Introducing: Bars Of Gold

Bear Vs Shark were one of our favourites. So we were pretty heartbroken when they broke up. But now Bars of Gold have emerged from the ashes and are doing some serious easing of the pain. We caught up with drummer Brandon just after the release of their debut album ‘Of Gold’ to see where his head was at, how the album came into being and what’s next for this new outfit.

What were you up to in the years between the demise of Bear Vs Shark and the inception of Bars of Gold?

Speaking for myself, I was basically in Wildcatting the whole time between BVS & BOG. I was also involved in a whole bunch of projects that were fun. I learned to say “Yes” to as much as I could get myself involved in. It lead to some really cool things. Of course, Wildcatting morphed into Bars of Gold when Marc started showing up to practice. I should add that Wildcatting is not dead, it’s just that those batch of songs are the outcome of the four of us, whereas what we’re playing in Bars of Gold is slightly different. Because of time constraints, we’re focusing solely on Bars of Gold as much as we can.

Why did you decide to form Bars of Gold and what do you aim to achieve with the band?

Between all of us, we’ve been friends for years, so being in a band together was just a natural thing. Honestly our goals with the bands have been and hopefully will continue to be just writing (and recording) music. We achieved the release of our first record, so we’re already looking towards what’s next. Oh, and playing shows certainly is fun, too.

Will you be touring much? What have your shows been like so far?

As of now, No, we will not be touring much. Although, we will do what we can, but hard-core touring itself will be minimal. That isn’t to say that we’re not going to go out on excursions when the opportunity presents itself. Our shows have been quite amazing. We’ve been fortunate to play with some really great bands and have befriended some really good people. I guess it’s best to just go with the flow & see what happens.

Any plans to come to the UK specifically?

Truth is, we would love to come over as soon as we can. BVS never made it to the UK and that was something we really wanted to do. Hopefully we can get the gears rolling sometime in the near future.

What’s the story behind the name?

Like every band I’ve ever been, we’ve always picked names that tend to be kind of ridiculous. Bear vs. Shark, Pinkeye Orchestra, Wildcatting, Bars of Gold… all basically ridiculous, but I like them. I guess I would say that the best bands’ names have always come from some people who aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

How long did it take to get the album together? Did you work with any producers / engineers or was it entirely self-produced?

It didn’t take too long to write overall, but it seemed like it took a bit to put the whole record together. From the moment we started to record to the day it was out, it took a little less than a year. It slowed down when literally 4 out of 5 of us were moving & when our practice space shut down. I moved from Detroit to DC (9 hours away) which slowed things down a bit. Also, the release is vinyl, which is notoriously slow to produce.

Was it a smooth process?

A bit slow, but all in all, I’d say yes.

How does your outlook on the music scene / industry differ now, being in Bars of Gold, in comparison to how you felt as a part of Bear Vs Shark?

I would say my outlook is much better. The music industry tends to be an all-or-nothing/winner-takes-all type of economy and it’s not a game I feel we have to partake in. We all feel pretty comfortable just doing our thing. Hopefully people care enough to scope it out, but we’ll keep doing it nonetheless. Our expectations for ourselves, I’d say, are much more sound and focused on longevity for the project. We all see this as a long-term project/experiment that we can continue to grow into. Fun times will continue to be had for sure.

Is it a very different experience for you now or are you having certain feelings of déjà vu?

No déjà vu, or at least not for me. This is a different experience. I highly value what I did in the past with Wildcatting and Bear vs. Shark, but I think what’s going on now is really great. In many ways, we’re still in the process of trying to figure out what’s going on, which is a great process to be in the midst of. We don’t particularly have anything in mind when we write songs, we just kind of extrapolate from all these ideas that we kick around between us.

How did the release with Friction come about?

We’re old friends with Jeff, from Friction. He just asked if us if we’d be interested in having Friction put it out, and we were happy to say yes. Kind of simple actually.

There is relatively little information about the band out there on the world wide web at the moment. If you were to start your own Wikipedia page for the band, what 6 things would you tell everyone about yourselves (can be true or false, we’ll take our best guess as to which)?

This is funny to me because much of the BVS Wikipedia page is just wrong on so many parts.

1) The original name was going to be Volunteers
2) Wildcatting is still a band, we’re just busy right now, or something
3) Scotty makes & sells guitar pedals & other instruments
4) We make all of our t-shirts in our practice space.
5) Marc’s been brewing some mighty fine beer recently.
6) We enjoy playing more than one show a night.

Bars Of Gold debut album ‘Of Gold‘ is out now through Friction.

