Single of the Week: Mags’ “Basement”

Former Malones’ bassist Elliott Douglas has launched a raucous, garage-pop solo outfit under the moniker, Mags. And it’s absolutely great. Buffalo has a fine, recent history of putting out raw, Strokes-inspired indie pop, and Mags is here to further the collective.

“Basement” is as straightforward as it gets. Musically, lyrically, and stylistically, Douglas gets right to the point. Over the 2/4 hopping chorus, he belts “I know you can do better than me,” while the fuzzed guitars ring out punk rock chords. There are no questions, no ambiguity of what Mags is about: raw, pure rock ‘n’ roll. As the Rolling Stones put it, “I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.” And it’s that same simplicity that echoes through Mags’ “Basement.” This energetic, punk-meets-indie is sure to stick in your head and find its way into half of your playlists.
-JJK

8.3

Recommended for fans of: The Strokes, Made Violent, Parquet Courts

Buy the single:
https://magsbuffalo.bandcamp.com/track/basement
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/magsbuffalo

Catch them live:
Oct 16 (tba)
mags

EPs: No Vacancy (s/t)

Don’t be fooled by their age, this is a serious alternative pop/rock force that is slowly turning heads and garnering attention across WNY. Honestly, these guys are really, really, really good.

Now, I don’t need to say it, but I will. Judging from mere photographs, a lot of people may write the band off as a bunch of high school kids making loud music in their garage. They look like a million bands around the country doing the same thing (ever see that Weezer cover?). But before you make your auditorium talent show one off assumptions, actually listen  to this EP. Bask in the sunny, bass-driven “Chasing Reason,” dance to the instrumental, high-energy “Funk Song,” or wave your lighter to “Broken.” It’s all so great; however, the strongest track here, “Drown,” gives the greatest implications of not only what No Vacancy are doing, but where they’re going. The song’s obvious Cobain-influences are compelling. Living proof that Nirvana still affects kids the way they did back in the 90s. The ominous oohs and gradual buildup explode with Sosnowski’s massive riffing, crafting an alt pop instant classic. And Tuck croons and dives, with a monotoned hush, resembling a  laid-back Rivers Cuomo. His vocals are incredibly strong, and the rest of the bandmates’ are every bit as strong. This band has an incredible amount of potential, and if this EP says anything, it’s that their next release will be brilliant.
-JJK
7.8

Recommended for fans of: Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Weezer

Buy the album:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/self-titled-ep/id798968407?ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/thenovacancyband

Catch them live:
Oct. 7-Waiting Room (Studio)

no vac

LPs: Mooses’ “Tales From the Elephant’s Nest”

It all opens with hazy plucked-out chords, and Cahlstadt’s one-of-a-kind vocals. The sound of lazy exhaustion, like the end of a long, adventurous summer. As the drums build and DeMartino’s beautiful lead lines escalate, we’re roped into Mooses’ world. And it’s a strange, beautiful, colorful world. The track is an odd way to begin an album, as it feels more in media res than an overture or grand opening, but Mooses aren’t exactly the kind of band to employ cliche techniques. When the dust settles, we’re graced with the opening falsetto oohs and chorus-effected guitars of “Bette Davis,” the album’s most ..pop.. moment. Showcasing Cahlstadt’s inflected vocals, the song drives you along through the Mooses’ psych pop exhibit at breakneck speeds for about three minutes and drops off into an abyss. In rebirth and rebuild, we’re pulled out of the abyss and back onto the road and accelerate forward.

“Bette Davis” isn’t just a song, it’s a journey.

From there, Mooses pull every influence from the bag and deconstruct 3/4 psych jams and post-punk bursts of energy, vasolating between Pink Floyd and the Pixies in one song (“Blackwash”). The trippy, fuzz-blues, acid jam of “In Case They’re Wonderin'” prove Mooses’ affinity for oddball synths and massive leads. The song is so overdriven that every instrument meshes together in a perfect burst of color and light. It’s blistering. Just blistering. And they’re “doin’ fine.” After its massive outro chords, “Psilovoir” comes to calm and comfort, like a lullaby in the aftermath of a hurricane.

