Thursday, January 26, 2012

Friends, Bands Gather at Maxwell's to Celebrate The Release of Those Mockingbirds 'Fa So La'

As The Sun The Moon The Stars opened the show I couldn't help but wonder, "How in the Hell is this band opening for anyone?" A few minutes prior to the show I had asked Adam Bird of Those Mockingbirds the 411 on the bands playing that night. He remarked "Can't Miss" when referring to them. The band, by far the heaviest I've seen at Maxwells since witnessing Kylesa take the stage in 2009. With a sound that reminded me of bands such as The Melvins, Sabbath and Botch to name just a few, how could you go wrong. Matthew Dwyer, Guitar/Vocals, has an electrifying stage presence. Later that night I snagged the bands album "Mindreader" which has been dominating my turntable since. The band is from West Paterson NJ and I highly recommend both buying the record and checking them out live.
TSTMTS Facebook

Following an opening band as good as T.S.T.M.T.S.'s can be a tricky gig but Birdhand made the transition seamlessly. Here was another first time experience for me that was incredibly rewarding. Birdhand have only been around for a short time but have made a lot of noise in that short period. Formed in Santa Cruz California but recently transplanted to New York City. The band has been both praised and produced by Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer. The band has an excellent rock sound which seems to be getting harder to find with all the indie, alt and post bands dominating music today.       It's good to see a band that flat out, rocks. Singer/Guitarist Weeds vocals have a raspy quality that had me comparing him to Girls VS Boys vocalist Scott McCloud. Their set provided plenty of energy and solid musicianship. Birdhand definitely had that PMA going strong.
Birdhand on Facebook

Just as Birdhand finished their set I headed away from the stage to catch my breath and seek out a few friendly faces I had briefly encountered earlier. I've been going to Maxwells regularly since the early nineties but since covering shows for Jersey Beat and of course United By… I rarely talk to more than a handful of people. I usually just take in the show while taking my pictures and just head home. These days I often go home with a pain in my neck considering how many friendly faces call out my name. It was really a blast seeing so many friends interacting and rocking out. Since becoming part of The Tiny Giants collective I've forged friendships and been introduced to so many creative and inspiring bands. Seeing so many of them there to support  Those Mockingbirds and all the bands makes me want to go to more and more shows while providing me with plenty of fuel for the bog.

I originally caught Those Mockingbirds when they played the Brick City Riot Festival back in September of 2011. They played a great set of dirty, yet beautiful Rock n' Roll that night that really stuck with me. Since that night I've caught them a handful of times and I can honestly say, they get better with each and every performance. Though they weren't headlining this specific show it was indeed their night. With the official release of "Fa So La" and Star Morales of Star Beat Music in the house. How could it not be.

As the band took the stage and launched in to their set. I found myself doing something I rarely do, dancing and singing along to every note. These days I find myself going to more and more shows, adding more and more to my list of favorites. As much as I love a lot of these bands I could hardly name a song of theirs if I was cornered. Yet alone, know the lyrics and verses of each and every song. It's just a matter of numbers. When I was just out of high school I lived with a band who often played the record of the band they'd be sharing the stage with that weekend. Just so they'd be familiar with the choruses when it was time to join in. For me personally, Fa So La has just dug itself into my subconscious over the past months. It's that fucking good. Adam Bird is the perfect frontman. He has this presence that is endearing to both the crowd and the band. That and he can flat out sing and play guitar. As a whole Those Mockingbirds fire on all cylinders producing a sound I feel Rock and music as a whole has been missing for quite a while.

At one point during the set their surprise guest was unveiled in the form of World Inferno Friendship Society's Rebecca Schlappich, giving the band not one but two insanely talented and beautiful violinists. It was a really special moment to say the least. One of the highlight of the bands set for me was when they played "Coast to Coast." a song so good I felt my entire body moving spastically  to it's rhythm. The band ended their set briefly only to be called back for an encore of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way". A song that hasn't been done justice since the band Seaweed covered it for the "Clerks" soundtrack back in the mid 90's.
Those Mockingbirds Facebook

