It’s now the month of February, which is right about the time we Northeast folk can JUST begin thinking about digging out from under winter’s stern, unflinching grasp. And unfortunately, while we are making some progress prying up the season’s fingers, the mood in the air remains an inflexibly grey, lethargic blandness.
Thankfully we have the fiery energy of bands like Mohawk Bends to help melt away some of those frigid blues. The indie rockers recently dropped the sprawling, thrashing hammer of single “See What You Do To Me”, which soars on a wave of arpeggio-ed guitars, massively fun hooks, and confidence oozing out of every pore.
It’s the kind of song at first listen that demonstrates strong musicianship without needing to take itself too seriously. And that’s long been one of the beauties of straight up, not-grown-in-a-test-tube rock n roll. While I can appreciate the next clever set of poetry set to intricate melody as much as the next music listener, sometimes it hits straighter to the point to take screwed-over heartbreak, add a teaspoon of nervy, flexing guitars cranked up to 10, and let the passion and talent take care of the rest.
This Austin-based outfit manages to pull that all together and then some with “See What You Do To Me”, which blends together sounds from the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Collective Soul, The Whigs and Oasis while still maintaining the nature of its own identity. And that’s one of the most important things to achieve here, when you can make a listener come back based on your approach to musical creativity, not because you just sound like group x, y or z.
The realm of rock is always in need of more worthy ambassadors, and thankfully Mohawk Bends seem up to the challenge with a track like this in their arsenal.
One of my favorite segments to incorporate here on the digital pages of this website involves getting to pull back the curtain and exclusively debut new music for you all to enjoy.
That’s because, on one hand, there’s a certain type of privilege in getting to say you’re the “first” to hear something you want to tell others about. Not to mention, there’s also a particular level of creative trust involved in getting an artist to decide you’re the right person to champion the initial flag flight of their latest gestating endeavor.
And in the land of this freelancing hobbyist of melody I fancy myself to be, that’s a pretty special honor to receive.
But I digress. Today we’re here to discuss and celebrate the premiere of Rändi Fay’s new single “Intuition”. It’s not only the second teaser off of her forthcoming February 20th full-length LP of the same name, it’s also being dropped in tandem with a brand new music video you’ll see here as well in just a matter of paragraphs.
At first glance, as a new release “Intuition” has a vibe like the first initial tendril-ing of the freshness of forthcoming spring as we still sit prone in the doldrums of yet another January winter. The track carries a lightly bright, upright sparkle of waving up-and-down synthesizer grooves that buoy the steady pep of Fay’s vocal in a layer of sunny, well-crafted electronica pop veneer.
But, despite having an arrangement reminiscent of a slice of spacey, 8-bit throwback, “Intuition” still has a straight-up knack for the basic structural heart of what makes a pop song so infectiously memorable. In fact, shortly after my first several listens to the song, I found its themes of love and connection rolling around and around in my head like a thought refusing to be let loose well after the final notes had faded.
And in our world the way it’s been today, we could all use a little more of those topics in our lives. Get your little dosage right here by watching the music video below.
Since I first started this website as one of several small outlets for my creative efforts, I never imagined it growing to the point of having guests to come write alongside of me. But I’m proud to say we’ve reached that moment, and in my opinion it couldn’t be on a more appropriate discussion.
Angela Mastrogiacomo’s topic of introverts networking in the music industry and beyond is basically my life. Often it’s not easy to feel like an inward person in a field that’s so “public”, but you have to find the best strategies to help figure it out for the overall good of the career you want to find for yourself. Otherwise it makes climbing the hill that much harder, no matter what your profession is.
And as much as I like putting the microscope on the musicians I cover here on OTBEOTB, sometimes it’s just as intriguing to turn the lens the other way and expose the writer’s vulnerability as well.
I struggle with mastering these elements to this day, so I really recommend giving this piece a read. I know I plan on using plenty of these strategies myself! Now lets turn the floor over to Angela…
Talking to people is hard. I know it shouldn’t be, but for an introvert, simply talking to someone you don’t know, forcing conversation, having to think about what comes out of your mouth, can completely drain you to the point of exhaustion.
