The Dance: Jimmy Gnecco

posted by Trina Green | Friday, March 7, 2014 | 2:26 AM
Photo Credit: April Bauer
“It’s about being beat down. The challenges in our society...coming back and finding the strength to fight again but without becoming a monster in order to survive in a world full of monsters." That's how Jimmy Gnecco describes his latest creation.

In 2013 a successful Pledge Music campaign resulted in the album Ballet The Boxer, 1 (One of 2013's 5 Albums You May Have Missed). As album titles go, it’s ambiguous at best. It connotes fighting for a more graceful way to exist and survive without the constant fight: physically or emotionally, as nations, as people. It’s a striking record, no pun intended.

However Jimmy Gnecco, the mastermind of that record and its title: not so ambiguous. The New Jersey native is a clear thinker, straight speaker and a captive of the human emotions which he translates via one of the more stunning and flexible voices in rock today. It’s entirely possible that you may be unfamiliar with this beautiful creature despite his very devoted following, despite his 20 years of music making, despite recording the track "Someone To Die For" with Brian May for the Spiderman 2 soundtrack, despite seven acclaimed albums (solo and with his band) and despite fronting the seminal rock outfit, OURS, with that emotive and soulful voice that can crush an octave until it weeps.

If for no other reason than the pure love of this thing called music, the art of vocal craft or how a great rock song gets beneath your skin, it’s in one’s best musical interest to dig into where his music has been and where it’s going. As a lyricist he is particularly gifted due to often being painfully acute in diagnosing what ails us. Always present have been personal and professional challenges; so life goes, and sourcing the pain and the pleasure has always been the genesis of transparent art. It’s just what he does. “There’s no real formula except what I’ve always tried to have present in the music is that human connection.” Jimmy explains. “The questions that we have, the things that we wonder about. The things that we hope for, the things that we are afraid of. Emotional. It’s very honest. It’s never, ever coming from a stand point of thinking what’s popular.”
Ballet... was of careful design. “When we put the record together, each song we loved for a certain reason because they served a certain part of the story. Without one, another might not mean as much.” The record is also as prime an example as any of emotional and honest- along with exceptional- alternative rock, as well as Jimmy’s command of fleshing out the beautiful and the ugly alongside the intense and the delicate. There’s always an elegant juxtaposition of light and the dark in the songs. “It’s just a natural thing that exists. For every way of looking at something in a beautiful way there’s another way of looking at it.” And Jimmy keenly focused on expressing both of those aspects on Ballet..., which he calls an album of two halves. “The first part of the record is supposed to make people feel that disconnect, discomfort at times. Almost this vindictive feeling. “Coming For You” is antagonistic: I’m coming for you, motherfucker, you better watch yourself.” Let’s be honest: sometimes you just want to swing at whatever is pushing you around. Only to have the second half of the album grasp at and for resolve with the dualistic "Fall Into My Hands."

"On the surface there’s this thing that’s very beautiful: if you’ve lost hope, I’m here. You can fall back and I’ll catch you." Yet there's just as much shadow play at work: "It’s kind of speaking from a devil’s point of view. If you waste the opportunity you’ve been given to make it a meaningful life full of love, you can choose to have it in your life, love and all this beauty or you can throw it all away and fall into my hands."

Although Jimmy admits, “There are some songs on this record that don’t get resolved and won’t get resolved until the next record.” File that away as something to look forward to.

Yes, that's David Carradine in what would be his final performance.

Musicians have various motivations for diving into their craft: fame, money, awards, tigers on a gold leash, an entourage, a house in the Hollywood Hills. Jimmy’s is a little off that beaten path and, again, wanders into the realm of connection. “Genuine conversations with people that were genuinely moved- I love that and I will always love that. It’s a very romantic idea to me, to sit in my bedroom or the car and I write a song, and these are your inner thoughts. You’re putting them down, put it on a record and you send it out to the world. It’s like sending out a note in a bottle and you always wonder who it’s going to reach. So when the music reaches people you want to know who it’s reached and how it’s affected them.” And standing on a stage feeding an audience powerful sound feeds him. A receptive listener open to being touched touches him and reinforces a very simple tenet.
“I have hope in people. You go out and somebody’s riding up your ass in your car and running you off the road, screaming at you and you get razzled, you wanna strangle somebody. And then you go away and you’re like ‘I can’t lose hope in people.’ You still have this love, ultimately it comes back to wanting to love, wanting to be loved.”
And there is the fragile ballet that the boxer in us all has to dance.

