THE LIVE WIRE: Burn The Army

Burn The Army live at the 5th Quarter (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Burn The Army live at the 5th Quarter (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

It has been a full twenty-four hours and I am just now technically getting all my hearing back after the blazing firestorm Indianapolis’s own Burn The Army set loose at 5th Quarter Lounge. For three guys playing mostly instrumental metal, there’s no discounting how hard they worked out there to keep the crowd in a frenzy. Extra credit is due to their drummer, described by other band members as “a prodigy,” who was a whirling dervish out there, proving there’s no need for a gigantic 30-piece kit for a drummer to really pull out all the stops. He has to be seen and heard to be believed. Which you can do, by checking out their new song “Eidolon,” which they debuted, and we captured in HD, last night!

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ARTISTS TO WATCH: Gayle Skidmore

Gayle Skidmore (credit: Dennis Andersen Photography)

It’s so rare to stumble upon a singer-songwriter with such a rich textured voice as Gayle Skidmore. Such voice is a warm layering of the folk of Anais Mitchell coupled with the stinging depth of Amanda Shires, one perfectly worthy of two songs as varied as those she just released: “Rag Doll” and “Barrel, Trigger, Gun.” As a direct follow-up to her latest, a full-length LP and coloring book combo called Sleeping Bear, Skidmore — a six-time San Diego Music Award nominee — chose to record two fan favorites from her popular live sets.

“Rag Doll” is the sparest of the two, a guitar-based melody structured to lend full support to Skidmore’s vocals as she sings of the casual abuses we all endure as we fight against our baser instincts, striving to live sin-free even as we are the product of our own maker. The lyrics are staggeringly evocative:

I wear a covering
Chosen for me by a higher being
But he made me all full of dreams
That I may never find and never be

I am a rag doll sewn by a blind man
To keep him company and make him happy
But he sewed me all full of flaws
And now I’m breaking you just because

“Barrel, Trigger, Gun,” meanwhile choses to showcase Skidmore’s hidden Tori Amos, a song built on a simple series of piano arpeggios upon which a steady backbeat of bass drum and hammering effects provides a stage for a positively cinematic piece of performance art. “I was so easily persuaded to do wrong; a little kick was all it took to come undone,” she sings powerfully. “I was just trying to have a little fun but I’m the trigger, you’re the gun.” As the song fades into a wavering final echoed bass note, a return to the song’s opening seconds is immediately mandated.

Based on these first two tantalizing tastes, I assure you I’ll be digging deeper into Gayle Skidmore’s catalog while hoping she chooses to make Indianapolis one of her next tour stops. When she does, buy a ticket. I am sure you won’t leave disappointed.

THE LIVE WIRE: Cabin Pressure

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Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

I was pleasantly surprised to catch Cabin Pressure as the opening act for much heavier bands Catalytic and Fleshsuit at the 5th Quarter Lounge last Friday evening. Their blues-tinged blend of alternative rock is at full effect on songs like “Hard To Breathe,” which sounds like Soundgarden filtered through Aaron Hiatt’s Toadies-by-way-of-Matchbox 20 inspired vocals. Those are imperfect comparisons, but the videos below speak for themselves. The band, which has played the Indianapolis scene since 2012, has undergone major lineup shifts since losing a guitarist and gaining a new bass guitarist. From guitarist Joe Enger:

“We were working on pre-production when our other guitarist left and we added Kevin on bass. The dynamic has changed so we decided to start from scratch with the new lineup. Aaron used to play bass and sing. Kevin is a friggin beast thoughAaron wrote some really great bass lines and alot of what Kevin is doing is what Aaron wrote. But Kevin has taken them next level and freed up aaron to really push his vocals. When we’re done. there’s gonna be 3 and 4 part harmonies on most of the songs you heard tonight.

They’ve clearly handled the shifting roles in a way that will allow Cabin Pressure to grow into a top-notch draw in the area. I can’t wait to hear these guys play again, potentially as the headliners instead of as “opening act.” Until then, the two videos below will have to do.

