Bozeman

Album Review: “Geometry” by ESC

The album opens with my favorite cut, “Woodvine.” Slide guitar and a whimsy, dream-like melody lead you into ESC’s debut record, Geometry. Dale Hiscock, the man behind ESC, was born, raised, and part of multiple musical projects in the very place I’ve spent the past decade of my life, Bozeman, Montana. Somehow, we never crossed paths in this little place called Bozeman but now music has crossed our paths. Dale, based out of Boise, Idaho now, is making music of his own but also finding ways to incorporate the local music scene. When introducing his music to me he related his sound to bands like “American Football, Radical Face, Local Natives and stuff like that.” There is something comforting and familiar about ESC’s music but it simultaneously stands on its own. I second his likeness to the bands he mentioned. But, I also hear a bit of Death Cab For Cutie slip in there on “So it Goes”, a gentle track with thumping rhythms, a deep underlying bassline, and a catchy guitar lick that stitches it all together.

 

 

Upon listening to Geometry in one sitting, the seven tracks fly by but in no real hurry. The general mood of the record is slow motion; mellow. “Real Estate” is a purely instrumental track. Its hypnotic nature requires no lyrics and allows the listener’s thoughts to ebb and flow with the changing instruments while the drum beat remains constant. “Fireflies” finishes with a beautiful, and all too short, piano version of the songs’ melody, again highlighting the fact that this record is not rushing to get you to the final cuts.

You can purchase Geometry on Bandcamp and follow ESC on Facebook and Soundcloud as well.

Night & Day: An evening of Bozeman-grown music and art – Friday July 10th

Friday July 10th is going to be a spectacular evening for art and music here in Bozeman. As part of the downtown Bozeman Art Walk, Night & Day, a collaborative event between Thousand Arms, three local bands and many local artists, will take place at The Foundry and Masonic Temple. This event is the living, breathing interpretation of night & day through the eyes, ears, hands and tools of musicians and artists from our very own Bozeman community. Ranges, Modern Sons and Liv are the local bands who will be performing and over 20 artists will also be showcasing their work at the event. The evening starts at 6pm with the art in The Foundry and will be followed by the performance upstairs, at The Masonic Temple where local beer will be provided by Bridger Brewing. The art is free to view but the musical event upstairs is $10. Tickets are available at Bozeman’s own, Cactus RecordsThe Facebook event has all of this information and more. Ranges is Mark Levy (born and raised New York, NY), Wilson Raska (Montana native) and CJ Blessum (Montana native). CJ owns and runs The Low Country, a recording studio in Amsterdam, MT and where all of the musical guests for Friday’s event recorded their interpretations of “night and day.” I had the pleasure of talking to my dear friend, Mark Levy who plays the drums in Ranges, about Night & Day. This is a special occasion for Ranges, as it’s their first live performance.

MFL: This is a pretty anticipated gig considering Ranges has never played live! What sort of preparation have you fellows done for this event in order to allow Ranges to play live?

Ranges (Mark Levy): The prep for the gig has been fun. We had to add three more musicians (Joey Caldwell, Ethan Demarais and Mario Miner) to help fill out the sound. Our recordings have so many layers we needed more players. We also have a backing track for some piano and midi beats. We synced that up with visuals that will be showing behind us on a large screen.

MFL: A 24 minute song is in store, I hear. What is it called and how did the idea arise for a 24 minute song?

Ranges (ML): The 24 min song is called Night and Day. Each minute represents an hour. That concept was discussed first, then writing and recording the 24 min followed.

MFL: Along those same lines, can you elaborate on the writing process for the 24 minute song? Were there moments of hesitation where you were 20 minutes into the 24 and you wanted to scrap the whole thing and start over?

Ranges (ML): CJ had a basic structure on guitar clocking in around 24 min. The original idea was solid. We had enough parts so editing was easy enough to do. The song fades in and out so we have it at exactly 24 min.

