Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

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Brooklyn’s own SHINOBI NINJA are just about to drop their best album to date. So, you should be aware that this Friday “Bless Up” will arrive a powerhouse of sound and songwriting. Few bands in NYC are at the level the Ninja’s are at. And I don’t say that due to the fact that over the past four years we have become good friends and have shared art, music, respect and bounced ideas off of each other, that is just a bonus. This would be a band I would migrate toward regardless. Watching artists grow and really corner what they want to represent is really a beautiful thing. And “Bless Up” is just that “thing”. Every song on this record could be a single, it’s like everybody in the band within their vast many roles have spit-shined what they do best and brought it to the table like it was the last supper. It’s Rock (Subcon), It’s Pop (Programmable Animal), Alternative (Funday), Trippy (Bending Spoons)…it’s a wonderful melting pot of everything you’d want in those styles. The songwriting is so fine-tuned that it’s hard to find a hole in the album to pick apart because it is that good. You can hear components of classic Incubus, Faith No More and 311 weaved through some of the compositions but saying that doesn’t take away from the freshness and originality that SHINOBI NINJA possess. The turntables are sickening, the rhythm section is tight and thunderous, the guitars are chunky, nimble and fun and the dual vocal strikes from Duke Sims and Baby G have never sounded better.

This is the kind of record you’ll spin a few times in a row and roll down those windows burnin’ up the highway. It’s a good time and it’s meaningful. Through clever marketing with videos, merch and a powerful live show these Ninja’s prove that as a unit of like minded people with drive and a multitude of talents that anything is possible. It’s hard not to get caught in this vortex, if you don’t know you will. “This is the right direction, the right direction…”  Minus the two fun little interludes you’ve got nine rock solid songs that are begging to be accepted by a multitude of formats. It’s a great record, no BS.

http://www.shinobininja.com/home.html

BUY BLESS UP

This Saturday, October 15th 2016 marks two years ago since this Blog/Idea went live. I had talked about it for some time before finally jumping in and throwing up my first post. I wasn’t sure if it was going to continue or even end right there. So many ideas…ya know. But here, 2 years later and growing slowly over time my MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE is very strong and a cool source for music geeks all over the world. It allows me to squeeze two of my passions up into one ball and throw it all to an infinite sky. This project alone has put me on the phone with one of my idols for a huge three part interview, has gotten me tickets to rad shows to review, some free swag…all because people respect the quality and content that goes into my work. I treat it like everything else. It’s a joy for me to see anyone sharing these write-ups and enjoying them right along with me. Anyways, let me not get all whimsical here, there’s plenty of other stuff to write about. Soon enough I’ll get an official domain up for M-S-G as it grows here and slowly on other networks.

So, if you read one or many posts here, I thank you. If you’ve shared an interview, I thank you…and so on and so on. Here’s to many more years!

BST - In The City's Arms cover

The illustrious Andee Blacksugar returns with his latest effort, In The City’s Arms. This offering is a double disc affair boasting 24 tracks and slathered in organic and processed sound, ensuring that the listener gets a healthy dose of sonic greens and sweets to keep the meal balanced.

AND quite a meal it is. A veritable buffet of sorts, touching on Punk, Rock, Glam, Alternative, Electronica, Pop…a fusion free-for-all, which leaves you humming a tune or two after just one listen. Opening track “Machinegun Sun” harkens back to classic sounding NIN. A gloomy opener for what winds up being a fairly bright record. However, the grey clouds continue to roll in on “California Time” which features the much-missed feature of a Sax solo. Soon after this the climate starts to change and lets a few rays of sun in. Heads bob and feet tap through tracks like “Puzzle” and “Angel In Front Of Me”. You’ve also got your traditional and snotty cuts like “All Yr Heroes Are Dead” in which Andee so spits the line like Richie Rich to a poor kid. And ending Disc One is title track, “In The City’s Arms”. An absolute triumph, which leaves you with chills and puts a glitter bow on a labyrinthine aural orgasm. And, that’s only the first disc!

BST - In The City's Arms (back cover)

BST – In The City’s Arms (back cover)

Disc Two features a more experimental approach to the vocals. Beach Boys, Bowie and lullabies are all juicy influences as this colorful coaster continues forth with key tracks “Fairie Spring” lush with its Jellyfishesque jangly guitar work and one of my overall favorites. “Flashbulb Disease” in which Blacksugar takes sharp shots at a generation obsessed with social media, shallow selfies and soulless music. (One word, Pornado!)

