On this special episode of Serious Business on BTR, host Travis Harrison is joined by a panel of music fanatics to look back on their favorite albums of 2011. Meet the panelists... - Matt Gross runs the music blog A Heart is a Spade - George Flanagan is in the band El Jezel and an organizer of events at Fort Useless - Maia Macdonald is a BTR DJ, host of BTR Live Studio, and a musician in the band Mitten - Phil Nguyen is a BTR DJ, frequent guest host of BTR Live Studio, and a BTR video editor - Jeremiah McVay heads up BTR’s video team and organizes music events at Fort Useless
Don’t doubt Brooklyn four-piece Shark? despite their unusually punctuated name. They blend scruffy garage-rock and riotous post-punk for music that swerves from catchy lo-fi hooks to wild distorted yelping in the blink of an eye. The band — made up of Kevin Diamond (vocals/guitar), Andy Swerdlow (drums), Andy Kinsey (bass), and Chris Mulligan (guitar) — have toured relentlessly in and around New York City for years and finally, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, were able to release their first full-length album, True Waste, this past summer.
On this special episode of Serious Business on BTR, host Travis Harrison is joined by a panel of music fanatics to look back on their favorite albums of 2011.
Brooklyn group Gold Streets intertwine smooth, dreamy melodies and crunchy psychedelic rock, making for music that’s simultaneously slick and trippy. The contrasting male/female vocals of guitarist Norman Vino and drummer T. Almy complement one another well — hers light and angelic, his wailful and dissonant — and help to balance out the group’s overall sound. The emphatic drum and auxiliary percussion work intertwined with the bass playing of Gizella Otterson move their songs forward at a charging pace as the guitars of Vino and Johnnie Wang weave layers of psychedelia amidst it all.
Brooklyn-based Gunfight! play rowdy, stomping “post-country” — or what Serious Business’ host Travis Harrison jokingly re-dubs “Creedence-core.” Having formed while attending Boston’s Emerson College, the quartet sticks to rollicking arrangements, completely free of any digital bits and sampling (they claim to even avoid “Applebee’s samplers”). Whatever the genre or instrument preference, the band’s music, with its twangy roughness and whiskey-soaked, barking vocals, sounds like a boisterous brawl.
Western Civ, a four-piece from Chapel Hill, NC, (originally from Florence, AL) follow in the footsteps of ‘90s indie staples Guided By Voices, Archers of Loaf, and Pavement with their brand of meandering, layered, spasmodic rock. Their songs are unpredictable, fierce gems — smoothly and melodically resting on a plateau before jump-starting into a dissonant, serpentine arrangement that’s then topped off by lead singer Rich Henderson’s potent yelping.
Hailing from Portland, ME, Sunset Hearts play ‘80s/new-wave inspired pop that can easily pack a dance floor and even stir up some synchronized handclaps and bell jingling. Each of its eight members is a seasoned musician, having come from other local Maine bands. Lead singer Casey McCurry is an emotive frontman, immediately attaching himself to his microphone and allowing for Sunset Hearts’ contagious and synthy melodies to capture him. While the band’s size may cause some crowding on stage, the octet’s chemistry is solid, the sound strong and robust — proving that there is power in numbers.
Originally a solo endeavor, San Diego’s Tropical Popsicle eventually grew into a 4-piece fronted by vocalist Timothy Hines (Lights On, the Stereotypes). Playing shimmery, feel-good melodies soaked in a blanket of muffled reverb, the band’s strain of psychedelic surf-rock calls to mind a mix of Beach Fossils and Real Estate.
