13 07 2013

New music writing from Ignas Bautrenas!

“It’s important to have goals and dreams,” Alec Stephens III tells me, the lead singer and frontman of the soulful and funky Bushwick music collective I AM THE THIRD, “and to me it kind of speaks to the music that we create, which is positive, but real. Stuff that people struggling could relate to, people hustling could relate to, people striving could relate to… Celebrating where you are and where you want to go – that’s what our music is to me.” Minutes ago I AM THE THIRD successfully headlined the show at Rockwood Music Hall, a two-space venue located on one of the many dimly lit streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It’s not an easy task for a local music collective – that isn’t even local to the area they are playing – to bring a big crowd for the show that begins less than an hour to midnight on a Sunday, but I AM THE THIRD did just that and the band couldn’t be happier with the big turn-out. It’s now long past midnight and we are standing outside the venue in the breeze too cold for April. Constantly interrupted by the local homeless we are chatting about the essence that makes I AM THE THIRD the band that it is today.


“A lot of people ask me what genre of music we play, and I could never quite pinpoint it. The sound that we create comes from many different musical inspirations,” bassist Kat Melen shares. “However different, those inspirations are blending together really well at this point,” adds keyboardist Brandon Bujnowski. “We’ve been together for two years now and all of our different styles and backgrounds that we come from are turning into one thing that is I AM THE THIRD. We have ‘the sound’ now that we all understand and respect.”

“Prince pioneered the Minneapolis sound,” Kat laughs, ”so I guess we’re pioneering the Bushwick sound.”

We all laugh along, but she is right. It’s difficult to accurately describe the band’s sound. Although deeply rooted in soul, funk, R&B, and indie rock, the music that I AM THE THIRD creates is nothing like any of the mentioned genres. It’s an original explosion of telepathic energy within a large group of people. The musicians are then able to radiate that same energy onto the crowd and pull everyone around them into their own positivity ritual. A tight rhythmic section, consisting of the drummer Steve Rays, percussionist LS Bell, and bassist Kat Melen, provides an ever-present tribal spirit. Brandon Bujnowski’s quick and playful touch on keys dances along to the beat, while Dan Victor’s guitar ties the whole wild rhythm together. As the soulful voice of Alec Stephens III soars over the music you can imagine the risky harmonies falling apart at any second, but they never do. The musicians feel exactly where they are all going with their music and they hit it just right.

“Groove Machine” live performance from Rockwood


“I come from an acting background,” Alec tells me, “but when I moved to Brooklyn I was inspired by the music scene there. Soon enough I wanted to be a part of it.”

“First time I met Alec,” Dan recalls, “he was the MC at a newly formed Potion Collective open mic. He would introduce the bands that went on to play.”

A lot of musicians of I AM THE THIRD met in one way or another through these Potion Collective open mic nights, but Alec was the catalyst that put the band together. “He really has a vision and we let him guide that vision,” Dan explains. “We all come from different backgrounds musically and we all contribute our own personal touch. We create music that truly is a blend. We’re inspired and we’re trying to attain a certain level of being, a connection with people.”


JEANNE MARIE BOES: Hard work breeds sweet fruits

29 11 2012

New music writing from Ignas Bautrenas!


“Someday I want to make my living just playing music,” Jeanne Marie Boes tells me. This young singer-songwriter from Astoria, Queens doesn’t doubt her upcoming success one bit. “Music is my life,” she says, “I go to sleep and wake up to it. For the last few years I’ve been taking every possible way to make it as a performer and I believe that hard work breeds sweet fruits.” There is not a sign of doubt in Jeanne’s voice and upon listening to her music performed live and on her records I must admit her confidence is well-deserved.

Jeanne on BalconyTV in 2012 – watch the video here

Jeanne grew up in a house where Frank Sinatra was played alongside Led Zeppelin, so her musical background is anything but one-sided. “My parents always listened to different kinds of music and I loved it. We had a piano in the house, so naturally I began tapping the keys and hearing the different sounds it made. I started playing the piano seriously at an early age and simply never stopped. Probably never will,” says Jeanne.

