NIGHTMARES FOR NAPTOWN: Bizarre Noir Album Release at 5th Quarter, Tonight!

15896422_10206476431629178_6458120604365445242_o

Tonight I finally get to see the Bizarre Noir traveling circus extravaganza up close and personal for the first time, and it’s been a long time coming. Long overdue, in fact, something I’m ashamed to say as a local writer who has long championed this adventurous band of sonic risk-takers.

As they set out to release their latest album Pop Songs For Ugly People, which is easily the most hotly anticipated album of the year thus far here in Indianapolis’ independent scene, I found myself today listening to their sophomore album, Bedtime Stories. This is an album with whiplash-inducing powers of genre-defying greatness, which makes it as difficult to describe to the uninitiated as it is necessary to.

I have not heard a stronger, more confident album from any band. And I don’t mean local.

From the moment they invade your ears on “Welcome,” with Chris Charles’ soothingly deceptive vocals (reminding me initially of Days of the New’s Travis Meeks) taunting us: “Welcome to ever-after, the rotting corpse, stiff cadavers line the halls to your tomb as all your sins cast a shadow!” you know these are going to be bedtime stories in the Grimm tradition.

Dark. Sinister. Bizarre Noir.

But sonically they keep us on our toes, as the music is definitely NOT always dark. To call Bizarre Noir merely genre-bending is to be almost insultingly daft. Numerous local critics have tried to describe their sound and fallen woefully short, so I won’t bother to coin my own, but I’ll quote Wayne Bertsch from this week’s edition of Barfly … he came closest, in this writer’s opinion:

Picture a metal band that owes more to Klaus Nomi or Captain Beefheart than Anthrax,” Bertsch writes. “Now have Andy Warhol manage them high on ‘schrooms. Voila! Bizarre Noir!”

However you choose to describe the music, Bedtime Stories never lets up. “Wicked Black” picks up in intensity in a personal favorite, one of the heavier songs on the album that still manages to pack a melodic punch through almost surf-oriented guitar lines as Charles sings of “staring at God though the cracks of creation.”

“Loki” features thundering percussion and a brilliant bass breakdown that I always have to hit repeat to enjoy again. And the epic “Rise” features the band really stretching to show what they can do with a long build, something that hints strongly of what fans can expect with the album being released tonight.

But what they are not is a traditional rock band. Or a metal band, as they so often get pigeonholed by fans in Best of Nuvo competitions they so easily win year after year.

They are Bizarre Noir, and the music is only an entry-point to the madness.

It is a very epic entry-point, but participating in the grand circus of a live performance, where the band’s performance-art can incorporate music into the freak-show aspect of their fan-centered experience, is where everything comes together to paint a full picture.

Bedtime Stories sets the stage.

Pop Songs For Ugly People will burn it down.

And somewhere in-between, if you’re at the 5th Quarter Lounge tonight for the CD Release, you’ll gain a full appreciation for what makes these crazy motherfuckers tick.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: The Scars Heal In Time

dscn8839

Houston’s The Scars Heal In Time came all the way out to Indy’s 5th Quarter Lounge last night to open for Boy Hits Car and Shadeland, and the band absolutely nailed it in front of a ridiculously small Indianapolis audience. Undaunted, the band put on an amazing performance and then stuck around all night despite being underage and therefore required to spend the remainder of the evening in the 5th Quarter’s hallway, having soft-drinks shuttled to their merch area while they talked to newly-minted fans and music critics like myself.

I was lucky enough to get five minutes with them after Boy Hits Car’s ridiculously insane set, which you can watch below along with the band’s original track “Darkest Place of All,” which you can buy via their album Double Exposure. They’re already at work on material for a follow-up, which you should be able to get your hands on in 2017!

