Shift – Trash Bar, Williamsburg - 5/15/2014
New Jersey’s Shift – only together a year –
is already a force to be reckoned with. Since the moment
that their manager played me some clips over his phone,
I knew that there was gold in them thar hills (check out
my review of their first full-length, “Molly”
Those of us lucky enough to be present for their show at
Brooklyn’s Trash Bar this past Thursday were treated
to a stadium show in a tiny club setting. Replete with laser
spotlights, smoke machines, pitch perfect vocals and shredding
guitars, Shift got even the most determined wall-huggers
on their feet.
Very rarely have I heard such a well-done execution in a
bar setting (credit of course to the Trash Bar’s sound
guy, the eclectic Dave. I didn’t even see one roadie
during the entire performance.) The songs are catchy and
the combination of their floaty feel , the light show, frontman
Dan Flynn’s engaging performance and guitarist Pete
Couto’s expert licks seem way too big for that tiny
room (not that that stops it from being fucking awesome.)
Even having to pee didn’t prevent the gig from going
by much too quickly, and I was already bugging the road
manager for the band’s schedule before they even left
If you haven’t given this band a listen yet, do yourself
a favor and check them out. There’s nothing cooler
than discovering a baby band in a self-important scene like
Williamsburg with actual potential. I will be shocked if
Shift isn’t hopping onto major tours by the end of
– Molly (facebook.com/shiftbandpage)
Infant Passaic metal band Shift claims to have sprung from
leftover factory ectoplasm (a rumor that their manager will
neither confirm nor deny.)
Right out of the gate, the CD screams for your attention as
the opening cut “Contra” as harmonic quickly gives
way to heavy riff – and an extremely catchy one at that.
The vocals are rather unobtrusive, intoning their way in with
the steady drumbeat, occasionally giving way to a pleasingly
subtle growl as the drum and guitars build to a toe-tapping
pitch. The chorus features some interesting tempo shifts,
moving the song along at a nice pace. As the track closes
out with some fun space-like effects, it’s hard to believe
that five minutes have gone by already.
Which is the perfect ebb into “Presence” –
a floaty little number with a super clean sound and excellent
vocal layering and awesome upper-fretboard picking.
As third track “End” commences with a helicopter-effect
lead-in to some chunkier chords, it becomes abundantly clear
that this album has been flawlessly designed, with bits of
well-placed narration throughout. The “Heys” behind
the intriguing lyrics are a rad touch, and there is some fine
shredding toward the end of the song.
“The Hard Way” is the ballad, and it has a nice
bridge in the middle.
“Abe Froman” is a swinging, bluesy piece, very
welcome twenty minutes into this onus.
Instrumental interlude “One, No. 31” will charm
classical guitar lovers everywhere as it fades out the much
more dissonant opus, “Meditation.”
“Unlearn to Hate” is ingeniously interspersed
with lines from 1940’s “The Great Dictator”
and gives way to heart-wrenching melodies and solos every
bit as gripping as the best rock opera that you can think
The album closes out with the ambitious three-part “Sacred
Space,” a sad tribute to feeling out of sorts and brilliantly
In short, this freshman album is an absolute masterpiece,
and you’d only be enhancing your listening experience
by owning a copy.
Shift is: Daniel J. Flynn and Peter J. Cuoto (guitar &
vocals,) Jon Flynn (bass) and Christopher M. Delli Santi (drums.)
– Live & Acoustic From The Forest of Chaos (Mint
400 Records fairmontmusic.com)
If you’ve ever envisioned yourself catching a Fairmont
performance in a tropical setting, then you’re in
luck with this album. Fairmont’s brand of unplugged
without question invokes the image of waves lapping at your
feet, frozen, alcoholic fruit drinks, and ukuleles. It’s
also an EP full of really great indie. Fans of The Decemberists
, Band of Horses or Best Coast (like myself) will enjoy
this spin on some of their classics.
The only complaint that I have is that the only songs included
are those recorded last year: “Alone At Last,”
“Black Heart Burns,” “Elephant”
and “The Sun Shines Only For Me” are from the
full-length, “The Grand and Grandiose” and “I
Am The Mountain,” “The King and Queen”
and “All About You” are from the EP, “The
Meadow At Dusk.” However, I really like both albums,
so it’s not a very serious complaint.
The songs still make you want to shimmy around your kitchen
while fixing dinner, yet are also perfect for a reflective
moment on your morning commute with your eyes closed.
With the band back in action after multiple life overhauls
(drummer Andy’s successful hip replacement surgery,
backup vocalist Sam(antha's) switch from xylophone to bass,
the addition of Christian Kisala on synths, percussion,
and xylopphone, and the arrival of Neil’s new daughter,)
it’s exciting to see them continue to grow and change.
I personally can’t wait to see what they do next.
