Author Archives: Chasemontani

TTNG (This Town Needs Guns) live at The Space 11/5

The chance to see TTNG, the infamous math rock pioneers from the United Kingdom, in itself was something special. But to see them at an intimate venue such as The Space only heightened the experience. Having missed them last November when they made a stop in Hamden, I marked the date when I learned TTNG would be touring back to the U.S. I was also lucky enough to have tickets for the show gifted to me by my girlfriend, Ashleyann Silva, for my birthday. Let’s just say I didn’t need any alternative motivations to get excited for this show.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with the one man band that is Henry Kohen, under the monicker Mylets. Hailing from Los Angeles, Kohen provided a captivating performance, highlighted by several layered guitar parts live with a loop pedal and triggered analog samples, while delivering angst-ridden confessions over top. Following Mylets was Emma Ruth Rundle, another solo act. In a long black dress, and a floral crown, Rundle sang emotionally over effected electric guitars, delivering ballads of love and loss. Henry Tremain, singer-bassist-guitarist of TTNG, stood idly on the side of the stage, eating a banana, and singing along to his label-mates’ songs in between bites.

The openers set the stage for TTNG, literally, as they helped the band set up. Once all the pedal boards were in place, amps were warmed up, guitars were tuned, and drums were tightened, TTNG exploded into their track “Gibbon” from their 2009 release, Animals. The onlooking crowd began to shout along with Tremain, “Once more in to breaches I cannot gap. One more chance to second guess your thoughts. My friends said that you would be a tough nut to crack. Come back lets settle this up…

They then proceeded into their version of a “hit single” in “Cat Fantastic” from their 2013 release 13.0.0.0.0. The dense crowd began to move with Tremain and the Collins brothers, drummer Chris and guitarist Tim, as they bobbed along to the complex time signatures and tempo swings that are signatures of TTNG.

The band played a diverse setlist, crossing their discography effortlessly and gracefully. A major high point of the show was when TTNG debuted a new song. The track, consistent in style and complexity, mirrored that of the work on both Animals and 13.0.0.0.0, while Tremain sang in falsetto melodies. This song is only another reason to be excited that the power-trio from Oxford is releasing new material in the near future.

Tremain sparked fans excitement when he doused himself in both a bass guitar and an electric guitar at the same time. Throughout the song Tremain would alternate between the two necks, much like how one would play a double-neck guitar, filling in bass parts when needed and dueling Tim Collins in guitar parts at other times.

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Tremain’s amazing feat stole the show. As did his banter with the crowd between songs. One fan labeled him as “Banana Man” for his earlier side stage antics. Tremain and the Collins brothers also went back in forth with the sound engineer several times to ensure their audio was just right.

TTNG closed their set with “If I Sit Still, Maybe I’ll Get Out of Here” from their 2008 self-titled EP. The crowd rejoiced and sang along to the timeless chorus, “Yesteryear still rings in my ear. Like buttons and pins this mess we’re in dissolves in time.” To say that TTNG’s performance was the best I’ve seen in an intimate setting would be an understatement. The trio blew myself, as well as the rest of the crowd, away with their deceivingly full sound and playful stage presence. Hopefully we’ll get a new record from the lads soon, until then we’ll have to settle for their near studio-quality live renditions, and goofy Facebook posts.

Matt Greene “Shades of Greene” Mixtape Review

The best rappers of the digital era have started with mixtapes: Wayne, Wiz, Mac, Cole, and Greene. Matt Greene has dropped his debut mixtape entitled “Shades of Greene”, a clever play on his last name.

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The young gun from Middletown, New Jersey, got his introduction into music through the pianos and drums, then found a love for hip hop. That love grew into passion as Greene began to write rhymes of his own.

“I just have rhythm,” Greene said after recalling how he was able to play the drums the first time he ever sat down at a set. Greene’s rhythm is evident in his voice, which moves in a deep tone across some familiar beats. Greene borrowed beats from J. Cole, Logic, and Phoenix to name a few, a diverse collection of background music that accents his clear articulation through the 13 tracks.

