In 2006 I made the trip to Ontario to go interview one of my favorite bands at the time, Sleeper Set Sail. This interview was part of my Ph.D. research looking at how punk/indie/emo/hardcore record labels influenced the content of the music/lyrics/packaging on records they release. Sleeper Set Sail was on Sonic Unyon and the album Eyes Just Like Forest Fires is one that I wish I could reissue on vinyl some day. One of the guys that I met at the show had another new label called Blacktop Records. He passed along a CD, beautifully packaged in a printed brown paper lunch bag by the band A Walk With Anastasia.
We did an interview to add to my doctoral dissertation and kept in touch via MySpace over the years and have since continued our connection. I see Ben Andress still putting out records about 12 years after he started Blacktop and has releases from Jonah Matranga, Open Hand, Lisa Loeb, and Wheatus alongside many more artists on the roster. He's also an artist and performs as The Smile Case. He's coming to Syracuse this Friday to play a show at The Vault (Tickets).
Ahnest!, The Traditional, SAVE FACE, Everyone Leaves and The Smile Case make up the $8 show. Ahnest! is the only Syracuse act on the bill so you'll be able to catch a little something from bands out of Buffalo, Ohio, New Jersey and Canada as well. Here's a taste of them on bandcamp:
I've not yet made my first visit to The Vault but it looks like Friday will be the day. Get all of the details on the show here. I'll leave you with a little bonus from SSS.
SYR + SU /
Along with running Aux Records, I get to oversee the Department of Music and Entertainment Industries at Syracuse University. Within the department we've got around 200 students in several different majors and some of these students start bands while in school. Other students work on their skills and launch a music career after SU. In all cases, I take great pride in watching students grow as artists. I wish there was a bit more crossover between the SU Hill and the Syracuse music community and that is something I'll be working on this year. I'm hoping to book some shows with diverse lineups. I'll facilitate a few meet ups in the city or on campus if there is interest (tweet at me to let me know @auxrecords). I'll act as a matchmaker between bands if that's what it takes.
In the event that you haven't followed what has happened on the Syracuse University campus recently, here are a few of the artists who have come out of The Bandier Program. Included in this list is half of The Chainsmokers. As of this writing, they own the #1 song in America on the Billboard Hot 100 with the song Closer. I'll share more from some of these bands in the future but for now, here's a playlist to sample some of the artists that have been in town for school.
I was a big fan of bands like Galaxie 500, Hum, Superdrag and Nada Surf in the 90s. The fuzz of the guitar was and underlying tension in the music, even if it was slowcore, always drew me in. Even now as I write this I am listening to Popular from Nada Surf, a 20 year old song. The bands that were influential to the shoegaze scene (or part of it) hold a place in my musical history. I've been really excited by what I'm seeing and hearing happening in CNY with bands that seem to be impacted by this era of music.
A little over a week ago I asked every band that I didn't know to connect with me. I received many more links to bands than I expected and some I had not heard of before. Sound Discard was one of those bands. As it turns out, I'd met one of the guys in passing several times in the past. Devon reintroduced himself to me via Facebook and reminded me that he played with Mike Watson (Bleak, The Afro Nips, Anorexic Beauty Queen) as part of Watson and Son. I released records for the latter two. A friend over at Hex Records presses Bleak. Devon compared the new band to acts with the feel of Sunny Day Real Estate and My Bloody Valentine. Those are lofty comparisons to lead with but I promised every band that sent me music that I'd listen. I'm going to make good on that promise to all those bands but Sound Discard caught me early so I was diving in.
Now to set this up, I love Sunny Day Real Estate. It's always tough to hear a comparison to a band you absolutely love because you often set a standard in your mind that is too high to attain. I started playing their song Faith in my office and was instantly taken by it. Vocally you can hear the SDRE influence and it's in the guitar work that you feel the MBV impact. The cleaner vocal against the more abrasive and fuzzy guitar gets me back to those mid-90s years. I was into it back then and am into it now. I saw that Sound Discard was the spotlight band over at 95X Locals Only so it's fitting that we all give them a boost this week.
I have been excited to see these new shoegaze bands popping up. Sound Discard. Trench. Forever Plus (disclaimer they are on Aux Records). I really hope we get to see a few of these bands come out of Syracuse and bring a disproportionate amount of sound to stages across the region, if not further. I've got Forever Plus playing a show I'm doing on September 23 but I expect to make it a weekend of concerts by seeing Sound Discard play alongside Subtle Words, Ethernauts and Trench on September 24. Before these bands start traveling, we've got them here in Syracuse. I hope to see Funk n Waffles on the SU Hill full for this one.
Find your tickets here: http://aftr.dk/2bbRRV3
I have been in and around the Syracuse music scene since 1995. I went to college at SUNY Cortland and recall regular weekend treks to Hungry Charlie's to see the cheap matinee shows on the weekend. I saw hardcore bands that shaped what I played on the radio at WSUC. I'd drive up I-81 for rock shows - including seeing the Deftones at the Lost Horizon, when it was trashed during their set. I'd see the ska and punk bands play at Planet 505 and ultimately started "managing" a three piece punk group from Syracuse University called District 4. We recorded a couple EPs, played a handful of shows and had a lot of fun.
Fast forward a few years and I'm handling being a Central NY rep for The Syndicate working on campaigns in the region for bands doing promo at events from Moedown to Hellfest. I worked plenty of club dates and that ultimately connected me to Merit, the first band I ever released music for under Aux Records. I've been putting out records since and have had some amazing experiences with bands playing Warped Tour and MTV. The big experiences have been life changing but there have been so many of the small experiences that hold an incredible amount of meaning. I'll share some of those in the future.
For the last two decades I've been around the music in Syracuse. I've largely kept to sharing my thoughts on bands that I work with. That's now changing with Cuse Music. This blog is a chance for me to grab a few friends and write about our experiences with music. Some will be on Aux but many more stories will be about bands I'm not working with. I'll do my best to be transparent but even though I manage bands and release their music, I'm still their fan. I'm not a journalist and don't have many publications (though I am proud of this one in Billboard on Ra Ra Riot). I expect this blog will start with sharing thoughts on bands from the region because we have so many great acts here. After all #The315isAlive. I expect to focus locally but if I keep it going, maybe I'll be wrong and we'll share more. This is a start.
Since Hungry Charlie's is no more, I'll leave this here to close. I'm pretty sure I was at this one.
I miss that place.