Archive for the ‘post punk’ Category

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Able Cain

June 17, 2007

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Able Cain has until recently been a very well kept secret among Northern Californians. With the band’s participation on Mootown Records’ “Tastes Like Chicken” compilation CD and the release of the band’s own self-titled debut CD EP, the cat is being let out of the bag.

Fans of the Police, Simple Minds, and in particular, the Fixx, take note. Able Cain draws from these sources, and updates the mix into something that is ready for a modern, post-grunge scene in which the groove abounds.

Able Cain’s strengths lie in well-crafted, sophisticated rock/pop song writing, and skillful instrumental arrangement. With a line-up including singer, guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums, the band has developed a style of interplay that renders each member indispensable.

Matt McCabe’s guitar playing is full of character, and escapes the boundaries of simple overdriven power chord hammering that many young bands and fans settle for in current ACM. McCabe and keyboardist Eric Schrepel play in true support of each other in creating the sonic bed of Able Cain, with neither acting as a strictly lead or rhythm instrument.

Vocalist Greg Asher’s soulful, intelligent lyrics are matched by passionate delivery. The band’s Mootown offering, “Fire Flower”, is an excellent introduction to Asher’s commanding, gravel-etched baritone. He sings with fervor of a vision of beauty and purity caught up and brought low by addiction. The cry “rage out your rage” is one of longing, pain, and defiance.

Asher’s focus turns inward during “Charlatan’s Song.” The singer pulls himself down from any pedestals to declare that he’s anything but a role model…

“I’ve found no truth outside of salvation; nothing to set me free. And who am I to speak condemnation? The worst of men is me.”

It’s clear, however, that he’s giving it his best shot.

Jeff Elbel

Similar Artist : The Fixx

www.finleysound.com/ablecain

Audio Sample : 90 seconds

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The Julies

May 22, 2007

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The Julies started in the summer of 1992 as three imaginary boys who wanted to build a bridge between The Cure and Ride. Or at least rip them off in trying. They became four boys–and decidely less imaginary–in the fall when Greg joined them. He was good at drumming and the others were not. He needed some convincing about The Cure and all those guitar effects, but he came around. Sort of. Patrick auditioned for the band by playing “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies, and instantly The Julies were five.

The next four years would find The Julies playing shows and breaking hearts, including their own. But before riding off on separate horses into the sunset, they released a limited 6-song EP called January in 1994 which was followed by a not so limited 6-song EP called Lovelife on Flying Tart Records in 1996. Thousands and thousands of the latter were sold as the band disintegrated. Sigh.

The members are survived by post-Julies music projects and a beaming love for each other and the time they spent together. On certain moonless nights, that love can still be glimpsed hovering above Philadelphia.

Similar Artist : The Cure

www.myspace.com/thejulies

Audio Sample : 90 seconds

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Absence of Ceramics

January 6, 2007

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It’s a little known fact that from about 1986 to 1993, Christian music had an underground cassette culture that paralleled the 1980’s underground music scene that gave us artists like The Dead Kennedys and Eugene Chadbourne. It was an exciting and unpredictable period when you could read about a fascinating group from some out-of-the-way place, send off for a $6 cassette tape, wait two weeks for the tape to show up at your doorstep, and then blow a fuse on the unbelievable music you were hearing. No Laughing Matter and The Lead are probably the most renowned groups to come out of the Christian sector of the cassette culture, but there were many others, including a post-punk/college rock outfit from New Jersey called Absence of Ceramics (or AOC).

AOC was fronted by Thom Inglin, a Christian in his early twenties who discovered the world of punk rock and post-punk while working at a record store. Inspired by these bands’ ability to create great music within the limitations of their musicianship, Inglin decided to try his hand at creating great music within his own limitations, little knowing how original and artistically successful his attempts would be.

Every one of AOC’s cassette-only releases were recorded on four-track cassette recorders, which was pretty much the standard for DIY underground bands during this period. What set AOC apart was Inglin’s ability to harness the lo-fi tools that were at his disposal and create dark, dense, haunting, shrouded soundscapes unlike anything else in existence. “I would listen to what I had just recorded and be amazed at what I had done,” Inglin recollects. Using solid pop song structures as his foundation, Inglin would then give these songs sonic treatments that would render them disconnected and in a world unto themselves. Easily the best example of this is AOC’s first album, 1987’s The Exception to the Rule, which lures the listener into an unsettling environment where drum machines tick like time bombs, acoustic guitars pound and electric guitars pine like disconnected sounds in a haunted house, and Inglin’s distortion-treated voice growls and whines about the uncertainty of the world he is luring you into. The album was released at the 1987 Creation Festival, where the original 100 copies Inglin made quickly sold out. The editor of Notebored, a prominent Christian underground magazine from the period, heard the album and enthusiastically carried a cache of cassettes to the Cornerstone Festival to sell there, where the band’s reputation continued to grow.

After this initial success, Inglin formed a band around the project, consisting of Thom Inglin on guitar, Garth Kolbeck on bass, and Kenny Warner on drums; this would be the band’s line-up for most of the project’s existence. Their first album as a full band, One Last Guy (1988), proved to have a more straight-ahead Athens, Georgia-style jangle-rock sound but not without strong overtones of the haunting atmosphere that made The Exception the Rule the great album that it is. For the third effort, Inglin and Kolbeck compiled an album of compositions that each had recorded separately, which was released in 1989 under the title Softdrinks for Terrorists. The results vary a bit, but overall the Twilight Zone-like world of The Exception to the Rule was back in a slightly different form, with the chilly atmosphere of “Anger” riddled with ghosts and ending with a crash, and the acoustic “Lifting” opening with an NRBQ sample and ending with a creepy, sped-up “I’m Big Bird, thanks for calling…” repeating over and over, amongst numerous other icy snapshots and brooding phantoms in AOC’s world of the unexpected.

