NYC

Interview: Brother-sister duo, Good Girl and the Bad Times

Jenny and Eli are brother and sister. They grew up writing music together in London but are now separated by 3000 miles of land and water: One in London and one in NYC. They  have released a decent amount of music under the title, Good Girl and the Bad Times. Now they are set to release a new record soon that, according to them, was created in a mad rush and on a low budget. I have to say this came as a shock to me because I fell immediately for their first single, “Love’s Lost”, and could never have guessed it was rushed or low budget. The duo calls their new found style, “underwater disco.” Check out “Love’s Lost” and read more about Good Girl and the Bad Times below:

 

 

MFL: How long had a brother/sister act been in the works before it came to fruition and when did it officially begin?

 Good Girl and the Bad Times (GG): We’ve been playing and writing together our entire lives. It’s always been fun for us and often we’d get swept up in some utterly ridiculous project like writing a series of fake Christmas #1 records from the 90’s, or scoring the music for an imaginary children’s tv show.

However, since around 2004 there were always actual, full time musical projects constantly underpinning that silliness. I recorded 2 albums in New York and Austin and would bring Eli in whenever possible. Over time it just became obvious that nothing was more fun than making music as a duo. It just took a while before we were brave enough to concentrate on taking that seriously. I’d say that we’ve been ‘officially’ a duo going on 5 years now.

 

MFL: How far apart in age are you two and how did you end up so geographically distanced?

 GG: We’re 6 years apart. I came out to the states to study music at Berklee when I was 19 and then moved to New York. Of course now we wish we could be closer as we’ve stumbled on a sound we really love and desperately want to gig it.  We’ll get there!

 

MFL: Do you ever get together to record or does every aspect of Good Girl and the Bad Times happen separately?

 GG: Previous recordings had a much healthier budget, so Eli would fly out to NY to participate and we were able to employ some amazing musicians and co producers to help us realize our ideas.

However, the record we are hoping to put out next was done on the scrawniest of budgets and as a result is our most honest effort. Essentially I saved enough to quit my job, fly out to London and crash in Eli’s house for the summer. He’d managed to borrow lots of synths and gear from friends and built a little bedroom studio, which we hardly left. Over the next 5 weeks we wrote and recorded 8 songs (we could have done more, but time ran out). Then when I flew back to NY I recorded all the vocals.

Occasionally, circumstances dictate we work transatlantically, but to be honest both of our confidences crumble a bit when we do it alone. I feel like you can hear it’s not as fun.

 

MFL: What is the concept of your new album and when can we expect it?

GG: The sound unites it more than a concept per se, although my lyrics tend to lean towards melancholic loves gone wrong. It’s quite dark in places and very layered but also has a kind of tender, nostalgic element to it. It’s the first record we’ve made that we feel really fits together as a piece – probably because of the way we wrote and recorded in a bit of a mad rush.

 

MFL: Tell me more about ‘underwater disco’, the words you use to describe your musical quality.

 GG: At first we were describing the vibe as ‘Twin Peaks if the role of Agent Cooper was played by Prince’, but it didn’t really roll off the tongue as a genre. ‘Underwater disco’ matched the undulating murky groove we settled into better. Of course, prior to being mixed by the incredible Danny Reisch (Octopus Project/Other Lives) and mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem) the sound more closely resembled a lumpy bowl of oatmeal and tears.

 

 

MFL: “Love’s Lost” seems to have a lot more of an electronic sound than your previous songs (based on my quick listen to the previous releases). What is different about “Love’s Lost” to you, if anything?

 GG: A combination of being broke and finally having the guts to make a record that matched what we love to listen to resulted in an electronic effort. Eli has been making gorgeous dance music separately for years now. At the risk of being crude we wanted to write music that our friends could fuck, dance and cry to. The stuff we made before was well written and arranged, but always felt slightly disingenuous. A bit of a pastiche. It took a constrained set of circumstances for us to feel confident enough to completely self produce. It’s less about us trying electronic music on for size, and more like this is the music we should have always been making.

 

MFL: Who are your musical influences or inspirations?