 

The opus ends with the simplest contribution to the album, “Stuck It To You”. A mostly acoustic track teaching us that often less is more.

There is plenty here for any listener of any kind. Andee, being an accomplished guitar player proves to us again that he too is equally versed in production, mixing and beyond. The album also does not suffer from the multitude of guest spots by fellow musical friends. It only makes it for an even more pleasurable experience. So, get down to the “City” and treat yourself to this collection of songs post haste. (*Hint, put your headphones on for this one!)

Skid Row, 30 Years, Irving Plaza

Skid Row, 25 Years, Irving Plaza

Last Wednesday Night Skid Row returned to Irving Plaza to celebrate 25 plus years of being, well…completely badass.

Set to hit the stage at 10:00pm (after direct support from The Blackfires who never disappoint), promptly at 10:02pm a deep red light filled the stage and The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” came blasting over the PA System, obviously the work of the Skids as they are big fans. In tow this time however was “real” singer number 3, Tony Harnell who is mostly famous for his work with Norwegian Rock/Metal band TNT. Tony has always been known for his golden pipes with said band and through various other projects leading up to his now current time as front man of Skid Row. Which, let’s face it, is no easy task. From Iconic drama queen Sebastian Bach whom the band had mega success with throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s (Do I really need to name songs?) onto the edgier less polished Johnny Solinger to just a few months in, Tony Harnell.

Immediately kicking the show into high gear with heavy opener “Slave to The Grind”, Skid Row seemed to turn Irving Plaza into an instant time warp. Not to say their music seems dated because it truly doesn’t, a good song is a good song now or 20 some odd years ago. What I mean when I say that is that the band seemed completely youthful, hell Rachel Bolan certainly knows where the fountain of youth is because the guy looks amazing. “Slave” lead us into “Big Guns”, another classic Skid Row song from the monster selling self-titled debut from 1989. Keeping the energy on high next up was “Let’s Go” off of Solinger era EP United World Rebellion: Chapter One. Barely 20 minutes into the show the band let us know that this wasn’t going to be some novelty act trip down memory lane, better yet, that it was a group stronger and ever wiser than before relishing in an almost 30-year history and looking brightly to the future. More interesting still after the opening onslaught was hearing Tony Harnell announce to the crowd “We’re Skid Row!”

Harnell is no slouch when it comes to hitting these parts right on. As usual his voice was primo, although coming off a little stiff in performance at times he is filling his role just fine. Honestly, when I first heard the news of him joining the band it seemed totally logical to me. The core of Skid Row; Rachel, Snake and Scotti you can tell are not holding any punches with him. Most of the big hits were all nestled into the set list among some deeper cuts so he definitely had his work cut out for him. Is he Sebastian Bach? Nope. Johnny Solinger? Nah. He’s truly a singer that can hold his own ground and not be afraid to take on such a task.

A few things were very apparent throughout the course of the performance, the main observation being that the band looked very happy and content, Snake especially who along with Rachel took some time in between a few songs to speak to the audience who were many and fully receptive to the current Skid Row. Rachel talked about how they hadn’t played Irving Plaza since 1995 and went on to thank the audience and wax romantic about his love for The Ramones which lead us into their superior cover of “Psycho Therapy” in which Bolan sings lead on. I personally am a big time Rachel lover, his vocals, bass chops, style…he’s got it in spades.

Snake too took some time out to get personal with his audience. This is a man that is truly humbled by the continued support and completely gracious. It’s really amazing to see that.

The band ended their set with chart topper “Monkey Business” from their second record Slave to The Grind which was a major song back when it debuted on MTV in 1991 every hour upon the hour as an Exclusive plunging the band into even more super stardom. The near 15-minute version of the song that we were presented with this night was completely flesh melting. Snake and Scotti are absolute animals and traded about 10 minutes’ worth of Solos in the center of the song. Truly awe inspiring and leaving the crowd wanting more, much, much more.

Which then lead us to the encore of “Youth Gone Wild”. The one song, that started it all and the one song that would end it for us on this night ONLY. Skid Row is far from done. There is much to look forward to with Harnell at the helm. More shows and I’m quite sure a new record. For those of you that think these bands who had hits from so many years ago are washed up and just resting on their laurels wanting to reclaim their past, think again. Anyone that was in attendance knows the facts. So get it straight or take a hike! Plainly, Skid Row still rocks.

