JezebelMusic.com @ Glasslands
March 6, 2010 | We Are Country Mice, Dragon Turtle, ARMS, Tall Firs
I had never seen a show at Glasslands prior to this Saturday, and have to say, despite its somewhat abandoned location, I was enchanted. As I sipped my beer, waiting for the show to start, I took the time to appreciate the excellently haphazard and whimsical space, hoping the music would follow suit. Supported by an energetic coterie of glow necklace adorned fans, openers We Are Country Mice were by far the highlight of the evening. Brooklyn-based, but mid-country reared, their sound is honest and refreshing. Sometimes twangy, sometimes vaguely surf, they’re just plain fun. They won me over with “The Ballad of John,” a gorgeous, harmonious country-esque rambler that breaks out into a crashing, cathartic rock song. “A Good Old-Fashioned Barn Raising” is a lot less creepy live, and come on, who doesn’t love to see a megaphone appear onstage? Drummer Kurt Kuehn looks like he’s having an absolute blast, as they all do. Between a xylophone cameo and some inherent scrappiness —lead singer Jason Rueger smilingly manned their merch table all night — We Are Country Mice, are for sure at the top of my small-indie-bands-I’m-rooting-for list.
July 23, 2009
JezebelMusic.com @ Cameo Gallery
July 19, 2009 | Spanish Prisoners
We’ve all got a lot going on in our day to day, and we’ve all got a lot to worry about. Music, rather than augmenting the madness, should abate our moments of chaos and help us attain some semblance of harmony. Contrary to the ever-broadening detours of, say, Built to Spill, or the acute punk onslaught of a band like Black Flag, Spanish Prisoners has ADHD. And their ramblings are at times undue. Quite glaringly the brainchild of lead singer and guitarist Leo Maymind, the songs’ progressions seem forced and awkward; and despite impeccable musicianship, the group’s disparate elements have a hard time coming together. The more airy tracks lean towards ambient tropicalia, and the more crowded ones hearken, dare I say it, to a schlocky B-52s. The band played their residency’s second installment on Sunday at Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg, although by the looks of them, one would think it was one of their first times onstage.
To their credit, Spanish Prisoners is, through and through, a studio band. The lead guitarist, whose tone and gentle timing are spectacular, often takes an underappreciated backseat to Maymind’s “thoughtful songs and intricate lyrics” (Paste Magazine) and a barrage of inexplicable four-part unison singing. Their electronic influence is much more apparent upon listening to the recording, as live, Amberly Hungerford’s keys became lost, literally, in the mix. Overall, the recorded versions are much more approachable and well-blended, even danceable at times. However, I am a daughter of the “less is more” camp, and if it’s unnecessary onstage, it’s ultimately going to detract from the live experience. In other words, if you don’t need it, get rid of it.
On record, the acid-washed seascape of “Los Angeles Guitar Dream” unpretentiously discloses itself as a dream of guitars on the beach; its tempo changes and melodic transitions capture the band’s experimental leanings without leaving you jarred. However, the Cameo Gallery proved a bit austere to house such attempts, and, thus, the subtlety evaporated into a vacuum of gray concrete. Perhaps if the Prisoners’ stage presence were a bit livelier, then Maymind’s delicate creations would have remained afloat.
by Drew Citron