Greene’s talents are particularly on display on the track “Drift Away” where he raps over a smooth Pretty Lights production. His creativity and flow over the beat help to showcase his lyricism, which is exceptional for a first mixtape. Some thematic elements Greene used were inspiration, dreaming, and nostalgia.

Greene also performs with the group Off Top, a compilation of Greene, Gnarly Nonsense, Parker Caexar and Eric Foster. They’ve performed two shows in New Jersey in the past few months and are planning to book more in the upcoming future.

Needless to say Greene’s voice is going to take him far in the hip hope game. Central Jersey is starting to develop a solid underground rap scene, and its safe to say Greene is on the forefront. His local following has helped his mixtape already to reach over 3,000 people through his Facebook. You can listen to Shades of Greene on his Bandcamp.

American Football Reunion Show – 10/11 Webster Hall

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The first time I ever heard the dueling melodies, somber trumpets, rhythmic drums, and the angst ridden vocals that make up American Football I was in High School. I was listening to a lot of different post-hardcore and indie rock and hadn’t really heard anything like what American Football brought to the table. I was intrigued but not over-sold and didn’t really revisit them until college. Now I get American Football. I understand the depth of the music. I understand what they created in the basement of their college house back in 1999.

Getting the opportunity to see them come together 15 years later to recreate the magic that they captured on their self-titled album and EP was something I didn’t think was ever going to possible. The shows sold out within minutes, despite the band’s efforts to add more dates to accommodate the wealth of listeners they had built up over the years. If not for the work of my talented girlfriend, Ashleyann Silva a senior studying public relations and entrepreneurship, this would’ve never happened. Fortunately for myself, the publicity company that she has interned for, Big Hassle Media, allotted her a photo press pass and a plus one, AKA yours truly.

The scene was set from the moment we arrived outside of Webster Hall. The line was packed full of the older emo generation, who were around to remember the influence that American Football had on the genre, but it also contained some of the younger generation, who respects and worships the band as if they were still a part of the scene (I am of the latter). Upon entry we figured it’d good to go up to the balcony to get a bird’s-eye view of the affair. Into It. Over It. had started their set and were ripping tenaciously through their new take on emo, which clearly is influenced by American Football. We couldn’t get a good spot to see because everyone was packed in tight on the railing, so we descended back downstairs into the heart of the crowd. Luckily we were able to post up in the front right corner of the room next to what appeared to be a security guard. He was standing on some sort of ottoman to get a better view of the crowd.

As Into It. Over It. ended their set and gave their thanks to the crowd, the anticipation set in. You could see it across the faces of everyone in the crowd; a sort of blank stare on the stage while they calculated the possible amount of time the band could keep us waiting for. We watched as their guitar tech set up everything for Mike Kinsella and company. We watched as Kinsella appeared on the side of the stage for a moment and received a warm welcome before he disappeared back into the green room. In the meantime, I went to the bar to grab a $7 Stella Artois.

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Then after about 20 more minutes of waiting it happened. I had been lucky enough to inherit the ottoman that the security guard had been standing on in between sets, so I had a great view of the entire venue as I sipped my overpriced imported beer. The house lights went down and four ghostly figures appeared on stage in the form of silhouettes, lit only by the flashes from several cameras in the crowd. And then it all began with the riff from the beginning of “Five Silent Miles.” The lights cascaded over everyone in the hall, and behind the band was a projection of the infamous corner of the house that graced their record cover. They continued through their EP, in an out-of-order fashion, although no one seemed to mind. Everyone was too transfixed on the fact that American Football was on the stage.

Everyone really got excited when Kinsella began to play the beginning of “Honestly?” The entire sea of people formed as one and belted the words as did Kinsella: “Honestly I can’t remember all my teenage feelings, and the meanings. They seemed too see-through to be true.”

In between songs while the band would have to move into another one of their calculated tunings, D A D A C# E to F A C G C E, Kinsella would humor the crowd by simply asking, “What do you guys want to talk about?” Several loudmouths would try their best to shout back witty topics at Kinsella as he stood staring intently down at his tuner to make sure he had it all right. I simply stood thinking to myself, “So, new album anytime soon?”

