SERIOUS BUSINESS ROCK & ROLL REVUE III: NYC
BENJI COSSA, HIGGINS, ROCKETSHIP PARK, THE UNSACRED HEARTS plus special guests. Get tickets.
At Littlefield on May 26, 2012, the collective of songwriters and musicians who rally under the proud banner of SERIOUS BUSINESS RECORDS will mount the third in a series of themed rock and roll revues, with this installment billed as a celebration of the music of and about our fair metropolis, New York City, from the Brill Building to the Bowery, from the lights on Broadway to Rockaway Beach.
The program of entertainment for will span two extended sets, drawing from both the vast original catalogs of Benji Cossa, Higgins, Rocketship Park and The Unsacred Hearts and a meticulously curated syllabus of NYC classics spanning a century. Contributing extra spice to the gothamized brew of rock and pop will be a special coterie of musical guests including Sammy James Jr of the Mooney Suzukiand Mike Dossantos (the Realistics) as well as a post-revue NY dance party. Visuals will be overseen by Brooklyn artist Kara Smith.
TIME OUT NY says, "Serious Business, a local label devoted to the dying art of unpretentious guitar pop and other handmade styles, stages a family-style revue featuring mix-and-match personnel, lovingly chosen cover tunes and more."
HIGGINS are old pals who mine the fertile wells of the classy rock. The grooves are slow-burning and good-feeling. The playing is expert and soulful. There are layers of delicious melody tucked in every sophisticated crevasse. Songman Kevin Fish and drummer Brian Kantor have been around since the turn of the century in some form or another, playing with friends and co-conspirators like Josh Kaufman and Billy Filo, trolling Jersey, Long Island, or the 5 boroughs. Their newest record called Straight A's is out now on Serious Business. On this record Syffal expounds, "Kevin Fish might be a fucking genius...He is masterful...It is a damn near perfect indie pop album."
BENJI COSSA, King of Song, makes sincerely beautiful homemade pop with roots. Mad-genius charm and other-worldly singing endow his direct, joyful, richly detailed songs. His massive vault of 4-track home-tapes have become legendary. His more recent studio recordings for Serious Business include Benji Cossa and the Tightens and the forthcoming II, a thematically focused 35-song double-LP pop marathon. Benji is a master of multi-layered Brill Building song-craft, but he presents it through his own uniquely and exquisitely skewed lens. His friends and loved ones have been compiling their best-loved Benji songs on a lovingly curated series of free mixtapes called Favorites.
ROCKETSHIP PARK is masterminded by a multi-instrumentalist, song-man, producer, vocalist, and auteur by the name of Josh Kaufman. A busy side-man with credits including recent work with Bob Weir, the National. Dawn Landes, Doveman, and too many more to list, Mr. Kaufman makes work as Rocketship Park with an ear towards community and aural beauty. His most recent album Cakes and Cookies was described by Pop Headwound as "deceptively intricate folk-pop ... as delicious as advertised – seemingly effortless songs revealing layers of carefully arranged sound on close listen – banjos, trombones, strings, pedal steel, etc..homespun, unaffected melodies that sound like old friends."
THE UNSACRED HEARTS: Formed in 2003, NYC rockists The Unsacred Hearts rose from the wreckage of teenage dreams, abandoned garages and naive knockoffs to make a visceral, poetic, original noise. While the band made their bones on ultra-distilled rock and roll, weird chords and wild live sets, they always led with the heart. Loud and fast, yes, but the sonic boom was just the straightest line to the truth.With the release of their strangely beautiful second record called The Honor Bar, the Hearts move a bit further down that line. Rhythmic, romantic, poetic, and still peculiar, The Honor Bar evokes the city of New York itself or, rather, the city resounds in The Honor Bar. The maelstrom and beauty of the city comes across in the sparse, unerring beats, the stark instrumental phrases, the myriad voices in whispers and shouts. Webs of sounds, words and images -- all traffic on the Bowery and midtown sky scrapers -- juxtapose with the sweet intimacy of the fire escape and 2AM walks down solitary side-streets. The constant voice is that of Joe Willie, more poet than singer, with a voice that only implies melody, and words, though littered with the everyday, reach for the grand themes of commitment, friendship, loss and love.
