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Indie Rock

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Rockwood Music Hall
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Abbie From Mars proves she's really from Mars on "My Second Debut Album"

photo by Dari Malax

In light of the long history of Earthbound musicians who've claimed to be from outer space or possessed by aliens or made records role-playing as bisexual aliens and bisexual androids I wouldn't blame you for being skeptical about Abbie From Mars being from, you know, Mars, but I believe it. Abbie’s latest record My Second Debut Album has convinced me, and not only because she often sounds like a space alien trying to make “human” music with a “human” sounding voice and not always succeeding at it and thank goodness for that.

Because if you’re a Martian living on Earth and who hasn't subjugated the entire planet or blown it to smithereens yet then you’re probably here to do two things—to pass as human and to study humanity—so it makes sense the first track off My Second Debut Album, “Following Your Lead,” is about exactly these things (“you do the things I wanna do / so I made off with several tricks from you”) a song about aspiring to mimic Earthlings ("I'm watching all the ways that I act more like you / you said I get to to be an asshole someday too") as a means of participant-observation data collection.

Clues also abound in the music of “Following Your Lead” which opens with a synthesized five-note melodic motif (anyone ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind???) played over a syncopated beat and bass line to appeal to human ears and asses before dropping in some glitchy Martian riffs over the second verse with the ends result being a groovy interplanetary musical fusion.

The following track “Kittens Will Bite” shares some of Abbie From Mars’s research findings (“don’t touch the kittens / the kittens will bite”) and describes some of the difficulties in adapting to a carbon-based mammalian physical form (“I am trying to exhale but / you’re still touching me”) once again accompanied by glitchy electronics and butt-shaking rhythms with a nice fat funky guitar line provided Worst Sumo aka Andy Ciardella (more Martian collaborators!)

And speaking of butt-shaking rhythms, Abbie has developed a greater appreciation on this album for the art of the groove compared to her first album, Quick Universe Leap, which overall leaned more towards stuttering difficult-to-dance-to rhythms and sometimes no beats whatsoever (maybe that’s why the second debut is framed as a "do-over" that’s more avant-pop than pure sound art) but on the new one you get plenty of propulsive stripped-down grooves alongside the more experimental moments:

Abbie: “Oh oh oh. Oh boy. I love rhythms. I love percussion. Can you tell from this album that I’m a tap dancer? This song has a lot to do with breathing. I like to think the drums evoke a pounding heartbeat, or something. Rhythms and addictive. They’re easy to fall into, hard to leave.” 

And no I didn’t steal Ms. Mars’ field notes for the quote above but rather it came from her official Album Release Experience event held at the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church’s Stone Circle Theater and who else but a Martian would hold an avant-pop LP release party at a church tucked away in residential Queens although it’s true they’ve got some great programming at the theater like the Afrofuturist science fiction ensemble Organic Sounds of the Black Mind held over this past weekend which makes me think maybe the entire church is in reality a Martian temple (these Martians are everywhere!)

And here’s the other relevant thing to know is that the My Second Debut Album launch event was also an exercise in Martian data collection with attendees given a small booklet and a pen upon entering with the booklet containing not only track-by-track liner notes (very cool) but also research queries relating to each of the 12 tracks with blank spaces left to write in responses with queries including:

What’s the last dream you achieved—and thus lost?” “Please list a bunch of cool things you want to do over the next several weekends!! Weekends are extraordinary useful!” “There’s a thing you want; there’s something in the way. What do you do? How do you interact with that barrier?” “What’s the last sabotage you performed, and what did you do it for?” “What makes sex with you totally unique from sex with another person?” 

Head on over to the Deli’s IG page at @thedelimag for a full reproduction of the liner notes and audience queries if you're so inclined (hey, if they study us, we can study them!) but either way I'd say you can rest assured it’s mostly pretty benign stuff so we’re hopefully talking about more a gentle ET type vs. that nasty thing from The Thing so that’s good news for humanity at least (we could use some!) for however long Abbie's still hanging out on Earth and saving up to buy a new booster rocket during these tough inflationary times. 

