Army of Anyone with The Strongest Proof Wednesday · Bogart's
The supergroup handle gets thrown around a little too liberally these days, enough that we should consider retiring the term. But if there were a dispensation to the supergroup law (hey, laws were made to be bent ... ask a Republican), Army of Anyone would certainly qualify. What else would you call the assemblage of Filter's blustery frontman, Stone Temple Pilots' guitar/bass brother combo and David Lee Roth's longtime drummer? Damn right, you would.
Army of Anyone fell in when Filter vocalist Richard Patrick recruited Dean and Robert DeLeo, late of STP, to collaborate on songs for what was to be the fourth Filter album. The trio came up with the track "A Better Place" in a single session; they could have won a Nobel Prize for the chemistry in Patrick's studio space.
"It was very evident just from being together for a couple of days," says guitarist Dean DeLeo. "Next thing we knew, we were at Rich's place and working on a song that Robert wrote and it came to us very quickly that we should probably proceed."
The addition of DLR Band drummer Ray Luzier was providential. The DeLeos had seen him play on a package bill they were all on, and thought he'd be perfect for AOA; it turned out that Patrick had met him at a Deftones show weeks before.
They quickly invited Luzier to audition for the drummer's chair.
On their eponymous debut, produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin, Army of Anyone sports the DeLeos signature anthemic and melodic roar while Patrick's edgy vocal howl soars above the din and Luzier anchors everything with hammer and tong intensity. For DeLeo, the chance to work with Patrick was too enticing to pass up.
"First and foremost, I'm a Filter fan," says DeLeo. "I've been a fan of Rich's voice for a long time. I've always had these delusions of grandeur that I wish I'd written (Filter's '99 album) Title of Record. To have the opportunity to play this material and have Rich sing over my stuff is a real treat. For Robert and I, we just don't like painting the same picture. And for me, what he brings into a rehearsal or songwriting session, it's always a comforting challenge to try to get up to that level and bring in something that's fresh, something that's going get not only myself off, but gets each of us off." (Brian Baker)
Shapes and Sizes
Sunday · Southgate House
The latest foot soldiers in Canada's efforts to dominate the global Indie scene are Shapes and Sizes, a euphorically dynamic and creative quartet currently calling Vancouver home. The group got together three years ago and this year they released their self-titled first album, which was put out on Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label. On the album, the band backdrops cleverly crafted Pop melodies with a wonderfully eclectic sense of soundtracking. They are "Indie Pop" on paper, but the way the group puts the pieces back together is wildly engaging and blissfully experimental. It often sounds as if the band wrote the original songs, then stripped everything away and rebuilt around the core with an arsenal of unexpected quirks, varying structures, tones, tempos and feels multiple times within a single song.
Rory Seydel and Calia Thompson-Hannant take turns on vocals, their dichotomous voices adding a "yin/yang" vibe that services (and often dictates) many of the songs' ever changing moods. Like many of the cuts, opener "Island's Gone Bad" sounds like several songs in one; a kalimba-like arpeggio opens things up, giving the track a traditional Asian music spin, as strings and hand-claps build around Seydel's plaintive vocal and a swell of harmonies. About a minute and a half in, the serpentine, rhythmic guitars, as they often do on the album, recall Television, but at the two-minute mark, a shimmying drum pattern takes over, dubby bass lines roll in and Thompson-Hannant takes the mic, her high-flung melody bubbling above a simmering cacophony of synth trickles and sax skronk, ending with a bout of a capella chanting. It's an unprocessed process repeated throughout the debut, making every song an adventure, melodic enough to keep the casual observer's attention, but sprinkled with enough Art Rock/No Wave/rugged Jazz additives that those interested in more challenging music will be even more enthralled. Shapes and Sizes make blissfully bizarre, "kitchen-sink" Pop that never panders and continually provokes and surprises. (Mike Breen)
Action Action with Jonezetta, We Are the Fury, Maxeen, Sayonara Tiger
Monday · The Mad Hatter
It's been a fairly momentous couple of years since Action Action coalesced in 2004. The Long Island, N.Y., quartet (vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Mark Thomas Kluepfel, bassist/keyboardist Clarke Foley, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Adam Manning, drummer Dan Leo) came together early in the year, forming in the wake of the breakup of their previous bands (The Reunion Show, Count the Stars, Diffuser). Action Action immediately capitalized on their potent chemistry; the band hit the road quickly, made their way into the studio and recorded and released their debut album, Don't Cut Your Fabric to This Year's Fashion, all within nine months of assembling.
From the start, Action Action was interested in exploring the intersection of '80s Electronic Synth Pop and the timeless appeal of howling Pop/Punk guitars, and their interpretation on Don't Cut Your Fabric was critically well received as the album went on to move a more than respectable 50,000 copies. As their relentless touring continued into 2005, the band multi-tasked by writing songs for their sophomore album during their tumultuous road circuit. The process came to a screeching halt when Kluepfel's laptop containing the songs and ideas for the second album was stolen after a Chicago gig, requiring Kluepfel to reconstruct some songs and start completely from scratch on others.
Even with this disastrous turn of events, Action Action managed to resurrect the heart of their latest album, An Army of Shapes Between Wars, the logical extension of their debut. Action Action's particular talent lies in their ability to seamlessly funnel a number of genres into their final output, everything from the urbane Pop of The Kinks and The Smiths to the darkly powerful shadows of Bauhaus to the contemporary guitar crunch of Foo Fighters. Even more astonishing is the compressed timeline that the band has evolved within, surviving the loss of their second album and flourishing in spite of new band pitfalls. Action Action is hot hot. (BB)