New Amazing Baby | “Bayonets”

Alright so here are the first fruits of Amazing Baby's debut album which the band is in the midst of recording and should be released this summer. "Bayonets," which I don't think I've heard them do live, definitely reinforces the Roxy Music comparisons with the sweeping string arrangements and big drama. While not likely to shut up the Brooklyn Vegan hater-commenters, this is pretty great.

MP3Amazing Baby – Bayonets

The band are about to tour Europe before heading back here for a tour with Cold War Kids in April. Dates below:

12 – Anson Rooms, Bristol (w/ Mystery Jets)
13 – Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (NME Awards Show w/ Mystery Jets)
14 – Fleche D'Or, Paris
16 – Paradiso, Amsterdam
17 – Doornroosje, Nijmegen
18 – Molotov, Hamburg
19 – Vega, Copenhagen
20 – Debaser, Malmo
21 – Debaser, Stockholm

02 – Wilbur Theatre, Boston (w/ Cold War Kids)
03 – Terminal 5, New York (w/ Cold War Kids)
06 – Water Street, Rochester (w/ Cold War Kids)
16 – Schubas Tavern, Chicago (w/ Cold War Kids)

Video Roundup: Amazing Baby, BPA, Camille, Violens

I used to do a Music Video of the Week feature, and not sure why I stopped. So here's a bunch of new videos, complete with random thoughts from me.

Amazing Baby – "Pump Your Brakes"

Seriously, what the hell is going on here? Basketball, teen witchcraft, Egyptian gods, rocking out? Can't say I'm a fan of this style of "whatever everything" videomaking popularized the by the MGMT boys, but I am an Amazing Baby fan and like the song, which is available on their free Infinite F**king Cross EP.

BPA feat. Emmy the Great — "Seattle"

Brighton Port Authority is Norman Cook's new project which purports to be some sort of secret, "lost tapes" kind of thing in hopes of distracting us from how boring the last couple Fatboy Slim albums were. But the BPA are better just by the nature of the project, which are all collaborations.  I was kind of hoping that this would be a cover of PiL's "Seattle" because I couldn't imagine Emmy singing it. But no, it's an original and quite lovely, actually. As for the video itself, Cook has always made clever ones and this flip-block concept is pretty cool.

Camille – Money Note

I can't say this song by French singer Camille does much for me but the video, directed by Paf ! Le Chien (yes that's a person's name) is pretty great in a Nagi Noda-meets-Gondry-meets-Mummenschanz kind of way.

Violens – Doomed

Typical of their art collective background, Violens' video for the Aztec Camera-ish "Doomed" features no lip-synching, or even the band at all. Instead, we get a bunch of pretty young girls in a nice old house with a surprise, creepy twist ending featuring high thread-count linens.

Amazing Baby + The Blacks + Suckers | Union Pool | 8.16.2008


This was the after-party to an all-day scavenger hunt hosted by music mag Death & Taxes magazine. Teams spent four hours running around New York finding stuff, some of which included various forms of alcohol. Before the bands was a two-hour free-booze-and-tacos BBQ, so needless to say the crowd was well-lubricated and some didn't make it to the headlining set of Amazing Baby. Me, I skipped the scavenger hunt and BBQ and showed up just in time for the bands. An early show (7:30 or so), especially for Union Pool, and easily the most on-time show I've ever seen there. I love the actual venue; the lax way they run the non-posted schedule, not so much.

This was the fourth time I've seen Amazing Baby since their live debut in May and each one has been a slightly different line-up, centering around a core of singer William Roan, guitarists Simon O'Connor and Rob Laasko and drummer Matt Abeysekera. We seen a backup singer leave and return, and original member Leah Carey seems to be gone now. Most recent change, bassist Jane Herships is now playing with Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. She was front and center in the crowd at this show, though. "I'm the only fan who knows all the words," she told me afterward. And the only one who knows how to play the songs.

Amazing Baby have managed to keep things fairly low-key in the nine months they've been together, despite being the recipient of Mark Ronson's praise and being named on of NME's 25 Bands Making America Cool Again, which is good as they've only got about eight songs. And they've only been a band for nine months. (Amazing baby indeed.) Four of those songs are available on the Infinite Fucking Cross EP which you can download from their website for free. It's the same songs they had as free downloads on their MySpace page four months ago (with a shorter version of "Pump Yr Breaks" and no "Infinite Palace"), but if you haven't picked them up yet do it now. It's good stuff.