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SHOW ALERT: Arts & Crafts Time w/ the Darcys, NO and Reuben and the Dark

posted by Trina Green | Sunday, March 2, 2014 | 6:14 PM
Hey kids, it's time for Arts & Crafts! No, this will not involve Play Dough or macaroni and glue- not unless bring your own.

Arts & Crafts is a boutique independent record label based in Toronto and 10 years ago they launched a 'tour package': aka a touring bill made up exclusively of Arts & Crafts bands. The bands on that initial tour were Broken Social Scene, Feist and Stars. Bands currently on the Arts & Crafts roster still include Feist and Broken Social Scene as well as Moby, In The Valley Below, Deer Tick and more and during March and April the Arts & Crafts tour package tradition continues featuring The Darcys and Reuben and the Dark, both of Canadian descent, and NO from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles happens to be where this party kicks off: March 8th at one of LA's finest venues, the Troubadour. As tours go, this is a fairly fine matchup of A&C's musical assets: the art rock of the Darcys meeting the shiny noir of NO divided by the indie harmonies of Reuben and the Dark, all rotating their performance slots throughout the tour. And each band has a new release and new music among them to tour: on February 18th NO released El Prado, last October came Reuben and the Dark's Rolling Stone and September brought the Darcys' Warring (check our review here) where the art rockers craft cool and dramatic layers of sound that have a dreamscape-quality. An audio/visual aide:

There are 21 shows across North America, kids, which equals 21 opportunities to catch this rock solid tour. And again, no on the Play Dough thing.

Mar 08 Los Angeles, CA | Troubadour | Tickets
Mar 09 Scottsdale, AZ | The Western | Tickets
Mar 12 Austin, TX | SXSW
Mar 15 Houston, TX | Fitzgerald's | Tickets [Free Over 21]
Mar 18 Atlanta, GA | Masquerade - Purgatory | Tickets
Mar 19 Chapel Hill, NC | Cat's Cradle | Tickets
Mar 20 Washington, DC | DC9 | Tickets
Mar 21 Brooklyn, NY | Cameo Gallery | Tickets
Mar 22 NYC, NY | Mercury Lounge | Tickets
Mar 23 Boston, MA | Middle East Upstairs | Tickets
Mar 25 Toronto, ON | Lee's Palace | Tickets
Mar 26 London, ON | Call the Office | Tickets
Mar 27 Chicago, IL | Schubas | Tickets
Mar 28 Minneapolis, MN | 7th Street Entry | Tickets
Mar 29 Winnipeg, MB | JUNOFest @ Union Hall | Tickets
Apr 01 Edmonton, AB | The Artery | Tickets
Apr 02 Calgary, AB | The Gateway @ SAIT | Tickets
Apr 03 Kelowna, BC | Habitat | Tickets
Apr 04 Seattle, WA | Barboza | Tickets
Apr 05 Vancouver, BC | Biltmore | Tickets
Apr 06 Portland, OR | Mississippi Studios | Tickets

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Introducing: Hayley Jane

posted by Trina Green | Friday, January 10, 2014 | 7:48 AM
When you think of the art of bass, what probably comes to mind is it being an inherently male-dominated position in band. But there have been a good number of players of the XX chromosome variety: from Kim Deal (the Pixies) to Melissa Auf der Maur (Smashing Pumpkins), Tina Weymouth (Tom Tom Club) and Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie) to but name an impressive few.

Now let's add Hayley Jane to the list. Finding her musical footing serving the rhythm and low end when she was 15, Hayley hails from London, England and became so accomplished that she found herself being accepted into the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA after only a year at the London Centre of Contemporary Music.

She's since settled in New York City (a perfect musical mecca) and while it may be her noted primary skill, Hayley's talents expand beyond just bass: she's also a singer/songwriter and plays piano and being multi-faceted is always an asset. The thing is how in-demand Hayley has become which is more than evident by the fact that she currently plays in three active and touring bands- Freelance Whales, Catey Shaw and Tei Shi- but her creative bones demand that she carve out time to write and record music of her own, as well.

Busy lady, that Hayley, and it's bound to get busier as all three bands have new music scheduled for release this year which means more touring in support of that music. So chances are more than good that you could very well encounter Hayley Jane on the road doing what she does so well.

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Dirty Glitter 2013 In Review #8: The Last Internationale, X Ambassadors & Daley

posted by Trina Green | Monday, December 30, 2013 | 9:50 PM
Radio check 1, 2, 3! What we have here is a Spring of 2013 segment for your recollection. This collaboration between High Voltage and Dirty Glitter with Brody Ramone on WGBU-FM every Thursday night at 8pm PST/11pm EST has yielded some pretty sweet musical fruit not the least of which comes from the three talents in this 8th edition of Dirty Glitter 2013 In Review.

