Butchers of Sky Valley
93 N. 6th St.
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
This event is 21 and over
Butchers of Sky Valley
Underneath gusts of heavy distortion and murmurs of bombastic blues, the New York outfit unlocks psychedelic soul. Their self-titled 2013 debut for Heeled & Heavy Records, out on November 5, 2013, weaves a mystery worth pondering.
That mystery also happened to be six years in the making. In 2007, singer Mike Mokotow and the band’s former guitarist John Cosenza began writing songs together on a whim. As their creative partnership progressed, life's ebb and flow immensely impacted their compositions. Both gentlemen married, while Cosenza enjoyed the birth of his first child and endured the loss of his father during those formative years (which Mokotow had also experienced in his own life a decade prior to the band’s formation). The songs reflected shards of those moments in a sonic pastiche.
"So much happened over these past few years that it was hard not to pour ourselves into the music entirely," admits Mokotow. "There were a ton of changes. We faced both life and death. The album documents all of that, and it's a release. We wanted to make a cohesive piece. Now, it feels like a book from beginning to end."
That "book" is set to one hell of a soundtrack. Rousing guitars give way to the vocalist's hypnotic crooning, while drums stomp below. The frontman describes the group's sound best. He laughs, "One night after a couple of beers when asked about our sound I said, ‘If early ZZ Top bitch-slapped The Black Keys while Queens of the Stone Age was on the radio, that would be Butchers of Sky Valley.’"
Certainly, those influences receive a nod, but the boys really elevate themselves into a league of their own on tracks like the first single "Hold On Heartbreak". A roaring riff rises as a hazy hook seeps into focus. "I wanted something more universal with a simple groove," he says. "I hummed out the guitar parts, and we recorded that one live. Lyrically, it's like saying goodbye to an old friend. It's a send-off song."
Elsewhere on the album, "Pony Up" channels Black Sabbath with its brash full throttle riffage, while "Get Loose" shakes out enough Delta swagger to flood the Mississippi with a mind-numbing solo and the proclamation—"Let's get the blues!" Opener "Black Magic" casts its spell through ominous six-string fireworks and ethereal chanting. "I was in Berlin and had all of these crazy dreams and night terrors," the singer recalls. "When I got home, these lyrics came together. It's that idea of 'Black Magic' and unknowns, of being vulnerable to your subconscious."
There's a sense of intrigue inherent within Butchers of Sky Valley, from the band’s name to the album’s lyrical content. While Mokotow hints that the band name partly derives from the Kyuss classic Welcome to Sky Valley, it’s a name that leaves you pondering the meaning behind it, just like the writing on the album. The cinematic lyrics conjure up vivid imagery delivered with depth and immediacy, leaving the listener with the urge to continue exploring through their message tinged with a seductive purpose, like this line from “Mayday Revival”: “hail your cursed unholy war / leave the gentlemen at the door / wake the anchors from their graves / there’s a many souls to save”.
2012 saw Mokotow and Cosenza finish recording as they formed the final lineup for the band with the addition of guitarist Tim Brummer, bassist Jeff Knaster, and drummer Davis Rowan. Cosenza is now a studio partner. Now Butchers of Sky Valley are ready to really blast off. "I want people to walk away from this with curiosity," concludes Mokotow. "You can hopefully approach this record no matter what mood you're in. We're all dreamers, so let’s get acquainted."
- Rick Florino
There was a time when rock and roll wasn't just another musical genre, it was an attitude. A way to give voice to the voiceless in times of despair, passion, heartbreak, and rage. It was the limbo that guttural sex and violent drug abuse danced in through a reckless journey to a loud decay. It was a beautiful bomb.
As Dylan would say, "the times they are a-changin'". And although it's not likely the world will ever see another Hendrix or Zeppelin, there are still those who believe in the dark glory days of rock.
Yearning for those dog-days is The VeeVees. This two man rock band from Brooklyn has little concern for anything other than creating raw, truthful, visceral music. Frontman Garrett Cillo first met powerhouse drummer, Andrea Belfiore, at an underground masquerade on Halloween night in New York City's Chinatown, circa 2011.
Cillo, being an avid songwriter, was immediately drawn to Andrea's incredible adaptability with any composition thrown his way. The duo hammered on, quickly garnering an exciting ten song set. From that set, the band pushed for their debut EP, hooking up with versatile Producer/Engineer Ben Rice of Degraw Studios. The VeeVees along with Mr. Rice arose from the studio with a strong debut aptly titled, "Tell Me It's Electric".
The sound of the EP emulates a grooving, infectious and heavy nature, setting an exhilarated mood. It's one you can turn on late at night in the confines of your own bed to visualize and replay your own personal fantasies. This original soundtrack seems to be the mere kickoff to a long, prosperous journey among The VeeVees' rocking vessel. If "Tell Me It's Electric" is any indication of what's to come for these vicious Brooklynites, then hold on to your sanity and keep your arms and legs inside the coaster at all times.