They've wisely turned down a couple small tours with big-ish bands in favor of sticking around Brooklyn to work on new material  — though the they will tour with MGMT (with whom they're friends and once shared a drummer) and Violens in the UK. (How do you turn that down?) Hopefully they won't come back with too big heads.

MP3: Amazing Baby – Invisible Palace

But I digress. Back to the show. The Blacks, who I've written about before and are palls with the D&T crew, flew in from San Francisco just to play this show. On record, they're not that far off from Yeah Yeah Yeahs or The Cramps or any number of No Wave-influenced groups. Good songs, for sure, but  maybe not 100% distinctive. Live, however, there is only one Blacks, thanks to tambourine player JDK Blacker. He is like Animal from the Muppet Show if he poured all the energy of playing a drumkit into just one tambourine. I bet he could hand crank ice cream in record time.

Opening the show was Suckers, which is the live incarnation of Quinn Walker whose double album Laughter's an Asshole/Land Lion garnered a 7.3 from Pitchfork and love from Stereogum. The main thing I remember about the album is the cover, depicting Quinn as a Viking puking a technicolor rainbow. Actually, there are some pretty good songs on it, like a folky Dan Deacon — a hodgepodge of ideas where the only cohesive theme seems to be banning of the word "No." As wacky as the album is you'd expect some shenanigans when Suckers play live, but after two times seeing them live (the first was the Stereogum party at Market Hotel with SF's awesome Girls) I have to say they're kind of boring, the most distinguishing aspect being Walker's vocal intonations which sounded a lot like Axel Rose. (To be fair, Suckers seemed to be down a member and they were better the last time.) A couple big No Nos in my book: everyone was sitting…rock bands don't sit! They also don't wear shorts.

Amazing Baby play Market Hotel this Friday and, according to the flyer, it's free Colt 45 all night which could be awesome or horrible depending how the night goes. They're also opening for Does it Offend You Yeah? at Bowery Ballroom next Saturday (though it's not on their MySpace…hmm) and play with A Place to Bury Strangers at Music Hall of Williamsburg on September 15.

The Blacks, meanwhile, play with A Place to Bury Strangers on September 29 at Bottom of the Hill in SF.

Suckers, double meanwhile, play Le Poisson Rouge on September 12 with Dragons of Zynth.

I shot some video of Amazing Baby. Here's "Head Dress":

And here's "The Narwhal":

Amazing Baby | Mercury Lounge | 6.12.2008


Another good show from one of Brooklyn's most promising new bands. This was Amazing Baby's fourth show in their short existence — but as I said about their live debut a month ago — they seem to have it pretty much figured out. Heavy, glammy psychedelic rock with plenty of melody, by people who know how to play their instruments and hold an audience's attention. Singer Leah Carey was back with the band this time (she missed her band's first show!) and the chemistry between her and the band's other singer, William Roan, just added to the show.

I do wish they'd kept the backup singers they had at Union Hall, though. Without them, my initial description of "heavier, more psychedelic Roxy Music" seems less appropriate. (And the band just a skootch less distinctive.) And I like describing them that way. It was more straight up psych-folk-rock (if there is such a thing) akin to prime Brian Jonestown Massacre. There were also projections this time, though I can't say they added a whole lot. Set highlight was the closing number, "The Narwhal," which is so much bigger, louder, more epic, more awesome than the recording of it that's been floating around. Those singer would've come in handy on the "ahhs."

MP3: Amazing Baby- The Narwhal

Despite the photos on their MySpace, they don't play shirtless with
tribal makeup smeared on their bodies… which is a good thing. Between MGMT and Man Man and Apes & Androids, there's enough of that.

Apparently Mark Ronson was there checking them out. This was their last scheduled show for a month, but they've got shows in July.

Jul 11 – The Glasslands Gallery Brooklyn, New York
Jul 23 – The Paradise Rock Club w/ MGMT (sold out!!!!!) Boston, Massachusetts
Jul 24 – The Paradise Rock Club w/ MGMT Boston, Massachusetts
Jul 25 – First Unitarian Church w/ MGMT Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


More pictures at my Flickr...

Violens + Savoir Adore + Amazing Baby | Union Pool | 5.10.2008

Violens1It pleases me greatly to go into a show mostly blind and come out a fan of every band on the bill. That never happens anymore. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong shows.