Closing the show was Shayfer James. As the  band took the stage an older photographer sporting some very sweet gear handed his camera to his lady friend and told her "Fuck these people, just push your way to the front and get some good shots." That little exchange hit me in all the wrong places and changed my mood drastically. I seriously thought about confronting him but a dick is a dick and he'll always be one. Arguing my point would be pointless. Though I thought, if only for a moment to just walk up to him and punch him in the throat, reality found it's way to my doorstep and I just removed myself from the situation. Douche bags like that should stick to taking pictures of barn doors and making coffee table books for bald guys with pony tails. Leave the shows to us beautiful people. As the band played I couldn't help but notice the crowd had changed so I made my way back to the bar fro my last Coke of the night. Though Shayfer JamesShayfer James Facebook  had a nice vibe about them I was already in the wrong frame of mind and didn't really hang for the entire set. Despite that little moment this was a great show all around, Lots of love to all the friends who came out to support the bands and one of the only establishments that continues to book great shows. I love you Maxwells. James Damion
Shayfer James Facebook

Monday, January 23, 2012

Images From Killing Horse Records Second Anniversary Show at Maxell's 01/06/12

Though I had originally planned on writing a show review for the Killing Horse Records anniversary show, I just lost track of time. Instead I thought I'd go ahead and post some images and thoughts about the show. This was a not only a night of celebration for a label and the bands that call it home. It was a testament to the fact that we are in the midst of a thriving scene. When Dave and I started this blog I was looking for an energy and inspiration that Unite Fanzine was no longer giving me. At the time I had no idea just how much of that inspiration was about to hit me. Killing Horse Records and The Tiny Giants Artist Collective have given this blog and me personally, the fuel to not only do this, but fully enjoy and look forward to it.

Killing Horse has become a platform for some of the best bands and musicians in the area. 
They've helped foster a scene that continues to welcome new bands and inspire people to get involved and go to shows. They've recently signed the Nico Blues and plan on new releases in 2012 and beyond. The label is also a part of a growing community known as the "Tiny Giants Artist Collective". We look forward to the labels future success and growth. See you all at the next anniversary show.
James Damion
Michael Keefe Cicada Radio
Reed Adler The Nico Blues
Alan Gomez Invisible Lines
Producer Tom Unish with ¡No Pasaran!
Mike (KHR's) matches wits w/ Jay Monaco of Secret Country
The gang's all here

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wreaths - Live Maxwells Hoboken NJ 01/19/2012

I saw the Wreaths a few months back at the Asbury Park Lanes in the bands hometown of Asbury Park NJ and I have to say that they completely caught me off guard and blew me away, so when I saw that they were playing my neck of the woods last night I actually got off my old lazy ass and ran down to Maxwells to see if they could impress me a second time around...and I have to say that they definitely did it again.

The Wreaths play a style of rock that I would say draws from classic 70's rock like T Rex, Neil Young etc but they infuse their music with atmospheric keyboards, grooving drums and bass and a lot of excellent guitar interplay between what is sometimes 3 guitarist. Basically, the Wreaths formula is to start out with a solid drum and base line and just pile heaps and heaps of guitar noise on top and then just ride the thing at maximum volume until it can't be ridden anymore.

The Wreaths are in the process of releasing a split cd with Seaside Graves that should be out in the next month or so. The band was kind enough to give me an advance cd of the split cd and I have to say that it is killer, so keep an eye on United By Rocket Science for further details about the cd's release, and catch the Wreaths if they come to your town...Dave G.

Wreaths Facebook

P.S. I've been told that the Wreaths actually have a series of cdr releases planned on Tone Correct Records for the near future with the proceed going towards recording a full length Lp . For specific details you can contact the band at

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Those Mockingbirds Prepare For Record Release with Show at Maxwells

As Those Mockingbirds get set to invade Hoboken's Maxwells to celebrate the coming release of their EP 'Fa So La' on Star Beat Music. I got to speak with the bands lead singer/guitarist Adam Bird about the upcoming, show, release and that tasty looking vinyl. 
There are a lot of things I'd like to talk about with Adam in the future. Until then I decided to focus on what's happening in the upcoming days and weeks. Here's what he had to say. James Damion

James: Congratulations on the upcoming release. I just purchased both versions of the vinyl (Black/Gold) last night.

James: Who came up with the idea for the different versions?

