Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blacklist @ Fortune Cookie Lounge

On a night of pouring rain and bleak summer chill, one of Blacklist's darkest, heaviest shows yet took place past midnight in the bowels of drag queen haven Lucky Cheng's. Facing a blue brick backdrop, bleeding red ceilings and cheap Chinese lanterns throwing pinpoints of light around the room, the band began with an improvised opening, backs to the audience. The mood had already been set by Lichens, a duo that relied on cello and extreme vocal emanations to conjure a cinematic atmosphere both turbulent and soothing, so it was eerily fitting Blacklist start this way.

Glenn Maryansky's spare drum line cut through the stagnant, wet air with ever increasing intensity as Josh Strawn played a warm, vibrato-heavy melody on top of James Minor's rhythmic, textured guitar and Ryan Rayhill's penetrating bass. Opening with "Julie Speaks," what followed was a set of fan favorites ("Shock in the Hotel Falcon," the Asylum Party cover, "Pure Joy In My Heart") and rarities ("Crucible" with that killer riff, "Civil War," which worships at the altar of Motorhead and Maiden, and "No Secret Islands," an epic, smoldering thrown down that had Minor manically drawing out distortion via butter knife). By the end, when the fog finally cleared, what remained was a feeling that we'd witnessed a 'show' in the truest sense of the word. Cohesive in its musical choices from beginning to end with the emotional underpinning of brooding passion more present than ever, Blacklist gave a taste of what could come. Fans and newcomers in the audience were vocal in agreement: it was quite the sonic showcase.

Check out the current issue of NME for coverage of Blacklist here, and catch the band if you can before they take over Deutschland in October...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Opposite Sex - Live And Burn EP

Washington D.C.'s The Opposite Sex have been a favorite since I first caught them at Trash Bar in early 2007. Live And Burn is their latest EP with diverse inspirations and dynamic execution, due for official release on September 1st.

Opening the record, “Frozen Heart/Frozen Mind” crashes to the fore with the punk raucousness and nihilistic abandon of early T.S.O.L. Dennis Kane‘s riffs are sharp, classic, and cut to the bone, while Shawn Helton‘s vocals rip into the track, building from thoughtful and expository to a feverish urgency punctuated with the swampy reverberations of minimal surf guitar. “Arctic tension hides/Stalking me inside/Standing still in ice…Becoming polarized” he sings, readying us for the frosty, anxiety-ridden lyrics that haunt the rest of the album. Whether pleading, damning, railing, or contemplating, Helton is capricious to the point that the listener is always held in infinite suspense, wondering how his vocals will drive the adroit musical transformations from moment to moment.

Continued HERE at The Big Takeover.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Seoul Fashion: Park Choon Moo

Walking through the ritzy 'Rodeo Street' of Seoul's Apgujeong district I discovered an antidote to the overwhelming sea of khaki, white, blue, or pink worn by a majority of the city's inhabitants. Park Choon Moo, president of the upscale designer's collective NWS (New Wave in Seoul), takes cues straight from the deconstructed depths of Comme des Garcons with the gutteral snarl of early Vivienne Westwood. As this shop only seemed to be an atelier, I didn't get a chance to try on any outfits whilst pretending I could afford them. Check out more from her Autumn/Winter collection from Seoul's 2008 Fashion week here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kimchibilly Festival @ Club DGBD (Seoul)

The 8th installment of an ongoing rockabilly fest. held at Club Drug in Seoul's 'East Village' area (Hongdae), featured three Korean bands (Rusty Belle, Gentle Slicks, The Rocktigers) and one old school Japanese band (Johnny Jokers). The monthly night is aptly named 'Kimchibilly' after the spicy bedrock of Korean cuisine, and what could be more foundational for RnR than the 2x4's of shake, rattle & roll? Anyways, I have some knowledge of Japanese rockabilly but none of Korean, so the night was a real learning experience. I got to see an array of takes on the genre while fearing a few local American servicemen who didn't take a liking to anyone in the crowd. No need for a few bad apples to spoil the bunch, however, so I'll say I enjoyed the variety of the audience's background apart from that. It really speaks to the wide appeal of the earliest form of RnR.

The energy was high from the start, despite differing levels of musical originality and spark from band to band. It was all topped off with a cherry when the night's main attraction, The Rocktigers, hit the stage. Singer/guitarist/hell cat Velvet Geena was a blonde pompadour'd powder keg, swiveling her hips and throwing in all the right machismo moves with the spry agility of a pretty young thing. Only catch is she seemed to be lip synching a few numbers, which was completely puzzling to me, but I bought the record and she does just fine singing for herself. Whatever the case may be, since it's ever so hard to find rockabilly that infuses something entirely new into the mix, 'music critic' in me aside, I was just happy to enjoy the excitement of the crowd, the greased up hair, and the upright bass acrobatics in the city setting of Seoul.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


How fitting to come across a New York Times article on a Korean vampire flick as I sit in Seoul. Director Park Chan-wook, best known for the much lauded Oldboy, has released a new vampire film, Thirst. It tells the tale of a priest who turns bloodsucker after a botched transfusion. Read more for Chan-wook's discussion of the concept of vampirism as "inherently part of a Western culture," and his aesthetic approach to blood.