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By Stan O’Neill |

Shilpa Ray

Shilpa Ray will perform at the Union Bar and Grill, 18 W. Union St., with an alternative rock approach that does not fit snugly into the conventional slot allotted to most current bands of this genre.

Various bands, including Style Star and Total Blam Blams, are set to make appearances alongside the main attraction Thursday at 9 p.m.

“Shilpa Ray is always special, they have played here a few times before, it’s always a light hearted and energetic show,” said Scott Winland over a Facebook message.

The band’s style is a haunting onslaught of delicate prog-rock, with the down tempo moments mediated by punk sensibilities and clever instrumentation. The band’s music contains a goofy ferocity and rebellious animosity reminiscent of Warhol-era New York, back when alphabet city’s gritty punk scene still thrived in dive bars like CBGB’s with youthful force.

Shilpa Ray’s enigmatic title is actually the full name of its lead singer and die-hard proprietor, and incidentally the only remaining member of the original lineup. The four-piece group is a convoluted product of the past few years, a revolving door comprised of various members that came and went before the establishment of their current roster.

Evidently this cathartic process of breaking down to build back up fostered some raucous ingenuity. Their music fluidly fuses bruised punk and bluesy movements with entirely original energy. Ray’s howling vocals are a potent mix of Janis Joplin and old soul caught in a choke-hold, refusing to be turned down or stifled, burning down the old conventions and reviving the fire of rock’s idols with scalding emotional vengeance.

The band is based out of New York City and records at Emandee Studios in Brooklyn. The new EP It’s All Self Fellatio was recently released and will be available for purchase at their Union show. I recently reached out to Ray and bassist Will Benton to discuss their music and creative chemistry.

“Well these days it’s Will Benton on bass/guitar, Jon “Catfish” DeLorme on bass/pedal steel, Russ Lemkin on drums and then there’s me,” Shilpa Ray said over Facebook Message. “We all met through mutual friends and other bands.”

She expanded on her own personal musical history.

“I started out playing solo, and then tried being in and running two bands, failed miserably and now I’m back on the horse playing solo and having band mates at the same time,” Ray said.

She went on to list the collective’s primary influences including Lou Reed, New York Dolls, Kevin Ayers, soul, some jazz and old Bollywood movies. Benton chimes in emphatically, emphasizing “especially old Bollywood movies.”

I ask the singer where the distinction lies between her solo and collaborative work. Shilpa speaks with playful sarcasm, poking fun at herself and the egocentric rock-star archetype so common in modern music, diffusing my nervous inquiries with light hearted words.

“The whole universe starts and ends with me,” Ray said. “Basically, I’m the self-absorbed protagonist of my very own American Novel. Hence the band’s name…”

The charge at the Union is unusually high, but it may pay to not judge this booking by its cover, the stories underneath seem deeply cultivated down to their basic elements, with exaggerated humor hanging out for fun’s sake over their true luster, touched with a bit of blushing intelligence.

“Well, it’s storytelling. I tell stories, that’s as American as you can get,” Ray said.

By William Hoffman | | @Wilbur_Hoffman

The Compartments

Silent Lions couldn’t be a better name to describe the unexpected explosive and bombastic bass riffs contrasting the at times subdued melodic lines of this duo that is consistently surprising and fresh.

Silent Lions joined The Post in the Fall to show off two tracks on our Athens Sessions video series, and now the full 6-track album, The Compartments, is here and available on the duo’s bandcamp page on a name your own price basis.

Listening to the music an observer would never know it’s being made by two people. With frontman Dean Tartaglia playing a heavily distorted bass with his left hand and a sample board on his right alongside drummer Matt Klein’s heavy and grooving beats, this duo is able to make the fullness of a four-piece band.

Where Silent Lion’s previous EP The Parliaments felt intentionally in your face about just how heavy and dark the music was, The Compartments feels more subtle and mature. The album is bright where it needs to be and is always followed with that signature bass drop to create a solid eb and flow throughout the album that always keeps you interested.

“Stolen In The Heart Of The Moment,” can be extraordinarily full and also enticingly minimal with the the sampled piano lines throughout the track. It’s also the albums most energetic and confident track where Tartaglia really shines on the vocals by not holding anything back. “Running Me Down,” the album’s opening track, drags a lot due to the lack of enthusiasm in the vocal line despite some seriously cool beats.

But obviously Silent Lions is still developing its sound. The bass and samples can be overly fuzzy where they could use cleaning up, and Tartaglia’s voice can be muddled in distortion quite frequently. All these things add to the charm of the band and give it a certain quality, but a balance could still be found between the two worlds of grinding bass and melody.

