Saturday, October 27, 2012

Japandroids, The Noise Figures, live @ An Club (Athens, October 24,2012)

Here’s a question for rock music scholars: Was it the sharp rise in popularity of The White Stripes that imposed the guitar-drums power duo as a dominant force in modern indie rock or is this another sign of the plummeting world economy and the subsequent downsizing of everything? One thing is certain though; there are many unemployed bass players out there and as long as bands like Japandroids are capable of such mind-blowing shows like the one we witnessed on Wednesday, the future of the low end in modern rock and its many garage - blues - punk offshoots remains uncertain.

With two excellent albums, one collection and several singles in their discography so far, Japandroids were already high in my personal hierarchy of guitar-drums duos. After their marathon, 110-minute set at An Club which included a large portion of this discography, the band certainly cemented its place near the top of this rapidly increasing list.

The extended length of this particular show was down to the band’s desire to give their Greek fans something extra at their first-ever Athens show. As a result, we had the opportunity to enjoy not only the eight tracks on the band’s most recent LP, "Celebration Rock", but a large portion of their back catalog as well, including tracks from their very first days as a band, like their cover of McLusky’s "To Hell With Good Intentions". All the highlights from their debut album "Post-Nothing" were also present in their set as well, including my favorites "Young Hearts Spark Fire" and "Wet Hair". Japandroids’ rock celebration ended with an explosive rendition of The Gun Club’s "For the Love of Ivy", injecting drunken energy to a cherished classic.

Japandroids, live @ An Club (Oct. 24, 2012)
The night opened with a brief set by another noisy guitar-drums duo, The Noise Figures. The new band, which consists of George Nikas from Zebra Tracks (vocals, drums) and Stamos Babaris from Keyser Soze (guitar), presented their debut EP "Turn Off The Lights" (listen here) with which they pledge allegiance to The Black Keys’ garage-blues sound. The guitar-drums gospel keeps spreading!

The Noise Figures, live @ An Club (Oct. 24, 2012)

Japandroids - To Hell With Good Intentions, live @ An Club

Japandroids - The Nights of Wine and Roses, live @ An Club

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Place To Bury Strangers, Zebra Tracks, live @ Fuzz Club (Athens, October 20, 2012)

Sonic warfare… it’s the best way to describe what I see unfolding on Fuzz Club’s stage when A Place To Bury Strangers begin their set.

This is the band’s third visit to Athens after the December 2009 show at the tiny, claustrophobic Rodeo Club and their participation at the last Synch Festival the following summer, which means that we are well prepared as to what we are going to witness. Still, the previous experience doesn’t make it any less thrilling to get caught in the middle of the huge wave of furious sound that they can stir up.

The well-attended Saturday show at Fuzz Club is the band’s biggest one yet in Athens and its main advantage, in comparison to the two previous gigs, is the much bigger stage which gives Ackermann and Lunadon space to move around freely and thrash on their instruments without immediate danger of bodily harm. Also, the impressive light show that accompanies their performance (which should come with a photosensitive seizure-warning) is much more effective in this venue. On the downside, the club’s high ceiling means that we are not getting the full blast of the sound (though someone could argue that this is for our own good), while the vocals seem to be too low in the mix. Technical sound hiccups aside, A Place To Bury Strangers’ third sonic onslaught gets top marks for both intensity of performance and visual presentation.

The 65-minute set, equally divided between their last two albums ("Exploding Head" and "Worship") and the "Onwards To The Wall" EP, was a towering wall of sound with almost no pause for breath or applause between the songs. The individual songs are just pieces of a puzzle that when it is completed, it reveals the true purpose of the A Place To Bury Strangers live experience: to construct a monumental sonic shrine dedicated to the worship of pure Noise. The war they are waging on stage is a holy one - there is no place for unbelievers in their Noise rituals!

A Place To Bury Strangers, live @ Fuzz Club, Athens (Oct. 20, 2012)

The evening began with a strong performance by Zebra Tracks who showcased their recent album "Collective Guilt" (see also here). In the space of the year and a half since the last time I saw them live, it is obvious that the band has taken some big steps forward. Their stage presence is confident and with their solid new material that strikes a skillful balance between melody and guitar noise, they seem ready to reach a wider audience.

