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Artist of the Month
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January 2015
Bonsai
"self titled EP
"
mp3

Our regular readers may have noticed that we like to highlight residencies played by local artists in local venues, but admittedly we entirely missed Bonsai's November one at Pete Candy's Store - admittedly, we weren't aware that the lovely east Williamsburg venue actually had residencies! Well, not only they have them, but they also pick good artists for them, since Bonsai's music is an absolute delight. Their self titled debut EP is a delicate and dreamy alt folk gem. Opener "Bonsai Trees" - the most accomplished track on the record, streaming below - shows the trio's interest in revisiting traditional American music in new ways, employing intriguing percussive textures, inventive and appropriate guitar parts, and a production that's edgy without being over the top. Of course, all this wouldn't do much if Simone Stevens' vocals and melodies weren't spot on, confident and compelling. The magic continues with "When it Rains," a more subdued track floating in oozes of reverb and supported by what sounds like an acoustic guitar two-note sample loop. Atmospheric ballad "I fashion you are a dreamer" turns up the melancholy big time with a verse as intense as it gets, only to deliver one of those powerfully uplifting choruses that - unless you are fully corrupted by life - can touch you in deep ways. Upbeat pop number "I Like You Man" and final folky song "Messed Up" fill up the record competently, but without reaching the heights of the first three tracks. This is a small, beautiful record with the power to awaken emotions and make people closer, i.e. exactly what the doctor orders every time a new year begins.

This band submitted their music for coverage here.
We added this song to The Deli's playlist of
Best mellow songs by emerging NYC artists - check it out!

 
The 60's
Bob Dylan

Simon and Garfunkel

Velvet Underground
The 70's
Television
Patti Smith
The New York Dolls

The Ramones

The Talking Heads
Richard Hell
The Dead Boys
Blondie
Suicide
Lydia Lunch
DNA  
Mars
The Contortions  
The 80's
Sonic Youth
Bad Brains
Beastie Boys
Bruce Springsteen
Swans
The Feelies
Laurie Anderson
They Might Be Giants
John Zorn
Arto Lindsay
Sonic Youth
The Fleshtones
The 90's

Jeff Buckley

The Magnetic Fields
Yo La Tengo
Soul Coughing
Cat Power
The 00's
The Strokes
Interpol
TV on The Radio
Fiery Furnaces
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Bravery
Animal Collective
Bright Eyes
Devendra Banhart
Moldy Peaches
Le Tigre
Liars
Blonde Redhead
Grizzly Bear
 

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Album review: Pilot For A Day - Better AIr

Album review: Pilot For A Day - Better AIr

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve heard an album with this much pop sensibility come out of Kansas City. Maybe I’m just not in sync with what’s actually going on, or maybe this really is the new generation pioneer for KC pop-punk music. Either way, Pilot For A Day’s debut full-length album, Better Air, is quite the refreshing listen.

 
Better Air is a record, that, in its entirety, emits positive vibes. Songs of hopeless romanticism, adolescent angst, girls, and life ambitions in general compose the 10-track, 40-minute album. And no matter how melancholy the lyrics become, the overall essence of every song leaves you feeling good.
 
Pilot for a Day hits hard on the home opener of Better Air, “Take This Chance.” Synthy siren sounds pop into your audible field first and foremost. The poppy and upbeat diddy that follows instantly lifts your mood. It is a defined precursor to the remainder of the album. “Take This Chance” presents itself with bold lyrics and positive energy, much like the remainder of the album.
 
Possibly the best track on this album is number three, “Extraordinary Life.” This four-minute anthem features the vocal work of close-to-legendary St. Louis rocker Andrew Volpe of Ludo fame. Pilot’s singer Nolan Smith’s chilling, low-toned voice on “Extraordinary Life” is extraordinarily complemented (see what I did there?) by Volpe’s voice on the chorus. The two have a great vocal chemistry that sounds like something you want to hear more of. The bad news: you don’t hear more of it on Better Air; the good news: the rest of the album is just as incredible.
 
Consistently keeping the upbeat tempo, there is no clear shift in motifs through Better Air. It is really quite refreshing to know that you don’t have to power through that slow song stuck in the middle of the album just to reach the more poppy ones. The first eight tracks are all equally as dancy and synth motivated as the rest. One thing you can count on is the shift in the last two tracks “From Somewhere to Here” and “Midwestern Kings.” These last two tracks form an appropriate outro.
 
“From Somewhere to Here” takes the cake for most somber song on the album. Accompanied by the perfect ballad chords of a piano, Smith takes on his haunting tone yet again, setting more of depressing tone. The song does pick up, but maintains that ballad persona. As the song progresses, it picks up more and more throughout the rest of the song.
 
The final track, “Midwestern Kings,” has the brilliant theme of starting a new life. This is probably the best way to end Better Air. As if saying throughout everything in life, there is always a chance to start again. 
 
--Steven Ervay 

Steven Ervay is super rad. 

 
 
 

 


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