Saturday, March 28, 2009


playing together for a little over a year now, Providence's own Cowgirl create dense and varied textures within the context of a three piece group.

If I was writing this twenty-five years ago, I'd call these guys a power trio, except that there is a little too much noise in their sound and two of the members are multi-instrumentalists.

Meeting in the Providence scene, and coming from various musical projects, the band gradually coalesced into the current unit I am writing about now.

One of the many great things about this band is the fact that they draw from a very wide pool of resources while not sounding at all derivative. Referencing everything from Olivier Messiaen to New York experimental group Battles will give informed readers a sense of the scope of their influences.

Like all great Providence bands, their sound has familiar elements while being impossible to pigeonhole. I hear a type of voice-leading in the writing that reminds me of Bela Bartok's counterpoint at times, but the classical influence is so seamlessly integrated that you have to be a music geek like me to even notice it is there.

The greatest thing about this band, for me at least, is the fact that in their sophistication they haven't forgotten how to rock. Their drummers use of backbeat and Spencer and Dan's ear for the "killer riff" completes the wall of sound they seem to revel in creating.

An all instrumental group, These boys utilize their training and compositional sophistication to create progressive rock songs that are really compositions covered in a thrashy veneer. There is a strong emphasis on thematic development and a use of passagework that reminds me of European methods of connecting sections of a composition.

Timbrally, I love Spencer's use of distortion. it is truly one of the cleanest sounds I have encountered in "rock" guitar.Also, Dan's bass is very beautifully eq'd, and I find that his high end speaks clearly without losing its bottom. Well done.

Tying it all together, their drummer Chaise is a madman. I am very impressed with the way in which he locks in with Dan to tie down the rhythm while accenting in such a thoroughly syncopated manner. He seems to revel in accompanying the same thematic material with different hits, emphasizing different beat partials at different times. Something like Billy Cobham on acid.

Support this band. We need musicians like this making music like this for as long as possible. Looking for something thoroughly contemporary that is akin to a revelation? Listen to "One" over and over. It gets better and better with each listen.

check em out at

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tinsel Teeth

There is something about Providence, Rhode Island that seems to just produce great, unique bands. Anyone with even a passing familiarity will tell you that all the great bands in the capitol city are all unique, no two sounding at all alike.

Tinsel Teeth is a case in point. How to describe their sound as anything but "Tinsel Teethy"? Which, when you think about it, is retarded. But there you go. There are a couple of things that this band shares with ALL great bands in the area. One, they are a tight-knit unit who have obviously practiced their asses off, and they are intense.

Rocking out since 2007, TT are a four piece comprised of Steph on vocals, Brandon the guitarist, Dave the bassist, and, Will, the drummer.

I first saw TT in the flesh this past September at the Arab On Radar DVD release party, playing with Daughters and I believe another band. It was at this moment that I knew I wanted to write about them.

Their live show is a spectacle to behold. Steph, the above named singer, is a small framed young woman who turns into a manic, crazed individual when the band starts rocking out. Her stage manner will appeal to anyone who loves interactive bands, as I was body-checked with some force a couple of times during their set. It was a lot of fun.

So, back to the matter of their sound. Part of my job as a teacher/music journalist is to deconstruct a bands sound for the purposes of education. This can be a tricky proposition, but the medium demands it. So, here we go.

Imagine a sort of noise rock with more straight riffage, coupled with a subtle blues element and a very punk rock, aggro drummer and you have a start. At least from my point of view. You see, there is something almost sexual to me in the rhythmic aspect of the phrasing that the instruments set up. Some sort of drunken, cocksure swagger. Listen to Farewell to Architecture or Postmodern Posture and hear for yourself.

Anyway, this band wants to play all over, and I think they should have this chance. If you want a raw, non-commercial rock experience that will leave you sweaty and smiling, you need to see this band. Besides which, you have to love a band that lists among its extra-musical influences "cryptozoology and drugs." Personally, I think that there is a huge connection between these two subjects, but that is best left for a later blog. Cheers.

Check em out at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

All leather

The latest fractured musical experience from the fractured mind of Justin Pearson is All Leather.
Comprised of Justin on vocals, Nathan Joyner of Some Girls fame on guitars, and Jung Sing of Manqui Lazer on drums, All Leather is dance music with a difference.
Working in a gay bar in San Diego, Mr. Pearson would hear track after track of insipid electronica. One day, amidst all of this testosterone and bad sequencing, an idea was born.
Taking elements from the electronic music dance world, and then adding in a live drummer with an electric kit and lots of "noise rock aesthetic", All Leather was conceived.
The end result, to me, sounds like club music produced at some venue in a dayglo section of hell, where the denizens are skinned alive and pumped full of amphetamines.
The guitar textures are so heavily processed as to barely resemble a guitar most of the time, and the drum set is electronic, which adds an extra grating quality to the proceedings.
Fans of the Locust might be surprised at the relative simplicity of the result, but therein lies its strength. All Leather's straightforward approach complements its musical intent in the same way that the Locust utilizes intensive complexity to achieve its ends.
Justin and company's musical instincts are dead on, especially considering the lack of formal schooling. I have been teaching for a long time and have never encountered "self-made" musicians whose innate musicality was so high. If only everyone were this naturally musical.
One thing that everyone will relate to is the subversive political agenda. In the course of my interview for this review, I was given to understand that JP has been involved in multiple grassroots organizations, well before he started playing music.
Lyrics like "Can we drain the oceans for some real estate and then jerk off to some aspirations?" show quite clearly that the protest spirit is alive and well.
As Justin was quick to point out, the politics are about the "not so obvious" agenda, more to the point of supporting humanity in general. All Leather are not a gay rights band, nor is the band gay. But the sense of commonality they share with the rest of humanity in these increasingly desperate times provides some hope for us all.
There will be an e.p. released around June 1st on Dim Mak recordings, and as for the future of the band, there is "no clue."

check em out at