December 11, 2009
2009 | Rare Book Room
The first word that pops into my head listening to Sugarland, the first full-length from Brooklyn duo Talk Normal, is “industrial.” I’m hesitant to use the word, because I think it dredges up sonic images of the band Ministry and early Nine Inch Nails, and Sugarland definitely has none of the amped-up speed of those folks. (Yet, despite its ambient leanings, Sugarland isn’t a snooze either.) The “industrial” sound I’m referring to above most closely resembles the sonic landscape of the film Eraserhead by David Lynch.
The second and possibly strongest track of the album, “In a Strange Land,” features a start-stop guitar crunch punctuated by percussive crashes that sound like being stuck in a stylized assembly line or a particularly antiquated elevator. Layered on top of this foundation is a frantic, almost tribal drumbeat, and intermingling vocals by guitarist Sarah Register and drummer Andrya Ambro that shriek, pant and float serenely, delivering lyrics like “Help me/ I’m a stranger/ In a strange land/ Don’t push me away.”
The band’s Downtown New York/No Wave influences are pretty apparent (they’re even named after a Laurie Anderson song, for gosh sakes), and the comparisons to Lydia Lunch and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O that are frequently lobbed at them seem fair enough, but the band is far from hamstrung by their predecessors. Register and Ambro are equally inventive as performers and writers, easily distinguishing themselves and defining their sounds as their own. Ambro’s drumming is primal without being primitive, and it maintains much of the forward momentum of many of the tracks. Register, for her part, very rarely gets into conventional guitar heroics, instead preferring dirge-y guitar squalls, which, on most of the tracks, are layered into soundscapes of fuzzed-out tones.
More on Talk Normal | Sugarland
November 29, 2009
THIS WEEK IN SHOWS
WEDS, DEC. 2
Jaguar Love, The King Left, Yes Giantess, Violent Soho
8:00 PM, $10 adv/$12 do, 21+
People have said that Johnny Whitney of Jaguar Love sounds like “Robert Plant on steroids.” I was gonna say he sort of reminds me of Jay Reatard in a higher register. Either way, we’re talking shrieky, jolting energy. These guys make some catchy, noisy, uptempo pop with y’know, canned beats. Enjoy!
Werewolves, Strange Rivals, Heliotropes
8:00, $5, 21+
Never underestimate the power of the keys to take something dramatic and make it cinematic. I’m using the term “cinematic” very liberally to mean that you might find yourself playing out long scenes in your head while listening to Werewolves. Or maybe it’s their sneering vocals that do it, I don’t know yet. What I do know is that they’re dynamic performers and they’re playing Glasslands this Wedsnesday…
SAT, DEC. 5
8:00, $10, 21+
Did you know that the male bowerbird hops around with a flower in his beak in an attempt to woo a mate? How sweet! On the other hand, the male angler fish sniffs out the female, bites her, releases an enzyme that fuses the two at the blood-vessel level, and then atrophies until he is no more than a pair of parasitic gonads. The world is ugly, but if you want to linger on the more poignant aspects of life, why not get all acoustic and snuggly with Bowerbirds for the night? They’re also playing Bowery Ballroom with Elvis Perkins on Thursday, but I like to promote the more intimate, boozier, cheaper shows…
Or you can just head towards Kent Ave. and then decide…
More on This Week In Shows
October 25, 2009
THIS WEEK IN SHOWS
TUES, OCT. 27
Talk Normal, Pterodactyl, Antimagic
8:00 PM, $8, 21+
Well I had a great time interviewing Talk Normal, and our writer Helen Buyniski claims their live set is awesome, but I’ve yet to see them perform, so I figure no better time than their Sugarland record release party! Visually they’re interesting: drummer Andrya Ambro uses all sorts of unusual objects to augment her percussion, and apparently this noise duo really works a show into a hypnotic drive. Plus, with Pterodactyl opening, it’s bound to be an intense party!