Jeanne’s latest video for “Answered Call”


MARY DESIREE: Music is my sanctuary

25 07 2012

New music writing from Ignas Bautrenas!


“Music is my sanctuary,” says Mary Desiree. “It’s my shelter from the wind when I feel angry or upset. To me music is like libraries and diners… When I’m feeling mad or upset about something – that’s where I go to find peace. Or I just sit down and write a song!”

Mary Desiree, the 21-year old singer and songwriter from Queens comes across as a quiet girl with a radiant smile, but this is a classic case of don’t-judge-the-book-by-it’s-cover. Her music speaks of heartbreaks and loss. “Music is very personal to me,” says Mary. “Every song I write is based on something real, something that I have experienced. This is my way of dealing with things.” She admits, however, that the first few songs she ever wrote were a lot happier. “I was a high school sophomore taking vocal training classes and writing a well-structured song was a homework assignment. And just like any normal sixteen-year-old I wrote about love and wore a heart on my sleeve. It was very cheesy. But that was years ago. Time passed. I got introduced to new things. New experiences happened. My view on the world had changed and, naturally, so did my songwriting.”

Now Mary Desiree is a waitress and a mother, but often enough she picks up her guitar and makes the magic happen. “Having so much to do every day makes me tired and more irritable. And when I get irritated – I write. It’s a great way to release emotions. Anger is my inspiration nowadays and songwriting is my way of coping with it. I realized that the songs that I wrote when I was upset and angry – they are the most beautiful ones. It’s strange… I am normally a pretty happy person.”


SNT + NJ Calder + Dark Party = VIDEO SHOOT!

30 04 2012

we’re teaming up with NJ CALDER (of korean horror flick fear eats the seoul) to do a video for ACEY SLADE & THE DARK PARTY this wednesday at SAINT VITUS BAR – if you come to the show that night you can be in the video too!

be there and rock out with usdoors @ 8pm, $10!

it’s gonna be wild..


– da leopard

ps: we totally surpassed our top hits EVER this month – over 3,000 views… YES! 

THANK YOU! please keep reading, keep sharing, keep liking. we appreciate everything!

ed tullett: poetic sounds from the UK

12 04 2012

i first heard 18-year-old UK musician ed tullett‘s song “ribboned blood” on a random tumblr playlist, and was struck immediately by the jangling banjo and his strong, distinct sound, both musically and lyrically. the brooding acoustics on his new album never joy – released december 2011 – were completely (and impressively!) written, recorded, and produced by ed himself. he’s a great example of just how independently successful you can be when you embrace what the internet can do for your music. never joy is available for free download on bandcamp, and thanks to his open dialogue with fans from around the globe on multiple social media platforms (and of course his undeniable talent), the first pressing of his CD recently sold out. we spoke to ed to find out more about his music, what inspires him, how he feels about the new model of the music industry, and more. check it out!


FUCTIPHINO: live + interview!

10 04 2012

New music writing from Ignas Bautrenas!

FUCTIPHINO: 1) A mystical animal; 2) #%^&!@$?/*; 3) A punk rock trio from Brooklyn, NY.

Lee Pilgrim drives me to Brooklyn and I meet up with the rest of FUCTIPHINO around 1pm. Their practice space is located in the basement of an apartment building, on one of Bushwick’s residential streets. They’re hanging outside, sipping their morning coffee, and Babs is cursing out loud at the paper cup for being too hot. Tim Skrewd is chewing his sandwich and complaining about a headache from a party he went to a night before. It’s still just a casual Saturday morning for the three of them although the time is long past noon already. Once Tim’s sandwich is gone they go downstairs, plug in their gear, tune up, and pound through their set which takes approximately twenty minutes. The music is quick, loud, simple, with a few curse words here and there. But hey, it’s punk rock! And as opposed to many punk rock bands – you can actually hear what these guys are saying. “We don’t crank our instruments up to the max like most bands do,” Lee Pilgrim tells me during their cigarette break, “our lyrics are just as important as our music. It would be good for people to hear what we have to say.”

