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Alt Rock

Time: 
19:00
Band name: 
Fox Violet
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
Instagram.com/fox_violets
Venue name: 
The Knitting Factory
Band email: 
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Indie Rock

Time: 
21:00
Band name: 
Space Fight
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
facebook.com/spacefight
Venue name: 
Mercury Lounge
Band email: 
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JessX unleashes primal "Scream" but not before its time

People scream for all sorts of different reasons. Out of fear. Ecstasy. Anger. Exultation. To lose control for a moment. To seize control of the moment. 

But when you hear someone actually let out a hair-raising scream for reals any potential ambiguity usually melts away. Is the screamer in question about to be murdered? Or to achieve orgasm? Fly into a rage? Visit the astral plane? You can usually tell because screams aren't about being subtle. They don’t need words to communicate. 

But notice how I said “usually” and “usually” (critical readers are sensible readers!) because, for starters, some of the most memorable screams in musical history are impossible to pin down and classify. Like for instance take Little Richard’s scream before the sax solo in “Good Golly, Miss Molly.” Or Roger Daltry’s protracted wail at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Or Kathleen Hanna demanding to know “HOW TO LOSE CONTROOOL!!!” with a shriek of defiance and ecstasy and dread all mixed together in one. These are primordial screams. Multiple emotional hues are contained within. 

JessX’s new single “Scream” (an exclusive premiere! for the next several hours!) is a song I’d venture to say falls squarely under the primordial scream heading to the point where it makes me wonder if the band have been studying the works of Arthur Janov or maybe Babes in Toyland. Either way, band-leading singer-screamer-songwriter Jess Rosa outlines some of the reasons they have for screaming in lyrics highlighting family stress, financial strain, romantic anguish, future uncertainty, existential doubt, general boredom and frustration, desire for liberation, and even good ol’ physical release and emotional exhilaration however induced (I’ve had my highs but fuck my lows) so yeah this song is very explicitly about the primordial scream that contains multitudes come to think of it.

But here’s the thing: for most of the “Scream” there's no screaming at all. Instead, Jess sighs and whispers, whimpers, groans, growls, snarls, mewls, moans, murmurs and meows over a new wavey bass guitar driven groove that gradually builds in intensity with layers of wire-y guitar dissonance and intensifying volume building up a delicious tension that reminds me a little bit of Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia” and “Youth Against Fascism” (dated references, yes, but nothing’s dated about fascism these days!) so in other words this is a song that’s about the need to scream as much as screaming itself (I wanna fucking scream so loud…should I just do it?) and the need to release all the fragmentary, chaotic voices we all carry around within whether we admit it or not (I feel so trapped with my friends / I got two of them in my fucking head).

And it’s not just a conceptual thing either cuz you can actually hear the chorus of internal voices in “Scream” thanks to the magic of vocal overdubbing (headphones recommended!) first singing in near-unison but soon breaking off into dialogue and ultimately into babel as the voices becomes more insistent and clearly differentiated taking over entirely in the breakdown section (PMRC warning: subliminal messages!) until the much-anticipated scream finally arrives near the end of the song and it’s equally unsettling and cathartic when it does with the howling choir ping-ponging around inside your skull (again, headphones!) like a swarm of bats released from the belfry just like in the music video. (see top of page!)

But to be clear it’s not all down to the vocals (however powerful!) or digital bat graphics (however cool!) because JessX is a five-piece also featuring the musical talents of Avi Henig (guitar/production), Eva Smittle (bass), Matii Dunietz (drums, production) and multi-instrumentalist Bernardo Ochoa a.k.a. Panther Hollow all of whom make their presence strongly felt. And next the Deli recommend you check out their full-length LP Baby Faced (2021) because “Scream” merely makes explicit what that defiantly queer debut album is about and how good JessX are at taking elements of emo-adjacent pop-punk, avant-garde post-punk (Raincoats, LiLipUT/Kleenex, Slits, X-Ray Spex, you get the idea) and glitter-caked glam rock all poured into a Cuisinart and set on purée with the occasional ukulele thrown into the mix and incidentally Jess Rosa grew up in Hawaii before relocating to NYC a couple or few years back.

And ever since JessX has served as a sonic diary for Jess's journeys not to mention the collective journey of its members. Or as Jess Rosa puts it when it comes to “Scream” specifically: “This song was more of a freestyle with some retakes. I remember recording this with my friends and just feeling safe enough to scream my head off. I feel like out of all the music I have put out, this one is definitely lyrically unfiltered and I had no problem saying what I was feeling in that exact moment. I spoke about everything that was built inside me during those months of 2021. Recording this was the most therapeutic thing to do during the mental state I was in.” And this is a great summation of why you should start a band immediately (send us your demo tape!) but until then you can always scream along vicariously to "Scream." (Jason Lee

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Hip Hop

Time: 
04:00
Band name: 
jacuzzi jefferson
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
NA
Venue name: 
Bier Wax
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Quelle Chris declines to quell the riot goin' on, instead fights fire with fire bars

By most accounts, including this one, Quelle Chris is a chameleonic, virtuosic veteran rapper-producer-writer who was born up in upstate New York and subsequently bounced around between California, Brooklyn, and various Midwest locales (such is the fate of shoe designer progeny) while calling Detroit home and gathering acclaim for his intricate, oft-satirical raps and sonically dense highbrow "lo-fi" productions. And if that's not enough to win you over he also keeps good company being a longtime Motor City colleague of Danny Brown plus husband to New York City's Wonder Woman of R.A.P. music, Jean Grae.