"You have to love a record label that isn’t driven by profits, hipness, or some misguided attempt to capture and define a style. New York-based label Serious Business is a label of love." Tim Sendra, AllMusic Blog
For all the paranoia, regret and self-doubt that Kevin Fish sings about across the thirteen flawlessly crafted songs on the new Higgins album Straight A’s, for all the talk of lies, guilt and confusion, never once does he submit to resignation. For Fish, failure is surely an option but that doesn’t mean it’s OK. When he tells his love in “Build It Up,” “don’t give up / we’re only here to build stuff” you believe him, especially considering the temple of musical beauty those words sit within. Along with his longtime drum-wizard and partner-in-rock Brian Kantor as well as a cast of collaborators including multi-instrumentalist / string arranger Josh Kaufman, bassist Billy Filo, co-producer and recordist Travis Harrison and Marshmallow Coast’s Andy Gonzales amongst others, Fish guides us on an ambitious and deeply soulful journey through his musical heart, a place paved with pop, sweet grooving melody and chords upon chords.
Never before has Fish sang as softly and as affecting as on “Do You Still?,” perhaps the most exquisite diamond of a pop song he’s ever written. That’s saying a lot since this record collects several glimmering pop jewels; the pristine jangle of “Slap or Pinch,” the Pet Sounds majesty of "Never Here," and the only non-Fish composition, Josh Kaufman’s elegant minor-key “When I See Her” which suggests Orbisonian dramatics through the prisms of electric guitar and early-Lennon classicism. Hooks are the king of this classroom. However, while memorable melody is ubiquitous, much of this record’s musical heart beats at slower pace, and compositions like “Lie” and the stunning closer “Sing” breathe deeply, unfolding with a stately elegance and assured maturity.
It’s been four years since the last Higgins record Zs, and for all that platter’s magnetic classic-rock inertia, it is here that this band’s fully mature voice has arrived. It seems they’ve graduated, if you will, with straight A’s of course, to stand toe-to-toe with the big boys. Yet, for all the record’s laser thematic focus, it never gets bogged down in any dogma, never loses its sense of fun, joy or good humour. Higgins shows, without any snark or irony, that it is cool to work hard and to try your best. Consider Straight A’s your Cliff’s Notes for life.
SPECIAL NOTES: -The CD edition contains a hidden track. I will ruin the surprise by telling you this hidden track is a re-imagining of the song "Never Here" by Andy Gonzales (A.K.A. Marshmallow Coast [Elephant 6]).
SERIOUS BUSINESS ROCK AND ROLL REVUE: WILBURY NIGHT / JAN 28 2012 /
BENJI COSSA, HIGGINS, ROCKETSHIP PARK, THE UNSACRED HEARTS with guests
sat jan 28, littlefield, brooklyn, ny, 8pm, 2 revue sets, 21+, $10
The second installment of this newly founded music series is Wilbury Night, a party thrown by people who believe in the Wilbury spirit, who prefer to play music together rather than separately, and who want you to join in. Damn! All-stars from the SBR roster, friends and accomplices all, namely Benji Cossa, Higgins, Rocketship Park and the Unsacred Hearts will present a rich program built upon their own original smash hit compositions while, along the way, drawing heavily on music from the deep career catalogs of Lucky, Lefty, Otis, Nelson and, of course, Charlie T. Jr. The cold winter is upon us but the Wilbury spirt will glow with embers of collaboration, generosity, and a shared love for rock n roll. Be at Littlefield in Brooklyn, together with your best friends, your lovers, your most trustworthy family members for this one night, conveniently a Saturday, the 28th of January to be exact, as friends take the stage by the Wilburys' guiding light to play music together and with joy.
WHAT'S THAT SOUND? (Cossa/Walsh) [MP3] That's John Walsh on the ghosties and the garden rakes. He even threw in some lyrics, played some instruments and stuff. You might remember him from such hits as Between the Blue and the Green.
BURN, WITCH, BURN (Cossa) Benji made this by himself whilst investigating the Salem Witch Trials.
THE SERIOUS BUSINESS ROCK AND ROLL REVUE.
Benji Cossa. Higgins. Rocketship Park. The Unsacred Hearts.
What does this mean?
The four acts performing here don't play out enough and that's not cool so we're trying to remedy that by doing it all together. It's not like we're all taking turns playing sets on the same bill like a normal rock show. We're concocting a seamless platter of show-business fun-times with no set breaks, no "thanks-for-coming-out-tonight-stick-around-for-the-next-band-they're-great," none of that noise. Hey this is show business isn't it? We're our own house band. You have to come to hear our imaginary hits. THE SERIOUS BUSINESS ROCK AND ROLL REVUE!