I was there primarily to see Violens, the new band from some of the Lansing-Dreiden folks, though I’m not sure exactly which ones. Definitely singer/guitarist Jorge Elbrecht, and probably keyboardist Iddo Arad. Maybe more, but hard to say. L-D were an enigmatic bunch who didn’t believe in album credits or band photos… or even playing in the live incarnation of their band.

Violens are more forthcoming about the who’s and whats. It’s also a more cohesive sound. Lansing-Dreiden incompassed everything from synthpop to metal, but Violens seem more influenced by ’80s UK pop, both of the jazzy variety favored by Aztec Camera and Prefab Sprout, and those that prefered delay pedals like A Bell is a Cup-era Wire and The Sound. (In that respect, they also reminded me of ’90s Swedish band Eggstone.) And like L-D, they still love the reverb. They also like volume. Why didn’t I bring earplugs? The ringing in my ears seems especially prominent today. The best moments of the show combined the jazzy and the delay-ridden rocking out. And my favorites of the night are not to be found on their MySpace, so I think there’s a lot to look forward to with these guys.

You can get Violens’ song "Violent Sensation Descends" from RCRDLBL. They’ve also got an EP, which wasn’t for sale last night, but you can get it at Insound.

Violens next show is June 5 at the Mercury Lounge where they’re playing with Chairlift and Mixel Pixel. Tickets ($10) are on sale.

But as I said, the whole bill at Union Pool last night was very good. All three bands are signed to Cantora Records that is probably best-known at this point for being the label who released MGMT’s first EP. Tonight proves they’ve really got a good ear. The weather was horrible yesterday and I figured between the torrential rain and showing up at 9pm there would be nobody there. But the place was already pretty packed when I got there, and I think as many people were there for opening band Amazing Baby as their were for Violens.

It was Amazing Babys first-ever show, though you’d never know it. They came prepared and kind of knocked everyone’s socks off. Though I’m probably wrong, I’m going to go out on a limb and say
Amazing Baby don’t sound like any other band in NYC. To draw
comparisons… maybe a heavier, more-psychedelic Roxy Music? That sounds about right. Who are they? The band seems to be primarily an offshoot of rawkers Stylofone, but the live permutation, last night at least, also featured ex-Diamond Nights guitarist Rob Laakso and Jane "Spider" Herships on bass. There were also two female backup singers and a keyboardist. (Maybe that’s where the Roxy comparisons come from for me.) They’re the kind of group you could imagine going the denim-leather/lightshow route but just let the music do the talking. And that came through loud and clear. I’m pretty sure they’re my new favorite NYC band and seem ready for domination.

MP3: Amazing Baby – Head Dress

MP3: Amazing Baby – Supreme Being

Amazing Baby’s MySpace has these plus three more and you can download all of them.

If you’re intrigued, Amazing Baby are playing tomorrow (5/11) at The Annex. Go ahead, bring Mom, it’s an early show — supposedly they’re on at 9pm. They’re on around 11pm I’ve just been informed. And if you can’t make that, they’re playing Glasslands on Thursday (5/15).

SavoiradoreIn between Amazing Baby and Violens were Savoir Adore who are also making a kind of music that seems scarce these days — pure pop. This is the sort of stuff that seemed so prevalent in ’80s indie music, be it Let’s Active or The Go-Betweens or The Reivers. Not that they sound dated in any way — I don’t think this kind of pop ever really goes out of style. (Even though it kind of currently is.) Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer compliment each other so well, both vocally but also the way their guitars intertwine. Keyboards seemed superfluous at times, except when they were set to Melotron, which they usually were.  Apparently most (all?) of Savoir Adore’s songs are for a concept album yet-to-be explained involving characters named Mr. P, Dr. Rousseau and a wooded forrest, but you needn’t know any of this to dig what they’re doing:

MP3: Savoir Adore – We Talk Like Machines

MP3: Savoir Adore – Mr P. Professor of Thought.mp3

Both these songs, plus two more, are available on their Cantora Records page. Savoir Adore are opening for Los Campesinos! this Thursday (5/15) at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and then play Lit on May 23.

So to recap last night’s show. Three bands, all different, all great. My friend Don was armed with his nice digital SLR and took some photos which you can find here.