Wednesday, January 24, 2007
sorta fell of the Altman wagon near the end of the run. sorry, Bob. one i most regret missing is perhaps "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean"--anyone seen that?--but i felt that the IFC had me in a tractor beam and was casting an unhealthy pall over my social life so i stayed away.
speaking of that life, i feel as though many of the rock bands that have been moving me the most recently have been those staffed by friends. i told you all about Yukon a little while back. by all means, check them the fuk out here, as they continue to rule. there may be another Stay FKD/Yukon show and/or a split release in the works--will let thee know.
the other unit i need to speak with you about may be well known to some DFSBP readers, if i may be so bold as to assume that y'all exist as such, and that is the shadowy Brooklyn crew known as Birthday Boyz. have known these chaps for along time. can't give you the exact chronology, but the band sprang out of a group known as Cadre Bravura that existed at a college that shall go unnamed around the time that i was graduating from said institution. Cadre gave way to, i believe, Guts, with whom Stay Fucked played at the Local/Rock Star Bar waaaaay back in April of '03 (with the much-missed Timber and the much-missed Snack Truck, the latter of whom i hear is back in action--Matt, are you out there?!?), which swapped a member out and became Birthday Boyz in god knows when. anyway, these guys have been pals of myself and Stay FKD and Aa (in which i played for a spell) for a good while, etc.
i'm very excited and happy for them because they have just dropped a gorgeous-looking and -sounding 12" (recorded by Converge's Kurt Ballou), which documents "The Bro Cycle," i.e., the three long songs which have made up their live sets over the past few years. this one is a split release between three labels: London's Life in a Box, Cali's Unfun and Brooklyn's Waking. how they pulled that trifecta off, i have no idea, but all you really need to know is that this is simply a fantastic release and ought to be gobbled by all fans of heavy music.
the Birthday Boyz play a strain of very dire, dynamic, metallic post-hardcore music. the sound is all about the build, the churn, the catharsis, the soaring guitar break, the crushing re-entry. i keep coming back to the word dire, because these guys play as if it's just the end of everything, but there's this really intense beauty being harnessed as well. it's not dark as much as it is just extreme and heavy in the emotional as well as physical senses.
seeing them live, as i was lucky enough to do this past Friday when Stay FKD shared a bill w/ them at the awesomely revamped Glasslands, i was reminded that their concerts are like taking communion or something. they're just very intense, even grave experiences; you'll rarely see a band live that MEANS it more than these guys or that communicates with each other and the music on such a visceral level. the songs are mathy and fairly chopsy, but there's really not much of a sense of shredding, per se; the band has a very collective feel--they really churn as a unit. you mainly notice the virtuosity in the songcraft and the epic dynamics and the savage performance energy. Birthday Boyz really make the most of the whole screaming-away-from-the-mike thing; the vocals are like pure emoting and are always totally buried in the music--they almost sound like they're being screamed from within a burning building or something. i don't think i've ever understood a single word in a BBoyz song, but the screaming gets a really powerful message across nonetheless.
there's a fascinating subtext to all this intensity, one that really helps to set this band apart, and that's their strange insular sense of humor. "The Bro Cycle," song titles like "Gaybroham Lincoln," "Ho Money Bro Problemz," "Basketball," etc. etc. ever since i've known these guys, they've been quick to undercut their serious-as-hell music with jokey presentation and it makes for a pretty fascinating, head-spinning juxtaposition. a lot of times jokiness is used in music to cover up lackluster concepts or execution, but the BBoyz have nothing to hide or apologize for. this humor has simply become part of the mystique with this band, a mystique that persists even among their friends--it's just a really cool, subversive effect.
so pick up "The Bro Cycle" at the BBoyz site here. the music is gorgeous and heavy as shit, with riffs that will not leave your head--DFSBP promise on that one. samples are at their myspace page. gotta give a bigass kudos to drummer Greg on the gorgeous, imagination-fueling artwork you see above. it's just superclassy and mysterious and hopeful and even more so b/c you'd have absolutely no idea from the packaging what the music inside might sound like. i'd almost think it was some sort of electronica or hip-hop. it just looks super contemporary, edgy, boundless, profound, etc. and the music is all of those things as well.
there's a lot of b.s. "abstract metal" and heavy music that's getting all self-consciously arty flying around. there's a meticulous craft happening in BBoyz songs that i wouldn't hesitate to call "art," but they don't skimp on the riffs, the complexity, the weight, the force whatsoever. it's just elemental shit, really.
$$$$$noteworthy BBoyz-related projects are guitarist Hunter's avant-black-metal dealio Holy War, not to be mistaken with the incredible and short-lived Holy Wars, which teamed Hunter with Ben of Zs/Archaeopteryx/The Fugue, Tony of Archaeopteryx/Stay FKD and Phil of Timber/From Cocaine to Rogaine. in other words, local math-metal nirvana.$$$$$
been digging the new vocal-style Hella disc, "There's No 666 in Outer Space" quite a bit. this one will start fights and will be summarily dumped on by all haters of non-"Hold Your Horse Is" and -"The Devil Isn't Red" Hella but those folks are annoying. this is a really strong, dense, gorgeous disc. there's some weakness in the lyrics and the singing in general, but overall, i'm really into what this fleshed-out lineup is doing.
bring on the Andrew Hill. still mesmerized by "Time Lines," and i'm digging a bit on "The Day the World Stood Still," an octet disc he recorded live in '03 in Scandinavia. Hill can be ephemeral as a player and get swallowed up by his ensembles and that sort happens on "The Day...," but there's some really hot and heavy composition happening here that's worth sticking around for. praise be to latter-day Hill and in general to one of the most original musicians i've ever dug.