I envy the born extrovert who can bounce from conversation to conversation and feel energized by it instead of depleted.
But in the music industry especially, who you know is everything, and you can’t exactly build a network if you don’t talk to people. Which is why I knew when I started my business that if this was something I really wanted, I was going to have to make it work.
So I did what I always do—I made a plan.
I figured out how I could make networking work for me, and then I got out there and I tested it over and over until I found a series of strategies that worked. Now, I want you to take them for a spin.
I know getting out there as an introvert is hard. You want to build your career, you want to grow your community, and you want to connect, but sometimes it just feels totally overwhelming and you have no idea where to start.
This is where these strategies come in. Next time you’re about to head off to a networking event, review this quick list of strategies and see what works for you—you might be surprised!
Prepare a few topics
Trust me on this—if you’re not a natural conversationalist, prepare a few generic topics ahead of time to use once you get to the event. For instance, if it’s a general mixer for musicians and industry, a few of the topics could be “how did you get into the music industry” or “what brought you to (this city)” or “how did you get involved with (this group)?”
Just a couple get to know you questions can be enough to get you started, help you feel confident and prepared, and give you enough room to start a conversation, and then continue to build on it based on their answers.
This brings me to my next point—always listen intently to what the other person is saying. Not only because it’s rude not to, but because if you’re nervous about keeping the conversation going, a great way to make sure it doesn’t die is by listening to what the other person is saying, and following up on it with another question.
For example, if they say they came to the city for work but joke they stayed because of the food, you could follow up “I know, this city has the best food! My favorite place right now is X, but I’ve really been craving Mexican food. Any favorites?”
Bring a friend
I still remember my very first networking event. I was terrified and uncomfortable and my inclination was to just to stand in a corner and not talk to anyone. Thankfully, I’d thought ahead to bring a friend and it made all the difference.
While you don’t want to use your friend as a crutch, they can be a powerful tool for helping you work the room, especially if they’re more extroverted. It’ll give you the confidence to have someone you know and trust there, and it’ll take some of the pressure off.
Set a time limit
One thing that really helps me is setting a time limit. If it’s a 4-hour event, that doesn’t mean you need to go for 4-hours. Give yourself a time frame so that you know when that time is up, you’re free to go home and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
I’d recommend going about an hour into when the event has started, and setting your timer for whatever you’re comfortable with—but aim for at least 45 minutes.
The best part about a networking event is in the days and weeks after. Once you’ve made the connection in person, and grabbed their IG handle or email, then you can be sure to keep in touch by shooting them a “nice to meet you” email and following them on IG and being sure to comment every few days or weeks so you can keep in touch and begin to grow your relationship. When you go to the next event, reach out and see if they’ll be there, and if they are, make time to stop and chat for a few minutes. This is how you truly begin to build those relationships from acquaintances to real connections.
Instrumental-based music is a fascinating case study that really exposes the true nuts and bolts of a song and how it functions from a dictionary A-to-Z.. And that all gets started with the group’s players. Because for every high-power vocalist and scene-chewing frontman holding down the spotlight, there’s guys (and girls) playing pivotal roles like drummer, bassist and guitar player out there excavating their own bits of melodic truth.
While Robert Plant will always be Robert Plant, it certainly didn’t hurt to have Jimmy Page and the rest of Zeppelin around making sure the whole rocking production didn’t go sliding off one big crashing, musical cliff.
By letting the instruments handle the “singing”, I feel as though that grants a greater window into the true artistry gifted musicians present in their work. It’s a lot of time, attention, detail and PRACTICE to be good at the sound that you play and aspire to put out into the world. Then, once that happens, its the job of fans like myself to witness as much of it as possible and rave about it in writeups like this. As any good diehard does of course.
Luckily I have that privilege once again with the group I present you now: Dog Drive Mantis with the music video for their new single “Volta”, premiering right here on OTBEOTB.