But if you check out Quelle’s latest long player, the self-produced DEATHFAME (with co-production by Chris Keys and Knxwledge on several tracks) released this last Friday by Mello Music Group, best be ready to get sucked into the album’s dark, dank vortex which is all but inevitable starting with the soul-gospel-infused-blunted-out-funk-crawl of “Alive Ain’t Always Living” which is like an ambivalent re-write of “Be Thankful For What You Got" (if everything happens for a reason / I ain't really got shit else to do) through to the introspective piano ballad sung by a sad computer (“How Could They Love Something Like Me?”) right up to the final track declaring it "might spin off on a tangent when an answer’s needed” (don’t come to Quelle Chris looking for answers, but he’ll help you ask the right questions!) and I don't feel entirely out of line calling DEATHFAME a hip hop There’s A Riot Goin’ On” which is a good thing because it's exactly what we need right now.

 

Another good thing is how the production on DEATHFAME feels like rifling through an old sonic junk drawer full of music boxes running on low batteries and fuzzed out organs and well worn-in upright basses. Plus there's the assorted ghostly warblings and ranting diatribes and suspense-movie cues recorded straight off the TV. All of which lends the album a Post Millennial Tension tension with malformed pearls of wisdom interspersed between garbled CB transmissions in the midst of an alien visitation which only underscores Quelle's body-snatching vocal shapeshifting from track-to-track sometimes even morphing in the middle of a song.

Not that it matters. But “So Tired You Can’t Stop Dreaming” is the first song I heard off this record and it made an immediate impression with its chopped-up-and-screwed avant-jazz-piano-loop set against a herky jerky beat that sounds like a car riding on rims after a blowout and oddly enough it'll make you wanna move your body in several incompatible directions at once, all topped off by Quelle's hypnotic, polyrhythmic bars dancing in and around the beat like Ali in his prime and same goes for Brooklyn’s own Navy Blue who goes hard in the paint on the song’s back half and tells us about going “one on one with myself and I been above the rim” and I believe him.

Another couple lines on "So Tired" describes how “deep cuts heal the listener / quicker than it heals the man bleedin' when he wrote it” which is not just some witty record-nerd wordplay but also gets to the LP’s overriding theme which is the "fame game" and its discontents (I’m the GOAT, everybody knew it / but don't nobody know us) and how these discontents speak to our lives more generally in the midst of a social-media age where image play and online beefs and 24-hour performativity have been normalized to a degree that used to be exclusive to celebrities. 

It’s something to think about. But here’s the line that really gets me: “if Heaven's got a ghetto, Hell's got a resort.” At first it just seemed like a cool phrase but as the horrifying and soon-to-be infuriating news unfolded over this past weekend the profundity of the line started to sink in. Because it not only speaks to celebrity and exclusivity, but also a key tenet of laissez-faire capitalism and White Supremacist propaganda among other things—and that's the notion that divisions between races and genders and socio-economic groups etc. are born out of in-born, natural and normal difference between groups of human.



Ergo even paradise has gotta have a "ghetto" and what's the good of living "the good life" if everybody's got it good? Plus, ghettos help draw physical lines of demarcation between Us and Them. Likewise, Hell requires a resort for its rich inhabitants because they're not as steely as many of the other residents who came from hell in the first place. Plus wha you think the Devil's a commie?! Of course there's exclusive resorts in Hell because the Devil understands the power of divide and conquer.



Ergo the conceptual basis of White Supremacy: drawing a strict line between Us and Them where They will always be a threat to Us, and therefore We must keep Them in Their Place literally and figuratively, and by force if necessary, but with the assurance that We are always fully justified in our actions. And that's how you end up with bullshit so-called theories like “replacement theory" that only serves to prop up paranoid fantasies and to justify barbarity.



And then there's the whole strategy of perverting Civil Rights discourse into “grievance politics” and subsequently playing the victim in every situation—even in seemingly "good" situations—like the anti-abortionists getting all up in arms about a Supreme Court leak nevermind having just gotten what they wanted for nearly 50 years. And hey, not sure exactly where I’m going with this but it’s downright disturbing how easily the foxes have taken over the henhouse.

In closing, I feel somewhat beholden to offer a small glimmer of hope in the midst of all this mess (and who better than a music blogger to give the people hope!) and so I'll hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, the democratizing impulse of an artist like Quelle Chris—whose music contains multitudes—will one day become the norm. And that maybe some day off in the distant future we’ll no longer need ghettos or resorts. (Jason Lee)

Other recommended listening:

 

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