AOC’s next album, 1991’s Surgery, was their most mature release, returning to the Athens-style college rock sound they had visited in One Last Guy and finding the band at their most professional as musicians and songwriters. But just as progressive rock band Procol Harum’s music had a haunting presence no matter what they did, so AOC’s music on Surgery is drenched with the same haunting presence of the previous albums, even with a stronger self-assurance in place. A few of the songs find the band at their most aggressive and punkish, others end suddenly before you expect them to, leaving you dangling like the hanging ending of “The Lady or the Tiger?”, and still others are just solid examples of collegiate rock that out-perform those by many more famous groups in the genre. Sadly this album was overlooked and did not resonate with its audiences and critics quite as strongly as did the previous entries in the AOC canon, and the band had to resort to playing the “impromptu” (read “open mic”) stage at the 1991 Cornerstone festival, whereas they has been part of the New Band Showcase previously. A fifth album, entitled Chalk, returned full-circle to Inglin manipulating the controls by himself again, but sadly the album was never released and the band subsequently dropped off the map.

Inglin still listens to AOC’s albums regularly, even though time and circumstance (or, as Thom would rather say, the Sovereign Will of God) has moved him into being a church worship leader and family man with a supportive wife who home-schools their two teenage daughters. “I have had the opportunity over the past five years to gather and develop godly musicians, building them into a humble and passionate worship team . . . who play skillfully within their limitations (emphasis added),” Inglin told the author in a recent email. “This has been infinitely more gratifying than my experience with the ‘rise and fall’ of Absence of Ceramics.” Although he has no plans to revive AOC anytime soon, the shrouded musical world Inglin created with AOC continues to lurk in the closets of the Christian cassette culture’s fans, waiting to be discovered again.

David Gasten

Similar Artist :

www.myspace.com/absenceofceramics

Audio Sample : 90 seconds

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The Walk

December 11, 2006

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A group that hails from Pennyslvania consisting of Byron Barnshaw (vocals ; Guitrars), Jeff Butz (guitars), Jim Schneck (bass) and Mike Angelino (drums). The Walk released four albums from it’s short musical career. Starting off with the self titled/self produced album that greatly shows a big influence from Adam Again and the guitar leanings of the Edge from U2.

The final album “Indianland” still keeps the jangly melodic trademark of the band. Outstanding tracks like “The scales” and “A fortune” makes this album worth listening even to the doom-melancholic tuning of the “Bridge Prophets” makes the album worth getting. A very atmospheric album that would even please the least of “The Choir” fans.

Similar artist : The Chameleons U.K.

Audio Sample : 90 seconds

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Mercy

September 17, 2006

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Mercy was a fairly hard rocking band with an alternative edge fronted by Lorraine Lewis who had previously led the general market Femme Fatale. The latter act was a metal band that capitalized on the image of being an all-male group with a “sex-bom” female singer. They made one album that enjoyed a fair share of MTV success and then the group broke up mainly because Lewis wanted to pursue a more blues-oriented rootsy sound. Lewis, who was raised Roman Catholic, was drawn into a more personal conncection with God through her manager, a woman who testified to receiving miraculous healing of brain cancer. “I turned my life over to the Lord on March 7, 1991,” Lewis told HM magazine, and soon after that she met and married Eric Levy, who was in a punk band called Black-eyed Susan. The two formed Mercy and released a single album on the Broken label. Standout trackes include “P.L.F.,” an acoustic ode to peace, love and faith and the harder rocking “Mother’s lullaby,” written bby Lewis as an emphatetic expression of Levy’s late mother affection for her son. True Tunes compared the group to the latter-day (nonacoustic) Acoustic Shack.

Similar artist :

Audio Sample : 90 seconds

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Spy Glass Blue

August 20, 2006

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Allan Aguirre is best known as the front act man for the punk band Scaterd Few. He formed Spy Glass Blue as a side project, to serve as his “mellower, artistic outlet” and to function as more of a ministry band. The group became his main focus for a bried interim (1995-1998) during which Scatered Few was defunct. Shadows shows strong influence of general market artists like Bauhaus and Peter Murphy and so was immediately identified as a rare example of Christian goth music. Aquirre objects ot the categorization but admits that “a lot of goths were into Scatered Few’ and that he “welcomes hte audienc.” The opening track, “Thin and Leaner,” displays some of the punk style of Aguirre’s main band, but the rest of the album consists of dark, haunting, moddy tunes that might recall The Cure on a bad day. Aguirre sometimes mimics David Bowie’s vocals (e.g., on “Sultry Places,” “On and On”). “Iron Gray” has an unusaully pop sound, as though it might been intented for radio. Thematically, the album seems to deal with the confusion of life without Christ. “Lodging” appears to liken salvation to coming in out of the cold.

Similar artist : Peter Murphy

www.spyglassblue.com

Audio Sample : 90 seconds

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Nina

August 12, 2006

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Nina Llopis, lead singer for the Christian punk band The Lead, has released solo albums as simply Nina. After the Lead disbanded, Llopis worked for a time fronting a group called Out of Egypt. In her solo work she displays a style that has been likened to Juliana Hatfield and Sheryl Crow-an angst driven voice with stripped down accompaniment. I’m Your Child was produced by Vector’s Steve Griffith and features the standout tracks “Here’s My Heart” and “His Love.” Llopis was raise Jewish and majored in art at the University of Miami.

Similar artist :

www.eternallife.com

Audio Sample : 90 seconds