Dirty Glitter 5/8/2013:
The Last Internationale- "Cod'ine"
The merger of folk, rock, punk and blues with an air of protestation for righteous reasons brings us to the Last Internationale, a New York City trio formed of Delila Paz (vox, bass), Edgey (guitar) and now Rage Against the Machine's Brad Wilk (drums). With a sound that's raw and strong, smacks of being socially awake and challenging the status quo by way of rock and roll (and isn't that what rock and roll is supposed to do?), the Last International are refreshingly irony-free and substantive: probably because they don't miss the musical plot that. Now what we have here is TLI shining on a cover song: the Buffy Saint-Marie classic "Cod'ine" which Saint-Marie wrote about her experience recovering from her addiction to codeine. Even though this is a cover, it's the Last Internationale flexing some of their strongest muscles in the translation of emotion. From their current EP New York, I Do Mind Dying this is "Cod'ine."

X Ambassadors- "Unconsolable"
Brothers Sam and Casey Harris along with friends Noah Feldshuh and Adam Levin source everything from the Staples Singers to the Stooges to Ginuwine to hip hop to fashion their seriously groove-based music. If you could actually taste music, which I totally believe is possible, you could file Brooklyn-based X Ambassadors under "thick and delicious"; it's full of texture and feeling, often swells into bombastic territory with lyrics that speak from many places of the heart. On Tuesday May 7th they released their 6-song EP, Love Songs Drug Songs, which had some serious production assistance from Alex da Kid and some guy named Dan Reynolds (yes that Dan from Imagine Dragons). Back to considering the music to be delicious, in this song "Unconsolable" Sam does reference bread and butter. See? It all comes full circle.

Daley- "Game Over"
His proper name is Gareth Daley but this British soul singer of the blue-eyed variety simply goes by Daley. Embracing all that is romantic, sexy, laid back and groovalicious about r&b and neo-soul and lacing it with a little pop, Daley's music breakthrough came in 2010 when he provided guest vocals on the Gorillaz song "Doncamatic." Since then he's produced and released the EP Those Who Wait in 2012, toured with and supported the likes of Emeli Sande and Jessie J and been one of the UK's rising stars in a new wave of neo soul. He's currently working on a full album but for now from the Those Who Wait EP here's "Game Over."

Diary of a Concert Whore  aka @dharma69

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5 Albums You May Have Missed, Version 2013

posted by Trina Green | Tuesday, December 24, 2013 | 1:18 AM
Oh 2013, where have you gone? But gone she almost is so here I sit thinking about all the musical goodness that has passed us by.

Let's be honest: the last thing that anyone needs is yet ANOTHER fucking Best Of/Most Awesome Albums of 2013 list. I'm not into it. But what I am into is doing due diligence in pointing out what may have been overlooked amongst all the fawning over Yeezus. So here are five releases of particular note for particular reasons and I hope you'll dig into them.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Specter At The Feast
Released: March 19, 2013

The multiple personality of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s 6th release is exactly that: a release. Fitful, healing, aggressive, literate, complex, sonically graphic, as dark as it is light and together Peter Hayes, Robert L Been and Leah Shapiro stave off what could have been a full-fledged danse macabre by simply baring their rock and roll teeth (goddamn “Rival”) and sinking them in…hopefully not into one another because that would be weird. Specter... (Hayes and Been’s second album with Shapiro wo/manning drums) is the mark of a band realized; the band they need to be because this time around she fully imprints herself and her sound, which does nothing but complement her partners in rebellion (and a band is only as good as its drummer). It’s like nature at work, everyone plays their part. I’ll break it down for you. Specter... is a three-way of the elements: Hayes acts as Fire (he’s downright sexually menacing in the chaos of “Sell It”), Been counteracts as Water (peaceable and coolly pacifying) while Shapiro is all Earth and the strong foundation that supports them. It’s kinda beautiful, man.

Brendan James- Simplify
Released: August 6, 2013

In the vein of the singer/songwriter, Brendan James possesses the immense gift of being able to paint a lyrical picture and tell a story so vivid you can almost taste it. He's a New Hampshire native and his fourth album, Simplify, is ripe with what he specializes in: emotionally connected and connective piano driven moments of song that reflect his personal convictions. Whether he's singing about gun violence or divorce or conscious living, Brendan does it with elegant honesty and care. While the album is frontloaded and the pace tapers according to subject matter, according to Brendan, this album represents him "finding a clarity" he'd been searching for for years and I’m right there with him. Listen to “Hilary” (and yes, Brendan, one day that girl is going to figure out that this song is about her) and I dare you to try and NOT practically ‘see’ every word he says.