MFL: How much collaboration has there been with the other bands and artists involved in the Night & Day event? I know Modern Sons and Liv will be playing as well.

Ranges (ML): The other bands were just told they have 24 minutes of time and they had to write songs based on the night/day theme. No musical collaboration. Other than that, all bands were recorded at The Low Country studio. All the recordings will be available on one disc at the event. The art show at the foundry earlier in the evening was presented the same way to artists. Do whatever medium you do, just base it on your interpretation on the night/day theme. Some of the art I’ve seen looks incredible so far.

n&d

MFL: Are there any other events in store for Ranges this summer or fall?

Ranges (ML): As of right now, this is the only live gig this summer. If an opportunity presents itself to play another gig, I’m sure we would do it. We already have plans to record another album. It will be based on the concept on which the band started. Montana.

Today, I laid on my bed with my eyes closed and listened to Ranges’ track, ‘Night & Day.’ It put my entire day into perspective. It shrank down every hour to a single minute. Days go by so quickly as it is but some how, taking 24 minutes out of my busy day to listen, just listen, to a day in a song, made time slow down for me. I was forced to focus on every sound that came into my ears. I tried to correlate the minute in the song with the hours in the day. It made me grateful for the fact that our days are 24 hours and not 24 minutes. Life flies by as it is. Maybe there is a planet somewhere in another solar system with 24 minute days.All I know is I’m happy to be on planet Earth, in Bozeman, MT.

Listen below to a clip of my favorite part of ‘Night & Day.’ It occurs at about 18:10 or 6:10 pm if you prefer to look at it that way:

Please join myself and others Friday, July 10th for this experience.

Additionally, I posted about Ranges a couple other times. Click here and here to check out those posts.

Heatwarmer: Seattle Experimental Pop Group…TOMORROW! (Wednesday, April 1st)

Please, I beg you PLEASE, do NOT forget your knee pads, helmet, and water proof clothing for the show tomorrow. This advice came directly from Heatwarmer member, Luke Bergman, who was gracious enough to take the time to answer my questions about Heatwarmer, music, and their tour. Heatwarmer is Luke Bergman, Aaron Otheim, and Evan Woodle and they will be here tomorrow, Wednesday, April 1st right here in beautiful Bozeman, MT with special guests, Modern Sons. Read on Music For Lunchers, Luke’s witty answers will keep you entertained and really set the tone for what Wednesday’s show is going to be like.

This is kind of a weird game and it is borderline cheesy but I like to play it sometimes. Can you describe Heatwarmer (any and every aspect of the band including your collective personalities and Heatwarmer’s musical style) by using each letter of your name? Meaning, a word that starts with “H”, a word that starts with “E”, a word that starts with”A”, “T” etc!

I read that Heatwarmer has been in existence since2008. Can you give me a synopsis of how and why Heatwarmer came to be? It’d be great if you included where the name “Heatwarmer” came from and a little background about each of you guys.

 

We all know each other more or less from college. Luke and Aaron played together and sat together in theory class in music school from 2005-08 or so. Evan went to the same school a little later and we met him through mutual friends. We’ve all played together in a number of different projects. The original songs of Heatwarmer started as a recording project of Luke’s. Songs he would post on Myspace. Then a live band started to play the songs, which Luke and Aaron are original members of. Now the writing and playing is more collaborative. The name Heatwarmer came from a story of a kid who called the jet that shoots hot water into the hot tub the “Heatwarmer.” This kid, a cousin of our friend Garrett, was then named Heatwarmer from that day on. I heard the story and thought it was funny and would be a good band name too.

Hearty

Ethical

Amplified
Tattooless
Wannabe
Anti-Authority
Radio-friendly
Mirthful
Embarrassed
Rattlesnake

I decided to insert this gallery here so you can try to make sense of their acronym in conjunction with some photos from their current tour. It all ties together rather nicely. 

