Heavy Times, The Bombay Sweets
629 Cedar Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN, 55454
This event is 18 and over
Dear Music Enthusiast,
Thank you for what we are presuming to be your interest in the band Obits. They are a four-piece band who currently live in Brooklyn, NY, and whose music is most probably considered an occupant of the rock music genre, with more specific reconnaissance in the areas of garage, punk, surf, surf-punk, and garage-punk (though, not surf-garage). On this new album, they've also covered a song ("Besetchet") from volume 23 of the excellent Ethiopiques series; and so much for tidy categorization. The album for which this clumsy biographical dispatch has been prepared is entitled Bed & Bugs and it is the third full-length album by Obits, following their 2011 album Moody, Standard and Poor, which itself followed their 2009 album I Blame You, which we in the professional music industry refer to as the band's "debut" (which is French for "LP1"). Bed & Bugs was recorded somewhere in Arlington, VA at an unnamed recording studio, simply and rather unhelpfully described as "upstairs." This recording was accomplished by Nikhil Ranade, and the resulting songs were later mixed, variously, by this same Nikhil Ranade as well as Eli Janney and Geoff Sanoff.
Critical response to the aforementioned Obits albums has included such adjectives as: "spacious" and "jumpy" from The New York Times; "propulsive," "sandpapery" and "sweaty" from Pitchfork; "powerfully wiry" and "declamatory" from SPIN; "driving" and "really good" from Dusted. Descriptive responses from actual, verifiable employees here at Sub Pop Records range from "fidgety," "tight" and "loose" (Warehouse Manager Mark Arm), to "picaresque," "pithy" and "cogent" (International Sales and Distribution Honcho Gabe Carter), to "skronkeratchity" and "ffffromp-ful" (from our borderline incomprehensible Direct Sales Commander (Western Quadrant) Dean Whitmore). We look forward to new and inventive adjectives with the release of Bed & Bugs.
On listening to Bed & Bugs, the discerning listener may well note more than a passing similarity to such bands as Hot Snakes, Edsel, Drive Like Jehu, Girls Against Boys, Pitchfork, possibly Television or the Wipers. This is un-coincidental! With the exception of those last two, Obits share members with all of those bands.
As is the habit of many of the best contemporary rock bands, Obits will perform live with the release of Bed & Bugs, both domestically and internationally. For instance, they recently performed in the building in Warsaw that Stalin gave to Poland.
Less flippantly: There are scenes and there are connections; trending hashtags and experiences. It's cool, these are not either/or propositions and there's no need to postulate any us vs. any them, the kids today and the back in my day. Much of what's best about any music, all art, across genres, within and beyond the latest craze, is the way it speaks to some definition of "us." Proving, as Obits sing (or "jumpily declaim"?) in Bed & Bugs' "Receptor," that "You ain't the world's lone receptor," is deeply valuable. Because we're all headed to the same place: me today, you tomorrow. And, in that waning interstitial space, let's go ahead and have what we want. No need to choose: make ours both Bed & Bugs.
With all sincerity and not,
Sub Pop Records of Seattle, WA
Greg Simpson as The Bass Player
Rick Froberg as The Guitarist and Singer
Sohrab Habibion also as The Guitarist and Singer
Alexis Fleisig as The Drummer
(except for the song "Besetchet," whereon Scott Gursky appears as The Drummer)
As Chicago's most lethal band of the fast-rising noise pop neurotics, Heavy Times have carved out a uniquely hypnotic sound that's hard to pin down but easy to fall for, and fast. Crushingly melodic vocal hooks cleverly interwoven with static-filled harmonies no one's prepared for, all executed with a snarling blow to the pleasure receptors. Their massive, almost cavernous grungy pop will escape most realistic comparisons, but as the scuzz starts to feverishly build and disseminate on each successive track of 'Jacker,' it becomes quickly evident that the songs that frame these livid bursts of punk energy are always worth waiting for. Once these mammoth choruses kick into gear, and just as the guitars explode, it's an endorphin-rushing experience that stands all hairs on end, and will knock you back unexpectedly. This is a band that carefully divides its power, bringing the hammer down right where it needs to hit, and locking into a euphonic wave of impossibly catchy, spidery guitar lines that soar and dive with the best of 'em so well, you'll swear you've heard these chords somewhere before. What's more is that Heavy Times have just as much of a hand on blasting your eardrums into oblivion as they do on their signature mega-melodic wall of vocals, washing like a golden glaze over each track with an enchantingly harmonic howl, that clearly defines their hyperactive Wipers-soaked sound to the core.
The Bombay Sweets
The Bombay Sweets were born on the reels of a dusty 50's DuKane tape machine discovered at a suburban Minneapolis garage sale. The cool Art Deco styling of this old school recorder promised to offer something from a different time in terms of sound and limitations. An idea was hatched on the spot to record some songs based on the constraints the medium would provide. And yes, it had quite a few of those. It had only mono recording with only two tracks (or with only one overdub) per song and yet it wrapped every sound put into it in a warm and fuzzy sound that came from its tubes glowing white hot as it ran. This vintage sound seemed to set a template for things to come as it unlocked a minimal songwriting more stripped down and elemental as compared to the bands each member had been in before.
