Thursday, October 15, 2009

Strangers Family Band

The intriguingly dark & groovy sounds of Strangers Family Band have drawn me in. I have been playing their EP, Beware The Autumn People, a lot, found from reading the amazing all-psych-all-the-time blog Trip Inside This House. I mention these words 'dark & groovy', but there is soooo much more here, so much more. The seven songs that comprise this psychedelic gem of an EP have been crafted by five young men who have been musicians practically their entire lives, and came together two years ago as a complete band with the talent and desire to create songs that are as compelling as they are catchy.
The title track, Beware The Autumn People, kicks in with carnival-like keys, which slide into a stomp of drums and guitar reverb, and lazy vocals, slurred over the stomp. Strange Transmission, with its unmistakable Doors-vibe, is just brilliant: from the deep, slightly ominous, Morrison-style vocals, to the organ keys in the background, to the imagery of a spiral staircase leading you to a midnight splendor. This song meanders its way through image to image, hypnotically. Tangerine is two precious minutes of space cadets and sweet dreams, set to a lovely little organ melody. Wooden Hands is.....a mysteriously dark, unique, quite song?? Not your ordinary love song, I assure you! Enochian is a spooky little minute of whispery effects over possibly a sermon. Girl I've Been Taken, with its sly-sounding vocals and little organ jam at the end is probably the grooviest slice of psychedelica I have ever heard. No One Sees Her comes on as a happy little jaunt, with horns over plucky guitars and light, bouncy drums, but still......something dark lurks in the background......
The members of Strangers Family Band seem to have been born to make music. Scott (bass) and Rick (guitar) are brothers who have been playing music as long as they can remember. Rick and Juan (who plays drums) played music together in high school, and Scott and Ates (vocals) became song-writing partners in college. Kevin, their bloody brilliant keyboardist, was the last addition to the Family, and completes it oh so well. The band name, well, that just seemed to fit perfectly as they are truly either blood or close enough to it, and strange indeed, intriguingly so.
Currently on heavy rotation in the Strangers' house is music that comes from some of the most creative minds of the 60s and 70s, albums that take you on theme-park rides through their concepts, albums by The Kinks, The Pretty Things, The Beatles, early Donovan, 13th Floor Elevators, and Syd-era-Floyd, to name just a few. Conceptually, Strangers Family Band is planning on taking us on their own musical-mind-trip beyond the Beware The Autumn People EP, with the full-length they are currently working on. Scott cites some interesting influences that go beyond even obscure psychedelica or concept albums: Balkan folk music and Carnatic music. This is one band who is so left-of-center, I have to admire and love it!
Somehow, Strangers Family Band take their talent and their love of so many different styles of creative, interesting music, and make their own quirky, hypnotic, darkly enthralling music. Besides the requisite drums, guitar, and bass, Strangers Family Band utilizes Hammond organ, sitar, electric sitar, ukulele, upright bass, quattro, and tablas. On the upcoming album, a multitude of local musician friends of the Family play guest. For now, go to their site and download Beware The Autumn People. What are you waiting for?! Go check out Strangers Family Band!
A big, warm thank you, to Scott from Strangers Family Band, for enlightening me about the band, and big thanks to the whole band for making this amazing psychedelic music and sharing it with us!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pilot Cloud Plays Brooklyn

Much to this fan's delight, Pilot Cloud made their way from Philly to Brooklyn on Friday night, October 9, to play a set at Bar Matchless. The set was forty minutes of the most blissful, heartbreakingly gorgeous shoegaze that you could possibly ever hear. I have been playing their album In Transition at home on my stereo for weeks now, and it did not even prepare me for how these songs translate to the stage. Equal parts blooming, soaring soundscapes, and subtle, quiet flutters, Pilot Cloud's songs both explode with force, and then calm the storm. Songs played were Dead Satellite, Leaf, Map, Star Redoubt (complete with the bird songs at the end, like on the album!), In Transition, Diaspora (not on the album, but available to listen to on their MySpace player), and the closer of the album closes their set: Ex Astris Scientia. Pilot Cloud is most certainly a band who have the talent to take their stunning recorded arrangements to the stage and make them better. That is quite a feat, and if you have been lucky enough to acquire the album In Transition and then see them live, I am sure you would agree.