For our Halloween Special we invited Brooklyn three-piece EULA to the Serious Business studios. Festive and decked out in skeleton suits, the group raged through their loud, post-punk tunes, seemingly in their element in a dimly lit, cobwebbed room. Manic, amped up, and lead by frontwoman Alyse Lamb, whose vocals veer between a coaxing, calm voice and blaring, bone-chilling shrieks, EULA sound like an unbridled, and feral version of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Originally begun as a project called The Calendonia Mission by brothers Anthony and Angelo Lamarca, The Building has since grown into a full-fledged band based in NYC. Although Angelo still resides in their hometown of Youngstown, OH, the additions of a cellist (also Anthony’s wife) and a saxophonist/clarinetist (whom Anthony met when they both played with St. Vincent), have helped give The Building a hefty and robust, indie-rock meets orchestral-pop sound.
Many of the artists who have visited us for studio sessions for BTR Live Studio and Serious Business on BTR or for location shoots for BTR Hear & There are playing this year's CMJ Music Marathon, one of the premiere music events of the year in New York City. We thought we'd take this opportunity to present a video preview to give you an idea of what you might expect while out and about during the week. Included are 5 previously unreleased videos for Balkans, Elk City, Great Elk, Savoir Adore, and The Stepkids. We hope you enjoy! [youtube_playlist]
Originally starting as the bedroom project of singer-songwriter Henry Jamison, The Milkman’s Union has since evolved into a folk-rock trio heavily influenced by jazz and classical music, and channeling everyone from Iron & Wine to Radiohead. Based out of Portland, ME, the band weaves together complex arrangements, filled with melodies that twist and turn unexpectedly and rhythms that start and stop suddenly. Jamison leads the pack with impressive guitar-picking and his ability to use his rich, expressive voice to turn sullen stories into engaging ear-candy, mellow ballads into howling rock.
Having played with the likes of rock bands Gem, Death of Samantha, Cobra Verde, Nada Surf, and a little indie outfit called Guided By Voices — you might have heard of them — it’s safe to say that Doug Gillard needs no real introduction. An accomplished guitarist and songwriter, he can shift easily between Guided By Voices’ loud, post-punk anthems, and the more mellow, muted ballads of his own solo repertoire.
Half-brothers Trent and Blair McGillicuddy operate musically and otherwise as Sex Admirals. These two sons of Admiral Bruce "Papa" McGillicuddy, clad in Hawainn shirts, bathrobes, and sunglasses, deliver the finest in drop-dead nautically themed party jams, presenting a mix of blistering bleeps, tropical beats, and raspy, alcohol-soaked vocals -- an ideal soundtrack for a drunken, wild beach party.
Brooklyn hardcore band Violent Bullshit can launch from a standing start into a raucous barrage of guttural shrieking and razor-edged riffs in no time, shaking loose the floorboards as they go. Here they lead off with their own introductory theme song, frontman Jayson Green ferociously howling “Violent Bullshit! Violent Bullshit!” repeatedly like his throat’s on fire. If the intro isn’t enough to make the name stick, watch for the drummer’s fun “VIOLENT TANKTOP” and the DIY “VIOLENT BULLSHIT” banner made from a pink sheet and Sharpies.
Hailing from Brooklyn, Clouder produce roaring, guitar-driven music reminiscent of ‘60s and ‘70s rock & roll. The complex guitar work (sometimes alongside the Dan Bau, a Vietnamese monochord) wails and shrieks, giving rise to epic walls of sound that wind throughout each song. Clouder’s distinct vocals act as their own crazed instrument, able to shift seamlessly between droning pitches and invigorating screeches.
Originally from Canton, OH, multi-instrumentalist Chris Buckridge has called Brooklyn home since 2000. His sprawling music catalog features seven albums -- some solo work, some with his band, the Ne'er Do Evers -- full of lo-fi, psychedelic rock in the vein of staple '90s indie rockers Guided by Voices and Dinosaur Jr. With his ability to crank up the fuzzed-out noise in a matter of seconds, turning softer, dreamy passages into distorted, jagged rock, Buckridge’s songs are often models of versatility.
For this episode of Serious Business on BTR, Travis is the guest on his own show as we welcome guest-host Maia MacDonald -- host of BTR Live Studio -- in to quiz Travis on some rock n' roll subjects near and dear to his dude-heart.
