|Contributors: Jeff Rey, Michele Falk, Stephen Jaser, Malcolm Sane, Grane Leger, Bonnie Tagart
Copyright 2003 NEON, blue door productions
|An end-page review & preview of things current & cool
I was sitting at the bar in CBGB downing the final gulps of the warm beer I had been served. (In the past two decades plus, I don't think I've ever gotten a Bud in there that I could possibly describe as 'cold'.) I was feeling nostalgic, thinking about the many hours I had put in on this joint's infamous stage myself. The bands I had seen that night had been pretty bad. Bad as in boring. But, I wasn't working, just taking in the ambiance, such as it was. I had just flipped a coin in my mind to decide whether to brave the adventure of the dreaded downstairs rest rooms or venture out into the night, when an astounding thing happened. The place had suddenly been filled with a driving rhythm, gut-wrenching guitar and a demanding vocalist - New York City punk 'n roll! Think the baddest of the Dolls (without the glitz), or the early Dictators or the Thunders-fronted Heartbreakers. It was loose, loud and obnoxious. Just what I was in the mood for. Besides, who couldn't relate to a song that starts with this lyric:
David French is a Scottish-born singer/songwriter currently living in New York. But he's also lived in England, Ireland and several nations on the continent including Germany, France and most recently Geneva, Switzerland. That cosmopolitan past is reflected in the richly hued preview performances he recently did in this city in anticipation of his forthcoming album, All The Difference. A two-song advance of the album showcases that French upholds the long, proud tradition of the U.K.-bred poet/performer. With a voice reminiscent of U2's Bono, his "Unhappy?" is a dark, brooding piece that explores the loss of both his sister and father to suicide. Yet, "Where It Begins" is a life-affirming celebration of love. As of press time, All The Difference was in its final mix-down stage. Co-produced by French, Rafe McKenna (Ash, Warm Jets, UB40) and Merle Chornuk (Ryan Adams, Joey Ramone, Jesse Malin), the album also features drummers Andy Gangadeen (Massive Attack) and Andy Newmark (John Lennon) along with bassist John McKenzie (Eurythmics, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner).
|Don't it smell like shit on the streets of New York City?
and ends with this one:
Everywhere I go, nothing's changed except the goddamn names.
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.
Oh yeah, indeed. The song is "Shout It Out" and the band is the A.K.A.s. Frontman Mike Ski, who's also a tatoo artist, turned me on to their 3-song EP after their set. It features the song above along with "Freedom Vs. the Perception of Necessity" and "Gotta Get Outta Here" - all rough 'n tumble rock tunes. The band is a 5-piece with the other members identified as bassist Chad, Lukas on guitar, drummer Marty E. and Nina on keys. The EP also matches each member's thumbprint just in case there's any identity problems. They don't seem to gig in town all that much - but, catch 'em if you can. The A.K.A.s - also known as armed and dangerous rock 'n rollers.
25 years of NEON
In their own words, Nitromusk is a “dirty, silly, sexy, fun” rock ‘n roll band - - with some seriously solid material. Led by vocalist/guitarist David Ellis, they laid down a straight ahead rock set at a recent CBGB gig. Lead guitarist Eric James Myers, somewhat overwhelmed by his powder pink Les Paul, hit just the right slash and trash riffs while Ted Condo’s dirty bass lines and drummer John Webber’s funky but chic syncopation tied it all together. They’ve got a five-song EP which includes “Pop Star”. A full length video for that song can be viewed on their website.
|Nitromusk guitarist Eric James Myers
Atomic #76 took their name from Atomic Metal Number 76, which happens to be the heaviest metal known to man. I guess that tells you something about this NYC band, but it hardly describes the classic metal sound they manage to pull off. The hooks are indeed heavy and memorable in the way that Led Zeppelin’s were – not that they sound like that band or exactly like any other from that era. But they do have that familiar, old school sound that you can just groove to – in a head-banging kind of way. In a trio, all this relies greatly on the expertise of the individual members - drummer Ronnie Seward, guitarist Mauro Felipe and bassist/singer Bingo Sanatra. When I caught a recent show, all three were ably pulling their weight. And heavy it was. Felipe’s extended solos were extraordinary, while Bingo’s bass was heavier than dirt and complimented his gritty voice – which brings to mind Leslie West in his prime – and Seward not only held it all together, but added thunderous fills that managed to both showcase his talent and fatten up the band’s sound considerably. A power trio in the classic sense of the phrase.
Based in Boston, Dragonfly pairs singer/songwriter Miki Singh with renowned blues guitarist Peter Parcek (Sheryl Crow, Grateful Dead, Pinetop Perkins). On Dragonfly’s new release, The Edge of the World, the duo teams up with veteran session and performing musicians Steve Scully on drums, bassist Mark Hickox and keyboardist Brother Cleve. Recorded in the Caribbean, it’s an eclectic album that includes pensive ballads, straight ahead rockers and dance/funk compositions. It also delves into blues and country. In anticipation of the album’s release, Dragonfly has been showcasing in New York of late.