Formed in 2003, NYC rockists The Unsacred Hearts emerged from the fog of teenage dreams, abandoned garages and naive knockoffs to make a visceral, poetic, original noise. While the band made their bones on ultra-distilled rock and roll, weird chords and wild live sets, they always led with the heart. Loud and fast, yes, but the sonic boom was just the straightest line to the truth. Now, with the release of their strangely beautiful second record called The Honor Bar, the Hearts move a bit further down that line.
Rhythmic, romantic, poetic, yet still peculiar, The Honor Bar evokes the city of New York itself or, rather, the city resounds in The Honor Bar. The maelstrom and beauty of the city comes across in the sparse, unerring beats, the stark instrumental phrases, the myriad voices in whispers and shouts. Webs of sounds, words and images -- all traffic on the Bowery and midtown sky scrapers -- juxtapose with the sweet intimacy of the fire escape and 2AM walks down solitary side-streets. The constant voice is that of Joe Willie, more poet than singer, with a voice that only implies melody, and words, though littered with the everyday, reach for the grand themes of commitment, friendship, loss and love.
The Honor Bar is certainly not for everyone and neither are The Unsacred Hearts. When they formed, their only goal was to make rock n roll. They did not ask, what is cool, what do people want to hear, or what should we wear. The only question was, how do we keep playing rock n roll? And, over the years, they kept asking that question with each new song, each live set bringing a response. When they last asked, the answer was The Honor Bar.
The Honor Bar
The Unsacred Hearts
Produced by Travis Harrison for Serious Business Records
Recorded and mixed by Travis Harrison
at Serious Business Music, NYC
starting in mid 2006 and concluding in early 2011
The Unsacred Hearts are Joe Willie (v), Dave Siegel (g), Travis Harrison (d)
Exquisite additional musical performances by Andy Bean, The Councilman, Jaymay, Josh Kaufman, Brian Kantor, Boshra al Saadi, Benji Cossa, Mike Phillips
full album credits here
THE UNSACRED HEARTS / SERIOUS BUSINESS / BANDCAMP / FACEBOOK / SPOTIFY / SOUNDCLOUD ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
other records from the unsacred hearts / unsacred hearts ep (sbr01 / 2004) / in defense of fort useless (sbr07 / 2006) / five believers ep (sbr09 / 2006)
other recent offerings from serious business / rocketship park: cakes and cookies / lifeguards: waving at the astronauts ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SERIOUS BUSINESS RECORDS / record label / website / twitter / facebook / soundcloud / tumblr
SERIOUS BUSINESS MUSIC / recording studio / website / facebook / tumblr
SBR51 / 2011 / a digital single on Serious Business Records.
This is one song from the forthcoming new HIGGINS album called Straight A's. Amongst the few people who have heard this album, many of them consider "Do You Still" to be of their favorite. Kevin's vocal sounds beautiful donchya think? BUY THIS SONG ON iTUNES
THE RETURN OF THE UNSACRED HEARTS: Sat Aug 27. Fort Useless. Brookyln.
It's been two years since our pal Jeremiah started a DIY event space in Brooklyn (36 Ditmars Street, one block from the Myrtle Avenue/Broadway stop on the JMZ trains) and named it FORT USELESS. This was flattering to us since our first LP was called In Defense of Fort Uselessand was exciting since we knew Jeremiah to be a great guy and a keen rock lover. But hence, around that time, the Unsacred Hearts' activity as a live entity began to dwindle, what with our regular bass-man Andy Bean becoming fully ensconced in his mission to fill the world with two-man-music, Joe and I making babies, all of us getting married, Dave working on his doctorate, Joe becoming a lawyer, etc etc boo hoo. But all this time we were slowly broiling our greatest achievement which is the album called THE HONOR BAR. Now that it is done, we have resolved to resuscitate our always visceral rock-show which at its peak has been known to melt faces, break hearts and build beery bridges of sweaty communal love for the-rock-and-roll. For this show, Dave and Joe and I are lucky enough to play with Misters Chris Buckridge (bass), Brian Kantor (percussion) and Josh Kaufman (musical genius). That's six Hearts. We are gonna sound GOOD.
So come to this celebration on Saturday Night August 27th at Fort Useless. It's the space's 2nd birthday. I'm not certain exactly what time the Hearts hit the stage but it doesn't matter because the mighty GOLD STREETS and the incredible SHARK? need to be seen and heard by your eyes and ears respectively. Don't slack. Get with us 8PM at FORT USELESS. There will be beer.