Javier Dunn- Trails
Released: June 25, 2013

For the past 10 years or so Javier Dunn has been the right hand guitar-man of singer-songtress Sara Bareilles but now he’s making music under his own steam and it sounds like that shyly confident romantic storyteller with a Taylor guitar on open mic night getting his synth-washed sexy back and phone numbers on cocktail napkins. Trails is all about the love journey and its potential, if not inevitable highs and pitfalls with an overlay of R&B groove and pop sense electronically tweaked- gently. With a few previously recorded songs re-imagined like “By The Sea” and “If You Go” (where homie Sara Bareilles adds sweet co-vocals making it a duet), put this album on and don’t be surprised if you get lucky. Way, way luckier than Daft Punk.

Ours- Ballet The Boxer I
Released: June 11, 2013

It's been five years since the last outing from this ridiculously underrated and under-known band: Ballet the Boxer I (which hopefully means that a sequel is enroute) from Ours takes a slight left turn from the preceding Mercy: Dancing For The Death Of An Imaginary Enemy. A touch more refined but no less consuming with its grandiosity and full blooded orchestrated rock. The band is tight (main man, Static, on guitar where he should be) and fronted by the glorious and iconic octaves of Jimmy Gnecco (whose lack of mainstream exposure is also criminal), this album is 10 tracks of Gnecco opening emotional veins and battling beautiful demons with his trademark vocal prowess. It's a self-imposed battle encompassing fragility and strength, from the title track to the heady and sensual stomp of “Pretty Pain,” the exorcising of "Devil" to the defiant, not taking any more shit “Stand.” But what seals the deal is the intensely powerful and redemptive closer “Fall Into My Hands” and you’ll totally want to. Fall into his hands, that is.

The Veils- Time Stays, We Go
Released: April 16, 2013

This album came out in April and by my third listen through, I knew it would be a year-end favorite. It's just that good. Working under the assumption that when Finn Andrews and his band entered the studio they did so with the expectation of making the best record of their career, Time Stays, We Go may be the Veils most satisfying output yet (or at least on par with Sun Gangs) and, with their fantastic and dramatic history, that's saying a lot: it's a beauty. Conveyance of delicacy and hope without diluting their typical visceral piss and dark fire is a tricky walk. One step too far left and we're in emo territory; to the right and it's annoying, angry angst where we have to start questioning penis sizes. By the end of the album's 40 minutes you feel as if you've trekked through some sort of beautiful wilderness as wide territory has been covered from ethereally romantic "Sign of Your Love" to the 50s retro and sexually anguished "Candy Apple Red".

Honorable Mentions:
Mona- Torches & Pitchforks
PapaTender Madness 

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Dirty Glitter 2013 In Review #7: Terraplane Sun, Great White Buffalo, Trixie Whitley & Vanaprasta

posted by Trina Green | Sunday, December 22, 2013 | 10:45 PM
The year's almost at an end, rock stars but here's another Dirty Glitter with Brody Ramone-review. We're up to part 7 my High Voltage Magazine-recap of artists to re-discover, the artists and songs that I selected for play. Are you ready? Here we go:

Dirty Glitter 5/30/2013 Edition:

Terraplane Sun: "Get Me Golden”
How can five guys who occupy space in the beachfront city of Venice, CA possibly tap into a river of south of the Mason-Dixon line-sound blended with California sun and soul without sounding- what’s the word…ridiculous? Well, that’s Terraplane Sun for you. Ben Rothbard, Johnny Zambetti, Cecil Campanaro, Lyle Riddle and Gabe Feenberg describe themselves as “blues indie rock folk dance soul”; their sound is a little vintage, a little timeless and a lot of awesome as they truly do flesh out blues, indie rock, folk, dance and soul with full blown musicality and a refined rawness that translates wonderfully from record to their live shows which- whether they're rocking a local show or on tour with Imagine Dragons- are flat out electric and virtuosity on on display. Here's there's sunshine of a track, "Get Me Golden," which was featured in the 21 Jump Street redo and in a national CitiBank commercial.

Great White Buffalo: "Thanks For Nothing"
For some reason what Graham Bockmiller, Stephen Johnson, Blake LaGrange, and Rich Carrillo aka Great White Buffalo do seems almost effortless and in its ease is the pleasure of listening. Hopefully that makes sense because with Graham's textured vocals, the choice hooks and melodies and the lyrically well-crafted songs, Great White Buffalo are just a little too solid for their own good. They've followed up last year’s four-song Tightrope EP with a self-title one composed of six tight as a drum rockers produced by Grammy winner Phil Allen (Aerosmith, Adele) that stand up to anything that any indie rock band- LA based or otherwise- has dished out in the past year. to check out those songs, see their Bandcamp for further. In the meantime, get to grooving and rocking with Great White Buffalo and "Thanks For Nothing."