“Everybody Freeze” and “Space In Time” are able to find some of that balance and bring out the same confidence from earlier in the record that really makes this music shine. And the sampled sound solos of squeaky distortion give these songs the edge they need.

The Compartments, along with the rest of the Silent Lions downloadable catalogue, is worth a purchase as Ohioans and Athenians, who fell in love with the pop-outfit Mind Fish, watch this band grow and learn with each successive album. But the real way to experience this group will be live as they come to Athens Saturday for a house show and again at the end of the month at Casa Nueva.

If the Athens Sessions recordings are any indication, Silent Lions is at its best when the passion for the music is visibly there and the high octane bass riffs rattle the room and make your heart race.

Daniel Bachman

Jesus I’m A Sinner


Daniel Bachman started making waves in the industry with his critically acclaimed 2012 album Seven Pines for its rhythmic fingerpicking instrumental guitar style which showcased some pretty amazing chops. However his 2013 follow-up Jesus I’m A Sinner doesn’t just stick with what worked on the last album, it’s nearly the exact same album.

Bachman will be playing at Stuart’s Opera House, 52 Public Square, Saturday which will be preceded by a viewing of In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey, a documentary about the life and music of one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived and one who certainly had great influence on Bachman’s work. Stuart’s will also host a record exchange in the lobby throughout the event.

The event is really the best way to see this guitarist, who despite some flaws, has a real majestic, mesmerizing spell over listeners. He plays a self described “psychedelic Appalachian” style of music. But think of psychedelic in the sitar-esq, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band kind of way and replace the sitar with guitar and banjo. And he sticks to that style as every song has that distinct Appalachian feel of simple hillbilly melodies (and I mean that in the best way possible).

Bachman doesn’t make the most complicated rhythms ever heard from finger picking artists (check out Rodrigo y Gabriela for some really mind blowing rhythms), but he is able to combine the background base harmony with some truly spectacular melodies over top and all on one guitar. It’s truly amazing the kind of mood he can set with this style of playing and I can only imagine how all-encompassing that experience would be live.

“Chattanooga really encapsulates that hillbilly style with interwoven banjo, guitar and violin rhythms. And “Leaving Istanbul (4 AM)” is the only song on the record that sounds like it has any direction by conveying the chaos and mysteries of this journey. But the real stand out track is the album’s title track “Jesus I’m A Sinner,” which is just an unbelievable showcase of Bachman’s skill.

The problem is that every song sets the same mood over and over again. There is very little rise and fall throughout the album or even throughout the songs. Everything stays at one fast moving melodic level. “Leaving Istanbul (4 AM)” is the only song on the record that sounds like it has any direction by conveying the chaos and mysteries of this journey.  If you picked up on Seven Pines there’s really very little to latch onto here.

On the other hand any John Fahey fans might have a lot to look forward to from this performance.

“Daniel is definitely someone who is in the same vicinity or genre as Fahey,” said Brian Koscho, marketing director at Stuart’s. “For people who are familiar with John Fahey but might not know some of the people who are doing these nowadays in music, it’ll be cool to watch…”

The whole event includes a record sale that runs through the afternoon, the movie and concert for $8 at Stuart’s Opera House. And while the record may be boring to listen to any music fan would do well to have one of his records ready to spin when studying or need some soothing background music.


18By William Hoffman | @Wilbur_Hoffman |

Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons Hey Kid Vital Music USA

She doesn’t have the quirky lovability of Kacey Musgraves or the down and dirty back roads feel of a real country girl, but what she does bring is 100 percent rock ‘n’ roll and 100 percent her.

Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons come out with its newest effort and full length album Hey Kid Jan. 21 with high expectations after the single “Hurricane” received great radio play in the Columbus area and was even featured for a short period on ABC for the USC v. UCLA game back in November.

With four EPs/ short LPs before this release, Perley and the Howlin’ Moons had a lot to prove and they pull it off big time. Hey Kid is certainly their finest album yet as it feels fleshed out from beginning to end, flows well and has some rockin’ singles to play off of. However, it feels as though somethings being held back from the guitar as fans might miss out on some of the lengthier roaring guitar solos they have come accustomed to on previous singles such as “18 Feet Under,” or “County Fair.”

But not to fret, because if the group’s performance in Athens this past fall is any indication they have moved the live performance out of the record and to the stage where it belongs and allowed the album to be its own art medium. This change makes Hey Kid sound more like a Rolling Stones or Tom Petty riff based country-rock record, which is certainly a welcome change.

