Archive for October, 2010
Members: Pete Harper, J.Blynn, Sarab Singh, Whynot
Brooklyn, New York.
A sneak peek at the tracks from Harper Blynn’s latest self-titled EP tells me something I already knew: these guys are gonna be huge. In fact, their debut full-length record, Loneliest Generation, produced by David Kahne (The Strokes, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, Regina Spektor) made a splash with the music industry and gained them a myriad of fans ranging from age 10 to the Baby Boomer generation. Why such a following? This band knows the secret formula: everybody loves a melody. That’s right…in the sometimes austere indie rock scene where sheer mopery (prnc’d “mope .. er .. ee”) and self-flogging are essential ingredients, Harper Blynn bravely steps into the spotlight with fantastically crafted songs full of melodies and strong hooks that traverse the mind and brighten the outlook. Pete and J. use a tough-love approach in their song-writing, inspiring listeners to take responsibility for their lives and relationships with lyrics like: “There’s no time to be fearful. There is no time to be untrue, so look me in the eye and say an honest word or two…” from “Bound to Break”; and from “Loneliest Generation”, the number one music video on MTVmusic.com this summer, “We are children laughing, peeking through the wall…knock it over now! Just let us stand alone and if we fall, it’s never over…” In a world with plenty of self-pity and blame-shifting, Harper Blynn makes a clear point to remind the individual of their own power. That’s not always the easiest concept to swallow, but it’s always the most rewarding.
Their new EP allows us to peek into the darker corners of Harper Blynn where we see a little more lyrical depth and a sharper sonic edge compared to their debut. With dramatic synth, guitar effects from fuzz to straight-up shredding, strong, sometimes playful bass lines, and some damn tight percussion (listen to the end of “Bound to Break”), their musical acuity and lyrical intelligence will attract even the most die-hard anti-popsters. For their next LP, I’m hoping this band will illuminate even more of their dark corners to produce a poignant, eerily insightful record with an edgy grace that will become them nicely. We shall wait.
Check out the “Loneliest Generation” music video which sailed past Justin Bieber’s hair and Katy Perry with her foam-shooting cans to the number one spot on MTVmusic.com this summer.
The foursome, Pete Harper, J.Blynn, Whynot and Sarab Singh, operating out of Brooklyn, have been tearing up the highways, touring with the likes of Cary Brothers and Greg Laswell, as well as opening shows for Corinne Bailey Rae among others. After their busy week at CMJ 2010, they set sail again for a Fall tour. Check out their schedule below and DO.NOT. miss this band if they are anywhere near you. Not only are they a jackpot of original music, but they also pull off some of the best covers I’ve heard, ranging from Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’”, to Beyonce’s “Halo”. Check out the YouTube video below and tell me J.Blynn doesn’t have one of the best voices in rock today. (btw – I capital HATE the sound quality on all YouTube vids, including this one, but I’m hoping this will at least entice you to see the live version.)
Harper Blynn Fall Tour (!)
|10/19||New York, NY||Mercury Lounge (CMJ showcase – 9 pm)||Buy tickets|
|10/20||New York, NY||CMJ – The Living Room (4:30 pm)|
|10/22||New York, NY||CMJ – The Living Room (11:30 pm)|
|10/23||Brooklyn, NY||Rock Shop – Gothamist CMJ Party (3 pm)|
|10/23||New York, NY||CMJ – Rockwood Stage 1 (10 pm)|
|10/28||Cleveland, OH||Cambridge Room (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|10/29||Columbus, OH||The Basement (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|10/30||Toronto, Canada||El Mocambo (w/ Greg Laswell)|
|11/1||Indianapolis, IN||Radio Radio (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/3||Chicago, IL||Lincoln Hall (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/4||St. Paul, MN||Turf Club (w/ Greg Laswell)|
|11/5||Lincoln, NE||Bourbon Theatre (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/5||Lincoln, NE||Bourbon Theatre (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/6||Denver, CO||Bluebird Theater (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/8||Sparks, NV||The Alley (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/9||Sacramento, CA||Blue Lamp (w/ Greg Laswell)|
|11/10||San Francisco, CA||The Independent (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/12||Salt Lake City, UT||Avalon Theater (w/ Greg Laswell)|
|11/16||Ann Arbor, MI||Blind Pig (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/18||Boston, MA||Cafe 939 (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
|11/20||New York, NY||Highline Ballroom (w/ Greg Laswell)||Buy tickets|
The final day of the ultra-endurance event also known as CMJ has Heavier Than Air covering no less than nine bands and probably seeing several more. After reading Ste’s coverage, I’m putting more effort into exploring Young the Giant from Newport Beach, California and Miracles of Modern Science out of Brooklyn, New York. Read Heavier Than Air’s Day 5 coverage of CMJ here.