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Kinsella traded his Telecaster for a Bud Light as the band went into their most aggressive, for lack of a better word, song, “I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional.” The crowd chimed into the famous lines: “You’re so cold to accidents and misunderstandings!”

The night went on and the music just seemed to be getting better. Maybe it gets better with age. And after 15 years of aging, I’d say American Football were at their best. While I was at the tender age of 7 the last time they played any shows, they seemed to be enjoying themselves up on stage as they were playing songs from their adolescents, that didn’t really pertain to them anymore. I mean, Steve Holmes has been out of music for a long time, but it didn’t look like it on Saturday night. The band concluded their set with “The One With the Wurlitzer” as Kinsella told the fans, “We’re going to go over to the side and stand there for a bit,” of course anticipating chants for an encore.

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Of course, they delivered and had obviously left out two of their staples from their setlist. The encore began with Steve Lamos playing his trumpet behind his drumset, and touring bassist (and brother of Mike Kinsella) Nate Kinsella played a tom in the corner. Mike Kinsella and Holmes tried to figure out who was supposed to come in first on their track “The Summer Ends” and had to restart it a few times before they got it. The mess up just added to the atmosphere and didn’t phase anyone in the crowd other than giving them a good laugh. They ended their set on a classic note, with their most popular song “Never Meant”, the groovy, math-rock jam that had the whole crowd nodding their heads in-sync. It was a perfect scene to end what felt like a perfect night.

As they left the stage, Kinsella grabbed the empty bottles that he’d accumulated during the set and gave his regards to the fans. He even grabbed one fan’s camera and took a picture for them, something I’m sure that fan will remember for the rest of their lives. The reunion of American Football was greater than advertised and really hit home. Maybe it’s because I’m graduating college this year and understand some of the things that Kinsella brings forth in their lyrics, or maybe it’s because I got to see a band that I’d never thought it’d ever be possible to see. Either way, American Football have certainly left a legacy behind. If they decide to go forward and create new music that will be welcomed I’m sure by all, but if they decide to end it all after this round of tour dates, I wouldn’t blame them one bit.

 

Most Anticipated Records of the Fall

Fall is upon us and there are some pretty exciting albums that are coming out, or are rumored to be coming out before year’s end. Last autumn, we saw the release of some pretty incredible records like Balance and Composure’s “The Things We Think We’re Missing” and Touché Amoré’s “Is Survived By.”

This Fall is already shaping out to be a great one for music of all genres. Here are a few records I’m looking forward to:

Minus the Bear “Lost Loves” – 10.07 – Dangerbird Records
Minus the Bear have also satisfied fans with their releases despite their always-changing array of sounds. With the release of “Lost Loves”, Minus the Bear has put together a compilation of b-sides from from their last three releases – “Planet of Ice”, “Omni” and “Infinity Overhead.” They released the first single from the album “The Lucky Ones” in August.

Pianos Become the Teeth “Keep You” – 10.28 – Epitaph Records
Pianos have built up a pretty dedicated following with their throwback screamo style combined with pounding, emotional instrumentation. They put aside the screams and traded them in for fluttering vocals, that still manage to hit as hard as it did before. If the first single “Repine” is any indication, we’re in for a hell of a record from the boys from Maryland.

Gates “Bloom and Breathe” – 10.21 – Pure Noise Records
After signing to Pure Noise Records, Gates went out on countless tours and also re-released their EP “You Are All You Have Left to Fear” with two new tracks. Gates have come a long way from the first release of “Fear” and “Bloom and Breathe” is shaping up to be a monumental release for the quintet from New Jersey. Check out their music video for “Not My Blood” was released last week.

Logic “Under Pressure” – 10.21 – Def Jam Records
If you’ve had an ear in the underground hip-hop scene for the past few years, chances are you’ve heard of Logic. After being signed to Def Jam Records in April 2013, Logic’s debut album has been in the works for a little over a year, and has been teasing fans through social media on what to expect from the record. He released his first single “Under Pressure” last week to get even more buzz going around the debut.