SELF INDULGENCE – Fuck Machine (Remixes) (Metropolis)
Do you really need twelve versions of the same exact song,
released only a short while ago on Mindless Self Indulgence’s
latest effort, How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love
Mindless Self Indulgence? Don’t be silly, of course
you do! You also need this kickass accompanying animè
video, featuring the band as superheroes conquering their
infamous icon, The Giant Pink Squid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIQtBPTTrwE
Besides, the EP also features a remix of another track off
the new album, “Jack You Up,”
Believe it or not, there are dramatic variances in each
version: The Mustard Pump remix is slower and more robotic,
more techno-creative. The KMFDM remix is more melodic (there’s
even some piano tossed in on the intro and some violin at
the outro.) The Flock Of Jimmys remix is haunting, very
alternative – almost New Age-y. The Blush Response
remix has really floaty moments.
The full list of versions are as follows: LJU, Scandinavian
Cock, Chantal Loves Jimmy (anyone who knows Chantal Claret’s
voice will recognize it here,) Combichrist, Coming Soon
To A Theater Near You, Black Lipstick, Album Version and
INCH NAILS – Hesitation Marks (Columbia)
After a long and protracted battle with Universal and a
four year respite, Trent Reznor is back on the scene with
the newly minted “Hesitation Marks.”
A “Pretty Hate Machine” through “The
Downward Spiral” era fan of NIN, I initially found
“Hesitation Marks” to be a bit dancier than
I remembered the band being, and my ear was therefore drawn
to the pretty ballad “Find My Way” as the departure
that I was looking for. However, upon my second and third
listen, NIN’s cleverly sneaky catchiness drew me in
with the super addictive refrain of “Copy of A”
refrain of (Opening cut, “The Eater of Dreams”
is one second long.)The song ear-wormed me all day until
I got to spin it again for this review.
The song is a smooth opener for the more vintage-y “Came
Back Haunted,” which nonetheless updates NIN’s
sound to a more modern synth line.
“Find My Way” is a captivating piece, with
a true piano sound floating alongside the beat and the vocals.
“All Time Low” is a funkier one with a bit of
an Arabic flavor to it, closing out with a long peace-pipe
moment with the repeated line “Stretch across the
“Disappointed” is a quiet little reflection
on feeling like you can’t satisfy anybody, no matter
what you do, the perfect paradoxical lead-in to the upbeat
“Everything,” which is about survival.
By “Satellite,” slightly past the midway point
of the album, NIN has really shown their range, having hit
what seems like every genre possible on a synth. “Various
Methods of Escape” adds a beautiful guitar sound as
backup vocals with just the slightest of distortion on Trent’s
instantly recognizable lilt in the verse.
“Running” punctuates the title with a galloping
beat and some dialogue andharmonymixing things up. “I
Would For You” is a sad number lamenting the need
to change in order to be loved. “In Two” is
back to your quintessential NIN song, but peppered with
an interesting layered gang-like vocal in one section, a
choir-like sound in another.
“While I’m Still Here” is almost primarily
vocals, with a tiny one-note background against a barely
there beat which erupts into a space-catastrophe sounding
ending in “Black Noise,” and that’s a
This is the perfect album for chilling in the armchair
with a book, in the bathtub with some candles, in the studio
with some paints. Relaxing is what I’m going for here.
A far cry from the truly fucking upsetting mood that NIN
set in their earlier years (although Trent’s dark
lyrics still pervade at times.) I can see why the band felt
that a true stage show was needed for this one. I’m
a bit jealous that I can’t be there, to tell you the
truth (it’s just too fucking steep!) but if you go,
let me know how it went, will you?
Read up, listen up, watch a vid:
Give the band a shout:
HAUSE – Devour (Rise Records)
Dave Hause’s sophomore solo release through his newly
inked deal with pop-punk aficionados Rise Records flawlessly
continues the story that he began with his debut album,
Resolutions(minus the seven EPs which preceded it, of course.)
Hause’s solo material consistently manages to retain
his individuality while giving a heavy and unapologetic
nod to The Boss.
Loved Ones’ frontman Hause retains his cut-to-the-bone
storytelling capability with heartbreakingly raw, bitter,
yet cautiously optimistic lyrics which fans scream at the
top of their lungs at every show. The songs on Devour flow
from finger-tapping to ballad acoustic-y and back again
– you always feel like you’re being taken on
a journey by a Dave Hause-stamped product.
With an intriguing introduction to the album “Welcome,
my friends, to the show – dance and drink if you’d
like, or just sit back and take notes” (opening track
“Damascus.”) The song laments “I promised
that this wouldn’t happen to me” as it fades
into “The Great Depression,” a title which is
the mother of all despondent thoughts. The song investigates
the process of growing up and away from your dreams. The
song also, as does“We Could Be Kings" right afterward,
addresses the betrayal of enlisting in the military with
heroic aspirations to come away with only loss (Hause warns
“You asked me, you asked me” in the bridge.)
Amid the somber tone, a bit of dark humor pervades with
titles like “Autism Vaccine Blues,” a song virtually
peppered with nihilism, which flows perfectly into “Same
Disease.” With the refrain “I think she fell
in love because it made her sad,” the approaching
midway point of the album has already almost buried you
in despair as surely as anything by Jawbreaker or Joy Division
ever did – a state of mind that you nonetheless embrace
because it’s just so fucking true. By the time the
inevitable abandonment issues resurface in “Before,”
you’re determined to see this thing through to the
end because it’s been such a helluva ride.