 

I’m curious about your musical inspirations. I feel like your music is such a complex mixture of so many genres and honestly, I’ve never heard anything quite like it! I literally have no idea where one of your songs is going to take me based on the first 30 seconds. I feel like “Good Stuff” and “Rejoice” are really good examples of this. Feel free to comment on your musical inspirations collectively or individually.

 We jump around a lot in our songs, I agree. It’s just fun to do. As for our influences, one of the common threads between the three of us is that we all studied jazz in college. So there’s a lot of that in there. Other than jazz we like many things. I (Luke) personally like every genre. There’s good stuff in every genre. I am drawn the most to music that sounds emotionally present, or has an immediacy to it. Aaron says: “I like music that has energy behind it and isn’t just being made out of obligation.” Well said, Aaron. In the car we’ve been listening to Thelonious Monk, Lawrence Welk, Glenn Gould, D’Angelo, Adrianne Lenker (from a rad band we played with in New York), and just scanning the radio a lot. Been stopping a lot on Country or Praise & Worship or oldies on AM. It’s fun to get a feel for the place you’re driving around in by what’s on the radio. It’s all mostly the same stuff everywhere, just subtle differences mainly in the commercials. I would say 80% of the time we’re not listening to anything in the car though. We hear at least a couple bands every night too and that’s been great. Lots of different stuff. And lots more regional differences than what you would hear on the radio. We saw this rad high school band in Sioux Falls called Androgynous Squash. They were sweet. Seems like there are a lot of good High School bands in Sioux Falls. We love the Star Wars sound track. We probably lean towards having pretty “nerdy” taste in music.

You mentioned that your current album was the first album you recorded in a studio. What was your recording experience like previous to this new album? Also, when do we get to sample this new album?

Yeah, we recorded our last album in a studio called Avast in Seattle. We worked with a producer named Randall Dunn. He was so great to work with and gave us a lot of ideas we may not have had otherwise. He’s like an expert on synthesizers and drum tone and guitar tone so it happened to be a good fit for what we do. I would say our music references a lot of different styles and recordings that we love, and he seems to understand all the stuff we’re shooting for. Like we’ll say, this part is pretty Herbie or this guitar part should be Sabbathy and he’ll know what to do to get the right sounds, and really quickly too so we aren’t ever waiting around too much or laboring over getting something perfect. He sets a good tempo for being productive in the studio and also generating creativity. I don’t know when it’s going to be out. We’re trying to look for a label, so if you know of any you should put in a good word for us. Our last recordings we did ourselves at home. Just like set aside an hour or two a day to work on it. It was about 6 months of doing that. I kind of like the studio method more cause it gets done faster.

I’ve been looking at your tour schedule. YOU GUYS HAVE LITERALLY BEEN PLAYING ALL OVER THE COUNTRY IN THE LAST MONTH! You started in Portland, a week later you were down in Austin, Texas, less than a week later you were in Greensboro, North Carolina, three days later Brooklyn, then Canada. This is an incredible spread! Can you give me some insight as to how you came up with all of these destinations?

This is our 7th or so tour and every time we go out we just hit a handful of new places in addition to places we’ve already been. Before long you’ve played in a bunch of places. On this trip I think we played in ten or twelve new places. We also have gotten some good recommendations and connections from our friends that have been on tour too.

Along the same lines of your current tour, what are your top three favorite destinations so far and why? Do the audiences differ greatly between locations?

 Besides Seattle I take it? The Big Apple has been awesome for us. We have millions of friends that have moved there so it’s always like a friend reunion. I’ve heard (and experienced) that playing there can be pretty rough sometimes, but we’ve managed to have nothing but amazing shows there though. There are so many good bands there too. Chico, California is really rad. We’ve played there like 4 times or so and have just made really good friends there that we always look forward to hanging with. It’s a crazy place full of weirdos, and it’s a really supportive music scene especially for experimental stuff. There’s also an amazing swimming place there. As for the third choice, it’s a tossup maybe Rock Island, IL or maybe Toronto, Nashville. I dunno. We’re super lucky we’ve had great shows and responses all over the place.

