that really sound like something that hasn't been heard a thousand times before in rock music? Does that sound unique? Perhaps if you've never listened to rock music. If that's the case, I can't really say. I can only speak for myself and the majority of people in the entire fucking world.

The End of the Ocean is a good live band; I have nothing negative to say about their music at all. They had good energy that translated to the crowd; a lot to say of a band that plays only instrumentals. I enjoyed it, if only slightly less than I enjoyed If Trees Could Talk. But Christ Jesus on a pogo stick; no band should ever, EVER, EVER, call themselves "post"-anything. It is the mark of... well, of a mark; a sucker, a fool, a nincompoop.

It's a term that makes no sense. Post-Rock. Think about it for a minute. But not too long, I don't want anyone to have an aneurism while trying to understand the implications of Rock music that isn't actually Rock music, but is supposedly something AFTER Rock music.

Labeling yourself as "post-rock," is like tying a pretentious noose around your own neck. Let other, small-minded people put labels on you. That's what small-minded people do. But once you start labeling yourself and your own art, you've willfully put a cap on your own creativity.

All that being said, this show was the kick-off of a CD release and a national tour; I wish all of you the absolute best. Like I said, talented musicians playing good music.

I don't have links as my internet connection at this time is all kinds of awful, but I do know that you can hear them on both Spotify and Bandcamp and they have a Facebook page as well. I recommend giving them a listen, and buying their stuff.

Helen Killer Cafe at Carabar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ember Schrag - The Sewing Room

The Sewing Room is a full length album due out on July 10th of this year, and available now for pre-order (only $12) from Edible Onion Records. It is a beautiful, folksy album, that shows off the gorgeous voice of Ember Schrag through twelve haunting ballads. The first 100 copies are in handmade books that are so ridiculously cool that it makes you wonder why more albums aren't made like this.

The tempo is slow and the mood is a little dark, but not depressingly so. Slightly unsettling ballads that are both vivid recollections, but at the same time are coyly vague about just what exactly is going on. She doesn't spoon-feed the listener her thoughts or emotions; she forces the listener to make conclusions on their own, to think and imagine and decode the songs purpose. With each listen, you will hear something different that wrinkles what you thought previously. That's a wonderful talent to have, and Schrag performs it skillfully.

Schrag's voice is... enchanting. It's sweetly soft, incredibly rich, adorably simple, and cunningly complicated.

Within Ember Schrag's The Sewing Room, each song tells it's own story, and each sounds poignant and personal; telling tales of love, loss, wonder, and woe. It's worth mentioning that while the songs all sound similar to each other, none of them sound the same; each is obviously unique. That's rare these days where many bands and singers and songwriters pick a sound they are comfortable with and stick to it completely, to the point that all their songs sound the same and therefore disposable.

Also impressive is that the songs range in time from 1:42 to just over 4 minutes, with most running around 3 - 3:30. Unlike many other indie singer/songwriters, Schrag doesn't give in to creating overblown, long-winded, increasingly boring 5 minute songs in order to appease her own ego. While her voice is certainly what takes center-stage on the record, the backing music provided by an apparently rotating group of musicians (P.G. Six, Jonah Sirota (The Chiara Quartet), Amy Denio, and Alex McManus (The Bruces, Vic Chesnutt, Lambchop), Philip Gayle, Jay Kreimer, Max Johnson, and Gary Foster) is given ample opportunities to shine.

You can visit Ember Schrag's official website here
Or Awesome indie label, Edible Onion, here

Here is the track list, with a few links to some downloadable content.

01. Jephthah's Daughter [mp3]
02. Sutherland [mp3]
03. My Brothers Men
04. La Maria
05. I Ain't a Prophet
06. In the Alley
07. Frauleh Jekketheka
08. The Sewing Room
09. Dark Lion Lover
10. Your Words
11. Houston [mp3]
12. April Night

And here is a live video!

[edited by Michelle Rucker]