Trash Talk – Live

Trash Talk, Cerebral Ballzy
The Barfly

A word from the promoter before the show lets us know that this event is a couple of tickets away from selling out. It seems they completely underestimated something along the way as we get into the upstairs room to find it at possibly the fullest I’ve ever seen. Even for support act Cerebral Ballzy, it’s a bit of a strain to get any sort of view at all. And forgive us, but we don’t fancy being too near the front given both bands’ reputations for hurling objects (and themselves) into the crowd as well as a tendency to puke / spit / generally emit bodily fluids when on stage. Despite being confined to a small square near the back of the venue, it’s still possible to enjoy Cerebral’s exuberant take on old-skool punk rock and hardcore as they barrel through upbeat songs about “drinking til you puke”, “not having enough money to pay for the tube” and “girls”. It’s certainly obvious these guys are basically kids but that’s what makes their reinvention of the genre so potent and fun.

Trash Talk have pretty much lived in the UK this year and it’s clearly a big deal to them that this will be their last show in the UK until summer 2011. Even though that doesn’t seem so far away, I think it’s safe to say that the UK will be a touch more boring without their perpetual presence. Their music is somewhat darker than what has preceded tonight and menacing basslines are coupled with frenetic drumbeats and vocalist Lee Spielman’s shouty/screechy/growly sounds. Throughout the set, the mic is passed to audience members etc as Spielman literally climbs the walls of the venue (seriously, what is he holding on to?!) It’s almost as if the wirey, long-haired singer has been re-incarnated as Spiderman as he flips around, bouncing off the walls. Trash Talk have managed to carve themselves a niche in the live scene in the UK, somehow attracting indie kids and metallers alike to their frenetic live show and it’s safe to say that many will be awaiting their return with baited breath.


No Age

Everything In Between

Three albums into a short yet critically lauded career, at this stage No Age would probably be forgiven a mis-step. With two great albums already under their belts the band have quickly become one of Sub Pop’s most prized assets, and the addition of Everything in Between to their discography will do this status no harm.

Unlike the band’s previous albums, Everything in Between wastes no time in getting straight into it. The usual ambient and feedback interludes are saved for the second half of the record, as we are greeted by straight up garage rock tracks, laced with more melody than ever before. The band have lost none of the warm and comforting fuzz that they’re known for, but there’s an added sheen to the production of songs like ‘Glitter’ that feels like a step forward for the band. This progression is so slight that they could never be accused of attempting to sound more radio friendly, and when they want to, as on ‘Fever Dreaming’, they still channel raw punk influences.

What makes No Age such an interesting recorded band, though, is their ability to switch it up and produce moments of shimmering instrumental beauty. The first sign of this falls seven tracks in, as shoegazy interlude ‘Katerpillar’ breaks up the record’s two halves. From here the record becomes more varied, as a trio of slow burners ‘Sorts’, ‘Dusted’ and ‘Positive Amputation’ add gorgeous texture to the record. It’s the band’s ability to switch effortlessly between the two that makes them so special, as the album finishes on the poppy duet ‘Chem Trails’.

Where exactly Everything in Between ranks next to Nouns and Weirdo Rippers remains to be seen, but it already feels like a record that could be lived in for a long time to come. In a year where indie rock has at times looked so short of ideas, No Age remain one of the genre’s bright sparks.

Sleekly Lion

La Dispute & Touché Amoré

Searching For A Pulse / The Worth Of The World
No Sleep Records

Two of the pre-eminent members in burgeoning Post-Hardcore scene ‘The Wave’, La Dispute and Touché Amoré release this brand new split 7”inch Searching For a Pulse / The Worth of the World. This pairing of some of punk’s most exciting young blood means expectations are set high, but the two bands meet them convincingly.

Touché Amoré kick off the split with I’ll Get My Just Deserve, which is boosted by the contributions of La Dispute’s distinctive vocalist Jordan Treynor. The ascending guitar melody injects the track with a great sense of urgency, which is just as well, as like most of Touché Amoré’s material the song is over in a flash. But it’s the vocal interplay between the two singers that is most impressive about the record’s first half, and although very brief, hints at the further potential of this collaboration.

La Dispute offer the weightier half of the release, which picks up where their immense 2008 debut left off. How I Feel is the heavier of the two tracks, working around up-tempo guitar riffs before breaking down into an epic shouting contest between the two vocalists. The 7”inch is rounded off by the slower paced Why It Scares Me, the record’s calmest offering which puts emphasis on Treynor’s lyrical sprawl. Whether or not you like La Dispute, or indeed this record, will ultimately hinge on what you make of Treynor’s melodramatic vocal style.

Personally I like a little melodrama in my hardcore, and few do it better than both La Dispute and Touché Amoré. As expected, then, this split is one of the year’s standout punk releases and promises much for the next full lengths from both bands.

Sleekly Lion