Posts filed under ‘MA’

A.K.A. Simply Cool…

a.k.a.c.o.d cover buy it on iTunes | check it on CDBaby

I start this post with a very special thanks to Ryan Spalding (primary contributor to “Ryan’s Smashing Life”, a larger and much more professional and prolific music blog than my own.) Ryan is an acquaintance who thankfully passed some free tickets to my wife and I for the recent ‘Mission of Burma’ show at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. We got there in plenty of time to catch the opening band, and honestly had no idea what to expect. What we got was no less than amazing (!) – allow me to poorly set the musical scene…

Without warning we were wrapped in a sultry, snaking bass line that floated through the crowd like winding chains of smoke.  Positioned on top of this wonderfully thick blanket of rhythm were the unmistakable tones of a baritone sax – in fact, they were the absolutely unmistakable tones of Mr. Dana Colley of ‘Morphine’ fame.

Providing not only the bass but the vocal melodies for this dark and smoldering concoction were the unmistakable vocal talents of MS. Monique Ortiz – her voice blending seamlessly in moody melancholy with the long, low moaning of Dana’s saxophone.

Seated solidly at the core of these strangely primal sounds – now permeating every pore of all those in attendance – is Mr. Larry Dersch. Larry’s percussion is expertly delivered, acting almost as an ever throbbing EKG for the entire performance.

Was this gripping combination of talent some strange coincidence? Some unexplained happenstance? Absolutely not. This is the group known as A.K.A.C.O.D.

Starting slowly with moody, provocative tones they progressed evenly through the set ramping up to some very aggressive – simply angry – pound against the walls – rip the chains from your wrists tunes that had everyone in attendance helplessly bobbing their heads and riding on an rhythmic waves of distorted bliss.

There were only 2 questions I had after the performance… (1) How the hell does Dana get those sounds to come out of that sax? And (2) How quickly could I get to the merch table to get a CD.

If you dig Morphine – if you dig PJ Harvey – and if you ever wondered what those two great tastes would taste like together. You MUST see these guys live. 

June 26, 2008 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

Apollo Sunshine – This band hits like an axe through a stained glass window!

Two thumbs up for an indie group that takes inspiration from a thousand sources ranging from the Beatles, Yes, The Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Wilco, and a laundry list of others. This group of technically talented musicians seems to have taken some of the best bits from all of these musical mega-influences and absolutely crafted it’s own uniquely molded sound. From sweetly simple little ditties to deeply soulful chants to chest pounding, feedback driven blues, these guys are exploring it all. The only thing they seem to be missing is entertaining stage banter – which I think they’re working on… 

apollo sunshine latest album cover - from amazon.com  – Or hit the official Apollo Sunshine Site

I’d like to say that Apollo Sunshine hit the stage Friday night (3/29/2008) at the Somerville Playhouse (Somerville, MA) like a grenade – wildly explosive and spewing musical shrapnel everywhere. Unfortunately. I can’t say that. What I can say is that while it didn’t happen during the first – or maybe even the second tune of the set, that grenade definitely blew-up later – and oh boy was it good!

I, like a few hundred others, had come to Somerville to spend the evening visiting with “They Might be Giants.” (While not the subject of this review, TMbG was great as per usual – nothing surprising there.) After hearing the first song I was betting this 3 piece was probably a more mellow, slightly quirky, appropriate opening warm-up act with a similar feel to TMbG. But by the end of the show, Apollo Sunshine had moved well past ‘typical’ in my mind and had become one of the most exciting, talented, and creative indie acts I’ve seen in a long time.

3 guys that look like they’ve spent the past couple years in a dimly lit, forgotten room agonizing for hours over musical progressions, fifths, cleffs, and other highly technical musical terms, quietly took the stage.  Appropriately decorated with wild unwashed hair, longer scraggly beards, and each looking like they could desperately use a sandwich, they set off on their mission to warm up the crowd.

There I was… Beer in hand and expecting the same level of experience I would with any other opening act (specifically meaning being sufficiently underwhelmed.) I assumed they would somewhere between competent and ok, and I would find myself patiently waiting for the next 40-60 minutes to be over so I could basically get to see the band that actually brought me there. I am so happy to report that watching Apollo Sunshine was absolutely NOTHING like that whatsoever.

The first couple tunes were fairly upbeat and pleasurable… Kind of a more raw, appropriately modern, stripped down sound that is fairly popular at the moment. Still – there was something different about these guys… First of all, the bass player who was also (most of the time) singing lead had a decidedly different sound. He stepped out into the front not only with his voice, but with his bass. A bass that sounded, in a word, awesome. That guy had obviously spent forever tweaking those settings to be exactly the way he wanted them to be – no more and no less.

Remember that grenade I mentioned earlier… The first couple tunes pulled the pin, then by the middle of the set it went off!

The band started to play tunes that were loud, large, and refreshingly complex …a fairly rarely seen combination of musicianship, raw energy, and significant creativity. Not only did these guys fully embrace the ad-libbed facets and opportunities of a live show, but they also appreciated the highly planned choreography that makes the show and the music flow. Their regularly running around in-between songs and in the middle of songs, rapidly changing instruments while simultaneously changing feels was very impressive.

Huge bass lines – wild guitar riffs  – crazy breakbeats and full-on rhythm section break-downs really set these guys apart…

They had obviously put a lot of time into the stage show, the set list, and the general choreography of the act. Equally impressive was the general level of energy these guys put out. They were fully engrossed in that music – it was flowing out of every pore – they were living it, loving it, and definitely made me an instant fan.

Go buy their latest album… You will not regret it.

April 7, 2008 at 4:00 am Leave a comment


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