The fourth day of CMJ is made for the die-hards, those whose stamina (hopefully natural) and planning allow them to keep up with the pace of this intense musical mashup. After reading Heavier Than Air’s coverage, I’m definitely going to take a deeper dive into Dark Dark Dark and possibly Jackpot, Tiger.
Tune in here: Heavier Than Air. CMJ Day 4.
While the west coasters were sitting around plucking our nose hairs and arguing with AT&T reps from India about our zillion dropped calls last month, Ste, Grand Master of the “Heavier Than Air” music blog, was running around the greater New York City area in a desperate attempt to fight band schedules and train delays in the hopes of keeping his finger on the pulse of CMJ 2010. Follow the link to read how our hero’s rampant sweet tooth was quelled long enough to behold downbeats in Lower East Side venues such as The Living Room and The Cake Shop, as well as in the beloved burrough of Brooklyn where our hero caught the Blood Red Shoes.
Follow the link to read what our New York City friend did on the first two days of CMJ. L.A.’s own Grouplove gets a shout out!
Stay tuned to what’s happening at CMJ in NYC with HTA and BV.
…found a little present in my inbox this morning: Harper Blynn’s new self-produced, self-titled EP, which is due out in a week. Stay tuned for a full review, tour dates and any other news I can find on this incredible band….coming this weekend (!)
Until then, follow the link to their Facebook page, where you can listen to two of the new tracks now.
I see… …Hicksters?
Seems that a swell is coming in from the west, bringing with it a fresh wave of old country, re-worked, and spun with threads of social angst and collective human experience that just weren’t available back in the age of innocence, the day of Patsy Cline, the late 1950s. Leslie Stevens and the Badgers are leading this charge in Los Angeles with some of the sweetest sets of calico country that you may have never heard. Their charm, dusted with enough big-city grime to free listeners from the unholy guilt that arises with high doses of sticky sweet, is shaped by fine melodies and heartbreaking lyrics.
I first saw this band at the Roots Roadhouse Festival at the Echoplex in July, 2010 where they stole my heart with an old-fashioned country sound so pure and innocent that it didn’t matter how naughty the lyrics got (ahem – what was that chicken song?). Leslie Stevens captivates her audiences with a wholesome air and a dusky soprano, which I’ve heard compared to Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton, though personally I get more of an Emmylou Harris and Janis Joplin neat, with a whiskey and cigarette back. It follows that I anxiously wait for the day they cover “Bobby McGee”.
Watch Leslie perform “Sinner”.
Leslie and the Badgers’ 2009 release, Roomful of Smoke, boasts simply crafted songs, many a plea for mercy from lost loves and tough towns. A perfect record to spin on a restful Saturday morning while you’re making strong coffee and eggs, you can buy it at Happy Hour prices on Amazon for $5.00.
Catch Leslie Stevens and the Badgers as they head up the west coast in early November. The Troubadour show on November 1 with Laura Veirs is definitely not one to be missed, though the “money” show is happening at the world famous Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon on November 5. If only I could teleport. Hopefully the next time Leslie and her Badgers pile into a tour bus to go cross-country, they’ll make a little stop at the Daytrotter studios in Rock Island, Illinois. Tour dates.
You’d think I work for Amazon MP3, but I don’t. I swear. The deals are hard to bypass.
Buy it here: Arcade Fire. The Suburbs. $5.00
Ok – I’ll admit that sometimes I do go to a band’s MySpace page to look at pictures of cute musicians, but most of the time I’m there to sample music. Waiting for MySpace to load (and dealing with the annoying layouts) can be a pain, so a fellow genius (read – a genius who is a fella) made this bookmarklet to help. The link is below, but in summary, here’s how it works:
1. There is a red icon in the article below (see link) with the words “MUSIC ONLY”. Drag that icon into your bookmark tool bar.
2. Open a band’s myspace page. For example http://myspace.com/harperblynn (Actually you may want to look at the pictures of this band, so it may not be the best example. Go ahead. I’ll wait…)
3. Click that “MUSIC ONLY” link on your tool bar. That’s right….just click it. You don’t have to wait for anything to load, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200. Just go to the MySpace page and as soon as you see it open, click that link in your tool bar. Are you getting it? Just click it.
5. Instantly, only the band’s music player opens up, and off you go.
Many thanks to Paul Fenlon for developing and sharing this. It’s great to see all the extra “ZOW (!)” on MySpace pages, but sometimes you just want to cut to the chase.