Cymbals Eat Guitars
CYMBALS EAT GUITARS
The sweat's the first thing everyone notices. It's hard not to, as salty trails drip from the pores of Joseph D'Agostino, the yelping, riff-raking frontman of Cymbals Eat Guitars.
Here's why he can't seem to stay dry: Pitchfork's "Best New Music" tagplastered across a rave review of Cymbals' self-released debut, Why There Are Mountains, six months before its official releasewas just the beginning of the band's rise to notoriety. A calling card to toss around from time to time, sure, but not something they were about to rest their entire record on.
"We had no fucking clue what we were doing in those first few months," admits D'Agostino, quite matter-of-factly.
"There was just this giant rush to keep up with hype that's beyond us," adds drummer Matthew Miller, who co-founded the group in 2007, the year they found their sound through elaborate demos with the Wrens' Charles Bissel. Demoes that were developed even further during proper studio sessions with Kyle "Slick" Johnson (Modest Mouse, The Hives). Like many other early adopters, Johnson discovered CEG on New York's Lower East Side circuit, playing the kind of caustic set that's earned the attention of ABC News, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and the Pitchforkpeople, who continue to support the group's every move. That includes a CMJ roundup with the following pull quote: "[D'Agostino] was sweating profusely by the end of the first song, and spent the rest of the set contorting violently and playing his guitar like it was trying to eat him...Cymbals weren't just loud, they sounded monumental."
Hype-raking live reviews aside, there's this important detail to consider: Why There Are Mountains is an actual album in an era of diminishing downloads an attention spans, a 'grower' that dishes out simple pleasures with every spin. Meaning everything from shades of shoegaze (the patient, feedback-bathed passages of "Share") to subtle Motown nods (the buoyant bass lines of "Cold Spring," the breezy horns of "Indiana"). Not to mention pure, unadulterated chaos, as embraced in the gate-crashing "And the Hazy Sea," the tension-building "Like Blood Does," and the throat-singeing denouement of "Wind Phoenix."
As for what's next, well, they're figuring that out one track at a time, as D'Agostino's carefully-cultivated cuts are complemented by Miller's Wire-y rhythms, the wobbly low-end of bassist Matthew Whipple, and the Technicolor textures of keyboardist Brian Hamilton.
"I've played in a lot of punky bands where no one cared about the final productabout the actual craft of songwritingand that was always very frustrating to me," explains Whipple. "I was always the guy glaring at someone else for not getting a part right."
Not here. As D'Agostino adds, "A song needs to raise the hairs on my neck at least three or four times before I'm happy with it. What's the point otherwise? That's the whole thrill of playing and why we're doing this in the first place."
"It's pretty simple," says Miller. "If something doesn't sound right, we're not gonna play it."
"You could blame it on so many bands being from autophobic NYC, or that the Pacific Northwest gods of indie are still going too strong to already be a primary influence, but neither would explain New York's Cymbals Eat Guitars' Why There Are Mountains. While there's plenty of geographical signifiers on their debut, it's almost topographic in its approach, without hooks and choruses so much as map-like layouts of mountains and sloping valleys." --Pitchfork [Best New Music]
"Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Brooklyn. Let's give some respect to Staten Island, home of Cymbals Eat Guitars. It's a fledgling indie-rock quartet, but Joseph D'Agostino, its 20-year-old guitarist, singer and principal songwriter, seems like a one-man shop. He fits a lot into his music. The songs on the band's self-released first album, "Why There Are Mountains," which served as the basis for Thursday's set, contain ecstatic passion; wordy, lyrical precision; hazy, drifting instrumental interludes; chiming, mechanistic, clean-toned strumming; wild, dirty, stuttering solos. The sources for his inspiration can be obvious Pavement, Built to Spill, Dinosaur Jr. but so are his ambition and passion. And with "Tunguska," a new song played near the end of the set, he's made that most difficult thing in self-consciously smart music: a ballad, one strong enough to make young women near the stage look at him with big eyes. Seeing the band live drove home the full effect of guileless catharsis: Mr. D'Agostino wears himself out for you. (Like a clutch hitter between swings, he ritually composed himself after every song, wiping down his guitar neck, adjusting his capo, taking a deep breath.)" --The New York Times
"Staten Island band Cymbals Eat Guitars came out of seemingly nowhere when, a little under a month ago, their debut album, Why There Are Mountains, was bestowed Pitchfork's "Best New Music" honor. Who were these guys? Staten Island, seriously? They were, of course, four hustling musicians who'd struck gold on the songwriting front, crafting a beastly, obtuse album that sounds a lot like Built To Spill, if Built To Spill actually had some youth on their side and could still throw down in a street fight or get upset over a girl." -- RCRD LBL
"Why There Are Mountains may be one of the best 'indie' (the album is self-released, so, y'know, actually 'indie') albums of the year. And with the major label skyline being obliterated like something out of Independence Day, it's time to batten down the hatches." -- NME
