The sound and the fury. Filtered through flange and fire.
I know this timbre. Its echoes underpin the foundations of my personal soundtrack. Bands like Black Flag, the Ramones, and The Sex Pistols may have held my trembling hands as I dallied in the baptismal waters of adolescence. But I was born again through New Wave. It was Post-Punk that saved my immortal soul, and at the forefront was young Sad Robert. The high priest of Goth Pop.
Had you taken a moment to interrupt whatever smackdown I was receiving at the hands of the football team back in 1985 to inform me that the Cure was in fact destined to become the Velvet Underground of their decade? That they would in turn go on to become one of the most influential bands of their time? Infusing generations of disaffected youth with a desire to stand in line at Guitar Center and purchase a decently outfitted delay pedal? I’d have shaken my head at you, utterly bewildered. ‘No one but us likes the Cure,’ intones my thirteen year old self. ‘People beat you up if you like the Cure.’
Yet here I am. Thirty years later. Sitting in at the Thank You Gallery. Listening as Surf Rock is Dead summons the shade of the sound of my youth. Proceeding to perform wholly unnatural acts upon it.
And I am loving every second.
Surf Rock is Dead
Hailing from Brooklyn by way of Australia and Chicago, Surf Rock is Dead has very little to do with Link Wray or Dick Dale — instead choosing to settle on a song construction highly reminiscent of the Cure’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me era – especially with Joel Wittenberg channeling the off kilter approach of Simon Gallup’s driving basslines.
Guitarist Kevin Pariso chimes in:
“Sure, the Cure is an influence. Definitely. I guess that comes from the guitar and the layered effects. Plus the way we just riff around and everything. Some Shoegaze elements. New Wave and Post-Punk. We did our first song back in January, 2015. Been together for about a year and a half. We’re working on an EP now to release soon. Looking for a label. You know how it is.”
Their set was high energy and the music is lushly gorgeous. This is a solid band that I look forward to hearing more from.
Verdict: If you love “Just like Heaven,” buy this record when it’s out.
From right around the corner in Virginia Beach, You’re Jovian is the brainchild of Elliott Malvas. Malvas takes a decidedly blue collar, workman-like approach to getting his music out there. He eschews Kickstarter campaigns in favor of self funding, with an eye towards attracting the support of a small label down the line.
We chatted some about the in-progress album:
“Everything is pretty much done with the new record at this point. I sent one of my songs, “Pieces,” off to Jeff Zeigler. He’s gonna mix those. Once that’s done I need to get it mastered. I’d like to find a label to give it a proper release. Someone who’s willing to help cover some of the cost. Book a tour around it.”
“I’m hoping by playing shows.. Traveling more. Hopefully? We can build some momentum. I want to see it go to wax. We’ve got a newish drummer now. Tonight was a great show. We have a tour coming up with New Boss, who put a record out with Warhen Records. In October. That should be a lot of fun.”
Malvas is a local gem, to be frank. A bit older than some of the scene, he’s guided by a singular vision. His music is complex and thoughtful. More attention should be paid to what he’s doing, and I hope he can find a bit of support with this effort. If You’re Jovian is on the bill in a venue near you, you should check him out.
Verdict: If you dug “Seventeen Seconds” but wish Robert had skipped straight on to “Pornography or “Disintegration?” This band will haunt your dreams. Look for this album. Pester Elliot about it if you see him. Encourage the man to get this released.
The leader of this group is a homegrown hero who left town before I started paying attention to local music again. I hear he lived in spitting distance of the NARO once. Now he’s tearing it up in Philadelphia, but the buzz reached down here to prod me to check this show out.
Suburban Living is kind of like what would have happened if the Cure had waited to record “Japanese Whispers” until they were ready to produce “Wish.” Except that Wesley Bunch comes off as a far more inherently decent sorta fellow than Robert Smith ever was. There’s trade-offs that come with this, of course: At the height of the Cure’s creative power, Smith exuded a tinge of a prickish side that I don’t believe Bunch will ever succumb to — but despite that, or even because of it? This group gets right up in your face with a joyous, raucous vibe that does much to move Post-Punk into a new era.
After watching him work the merch line industriously for a good twenty minutes, I chatted Wesley up on how it feels to back in the area:
“It’s awesome to come home. We’ve been on tour for five days. We’ve got a record coming out in the Fall. A new record coming out. We just signed with 6131 Records. Based in Richmond. They’ve been really supportive. They’ve put out some good stuff by Julian Baker.. Culture Abuse. They’ve been really supportive. Philly has been amazing. I live in Fishtown. Northeast Philly. It’s a great scene there. A ton of really great musicians.”
“I like to think of us as.. You know, I wouldn’t stray from the Cure comparison. “Wish” is my favorite Cure album. But I like to think of us as louder, maybe.. Shoegaz-ier. Happier. We’ll be back next year.. I try not to overplay the hometown vibe. Make it an event when we come back. But I love Norfolk. And I’m thankful when the city comes out for us.”
There’s more to Suburban Living’s sound than just New-Wave. I hear strains of Mazzy Star. Maybe a bit of Modern English or the Vapors. Bunch weaves a dense, provocative sound that gives me hope for the future of pop.
Verdict: This is a group that’s going somewhere. And I hope other musicians pay attention and follow. Definitely putting this upcoming record on my wish-list.
Sadly I missed WIng Dam, arriving later in the evening. I’ll make it a point to seek them out soon.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this venue. I spoke with one of the owners of the Thank You Gallery, Eric Wiggins, who promises more shows and lauded an upcoming photography exhibit with a shootist from Los Angeles slated to show. The gallery has a decidedly DIY vibe, and is exactly the kind of place I like to see pop up around town. I look forward to watching them as they establish themselves in the neighborhood.
Josh Coplan continues to impress, in this case working with Elliot Malvas (who booked these bands) to promote some great music and keep the LAVAFest buzz going while he prepares for 2017. Up next for him will be a show headlined by Of Montreal at Work Release, as well as a show he’s putting together featuring DJP and Mr. T at the Chrysler Museum for the upcoming NEON Festival.
Listening Woman / Wandcarver / Thera Roya / Daikini
Weds. Aug 30th. 8PM.
@ The Thank You Gallery.
DIY experimental punk.
$5 Suggested DONATION for touring band. Link.
Horse Lords // The Simple Pleasure // Bantusta
Thurs. Sept 1st.
Charlie’s American Cafe in Riverview
$5 Presale / $7 at the door.
Sat. Sept 3rd.
@ the Norfolk Taphouse.
Fuzzed out Blues.
$5 Cover. Link.
of Montreal / Ruby The Rabbitfoot
Mon. Sept 5th. 7PM.
@ Work Release.
King Missile meets Post-Punk Math Pop?
$20 Tickets / $24 Day of show. Link.
That’s it kids. If the Zombie apocalypse happens before I see you next, try not to shoot me in the head.