Tricot w/ The Joint Chiefs of Math and Marietta – Johnny Brenda’s, October 12th, 2015

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This week I got the opportunity to see a band I thought I’d never get the chance to. Hailing from Japan, Tricot is an equally mathy, punky, and poppy band with no pretensions or gimmicks. I’ve been a fan since shortly after the release of their debut album “T H E” in 2013, and only became more of one after their latest album, “AND” was released this March. But to think that they’d come to America, with the obvious language barrier and the country’s clear aversion to rock, well that was nothing but a pipe dream. So I was shocked when a little over a month ago when they announced that, yes, they actually WERE coming to America (even naming the tour after the Japanese word for “Finally” or “At last”), and proceeded to snatch a ticket. I’d never heard of the venue and it was over two hours away, but I didn’t give a shit – I was going.

And went I did. I got to the venue and immediately realized that it was perfect – the room was small, there was a bar not ten feet away, and I could literally lean on the stage if I wanted to. And I did, because it was going to be a long two bands and three hours before Tricot took the stage. I say “long” because I was skeptical as hell about the openers, at least to begin with. A local emo band and a noise rock duo seemed like a mismatch for a band like Tricot, but hell, I’ve sat through far worse in service of seeing far better before. I was wrong again, though. The Joint Chiefs of Math were first on stage, and they brought a chaotic blend of noise and instrumental rock, sounding like a much harsher version of Hella and pulling off a plethora of live effects and loops in order to deliver it. As a fan of stuff like Death Grips, Oneohtrix Point Never, and various post rock bands, this was totally hitting the mark for me, and they definitely gained me as a fan by the end of their set. Following them was a local favorite in the shape of Marietta, a band clearly influenced by the likes of early Modest Mouse and American Football. And while they weren’t really up my alley stylistically, they put on a hell of a show by mixing elements of alternative, emo, and even shades of pop punk with a ton of energy and humor, and I could truly tell that they had a fair few fans crammed into this little room.

After seeing the crowd’s reaction to Marietta, I started to have my doubts about just how many people had shown up specifically for Tricot. But my doubts were misplaced, because as soon as they launched into their first song the crowd went off. Almost every head and body was nodding and jumping around, and the band was clearly feeding off of that energy. While the girls might seem diminutive in stature, they certainly make up for it in terms of power – lead guitarist Motifour Kida skipped and danced around, bassist Hiromi Hirohiro hopped like a live wire, and touring (or permanent?) drummer Miyoko Yamaguchi absolutely pounded the shit out of her kit. And while vocalist Ikkyu Nakajima was more cemented to her microphone and guitar out of obvious necessity, she still took a few opportunities to ditch the guitar and break into a dance or even jump into the crowd. This sort of thing can be hard for mathy, intricate bands like Tricot to manage, with some choosing to sacrifice musical perfection for pure energy. But Tricot made it look easy, striking the balance between tight playing and pure fun, and at times even sounding better than the record due to Hiromi’s boosted bass volume. They also had a knack for picking a setlist, too. Among obvious choices like “Pool”, “Oyasumi”, “E”, and “Ochansensu-Su”, they also played less familiar cuts like “Bakuretsu Panie-san”, “Niwa”, and their newest song “Pork Ginger”. As someone who’s been a fan for a while now, it was great to see the songs that first hooked me alongside the ones that I came to love later on, and even being introduced to a handful of songs I wasn’t familiar with already.

All in all, Tricot’s first American show ever was a hell of a ride. Even though it was just shy of the hour mark, the band played with true passion and energy, cramming in as much music and power as possible in the short time they had. No matter what nationality or gender, it’s rare to come across a band that ticks all the boxes in the way this one does, blending technicality, power, and sticky melodies with the conviction and performance to back it up. If you get the chance to see them on this tour, I absolutely suggest that you do, because there’s no guarantee they’ll be back to the States any time soon. They’re well worth the time and money.