While I must admit at initial introduction the band’s rather heavy-metal-sounding (and awesome) name and song title had me thinking of a slightly different sound, what I discovered left me impressed.
“Volta” begins as a dreamy, humming psychedelic lullaby as the band starts to settle into their groove. The track then proceeds to dip into moody, rising rock, Dave Clark 5 jazz-isms aided by some stellar saxophone lines, and a dipping, darting pace that keeps the track’s ultimate vision fun and excitingly upbeat. The boys in DDM seem to have a tight, well-honed chemistry together as well as they handle all the song’s rhythmic twists and turns with ease and spread a wealth of influences out on the table while doing it.
And when it comes to the video, while there’s still something to be said in art for productions in music, sometimes the best thing is simply being able to witness the live performance, unadorned. Getting to see those slivers of a show’s intimacy and/or bravado as though you’re right there in the room with that vibe. It’s also a sign that the talent you’re hearing isn’t staged or endlessly studio enhanced to sell a digital single. It’s a real, spiritual thing wrought from hard work and the love to create art.
So if you haven’t already, check out the electricity of Dog Drive Mantis and how it sparkles here. You won’t regret watching them go to work.
Once again, I am beyond excited to exclusively present another guest post for the band Silver Relics as they documented some of their experiences on a recent international tour. I have to give a big thanks to both Alex Sepassi and Justin Alvis as well as their crew for wanting to help create this, would love to do plenty more of this in the future!
Day 4: Night and Day Cafe : Manchester, United Kingdom : 6.30.19
Justin caught an early flight ahead of Howie, Brandt and myself into Manchester. We headed straight to our hotel to try and get some rest before our first ever UK performance. It was only about a 5 minute walk to the venue so we had plenty of time to explore the Night and Day Cafe located in the center of the city. This venue is spectacular. The type of place that makes you want to take photos.
Soundcheck was relaxed which gave us plenty of time to get to know a great group of guys and a fantastic band, Electric Cheese. The overall feeling I had from this place was that everything has to be earned. It’s not a very forgiving city until you’ve gained the respect of the locals. I don’t need to get into how many brilliant artists originated from Manchester. It’s understood. And if you aren’t aware of that then you sure as shit will once you walk by any venue. This city is home to many of my biggest influences, so to be a part of it, even for a day is amazing.
Shortly after soundcheck, in walks Mark Burgess and friends. Mark’s an extraordinary artist, writer and the frontman of The Chameleons, a legendary band with roots firmly planted in this city. It was a privilege to perform on this stage. Afterwards we received this review from Mark that we’ll forever appreciate:
Manchester Night & Day cafe
“On the recommendation of a friend I caught Silver Relics performing a set at Manchester’s Legendary Night and Day Cafe. Playing a debut show in the centre of Manchester is never easy at the best of times and Sunday nights are the not the best of times, but Silver Relics from New York definitely lit a flame under those present. I was pleasantly surprised and deeply impressed by this duo, comprised of real drums, and talented drums at that, a rock and roll guitar worthy of the name and some soulful vocals, what’s more there were a few seriously impressed Mancunians around me that shared that view. Some great, vibrant original songs augmented by a really fun cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Never Let Me Down ensured that everyone ended the night in good spirits and with huge grins on their faces.
Well played Silver Relics.”
Day 4: Success.
Day 5: Green Door Store : Brighton, United Kingdom : 7.1.19
We’re starting to get our asses kicked at this point. Not a lot of sleep and we’re about to do our 5th show in 5 days. Here we are on our way from Manchester to Brighton:
Everybody loves Brighton. We arrived when it was 75 and sunny. We linked up with our brilliant photographer, Kevin McGann, who happens to be one of our favorite people, so we already knew it was going to be another good night.
