Money Makes You Boring – The Monte Vista

the monte vista let loose to roam the wild brooklyn streets!

by DJW

When I get handed CDs of bands I know absolutely nothing about, there’s always a nervous anticipation about it. You hold in your hand something new, something loaded with potential.

Of course, that potential can go either way, it could be horrible, or it could be great.

Lucky for my precious ears, Money Makes You Boring by The Monte Vista landed firmly in the latter arena.

I liked them from the opening of their first song. The Monte Vista’s rock-pop vibe is all at once their own and also tinged with a bite of the Beatles, a sliver of Cake, a shot of Nirvana, a shake or two of the whole indie vibe over the past decade or so, and, for some reason for me, just a crushed crystal of Pete Doherty and his bands.

The tunes are the kind of catchy that stay in your head (in a good way) and you find yourself singing at unexpected moments. The slower numbers are voluptuously seductive. And then there are songs like “Beautiful Lawn”, that are so infectious they could almost be put into quarantine.

Their sound is indicative of bare-bones Melbourne pub (the stuff legend has been born of Down Under), the kind of places where an audience doesn’t care about names or egos, only the quality of the music. And we’re talking Melbourne, Australia, not Melbourne, Florida. Basically what you hear on disc is actually what you get live. Good, clean sounds and the only surprises will be good ones.

The Monte Vista makes great music. And great music is like coming home. It doesn’t mirror or copy something else, but when you hear it it strikes a chord deep within you that’s immediately right and familiar.

And that’s how it should be.

The feel is Neil Diamond temperament, the vocals are raw silk and chocolate. A crooner who knows the value of everything and also the cost. Bittersweet, uplifting, with that almost undescribable edge of an exceptionally well-written story.

It is, like all good albums, the kind of thing that gets better and better, and they hint at a great live performance.

Speaking of live, I am there on Friday night. That’s the 27th of March. at the National Underground in NYC at 10.30pm. So should you.

The Neil Diamond Seal of Approval? 4.45 out of 5 stars.


The Nightrats at Goodbye Blue Monday, 3/17/09

it's the nightrats!by DJW

Nestled in deepest, darkest Bushwick (okay, on Broadway), Brooklyn, Goodbye Blue Monday is pretty much not the place I expected to be on St. Patrick’s Day.

GBM, a coffee shop/bar, a dark hole in the wall filled with a mishmash of books, garage sale leftovers and lighting by the local gypsies was not the underground Parisian hole-in-the-wall spot I’d wanted to see The Nightrats play in, but it has its own threadbare air of cool intimacy.

Perfect for The Nightrats.

This was my first viewing of them live, and I must say I loved what I saw. Slightly different to their recorded stuff (and so it should be), their quirky, intimate vibe remained, with the live vocals actually making it more so.

Randy Frey’s velvet voice invites you to lean in, immerse yourself in their music. The Nightrats don’t command or demand you with their presence, they beguile.

The three performers took the stage, dressed in black, Hugo Bossish uniforms (actually black replicas of Chairman Mao uniforms), and armed with guitars. They looked good, not gimmicky, presenting us with a persona that transformed them into a cohesive army of three (three so far in their nefarious underground army, but I’m watching closely…).

When they started playing they were accompanied by pre-recorded drums, beats, and sounds laced with those scratches and ticks of yesteryear recordings, which gave them an almost surreal, vaudeville and Coney Island on a cold pre-season day feel, where you eat fried food and drink whiskey with old sea dogs.

Tonight The Nightrats had a circa 1950s surfer movie sound to them. Well, if the surfer film had been made by David Lynch.

In fact, I could see Lynch using their music in a future dark, strange and compelling project, or even having the band play in the background of a dark and weird bar scene in said future film…

The music was tight, with a polish on the good side of slick and a beat beyond drums that comes from within the vocals and melodies that infects your veins and stays with you long after the last note.

The Nightrats have a sound dark like good coffee laced with bourbon and a live vibe that belongs in muted neon nights.

I’m most definitely excited about seeing this band at their next show. The Nightrats are one to watch out for and I recommend seeing them soon, before they’re discovered.

See you at the next gig.

(March 27th, 9pm @ The National Underground in Manhattan, NY)

Neil Diamond’s Seal of Approval Rating? 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Chin Chin at Union Pool 3/10/09

I was excited to see Chin Chin live for the first time. Up until this point I’d only hit them up on the You-Tizzles and I had an appetite to see what they could do live.

We rallied troops and began gravitating to the back bar at Union Pool. The list girl at the door was nice (a rarity) and in we went.

The music that the DJ was playing was great. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the funk, so I asked what he was rocking.

“Just a little foreplay,” he said with a wink. “You know baby, kind of like Prom night…”

I turned around to finish my lap of the room (I always like to come full circle) but I was stuck, the crowd had grown so thick. Thick, foreplay, prom night….I was starting to get really excited. For the show (so keep your mind out of the gutter, people).

The show started with their own version of foreplay…the Chin Chin‘s new video “Go There With You”. The video, directed by Brody Baker, was hot.

Their sound? My friend George described it thus: “If you melted an M & M on your nipple and someone licked it.” Right on. 70’s love power, George Clinton and The Parliaments funk-a-licious! Disco Biscuits (on speed and making Honor Roll)!

Toward the end of the show they took on a more Phish/Pink Floyd jam band tone and then came an amazing surprise when the drummer, Torbitt Schwarz, stepped away from his drum set and broke into a really deep hot guitar solo. A great way to close a show.

The sound is lush, polished to extremely shiny, and unabashedly retro. Think Shaft. Think shimmery bell-bottomed jumpsuits, disco balls and those excellent dance floors that light up. Think over-the-top funk ‘n’ roll. Their vibe is tinted with a sly tongue-in-cheek overtone, and they invite everyone in the room to join in.

