Premiere: Sean Spada “Set Up to Self-Destruct” video

Premiere: Sean Spada “Set Up to Self-Destruct” video

Sean Spada “Set Up to Self- Destruct” (art by Tasha Lutek)

 

FTA is pleased to debut the next installment of the Sean Spada Doppleverse with the release of brand new single “Set Up to Self-Destruct,” which comes complete with a music video to accompany the tongue-in-cheek despairing nature of the track.

 

Directed by Nikki Belfiglio (of Bodega), the simple imagery of the video effectively captures the mood of one’s fated abject failure but still set on making the most of the hand that you’re dealt. The scene-for-one unfolds as a dapper Spada dons a cardboard party hat dodging darts and large looming green hands between bouts of casual juggling and blowing up balloons all by his lonesome. It’s unclear just how dire the situation may in fact be, but there is a real calming sincerity in the vocal delivery that makes you feel like even though you’re clearly fucked, everything is gonna be ok. Or maybe not, but what else can you do other than keep pushing forward?

 

The track itself expertly weaves in and out between piano-ballad and pop-rock, knowing just when to tuck in its tail and when to triumph. The struggle to keep pushing forward these days when you’re already stacked to lose is quite relatable, and Spada brings us these short moments of hope and positivity that often gets lost in the impossible situation of existing.

The track is part of Spada’s upcoming album, The Wild Ride, due out 10/7. Spada will play a release show the same day at Piano’s with support from Pete Donnelly Combo and Onesie. Tickets here. Watch the video below:

 

 

 

 

Sean Spada announces new album, shares first single “The Wild Ride”

Sean Spada announces new album, shares first single “The Wild Ride”

Sean Spada The Wild Ride (photo and design by Tasha Lutek)

 

Maybe you know him from Deathrow Tull. Maybe you’ve seen him on stage with The Bottom Dollars. Or maybe you’ve seen his name in the album liner notes of artists like Strange Majik, Aurelio Voltaire, Fiona Silver and Unkle Funkle. I’ve known him for years as the quirky and enigmatic piano man of Brooklyn legends, No Ice.

 

But however you know him, Sean Spada shuffles back into our hearts with a brand new teaser track “The Wild Ride,” the title track from his forthcoming album which he describes as a “melodic journey into the distracted mind,” and “a collection of eccentric, piano driven songs that examine life in an overwhelming, unreal reality”  

 

Sean Spada portrait

Sean Spada (photo by Michelle LoBianco)

 

Spada elaborated on his music saying it “evok[es] idiosyncratic songwriters such as Todd Rundgren and Harry Nilsson,” with songs that  “weave in and out of loungey grooves and off-kilter solos, incorporating Dr. John piano licks and narrative lyrics inspired by Randy Newman.”

 

You’ll have to wait until October 7th to hear the whole record, but in the meantime, we are happy to announce the album and give you the first listen to the lead off single today. If you love slightly spooky lounge vibes, this track delivers. Spada softly croons about a crazy trip that stretches the imagination sprawled over his dynamic tickling of the ivories. If you’ve ever half woken from a dream that’s just escaped your fingertips and you’re stuck somewhere between two realities and can’t seem to find your way back to either, well then you may have just taken your first steps on “The Wild Ride.” 

 

Listen to “The Wild Ride”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Premiere: Grampfather “666G”

Premiere: Grampfather “666G”

Grampfather 666G (art by Jake Offermann)

 

Nestled somewhere up the Hudson Valley between the Brooklyn-ex-pat hipster-adjacent village of New Paltz and the wealthy old hippie-art-kook community of Woodstock lies the former state capital, the quaint little town of Kingston NY. Once a major hub of Hudson River trade and travel for old New York, nowadays the sleepy little town is often forgotten by those of us forever buried in the hustle and bustle of NYC. However while many of us spend our days and nights drowning in the deep ends and graffiti’d overlaps of the NYC art communities, we often overlook some really great bands just a couple hours upstream.

 

Take Grampfather, the 4-piece rock band from Kingston who’s developed a varied musical styling over the years that takes on a category all its own. Hard to lay name to their genre, they blend layers of psychedelic elements with a garage pop twist, that goes down smooth with a carbonated sweet bubble aftertaste. Their new record 666G comes out Aug 19, and we have your exclusive first listen!

 

Grampfather performing

Grampfather (photo by Kiki Vassilakis)

 

My first impressions of the record was that it was concertedly more structured and had a tighter focus than their older material. While the band, comprised of James Kwapisz (vocals, guitar), Jake Offermann (bass), Tony DiMauro (drums), and Andrew Blot (lead guitar) had previously done well crafting hazy jamier tunes in the past, they seem to have really begun to hone in on their stronger elements on their latest releases. 

 

Right out the gate, opening track “Pawl Mawl Menthawls” immediately clues you in that this record will be taking a more angular and pointedly fun approach than we are used to from Grampfather. A little bit Modest Mouse and a little bit MGMT, it feels like riding your bike over the Williamsburg Bridge at dawn. The jangly guitar lines dance and bop perfectly over the bassline, and everything just pulls and soars right where it needs to before dropping you into the next track. 