Adam: I believe it was Star's (Star Beat Records) idea to have different package options. We always like doing this kind of thing, offering a more full experience that is, but I think she proposed it to us initially, and we, kinda offered a bunch of ideas as to what we could offer for each package.

James: Was the initial release only available in the digital format?

Adam: Yea, we decided when 'Fa Sol La' was done being recorded that we would only do physical copies if they were vinyl because CDs are just too expensive of an investment for a band right now when all theyre gonna do is get tossed in a dusty pile once its ripped into a computer.

James: Can we expect any extras? Songs? Alternate Versions?

Adam: Yeah, we are including a bonus track called "Coast To Coast XY". Its a total re-imagining of the song that is much more vibe-y and laid back with Tory singing lead and myself singing her backup parts.

Those Mockingbirds tearing it up at Brick City Sound Riot.
James: What was it that led Those Mockingbirds and  Star Morales and Star Beat Music to give 'Fa So La' a proper release?

Adam: I had caught wind that Star was looking to get into the vinyl game, so i sent her 'Fa Sol La' before it was released and told her that we would be interested in talking if she liked the record. A week later she got back to me and told me she wanted to put it out. Pretty clean cut.

James: You'll be playing Maxwell's this Friday night. Word has it that there will be a surprise guest. Care to spill the beans?

Adam: No bean spilling here, but its a really exciting thing for us to have another musician, especially one more accomplished, join us for a full song!

James: I have to tell you I had visions of Stevie Nicks taking the stage in a flowing gown.

Adam: If we had Stevie Nicks on stage with us I would've announced it instantly!

Those Mockingbirds Photo by Misha Shade
James: Will there be any other surprises?

 Adam: Our set list is going to be very fresh from the last time we played in the area... lots of new twists and turns that we've developed over the last few tours. Its also probably the most high energy set we've ever done. a true blitzkrieg of guitars.

James: Aside from
Those Mockingbirds I'm not familiar with anyone else on the bill. Are there any connections with the rest of the line up?

Adam: The Sun The Moon The Stars is a band of vagrants that I was playing with for a bit about a year ago, and they are close friends of mine. Shayfer James is a good buddy of our bassist Rob. Birdhand is a band we met thru mutual friends a few months back and we will be touring with them soon.

James: The last time we talked you said you were practicing with the band for the first time since the tour. How long were you out and what were some of the hot spots?

Adam: We tend to go out for a lot of short runs instead of long ones because we can revisit the same towns more frequently that way. These past few dates have been notable for the fact that we were playing numerous 2+ hour sets, which is a challenge for a band with only two EPs out... but we made it work, tried out a lot of new things on the fly, and grew as a band because of it.

James: Are you going to be going out to support the release? 

Adam: Yes, we have tour dates in February and March lined up right now, lots of them with Birdhand.

James: My first impression of the band was at The Brick City Sound Riot. That really wasn't that long ago. Can you tell me a little about the band and how you've evolved?

Those Mockingbirds ToryAnne Daines
Adam: We've only been a band a little over two years... Year one was mostly us trying to do things as fast as we could, which to a degree got the ball rolling, but after awhile we regrouped, and Tory and I found new members in Rob Kevin and Jon, to finally start being the band we felt like we could be. So the past year we have really started to become what we wanted to be when we started, which was the kind of band who stuck out, whether in a good a bad way would depend on the listeners tastes i suppose, but either way one that stuck out amongst the sea of bands out there.

James: I don't know if you remember but that night I was up front taking pictures. We pretty much got up in one an others faces. I thought you were either going to kill me or use my ribs for reverb. Do you tend to lose yourself in the music when you're out there performing?
(Adam later pulled me aside and formally introduced himself.)

Adam: I do remember, and I'm not sure which I was about to do to you, but I'm sure it was one or the other. When we are playing I really tend to throw myself to the lions and see what happens. I do this because I find that it provides more entertainment for the crowd and they  are more likely to remember you and the songs you are playing. Sometimes I talk a lot and it can be funny, or, some shows, I don't talk at all and I end up throwing myself on the floor a lot.... but no matter what I end up doing, I tend to be in a sort of trance when we are on stage.

James: Judging from my limited experience working with you in the collective. You seem to be somewhat of an enforcer. Is that a fair characterization or am I completely off?