 You can kind of tell which cities get lots of music coming through. Audience members’ response to the music can kind of indicate how many other shows they go to on a regular basis. Like cities that are really saturated, people may really like the music but you wouldn’t be able to tell so much from their body language or expressions. On the other hand sometimes playing in a small town where you’re like the only band playing that week, it’s more typically for people to dance and get a crazy maybe even if they don’t like it that much or aren’t listening too close. Both types of audience are cool. I can kind of go either way as an audience member myself, but probably lean more towards stoicism and rationed excitement, although I was groovin last night in Sioux Falls.

 So, Bozeman Wednesday April 1st. Is this your first time playing in Bozeman? What kind of expectations do you have?  AND, what should concert attendees expect from you guys?

 This will be our first time ever playing in Bozeman. I don’t have any expectations really. It is a Wednesday afterall. I just expect we’ll try to have fun with some of the locals. Go with the flow. Concert attendees should absolutely wear helmets and kneepads and waterproof clothing and should not come at all if they have any tropical bird allergies. They can expect us to play some of our songs and try our hardest not to mess them up.

Local Bozeman band, Modern Sons, will be opening for Heatwarmer. Modern Sons has been touring ALL over Montana. I feel like every time I check my email I get a notification that these guys are playing a show somewhere nearby, so they’ve definitely been busy. You heard Luke: helmets, kneepads, waterproof clothing and it would be wise to be sure you’re not allergic to tropical birds. This is going to be a SERIOUS SHOW! See you ALL tomorrow night at 9pm! Here’s a link to the Facebook event. Tickets are $6 at Cactus Records and $8 at the door…it’s a DEAL!

Here’s one of my favorite songs of Heatwarmer’s called, “Keep Shining Through.”

Additionally, here’s a link to Heatwarmer’s Facebook page and website and Modern Sons Facebook page.

Screaming guitars, synth and brass, OH MY!

That’s just to name a few of the instruments in Roadkill Ghost Choir’s arsenal and doesn’t scratch the surface of lead vocalist, Andrew Shepard’s voice and it’s wide range of pitch and tone….AND I can’t forget to mention their hair. Shepard and others in the band can boast for having nearly butt-length locks, something even I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to claim!

The synth quality is more pronounced in their newest album, ‘In Tongues’, whereas their EP, ‘Quiet Light’, is more on the heavy rock side with hints of bluegrass hidden in the raging banjo riffs. Regardless, their music will make you question whether you are truly listening to rock and roll, bluegrass, folk or maybe even a touch of pop or country twang sometimes, depending on what track you’re tasting.

Roadkill Ghost Choir is Andrew Shepard, brothers Zach and Maxx Shepard, Stephen Garza and Kiffy Myers. This quintet of Florida-originating rockers can put on one heck of a show. They passed through Bozeman last summer as headliners. Hollow Wood, whom I’ve mentioned many times before on Music For Lunch, opened for them as the groups were touring together for a bit. Despite the fact that quite a bit of the crowd had hit the sack (yes, I’m saying that most people at the show went home to go to bed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t understand) before Roadkill Ghost Choir made it on stage, the Roadkill boys played as if they were playing for a packed house, which, means the world to me as a music fan. AND, they still claimed that they had a blast at the show, playing for small crowds is part of being a musician and part of touring but I still believed they deserved the Filling Station to be packed wall to wall with screaming fans. Maybe next time they come to Bozeman, which I really hope they do.

OK, I’m done blabbing, I promise. Time to get to some music. I’ll start with a favorite of mine off of their new album, which they played in Bozeman last year before the release of ‘In Tongues.’ This track is called “No Enemy”:

One of their biggest hits, which they played on the Letterman show, is “Beggars’ Guild.”

“Beggars’ Guild” is off of ‘Quiet Light’ as is my favorite track of theirs, “Devout”:

If you like what you hear, start hoping they come back! Or show them some love and send them a message!