FRI, OCT. 30
Pissed Jeans, Awesome Color, Drunkdriver, Sleepies
(le) poisson rouge
6:00 PM, $5, all ages
Ye be warned! This is a NYU-sponsored show. But I, for one, don’t care, really. I’m mostly just impressed that NYU is going so hard. It seems very much in the Halloween spirit to go out and get bludgeoned by sound, and lord knows Pissed Jeans and Awesome Color know how to ravage a space with noise. To be honest, the psychedelic sounds of Awesome Color are a bit more my style than Pissed Jeans, plus I already know that I love their live show. (I was blown away by their set at Market Hotel this summer.) And on another note, after learning so much about Sleepies last week, I feel like I should see them in action, too.
October 9, 2009
JezebelMusic.com @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
October 3, 2009 | Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Sightings, Talk Normal, Drunkdriver
The final performance of the WFMU Fest, featuring seminal 1970s No Wave ensemble Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, took place last Saturday in the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Opening duo Talk Normal cloaked the cacophony of antisocial Jerks-style noise in their velvety effects and drones, while Drunkdriver chose feedback over musicianship and Sightings gave an earnest but disappointing recital of squeaks, squeals, and grunts. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks then took the stage, lashing out with a fury that has lost no intensity over the last 30 years.
Brooklyn’s Talk Normal began mysteriously, launching straight into a cacophonous dirge, not bothering to turn the stage lights up, introduce themselves, or indulge in any other formalities. The twinned noise of guitar and effects writhed against a chugging motor of a beat, overlaid with what sounded like the cries of small mechanical creatures caught in the gears. Hypnotic rhythms lured listeners into a sluggish sonic whirlpool enveloped by vocals that channeled early Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, husky and pleading. Both Andrya Ambro and Sarah Register of Talk Normal share vocal duties, and their voices settle seamlessly into the sea of effects, half-atmospheric screaming and wailing harmonies alternating with chanted bits to give the wall of sound an almost silvery lining. Later songs upped the suspense, each pause piling apprehension around the dizzyingly repetitive churning of the noise.
Suggesting variously the ominous creep of an oncoming train, the disorienting circling of vultures, and calming, surprisingly melodic nighttime lullabies, the trance-inducing loops of Talk Normal were at once soothing and disturbing. When the girls thanked the soundman and audience, listeners were jolted awake from a dark hallucination that, in retrospect, did not nearly last long enough.
More on WFMU Fest @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg | 10.3.09
September 28, 2009
Brooklyn noise duo Talk Normal may be a minimalist band, but they sure have a lot going on. Though certainly drawing on No Wave influences, drummer Andrya Ambro and guitarist Sarah Register are hard to pin down, shouldering against boundaries and weaving a variety of other musical strands into their dense bundle of steel wool sound. The duo, known for their exciting, intense live shows, is playing WFMU Fest with Teenage Jesus and The Jerks this week. We caught up with Talk Normal to chat about their upcoming tour and their new album, Sugarland, which drops on October 27.
JM.com: Well first off, how did you two meet?
Talk Normal: We met in college…different programs that shared similar classes, and we ended up working in the same department (music technology) at school as well.
JM.com: You were in another band together, Antonius Block, right? How does Talk Normal differ from that first band?
Andrya: The structural components between Antonius and Talk Normal seem very different; whereas there was four of us in Antonius, all doing separate things, Talk Normal blurs the lines of “who does what” much more, which opens up new ways for orchestration & arrangement for us. Common themes definitely include a “discordant” & “minimal
JM.com: You have your first full-length coming out at the end of October right? What can we expect – how does it build upon [your EP] Secret Cog?
TN: Yes, October 27! Record release party that night in NYC at Cakeshop.
JM.com: Yeah, you’re playing with Pterodactyl that night, right?
Sarah: Sugarland represents material spanning a broad time frame, including a few songs that were pre-Secret Cog. But the majority of it is more recent, from the past year-ish, that we’ve been performing live. Also it’s the most representative recording of what we sound like live, which is very satisfying to us. For these reasons and many more, we are extremely pleased to be unleashing it – finally! Nicolas Verhnes, who we recorded and mixed with at Rare Book Room, was key in helping us translate the sounds we make into the recordings we wanted to hear. And yes, we are beyond psyched to be playing with our buddies Antimagic & Pterodactyl, with the additional sparkling company of DJ Mike Wolf.
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