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CABIN PRESSURE – “Hard To Breathe”

CABIN PRESSURE – “Offering”

ARTISTS TO WATCH: The Ramettes

The Ramettes

 

There’s plenty of room to get in on the ground floor as a fan of the Ramettes, an incredibly good band from Broad Ripple in Indianapolis which not nearly enough locals have yet heard. If you’ve been to the Melody Inn regularly you may have caught the band before. If you haven’t, you’ll at least get a shot to hear them play a half-hour set March 28 as part of Punk Fest 2015 at Indianapolis’s 5th Quarter Lounge.

Barring that, you can check out “Train Track Suzy” below, which I think showcases their sound perfectly. The Ramettes offer up a fuzzed-out take on 60s psychedelia and distorted 80s lo-fi, anchored by organ work which echoes Jefferson Airplane even as the vocals hint at a more distorted Liz Phair or Kim Gordon. The deceptively simple hook swims beneath the surface ready to strike at any moment. Hear it once and you’ll have to hear it again just to revel in these 150 seconds of near-perfection. You can hear this and three additional songs (I highly recommend “The War”) at MFT.

THE LIVE WIRE: Catalytic

Catalytic's own Dustin Strole during the band's set at 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis

Catalytic’s own Dustin Strole during the band’s set at 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis

If you didn’t already read my profile of Indianapolis’ next big thing in melodic metal in this week’s NUVO, go check it out! Then crank the volume up on your computer speakers and let Catalytic take over your brain for these two tracks in one video: “Saving This Day” and “Evil Will Fail”. The band opened their blistering set at Indianapolis’ 5th Quarter Lounge with these two, and from there it was a quick free-fall into an intense show no one in attendance is going to soon forget. I heard several people commenting later that it was the band’s strongest set to date, which bodes well for a band I feel deserves major label attention and a fast-track to national recognition.

THE LIVE WIRE: Tony Lucca

Tony Lucca at the Rathskeller in Indianapolis. (Photo: Jonathan Sanders)

Tony Lucca at the Rathskeller in Indianapolis. (Photo: Jonathan Sanders)

Tony Lucca has a lot on his plate. He’s touring constantly (and putting on a mighty fine show of things, if his performance at the Rathskeller on the 22nd of November was any indication), plotting the release of a new album, getting ready to sing the national anthem and do a halftime show for the Redskins vs. Eagles game on the 20th, and he’s going to Guatemala later this month to assist MILE (Music Is Love Exchange) organization! If all that wears you down to read it, imagine living it.

I had the opportunity to profile Lucca for NUVO Newsmagazine in Indianapolis, and he had plenty to say about what really goes into the songwriting process, the result of which you hear below via the laid-back version of “Pretty Things” with which he closed out his Rathskeller set. If you think all he’s got going for him is his time on the Voice, think again. You’ll be hearing plenty more than this from Lucca in 2015!

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Join The Dead

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Indianapolis’s Join The Dead (photo: Jonathan Sanders) — click for high-resolution

There’s already a lot of buzz building around Indianapolis melodic metal band Join The Dead, and it is well earned based on the wild performance they gave the Vogue last night while opening for Stars In Stereo and Alien Ant Farm. From the moment they began to play, the crowd rushed the stage as the band gave what I have to call the strongest performance I’ve seen from a local opening act at a show. They could have played another half hour and no one would have complained. A great deal of the credit goes to Sahar Mantalvo on lead vocals — that man’s insane, with so much energy to burn it could fuel five bands. But the supporting musicians are all top notch, as is firmly illustrated by their solid 2014 album Distorted Cognition, which features “Accolade,” this year’s strongest track you’ve probably never heard.

Dig in! We’ve got videos below of three songs (one previously unrecorded!) as well as additional photos from the show! Sound off in the comments below — how long before Join The Dead outgrows Indianapolis and goes national?

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JOIN THE DEAD – “Lost” and “Oceans”

JOIN THE DEAD – “Untitled” (Unreleased Track!)

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All photos taken by Jonathan Sanders

Click each to see a larger, high-res version!

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