Zebra Tracks, live @ Fuzz Club, Athens (Oct. 20, 2012)
Here’s the set list of A Place To Bury Strangers’ performance:

A Place to Bury Strangers Setlist Fuzz Club, Athens, Greece 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Killer Tracks: Wet Blanket by METZ

I do think this is the start of a beautiful friendship...METZ bring together the razor sharp guitars of Big Black with Mudhoney's dirtiest, grungiest garage fuzz. The result is nothing less than spectacular. Here's the official video for "Wet Blanket" from their recently released self-titled debut album:

And here is the mp3 for the equally awesome "Headache":


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Obits, False Alarm, The Dark Rags live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, October 17, 2012)

You could say that The Obits, the main protagonists of the guitar feast we enjoyed last Wednesday at the Six D.O.G.S club, came to Athens at just the right time. If you paraphrase a little the title of their latest album ("Moody, Standard And Poor"), you have a very succinct, right on the money description of the way most Greeks feel at the moment: moody, substandard and poor!

On the other hand, if you take into consideration the achievements of Obits main man Rick Froberg over the last two and a half decades (from Pitchfork, to Drive Like Jehu, to Hot Snakes), then it definitely took too long to see him in action here in Athens.

The same basic elements that characterized the sound of Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes, Froberg’s piercing yell and the two adventurous, dueling guitars, are still present in The Obits sound. The songs on their two albums so far are simpler in structure compared to the past but retain their explosive edge, while Froberg may not yell as loud as he used to but both his delivery and guitar playing are just as intense as back in the day.

Sohrab Habibion, the band’s other guitarist, also made his presence felt both on and off the stage, breaking one string after the other and also managing, during incendiary set-closer "Killer", to crowd-surf all over the tiny club. Credit, of course, goes also to the band’s rock solid rhythm section which consists of Greg Simpson on bass and Alexis Fleisig, of Girls Against Boys fame, on drums.

The Obits, live @ Six D.O.G.S

Scott McCloud
The voice of the latter, and legend in his own right, Mr. Scott McCloud was also present in the club on this night. His role was to reprise his performance on False Alarm’s "Sell Me Something", one of the two tracks on the Greek band’s just released debut single (see the live collaboration below). False Alarm opened for Obits with a strong set comprising of material from their soon to be released debut album and also paid tribute to their influences by bringing on stage Ada Lambara (guitarist of '80s greats Villa 21 and Nonmandol later on) to perform with them on their covers of Social Distortion’s "Don’t Drag Me Down" and Wipers’ "Over the Edge".

False Alarm, live @ Six D.O.G.S

False Alarm with Ada Lambara, live @ Six D.O.G.S

The night opened by another local act, The Dark Rags, who successfully mix garage and punk rock, continuing a rich tradition of the Greek indie scene that can be traced all the way back to the '80s and bands like The Last Drive.

The Dark Rags, live @ Six D.O.G.S

Here’s what Obits played for us in their 65-minute set:

Light Sweet Crude, Shift Operator, Pine On, No Fly List, SUD, Everything Looks Better in the Sun, New August, Suez Canal, Lilies in the Street, The City Is Dead  (The Kids cover), You Gotta Lose, I Want Results. Encore: Talking To The Dog, Widow of My Dreams, Killer.

The Obits - Widow Of My Dreams, live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, Oct. 17, 2012)

False Alarm with Scott McCloud - Sell Me Something, live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, Oct. 17, 2012)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Found Sound Vol.7: Zebra Tracks, Time And Energy, Generator Ohm, Vajra, Minor Sounds

Found Sound, our series of posts showcasing the best new tunes we discover based on your suggestions, is back in less than a month since the previous edition, thanks to the quality of submissions we’ve received lately. Volume 7 features some of our favorite tracks from new releases by Zebra Tracks, Time And Energy, Generator Ohm, Vajra and Minor Sounds plus, as a bonus, a new cut from the latest free mixtape by Found Sound alumnus (see also this) LAw.

If you have a tune or album you'd like to share with us, you can reach C.M.C. through the email address on this page or you can contact us through facebook, twitter or soundcloud. Volume 8 needs your input!