Green Door Store is below the train station in an old refurbished stable-turned-venue. The sound in this place was spectacular. Our label mates, Autorotation, put on an amazing performance to start off the night. They’re moody, sophisticated and inviting. We loved everything about this night, especially when we met with Chemlab frontman Jared Hendrickson. This man is amazing. He embodies everything I respect in a musician with the same type of confidence found in Mark Burgess. Here’s what he had to say about the evening:
“I just saw the Silver Relics, a band from New York, play their first show at the Green Door Store in Brighton, about an hour south of London. They’ve been playing dates around the UK and dropped into Brighton just before heading up to play the Old Smoke. I knew their songs from listening to their Generic album, but I really didn’t know what to expect from them live. Having performed in bands for years myself, a good live show is important to me.
Being able to perform with intensity and brio no matter the attendance is crucial too, and Brighton brought the challenge because the audience, though very enthusiastic, was small. Lame bands underperform when in-front of a small audience, but the Relics displayed utter professionalism by stepping up to the mic and ripping the lid off the Green Door. From their opening number, Fame, to their raucous closer, Cardiac, they roared through their tight set as if they were playing to an audience of a thousand.
The lights hazed and the colours boosted and the audience was hooked, cheering and whooping up a storm. Justin pounded his kit with a combination of precision and abandon that was a delirious pleasure to watch. Drummers aren’t always worth watching, but this guy was a show all on his own, ranging from delicate, intimate moments to all-out Grohlian bludgeon. Alex Sepassi is the perfect front man, simultaneously inviting and yet wrapped up in the world of his songs, his voice just the right mix of sandpaper and silk as he sashayed and swayed around the stage like the missing link between Keith Richards and the unbeatable Wilko Johnson.
With a sound that sets the pop perfection of The Kinks and The Beatles on a hard collision course with the dark dreams of “Pornography”-era Cure, the gorgeous sonic wall of bands like My Bloody Valentine and a lick of The Verve before they went right up their own asses, Silver Relics are perfectly poised to take the UK by storm.
Bring them back soon. I can guarantee the room will be packed after that show!”
Day 6: The Islington : London, United Kingdom : 7.2.19
1 a.m. train to London with Brandt and Howie. Justin’s staying the night in Brighton , which was a smart move by the way. London was the perfect place for our final show on this run. The Islington is a gem. We showed up to deliver the best of what we had. This performance was a challenge since we knew this one was going to be the last one until our next trip over. Justin and I love everything about the stage, so you can imagine how happy we were after 6 shows in 6 days. We were joined by our friends, Autorotation and Cyberwaste. It sounded and felt fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for a better spot to perform.
We learned so much on this trip. Performing “Generic.” in front of the people and the places that have influenced me since the beginning was so important to me. Important for us. Something happens when we strip away everything and we’re left with ourselves, our instruments and the people in front of us. We walked away knowing that this record and these songs are something we absolutely need to keep sharing with all of you.
Thank you to every one for your support and to those responsible for getting us here.
Apologies for the recent absence, but I’m making up for the gap with something fun! Recently one of the groups I’ve previously reviewed Silver Relics did an international tour, and they wanted to document their journey and some of their experiences. So I was more than happy to play host to it! Enjoy part one of this two-part installment, featuring the duo’s jaunt around Ireland.
Day 1: Drop Dead Twice : Dublin, Ireland : 6.27.19
Today Justin and I are running around city centre looking for a voltage adapter after we absolutely fried the shite out of our rack late last night. Complete with smoke and sparks by the way. 7 shops later, we’re back on track. Also, something we noticed was how helpful every single shop owner/worker was to us. If they didn’t have it then they pointed us to a place they thought might. So we were a little thrown off by that level of kindness. Not exactly something New Yorkers are used to but we but love everything about the welcoming aspects of Dublin. We arrived for our first show at Drop Dead Twice. Here are a couple of shots of Justin and me at the venue:
We sat around with our new friends from the Dublin quartet Magazines before we went on. These guys have an amazing sound and we can’t wait to see what happens next for them. Overall, the night was fantastic and I really don’t think we could have had a better experience for our first show.
