a second glance at ATLAS SOUND


I’m listening to Atlas Sound’s album “Bedroom Databank: Volume 2” and leaning recumbent in an office chair. My head falls back as acoustic sounds progress,  (opportunistically) like a snow flurry (on a day filled with love) turning into a beautiful blizzard for hours and hours. It turns electronic.

The energy keeps me happy, seeing stars and moonshine, feeling warm, under a jacket and earmuffs, gloves, hat and scarf. I dust my mind and recognize the blatant indie-rock “-ness” of my situation, and begin to focus like a good Grizzly Bear song on the meaning of it all.

Being inebriated (and alone) is an unusually Zen experience while listening to some of this music; I think freely and do what I want.

On beaches at night, the plaid-wearing hipsters could lay around bonfires enjoying a good conversation, and/or resting before sleep, looking up at the stars, wondering how this music’s still on with only one man  (Bradford Cox) playing all the instruments. I often thought of MGMT, Washed Out, and Panda Bear.

The vocals stood out among all of his instruments, along with the bass guitar; I really liked the sound and style of both. I also really liked “Here Come the Trains” at the end, a great example of what his project is all about. It’s enough to get me looking into his other work. Overall I enjoyed the album very much, and await another production.

I found this song shortly after discovering Atlas Sound, and thought you’d like it. Enjoy!

Brooklyn Sound


22nd Street, between 4th and 5th
Brooklyn, NY
Anchor Steam

The last time I visited Brooklyn was in April, my brother lived on Classon Avenue, and we got together with the folks for a nice weekend, but that’s a different story. A shady trend was growing in his area (sky-boxes and stained brownstone buildings), and he took the move as a blessing.

Now, on the corner of 22nd street, between 4th and 5th, my brother adjusts to a life with his girlfriend. She’s a great girl, and they go well together. They love all the same things, and they even apply to the same jobs. There was nothing out-of-place in this scene, nothing except for maybe the scene itself.

“The house used to be all red, like these stairs,” my brother pointed out as we walked towards it. I was surprised not to walk up the stairs, but instead beside them to the garden-level entrance left of the house. A cozy barbecue patio looked at us as we stepped down into the apartment. It was a unique world underneath a gay couple’s paradise. The bathroom looked to be carved out of a cave, and the radiator (after an interesting story of breaking down and leaking) had a burly towel covering it.

There should be no expectations of greatness, I thought, other than the greatness you make for yourself.

My bed was the floor where the coffee table rests. There was no rug, but they prepared for me a sleeping bag and several warm blankets. I slept like a baby that first night, but not before checking out an art gallery (Under Minerva) we passed by earlier on a walk around the block. There was a painting in the front of a DJ in layers of orange and blue, playing records and mixing it up at a club of diverse colors in the background. The basic colors of the DJ washed over the pretty lights, and it truly stood out from afar.

Over ATM slips and Grizzly Bear, I was enjoying the taste of sugar on my tongue, making a list of songs I had recommended to my brother. It was appreciated over drinks and jazz in south Brooklyn on Saturday, with him and his girlfriend and two of her friends from Pratt. For moments during the show, I saw a notebook passed between the two of them, collaborating in silence while the rest of us watched and listened.

I sat behind the piano player, and on occasion he would look back at me with an odd smile. I didn’t know what to think, and continued drinking my double of Scotch, next to the Cosmopolitan and Brooklyn Lager, Mai Tai and Gin & Tonic.

The show was good. The quartet of drums, piano, bass and trumpet were like four young wolves on the street. For an amateur show, the buzz of the evening revolved around the trumpet player, an awkward sixteen year old with short black curls and bifocals.

There was a saxophonist; his instrument rested casually to my right for a long time. His wine glass was on the table we took when we first arrived, before he came over and took it away himself. He did not play with the group until much later in the set, and his cameo appearance upped the quality dramatically. The trumpet and saxophone ran together, picking up on each other’s vibe as if they knew what the score was.

And then there was that pianist. I don’t know what I did to provoke him, but he was enthusiastic, keeping the melody and giving it his all. There were times when he stood up to bang down on the piano, as if he really needed to let it out that way. Perhaps he just didn’t give a damn.

