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New music review: Firefriend

Wed, 14 Jun 2017

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Firefriend The Black Hole

There was a thread in American music in the late 1960s that someone untangled across the U.S., then stretched over to Europe, where it took root in 80s shoegaze. It ties together bands as disparate as the 13th Floor Elevators, the Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Mazzy Star, Blonde Redhead, and the Jesus & Mary Chain. It’s noise rock or math punk or psychedelic or shoegaze or doom: It’s the down-tuned sound of chaos and beauty, and while no one was looking, it also worked its way through the Americas and took root in Brazil under the name Firefriend.

The Black Hole (Little Cloud Records, 2017)—a tight three-song EP that clocks in at 21 minutes—is the eighth release from the São Paulo trio. This is music to play in the dark, a sonic soundscape made for dreaming beside the campfire or—as the title track demands—it’s music for turning up and driving through the desert night with, full-tilt and fully immersed. The bass grooves move you along; the drums tell your heart to beat; the guitar-work needles its way into your subconscious and pulls forth demons; and the vocals ease you back to sleep.

Firefriend pulled that thread from the 60s and created something that feels like a bit of everything that thread ever touched. Their sound doesn’t rush to the pop hook or stall itself in the crunchy riffs, it glides above everything else in its own orbit, echoing the best parts of psychedelic, shoegaze, and noise by taking it all into strange new fields of bliss. And with a vinyl release from Portland’s Little Cloud Records, it can be heard as God intended at epic 45 rpm. Do yourself a favor: Turn the music on, the lights off, and let yourself go.

Bottom line: 4/5

Standout track:

  • The Black Hole
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Live review: The Orwells

Sun, 21 May 2017

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The Orwells at the Grog Shop (Cleveland, Ohio)

Once again the Orwells show ended on Friday (May 19, 2017) with a traditional crisis as the line between crowd and stage evaporated at the Grog Shop (Cleveland, Ohio). After storming through a solid hour that opened with “Black Francis” and ended with “Double Feature” from the new record (Terrible Human Beings), things started to go sideways for the crowd.

In a rare move for the Grog, additional uniformed security materialized and took up positions with the band as the show wound down, in hindsight as a way to try and avoid the Orwellian Wave that always washes over them at the end. Even more rare for the Grog was the extra security forcibly removing someone from the show, which may have been inspired by an openly lit joint. The removal caused a minor surge toward the door—friends and concerned citizens wondering if they should help, and whose side they were on—but the band played on. At least, without singer Mario Cuomo, who had left during the long musical wind down of “Double Feature,” leaving Dominic Corso to wrap up the vocals (he did so admirably).

As the band left the stage, Cuomo suddenly came tearing back in from the front doors, as if he’d been out front smoking and had got wind of the shenanigans when the bouncers earned their titles. He wound through the crowd and the Orwells resumed the stage for an encore, which didn’t even make it through a complete song before the crowd swelled forward, taking the stage and hanging from the rafters, and the Grog ingloriously killed the soundboard and turned on the flood lights. The Orwells—still trying to play—didn’t seem too happy to have the show end on someone else’s terms, but with their reputation, it can’t have been the first time. Cuomo wound back through the crowd—which scattered in the light faster than vampires caught off guard at daybreak—and vanished himself, but not before a few pats on the back and thumbs up from the fans.

All-in-all, it was a great show—the kind of show you talk about later. It was exactly how good rock shows should be: Loud, unwavering, and dangling over the edge of chaos. If the band felt their treatment unfair, maybe next time they’ll play Mahall’s or Now That’s Class, where their antics have a better chance of going unnoticed.


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1706 Blue Post-It Notes

Kill the Noise + Feed Me | Halsey | Weezer | Galactic | White Reaper
Bruce Springsteen | Blonde Redhead | Zig Zags | The Scandals | Now, Now
Sir Sly | Bleeker | Dorothy | All Them Witches | Mavis Staples



1705 Banana Bread on the Stove

White Reaper | Ron Gallo | Rebel and a Basketcase | Halsey | Kelly Lee Owens
Run the Jewels | Kiss Me Deadly | K.Flay | Empire of the Sun
Lana Del Rey feat. The Weeknd | Portugal. The Man | Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Chastity Belt | FIDLAR | Wings | Bleachers | Post Death Soundtrack



1704 Morning Rush

Nine Inch Nails | Alice Glass | Lee Hazlewood | Jessica Hoop | Milo Greene
Crystal Fairy | Bleeding Knees Club | Feels | The Black Angels | The Shins
Le Butcherettes | K.Flay | Decorum | Colleen Green | Bleached | Old 97's



1703 Invested in the Team

Goldfrapp | Portugal. The Man with Zoe Manville | Ryan Adams
Alela Diane, Ryan Francesconi | Kaskets with Sheng Moua | Nalyssa Green
Temples | The Orwells | Chevelle | Bleached | Kelvin Jones
Lana Del Rey | Gothic Tropic | The Black Angels | L.A. Witch



1702 Timeout Override

Wax Tailor | The Walters | The Babe Rainbow | Lucius | Kaleo | Drab Majesty
Marian Hill | Tom Tom Club | Muddy Magnolias | Quilt | Cherry Glazerr
Silja Sol | Run the Jewels feat. BOOTS | Descendents | Girlpool



1701 Too Many Scissors

The Mystery Lights | The Sounds | Lady Gaga | Rag'n'Bone Man
Hello Violet | Trudy and the Romance | Golden Streets of Paradise
War on Women | Saint Motel | Dirty Heads | GEMS | Walk Off the Earth
Hembree | Kim Gordon | The Shins | machineheart | STRFKR | Japandroids



1600 2016 Year in Review

Plague Vendor | Savages | Operators | Aurora | Band of Skulls
Brian Fallon |Ladyhawke | Bleached | SWMRS | Beach Slang | The Pack A.D.
Kitten | Lush | White Lung | Metallica | Magic Shoppe



© Jack Beltane | read books, listen to music, see shows, die happy