Skid Row setlist 11.04.15 Irving Plaza, NYC

Skid Row setlist 11.04.15 Irving Plaza, NYC

Blindside - NYC

Blindside – NYC

After almost 8 years of not performing in America, Blindside, from Sweden decided to pay New York City a visit for ONE show at The Marlin Room @ Webster Hall to celebrate the 13-year Anniversary of what had become their most successful album, Silence. The album, released on Elektra Records and produced by Howard Benson had a big push in America and abroad, boasting radio and video rotation with key tracks “Pitiful” and “Sleepwalking”’. They also toured extensively in support of the record. The band had everything in place to become a successful juggernaught.

Silence album cover

Silence album cover

But as anyone in the music “Industry” knows, the key to success is a fickle mystery, at the very least. A few years later, label changes and less of a nudge from said labels Blindside would eventually become more of an underground/cult band. A few more brilliant albums and little public performance many were left with the question of “What happened to Blindside?” And not just until recently the revelation became sweet. Nothing short of 2 months ago the bands Facebook page became more active with posts directly from Simon (Guitarist) and then one lonely show date posted, for New York City. And, what we would get to experience was truly a night to be remembered by everyone in attendance.

Blindside last set foot in New York City’s Knitting Factory some 8 years ago, in which they performed a setlist which lead us from the past to the most recent of their material, a great theme and delivered most powerfully only the way the quartet can. Quiet frankly, one of the more passionate bands going today they returned to New York with a purpose, and that was to perform all of Silence in it’s entirety. Now, it’s no small feat to perform any record in full by any artist. In fact, most bands put a song or two on their record with all intensive purposes of never performing them live. In this case, there was not a note left unplayed or a scream left unhinged from Christian, Simon, Tomas, and Marcus, the 4 parts that make up Blindside since 1994, yes, it can happen, original members can stay together and weather the storm, it’s rare but indeed precious when it occurs.

A cool blue light filled the room and a sweet orchestration of violins came over the sound system. It was time, and we were all hungry and elated and ready to burst with the energy of opener “Caught A Glimpse”, we knew what was coming, but didn’t truly yet understand the extent of it. One by one the band walked onto the stage. A great opener to an album and an even better one to a live performance. The eruption had begun, from band and onlooker alike. “What just happened? The Hollywood Empire strikes back and this time, I am standing in their way!” From opener to closer Blindside was a barrage of honest and raw energy, humbled and grateful for their crowd on this night. The show would inevitably wind down with the solemn and chilling version of title track, “Silence”. Simon is unquestionably a brilliant guitarist, being able to hear this song live was truly magical as he and Christian came to the stage as a duo to perform the somber piece. “We’ve never really been a band for the whole ‘acoustic sit on a stool performance’, but tonight I guess we will make and exception” spoke Christian, and that would lead us truly to victory. “So I think I’ll stay, caught up in silent prayer, cause I believe in silence. Our hearts speak the same words, so why don’t we just walk along the shoreline with our silent song? Cause I believe in silence. Our hearts speak the same words…the same words.” And just like that…they were gone. But the crowd would not have it, leaving the floor rumbling and chants of Blindside! Blindside!

“I almost didn’t want to come back out, it seemed like such a perfect way to end,” Christian softly said before they slid into “Eye Of The Storm” from album About A Burning Fire. Followed by the always haunting “My Alibi” from masterpiece The Great Depression. We were then treated to an unnamed new song, which of course is a great sign. And in closing were left with an earth shattering version of “About A Burning Fire”

Poignant, sharp and more important than ever Blindside is alive and well. Silence unfolded before a few hundred people from all over the world who came to witness, and it left our ears ringing and mouths salivating for more. I believe in Silence…

Blindside

Blindside

Jimmy Gnecco & Band w/Nick Perri Group, NYC 11.09.14

Jimmy Gnecco & Band w/Nick Perri Group, NYC 11.09.14

Rockwood Music Hall in NYC opened its doors at 9pm this past Sunday night for what was literally to be one of the hottest shows in town. The sweltering room filled with about 50 some odd people was calm on a mellow Sunday night. I stood in good conversation for 15-20 minutes or so as we waited for the show to begin. I’m a diehard OURS fan and the bonus this evening was the opening band Nick Perri Group. I’m familiar with Nick from his short time spent with Shinedown for The Sounds of Madness album and before that Silvertide and equally short involvement with Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party as live guitarist. I was aware that he was a force to be reckoned with but I did not however get to witness the true hype until show time came.

