In our never-ending quest to dig up some great bands that cost less than a corned beef sandwich at Katz’s Deli, we bring you another round of Blips. Blips highlights some great bands that are largely still in their larvae stage, but will soon morph into their beautiful butterfly. In this edition, we have some really cool new music, so take a sec, poke around their various websites, and see what you think of these four under the radar musical groups…
On one of the coldest days in recent memory, Will McCranie couldn’t stop sweating. When Will takes the stage – as he did on that bitterly cold evening for a record release party at Banjo Jim’s – he puts every ounce of energy into performing his heartfelt songs often leaving him in a pool of sweat. This two-time winner of the Lokal Loudness Award for Favorite Solo Act in Augusta, GA moved to New York City last year with eyes on furthering his musical journey in the big city.
READ ON for more on Will and three other Blips-worthy bands…
The singer/songwriter, who hails from Augusta, GA, has just released a double EP – North / South – featuring one CD recorded in Augusta and a second disc with material recorded in NYC. McCranie succeeds in showing off two sides of his creativity as you can smell magnolias while listening to the South EP and feel the brashness of the big city when listening to the North EP. Will’s songs sound like a mix of Warren Zevon and Dave Matthews’ best with a little Cat Stevens thrown in for good measure. Here’s a clip of Familiar from the record release party at Banjo Jim’s…
The War On Drugs
Much like !!!, the Philly-based band The War On Drugs have another one of those wildly impossible names to try an do an internet search on. After sifting through numerous web pages about the government’s actual battle to reduce the illegal drug trade, you may actually stumble onto something about the band. Fortunately, when you ditch that detective’s hat and settle in with their music you’re initially struck by lead singer Adam Granduciel vaguely familiar voice that filters Bob Dylan through Tom Petty, which makes sense since – as the story goes – Granduciel met current band mate Kurt Vile at a party and both bonded over their mutual love of all things Zimmy.
The band’s debut full-length, Wagonwheel Blues, is loaded with a combination of jangly Highway 61-era inspired folk-rock mixed with some VU-inspired dissonant psychedelic jamming. The War On Drugs will spend about three weeks touring Europe beginning late next month, before returning to the States to hold down the opening slot for The Hold Steady during the first half of April with an eye towards a headlining tour of their own to follow.
Levon Helm is becoming quite the source of material for the Blips segment. While Levon is better known for his own storied musical career, he clearly has the passion for both seeking and helping out young promising bands. First, he turned us onto the local youngsters Quintus a while back, and now we turn our attention towards the Brooklyn band, The Ramblers.
The Ramblers are five piece (although a three piece until just recently) consisting of Jeremiah Birnbaum (guitar and vocals), John Embree (drums and vocals), and Kazuya Ishijima (bass), with Scott Stein (keys) and Jackson Kincheloe (harmonica). Handpicked by Levon himself straight out of a gig, the band is now rambling along with ironic momentum having released their self-titled debut at Levon’s Midnight Ramble in June of 2008 and touring heavily, supporting some notable names like the Levon Helm Band and Greensky Bluegrass.
The Ramblers churn out a honey-laced law-runnin’ sound that unsurprisingly calls upon The Band. Several spins in, another familiar name also pops up with lead singer Jeremiah Birnbaum’s serene vocals reminiscent of one Reid Genauer, a number of tunes definitely have an Assembly of Dust vibe (see Always Another Way to Be Gone). Between their spunky country blues, patient soulful ballads and hands-on-waists boot tappin’ jamborees, the Ramblers are bound to find a niche of fans looking for some genuine American (and a little Japanese) rock n’ roll. Considering that the going rate for the former generation of this like-minded sound is charging about $100 a ticket these days, the Ramblers might just bank out on this recession thing too.
[Photo by Ari Frankel]
Massachusetts’ Sugar Snow is a folk rock quartet from Brookline fronted by lead singer Simone B. and guitarist Joe Twomey. The instrumentation is rounded out with bassist Adam Abrams and drummer Sean Estella.
There’s a heavy dose of Elliot Smith in both the influence on principle songwriters B & Twomey as well as a few covers in the live repertoire. Leaving the show, you are sure to have at least one and probably two catchy melodies in your head for a week. A few demos and a couple of tracks from their recent show at Cambridge’s Middle East are up on their MySpace page for streaming. Simone B is also an active music blogger on their MySpace site where she provides her transparent thoughts on all things related to her band, and that gets a big thumbs up from the folks here at Hidden Track.