Zebra Tracks - A Moment Of Life

One of the highlights off "Collective Guilt", Zebra Tracks’ second long-player. The Athens, Greece, indie rockers have recently released their album digitally in North America via Miami, FL-based Limited Fanfare Record and are organizing a North American tour, which will end up in SXSW festival in March 2013. Listen to all 9 tracks here and check out the rest of Limited Fanfare’s releases here (personal favorite: The Ettes' single "Teeth")

Time And Energy - Tree Salad

Time And Energy is a California-based experimental rock duo with a wide range of influences (from Battles to Badly Drawn Boy), comprising of Jorge Rios and Brennan Roach. "Tree Salad", a melodic guitar track with meandering rhythms that brings to mind a more laid back version of White Denim, is taken from their forthcoming second album "Strange Kind of Focus" which you can listen to in full here.

Generator Ohm - Platius

An interesting scene seems to be forming around the King Killer Studios in Brooklyn, NYC. We've already met EndAnd in the previous edition of Found Sound, time to make our acquaintance with the furious guitars of Generator Ohm. "Platius" is taken from the trio's debut album "Upon the Me Om I" which is released this December - listen to it in full by clicking here.

Vajra - Inside The Flame

The title ("Pleroma") and cover art of Vajra’s debut album is of Greek origin but its core influences reach further east to India where composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist, Annamaria Pinna was located when she decided to start a band. The imposing "Inside The Flame" is "Pleroma"'s opening track, which reminds me of the eastern-influenced sounds of Religious To Damn, one of our favorite new bands of 2011. To listen to the full album which includes appearances by Blake Fleming (ex-The Mars Volta) on drums, Doug Wright (The Dirty Pearls) on bass and Will Dahl (ex-Harley’s War) on guitar, click here.

Minor Sounds - Gravity

Minor Sounds is the dark folk - electronic project created by Brighton, UK, based Croatian singer-songwriter Mirna Stanich and Warsaw based producer Martin Zietek. "Gravity" is one of the more upbeat, electronic-leaning tracks of their atmospheric, lo-fi debut album "The Humming" (listen in full here) which was recorded in a few living rooms around Brighton and Martin's home studio in a village near Warsaw between 2009 and 2012.

Bonus track: LAw - Freak Show

Celebrating one year since his debut mixtape and while putting the finishing touches to his new LP "Idiom" (out December 14th), LAw has just released a new, free mixtape titled "Silence is Still Golden, So Shut the F_ck Up". Click above to listen to "Freak Show", our choice for the outro of Found Sound Volume 7, and then go for the full thing here.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

New Releases: September 2012

The most interesting albums, singles and EPs of the very busy September release schedule:


BOB MOULD - Silver Age
THEE OH SEES - Putrifiers II
THE XX - Coexist
TOY - Toy
THE SOFT PACK - Strapped
DEERHOOF -  Breakup Song
STARS - The North
THE FRESH & ONLYS - Long Slow Dance
WOODS - Bend Beyond
CALEXICO - Algiers
CULT OF YOUTH - Love Will Prevail
LIGHTNING BOLT - Oblivion Hunter
DIVORCE - Divorce
THE PHEROMOANS - Does This Guy Stack Up?
MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER - Melody's Echo Chamber
MARIA MINERVA - Will Happiness Find Me?
BAND OF HORSES - Mirage Rock
ALBERTA CROSS - Songs Of Patience
THE KILLERS - Battle Born
JENS LEKMAN - I Know What Love Isn't
MINUS THE BEAR - Infinity Overhead
BRUXA - Victimeyez
SILLYBOY - Nature Of Things
THE FOREIGN RESORT - Scattered & Buried

Singles & EPs

End Of Daze
DUM DUM GIRLS - End of Daze EP
YO LA TENGO - Stupid Things
TOY - Lose My Way
COLD CAVE - A Little Death To Laugh
THEE OH SEES/ THE MALLARD - LAMC # 3 (stream: "Wait Let's Go" by Thee Oh Sees)
CHARLIE XCX - You're The One
TOPS - Diamond Look
ACIDLINER - Funkhouse
ILLUM SPHERE - H808er / Birthday
TRUST - Dressed For Space
COLD SHOWERS - Violent Cries (mp3 via stereogum)
GLASS ANIMALS - Leaflings (stream: "Cocoa Hooves")
THE KILLERS - Runaways
THE VACCINES - Teenage Icon
HOT CHIP - How Do You Do?
CLARK - Fantasm Planes EP
KING KRULE - Rock Bottom
PEACE - EP Delicious (stream: "Bloodshake")
DROP OUT VENUS - Elastic Teen Rent

Dum Dum Girls - Lord Knows (from "End of Daze" EP)