Our dear friends Dermot Lambert and Craig Kingma at Garageland Ireland set us up at all three venues in Ireland. They’re amazing guys and we can’t thank them enough. Here’s a quote about the show from Derm:
“It can be quite difficult for an artist to win over a new audience, especially in a faraway land which they’ve never been to before, but the room came alive when Silver Relics took the stage in Dublin on that beautiful June evening. Heralded only by some specialised radio play from their tracks Time Bomb (T2), and Generic, the band found themselves in the company of a room full of instant fans, as the smokers came in from the beer garden and the private party-goers came down from the upstairs club to see who was driving the bass and killing the tunes. Justin swaggers and Alex swoons as the whole room became transfixed, hypnotised by proceedings. A set list of 7 songs disappeared all too fast in a haze of blistering anthems and killer hooks, delivered by actual real life rock stars. On this occasion I am happy to report ‘I was there’. ”
Day 2: The Sound House : Dublin, Ireland : 6.28.19
Today we’re over at the Garageland RTE2XM station for a live broadcast with Dermot, Craig and our producer, Howie Beno. We talked a lot about a little of everything. How the record was made, how we got to where we are and where we want to go. Always a pleasure to sit around with these guys. Here’s a shot of Justin and me in our new Garageland tees.
We got to the venue for soundcheck and right away we knew it was gonna be a good night. The venue overlooks the river and the space itself is gorgeous.
But this wasn’t an easy show. We were the first to go on and there weren’t a lot of people there when we started our set. These things happen from time to time but it never changes how we actually play. So we gave it everything like always and we started to see more and more people pile in by the time we were close to finishing out the set. The other bands were fantastic just like the night before at Drop Dead Twice. There’s an incredible amount of talent in Dublin. Every single group/artist has something to offer. They play together and you can feel how important it is for all of them to be up there.
Day 2: success.
Day 3: Pharmacia : Limerick, Ireland : 6.29.19
On the road to Limerick with Derm, Howie and Brandt. Before we even got to the venue we stopped off at Cashel somewhere between Dublin and Limerick. This was an experience along the way that made us realize exactly where we were. This is the type of place that makes you shut the fuck up and appreciate what’s right in front of you. The castle and the landscapes are incredible. We walked away grateful knowing that we had this to remember.
We didn’t get to see as much of Limerick aside from the ride through the city and the spots surrounding the venue. First thing’s first, Pharmacia is a great spot. It’s quirky and tasteful. The lineup was fantastic thanks to Garageland. The Revolators, In The Black and Norma Manly have amazing energy. They’re bold and it’s evident they felt right at home, which made the night a lot of fun. This was a great show that was worth the midnight journey back to Dublin without an ounce of sleep before we jumped on a flight to Manchester.
Singer-songwriter Stephen Babcock makes a fresh return with new music in just a little less than two weeks on June 28th in the form of upcoming single “Fight I Need”. The one-off is the followup to Babcock’s exceptional 2018 EP “Fiction”, and represents yet another linear step ahead in the development of the musician’s sound.
Material like “Fiction” and Babcock’s prior 2016 LP “Said & Done” largely felt most at home in a stripped down, coffeehouse format allowing the upfront intimacy of the moments to flow cleanly off the acoustic guitar strings. “Fight I Need” doesn’t exactly lose that well-shined sensibility for the landscape. Rather, it just surrounds it with an added edge of slinky organ work, trailing harmonies, and the bright punch of electric guitar fills racing right out of the melodic gateway.
That auditory kiss with a fist makes for a fitting companion to the track’s lyrical energy, which takes the notion of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” and riffs on it as a way to describe a desire for a relationship’s emotional toil. And indeed, either experience feels akin to 10 rounds in the boxing ring, with equal amounts of stamina needed just to outlast the conflict.
You can see Stephen live just after “Fight I Need” comes out at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 for a release show June 29th at 9pm!
I love being able to delve into a lot of different tones and types of music on this blog. As my tastes advance, branch out and find new avenues in the cracks of this genre highway, it continues to be refreshing to be able to share what moves me and fascinates my ear. And it’s time to do that once again, this time in the form of a New York City-based alternative-rock band and their new record “Generic.”
