Background A classic rock ’n’ roll devotee who is a little under the radar outside his native New York. A latecomer to the recording game, he released his debut LP at 32 years old in 1980. World War Wille is Nile’s tenth studio album since.
There is a quiet self-assurance in the manner in which New York melodic rock outfit Lazy Lions approach their music. Certainly, a band has to be if it decides to play in the 60s/70s pop-rock sandbox. The pop-rock of the 80s to be more precise, as the band lays claim to the influences of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, The Cars and Crowded House. The tunes have an easy charm about them – on songs like “Tiny Little Cracks” and “Diane”, it’s not difficult for the unwary listener to begin humming to the refrains. Quirky numbers like “Let the Bad Times Roll” and “Scientific” help to keep thing somewhat interesting. Songs tend to be mid-tempo as a rule and a change in pace now and then would not have hurt. That all said, the slinky “You Can Run” and the smoky “Creep Across the Night” offer enough of a variation to demonstrate promising versatility. But if it’s straight-ahead rocking pop songs you want then “February” and most of When Dreaming Lets You Down, will not… erm… let you down. Jim Allen shared with us a couple of his thoughts about the band and their music.
Why did the four of you come together as Lazy Lions?
We had all done a lot of different things individually. I put out three records as a solo singer/songwriter, Rob had been a classical French horn player (who just happened to also be a killer guitarist), Anne-Marie had been in a band that ended up on a major label and did a ton of touring, and Sean had played with Richard Lloyd of Television besides being a singer/songwriter himself with solo albums out. To be totally honest, I just heard somebody say the words “lazy lions” one day and thought “What a great band name, I’m gonna start a band and call it that!” So I did. That’s really how it started!
Truth be told, I have been listening to Silverbird‘s fine new EP, Surface Life, quite a bit of late. There is something about these five songs that have got be somewhat entranced. Superficially, it all seems very contemporary (i.e. hipster) – with its folky acoustic guitars, the singalong nature of choruses and so on. But of course, it’s more than that. In fact, it has more to do with Silverbird’s penchant at channeling their inspirations – 90s bands like Wilco and Sparklehorse – where alt-country moves into even edgier art-rock territory.
Two songs stand out for me. “Honey You’re” where electric keyboard riffs collide with shimmering guitars and a atmospheric choral hook that seems to stretch for miles. And “Silverbird”, where a throbbing bass stomp anchors a jangle pop vibe so that singer Tim Barr can suspend a fragile vocal above. The closing “When We Went to the Country” sums up Silverbird’s game plan – dreamy, ambient roots rock that drones like the Velvets when it truly needs to.
This is exactly where indie rock should be heading – into the fucking ditch! The future of rock ‘n’ roll and that jazz. Seriously.
Lest we forget, in the mid-70s New York brought forth nascent punk and the ‘new wave’. Even as there appears to be a new punk uprising in London, might we also witness an exciting fresh rock n’ roll perspective from New York?
Well, when I first heard the opening lines to “Don’t Look Back” – the first track of Brooklyn band Born Cages‘ new EP The Sidelines EP, there was a palpable sense of overwhelming promise that bears closer examination. (Listen below)
Born Cages (Vlad Holiday on lead vocals and guitar, Amanda Carl on keyboards, Steve Kellner on bass, and Dave Tantao on drums) seems to have engineered a sound that manages to squeeze arena rock and post-punk sensibilities into the same headspace.
Imagine if you will, Bruce Springsteen fronting Television instead of the E Street Band and perhaps you might begin to get a better idea of the rush I experiences when confronted by Born Cages’ sonic agenda.
This thrill-making is further explored in tracks like “Caiti”, where references to Arctic Monkey’s driving guitar rhythm are evoked, and “Metaphor”, where jaded dance-pop is given a shot in the arm by sinewy alt-country rock!
But ultimately it is the edgy anthemic lustre of “Don’t Look Back” that holds the biggest hope that perhaps Born Cages will be able to transcend genre limitations and break out…