As it turned out, the tape machine had been sold by Nathan's former elementary physical education teacher Mr. Miller (who was a terrible and abusive alcoholic during his time as gym teacher). He was tottering about the sale and Nathan didn't recognize him until he got home and saw the 'Property of Coach Miller' label on the bottom of the machine and put 2+2 together. Needless to say, this man was a tyrant and the earthly embodiment of the cruel gym teacher stereotype. One famous story involved him running the mile in reverse holding a bag of candy in front of one of the heavier students who was struggling. Ugh. He should have never been allowed around children and was feared and hated by all students at Neil Elementary School.
Sweet revenge came in the form of tracking their first demo over his sloppy renditions of Sinatra tunes. In fact, there are several moments on this demo that you can still hear old Mr. Miller's drunken crooning coming through ghostly in some of the songs if you listen closely. Also at this sale was an Acetone Rhythm Ace Drum Machine. That drum machine is the sole drummer on the first Bombay Sweets EP and continues to make appearances on recordings even after Jeff joined shortly thereafter.
Sadly, whatever magic was in that DuKane tape machine from the 1950's was lost shortly after dumping the tracks down to a Pro Tools system. Without warning as it was being disconnected from the computer, the tape machine spontaneously burst in flames (probably due to its old unserviced tube electronics), and melted the original reels thus destroying any chance for further recordings on it. Luckily the demo recording survives and served as a launching point sonically and aesthetically for the Bombay Sweets. The recording was released as an EP in a run of 300 (and quickly sold out) and is now and forever more offered for free from the band's website.
The band continued to record at their studio space 'The Cobweb Palace' (utilizing more modern methods to achieve a similar effect) and released two 7" records. These records continue to sell well and are on each on their second pressings. They shot and edited together a video for another recording "I Don't Wanna Be Your Soldier Anymore" that upped the bands profile as it made its way through music blogs locally and nationwide. They also began to play out and found their footings live opening up for bands like the Ponys, the Soft Pack, the Clinic, Holly Golightly, Quintron, and many others.
The first true collection of studio recordings, their 'S/T' EP, is due to be released on August 16th, 2011. The recordings are the whittled down remnants of over 15 songs recorded at several studios over the last year of the bands life, with only the cream of that crop appearing on record. They continue to embrace their intentional minimalism and gritty warmth while offering a more lush and roomy studio sound. Very few overdubs and/or digital trickery was employed and the results show that.
The six songs on this new recording showcase what The Bombay Sweets do best: combining elements of volcanic surf, early bombastic rock and roll, raucous rockabilly, blazing 60's garage, and deconstructed no-wave blended into very unique and vibrant sound. They make a lot of noise for a two piece line up. The song writing and instrumentation sounds like it was plucked from a pile of old 45's played with the speed control turned up and run through a Space Echo. They mash together their influences without sounding derivative or rehashed. Their sound calls to mind the era of Link Wray and Bo Diddley's guitar heroism but with an updated and more modern and arty feel and tempo.
The record itself is pressing on limited lime green/pink split color 12" vinyl that only has an A side (with the B side blank) for extra vinyl fetishist nerd factor. You can actually see photos of it being pressed at the plant here. Wow! The artwork was designed and silk screened by the famous Minneapolis poster artists of Aesthetic Apparatus. The EP will be released simultaneously on CD and digital download as well.
A large part of their sound and presence onstage is Jeff's use of a stand up cocktail kit. It keeps in line with their minimalist ethos and is head turning live. This 50's drum set/relic has been almost completely forgotten in modern culture and its appearance is certainly unprecedented in the kind of loud and and (at times) aggressive music they play. Perhaps because of this unconventionality it is so well suited to the tone and feel of their music, but it is unlike any other drummers sound. Jeff's three foot high floor tom and Latin influenced uses of maracas calls to mind an earlier, almost tribal, and far more carnivorous and primitive form of rock n' roll that predates the birth of today's 'modern drummer'. His high kicking and general theatricality (including wandering offstage) would only be possible coming from a drummer who did not need to sit down through the whole show!
Nathan's spent the last decade of his life selling vintage stringed instruments traveling the back roads and small towns in the Midwest to find new treasures. His guitar-centric lifestyle and gear hording shows onstage and in their videos as he seems to have an endless supply of cool, rare guitars. Almost all the gear they play is decades older than they are! His guitar tone is antique to say the least and the recordings glisten with the tubby flatwound strings and surfy reverb that is very memorable and distinctly 'un-modern'. He plays live with an arsenal of vintage hollowbody and baritone guitars that produce a gigantic yet dark and brooding footprint that is the anchor of their sound. His use of the 60's EKO floor bass foot pedals in place of their bass player at the same time as doing guitar acrobatics is amazing to behold. They have shot a video to show the use of these pedals in the studio that demystifies this rare keyboard somewhat, but you better have a subwoofer on your computer to hear it. The sound of this floor pedal is deep like a church pipe organ on steroids. The dubby tone that adds a sinister element as it rounds out the low end of their songs nicely. Their live sound is full and unlike any other two piece.
Combined the two have been in many bands (some together) including the Selby Tigers, His Mischief, Sean Na Na, Har Mar Superstar, the Dynamiters, Monarques, Arm, Grotto and many more.