It might sound strange, but it takes some serious soul to discover rock music's spirit and an absolute animal to find its superhuman funk. Luckily, the modern listener has Spirit Animal to turn to for all of the above.

The NYC-based band's latest EP, This Is a Test, masterfully melds decades of disparate elements in search of music at its most carnal, anthemic and party-ready. The heavy riffs and pounding rhythms of their psychedelic rock and pop create a sound seemingly from the ether, but grounded in the diversity of four gents who are gifted at the dying art of leaving it all on the stage. This is what led to label them "hands down our favorite rock n' roll discovery of 2012."

Spirit Animal frontman Steve Cooper is a D.C. area-born talent, uncoiling a multitude of skills that go beyond the realm of melodies, production and body sweat into the worlds of cheffing and web content craftsmanship. Cooper, whom KCRW calls "unbelievable," met Spirit Animal bassist Paul Michel in the nation's Capitol in 2002 where the Libyan-born Army brat spent much of his youth. Michel has toured with a half dozen bands including Georgie James (Saddle Creek Records) and it's his bottom -- he's the best dancer in the band-- that propels This Is a Test into otherworldly realms of low end theory. Upon that astral plane, guitarist Cal Stamp provides sterling pop sensibility and face-melting solos that recall an era when Guitar Gods were the real Pop Stars. Battening down the hatches is drummer Ronen Evron, an Israeli transplant by way of the technically unrivaled Berklee College of Music in Boston. The fearsome foursome adds up to an organism with one mission, and one mission only.

"Rock n' roll embodies the entirety of modern music's spirit, but you can't have one without the other," Cooper says. "The roll's the part people sometimes forget, and that's sad since that's the party part."

The list of influences that Spirit Animal rolls with is expansive, as pieces of familiarity peak out behind a smorgasbord of original ideas. Their new school nonchalance is balanced by a fervent bombasticism reminiscent of early 90s era Red Hot Chili Peppers. On the new EP, "Love Crime" blends Cooper's soulful expressions with a bar brawl hook that reflects the most universal of relationships gone bad. Elsewhere, there's David Byrne-cum-Mike Patton soapboxing over the art throb of "Lead!" The only thing more trippy than Stamp's guitar solo on first single "Crocodile Skins" is the forest Shaman enlightenment of the track's music video (shot shirtless in 22 degree weather, mind you). By the time This Is a Test delves into a tried and true na-na-na-na-na sing-a-long (on "WTF"), it's obvious that this band can and does do everything music fans could ask for.

Live, the band is at once manic and precise with a non-stop show full of careening melodies, call-and-response choruses, and lots (and lots) of the aforementioned body sweat. Spirit Animal have been called an "unmissable live act," and it's been said their "furious energy and fierce musicianship" are poised to not only stand the test of time, but help the masses re-live it.

Sage & Sour

Sage N Sour is the creation of multi-instrumental maestro Matt Peters.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Peters grew up under a musical roof: his father, Steve Peters, played upright bass with the Kansas City Symphony for over two decades. The piano in his house inspired Peters to practice from a young age, and the music his older brothers blasted from their rooms -- classic and early '90s rock, jazz and hip-hop -- is recognizable in Peters' later work.

Guitar is Peters' primary instrument, but not his only medium: he plays piano, bass guitar, and is fluent in turntable mixing and scratching. "I try to learn any instrument I can get my hands on," Peters says. "The only reason I don't play more is simply because I don't have them."

Peters has played in bands since he was 14. Anti-Crew, his most recent collaboration prior to Sage N Sour, received critical praise in both his hometown and in Chicago, where Peters studied at Columbia College and Harold Washington College.

With Sage N Sour, "I've totally changed the way I write songs," Peters says. Having worked as a producer making beats for other artists for years, he's veered off onto his own path, abandoning the usual practice of "sampling" pieces from other songs. In doing so, Peters found his voice, literally: he added his vocals to each track after recording all the underlying elements in individual layers, from percussion-sequencing to guitar licks to piano. "In my head, it sounds like The Gorillaz meets Muse meets Timbaland,' Peters says.

Sage N Sour is Peters' first project since moving back to Kansas City, and marks his emergence as a solo artist. His upcoming, as-of-yet-untitled album will be released on KG-Records.

Nikki & The Rooftop Punch

A girl and a boy playing garage rock in, of all places, a garage.
Band Interests
Tim: quoting The Room, cooking Nikki chicken, fine wine, flutes

Nikki: collecting VHS tapes, eating Tim's chicken, vodka, saxophones

Collectively: Super Nintendo, garages for both rock & sales, ice cream, ping pong (which normally results in Nikki getting punched in the face), discussing the history of SNL, Ninja Turtles

$5.00 - $7.00


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Spirit Animal with Sage & Sour, Nikki & The Rooftop Punch

Saturday, November 23 · 9:00 PM at Czar Bar