“Tales From the Elephant’s Nest” is more than just an album. It’s a manifesto. A how-to book. If you’re going to write a psych/alternative/indie album, just do this exactly. Somehow, they’ve given us everything we know about music and made it sound like nothing we’ve ever heard before. It’s almost perfect in composition, in execution, and in relevance. It’s in another world. This is the album all other Buffalo albums this year will be judged by.
-JJK

9.4

Recommended for fans of Tame Impala, Yuck, Flaming Lips

Buy the album:
https://mooses.bandcamp.com/album/tales-from-the-elephants-nest
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/MoosesBand/info

Catch them live:
Sept. 27- The EBC (Fredonia, NY)
Oct. 2- The Forvm (Buffalo, NY)

Single of the Week: Ellsworth’s “Lisa”

Following in the footsteps of Modern Baseball and The Hotelier, Ellsworth is resuscitating the genre that went so flat and lifeless in the last decade. With their raw energy and powerful tracks Ellsworth bring us back to the days of SDRE and American Football. Powerful drums, crunchy rhythms, searing leads, and Wheeler’s inflectious, infectious vocals on this debut single introduce what is and what will be Ellsworth. It’s raw and dirty, with enough energy to power Buffalo for a month. And it’s as strong as it is raw. Ellsworth have burst through the gate with “Lisa,” and it seems like there won’t be much to stop them.
-JJK

7.9

Recommended for fans of:
Modern Baseball, Brand New, Sunny Day Real Estate

Buy the single:
https://ellsworthmusic.bandcamp.com/track/lisa
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/EllsworthBand

Catch them live:
Sept. 27- Rock the Commons (Fredonia, NY)- *EP RELEASE*

ellswo

EPs: The Gentleman’s Quarrel’s “Sam”

I know it came out a while ago, but Renaissance hasn’t exactly been around very long (we’re on week 3 here), and no self-respecting review/blog could skip such an essential EP.

There’s something in the air when GQ performs. Some kind of ethereal energy that straightens every neck, fixates every eye, contracts every arrector pili, and stiffens every knee in the room. You won’t find kids staring at their cell phones or giving bad vibes when GQ has the floor. No one can look away. Maybe it’s Huntz’s wild-animal drumming, or Joe Bennett’s impossible basslines, or Killian’s angular, complex rhythm chords. The only thing that’s certain about the Quarrel is that they’re the tightest, most rhythmic indie rock trio to ever grace Buffalo. Technically speaking alone, there’s enough musicianship on this EP to tip Berklee upside down. But even before the musicianship, the composition is mind-boggling enough: tempo changes, odd-rhythms, and ear-tingling melodies all weave and warp and twist into one of the best EPs Buffalo has ever seen. With as much dance as its darkness, “Sam” walks the fine, fine line between the melancholy and the joyous. It’s like being miserable but rejoicing in the miracle that you have the capacity to feel such heavy emotion. Like Joy Division and Interpol before them, The Gentleman’s Quarrel effortlessly combine the tones of despair with the backbeats of celebration. “Sam” is an honoring of life, even the terrible things that happen in it. And we can all find ourselves in Sam.

I could honestly write for hours about why this EP is so undeniably wonderful, but it might just be better to let you find out for yourself. “Sam” will be your new best friend by the end of the day for sure.
-JJK

8.8

Recommended for fans of: Interpol, Two Door Cinema Club

Stream the EP:
The Gentleman’s Quarrel – Sam – EP
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/thegentsquarrel

GQ

Single of the Week: Kill The Clock’s “Me Too”

Ever since I first saw Kill the Clock live at the YV2 Christmas show, they’ve been one of my favorite live bands in the area. From there, I saw them do an entire set of Beatles covers, don cowboy outfits, and play Strokes songs almost as well as the Strokes. Each of their songs have this inescapably lovable quality, like hearing all of your favorite music from high school all at once. And “Me Too” is no exception. From the intro staccato grooves to the massive power chords, “Me Too” is everything you loved about pop punk’s early days and everything you adored (pun very, very intended) about Brit pop’s late days. Morganti’s leads explode, and McCormick and Hoare’s back-and-forth put the band’s chemistry on display here. Despite forming just a year ago, Kill the Clock sounds like they’ve been playing together for years, and that’s largely due to Tutuska’s infallible drum prowess. If you can get past the muddy production, Kill The Clock might just suffice your need for an Oasis reunion.

Overall, the song excels in composition and musicianship, but you really have to see KTC live to know what it’s all about. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes for most local acts. But seriously, get to their shows. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
-JJK

7.2

Recommended for fans of: Oasis, The Strokes, Blink 182

Stream the song:
https://www.facebook.com/killtheclockbuffalony/app_2405167945?ref=page_internal
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/killtheclockbuffalony/timeline
ktc