“Father’s Son” waxes poetic on everyone’s
inner “Free Bird.” It’s also at this point
that you realize just how fond Dave Hause is of the adjective
“sickening.” “Stockholm Syndrome”
explores the paradox of needing to get away while also needing
people around to love.
“Becoming Secular” tells the sad tale of losing
someone and draws a line between human suffering and religious
teaching: “Lost faith, but I’m trying to believe.”
“The Shine” returns to the upbeat with lines
like “I don’t stutter when I sing…return
darkness with the shine…if you’ve got the shine,
shine on.” “Bricks” brings back the pretty
acoustic wanderlust, while “Benediction” closes
things out absolutely perfectly with a gospel-like summation
of all the sentiments contained in the eleven songs prior,
begging the listener to identify their woes and simply hang
on, because we’re all in this together.
I really, really love this album, and I can’t wait
until I can put my preordered copy onto my iPod (I purchased
it the second my first stream of it finished) for multiple
plays on my worst days. This cd is likely making this year’s
“Ten Best” for me.
to Face – Three Chords and a Half Truth (Rise Records)
Revolving door of artistry and official breakup almost a decade
ago notwithstanding, Face to Face has proven itself to be
a model of resilience. With the current lineup of Keith, Yaro
and Shiflett actually holding steadily (with the exception
of newer drummer Danny Thompson) through the bulk of their
career, Face to Face has just released their second album
and played a handful of festivals.
Their reunion – a concept once deemed “unappealing”
by Keith – has resulted in a catchy album which takes
its influence from every genre imaginable (punk, classic
rock, indie) which it’s hard not to like.
I’ve always quite liked the sound that Face to Face
gets. There is quality musicianship within this band and
an inherent knowledge about writing tunes which make the
foot tap and the ear worm.
“123 Drop” is an unexpected introduction band’s
eighth studio effort, “Three Chords and a Half Truth.”
Track 2, the irresistible “Welcome Back to Nothing”
is all that emo should be (when it was actually an awesome
genre and not just a dirty word.) Super hooky “Smokestacks
and Skyscrapers” is just begging for crowd favorite
status. “Right as Rain” channels Social Distortion
at their best, while :First Step, Misstep” evokes
MC5 and ends with the perfect halfway interlude.
“Bright Lights Go Down” kicks in again with
a vengeance, and this cut is pure punk at its best - what
this band is best known for. Track 7, “Paper Tigers
With Teeth,” is your standard “Hey ho.”
Track 8, “Flat Black” reminds one of speeding
down the highway in the summertime with Tom Petty blasting
out of the open sunroof. Track 9, “Jinxproof”
is a pretty little sendup to childhood. Track 10, “Marked
Men” is a boppy little bit as the album rushes toward
its conclusion. Self-Titled Track 11 would definitely be
the radio hit, if only radio still existed.
Rounding out the album is the energetic closing Track 12,
“Across State Lines” - definitely leaving the
listener wanting more.
This thing is flawless – you definitely don’t
want to miss out.
Self Indulgence –
How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self-Indulgence
by Deborah J. Draisin
One thing that Mindless Self Indulgence cannot be accused
of (and they get accused of it quite a lot) is not remaining
loyal to their signature sound. This is a band that knows
how to expand while still retaining their unique, rock-heavy
electronic stop-start sound.
“How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit and Love Mindless
Self Indulgence” should feel worth the wait to their
fans. Little Jimmy Urine is indeed still dropping sarcastic
references and in-your-face social complaints while layering
it all with melodic backing vocals which draw you into the
“Hey Tomorrow Fuck You and Your Friend Yesterday”
in particular, encapsulates the band’s varying influences;
hip-hop, new wave, punk, classic rock, all in one and I
have would pegged it as the early standout of the album
were it not for the “Logical Song” cover at
the end. Supertramp is a band which, like Mindless, was
ahead of their time, and it’s only fitting that they
would find themselves here together. A fun foray for sure.
The album is extremely catchy, likely to grip even those
not as enamored with the band’s music as their devoted
fanbase of almost a decade and a half. The second most successful
Kickstarter campaign in the company’s early history
launched a quality product which will be fun to see live.
My toe didn’t stop tapping all the way through, reminiscent
of the band’s “Frankenstein Girls Will Seem
Strangely Sexy” days.
“Stalkers (Slit My Wrists)” is an interesting
departure, as well, featuring childlike harmonies and tackling
a rather sensitive subject as only MSI can, with black humor
and a unique comprehension of the mind of a disturbed individual.
“Jack You Up” and “Ass Backward”
are also there to highlight MSI’s modern rap sound
for those who enjoy that aspect of the band the most.
is an independently published music fanzine
covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage
music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State
area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music
fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming
bands and a resource for all those interested in
rock and roll.