 

The band however has not completely abandoned their 60s surf-style element for which they are known. While the cast and lineup of players may have changed hands and evolved over the years, founding member Kwapisz has always been able to carry through a consistent thread to their musical influence. For this reason 666G maintains a sound that falls somewhere between creature feature and spy picture, almost a Munsters meets Hawaii 5-0 crossover episode just in time to hit the waves.

 

Grampfather (photo by Paulie Tucci)

 

This being their second release of the year, (Gramppapies came out this past February) these tracks feel super fresh, and definitely lean a little more into those summer vibes as the lead single “Hot Dog Beach” with its hot n’ hazy grooves suggests. Not only can you hear the seagulls, but you can almost feel the sand between your toes and taste the salt in the air.

 

Listen to 666G below and download the album in full 8/19 on Bandcamp.

 

 

 

 

Kissed by an Animal- I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You

Kissed by an Animal- I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You

Kissed by an Animal I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You (art by Dima Drjuchin)

 

There are only a few bands I follow as closely and laud as loudly as I do Kissed by an Animal, comprised of Dima Drjuchin (guitar/vocals), Jon Daily (drums), Tsugumi Takashi (bass, vocals), and Hiro Williams (guitar, vocals). Over the years, our bands have played a lot of cool shows together, and we’ve gotten to know them as great people and friends. But also, they are just a really goddamn good band!

 

The quartet just released their second full length I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You on Handstand Records/EWEL Records, and it’s just as unapologetic as it sounds—though maybe not in the way you’d expect. As much Walkmen as they are Dead Milkmen, this time around the band seems to take a softer, cooler, more calculated approach to their post-punk stoner dream surf hybrid musicality. As Greg Barris writes in the band’s press release, this record is “is a love song from our present spirit to our past identity. Touching on the existential nature of living and growing older while existing in the body of your 20 year old self running through the streets of New York, invincible but not reckless. Past feeling like you don’t fit in, past finding your purpose, and entering the solid foundation of just being the most you you have ever been.”

 

 When you stack it up against their 2019 self tilted debut LP (with fuzz stomp hits like “Lemonade” “Floating Head” “The Good Times Are Here Again” and “In the Clouds”) first impressions suggest maybe the band dialed back the punk a little this go-round. I had thought maybe 2020’s bedroom EP Stoned Eagle (a beautiful piece of musical work in it’s own right and a haunting snapshot of inside Dima’s mind during the darker days of the pandemic) may have bled into and softened the edges of I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You. But when you actually line up these 2 masterpiece LPs side-by-side, you see that simply isn’t the case. KBAA somehow manages to expertly rearrange the same components, stretching gritty overdriven punk guitar over ethereal dream scapes in order to tell a whole new story this time around. It’s cut from the same cloth of the KBAA imagination; the only difference being where and how they punch the holes in the canvas.

 

Kissed By An Animal performing

Kissed by an Animal performing in 2021 (photo by Kate Hoos)

 

From the very start of its deep pocket bass/drum intro, the unassuming lead single “Be” immediately grabs you, hooking you in like an earworm even before Drjuchin’s quirky vocal inflection proceeds to burrow its way into the back of your brain. Both Drjuchin and Williams execute the guitar work with impressive technique. The attention to texture and tasteful interplay between the two is almost surgical in its delivery, both often playing far below their individual skill set to perfectly suit the needs of the song. Takashi’s picked basslines drive the entire operation with a thick clean melody that ties all the other lines together while anchoring it like bunches of bright balloons to the unbridled raw force that is Jon Daily behind the kit. 

 

The result here is by far greater than the sum of its parts, and the entire record tugs and pulls you between quick tempo drivers like “Songs About New York” and spacey cruise control coasters like “Lack of Plan and Attack,” it often switches those gears and pace literally mid tune. This is particularly impressive given the fact that almost every track on the record clocks in anywhere between a minute and a half and three minutes in length. 

 

Much like their live shows, where it often seems they deftly smash like 45 songs into a 30 minute set, I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You obviously follows a carefully laid road map leaving little room to breathe, though you never really notice because you’re already strapped in for the ride. And when it’s over, you wanna go again. 

 

Kissed By An Animal performing

Kissed by an Animal performing in 2021 (photo by Kate Hoos)

 

This LP (much like their last) tends to live on my turntable and spend a lot of time in my Spotify rotation. As a result the record grows with me and my favorite songs tend to change more often than I change socks. At the time of this writing, however, the powerfully haunting “Unicorn Baby” intro track trods with its percussive slam thudding over the “I don’t wanna die” vocal crescendo into a wash of cymbals and ringing guitars usually saved for the end of an LP or live set. It is an oddly effective and obvious fakeout into the up-tempo “Negative Joy” signaling we’ve officially strapped in for the ride.