Adam: Nope, I am the kind of person who sees whats missing from a situation and attempts to do what I can to fix that. In Tiny Giant, there was no enforcer, so i became that. In Those Mockingbirds, I try to be the one who puts the gas in the tank.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Courtesy Tier - Rescue Video

Check out the new video "Rescue" from The Courtesy Tier. Their EP "Holy Hot Fire" made our list of "The Best of 2011" and I did a recent show review covering the bands record releases party at Pianos in NYC. James Damion

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Those Mockingbirds - Commercially Speaking

Here's a peak at the upcoming release of Those Mockingbirds - Fa So La to be released exclusively on Star Beat Music. You can pre-order the record Here. If you haven't heard Those Mockingbirds before you will definitely like what you here. If you are like me and you feel that Rock n' Roll needs a serious kick in it's currently soft ass, then this is the band for you. The following commercial stars frontman/guitarist Adam Bird (vocals, guitar)  and Tory Anne Daines. (violin, vocals, piano) The band is celebrating their record release with a show at Maxwell's Friday January 20th with Shayfer James and Birdhand. Be sure to come out celebrate. See you there. James Damion
Those Mockingbirds  Band
Star Beat Music Order the Record
Event  Show Details

A Social State - Everyone's Your Friend 2011

A Social State caught my attention straight out of the box with the warm and inviting opening track " Termination Papers". The remainder of the songs provided for our listening pleasure are excellent mid to uptempo rockers that bare a similarity to the band FAR, at least to this listeners ears.

A Social State compare themselves to bands such as Colour Revolt, Saves The Day, Nada Surf, and The Pixies. If you are a fan of any of these bands then I think A Social State should be right up your alley, and I would highly recommend that you give this top notch album a listen...Dave G.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Powerblessings - S/T 7" 2010

Powerblessings Facebook.
Purchase 7"

When this record showed up in my mailbox I wasn't really sure what to expect in all honesty. I assumed I was going to hear some raging new school hardcore, but to my surprise what we have here is some straight up no bullshit punk/hardcore that brings The Hot Snakes to mind, but also incorporates a bit of a Revolution Summer DC feel as well.

Overall this record is an excellent slice of catchy unrelenting punk/hardcore that gets better with each listen. Definitely worth your hard earned cash...Dave G.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Taking a Closer Look at KillingHorse Records" Part II

As we get set to celebrate the second anniversary of Killing Horse Records tomorrow night at Hoboken's legendary watering hole Maxwells; I spoke with Mike and Ryan about the event, the bands and the future of the label itself. In part two of my interview I decided to touch on the show, the bands and the promising future of the label. Here's what the guys had to say. James Damion

James: You recently lost one of the areas best outfits due to a breakup. 
Did Ben Franklins break up come as a surprise or was it something you saw coming? 

Ben Franklin
Mike: It was a bummer for sure, we had no idea they were breaking up. I dont think anyone did. It's OK - we wish them nothing but the best, but in the end they need to do what is right for them, and we respect that. Things like that happen, but we still love everyone from Ben Franklin, and we love their music. They were one of our absoulte favorite bands from the area. It's like anytime one of your favorite bands break up.
Ultimately it makes the Urgency 7" we did with them that much more special. I'm so glad we took a chance on them and got that record made.

James: Did it have an initial effect on the label? What were your first thoughts? 

Mike: We were invested in them financially with the 7" we put out that year, so it hurt the promotion of the record, but thats no where near where our first thoughts were, we were just like "damn, we aren't going to get to hear anymore new music by them, or get to see any of more shows". The world needs more bands like Ben Franklin -they got it. Again, I'm just glad we got to document that. That's what having a record label is all about, and their records will always mean a lot to us personally. 

James: The bands breakup was followed by the signing of rising stars 
The Nico Blues. What was it about them in particular that blew you away? 

The Nico Blues
Ryan: We've been big fans of the Nico Blues for some time now. That record, "Blame the Boredom, Blame the Basements" is absolutely phenomenal. When I first got my hands on it,
I think I listened to it for three straight days. In fact, our biggest regret at the time was that it had already come out, and we had seemingly missed the boat on it. Yet here we are about a year later and it's coming out again on our label, and we couldn't be happier. Even beyond the music though, we're big fans of the guys in the band. We had our first real exposure to them when Mike booked them at The Irish in Kearny back in September of 2010. We hit it off real well, and they were clearly a group of people with whom we would love to work, so I'm real glad we now have that opportunity. 

