‘I haven’t been this in love in a long time,’ could describe the similarly infatuating way that Kishi Bashi’s tender voice enters your ear, floods your brain with beautiful euphonious melodies, and leaves you with the feeling that you’re floating on air…
Monday evening was a chilly, starry night filled with wild dancing, unexpected cameos and pure magic, when possibly the most extensive Reptar show in Athens history occurred. Beginning at a local house party, Reptar played some new songs off of their upcoming album after a rousing set by their pals Figboots, whipping the crowd into a frenzied haze where they lost all sense of their inhibitions.
This show took place on February 5, 2011 at The Caledonia. These are some pictures and video I took of local hardcore band American Cheeseburger’s last performance. Svagist and Atlanta band Primate also performed. Primate features Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher, who I managed to snag an interview with. Check that out here: http://thesilvertongueonline.com/?p=22416. He talks about a new Mastodon record, so if you’re interested . You can read my full review of the show here: http://thesilvertongueonline.com/?p=22584.
The mosh pit was so intense it was literally impossible to get a good shot. But the video should give you a good idea of the level of chaos that ensued.
On Friday 28th local progressive death metal band Shark Heart performed at the Caledonia with fellow locals Dierz Eve and Manger. The performance was typical of the brutal band whose terrifying metal songs have been honed over the course of 12 years playing together.
When I arrived at the Caledonia it was relatively empty. Most people I assumed were going to see the Waaves show at the adjacent 40 Watt Club. The Caledonia was unusually quiet and peaceful – a veritable omen of what was to come. (more…)
Bit Brigade, a local guitar driven rock group who perform live versions of video game soundtracks as a gamer beats the game, performed on Monday at The Caledonia. On this occasion they played the soundtrack to the original Ninja Gaiden circa 1988 for the NES.
Featuring members of local math rock groups We Versus The Shark and Cinemechanica, the group has existed for several years and continually impresses with their intricate and synchronized playing. Their performance as “Ninjaband” was the first of a five day stint which is taking them up the east coast through North Carolina and ending at the ninth annual Magfest in Alexandria, Va. The bands choice to start their tour on 01-11-2011 is fitting due to the binary nature of their band name (“Bit” Brigade, anybody?).
Despite the blizzard hurtling inches of snow on the city and freezing many of the roads, a crowd of thirty or so fans attended. In place of an opening act (understandable in consideration of the logistical problems caused by the weather), the gamer Noah McCarthy warmed up his fingers and the crowd with a speed run through Mega Man II which took only a mere twenty minutes.
Bit Brigade entered the stage and explosively played through the title screen before the start of the first level. On the large projection screen at the back of the stage the small Ninja character ran across a horizontal playing field and slashed at his foes. McCarthy quickly dispatched through the first boss at the end of the level who exploded as the band created a loud crashing noise with their instruments. This soon to become familiar sound would make several recurrences through-out the set, each time after the master gamer easily dispatched his digital victims.
Typically, it took around two to five minutes for McCarthy to defeat a level, or “Act,” as they were called in the game. After each of the five acts there was a cut scene which featured the animated face of the Ninja, his adversaries, and a female comrade. During the cut scenes the band would play melodic arrangements which set the tone for the next level, or emphasized certain words. Their guitars were tinny, electric, and biting-a faithful rock’n’roll recreation of the original 8-bit audio. Their performance showcased a genuine love for the classic game and a fusion of highly technical rocking with highly technical gaming.
On their website the band states of Ninjaband “Clocking in at forty-five minutes and encompassing over sixty unique cues and some of the most acrobatically challenging platform gameplay ever created, Ninjaband is indisputably the most epic game in our roster and truly showcases the meticulous attention to detail we pride ourselves on.”
Manray are a math rock quintet from Athens, GA. Although only having formed in June, they have already created quite a buzz due to frequent performances and a recent tour with local rockers Lazer/Wulf. Comprised of three brothers Ryan, Jordan, and Derek Oliviera, they are completed by guitarist Gene Woolfolk. All members share vocal duties. Their first recorded offering, a four song EP entitled “I Think I heard Something…”, fuses psychedelia, math rock, and indie rock into an amalgam of twisted rhythms, complexly arranged lead lines, and wide dynamic changes.
While some have cited Manray as a “math rock” group, this EP highlights a much more psychedelic sound. Many songs feature sustained feedback, pulsing hand clap rhythms, and airy chord voicings. The title track opens as such with interplaying guitar lines that create deceivingly simple, yet amusing melodies. The vocals consist of a series of distant “woaaah’s”, essentially making the song an instrumental. A tropical and light atmosphere is created by the guitars, but it becomes overpowered by crashing cymbals as the song moves between load and soft sections. Where drums do take over they tend to overshadow the rest of the sounds. Despite this, it is an interesting contrast between soft guitars and harsh drumming.
After a brief bass driven interlude, the third song, “Blue Lights: On,” takes the band to a harder, more metal-oriented sound. The riffs rely heavily on hammer-ons, pull-offs, and quickly ascending runs. The chaotic drum style of Derek Olivia fits better here than on the first song. True vocals and lyrics are introduced as Gene and Ryan alternate throaty screams and more moving clean vocals. Their vocals help fill out the texture of the sound which is a bit thin due to lack of rhythm guitar or consistent kick drum. Quick rhythm changes and slippery drum fills help to make the track a highlight of the EP.
The last song, “Burning Bridges”, begins with another hard driving riff which alludes to some metal or punk influences. Unfortunately, this time the vocals (shared by Jordan and Gene) seem to fall lackluster, especially in the verses. Their placement in the mix could be culprit, however, I believe they clash too much with the busy riffing. These sections just sound too clustered and the bizarre rhythms detract from having any sort of memorable melody. The clean vocals that follow during the bridge are more successful. They seem to float over the riffs which are less chaotic. More rhythm stops highlighted by harmonized lead guitar lines continue through the song and traditional power chord style rhythms also make an appearance adding to the diverse (at times overwhelming) variety.
The recording quality of the EP is quite primeval. Better compression, overall EQing, and attention to detail and creativity during the mixing stage could’ve brought the songs to life. While a raw, unfiltered sound may work well for a live mix, it doesn’t translate so well to a production quality CD which will be listened to in car stereos, on iPod’s, etc.
[WARNING: Editorial to follow]
As a metal enthusiast I see a need for a certain amount of groove in all music whether it be rock, jazz, or even classical. To me the math rock genre seems to say “Screw the groove. Were gonna play freaky time signatures to show that we’re incredibly competent counters.” While this may not be true of all bands labeled under the genre’s canopy, it does raise a critical question relevant to all genres featuring highly technical musicianship: Where does the line between a lot and too much end? On their first EP, Manray have packed a ton of different ideas into essentially three songs. To me, it is overwhelming and not very well conceived. Their song writing abilities simply have not caught up with their technical proficiency.
Many artists today are turning to strange, call it progressive, musical tones to set their sound apart from the rest. However, in so doing they have established weirdness as a standard. I would like to see Manray set themselves apart from Cinemechanica, Powers, and whoever else they take influence from by being less obviously mathematical. Some subtlety and restraint could help propel this band to their full potential.
1. I Think I Heard Something…
3. Blue Lights: On
4. Burning Bridges
Look what I found! Its a documentary about our beloved station WUOG, done by the WUOG News staff a few years back, for our 35th anniversary. Listen and learn something new about the station that you love, WUOG is 90.5 fm Athens, GA.
Dead Confederate does an interview on WUOG right after playing a scaled down Live in the Lobby for our last official LiTL of 2010.