The Front Bottoms
What can we say about The Front Bottoms? We know we love them: a punk band that uses acoustic guitar, indie-rock dance grooves, Springsteen-y keyboard lines (this they might deny). It's hook-filled… it's anthemic… it's confessional. Maybe Joni Mitchell by way of Green Day? They must have heard some Replacements along the way, and it seems like what Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers did for the Boston suburbs these guys are doing for Bergen County, NJ. But they still leave us scratching our heads. Just what the hell have the Front Bottoms alchemized?
With the wonders of the internet and their obsessive gigging, they are now known from New Jersey to…Spain (?) where director Pablo Nieto found them online and asked to create a video for "Maps." The video features Williamsburg, a farm (where Mathew sometimes works), and that aforementioned Econoline as well as some "loveable" hand puppets. Word of mouth and great reviews has them fielding calls from promoters all over the tri-state area.
New Jersey's The Star-Ledger called them "one of the leading lights of the New Jersey pop underground. The group's amalgam of punk, guitar-folk, lo-fi experimentalism, imagist-inspired poetry (drawing heavily on Sella's upbringing in the Jersey suburbs) and playful humor (that betrays the singer's youth) has caught discriminating ears on both sides of the Hudson."
There's no need to check your ears or your calendars folks. It's not 1993. However, the honest and straightforward rock that Cheap Girls brings might successfully transport some to the days when slick overproduction was unheard of and autotuned vocals were just a myth. Adam Aymor and Ian Graham started kicking around the idea of doing a new band in the fall of 2006. At first it was more talk than actual work. It wasn't until the beginning of 2007 and the addition of Ben Graham on drums that Cheap Girls began firing on all cylinders. Influenced by the Lemonheads, Superchunk, The Old 97's, Green Day, Superdrag and Samiam, they produce a sound filled with pounding drums, jangly guitars and super sweet vocal melodies that harkens back to a simpler time and place. What started as an idea of a laid-back band as an extra thing to do after work suddenly transformed itself into a national and soon to be internationally touring band. They've already managed to traverse the east coast several times, tour into the southern US for The Fest and have plans set up for a European tour in May and full US tour in the Fall. With several releases under their belt, Cheap Girls keep getting better and better. Starting out with the "Throw Fits" EP (limited to 100 and all hand numbered) that they self-released and the "Find Me a Drink Home" LP (Bermuda Mohawk, Los Diaper, Quote Unquote) released in April of 2008, Cheap Girls have already begun work on their second LP. Paper + Plastick decided that Cheap Girls were too good to pass up and will be repressing the remastered version of the "Find Me a Drink Home" LP and releasing the bands newest album which is being recorded with Rick Johnson of Bomb the Music Industry and Mustard Plug. The new album is expected to see the light of day sometime around mid 2009.
The New Lows
The New Lows formed in Florida circa 2000. Mike Levin, singer/songwriter, conceived the band as an amalgam of his previous two: Shyster, an up-tempo, pop-punk, emo-outfit; and Sunday Morning Revival, a sleepier, alt-country, weekend breakfast jam. The New Lows contain something of both bands, rootsy rock, punk volume and energy, and pop hooks through and through.
In 2002, Levin moved to New York City and re-established the Lows in Brooklyn with original Low, Tyler Gray, who also emigrated from Orlando. They were introduced to the mercurial drummer, T.A.R.O., and started practicing and recording in the Gowanus warehouse district. From these sessions came The Free Ep, released on the internet and downloaded by many. After a year and a half of listlessly shuffling band members, Levin reunited with Shyster bass player, Wes Snowden, and recruited drummer Russell Simins of The John Spencer Blues Explosion to record a full length album which would contain the high points of four years of New York song writing. The album, Atlantic Pacific, stands as a document to Levin's turbulent relationship with a violent and intricate city. In its plaintive melodies and obscure stories, the album's process of creation is revealed: from nights alone with an acoustic guitar on the bed in a small studio apartment to crowded practice spaces in the Lower East Side; from high rise studios in midtown to the pastoral ease of the ArtFarm studios upstate.
Just prior to the release of Atlantic Pacific (on Bunch Records in Singapore), Levin relocated back to Orlando and is playing with original New Lows drummer, Micky Michalec, and newly incorporated bassist, Matt Gersting (Sugar Oaks, Bear Country). Shows are booked and recording continues, and so future doors clang and squeak, closing and opening, haltingly, rhythmically, expectantly.