Although the big exception is “Roll On Over” which sounds like “Johnny B. Goode” honkey tonk-ified — in the best way. Guitarist Chris Connor really lets loose on this song and takes you back to rockabilly style modernized.

“Hurricane” is the foot-stomping low bass driven song that has become the group’s biggest single to date and really steals the show off the album. “George Stone” and “Ghost” also have that great guitar driven high energy that “Hurricane” brings to the table.

Although Perley is now based in Columbus, it’s refreshing to hear her sing candidly and heartfelt about Athens, where she graduated from Ohio University. The album actually begins and ends with the track simply titled “Athens,” where she looks back on those life changing years with a great fondness. Splitting up the reprise to close out the song works beautifully but it sure is powerful live when it’s put all together in one song. It’s really the perfect way to start off and end the album.

Hey Kid is about 60 percent country and 40 percent pure rock ‘n’ roll. That’s an interesting combination for a genre that has been largely deteriorated this past year by truck toting, dog loving, dirt road riding garbage on the radio and could use a swift kick in the ass. Perley along with Chris Connor (who I still consider to be one of the finest guitarists in Ohio now), Billy Zehnal on bass and Steve Rupp on drums, are the fresh blood the genre could use and they are coming at quite an opportune time.

You can catch Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons with Keesey at Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St., Friday at 10 p.m.

Photo By Kevin James 

By William Hoffman | | @Wilbur_Hoffman

It’s that time of year once again where we try and assign numerical value to an artistic art form as if all genres of music from jazz to gangster rap are capable of being compared in this way. OK, that’s a cynical view, but really these lists are just good fun. So here are my picks for favorite albums of 2013. I tried to balance personal preference with an objective view of skill, but if you disagree the great thing about music is that you

10. Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park — This cute and innocent country chick came seemingly out of nowhere this year, taking the CMA’s by storm with her fun and quirky lyrics that have far more depth than your average pick-up-truck country song.  Songs like “Merry Go ’Round” and “Silver Lining” show a sophistication in song writing we haven’t seen from the genre in a while and she has a long career to continue and improve from here. Not to mention she had a great performance at Ohio University this year.can go off and listen to your own preferences.

9. Head And The Heart: Let’s Be Still — Combining a wide range of instrumentation and versatile songwriting, this band was able to wade through an oversaturated genre that could have well buried them this year. Let’s Be Still is one of the more energetic Americana albums in 2013 and has a lot to say about a society that never seems to slow down and look around. And the best part is that they are able to convey that message by appealing to a modern sensibility and without coming off as pretentious.

8. Daft Punk: Random Access Memories — Disco never died, and no group proves that concept more than Daft Punk. “Get Lucky” is the dance tune of the summer but the whole album is filled with dance gems such as “Give Life Back To Music” and “Lose Yourself To Dance.” And the group’s nine minute epic tribute to European disco tech Giorgio Moroder is masterfully crafted down to every beat and instrumental solo.

7. Kings Of Leon: Mechanical Bull — I never thought Kings of Leon could make a comeback but this album did it for me. It’s a straight no nonsense rock record that tickles my fancy for both killer guitar and bass licks as well as full epic songs that sound more like an orchestra than a four-piece rock group. Songs such as “Don’t Matter” and “Rock City” provide that classic rock feel to the album while “Wait For Me” and “Tonight” give it the 2000’s grandiose epic feel. It’s just a good easy listen from beginning to end with some seriously tasty riffs.

6. Elvis Costello and The Roots: Wise Up Ghost — I really don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like Wise Up Ghost. It’s definitely hip-hop influenced with ?uestlove behind the kit but Costello’s vocals and general oddball nature just brings a beautifully strange twist to this album. Each song is a new adventure and experimentation with samples hip-hop beats and vocal rhythms from beginning to end. This collaboration proved that music can be interesting and experimental without following the industrial, noisy and depressing trend that has permeated the greater part of critically acclaimed albums this year.

5. Arctic Monkeys: AM — I wasn’t a big fan of the group before this year’s release as a lot of their work tinged on the punk side for me. But this album is nothing but fantastic gritty blues rock. They seem to have really found an American audience with this album in part due to what I perceive as a Black Keys influence. “Arabella” is the finest track off the album bringing me back to the days I would rock out to riffy Led Zeppelin blues in my room. Even as I write this now I can’t help but air drum to the powerful and technical fills or head bang to the infectious energy they are able to bring forward on this record.