 GG: I mean we both listen to everything but with regard to this record there’s a lot of old disco influence, early Eurythmics, Prince, Kate Bush, Jai Paul, Yazoo, James Blake… we had a lot of fun listening parties throughout the process. There’s also a lot of stuff you would probably never pick out when you hear it like John Maus, Radiohead and Fleetwood Mac but they’re in there.

 

MFL: Where did you two grow up and what was the music scene like?

 GG: We grew up in London. We’ve both been pretty obsessive listeners our entire lives so we would gravitate to all sorts. As teenagers Eli was more into indie and folk whereas I would usually find myself at Garage raves at 8 in the morning. As we got a bit older we both started to get quite heavily into electronic music, techno and pop. Really it was only a matter of time before our own music reflected that.

 

MFL: Do you release music under your own label? If so, touch on some pros and cons of having your own label.

GG: Currently we release under our own label Good Bad Records. The beautiful thing is we can stand by a project 100%. We love this record, and no nasty suit has had his fingers in our creative pie. That being said, now the music is completed, we are open to signing with a better indie label as we’d love these tunes to get in the ears of more people and finance a proper tour.

 

MFL: What have your experiences been like performing live and what type of venues do you prefer?

 GG: Our recording experience is actually decades ahead of our live. We do love playing. We want more of it. It’s a bit of a slog getting there what with the 3000 miles that currently separate us. We had a couple of years together in London playing our older material as a duo (the stripped down set sounded like 60’s gloom pop). Looking back it was slightly mad though- we didn’t want to give up on these incredibly dense arrangements so we’d end up trying to play 4 instruments each at once! The new show should free Jenny up to dance around a bit. We’re in the process of trying to figure out how this record is going to work on stage which is really exciting.

 

Keep up with them on Facebook and Soundcloud! Photo credit for cover photo: Amy Gawtkin, photo credit for following photos: Jamie Paterson and Alix Brown.

 

Album Review: “Rock and Roll Bye Bye” by SKATERS

As a listener, you don’t really know what to expect when the opening track begins. It’s soft, simple, echoes in the back of your mind. Then it explodes, and blasts full speed ahead. You know you’re in for a wild ride on SKATERS’ sophomore full length, Rock and Roll Bye Bye. The trio is based in NYC and recently parted ways with Warner Brothers record label to take full control of their musical product. The new LP which is due out March 24th is going to be released on the band’s own label, Yonks Records.

 The opening cut, “Just Like Your Mother”, bleeds into the hippy dippy psych-rock track, “Northern Soul.” The track rides like a smooth wave, swaying the listener back and forth, eyes closed. But, at the same time it maintains a raw quality, a bit of an edge, gritty guitar and sandy vocals, smoothed over by psychedelic strings and fading out hand claps at the end.

“Head on to Nowhere” has a bit more of a grunge feel and retro rock tune, “Song 19 (Revisited)” is short and sweet, highlighting the true diversity in sound on Rock and Roll Bye Bye. Slower tracks like “Restless Babe” and “I’m Not a Punk” offer clever lyricism to make up for the lack in speed. “I’m Not a Punk” is a sweet little ballad where the band pleads, “Come on man, I’m not a punk! I’m a punk rocker,” as these two characters really are different.

My personal favorite on the album is “Respect the Hustle.” The track has a lighthearted darkness (yes this is possible) to it, and pushes the bands focus to a more electronic feel. They sing:

 

New York, New York, New York, New York

Is the city of dreams.

Some come from far and wide to see what that means.

It’ll take your heart out just to see how you bleed.

New York, New York, New York,

It’s a heartbreak machine.

 

Deep, gravely vocals, sliding electronic beeps and boops, and interesting chord progressions make the track a unique listen.

The record rounds out with the penultimate title track, perhaps paying homage to the infamous chamber choir vocals of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones and finishes with the single, “In Your Head.” The accompanying music video follows a young teenage girl who wanders through a rainy town, dancing, kicking and stomping in frustration but at moments expressing pure bliss and resolution. The video captures the complicated innerworkings of the human mind:

 

 

 

The LP leaves you feeling satisfied and refreshed, not bored or exhausted from listening to the same genre for 12 tracks. The full spectrum of rock-related genres is visited and at the start of each track, you don’t really know what you’re in for. Give SKATERS’ upcoming LP a chance because, they’re not punks! They’re punk rockers! Rock and Roll Bye Bye is due out March 24th on Yonks Records and you can pre-order on iTunes now.