Ghost takes Indianapolis by storm with sold-out Egyptian Room show

DSCN7643

One of Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls onstage at the Egyptian Room in Indianapolis (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

“Do we believe in Satan? The only thing that really matters is that he believes in us!” – Nameless Ghoul, via an interview with Noisey

Fresh off their Grammy win in the Metal category earlier this year for their album Meliora, it’s tough to imagine there’s a band more in-demand in the genre. Such was shown to be true when the progressive Swedish band took the stage at Old National Center’s Egyptian Room on April 20th, leaving some 2,000 fans speechless in the process, a sold-out performance in the heart of the Bible Belt. It is one thing to hear the band’s ironic take on Satanism on CD or Spotify and imagine the beasts creating such music behind the scenes. It is another entirely to witness the Nameless Ghouls in all their glory as they provide their full support for Papa Emeritus III, as you’re surrounded by an animated crowd of like-minded music fans.

If you’re among the uninitiated, this is perhaps the most adventurous, often beautiful, progressive rock you’ll hear outside of a Wax Fang show, and their performance never lets up. This was the band’s first time in the Circle City. Here’s hoping it isn’t long before they return to preach again soon. Religious Freedom, right, Governor Pence?

 


More photos below, all taken by yours truly, Jonathan Sanders, as I stood inches from the band, praying my camera — and my legs — wouldn’t die on me!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

ARTISTS TO WATCH: JEFF The Brotherhood

Nashville rockers JEFF The Brotherhood are ready at last to release their follow-up to 2012’s Hypnotic Nights! Whether the three-year wait was worth it remains to be heard, since as of yet the only new track I’ve heard is “What’s A Creep” (posted below). But the new album Wasted On The Dream was co-produced by Jake and Jamin Orrall with Joe Chiccarelli, who has produced many of my favorite records including the Raconteurs’ Consolers of the Lonely and the White Stripes’ Icky Thump, as well as several classic albums from seminal Mexican garage band Cafe Tacuba. So I have high confidence that this album is going to have more than enough raw rock to get people excited about the state of 2015’s new music. As the band states in a recent press release:

Wasted on the Dream is the first JEFF The Brotherhood album to showcase the band’s recent evolution into a full-blown ROCK outfit: Jake plays six-string guitar (as opposed to his custom-made signature 3-string model), Jamin plays a full kit and Jack Lawrence (of Dead Weather and Raconteurs fame) plays bass on the entire album. The album also features guest contributions from Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Diarrhea Planet guitarists Evan Bird and Emmett Miller, and a flute solo by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. To accommodate their bigger sound live, JEFF has expanded to a highly voluminous, balls-out twin guitar monster of a quartet.

The album drops March 10th, and will include the following tracks:

  1. Voyage Into Dream
  2. Black Cherry Pie
  3. Cosmic Visions
  4. Mystified Minds
  5. Melting Place
  6. In My Dreams
  7. In My Mouth
  8. Karaoke, TN
  9. Coat Check Girl
  10. What’s A Creep
  11. Prairie Song

INTERVIEW: Cabin Pressure

Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Indianapolis’s Cabin Pressure talks to “Hear! Hear!” Music’s Jonathan Sanders about their new lineup, their songwriting process, and how even when you get back into playing live after a ten year absense (we’re talking ’bout you, Joe Enger!) sometimes it’s more like you never left.

Cabin Pressure is:

Aaron Hiatt – Vocals
Joe Enger – Guitars, Vocals
Jeff Derby – Drums
Kevin Snyder – Bass

They’re unsigned and working on a new album with their brand-new lineup! Look for an announcement about a CD release extravaganza coming to a venue near you in 2015. You can read more about them here, if you missed our recent article about the band’s live set at the 5th Quarter Lounge last week!

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!

THE LIVE WIRE: The Kickback – “White Lodge”

Credit: Jim Vondruska

Prepare to have your minds completely eviscerated by this band from Chicago you haven’t yet seen live, but should soon be clamoring for the nearest available ticket. (Hint: For Indianapolis fans, they’ll be playing the Melody Inn on November 26, so get those ticket-buying fingers ready!) The Kickback perform “White Lodge” below in a video from Audiotree Live, and it’s an immediate winner. Billy Yost sings like a man possessed, his face contorting so wildly he at times resembles Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, while the band’s small army provides the kind of rhythm section assault you can only hear from a band on the rise — raw, ready and willing to win fans over one brain hemorrhage at a time. At the time I write this, I have now heard the song on repeat a half dozen times, and  I’m off to find an album copy to buy. Enjoy!