Bros before hos, past before present.
From after midnight at the Tower Theatre to lost somewhere in 1967: Last month, Midtown pysch-pop outfit Ganglians released not one but two releases: a self-titled 12-inch on Brooklyn’s Woodsist label and a full-length 12-inch, Monster Head Room (that includes a bonus 7-inch), on Chad Stockdale’s Weird Forest tag, based here in Sacramento.
Ganglians, the self-titled, features the band’s newer material; Monster Head Room, which came out after the Woodsist release, is actually the elder. This created some confusion online; fans of Monster thought the band was turning into an acid-anthem retro act, but this is not true. On Ganglians, songs hint at a future of unpredictable, truncated and fiery art-pop styling: explosive, chaotic intros (“Rats Man”); beautifully textured guitar ambience (“Hair”) and general art-pop goodness.
Ganglians’ most promising track, “Never Mine,” a wish-washy electro-slacker anthem, fuses a simple, fuzzed-out guitar run; a drum-machine backbeat; and Ryan Grubbs’ manipulated and soggy-reverb vocals into a great pop ditty. This, hopefully, is the future of the band’s sound, because it’s addictive in its tumbledown nonchalance.
The older songs on Monster Head Room are the Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile meets epic-length early-’70s retro-ballad anthems—with help from blotter-acid wordy, everyday-ho-hum lyrics. These songs were some of the first Ganglians’ tracks ever recorded and, while only a few make it into their live set nowadays, congeal into a strong, if dated, release.
In the end, though, the Woodsist is the better of the two. It’s production value is gritty and low-fi (including a mono mix—why?), but after learning that a handful of the tracks were recorded during nocturnal sessions inside the Tower Theatre on Broadway, the production shortcomings are easily forgotten.
And it helps that the songs, in the end, are phenomenal. (Nick Miller)
Watching the scenes change: Blue Lamp still had plenty of breathing room at the start of Friday’s show with the Nickel Slots, Richard March and Bobby Jordan. Beers were slowly nurtured, greetings quietly exchanged and the mood relaxed as Jordan strummed plaintive, folksy songs on his guitar. This was, you see, just about the music, the moment.
If you haven’t seen Jordan play solo—and it’s a pretty rare occurrence—check him out sometime. The aesthetic isn’t too far removed from his stints with Red Star Memorial or the Mission Satellite; it’s simply distilled down to the purest essences of bitter, sweet and longing.
As the evening progressed, however, the attention slowly shifted. When March took the stage with his city-slickers take on country music, Blue Lamp swarmed with a mix of swing-your-partner enthusiasts, Midtown scenesters and chattering suburbanites. And by the time the Nickel Slots ramped up their set ’round midnight, the club was thick with a frat-tastic, bros-before-hos vibe. The atmosphere didn’t do the music justice. Singer Tony Brusca, of course, doubles as the Brodys’ frontman, but while the Nickel Slots’ songs are just as party-ready as that band’s music, they’re also a little more sophisticated than, say the Brodys’ biggest hit, “Beer Truck Driver.”
Songs such as “Racehorse,” although upbeat, are also tinged with nostalgia and regret—a distinction sometimes lost on many of the whoopin’, beer truck driver-chasing masses.
But whatever. Unless you counted the creepy, wasted guy in the corner hitting on every girl in the club, the night ended on a chummy, we’re-in-this-together note.
“Whatever kind of week you had,” Brusca said at the close of the night, “whether it was shitty or good—here’s to the next week.” (Rachel Leibrock).
This bird can sing, play lap steel, Rhodes piano, synth—probably everything: Kris Anaya and Joe Davancens’ new project, Doom Bird, has only been around for a couple months, but the duo’s already cashed in on its promise and pedigree: The music is captivating.
Anaya started their set last Monday at The Press Club (see photo) on guitar, Davancens manned the keys and synth. Both guys sing, and the results are sorrowful but inspiring choral-like indie ballads.
After one song, they’d switch up, Davancens moving over to lap steel, Anaya to keys. And then they’d switch it up again, Davancens on the Rhodes, Anaya on guitar.
Anaya explained that the duo will be recording in July, and a marching-band drum line and orchestral arrangements will accompany these new songs. Very promising. (N.M.)