And the normally cooler-than-cool Williamsburg crowd did just that.

Chin Chin possesses a tight, professional sound, and it’s obvious they’re having fun while doing it. Which makes a show always that much more enjoyable, no matter how much or, indeed, little, talent a band has. Luckily, Chin Chin has talent.

I am more than looking forward to their next gig. I hope to see you there.

The Neil Diamond Seal of Approval Rating? 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Beta Beta @Trash Bar 3/4

beta beta, another pilfered pic. mr. neil did not manage to take photos of this band.

by LLI

Beta Beta was the last band of the night and it seemed they were more of a bridge between bands rocking-it on stage at Trash Bar and when the stage morphs into the hottest karaoke night on the south side of Williamsburg.

Beta Beta was simply stated. A girl with a mic and a DJ on the side of the stage.

As they were setting up I heard the girl (Adeline) call out to the sound board she was waiting for her laptop to boot up. Cool I thought, what are these cats gonna do? They finally started and she began careening softly into the mic, reminding me of an electronically music inspired Liz Phair.

Yes, Liz. (Oh Liz! I thought that I had lost you in the 90’s but now, just like Amazing Grace, have been found. Of course, this time you’re Asian and have a DJ not a band…) Wait, where was I? Oh, yes…

Adeline was a solo force and the front runner of this show. She stood alone under a spotlight, facing a crowd that had drastically thinned (due to open bar ending and it being a school night). I sensed a nervousness and self-consciousness in the first few songs. She stood close to the mic, clutching it throughout the performance in a way that made me want to know what she was thinking, and that drew me in, it made me want to know.

The DJ in the corner (Parizit) kept it real by not letting the beats stop and soon she began to open up. She shed that kind of self-awareness that comes with suddenly realizing you’ve been thrust under a spotlight in a room full of strangers and melded with her music.

They were a fun duo and worked well with each other. Gracefully flowing from song to song, it seemed as if the old saying of ‘practice makes perfect’ carries some truth behind it. I give them props for doing their thing, as humbly as they did it just felt right and they came through with some serious modern force. Performing to inspire and inspire they did.

Drag the mouse over the pic to link to their page and have a listen to their music!

Neil Diamond seal of approval 2.5 stars out of 5, and an “A” for Awesome Effort!

The Beach Project at Trash Bar 3/4

myspace pilfering rocks...stolen from their page.

There is something to be said for going to shows on time. There are so many little details you get to take in. Highly recommended (only when open bar is provided): SHOW UP TO SHOWS ON TIME!

I noticed the lead singer of The Beach Project earlier in the night because she was wearing hottie-for- hot-hot-pants (not that I was looking but I couldn’t help but notice). She stood next to me at the bar and asked the bartender for a water, I sensed that she was not just an overdressed patron but a LEAD SINGER and about to go on! She appeared friendly but serious, responsibly keeping a supply of H20 nearby for quenching her cords during the show but obviously not high up enough to have a manager to get her water (man I love this indie shit, it’s so real, so now, it’s so what you make of it….and she seemed to be making the best of it) or, maybe she was just getting a goddam water and I’m looking too into it? I don’t know I don’t care, I’m just saying.

I was now anxiously awaiting for her band to go on (but of course I just stood there and tried to play it cool…b/c you know I am cool…well, that’s what my mother says, anyway). Not only the hot pants but she had on what looked like some sort of self created butterfly extreme plung V neck.

Ok, now enough about the ambience and outfits, let’s get to the music. What can I say, besides ultimately lovely vocals! Peaceful, soothing their music reinforced an almost lost belief I had about of finding goodness in life. They were sharp on point electoro pop, candy shop hotness. They had a real ’80s vibe and there were touches of Kate Bush and Bjork in both her vocalisation and her theatrics. The band had the crowd into them.

Definitely a band to check out.

Neil Diamond Seal of Approval Rating? 3.75 out of 5 stars. Mr. Neil is very fastidious about his rating system.

Introducing The Nightrats (Night Rats)

the night rat's very own art, pilfered right from their myspace page

the night rat's very own art, pilfered right from their myspace page

by DJW

Of course, I’m meant to be doing something else, so naturally I’m trawling the internets for things to do instead.

I stumbled across The Nightrats (Night Rats).

With only a handful of songs on offering on their page, I found myself instantly liking them. Their music is the kind of laidback, quirky, catchy, deceptively simple instacool that other bands would kill for (and, come to think of it, probably do. Can someone look into suspicious band deaths?)

I feel they really have their own vibe going on, and for some reason I think of Paris in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and I feel the urge to be in a hole-in-the-wall place thick with smoke and the crowd of those in the know before anyone else of what is the It Thing. Actually, they also want to make me wear a beret whilst smoking a cigarette in a cigarette-holder and foraying into beatnik poetry. But that’s probably just me and my issues.

The point is they have a great sound. I’m on my third round of listening to their musical groove and the velvet vocals really do bring an intimate and pared back vibe that keeps giving on each listen.

For me, personally, I am reminded of a pinch of Nouvelle Vague, a smidgeon of Mr. Dylan, a teaspoon of Leonard Cohen and of course, their own sound.

This is the kind of band that will make you all smug when the other peons finally discover them. My two favourite songs from their page? “Alligator Man” and “See You When I’m Stronger”.

Plus, anyone who writes the lyrics “I dreamed of velvet Elvis ” most definitely gets my vote. And, Mr. Neil’s!

Go to myspace and check ’em out. And go see them play.

Neil Diamond Seal of Approval? 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Skin God at Trash Bar 3/4/09

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