Who are these three guys, you ask? Fucked if I know!

No, seriously, I’m not being rude. FUCTIPHINO, pronounced “Fucked-If-I-Know” as you might have guessed, is a simple-minded and straight-forward punk rock trio from Brooklyn, New York. “Why do you spell your title this way?” I ask the lead vocalist and bassist Lee Pilgrim. “Well,” Lee tells me, “imagine, that you’re in a safari, right? You’re wearing the whole hunter gear, have a gun by your side and you’re driving around looking to kill the infamous, bloodthirsty Fuctiphino. Get it?” That pretty much sums it up, I think.


THE GIRAFFES: the next generation

10 04 2012


by now everyone knows that sugar -n- thunder’s favorite band the giraffes played their last show with frontman aaron lazar in feb of 2011. aaron took some time off (and composed some improvised experiments of the “bitter, sparse, dark and expansive” kind) but is now rocking away with DON’T, and the rest of the giraffes – drew on drums, jens on bass, damien on sweet, sweet geetar (and vox!) – have since picked themselves up two lovely ladies with killer pipes by the name of kimberly and brianna, and have birthed a ssssexy new giraffe of a different color.. err. yeah.


we are ALWAYS thrilled to see damien, jens, and drew doing what they do best, but the last show they played – their triumphant return to mercury lounge last month – really took the proverbial (jameson-soaked) cake.

they kicked the night off with some nasty surfy jams and sprawling slow numbers punched up with accompanying vocals from the ladies, which is the way the giraffes had been rocking out for the past few shows they played since parting ways with aaron (for the first return gig at st vitus, i believe they were accompanied by – the also very lovely – joanna of the midnight show and bayli from the skins). here and there was a recognizable track like the instrumental “ESF” from their last full-length prime motivator or even a holy throwback from franksquilt (the original giraffes album – pre-aaron, super surf, damien on vox and tim kent – who, did we mention, is a fucking amazing artist?! – on bass).. but mostly it was NEW SHIT – including the track “shaman shakes” from their next album (a soundtrack!..?!!), entitled the tales of the black whistle. NOTE: you can watch a performance of that song HERE as filmed at adrian grenier’s awesome new project wreckroom records (NICE)!

BUT THEN. THEN, ladies & gents, they surprised the living shit out of us. suddenly – a familiar intro.. the ruled epic “THE CITY” begins and.. KIMBERLY IS SINGING THE LYRICS! and as if that wasn’t awesome enough, then we get another surprise with both girls singing a vampy, raunchy reworking of “THE BORDER” that starts out almost totally unfamiliar but then builds and builds to the reprised chant all giraffes fans now know by heart.. WE! GET WHAT WE WANT! AND WHAT WE WANT! IS WHAT YOU GOT! get. the FUCK OUT! and after that.. an insane finale – kimberly on lead with brianna backing as they blast through “DONE” from prime motivator! we were, in no uncertain terms, ELATED. this is what we were hoping for – the giraffes building upon their legacy and yet becoming something new. the girls aren’t just singing backup, and aren’t just standing in for aaron, whose boots no one could EVER fill. they are truly holding their own as something different – messing with the guys, egging on the crowd, playing around with each other – and yes, even swigging some jameson here and there (naturally!).

in this newest incarnation (which we think suits them the best thus far since their return), we see the band unleashing new tracks, spicing up old instrumentals with vox, AND churning out giraffes classics (yes, they’re classics) with a new flavor, which we assure you is not just the taste of drew’s loogie – we think… and let me just say that not just any ladies could hang with the giraffes we know – but kimberly and brianna CAN, and as they continue getting more and more comfortable rocking the fuck out as the crowned giraffe queens they now are, we can’t WAIT to see what’s in store for old and new fans alike.


Top 5 Reasons to love Mike Patton

3 03 2012

Don’t know what I’m talking about?? Really? Ok trust me, you know this guy. Ok remember this? Pretty awesome for a band that didn’t know the 80’s were over. In any case.. Oh yeah ever play GTA San Andreas? How’s this?… Oh the memories.. The civilian killing, airplane crashing, gang war… bicycle riding….. Hot Coffee mod memories….

