National Site

Review of Turtle Bangs', "Mountain"

If you mashed up the alternative genres skirting the mainstream during the’70s and ’90s and churned it out with one guitar and drum set in a snarling, sexy, dirty mess, you’d have “Mountain,” the second full-length by Murfreesboro-based band Turtle Bangs. I could draw countless comparisons to the in-your-face energy of Patti Smith, the raw minimalism of the White Stripes, the psycho killer weirdness of Tom Waits, the slow seduction of The Stooges and more, but you’d do better to hear it yourself.

Turtle Bangs are best known for tearing up house shows around Murfreesboro, and there’s something to be said for cramming into a tight living room to hear the music resonating so loudly, you feel like you’re taking a beating from the kick drum and a stabbing from the guitar. But after hearing “Mountain,” it’s pretty clear the band is ready for more venue gigs.

A strange, tribal riff (very Neil Young) oozes slowly out on first track “Desert Stone,” with guitarist/vocalist Greg Stephen’s cracking howl: “You are what I want/you are the desert stone/you are the serpent’s tongue.” The rhythm may be slow, but it’s white-hot. Then Casey Carter’s drum beats stumble one after another over Stephen’s fits and stops of crunchy riffs in “There Is No Time.” Bare-bones as the album may be, each song is profoundly multi-faceted with tracks that can go from jam-band slow to warped speed over the course of two minutes. They can perpetuate meandering riffs until they’ve caught you in a trance as well as pound you over the head with short, angry chords, as found in “Wipe.”

The last half of the album grows somewhat softer with songs like “Oh My Brother,” which has a different melodic quality than the others that swaps sordid and hectic thrashing for something that borders on pretty. And though “Mountain” is riddled with blues influence, Turtle Bangs mainly explore the different outfits of punk from frenzied, hyper-tempo lust songs (like “Shake”) to slow, spiraling striptease songs like “Molly” in which Stephen implores in a ghostly moan so much like Iggy Pop, “I wish that you could find me and put me back together again.”

“Mountain” possesses a perfected sloppiness that’s difficult to achieve, especially with only two instruments, but Turtle Bangs pulls it off, and is one of the only bands that can sing about shaking it (listen to “Shake”) and convince me to actually do that. For those who need a serious dose of grungy garage rock paired with punk, “Mountain” is the cure. Let the healing begin. – Jessica Pace


Mpress Records CMJ show at Gallery Bar in the L.E.S. (NYC)

NYC based independent record label MPress Records has a roster of interesting singer songwriters based - mostly based in the Big Apple and Massachussets. The lable will showcase its talents on 10.21 starting at 6 at Gallery Bar on Orchard St (just north of Delancey St.) Besides local rootsy pop stalwart Rachel Sage, we are curious to see singer Bostonian singer songwriters Lindsay Mac (in the picture above), a talented cellist singing intimate songs, and Melissa Ferrick (picture below), whose tracks reveal a more rocking attitude. On the bill also Walter Parks, who has forged a distinctive international carreer as the lead guitarist for legendary NYC folk innovator Richie Havens.


Marathon Runner Alex's day 1: Telenovelas, Dinowalrus, Goes Cube

Monday night was the start of the ridiculousness most commonly known as the Deli's CMJ Music Marathon (i.e. covering 26 emeriging bands playing CMJ for The Deli - 26 as in the miles in a marathon.) Luckily (or unluckily?) my first night out on the town was not an insane drunken debauchery. But let’s be serious, there are still four days left for that! What’s good about CMJ, and the relatively small size of New York, is that you can hop from one place to another to check out a bunch of great shows. And this is precisely what I did last night in LES. Per my fellow Deli writer’s recommendation, I started off at the Deli Magazine Showcase at the Delancey to check out the Brooklyn-based Telenovelas (below, a photo of their Fender Jaguar). From the start, these lo-budget, hi-fi, darlings set the mood at the barely lit lounge with their guitar-thickened music. I was definitely digging both the coolness and shoe-gazyness of their music. Great warm up for the night ahead.

I decided to stay around for the next act, another Brooklyn band, Baby Alpaca. Again, the Delancey ground floor is pretty much a perfect fit for this group. The lead singer has a lonesome and heavy emotionality in his voice and the songs kind of melt into themselves, filled with dark and droning qualities. Before I started crying my face off due to these semi-depressing sounds, I headed over to Cake Shop to check out yet another band from BK, Dinowalrus (pictured below), for the Panache showcase.

Before seeing them live for the first time, I decided to listen to their tracks on Myspace and picked up that a rock-turning-pyschedelic pop vibe (kind of). When I saw them live, though, I realized that although the pop sound might be what they are going for – think electronic, bouncy beat openers – it’s not so psychedelic as much as guitar screeching, chaotic rock. These guys are LOUD. But fun. They have this punkish attitude going on, heavy on the instrumentals, not so much on the vocals. I definitely enjoyed their-in-your-face musical enthusiasm, and the lead singer is super entertaining with his goofy antics. Might need some plugs next time so my ears don’t bleed.

I stuck around for a bit to catch a bit of the set by the Parisian DJ, Onra – very nice – then headed LITERALLY next door to the Living Room to catch the LA-based Chapin Sisters - read my review on the Deli LA.

Following the Living Room, I skipped on over to Fat Baby to hear Brooklyn boys, Goes Cube (dudes in picture above pretending to be... rain?) do a set later on in the night. Talk about a shift in musical tone. Again, I was enveloped in some LOUD music. The band’s been described as having a “sledgehammer assault.” My ears concur! The music (feel free to call it metal) was heavy, powerful and all pretensions aside, seriously intense. They smashed, they banged and they made quite the impression.


Chapin Sister CMJ Coverage

I’m not really into the whole folky-southern-soft rock thing but decided, in the spirit of good music and CMJ, I would check out the Chapin Sister. Just to give a little back up story, the two lead singers, AKA the sisters themselves, are the beautiful, waify offspring of three time Grammy winner singer-songwriter, Tom Chapin (if that’s any indication of their musical chops). Their sound is soothing, subtle and ethereally sincere. Though there were points in which the songs came off just a little country for my liking, I really enjoyed their short set, which was infused with soft textures and very pretty vocals. - Alex Vann


Animal City

The latest album from the basement duo of Salvatore Cassato and Dakota Loesch (aka Animal City) finds the band bringing a fuller sound. For their new 14 track album, You Win Some, You Loser, Cassato and Loesch have added the rhythm section of Douglas Ryan and Levi Yastrow. This is their first release as a full band and Animal City's first full-length album. Although fourteen tracks in length the album still only clocks in around 27 minutes. These songs are brief, but fun and at times hilarious. This is a band that does not take themselves too seriously, but does come across as more professional and polished on this release.

The album kicks off with a fun little track about a person has a mouse face. It sounds a little like the Hold Steady at first, but that comparison fades over the whole of the album. Animal City celebrated the album's release last night at Empty Bottle.