And what’s more, we’re talking about a tap dancing Martian here and how many evil tap dancing aliens can you name? In the liner notes for “Tap Dance Interlude” (track 11) Abbie From Mars notes that “Ayn Rand (lol) wrote that tap dance ‘cannot express tragedy or pain or fear or guilt; all it can express is gaiety and every shade of emotion pertaining to the joy of living’” and indeed it’s a joy watching Abbie break out into a little soft-shoe during her live performances, deftly weaving her amplified dance moves into the rhythmic textures of the music, and you may be tempted to do the same.

And when you think about how any Martian planning to visit Earth must get to choose and/or design their own Earthling suit, could it be a coincidence that Abbie herself somewhat resembles 20th-century tap dancing legend Eleanor Powell who starred in a clutch of classic MGM musicals. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Martians in general consider Ms. Powell to be one of the more highly evolved exemplars of our entire species, especially compared with this devo-lutionary era, and plus tap dancing must hold a certain fascination for residents of Mars due to its gaseous surfaces and lack of music and Martians’ own lack of external limbs.

So here's hoping Abbie From Mars hangs out on this planet a while longer and writes, records, and produces a third debut album (btw this second debut album had a little mixing advisement courtesy of one Coff E. Nap, another obvious Martian pseudonym, but was otherwise entirely performed, produced, and mixed by our lead alien)...

...because not only does Abbie make some cool off-kilter songs, but she’s also a DJ who hosts a weekly three-hour radio show called Radioactivity at midnight every Saturday night on Jersey City’s WFMU—aka the “freeform station of the nation” aka the best radio station on Planet Earth—a show where Abbie not infrequently forgets to attempt to sound human which makes for interesting DJ segments, not to mention all the otherworldly music and other assorted hazy cosmic jive she sends out over the airwaves and into deep space no doubt for the benefit of her interplanetary brethren. (Jason Lee)



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RC Andrés
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Countdown: Top Five Song Intros Of All Time Or Maybe Just This Week

photo by Ada Chen

Song intros! You’ve likely heard of them! Did you know one estimate says that roughly 92.7% of songs actually begin with “an intro”? It sounds fucking mental, I know, but it’s true! And as any motivational speaker will tell you...you only get one chance to make a first impression! That is, unless you have a rag soaked in chloroform handy! But most people don’t! Or shouldn’t! So yes! Song intros!

Bearing all those exclamation points above in mind this column is hereby dedicated to the "Top 5 Song Intros" from the past week, or month, or year, as a means of promoting Greater Song Introduction Awareness before it's too late. So now with no further ado…

05) Kissed By An Animal “Be”

First off, any song that starts off with a certain mid-tempo bass drum and snare rhythm (you know the one!) as in the one that makes you think you’re about to hear Joan Jett’s “Do Ya Wanna Touch Me” automatically makes the Top 5. And that’s not to dunk on Kissed By An Animal either because this is a cool song otherwise too—cool enough that I’m not even mad when it doesn’t turn into “Do You Wanna Touch Me”—with an intro that builds layer by layer with bass and guitar and the whole thing is a fun rock ’n’ roll journey. “So” can be heard on I Don’t Have To Explain Myself To You, an album released exactly a week ago.

And hey I don’t wanna dwell on Joan Jett too much here but if you'll humor me just compare the two versions of “DYWTM” below and tell me the Top Of The Pops version isn’t much superior to the "official" music video because the video makers had the nerve to lop off the iconic drum intro part which completely ruins the whole thing I mean wtf were they thinking?! (but at least this nicely illustrates my argument re: song intro importance…)

04) Joudy: “El Renacer”

This New York-via-Venezuela three-piece has the right idea on their single “El Renacer” (released a few weeks ago aka “The Rebirth” if you're a gringo) thrusting the listener directly into the most pit in medias res (Latin for “throw the baby into the deep end”) with the thrashing triplet guitar that's actually the chorus to the song so you see how Joudy pulled a “She Loves You” on us except of course it’s an instrumental version of the chorus here.