Benefit concerts for Planned Parenthood and ACLU featuring Sharon Van Etten, Beirut, Kevin Morby and more

This week in New York City, a fantastic line up of bands are performing in support of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. 100% of the proceeds go to these groups. This is an incredible opportunity to support these two charities and to simultaneously enjoy the music of musicians  you may already love or have never heard of.

Here is a playlist that will give you a sampling of the artists that will be there performing:

 

January 18th @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sharon Van Etten
Beirut
Daniel Rossen
Kevin Morby
Hand Habits
$40 (tix)

January 19th @ Rough Trade
Helado Negro
Beirut
Daniel Rossen
Kevin Morby
Ruth Garbus
$30 (tix)

 

About Planned Parenthood:
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions.

About The ACLU:
For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Whether it’s achieving full equality for LGBT people, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age of widespread government surveillance, ending mass incarceration, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than 1 million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., to safeguard everyone’s rights.

New track from Big Thief: “Human”

Big Thief comes to from Brooklyn, NY and with them they bring their debut record, Masterpiece, which is due out May 27th on Saddle Creek. They’ve recently released a new single off of the record titled, “Humans.” The track explores that out of control feeling and sense of vulnerability that comes when love has its greatest grip on you: you’ve shared all of you and in that, you’ve “become lost in love” as Adrienne Lenker of Big Thief states.

You can pre-order Masterpiece from Saddle Creek or on iTunes. Catch the band on tour starting June 1st.

Wed. June 1 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club w/ Nada Surf, Birds of Youth
Thu. June 2 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live w/ Nada Surf, Birds of Youth
Sat. June 4 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club w/ Nada Surf, Birds of Youth
Sun. June 5 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ Sam Evian, Twain, Tiny Hazards
Sat. June 11 – St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room w/ M. Ward
Sun. June 12 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall w/ M. Ward
Mon. June 13 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bluebird w/ M. Ward
Thu. June 16 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall w/ M. Ward
Fri. June 17 – Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater w/ M. Ward
Fri. Sept. 23 – New York, NY @ Central Park Summerstage w/ Lucius, JD McPherson

Music video from NYC musician, Brooke Forman

Up and coming electronic mega voice, Brooke Forman, will be sharing her debut EP this March. The upcoming EP was produced by Benny Reiner, the drummer for the stellar Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” Forman is an NYC original who’s already built up a reputation in NYC and other major cities. Check out the colorful and vibrant music video for her empowering track, “Lioness”:

 

 

Find out more about her music on her website and Facebook page.

Fake Guns Remix for Mainland’s track, “Outcast”

Just as sparkly as the original track, Brooklyn-based producer, Fake Guns’ remix of NYC band, Mainland’s track “Outcast” is irrefutably dance-worthy. This remix is the first remix delivered to the world by Fake Guns. Check it out!

Mainland has been gaining momentum exponentially since the release of their debut, Girls Unknown EP, followed by the Shiner EP which was produced by Jim Eno of Spoon. Mainland’s ability to spin stories of late night escapades in NYC amidst beckoning guitar riffs, contagious choruses and dance-able beats has gotten to where they are now.

A gift in the form of song, “Snow” by Carl Gershon

Need something 80’s-inspired today? I do, every day. Face melting guitars, popping synths, and a funky beat intermixed, make “Snow” the perfect addition to your contemporary 80’s-inspired collection. Just wait for the guitar solo about 3/4’s of the way through.

Carl Gershon was born and raised in New York City and has always been a student of music. He graduated both from Northwestern University and the School of Audio Engineering NYC. With a variety of musical roles under his belt including score-writing and touring as a lead guitarist, Carl is now deep into a solo project. You can hear his musical inspirations, like David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Van Halen, NERD and others, in his more contemporary version of their sounds.

I can hardly wait for more from Carl Gershon. Check out his Facebook page  and official website for more!