 

I could write an entire other piece on the color explosion artwork that runs a direct line through every piece of the KBAA brand straight into Dima Drjuchin’s imagination. Also a visual artist his entire life, Drjuchin has mastered an extremely unique and recognizable style that can be seen all over NYC via countless show flyers and artwork for local musicians and around the world, having done art for musicians ranging from Father John Misty to Tool, The Flaming Lips and many more. So while the music grows out of the collaborative relationship between its four extremely gifted players, the visual component of the band has always been pure Dima Drjuchin. Both frantic and reflective at the same time, there is a meditative quality to its balance or maybe lack thereof. I personally purchased a stunning, rare and unique hand-painted test pressing of I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You from the band before its release, but then upon seeing the official finished artwork, I was completely compelled to buy another copy. It’s just that good.

 

Kissed by an Animal custom art

Kissed by an Animal custom art

Kissed by an Animal album artwork

 

The record, just like the title, and like the band itself is reflective and true to its core. Beyond pretension and without bullshit, this is a band that knows exactly who they are. There is a quiet confidence that connects these four friends, and that comes across in how they carry themselves as a band, as artists, and as people. They no longer feel the need to try and impress you with how hip and cool they are, but at the same time probably exude the most genuine gratitude when you appreciate the caliber of their work. And it’s really hard not to.

 

I Don’t Have to Explain Myself to You is out now via Handstand Records/EWEL Records and is available on all major streaming platforms.

 

 

 

95 Bulls- Go Home

95 Bulls- Go Home

95 Bulls Go Home (art by Danielle Otrakji)

 

Do you have 22 minutes and 31 seconds? That’s the total running time of 95 Bulls lo-fi rager debut LP Go Home which came out just in time for your next trip to the beach. An accidental Brooklyn supergroup formed from loose members of local acts (Ash Jesus, Smock, Bipolar, Jelly Kelly, and Mystery Lights), they came together in the darkest corners of 2020, because as the band says “they all wanted to make music for fun while their bandmates were scattered but after one meetup everyone decided it was best to write a record and get married.” The band quickly began turning heads with their tornado of livestreams and outdoor performances any time and anywhere they could gather their gear and a crowd. 

 

Pulling a crowd never seemed to be a problem for the band though, and very quickly they realized they were onto something, the “accidental turned purposeful,” according to the band. What ensued was an onslaught of singles, lots of cigarettes, power wheels, proms, and not very much basketball. Soon they were sharing stages with Wavves, Sheer Mag, Dirty Fences, and Sunflower Bean, playing venues like Bowery Ballroom and Bryant Park Summer Stage, and not to mention every hot show every time you turned your head in Brooklyn.

 

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing (photo by Kate Hoos)

 

Like a rusty buzzsaw dropped into an old grimy bathtub of reverb, 95 Bulls are like listening to The Von Zippers with a mouthful of quaaludes and pop rocks in equal measure. Often the main melody line focus bounces between vocals, and guitar riffs, and keys, almost hypnotically pulling your brain under its spell, erasing your memory and then punching you right in the face. Unarguably, Emily Ashenden (vocals) leads the charge with her Janis Joplin meets Mia Zapata style grit and growl, but if you’re a guitar nerd, guitarist Zach Inkley is probably the shredder that tickles all your soft spots. At its core, Zach Butler (drums) and Dom Bodo (bass) are lock-stepped into the rhythmic pocket forming the true spine of the operation. For me personally, however, it’s really Kayla Asbell (keys) that provides the band’s signature as it’s that organ that immediately clues you in that you are indeed hearing 95 Bulls usually even before Ashenden’s distinctive vocals start.

 

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing (photo by Kate Hoos)

 

At times satisfyingly frantic, the record is rife with killer freakout tracks like “Crazy” and “Trichotillomania.” But for every song that has you gladly tearing out all your body hair and pow-pow-power wheeling yourself to the nearest bodega to slam a Red Bull and a bag of chips, the band birthed from beneath the bowels of popular live music spot Our Wicked Lady also delivers one like “Your Dad’s Watch” that explores darker grooves and heavier elements, leaving you lyrically a little terrified. 

 

However, what this old punk rocker probably finds most impressive lies in the jammier loopier tracks like “Young Love” and “Red Nails.” Despite leaning hard here into a sonic area that can easily tread into boring and unremarkable repetitive jam band territory, 95 Bulls somehow sidesteps this entirely by creating a sense of urgency and purpose, clocking even their jam songs all in well under three minutes.

 

Go Home is an impressively solid debut from a band that was never supposed to happen. This Brooklyn ensemble of lovable misfits found themselves a musical conduit for their creative reservoirs and found each other when there was no outlet for live music. The songs themselves seek to connect rather than isolate. In these strange times, 95 Bulls doesn’t ignore the heaviness around them, but at the same time they find a way to embrace having fun amidst the madness. And we can certainly all use more of that. 

 

Go Home was self released and is available on all major streaming platforms. Catch the band Aug 10th at Market Hotel with Namesake and LA Witch.

 

Scroll down for pics from the release show for Go Home (photos by Kate Hoos)

 

 

95 BULLS

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing

95 Bulls performing