When the show was over we walked up 5th Avenue and landed at a bar called Commonwealth. It had a nice outdoor patio, with bench-tables and umbrellas. I remember red tables; a tall boy of Anchor Steam beer; the bottle so cold it had icy condensation on it. We were talking about the music and the people at the show. Art-speak and journeys and briefs on photography and music and television were shared over nightcaps, and quip upon quip upon quip… I told them about Boston, and they told me about New York.

My brother mentioned taking shots in the subway tunnels. The empty tunnels of Brooklyn are vast and incredibly dangerous to explore on your own. There is something alluring about the darkness within, and it has my brother’s lens fixed. He tried to explain it to me, but I was too concerned about his safety to go on with it.

It’s just like a butterfly and its fleeting moment in the sky.

We walked up 5th Avenue, passing the famous pizza shop Adam Sandler ate at in “Big Daddy”. I stopped at the all-night bakery ran by some lovely Hispanic ladies who enjoyed my company at 3am, in such a state, ordering cannolis and donuts and cookies and such. We laughed and smiled together for those five minutes before taking it all back home.

I slept on the floor that night, on top of a sleeping bag underneath four warm blankets.

Sunday felt like waking up without a care in the world. In a good way, I felt free to do anything. I had but the clothes on my back. One of them was my Plaid Weekender jacket, and it kept me warm during the walk down to Bagel World, a bagel shop my brother swears by. I went by myself this time to enjoy south Brooklyn’s sights and smells. I bought one of my all-famous egg and pastrami bagel sandwiches in addition to garlic bagels and cream cheese. There was a produce stand across the street, so I waited in line to buy two Macoun apples and a pint of fresh apple cider.

We spoke about music when I got back. The third roommate, PK, was making egg-shaped plaster molds on the kitchen table that looked surprisingly like mini-cities. “Don’t burn me out of your picture,” he said as I got ready for my train home. I think he made his point.

AHMAD JAMAL @ Regattabar

Ahmad Jamal @ Regattabar
Cambridge, MA
Sam Adams Lager

His entrance was noble; the last one to show up, sitting down while everyone was clapping, and jumping right into something groovy. The band was on queue and picked up right when he did. The tempo was fast at times, and made me think of the fast city streets.

There were moments of release that charged the audience and got us moving in our seats. At other times, things were slower, orchestrated to perfection. There were great solos from all the players, full of improvisation and personality. Manolo Badrena was a creative delight on the percussions. Idris Muhammad was sharp and strong on drums, and James Cammack kept the rhythm and foundation on standing bass.

Ahmad Jamal took the melody and harmony to incredible levels. It was my first impression of him as a musician, and I had no idea he was a major influence on jazz in the 1950s and 1960s. Elements of swing swept the beat from song to song, not wasting a second too long for applause and cheer. My leg kept tapping to the beat underneath the cocktail table, almost spilling my Sam Adams Lager.

I bought his most recent album after the show, and I noticed he was signing autographs after the show. I was the last in line to see him. I told him it was the first time I ever heard his music, and this show made me a fan. He was pleased to hear it, signed the album cover I handed to him, and wished me well as I left. I left him there, knowing he would sit there silently before returning to the stage for a second show. He’s still got it.


Artifact Loves Viva Radio

Despite sailing through a legal storm of issues right now, LA-Boutique clothing company American Apparel proudly supports a radio station online, and it’s just great. VIVA-RADIO.COM, go check it out. It was well-received by employees and customers of American Apparel when it first went live, but in time it grew thanks to word of mouth and the way of the web. Now, anybody can listen to it. I’ve been listening for a few months, and it has effectively replaced the other radio stations I frequent.

It is no surprise that a station like VIVA RADIO would sprout from chic retail like this, but it is surprising that so few competitors market their stations the same way. Plenty of retail stores (like Hollister, Gap, Guess, etc) have a dynamic theme to their fashion, be it sexy, business, casual, or more. Their standpoints on fashion provide an opportunity to better retain customers; using music as a mode of media marketing, retail companies have the power to influence consumer interest and demand.