Radiohead “TBA”
Thom Yorke has been messing with Radiohead fans in recent days by posting his usual cryptic pictures and messages through his Twitter account. While not much has been said about this album, other than Johnny Greenwood saying that Radiohead camp would be getting together in September, it can be speculated that new music is coming, hopefully by early next year.

Kendrick Lamar “TBA”
“King” Kendrick dropped “i” on Tuesday and sent shockwaves throughout the Internet. The track features a sample from the Isley Brothers, a group Kendrick has cited as a big influence in his music. The tone of the track is uplifting and contrasts the tone of “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” but the lyricism is still tops anyone else’s in the game. Kendrick has also mentioned he hopes to drop his new album before the end of the year.

Brand New “TBA”
Brand New released “Daisy” five years ago and has been taunting their fans ever since with the idea of a new record. A few weeks ago, it was said that they might have played a new song live, although no one could really confirm the news. However, Brand New has put up a picture on Instagram of Jesse Lacey in a large studio with a man who we could only hope to be their long time producer Mike Sapone. While nothing has been said by Brand New, they built a studio this summer and that has to mean something. Hopefully they release something before the new year.

 

 

 

“Through Struggle Comes Strength” – The Involuntary, EP Review

“You live your life so aimlessly, without a purpose I can see.”

From the beginning, this five song EP hits hard and doesn’t look back. With lead singer, Dan John’s powerful opening statements, its evident this New Jersey five-piece means business. Forming from the ruins of several renowned post-hardcore acts all over Jersey, John (Cry the Beloved City, By Defect) is supported by guitarists Ryan Robb (The Red Effect) and Rahul Chitale (Fairfield) as well as bassist Peter D’elia (Elodie) and drummer Vince Rifino (Gold, The Red Effect). Though a few years removed from their previous acts, The Involuntary are making a splash in a stagnant New Jersey hardcore scene with their debut EP, “Through Struggle Comes Strength”.

Showing off their arsenal of talents, The Involuntary seem to have no weak spots in their power lineup. If you were around 5 or 6 years ago in the New Jersey music scene, you would know that these guys were all over the Garden State playing shows together, just for different groups. Now together, they’re creating buzz in a scene that’s been struggling for some time now.

 

Showcasing their wide range of influences from old-school Thrice, math rock studs Minus the Bear, and techni-core giants August Burns Red, The Involuntary are proving that there is plenty of originality left to be explored in hardcore music. While the casual hardcore listener can access this EP without a struggle, the deep listener will appreciate the little things the band has made an effort to display. They tracked the record in Montville, New Jersey, with Mike Lisa, a former bandmate of Rifino’s as well as a popular local producer. From there the tracks went to Rifino’s older brother Matt, where he mastered the EP at NBC studios. While the production value on the EP is outstanding, it is not over-produced, a medium that many hardcore bands struggle to achieve with all of the temptations of studio help.

John fully embraced the roll of the frontman, something he has yet to do in his musical career. Previously he was a guitarist/singer, but now he is displaying his talents in both singing and screaming, and doing both in outstanding quality. Robb and Chitale’s guitars compliment each other, and while neither of them is considered the “lead” they dual parts and make sure the listener is never bored. D’elia, a former guitarist in his last stint with Elodie, proves he can write and perform basslines that will entice fans and rumble their bones. Rifino is drumming at another level throughout the record, continuously challenging himself and his bandmates, while also making sure the listener keeps their heads bobbing through the entire 16 minutes of chaos.

The Involuntary are proving that there is some excitement left in this genre that New Jersey has been quick to abandon. This work has been in production for about a year and a half now, the band is aiming to keep fans and listeners coming back for more. They do just that with these five tracks, and their exciting live performances. The EP is available June 21 on the band’s Soundcloud and Bandcamp, as well as streaming on their YouTube page. You can like The Involuntary on Facebook for updates.