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Indie Rock

Band name: 
O. Wake
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
Venue name: 
Mercury Lounge
Band email: 

Monarch do some housekeeping on "No Vacancy" and turn up a stash of tasty licks and inner strength

Mixing jazz and rock is never an easy prospect. For every blazing Birds of Fire style powerhouse there’s at least a dozen tepid Jazz Odysseys. And for every sleek, sophisticated Aja there’s hundreds of schmaltzy smooth-jazz/soft-rock hybrids pumped directly into the dentists’ and orthodontists’ offices of this great nation. But here at DeliCorp we’re not afraid of tasty licks nor extended chords. And don’t even get us started on syncopated bass lines favoring non-triadic embellishing tones over more quotidian root notes...

…and the Hudson-Valley-by-way-of-Brooklyn musical quartet Monarch (est. 2021) clearly aren’t afraid either as demonstrated on their latest single, “No Vacancy” (recorded live in one take!) which seemingly (but surely not in reality!) effortlessly walks the line between emotional resonance and technical dexterity with Sarah Hartstein’s alternately silky 'n' gritty vocals adding a layer of coy come-hither-but-keep-your-distance bluesy sensuality that’s likely to bring to mind Carroll Baker’s titular vestal vamp in the 1956 succès de scandale Baby Doll for all those fans of mid-century cinema out there

…and if you play the track back-to-back with the band's preceding EP Sweet Little Things it’ll feel like the glory days of 2002-03 all over again with Come Away With Me and Belly of the Sun and Frank hitting the CD racks in quick succession seeing as Monarch pulls off a similar stylistic balancing act as these records where musical chops don’t preclude the ability to write a solid pop hook (“out of sight / out of mind…”, for instance) with “pop” as the leavening agent that keeps the other musical ingredients from getting too puffed up and overwhelming the recipe...

…while also setting those ingredients in sharper relief which helps explain why the instrumental components of “No Vacancy” pop like they do such as in the rhythm section interplay between Alex Alfaro (drums) and Jesse Hartstein (bass) locked in like the gears and springs of an intricate antique clock and then there’s the guitar wizardry of Nick Pappalardo moving fluently from jazzy comping to playful interplay with Sarah’s vocals to solos juxtaposing the tastiest of tasty licks with flamenco-like strumming at one point not to mention the groovy ambient-flavored guitar work heard on the song's instrumental prelude “Melomanie"...

…and all this talk of perfect balancing acts is pretty apropos to the lyrical theme of “No Vacancy” which is all about finding balance in one’s life and maintaining interpersonal autonomy in the face of another party who’s alluring enough to be described as one-of-a-kind and the personal vicissitudes induced (“I know it seems like / I’ve got myself together / but I promise that / changes like the weather”) or as Sarah herself puts it: “[the song] captures the essence of a person's fear of letting anyone else into their life…explor[ing] the importance of self-preservation and the need to prioritize one's own mental and emotional well-being...no matter the temptation"...

..and when you really think about it [pause] relationships are a lot like jazz-pop-rock fusion songs ammirite cuz for one thing there’s gotta be an initial spark with any new romance and that’s the pop-style sweetness that lures you in but in any relationship there’s also power dynamics that develop over time whether you like it or not and that’s the rock side of things and then there’s always plenty of improvisation (figuring it out as you go, experimenting, etc.) that has to happen between partners too to make any form of coupling or thrupling or whatever work in the long-run, or heck even the short-run, and that’s the jazz side of relationships obviously so go check out “No Vacancy” and listen and learn… (Jason Lee)


This Thursday: The Gig Economy Survival Society welcomes you to our first event

It’s like ray-eeeee-aiiin on your weddiiiiing day. Or a freeeee riii-eeeee-ide when you've alreeeady paid. And isn’t it ironic? Don’t’cha think?

…and isn’t it also ironic how the more DIY you are as a musician (whether by choice or by circumstance) the more you’re sure to need a support system on your side as in a fellow community of musicians and music enablers to help with “doing it yourself" seeing as there's no major label A&R or publicists or stylists etc. to help you with “doing it”…

…which is exactly why the DELI is coming to Bar Freda this coming Thursday (on 4/20, bring your buds!) to co-host a confab at the Ridgewood, Queens venue (take the M train to Seneca Ave. or the L to Myrtle-Wykoff) starting at 6pm for all you DIYers out there looking to form a support system of other DIYers and DIY-curious types...

…cuz let’s face it, it was musicians who invented the gig economy—a term now used as a catchall for any and all forms of employment where little things like “job security” and “health insurance” are a thing of the past, but on the other hand where there’s a enviable level of flexibility and independence—so surely it's musicians who should be on the cutting edge of gig economy logistics and economics and challenges and opportunities...