Nick and his band peacefully walked out onto the stage in full thrift shop regalia moving into what appeared to be a laid back opener until only about 40 seconds in when the show instantly kicked into high gear with some hard and gritty bluesy rock. You become instantly aware of Nick whether you are familiar with him or not. His energy is quite contagious. The whole band is a tight and well oiled machine that not once let go of its hold on you throughout the 9 song set. Singer Joshua Bartholomew looked much like a rock and roll scarecrow with his gold locks and earthy attire belting out spine tingling vocal glory. It’s interesting how music can be tasty; Nick and his band truly make mouths water, complete with a hair raising rhythm section.

Nick Perri Group, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Nick Perri Group, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Halfway through the set the band tore into a blazing instrumental in which Nick spent most of the 3 some odd minutes dancing with his guitar in the crowd flipping his Pantene perfect hair all over the place. AND just when you thought it couldn’t get any hotter the quartet slams us head on into a flawless cover of Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”, if you closed your eyes you could swear Robert Plant at his peak was howling through the microphone, a truly divine cover.

Closing the set was a tune called “Graveyard Moon” which had a bit of an old school Black Crowes vibe to it. When all was said and done they left the stage in nothing but embers which only had about 20 minutes to settle before OURS came back out to keep the fires burning. I asked Nick at the end of the night what the future held for him and his band from LA, it sounds like 2015 is going to be a busy year for them so keep your eyes peeled, you’ll be doing yourself a service.

Soda w/Nick Perri, NYC 11.09.14 photo courtesy of Vellum Magazine

Soda w/Nick Perri, NYC 11.09.14 photo courtesy of Vellum Magazine

Turning our attention to the stage once more Jimmy Gnecco and his cult, OURS, walked out onto the stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the way the show was billed, “Jimmy Gnecco & Band”. I was happy to see the OURS line-up, minus Race but with a new drummer (which has become standard for the band.)

The set started off fairly slow, and for OURS, this is strange as moments into their shows you are usually grabbed by the throat with the intensity they display, much a kin to a religious experience. After about 3 songs in we learned that Jimmy was fighting a bit of a fever, and having played the night prior in New Jersey he was a little weak. But after said third song, “I’m a Monster” he announced ‘that’s how you chase the fever away’ which lead into an absolutely blistering version of “Murder” with one of Jimmy’s students from School of Rock (Saddlebrook, NJ) as a back-up guitarist. Always generous in that aspect, we have come to see many younger guys pop up at OURS shows as openers or as guest musicians.

The momentum did not stop after “Murder”. Nick Perri and his drummer John then also came back onto the stage as Jimmy was telling us a bit about how he actually viewed OURS as a soul band. Such a statement would ring true with the now 7 piece band smoothly jamming out a version of “Been Down” off of their latest offering, Ballet the Boxer. Soulful indeed, the song was delivered with true passion and a hair raising triple guitar assault as Nick, Static and Jimmy pinched and bent notes up and down their fret boards.

OURS, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

OURS, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Being in such a small venue at a show of this caliber is extremely rewarding. Jimmy & friends gave us a 2 hour plus performance with countless gems off of Distorted Lullabies, Mercy, Ballet The Boxer and his solo offering, The Heart. Complete with stories of leaving the record business behind and heartwarming new songs about his Mother, “Fallen Flower”. Even mid set, fashion designer Christian Benner joined the band onstage in which he surprised Jimmy with the fact that he and a few fans had put the money together to have him a custom made leather jacket created, “Another reason for PETA to be upset with me…” (Jimmy once being vegan.)

So much can be written about a top quality rock show like this, 3 plus hours of music, songs from OURS that haven’t been played in ages, surprises and more…fear not, there is still hope for quality in a crumbling music market my friends, you just have to look for it…dig for music, you will find gold and it will be well worth it.

This show makes one final stop in Philly tonight the 12th at Milkboy. If you are nearby, treat yourself to a stellar night of music!

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