James: Your planning on re-issuing their album 
"Blame the Boredom. Blame the Basements." Will it be getting any special treatments such as remastering or bonus tracks? 

Mike: We expanded the packaging to include lyrics, which is really cool. As for the record we wanted to leave the record as is, its as much a re-issue, a it is just out of stock, and we are picking up where they left off. We love that record as well, so we are really excited to be putting it out on Killing Horse. 

JamesAre there any plans for a new record with them in the works? 

Mike: We are taking it one step at a time with them. They are not obligated to put anything else out on Killing Horse, but we definitely want to hear everything they record. If it works for both of us and the timing is right, then thats great. 

James: Can you tell me anything about your involvement with 
The Tiny Giants Artist Collective and if, how it would involve any future releases for KHR? 

Mike: The Tiny Giants Collective has been awesome, it has created a real sense of unity in the New Jersey scene, or whatever you want to call it. It's really a great representation of why we got into the business of putting out records. From the second we met the guys in The Nico Blues and Holy City Zoo, who started the whole thing, we just seemed to be about the same issues, bringing people together, pooling resources, moving forward. so it's great way to help connect the dots. Recently its been growing a lot. Its a great way to get introudcuded to like-minded bands, and I'm sure that we will either put out a record by another Tiny Giant band, or get intorudcuded to a band due to our involvement with them. 

James: The "Two Year Anniversary" show at Maxwells is coming fast. Any last minute jitters or thoughts? 

Ryan: Ah jitters - no, no, nothing like that. We're just so nonchalant and cool that we don't get the jitters... Actually, we're just super excited about the whole thing. It's our big birthday party that we put together, and at 2 years old, that makes us a pudgy toddler who just learning how to walk, so it's a great way to kick off a new year where we hope to find ourselves walking into new territories and bringing some great music to new listeners' ears. As for last minute thoughts, I think this is going to be a show for the books - we've got Cicada Radio, whose new material is blowing us away, the Nico Blues, who are making their Killing Horse debut, Invisible Lines will be debuting a new member - Mr. Geoff Bennington,
¡No Pasaran! will be performing their final pre-hiatus show - adding even more excitement to a guaranteed electric set, and Secret Country will be performing as an 8-piece band with the addition of myself on guitar and the alluring and talented Ms. Katelynn Siegle on vocals. It's going to be a night people are discussing so the only question is, do you want to be in the loop or not? 

JamesOne of the bands playing that night, Invisible Lines, we're recently injured in a plane crash or something. How are the guys healing and will they be ready to perform? 

Ryan: Yes, that is 100% correct, their private jet was shot down by Libyan rebels during a peacekeeping mission a few months ago. After fighting their way through enemy lines (taking no prisoners) they eventually made it to Tangiers, where there was the whole
"Fidelio incident" - which I can't go into for legal reasons. But they managed to get out of the country and fly back to the States just in time for the show. They've assured me that their injuries are not very serious (mostly just a few missing digits/limbs, some minor 2nd degree burns - nothing that a few aspirin can't fix) and they'll be ready to go Friday night. 

Cicada Radio
James: I got to see 
Cicada Radio perform the other night. The band is one of our favorites. I was just wondering if you're planning on getting around to releasing their EP on vinyl or CD any time soon. 

Mike: Cicada Radio has just been getting better and better, Ryan and I just can't stop talking about how much they improve everytime we see them. That's a testament to them, honestly. It's great to see a band grow like this. As for "Imposter", we'd love to release it physically. At the same time the new stuff they have been doing really showcases how much they have been growing. We are currently discussing with the guys from Cicada how we want to handle that dichotomy. I can promise you this though, we will definatly be releasing something by them physically. Hopefully sooner than later. 

James: New band releases, signings on the horizon? 

Ryan: We've definitely got some things in mind for the remainder of the year, both current bands and new, however not all the details are hammered out yet, so I'm not going to go into the details. But, to give you a little taste, chances are good that we'll be seeing a new
full-length from Secret Country, and as Mike mentioned earlier there should be some new Cicada Radio material at some point as well.