…which brings us to the upcoming inaugural meeting of what we’re calling The Gig Economy Survival Society or The Gig Economy Support Society (GESS for short) which’ll be a regular monthly meetup that's all about supporting one another and surviving and thriving in the New York City gig economy of 2023 and beyond by sharing anecdotes and advice, imparting knowledge, and making connections with musical peers who may be able to help out (plus musical peers you may be able to help out) with the first meeting being a meet-and-greet and brainstorming session as a prelude to future sessions on more specific topics and don't worry the initiation into GESS won't be too severe...

…specific topics such as finding the right producer/engineer/mixer for your record, best approaches to music streaming, booking shows and showing bookers your stuff, managing social media, looking for a manager, making a press pack and finding optimal outlets for publicity, working with visual artists and photographers, pros and cons of licensing your music, self-care and mental health challenges of being an independent musician, building online communities via Patreon/Instagram/OnlyFans and other online platforms, and last-but-not-least dealing with shifty, highly unreliable music bloggers plus no doubt lots of other topics that get suggested by y’all this Thursday or thereafter…

… and you’d better bet we’ll have relevant guest speakers on hand at future GESS meetups to address these topics and more plus complimentary snacks and/or drink specials to help further entice your starving-artist ass (“came for the pigs-in-a-blanket, stayed to learn how to build a sustainable music career”) so come and say hey this Thursday and consider youself a founding member of The Gig Economy Survival Society or The Gig Economy Support Society… (Jason Lee)

"The End of the Music Business" -- Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus (The Nation)
"10 Lessons from the Music Industry on How To Rise Up in the Gig Economy" -- Garrison Leykan of London Records (Forbes)
"The Gig Economy Is Nothing New For Musicians--Here's What Their 'Portfolio Careers" Can Teach Us" -- Alana Blackburn of the University of New England (The Conversation)



DELIVISION: Whenwolves drop Sisyphean new clip for "Chin Up" (exclusive debut)

Photo by Michelle LoBianco

The opening track to Whenwolves’ debut EP Recon For The Weirdos, “Chin Up” gets off to a striking start with a rubbery slo-mo lugubrious groove that doesn’t exactly say “chin up” to this listener but then again that’s kinda the point we’re guessing since this is a song about “about stretching your comfort zone when there is so much pressure not to” so we’re talkin’ your basic stubborn-determination-meets-anxious-paranoia kind of vibe here as in “Chin up! / the walls are watching us”…

…and you can sense the heady mix of hesitation, tension, and anticipation in the music itself with its blunted punchdrunk strut eventually building up a nice head of steam before winding down like a wobbly top with a lyrical refrain (“push / push / push beyond the / groove / the optics haunt / my every move”) that makes me think of someone cheering on Sisyphus as he rolls that damn bolder up and down and up and down the hill again…

…and now there’s a music video for “Chin Up” to help you feel this heady brew even more pungently and if the vid doesn’t show up soon on MTV’s “Spainkin’ New” channel (a channel, or stream, or whatever, that popped up on my Sling menu not too long ago and who even knew MTV still had a sub-sub-sub channel that still shows music videos?!?) I’l be terribly disappointed…

…cuz I could see it slotting nicely between Natalie Carr’s “Wasted Potential’ (“I’m high on all my waited potential / My future is unincidental”) and Jordan Ward’s “Bussdown” (“still I keep thinking 'bout / four or five years from now / and how all this will pan out”) which are the two most recent videos played on the station as I’m writing this cuz “Chin Up” has a similarly "f*ck it, let’s give this a try" vibe but see what you think...

…and when it comes to the music video itself (a DELI debut!) you got Whenwolves’ lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Bobby Lewis laboriously pushing a stalled car up an empty street in what looks like industrial Brooklyn (with a couple bandmates inside, natch) until suddenly arriving at a downhill incline and as the vehicle careens down the block Bobby chases after looking distressed in his Columbo-style overcoat but hey at least his bandmates are having a grand ol’ time inside and I’ll leave it up to you to interpret the ending (video at top of page)…

…but who are these mysterious bandmates you may ask and in response we’re happy to report with some assurance that they’re Kelsey Rodriguez (keyboards and backing vox) and Bobby’s very own brother Billy on bass

…and on a final note I’m always happy when a song expands my vocabulary and “Chin Up” has done just that with a line that appears mid-song (“refract / contrast the Vantablack”) and as it turns out Vantablack “is a brand name for a class of super coatings…claimed to be the ‘world's darkest material’ absorbing up to 99.965% of visible light measured perpendicular to the material” so in other words we're talkin' none more black which is pretty fitting for “Chin Up” luminous dark thing that it is… (Jason Lee)

Whenwolves celebrate their new music video and recent EP release at Our Wicked Lady tomorrow night (4/14)…



Band name: 
Virginia Marcs
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
Venue name: 
New Old Rock Deli
Band email: 

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