The Joint Chiefs of Math: https://thejointchiefsofmath.bandcamp.com/

Marietta: https://whereismarietta.bandcamp.com/

Tricot’s remaining dates (courtesy of Reddit user androph):

10/16/2015〜 Bar Le Ritz PDB/Montreal, QC

10/17/2015〜 Lee’s Palace/Toronto, ON

10/18/2015 〜 Majestic Café/Detroit, MI

10/20/2015 〜 Empty Bottle/Chicago, IL $

10/21/2015 〜 The End/Nashville, TN

10/23/2015〜 Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios/Denton, TX

10/24/2015 〜 Black Barbie/Houston, TX

10/25/2015 〜 Hi-Tones/San Antonio, TX

10/27/2015 〜 Soda Bar/San Diego, CA

10/28/2015 〜 DNA Lounge/San Francisco, CA

10/28/2015 〜 Bootleg Theater/ Los Angeles, CA

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Cloudkicker – Let Yourself Be Huge [2011]

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Let Yourself Be Huge was a big step for Cloudkicker when it was first released in 2011. Up to that point, Ben Sharp had built his audience with his own brand of djent-tinged progressive metal, relying on heavy guitars, technical leads, and shifting time signatures to create his sound. However, after Beacons, he was ready to step outside of his comfort zone, and this EP is the result of that.

Entirely devoid of anything that might be deemed “heavy”, Let Yourself Be Huge is largely built around acoustic and clean guitars, light drum work, and moodiness. While the playing still sounds distinctly like Cloudkicker, the timbre is different, and the overall tone of the project feels like it’s the soundtrack to the aftermath of some huge disaster (which is fitting – his previous release, Beacons, took its song titles from the last sentence of various aircrash black box recordings). It’s peaceful yet droning, melancholy but not downtrodden, and it doesn’t feel the need to suddenly and dramatically shift gears like his prior work. In fact, much of the material here is pared down relentlessly, which few tracks bothering to even crack the two minute mark. Instead of creating full songs, the music here instead sounds like little vignettes, painting small little evocative pictures instead of grandiose statements. And despite the EP’s short length, the mood created by it is so powerful and so consistent that it almost feels like a complete album anyway. Let Yourself Be Huge may be short, but it’s a beautiful piece of music, and one of the best collections of music Ben Sharp has put together to date.

As always, you can download Cloudkicker’s music for free over at cloudkickermusic.com.

Aging & Music: Why do we dismiss an old band’s new output?

There’s something I’ve noticed when talking with fans of older bands. For pretty much any band you can think of that’s put out more than three albums, there’s that certain subset, or even majority, of people who immediately dismiss their newer work, no matter the quality.

In some cases, the band truly is just putting out obviously inferior material (like, say, Weezer up until recently). But in others, I’m baffled – bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, or Deftones, or Coheed and Cambria, who are still putting out material that’s just as good as their early records, if not better. Why is that?

A huge component of this is nostalgia. It’s easy to see your favorite band’s early work through rose-colored glasses, because it’s the music you grew up with. No music makes as deep an impact on a person than the first music that they truly discover and fall in love with on their own, and for the most part, everything after that doesn’t bring that same raw feeling of discovery and enjoyment. So when you grow up, and that favorite band of yours is still soldiering on, those new albums don’t ‘feel’ nearly as good as the ones you loved when much of the music you love was yet to be discovered. They could be just as great, but when held up against your memories of those first few albums, of course they’re going to pale in comparison.

Besides nostalgia, though, there’s also a back catalog to consider. If a band doesn’t radically change its sound from album to album, it’s easy to not be impressed by a new one. Even if the songs are great, it can feel like just another iteration of what they’ve done in the past, so why not just listen to the prior ones? To remedy this, I like to listen to new albums from the mindset of, ‘if this was the first album I heard from them, how would I feel about it?’. Often times I’m left enjoying the music just as much as I did the first time I heard them.

As we grow older, we change as people – that’s as hard a fact as any in the universe. So it stands to reason that the people behind your favorite music will eventually change and grow, as well. Sometimes they’ll say something in an interview when they’re still in their early 20s, some anti-establishment sloganeering, or maybe they promise they’ll never do ‘[whatever]’ as long as they live. And often times, we still hold them to those inspiring words, even as they reach their 30s and 40s and have long since grown past being those people.