Silver Relics begin their journey on this newly-released LP with the computery, electrified “Fame”, a song ruminating on the topic in a musical descent reminiscent of Bob Mould’s “Workbook” mixed into his later album “Modulate”. With drummer Justin Alvis providing Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight” thunder downs from behind the kit, lead vocalist and songwriter Alex Sepassi brings an almost industrial-sounding Gothic, Smashing Pumpkins-processed gloom within his Billy Corgan-splashed vocals on this track.
“Generic” meanwhile has a more Depeche Mode, stadium rock 80’s ambition that soars with a psychedelic expanse, while “End of Zero” is an acoustic-shaded dance beat of a song. “Time Bomb” wades into cutting guitar lines reminiscent of Sonic Youth, and “Wanderlust” abruptly turns from that musical thought into something resembling Duran Duran.
Silver Relics certainly comes as catchy as some of my prior references advertise, with track after track hitting ear-worms and hooks with a regularity requiring repeat listens just to break down the layers.
“Generic.” is an LP that doesn’t hesitate to move and get loose around the space it creates for itself and its melodic character, while still staying a bit more dark and digital with its soundscapes. The record title may imply something common or easily passable, but Silver Relics has done anything but that here in this expanse.
Check out the album below, as well as a few tour dates when Silver Relics may be in your neck of the woods!
‘Record Release Listening Party’ at The Scratcher, NYC – May 28
There’s a very strong early rabbit theme to Owen-Glass’ new LP The Rope & The Rabbit. There’s the title of course, but the initial track is called “Rabbit Hole” as well, and it feels very much like the dreamlike fall of Alice at the start of a pre-Wonderland excursion into this album. The pastoral folk strummer of a track begins small and grows into a varied, undulating thing. Like the rise and fall of sleeping breath into rigorous LSD fever-dreams.
How fitting then to be followed by “Here It Comes”, a Beatles Sgt. Pepper-vibing psych-rocker that makes the creatures of this “Wonderland” shuffle-dance together to a wave of Cole Humphrey’s George Harrison guitar lines and Anthony Earl’s hauntingly satisfying sax. This is all while Kelly Wayne Conley’s hushed vocals raggedly dart in and out of the arrangements, equally as capable shining on the gently-traced Springsteen meanderings of “Devil Don’t Mind” as the rugged groove of “Saint”.
Owen-Glass doesn’t hesitate to flex its strong cast of collaborators on The Rope & The Rabbit, or its desire to experiment out into different melodically-inclined avenues. It seems like a fitting decision given how many of these tracks lyrically deal with the vast complexity that is human conflict and emotion. An evocative musical backing just makes connecting to each song’s inner workings that much easier.
“General Butler” has a wry, Afro-Caribbean sway that brings to mind alt-pop outfit Jukebox the Ghost, while “Leave It Alone” is a full-on, moody burner. Meanwhile, “Paper Chains” feels like a jammier b-side off the Dave Matthews Band’s 90’s smash “Under The Table & Dreaming”.
To latch on to the word “jammier” for a moment, I applaud the group for putting out a song like “Paper Chains”. It’s a track almost 6 minutes in length that lets the musicians stretch their chops out a bit and not simply wrap up a theme in three minutes or less. In a world so dominated by digital singles and putting out work a piece at a time, to see those kind of album-focused moves (on multiple songs here) is a refreshing nod to how viable a good LP still is (and will always be).
Closing track “The Rope” returns to the humbly simple beginnings of the record as it mixes together dusty folk-rock with hints of something almost… chamber pop Parisian. The Rope & The Rabbit is content to keep the listener from just that, being content. Getting comfortable with good music and getting too boringly acclimated with what you’re hearing are two different things, and the latter usually lie forgotten after a time. Not so with Owen-Glass or this album, which offers the kind of intriguing variation to keep me going back to the start of “Rabbit Hole” to begin the journey again.
Check out more on the group and order the album on owen-glass.com!