4. Iron & Wine: Ghost On Ghost — For people who may know Samuel Beam as the slow and melodic singer songwriter this album may come as a bit of a twist. The best way to describe it is Jazz Folk and it combines beautiful voices and song writing with some far more complicated rhythms, keys and sonic elements than the genre is used to. The bass and drums are locked in for an incredibly infectious and melodic rhythm section and Beam’s voice is just a majestic as ever. This may be one of the most overlooked albums of the year that could really attract a different audience to the group for one of Beam’s finest works to date.

3. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 — In a year of record all-star rap releases Eminem comes on top. Eminem proves that no one can touch his technical ability or his lyrical rhyming skill on this massive 21 song, 1 hour and 42 minute LP. Nearly every song from start to finish is new and original from the last with massive verses that consistently show of Eminem’s ability. Not to mention some damn catchy beats and choruses. This one also floats to the top because of Eminem’s brutal honesty with his fans both in interviews and lyrically.

2. Queens of the Stone Age: …Like Clockwork — This album takes you deep into Josh Homme’s depression and near death experience back in 2010 with its grinding bass, driving drums and sonic ethos. The whole record is a stoner rock fan’s dream. Jon Theodore, former drummer for Mars Volta, really makes the album pop with complicated and bright drum fills and Homme is at the top of his game here. The group needed to push through some big struggles and to continue playing together and they’ve done just that for one of if not their best album ever.

1. Dawes: Stories Don’t End— This may be a radical choice for No. 1 but I think it’s well deserved. Dawes has been blowing me away for years with their ability to craft a story through metaphor and simile and this album is the best yet. The band has really found their stride and have a winning formula for crafting musical lines to support the always stellar lyrics. Songwriter and frontman Simon Dawes might be one of the finest lyricists of this generation — a statement backed by the fact that the group opened for Bob Dylan on a number of dates earlier this year. Stories Don’t End also appeals to a modern post adolescence phase. His words resonate to a generation of 20-somethings searching for love, purpose and meaning in this world. And it sounds like Dawes may still be searching for the same as well.

The RidgesBy William Hoffman | | @Wilbur_Hoffman

There are many quirks and oddities that make Athens a place we all love: Debating what’s in the special sauce on a chicken and waffle, hiking up to radar hill with your best friends or studying in Donkey Coffee with a steaming cup by your side is just the tip of that iceberg. But from the hype heard around Court Street and the giddy excitement from every music fan in town, it’s clear that seeing a performance from The Ridges ranks up there with any of the other must-do unique activities that Athens has to offer in our short four-year experience.

 It’s a sight many of us have seen before but Saturday’s Ridges show at Casa Nueva is still just as bafflingly magical no matter how many times you’ve seen them perform. The entire community seems to come out to see the band, screaming every lyric at the top of their lungs, which is unheard of for a band that has a relatively small following. For anyone who may not know, The Ridges could best be described as an orchestral Americana band, but that title seems to mellow for the bombastic, stomping and screaming that took place Saturday. The group combines rock, folk and indie but more and more so have put a greater emphasis on the rock portion.

 The Ridges experiment a lot with song order during shows from starting in an acoustic circle in the middle of the crowd before plugging in, to the noisy chaotic orchestral screams on the beginning of “Not A Ghost.” This time the group went right into “When The Bell Tolls,” which is arguably one of their best and most energetic songs. However, Victor Rasgaitis’ voice never reached the level of screaming nirvana during the lyric “you should know” that puts the special kick to the song. It’s like going to an Avett Brothers concert and not hearing Seth Avett’s scream blood curdling scream — disappointing but still overwhelmingly fulfilling.

Transitions between songs are flowing and never skip a beat as the band brings the energy down with some simple strokes of a cello to evoke chills throughout your body. Talor Smith is incredible as she shreds standing behind her cello while providing backup vocals and organizing the entire string section. And the organization and practice on those string parts paid of Saturday, especially on “The Insomniac’s Song” which had intensely subtle cello and violin parts throughout the whole song.

Hearing “Invented Love” is always a treat. It’s nice to have the complex string parts and noisy background noise but “Invented Love” is just straight to the punch. This love song reminds you of why love is the most overused subject matter in song writing. Rasgaitis’ voice is so genuine that you can’t help but be drawn into the song.

 And of course no Ridges performance would be complete without a cover of Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago” to make everyone feel warm and closer to your fellow Athens friends.

Indigo Wild was not to be overlooked Saturday night either. With the group’s high energy indie rock style and flowing melodic guitar licks, the band should be headlining its own show in Athens soon.

“Rowboats” is a great poetic song that continually builds and falls with each passing chorus. And “Eager Times” is made into a full on rock song with almost metal-like drumming to support the indie guitar melodies and harmonized vocals.