Trixie Whitley "Never Enough"
Trixie Whitley may only be 25 years old but her life experiences have brought a wisdom far beyond her age. Born in Belgium, she's the daughter of the acclaimed late bluesman Chris Whitley and those genes have passed on some immense talent as she's been a DJ, a dancer, a waitress...most before she was even old enough to vote. A multi-instrumentalist equally comfortable with a guitar or behind a drum kit, Trixie's fiercest tools are her songwriting and her voice which is stunningly soulful, haunting, emotive and- also- belies her age. So much so that the one and only Daniel Lanois (who has produced Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and some of U2's best work) tapped Trixie to be the voice of a collaboration project called Black Dub. Her full length debut album, Fourth Corner, was released in April and shows off what makes this lady so darned special. From that album, this is "Never Enough."

Vanaprasta: "NineEqualsNine" (honorable mention) (I. Love. This. Band. So. Hard.)

Vanaprasta is Sanskrit for a person who lives in the forest as a hermit after giving up most material desires. It’s also the name of one of my absolute favorite local bands. Based in Echo Park, CA, Vanaprasta are all about dynamic musical elements that shape-shift from psych guitar rock to disarming soul to blues progressive and shamelessly back again carried by Steven Wilkin’s flexible and arena-worthy vocals: he was, after all, an opera singer as a child. Along with Taylor Brown, Collin Desha, Cameron Dmytryk and Ben Smiley, these guys are ambitious with Pink Floyd-ish experimentation to Zeppelin-ish guitar to full blown prog, and yet they aren’t afraid of tripping a little weird. While indie rock is their game, this track, “NineEqualsNine,” is a game-changer due to the lush and sensual current of R&B that runs through it and the song title is indicative of their fascination with numbers, shapes and patterns in life. They’re in the studio working on album #2 as we speak (and I cannot wait for it) but this track is from their 2011 debut, Healthy Geometry

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Dirty Glitter 2013 In Review #6: Davis Fetter, Birds of a Black Feather & the Crash Kings

Summertime, oh sweet summertime.

Alright music lovers, welcome to the 6th installment of my High Voltage Magazine and Dirty Glitter with Brody Ramone 2013 in review! Three songs from three artists whom I highly approve of and I hope you find something to approve of, as well. New music discovery is what I love so let's get you busy discovering.

Dirty Glitter 6/20/2013 Edition:

David Fetter- "Born"
Every now and then you come across an artist of some sort- in this case, a musician- who seems as if they should have been born in another era or decade. With that in mind, see the romantic rocker Davis Fetter for further as he channels the rock and roll of the 50s and 60s with a Britpop coolness and a guitar rock flair that's uniquely his own. Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry has been a major influence on Davis' musical style. Over the years Davis has opened for the likes of Blondie, Peter Murphy, the B-52s, Chris Cornell and more. Seasoned as a songwriter as well as a performer, Davis is equally adept rocking loud and electric or crooning stripped down and acoustic; his voice is wonderfully fluid instrument and we're lucky that he was born when he was.

Birds of a Black Feather- "Turn Me On"
A mutual love of rock and roll, blues and soul is just one unifying element in Birds of a Black Feather. The Los Angeles quartet is made up of, not only friends, but also family: sisters Katie and Sarah Virden along with Murray Foretich and Ben Nelson. A little raw with moments of refined, touches of Southern rock and sultry in the music and in the co-vocal harmonies of Katie and Sarah. In band years, they're relatively young but you wouldn't know it by the musical force they present when on stage and live really is where the music lives. This track, "Turn Me On," is from their self-titled EP.

Crash Kings- "All Along"
Brothers Antonio and Michael Beliveau along with Jason Morris are the Crash Kings and one of the most uniquely crafted rock bands out there. Known for Tony's extraordinary vocal range and dynamics, as every note you hear on this song Tony easily hits live, Crash Kings are also famous (or 'infamous') for rocking just as hard as any guitar-driven band out there...but minus the guitar. Instead Tony plays a specially designed Clavinet tricked out with a whammy bar and a few other tweaks for distortion effects which he uses to replace guitar tones. Signed to Linda Perry's label, their 2009 debut album produced the hit single "Mountain Man" and they've toured with the likes of Jet, Chris Cornell, Rooney and Mason Jennings. It's been a few years but the boys are back: they launched a Kickstarter to fund their upcoming tour and album release: they met their goal in about 8 hours. Now their long awaited follow up release, Dark of the Daylight, is out and from it is "All Along."

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