Joudy recently signed with Trash Casual which is a pretty groovy record label so good on them. And take it from me, these gents are totally sick on stage so wear a mask if you "catch" them tonight (7/15) at Arlene Grocery

03) Monarch “The Risk” 

Ok, you seriously didn’t believe you'd get through this list without any wind chimes did you? HELL NO! But wind chimes are in short supply these days in Brooklyn thanks to the global supply chain crisis so it's lucky that the instrument/patio decoration is native to Hudson Valley which means we get this charming track by Monarch who return to play NYC on 8/26 at Pianos

“The Risk” opens on a sustained guitar chord and a swell of everything else (including wind chimes!) and yeah I know this intro may only last for three seconds but that’s what makes it work—it wipes the sonic slate clean with a quick smear of sound before launching into a “Blue Moon progression with vocalist Sarah Hartstein sweetly intones some linesw about the night sky and the mysterious interconnectedness of the universe. Also, check out the soaring choruses and a very active bassline played by Jesse Hartstein.

02) Pan Arcadia: “Leaving Paradise”

Released last week or thereabouts, this is what’s known in the industry as a “statement song.” And as for the six rapscallions who make up Pan Arcadia they’re here to tell us they wanna rock and dammit if I believe ‘em because this song slaps. Which isn't to say these six gents haven't always rocked, but this is a more raucous affair than they’ve committed to tape before (live I've seen 'em rock to this level maybe but that's another story) and they assert this new rockatude right from the first microsecond of the intro (crucial!) which opens with a peal of feedback and a gliss down the guitar neck and then a Crue-worthy riff and a Who-worthy power chord/feral scream and would somebody please remind me when they’re leaving for the tour with Aerosmith again?

In the meantime, Pan Arcadia will appear at Bowery Ballroom tonight (7/15) opening for Quarters of Change. Apparently it’s a mostly if not entirely sold out show but a small clutch of tickets will reportedly be released at the door early this evening. Plus rumor has it they’re been cosying up with a former Rolling Stone editor lately so here’s hoping they remember the little people when they hit it big.

01) Johnny Dynamite & The Bloodsuckers “The Last Ones”

“The Last Ones” has been billed as being for fans of The Cure, M83, A Flock of Seagulls, and MGMT. And if you’re bold enough to propose such an esteemed musical familiy tree then you better get your song intro game on point son and boy did Mr. Dynamite nail it on his new single released just yesterday called "The Last Ones".

And when it comes to this particular musical demi-monde it's the achievement of the perfect chiming, twinkling, crystalline reverb-laden guitar arpeggiation tone and texture that's absolutely crucial if you even plan to aspire to be in a band with a fighting chance of getting a song placed on Stranger Things Season 5 and peeping the music video above for “The Last Ones” with its neon hues, pretty young things and graphic bloodletting makes me think this was maybe Johnny’s plan all along—a plan that now seems entirely plausible after hearing “The Last Ones.”

And yes it’s true that JD&TBS have already nailed the arpeggiated guitar intro once before with “Can’t Stop My Love” with its well-honed admixture of acoustic guitar and electric bass but still I think the new intro potentially nails it even more (even if it’s shorter) because it sounds like a glass menagerie in sound and more Cure-esque to boot, especially vis-a-vis the guitar line in the intro to The Cure's relative obscurity “To The Sky” or at least to my ears (don’t worry Johnny, I won’t sic Robert’s lawyers on ya!) and truly I could write a whole ‘nother article on Cure song intros because well I mean many of their song “intros” are more lengthy than the actual "song" (i.e., vocal) portions of thee songs themselves and just go listen to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me if you don’t believe me. Song intros!! (Jason Lee)

The Cure long intro: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheCure/comments/ib0m76/what_is_the_best_super_long_intro_to_a_cure_song/

TO THE SKY: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/By7QW2_7dh4" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Alt Pop

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The Bowrey Ballroom
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