The record is also available starting today from iTunes, Amazon digital or your favorite digital retailer.
The physical edition of Cakes & Cookies is a limited 7" single + CD + cookie set.
The CD is packaged with a 7" single of "Fast Friends" b/w "Catherine" and "Pistachio." The first 100 records will be pressed on black and white split vinyl like a black and white cookie. Hand numbered. Letter-pressed. 300 piece pressing. Art by Kara Smith. Each order comes with a delicious homemade cookie or sweet treat from the Kaufman-Nero kitchen. The records will ship on or around July 26, 2011. PRE-ORDER HERE: http://seriousbusinessrecords.com/releases/show/66-Cakes-and-Cookies
Rocketship Park is masterminded by a multi-instrumentalist, song-man, producer, vocalist, and auteur by the name of Josh Kaufman who also collaborates with Jack and the Pulpits, Dawn Landes, Caithlin De Marrais, Yellowbirds, the National, Josh Ritter, Balthrop, Alabama, Benji Cossa, Higgins, Seb Leon, and too many more to list.
Lyrics, credits, high-res photos can be found here.
CAKES AND COOKIES
If you're looking for something to tell you the band in question tours extensively and has enjoyed the good favor of the blogosphere, has pioneered its own micro-genre or commands legions of street-teaming fans, forget it. Rocketship Park is simply a hidden musical diamond in the infinite clutter of the twenty first century. Unless you've been directly involved in the growth of this project, there is only one point of entry for you.
Listen to the record!
Once you've done this, if you need more information, read further. Rocketship Park is masterminded by a musical auteur by the name of Josh Kaufman. Josh spent many years writing and recording hours and hours of fantastic songs beloved and worshiped by his friends but never officially compiled or released, much less promoted. It wasn't until 2006 that he mobilized Rocketship Park, an entity designed as a band but ultimately evolving as his solo vehicle. In 2007, with the help of some incredibly talented friends, Josh and his band made Off and Away, the first Rocketship Park record. NPR described how Kaufman "fleshed out smooth, folky songs about life and loss, family and friendship, while harnessing a simple, seemingly effortless beauty." These songs scored the lives of a loyal and devoted few.
In the intervening years since Off and Away's release Kaufman has become a busy side-man, a working musician and producer whose unique talents have brought him to the studio and/or the stage with the likes of Dawn Landes, Caithlin de Marrais (of Rainer Maria), the National, Josh Ritter, Yellowbirds, Balthrop Alabama, Benji Cossa, Higgins and too many more to list here. These artists play with Josh because nobody can do what he does. He's not just a guitar player, a keyboardist, a bassist, a drummer, a producer, an arranger, a singer, a composer, a song-man, a lyricist, or the greatest guy ever, although he is all of these things exquisitely and without peer; Josh is a force of Josh. Nowhere is this force better embodied than on the eleven pop songs that comprise Cakes and Cookies.
Kaufman's busy touring and recording schedule kept him from finishing the second Rocketship Park record for nearly three years but ultimately allowed him the time to mold an utterly seamless work. Cakes and Cookies resulted from several years of sporadic sessions with Serious Business' Travis Harrison, engineer Halsey Quemere, and an expanding cast of collaborators including Dawn Landes and the National's Bryan Devendorf. Kaufman's pop songs speak multitudes in verse and chorus. To deem his compositions "catchy" would be accurate but would undersell their eloquence and power. He makes beautiful, utterly delightful pop music no one else could ever make.
From the bunch of CDs the guys at Serious Business sent us some months ago, by bands we never had the pleasure of listening before on the other side of the pond, one stood up from the rest (if we exclude the ones by the amazing Benji Cossa, whose records we listened over and over). That record was Rocketship Park’s “Off and Away“. Rocketship Park is the brainchild of the multi-instrumentalist, song-man, producer, vocalist, and auteur Josh Kaufman, and he returns next June 27th with his new record, “Cakes and Cookies”, which you can already stream in its entirety after the jump. First 300 orders come with a limited edition (hand numbered and letter-pressed) 7″ and a homemade cookie/sweet treat that should be as delicious as the finely crafted pop gems you can listen to on the record. Guests on “Cakes and Cookies” include Dawn Landes and The National’s Bryan Devendorf!
You can also download the track Fast Friends for free, clicking the link below.