Friday night there was a show of four extremely kick-ass local bands in one of Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s newest and truly finest venues, the record store plus music stage exported via London called Rough Trade Records. From having one of the finest sound qualities and systems in town – to being one of the grandest new spaces in the city, having an expansive yet inexpensive bar, and of course; being in such close proximities to so much killer music – provides one of the most unexpectedly impressive venues for shows in the NYC area. This show was sure to fill the venue with great people and killer tunes enough to shoot you into the night sky.
Holy Tunics opened the night and having seen them a few times now, I must admit I’m really finally feeling their twistin’ & shakin’ groove. Singer and guitarist Nick Rogers provides the warbly voice, while drummer Jeremy Sampson lays on the handsome lumberjack charm and Matthew Billington winds away on the bass, but lead axe this night was not Davey Jones as usual but instead the floppy silver/purple-haired funk of Jess Ledbetter filling in for the night. I must say I really enjoyed her driving groove played atop her 70’s platform shoes and big bell bottom pants. Their song, “Clutching the Straw Map to Your Heart” has been swirling through my head for some time and their new EP Clutching the Straw Map is on its way.
Spritzer was up next and unbeknownst to me, it turned out Matt Meade’s side project from another local group with strong ties to many of the other groups this night, by the name of Friend Roulette. This rather expansive group was filled out by Ryan Weiner with ripping guitar solos, Kyle Olson with hot drum beats, and Brian Betancourt bringing the bass riffs, as well as Paul Hogan providing some melty keys. If that wasn’t enough, Hot Juan from the afore-mentioned Friend Roulette popped out to play some sax on a couple tracks, including a hilarious moment in which Matt came out in a cheap and messy blonde wig to play Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” dedicating it to Jessica Numsuwankijkul from the headlining band. He apparently just started off the side project for fun, but it is clearly already on two feet running.
Dead Stars was up third, and they have been making a huge cosmic mess in my mind for the last couple years, and I still feel as though they are poised to explode into rock stardom. They have a sound so familiar that it makes you feel as though you’ve known them forever, with their garage-y, low-fi, fuzzy guitar solos and droning and cynical yet rather melancholy vocals that sway of 90’s greats like Dinosaur Jr. and Nirvana as well as newer rockers like Black Keys and Jeff The Brotherhood. Frontman and guitarist Jeff Moore masters the controls to the heart of the sun, while the wide-legged stances and long hair whipping crescendos of bassist John Watterberg and madman drummer Jaye Moore barrel through the rhythms like a bull on crack in a china shop. They played many choice tracks off last year’s Slumber LP like “Summer Bummer,” as well as their new single “Calm Punk,” for which they have a video for on the way and will be releasing the b-side as well, also they just did a live Break Thru Radio session that airs July 31, right before their next gig at this same Rough Trade on August 1st with Lazyeyes (drummer Jeremy Sampson’s other band).
Headlining the night is the new coming of another local favorite band by the name of Heliotropes, although they are a bit different than the band that got so much acclaim and buzz just a couple years back. Founding members lead singer and guitar wailer Jessica Numsuwankijkul and drumming animal Cici Harrison are still a powerful duo for sure, but two new tall handsome guys in Richard Thomas and Sridharan Ravichandran, have entered the mix on axe and bass. Much of the excitement about their sound, not so long ago, was their bizarrely eclectic mix of styles and genres from 60’s harmonizing girl group sway, 70’s hard rock power shreds, 80’s power ballad apexes, 90’s riot grrrl snarl, and even some bluegrass twang for good measure. It all worked somehow, like a perfect painting of all the right colors coming together in just the right way, as it did on their first LP A Constant Sea, a lot of which was played this night, which included a guest appearance by another founding member Amber Meyers who popped up on stage to harmonize on a couple songs (even though she sadly did not come packing her power tambourine).
There was also a mesmerizing cover of the Stone Roses “I Wanna Be Adored” which made for a rather unexpected treat. The night was more about new songs though, as Jessica admits she already has a new album recorded and is waiting to get it released, an LP mostly about WWI, as she recently became amerced in WWI and WWII documentaries and it crept into the album, lyrically at least. It should be fascinating to hear where all these still very young and promising groups go, as they can all clearly reach the stars in their own power.
Article: Dean Keim