Anyway, our man of the hour Mike Patton‘s dynamic resumé of acts includes a track done with the Book of Knots, of which of course includes Joel Hamiliton… And who is that, you may be wondering? Well he mixed and mastered a TON of tracks for SNT’s favorite band  The Giraffes…..

I’ll just leave this here

Ok but really, on to Mike Patton

5. Because really, fuck Anthony Kiedis

So I like RHCP, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t at least like one song from them but EVERYONE I know who has read ‘Scar Tissue’ says to watch out, because apparently he is a major douche.

And looking at this picture I will fully agree

Anyway according to Wikipedia, “Kiedis saw Patton performing with Faith No More and accused him of imitating his style. … Following [an] album release date clash, Kiedis had Mr. Bungle removed from a series of summer festivals in Europe; as the headlining act at the festivals, The Red Hot Chili Peppers had final word on the bands that would appear. Patton stated ‘Our agent was in the process of booking these festivals, and it was becoming apparent that we’d landed some pretty good ones – one in France, another one in Holland, some big-name festivals. Turns out someone’s holding a grudge! We were booted off several bills, specifically because Anthony Kiedis did not want us on the bill. He threatened to pull the Chili Peppers if Mr. Bungle was on the bill. Now, rationalize that one! That’s so fucking pathetic! I mean, this guy’s selling a million records! We are not even a speck of dust on this guy’s ass! What’s the fucking problem?’ … We found out it was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so our manager called their manager to find out what the hell was going on, and their manager was very apologetic, and said, ‘We’re really sorry, we want you to know this doesn’t reflect the management’s position, or the band’s for that matter, it’s Anthony Kiedis who wants this.'”

“As a result, Mr. Bungle parodied the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Pontiac, Michigan on Halloween of 1999. Patton introduced each Mr. Bungle band member with the name of one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers…Mr. Bungle also satirized many of the mannerisms of the band, mocking heroin injections and on-stage antics.”

That whole band fucking rocks for that!

4. I think he is a Time Traveler

After watching the next video I’m pretty sure he traveled back to 1975 and banged some girl who had a child that later grew up to be Brandon Boyd. That is the ONLY explanation I can find for this


THE KILLS celebrate their first decade

3 03 2012

New music writing from Ignas Bautrenas!

The time is 7:30pm and it is cold outside, but the line to enter Terminal 5 is close to the 12th Avenue by now. Luckily I’m near the door, dreaming about the heat inside. The entrance is just a few feet away from me.

This is what myself and many others are doing hours before celebrating the 10-year birthday of one of the most prominent and iconic indie bands of the last decade. Consisting of only two members – British multi-instrumentalist Jamie Hince and American vocalist Alison Mosshart – The KILLS is a minimalistic but cardinal project. Neither one of the musicians was a newbie in an independent rock scene back in 2002 when they formed the duo, yet this particular band brought out the best in both of them. The KILLS is a loud fusion of blues and garage rock wrapped in lo-fi aesthetics and an insolent attitude deeply rooted in punk. Judging by the fact that this is the most sold-out show I have ever seen at Terminal 5 – their bluesy groove speaks to a wide audience.

The doors finally open and I make my way into the second floor balcony where I’ll stand for the rest of the night. This concert will be filmed from various angles and simultaneously broadcasted over the internet. From above I see a camera by the soundboard, a camera on the left side of the venue, a couple of handheld cameras laying on stage and it is obvious that there is a lot more I am not seeing. The broadcast is scheduled to start at 10:30pm.


new musical obsession: ALEX CLARE

3 03 2012

so. sometimes i forget there’s a lot more to do on the internet than stare at the same old sh!t popping up on your facebook newsfeed (le sigh).


and this past week a random tumblr playlist introduced me to an artist i absolutely LOVE: alex clare.

listen to his cover of etta james’ “damn your eyes” and tell me, TELL ME you’re not blown away. F#CK.