Here’s a mental exercise: imagine you found an old journal or diary of yours. It’s full of all of your insecurities, fears, hopes, ideals, and everything else you felt fit to document. Are you still that exact person whose heart is poured all over those pages? Probably not, but I’d be willing to bet that you’re happier with yourself now than you were then, and wouldn’t change that for the world.Now imagine being in that same situation, but instead of an old diary, it’s interviews, or on stage rants, or tweets, and these are all in very public view, and saved very permanently online. Instead of recognizing that you’re just as much in flux as a person as the rest of us, you’ll be held to those old ideals, and will be criticized whenever you stray from them.

The gist of what I’m trying to say here is that musicians are people just like the rest of us. They grow, they change, they try new things, and it’s very easy to dismiss or criticize them for straying from the idea we have of them in our memory. But often times, these musicians still have interesting things to say, and interesting new music to create, that we ignore for being different. Keep this in mind and give those old fucks another chance, and maybe you’ll realize you’ve been missing out on something this whole time.

New Scott Weiland album due Nov. 18th

http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003845004

10 years after his solo debut 12 Bar Blues, two break-ups, and one reunion, Scott Weiland is finally ready to release a brand new solo album. Judging from 12BB, (Which I reviewed on this blog previously) there’s a lot of potential to show a whole new side of him, unlike the hard rock and alternative he’s put out with Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots.

With the possibility of a new Pilots record, and a set release date for the new solo album, thingd are looking up for Weiland. Let’s hope they stay this way.

Is Guns N’ Roses album “Chinese Democracy” ready for release?

Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy has become almost mythical to some rock fans, and to others, a complete joke. Over the course of  it’s 14 year gestation period, Slash, Duff, Gilby, and Matt Sorum have all left the band, and in their place, several new members have entered the picture. Axl has claimed many times over the years that the album only needed a few more “finishing touches” and that it’d be release during [insert season here]. After many missed opportunities, detractors and fans alike were left wondering, is this beast ever going to see the light of day?

Considering recent developments, it seems like a possibility.

It all started near the end of 2007, when various sources reported that Chinese Democracy was finished, and had been handed over to Universal. The album was already confirmed as finished in February 2007, by long time associate and friend Del James.

In March of this year, Guns N’ Roses announced that Irving Azoff (The Eagles, Van Halen) and Andy Gould (Rob Zombie) were replacing Merck Mercuriadis, the band’s previous manager. Recently, Azoff had gotten The Eagle’s latest release, Long Road out of Eden released as a Wal-Mart exclusive, the band’s first album in 28 years.

The same month, Dr. Pepper made a bold move, offering a free can of their soda to every American (With the exception of Slash and Buckethead) if Chinese Democracy saw the light of day in 2008. Axl responded with a grateful paragraph on the band’s official website (and confirmed that Buckethead will indeed be on the album – a dilemma often fought over between fans).

Then, after three months of silence, June saw nine new tracks leak through the internet, purported to be studio quality tracks from a finished Chinese Democracy. Six of the songs were new versions of previous leaks, but three were brand new studio versions, one of which had been played live during the disastrous 2002 World Tour.

Then rumor mill began rumbling once again on July 6th, when a track listing for the game Rock Band 2 leaked onto the internet. Number 28 on the list was Guns N’ Roses Shackler’s Revenge. Just over a week later, the track was confirmed as being in the game at the 2008 E3 Convention. In 1999, GN’R pulled a similar move in releasing the track Oh My God on the End of Days film soundtrack, which was followed by three more years of silence.

Just this week, a new track leaked, under the moniker of “Chicken Dinner”, and to follow it, rumors began circulating that Guns N’ Roses and Universal are negotiating to release the album as a Wal-Mart exclusive.

For the first time ever, Chinese Democracy seems on the verge of release. Recording on the album is finished, and general consensus says that the label has the finished album in their hands. There is no more room for excuses now, for it is now do or die time. Chinese Democracy HAS to be released by the end of this year or early next, or else they face total ridicule and embarrassment. No matter what happens, I support Guns and the new members.

CHINESE DEMOCRACY STARTS NOW!