"The most obvious thing about Cymbals Eat Guitars is that their epic, widescreen indie rock bears a striking resemblance to that of Built To Spill and early Modest Mouse. The most impressive thing about them, however, is just how comfortable they sound playing around with a sound those bands defined on albums like The Lonesome Crowded West and Keep It Like A Secret. This isn't just a case of some young band wearing their influences on their sleeves, and offering up a lesser version of their favorite records these are strong, creative players stretching out and finding their own niche within a rich yet largely unmined aesthetic territory." -- Fluxblog
"Guitars, bass, keys, drums, hooks hooks hooks. If you are unashamedly an indie-rocker, then this is the indie-rock you likejust stretched and pulled and relaxed in unfamiliar ways." -- Sound Fix
"Do you know how many cities have been built?" D'Agostino asks. He is followed immediately by some brilliant songwriting that remains both unpredictable and convincingly effective, featuring both stark smatterings of keys and explosive arrays of guitars. His vocal delivery often adjusts accordingly, especially during the song's fiery chorus. That part in particular remains reminiscent of Modest Mouse, but the song's structural genius and melodic excellence appears more indicative of an idolized act in the Wrens." -- Obscure Sound
"I realized I've yet to talk about Cymbals Eat Guitars on here, which I've been spinning all year and is probably my favorite debut album of the year, so I feel obligated to give it a mention. Here's an excerpt of the review on my blog: "The band's sound is hugely ambitious, explosively energetic force of nature that is clearly influenced by a multitude of 90's indie rock classics from Pavement to Built to Spill to Modest Mouse while still achieving something that is forward-looking and unpredictable." --mtvU
"No pressure, no expectations, no big press push just some epic jams that effortlessly encapsulate the last 20 years of indie rock with the ease of dudes that have been "doin' it" forever. The reason why it rules? Because they haven't been." --Detour Mag
"I'll be the first to go on record saying that Cymbals Eat Guitars/Joseph Ferocious will end up indie famous within the year."--Charles Bissel, the Wrens
HOORAY FOR EARTH
These are anxious times. From unemployment and embattled governments to mysterious mass deaths of birds and fish, it's easy to wonder if 2012's apocalypse won't come a year early. It's heady fare for an indie rock record, but somehow the dense soundscapes from New York City's Hooray for Earth's True Loves find a way to float on thin air. "The record is really aggressive sounding, but soft in attitude," band leader Noel Heroux says. "It's a friendly record. I get more emotionally affected by extremes. I've really grabbed onto the positive, uplifting feelings in music that get me super psychedbut that can also come from sounds that are daunting and a little scary."
Coming out May 3, 2011, on Dovecote Records, True Loves builds on Hooray for Earth's acclaimed debut EP, Momo, and captures both the personal and universal anxieties that have such a footing in contemporary times. Lead single "True Loves" thumps along neck-snapping drums, awash with blips and synths, surprising breakdowns and Heroux's soaringly languid vocals. Pitchfork has already compared the track favorably to artists like MGMT, Yeasayer and Passion Pit, while saying that "all the right elements are in place[it] floats along and pounds forward at the same time, and one way or another it wants to carry you along with it." Meanwhile, Stereogum labeled the band one of "CMJ's heroes," taking particular note of Hooray for Earth's "nimble but unpretentious guitars" and "sense of progressive psychedelics and percussive progressions." The sound that has indie-culture's gatekeepers fawning is one that springs directly from Heroux's imagination into a climactic reality.
"I don't write music with an instrument, I usually just get an idea of what the whole song sounds like in my head, kind of like an earworm that stays with you after listening to the radio. My task is to recreate what's stuck in my head in actual audible form, as quickly as possible," he says. "I wish I could just plug a cord into my headI think that's why the music tends to be a little dense, because I think of all these things at once."
Heroux wrote, recorded, and produced about 90% of the new album, with bassist Christopher Principe and guitarist/live synthist Gary Benacquista peppering parts in a few sessions, and drummer Joseph Ciampini adding two days of rooftop drum tracking. Mixed by Chris Coady (Beach House, Blonde Redhead, Delorean, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio), the album might as well be a direct link to the exciting mind of Heroux. Hooray for Earth's progression is apparent everywhere on the record and boasts exciting things for a band that has already appeared onstage with Mission of Burma, Holy Fuck, Surfer Blood, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Oh No Ono, and many more. Recorded over five weeks in New York, it's at once specific to the summer of 2010 and transcendent of time itself. Once again, a happy set of extremes.
"Most of the [recording] process is just me getting lost and trying to get things done. I feel like I'm on autopilot sometimes. I'll finish a song and wonder, 'When did that happen?' I don't spend a lot of time stressing about what instruments to use or what's missing, I just kind of let it be."
"Burning Bush Supper Club is .. one that sharpens the lush, hedonistic surrealism of reverb-laden psych-rock into tightly focused anthems that are just anarchic enough as to be unpredictable." - PITCHFORK "Burning Bush Supper Club is a eleven song psychedelic-funk monster" "The full length debut from these playful Brooklyn rockers is exactly the sort of record that New York needs." - SPIN.
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