Hinds/Other Music/January 5, 2016
Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote were recovering from broken relationships with musician ex-boyfriends in 2009 when they decided to bounce back by forming a band. Perrote knew a few guitar chords and Cosials did not know how to play anything. In 2011, they started performing as a two-guitar duo named Deers, based out of their native, Madrid, Spain. By 2013, they added bassist Ade Martín and Netherlands-born drummer Amber Grimbergen. They learned that the name Deers was already taken, so the band was renamed Hinds (female deer). Hinds release a debut album, Leave Me Alone, on January 8, 2016.
Who could not be charmed by pretty young women with thick Spanish accents? Performing at the Other Music record store, Hinds performed a lo-fi garage pop set that was equal parts indie and bubble gum. Starting with “Fat Calmed Kiddos” from the new album, Cosials and Perrote traded sweetly squeaking vocals to jangly guitar chords. Giggling frequently between songs, the musicians played lighthearted, upbeat songs. These sunny songs included a cover of Thee Headcoats’ “Davey Crockett,” which featured gang vocals on the chorus. Hinds will likely gain a wide audience of youth and the young at heart.
Enforcer/Gramercy Theatre/January 5, 2016
Heavy metal band Enforcer formed in 2004 in Arvika, a small and remote town in Sweden. Enforcer joined the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWOTHM), a growing movement of young bands that are rooted in 1980s-sounding metal. After four studio albums, Enforcer’s most recent product is a Live By Fire DVD, released on November 20, 2015, which contains footage of a 2013 concert in Tokyo, Japan, and a Live By Fire CD with recordings from a performance in Athens, Greece. Enforcer presently consists of one remaining original member, vocalist/guitarist Olof Wikstrand, with guitarist Joseph Tholl, bassist Tobias Lindqvist, and drummer Jonas Wikstrand.
Headlining at the Gramercy Theatre, Enforcer brought a colorful mix of rawness and polish to old-fashioned speed metal. While the songs featured ripping guitar riffs and a thunderous rhythm section, they also leaned on the cleaner side with slick arrangements, strong melodies, and powerful vocals. Bare chested, blond-haired and mascara-eyed, Olof Wikstrand looked suited to join Poison, but coupled with a headbanging band, proved he was a metalhead. Time will tell if a larger audience will be looking to revisit old-school sounds with Enforcer.
Syd Straw/HiFi Bar/January 6, 2016
Syd Straw was born to actor parents in Vermont; her father, Jack Straw, is best known for starring in the 1957 musical film The Pajama Game. The parents divorced, and in 1969 Syd moved with her mother to Los Angeles, California. Syd sang in her high school choir, but bombed her SATs, so after high school, she relocated to New York in 1978, where she landed a gig singing backup for a then-promising Pat Benatar. From 1984 to 1987, Straw sang in the experimental group Golden Palominos, which enjoyed a cult following. She released her debut solo album in 1989, but continued singing on the albums of other artists and acted in recurring roles on television. After relocations to Athens, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois, Straw presently lives in Weston, Vermont. Her fourth and most recent album is 2008’s Pink Velour.
Brownie’s was a premier indie music club in the 1990s; the owners later renamed it the HiFi Bar and in 2014 began booking live acts again. Although little publicized, Syd Straw’s performances there have been drawing full houses. Accompanied by her guitar, guitarist Don Piper and a violinist, Straw sang confessional songs about love and loss. The singer-songwriter drew a bit from folk, country and blues traditions, but mostly her set was all about joining her expressive writing to a simple melody. Straw sang with a mature yet unpolished voice that made her lyrical ruminations that much more human and common. The music was soft and somber, but Straw also has a quick wit, and generated frequent chuckles from the audience between songs with her improvised quips and anecdotes. Straw is little known to the masses, but she can tell or sing a story like the best.
Orgy/Gramercy Theatre/January 7, 2016
Orgy was born in 1994 within the goth music scene in Los Angeles, California, and was discovered and promoted by Jonathan Davis of Korn. Orgy’s 1998 debut album hit based on a cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday.” After three albums, however, Orgy went on hiatus in 2004 while members worked on side projects. In 2011, vocalist Jay Gordon sought new musicians in order to revive the brand. The current lineup is comprised of Gordon, lead guitarist Carlton Bost, rhythm guitarist Creighton Emrick, bassist Nic Speck, and drummer Bobby Amaro. Orgy’s most recent album is 2004’s Punk Statik Paranoia; an EP, Talk Sick, was released on March 23, 2015.
Neighborhood residents may have been puzzled by the marquee at the Gramercy Theatre, which read simply “Orgy Thursday.” Inside the venue, however, the rock quintet only alluded to a sex party through veiled lyrics and gestures. Orgy performed five of the seven songs from the recent EP, plus eight songs from the band’s first two albums. Gordon sang, played the showman and energized the audience. While Gordon paced the stage incessantly and enthused the audience to raise hands and sing along, his own vocal ability proved to be encased within a limited range and tonality, suited better for rap than singing. The richness of the concert was in the marriage of musical sounds, particularly alternative metal, nu metal and best of all, its industrial references.
The Skins/Irving Plaza/January 7, 2016
Three siblings from Brooklyn, New York, along with two of their guitar-playing schoolmates from New York’s School of Rock, formed The Skins following a series of jam sessions in 2012. Bayli (vocals), Kaya (bass) and Reef (drums) McKeithan, along with guitarists Daisy Spencer and Russell Chell, were all under 21 years old at the time. Nevertheless, the band performed in local music venues, then graduated to touring and playing at summer festivals. The band’s one release so far is a 2012 self-titled EP.
At Irving Plaza, The Skins forged soulful vocals and pop melodies with hard rock instrumentation. The funk-based rhythm section dug a groove and the guitars ripped and soared. The hard, driving songs were tempered by Bayli’s simmering vocal approach, which slyly lent the songs a vibrant, sexy persona. The band was electric, but Bayli was the lightning. The five musicians may be youngsters, but The Skins rocked with alarming maturity.