Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas rock n roll mixtape

Last year I made a couple of Christmas mixtapes. Rock and indie bands love the irony of writing a Christmas tune, except for Sufjan Stevens who writes them sans-irony. Somehow only one of the mixtapes still exist on the internets and my external hard drive is somewhere between Amsterdam and Sydney, no doubt caught in the massive European blizzard so I can retrieve the other one. Nevertheless follow the link to Slay Bells Not Reindeer.

Consider it my little gift to you. Ho Ho Ho and have a great Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gig review: Ava Luna at Storing

My friend Grant said we had to go, he was putting on the show. We were happy to support our friend but it was the night after his birthday so we were holding a hung over grudge as we all caught the train from Amsterdam to Haarlem. But Grant found a great venue in Storing, that provided some good pub grub before the show. Another plus, the venue with its roots in the squat movement make it a rule not to charge for gigs.Photobucket
Unfortunately, it wasn't just my liver that was disgruntled. Not only did the band's name conjure Paramore-ish connotations but I had been initially put off by the Brooklyn band, Ava Luna, by the shitty car stereo on which Liz and I sampled their demo in preparation for the gig while we drove around Europe. There weren't many ticks in the boxes, only Xs.
On arrival to Grant and Amanda’s house after our euro-sojourn their home stereo unit and a more polished EP redeemed the band’s sound, where soul meets post punk and you can hear elements of fellow New Yorkers TV on The Radio in their early days.Photobucket
Bringing the crunching post punk edge to the music are keyboards, bass and drums with equal amounts of thickness and negative space as lead singer, Carlos Hernandez croons in a falsetto recalling TVOTR's singer Tunde while a trio of female backing singers swoon with delicate harmony that when combined, compliment each other brilliantly.
In fact the term 'backing' is doing the girls an injustice. On the small Storing stage with little room for the seven members to move, the gals, Anna, Felicia and Becca are the main attraction, keeping a sweet and swaying chorus line bringing a uniqueness to an indie stage. Carlos wails about in a suit and maintains between-song banter as a leader should while bassist Ethan, drummer Julian and synth player Nathan keep the engine turning over like a dirty metronome.
Along with my last bowl of bitterballen, I had to eat my words - they were very entertaining with a fresh sound.

It was the band’s first trip to Europe and first show in the Netherlands. They seemed chuffed to be here and received a decent crowd for a Sunday night show in a city that wasn’t Amsterdam. Grant, ever the one to please had also offered his house as accommodation. Supposedly they were all stoked but as Liz and I were sleeping on their floor just a few days prior after returning from our roadtrip, I can’t imagine how all eight (tour manager included) fitted on the living room floor. I believe Grant took them to sample some Dutch delicacies so maybe that wiped them out. Ah to be a young band on the road.

For those in the Holiday spirit and love a good indie Christmas song, take a listen and if you like it, buy it, all proceeds go to the NYC Food Bank.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Mohawk Lodge

PhotobucketInspired by John Cage's 4'33" I've been silent for a long time due mainly to roadtripping around Europe for the last three months in Bumblebee with my girlfriend, Liz.

However I'm back in Amsterdam for a few days before I move home to Sydney indefinitely.

Apart from my friends and the beautiful city of Amsterdam, the thing I'll miss most is the fantastic gig-going to be had from small international bands.

Tonight is no different with Canada's The Mohawk Lodge playing for free at little known venue on Zeedijk named Skek.

I dunno what genre the band call put themselves in but I'm dubbing them Logger Rock. Signed to White Whale records (founded by ML lead singer Ryder Havdale so drr), it's Bruce Springsteen-inspired blue collared workin' man's music. Burly and rough but honest, you can hear alignment with fellow Boss worshipers Gaslight Anthem and The Hold Steady. Any decent Canadian expat worth their rock salt will bear the snow covered cobblestones, lumberjack flannels on to enjoy the sounds. No doubt they'll play tunes from new album, 'Crimes' which Havdale says is partially about "the feeling of punching out a friend for f**king your girlfriend".

Labelmate Eamon McGrath, who makes a similar sound, played last night and may just join in.