Minneapolis' Gospel Gossip plays a noisy, shimmering brand of post shoe-gaze rock and roll. Sarah Nienaber sings in a full toned whisper while wielding her guitar like a weapon as Justin Plank and Oliver Moltaji, on bass and drums respectively, round out this powerful trio with the collective force to match.
Brooklyn’s Bandana Splits is a trio that sings doo-wop-inspired pop music. Lauren Balthrop, Annie Nero, and Dawn Landes keep their music sweet, simple, lively and catchy - just as their musical inspirations from the 50s and 60s did before them. Travis says, “The Bandana Splits are Dawn Landes, Lauren Balthrop and Annie Nero. Their debut record is called Mr. Sam Presents the Bandana Splits and it is out on BoySkout Records. These women are the best. They are my friends. I love their songs and their singing and their sweet musical spirits. And the outfits don't hurt either.”
Says Travis: "These guys love rock and roll. This is a true rock band. I'm not just saying it. It is for real. You can download all of their records for free. And now you can hear them live in the studio here at Serious Business and they sound like the hottest of hot hot rock fire."
Fort Lean is a rock band whose tightly-structured, excellently executed songs belie the fact that they’d only been playing together for about five months before visiting Travis at his studio. Check out their catchy sound with its powerful rhythm section, and masterful guitars.
Les Sans Culottes, a vibrant band of seven, play their own catchy, fun take on pop-rock with a French twist.
Brooklyn band A Million Years has a talent for matching great power-pop guitar riffs with catchy, often anthemic lyrics.
El Jezel have been active in the NYC/Brooklyn indie rock scene for a decade and have worked with Travis Harrison multiple times in the past, so their session for Serious Business on BTR was something of a reunion. Here, the band plays their signature brand of psychedelic rock, graced with sweet and melodic voices and their usual charm.
This week, we present “Smash Hits, Vol. 2,” the second installment of some of our favorite moments from Serious Business on BTR.
Brooklyn band Quiet Loudly wows with their sound. Featuring loud, electric guitar, dreamy lyrics, and an in-the-pocket rhythm section, their music weaves together dynamic psyched-out rock with soulful melodies.
Weird Children are a fun-loving indie-pop band from Brooklyn with a sound somewhat reminiscent of 80's power pop with catchy lyrics and good vibes.
After watching indie-rock band Bunny's A Swine perform, you'll be hooked. Their brand of grunge-tinged pop is infectious, with an awkwardly-cool vibe that will leave you wanting to hear more from the Massachusetts power trio.
Brooklyn band Yellowbirds has an indie 60's rock sound that's immediately ear-catching. Travis Harrison sat down with the band for an interview and some music in his studio and it's a segment you won't want to miss.
This week, we've compiled a "best of" segment we're calling "Smash Hits, Vol. 1," which pulls together a number of our favorite moments from the first 27 episodes of Serious Business on BTR. Included is some of the funniest, raw, and more unforgettable footage we have. Don't miss out on a chance to sit back, relax, and laugh while watching the best of our conversations with the artists of Serious Business.
SAADI is anything but ordinary. Her sound is original and eclectic, and so is her personality. Listen to the talented musician chat with Travis Harrison in his studio.
Singer Ivana XL performs "Meat," XXX and XXX live in Travis's studio. One of Travis's biggest fans, she talks about wanting to go on tour and why her bathing habits would make her an excellent tour-mate.
Ohioan rock lifers The Library is on Fire hang out with Travis in the studio. Steve Five and the crew burn through a blistering set and then kick back a few GBs while talking shop and all things rock, including "Magic Windows, Magic Nights," the band's vinyl record. Travis shows off his audio-engineer tech skills when a wonky mic threatens to interrupt the flow.
Mitten joins Travis in the studio to share great, lounge-tinged electro-pop tunes and talk all things capes. The split Boston-New York group of Joanna Katcher and Maia Macdonald capture an intensity within subtlety, and bring a very happy outlook into the Serious Business studio.