Music Hall of Williamsburg
The Growlers

The Growlers

Sean Bones, Denney and the Jets

Thu, October 11, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

This event is 18 and over

The Growlers
The Growlers
The music of The Growlers is unmistakable.
Sure, you can hone in on some influences baked into the work of this California-bred band. Heck, even they’d cop to a few, like Ricky Nelson and The Clash. But once those same RIYL tags have been filtered through the minds and hands and voices of this five-piece, there’s simply nothing else like it.
The Growlers took the phrase “Beach Goth” as an apt descriptor of their music. Sunburned and salty, that term perfectly describes their distinctive melding of reverb heavy surf guitar and Bakersfield-style honky tonk with ‘80s post-punk.
This is especially true of Chinese Fountain, The Growlers’ fifth full-length set to be released on September 23rd via Everloving Records. The 11 songs found on it are some of the strongest that they’ve committed to tape yet; a byproduct not only of eight years in the trenches together, but finely honing their gypsy folk dirges and psychedelic sea shanties to fans at close to 150 shows each year. The connection between vocalist Brooks Nielsen and guitarist Matt Taylor (the principal songwriters of the group) has only grown deeper.
“The band played better than they’ve ever played,” says Nielsen. “We’ve got the process down now. There’s less screwing around to get the songs laid out and we weren’t waiting around for take after take. We knew it and we played without much time to spare.”
That confidence bleeds through every track on Chinese Fountain, with the band assured enough to layer in shades of many new influences: the loping ska beat of “Dull Boy” and “Going Gets Tuff,” the playful disco beat behind the title track, or the Teardrop Explodes-like agitation of “Good Advice.”
Not that the band left themselves much room to second-guess anything. The five spent about three weeks writing the tracks, and about half that time in the studio recording them. That may sound rushed, but it’s not as if you can hear any strain on the finished product; Chinese Fountain is as rock solid and watertight as anything in their still-growing discography.
There’s evolution to be heard in Chinese Fountain as well, courtesy of some of Nielsen’s most pointed and poignant lyrics to date. He takes our obsession with the online world to task on the funky title track. When he drops the bomb that obliterates that most famous of Beatles’ claims with "The internet is bigger than Jesus or John Lennon” he re-contextualizes Marshall McLuhan's "the medium is the message" in the same breath. He urges positivity no matter the obstacles (“Going Gets Tuff”). Too, he reveals a tattered heart to the world on tracks like “Rare Hearts” and “Love Test.”
“This is my chance to let it all out,” Nielsen says of these songs. “I kind of bottle things up and don’t really get emotional. But I think if I don’t open up, I’d be a really stale person.”
Sean Bones
Sean Bones
Sean Bones' Buzzards Boy is one of an evolving artist setting out to test new waters only to find himself weathering a stylistic and emotional sea change. As with most second records, there's much to prove, but in the case of Buzzards Boy, Sean Bones transcends a varied stylistic past to reveal himself as an intriguing songwriter capable of truth and sonic spells.
On Buzzards Boy, Sean and his bandmates hooked up with a producer for the first time. Shane Stoneback was sought out for his uncanny recording methods (oil cans, toys amps) and his enthusiasm for the demos he was absorbing between his other name-brand projects (Fucked Up, Sleigh Bells, Cults) The sessions were brief and at some point during the week Bones resolved to taking on the rest of the project alone. Traveling between rehearsal spaces, bedrooms and eventually to the West Coast, he built an awesome second record from the foundation laid through this partnership.
The island he's trawling this time is darker and more lush. Tracks are swathed in reverby surf guitars and loose percussion. Its easy to imagine hearing this album out doors, at night. A full listen reveals a wide range of influences digested into something wholly Bones' own. "Tell Me Again" is a folky harmonium piece played over what sounds like the Miami Sound Machine. "Four Dub" explores open space and urgency. The sublime "Black Gold" starts with a scruffy hip hop beat until giving way to another one of those swoony boy-girl ballads that he's good at.
At the heart of Buzzards Boy is a romantic young man, worried about the world and checking himself for imagined damage. Somewhere in the storm came a renewed sense of purpose. Fittingly, the exuberant lead single "Here Now" was written last. Backed by Fool's Gold's Garrett Ray and Lewis Pesacov, the song brims with energy as an ecstatic Bones proclaims, "I'm here now, hold it down!." Whether he's here to remind himself or the rest of us doesn't matter - he track is his most confident and inspiring to date.
Bones will be releasing a limited number of physical, handmade vinyl copies of "Here Now" 7 inch records in February 2012, and a run of Buzzards Boy LPs the following May. Tours are slated for the Spring that'll see him play both with a band and on his own where he chops up his own music, lets us in on the process and basically hosts an off kilter dance party. There's also talk of another record in the can too. Considering his propensity for change and changing medias, it'll be interesting to watch this story play out.
Denney and the Jets
Denney and the Jets
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/