Viva Radio

VIVA RADIO is brought to you by a group of freelance music producers, each with a sound that agrees with the style: chic, artsy, trendy, hipster, basic, yet original. That means pop, disco, funk, hip hop, and a mishmash of electronic genres that I am unable to categorize. Some of it comes from far reaching places around the world. The producers who submit work to Viva Radio do so for a generation of young, savvy, and capable listeners who live for the moment. Such is the mission… Viva!

For enthusiasts, there is a blog you can follow from their site. Check out interviews, upcoming shows, emerging artists and music trends. It’s a great resource for people looking for new music, as each DJ brings something new to the front. With that in mind, I want to give a special shout out to POSSO, The DJ duo Vanessa Giovacchini and Marylouise Pels. After listening to their show, I fell in love with the station. Thank you girls, and thank you VIVA RADIO for keeping the music loud and proud.


HOORAY FOR EARTH @ T.T. The Bear’s Place

HOORAY FOR EARTH – August 17th, 2010
T.T. The Bear’s Place, Cambridge, Massachusetts
9:45pm, Pabst Blue Ribbon

Lights passed above as I entered the dimly lit spot in my friend’s hand; welcoming the others and grabbing a beer at the slightly vacant bar. Not too many people were around yet. People were loitering around the more popular scene next door. The joke was on them – the real show was back here.

I get there late but the show hadn’t started yet. My friend was entertaining a seedy group of enthusiasts inside before he came out to welcome me. He gave me my ticket; I was upset to see a different band headlining – ADMIRAL RADLEY – but I didn’t care. They were not what I came to see. I came to see HOORAY FOR EARTH, and they were on shortly.

Photo by Jon NickersonAt a place like T.T. THE BEAR’S, bands can embrace the small performance arena, throw everything they got at the audience at volume ten, break the knobs, and still sound great. That doesn’t work for all bands out there; unfortunately… you have to have talent. The ground shook when HOORAY FOR EARTH came on stage. Almost out of competition, THE MIDDLE EAST – DOWNSTAIRS had a show on too, and their fire down below was completely smothered by the footfalls of rockers young and old. It was the best live act I’d seen in a long time.

HOORAY FOR EARTH is Noel Heroux, Chris Principe, Gary Benacquista, and Joseph Ciampini, formed in 2005. They’re mostly based out of New York, but they have roots in Boston that keep them coming back to destroy local venues. Joe on the drum keeps the energy going while Noel and Chris tear up the guitar and bass. Gary’s on the other side, playing synthesizers with the occasional guitar act. Noel, the man behind stories of sleep-deprived inspiration, broke off on occasion in frantic mini-fits of thrash and metal. It was awesome. Chris and his bass kept the melody in motion with on-point precision, and my head began to rock uncontrollably with the beat.

These guys know each other, like good friends, and it’s helping them control and mold the musical fury they create. Their sound is clean and their energy is hot. I bought their MOMO EP a few weeks back on my friend’s recommendation (including the vinyl, a very cool press). Fortunately for me, they played that album live at T.T. THE BEAR’S, so it was all my familiar favorites, and if anything they bettered their studio work. Young, indie, club rockers across the world would eat this stuff up.

Hands rise in the air when “SO HAPPY” begins with its anthem guitar distortion, and people dance when they bring on “SURROUNDED BY YOUR FRIENDS,” a personal hit laced with uplifting undertones of life and death. Their lyrics seep into the teenage wasteland within, and they stand behind a thrash-electro-pop sound that makes contemporary rock wonder where its mojo went. Just try “HOW ARE YOU HERE” and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. As for a top track suggestion, I would go with “VIDEOSTORE” for its climactic finale, a total blowout of melody and percussion that hits an apex unachieved by other pieces. The audience rocked around me, bobbing like waves of skin and sweat, praising ecstatic when they finished their last song. I was hitting my apex too… and then the lights came on for the next act and final act.

I would check them out whenever you get the chance. They are definitely worth a listen. Try the three sites below for songs and more information on upcoming shows.