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JR Slayer With Slugs, Facial At The Hi Hat, Saturday February 16th 2019

JR Slayer…

 

Last night, JR Slayer, a supergroup indie band fronted by Cody Votolato (The Blood Brothers, Head Wound City) had a release party at the Hi Hat for the new album ‘You Found Me’, but the night had also to offer music from two other interesting bands, Slugs and Facial.

Slugs, fronted by New York transplant Marissa Longstreet, played songs filled with emotional folksy harmonies thanks to bassist Sarsten Noice’s nice vocal addition, whereas the music was as melancholic as it was dynamic. One of the songs of the quartet, entitled ‘Sometimes I’m’, had powerful soaring voices and crushing guitars with a ‘90s touch wrapped in a memorable chorus. And this wasn’t their only hook, as their set did continue with very melodic and pleasant tunes bringing an upbeat tone to a few cathartic explosions thanks to Josh Beavers’ guitar work and ex-Haim Dash Hutton’s energetic drumming. All I can say is that they had a sound of their own with guitar-and-vocal abandons mixing excitement and longing for something else.

Facial played in a darker setting, and if it was not good for photographs, it fitted the band’s darker and tougher tone. They rocked their way through their set with an unapologetic attitude, grungy guitars and plenty of electronic distortion. Their full and ambitious sound revealed bold melodies, which were alternatively sung by the three frontmen, Cameron Dmytryk, Sam Daggett and Jay Francis with diverse degrees of punk energy. There were great moments of rage with gritty noise-rock textures, there were the trashy angry yelling parts built over anxious tempos, and there were the more post-punk cuts, oscillating between an industrial enigma and menacing hard rocking guitars. Trading places and instruments, the men brought chaos, rage, and angst while playing a very diverse series of music numbers which shook the place with a visceral urgency.

Cody Votolato may come from hardcore but JR Slayer’s music was pure emotional pop, unleashing big hooks which swept the place with a real sweetness, while the lyrics were delivered with a true vocal fervor. Of course, with such a large band on stage, there were still the moments of mayhem when people were bumping into each other, and this was one of the pleasures to see all them on stage: Moon Honey guitarist Andrew Martin was doing his own thing on the side, while the rest of the band – Moon Honey Logan Baudean on drums, Seth Mankoski on bass, Polartropica’s Ihui Cherise Wu on synth and backing vocals and Votolato’s sister Brandy also on backing vocals – were participating to a rare level of sonic intensity.

It was interesting to hear some songs (‘Defeat the Days’ or ‘This is Alone’) giving me a strong Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst vibe, the type of bold folksy country-ish ones, slowly delivered at first with a drunken emotion, then building up with passion and a few screams above the music. ‘Lord of Nothing’ had even a sort of Polyphonic Spree spirit, the type of uplifting music to make you reach the sky

There played a few other songs besides the ones featured on the new album ‘You Found Me’, and if the furious energy partially slowed down during  ‘There is Nothing Else Around Me’ or ‘Nothing & Nowhere to Hide’, there were always big moments of intense excitation. Jenny Lee Lindberg of the popular band Warpaint (they recently played at Desert Daze) came on stage for ‘I’ll Never Leave U’, a sadder, more monochord love ballad letting serious guitar solos escape.

The set had plenty of catchiness (‘Half Lyfe’) plenty of playfulness surfing with distortion (‘I Love You’) while a simple and youthful exuberance dominated during ‘What’s the Point’, and ‘Troublesome Truth’ had epic written all over these screaming guitars

Votolato told in an interview that he picked this moniker because it sounded ‘like a heavy-metal attorney advertising after late-night TV shows’, maybe characterizing his hybrid musical journey from Blood Brothers to JR Slayer.

 

Setlist

5AM
Escape From LA
Defeat the Days
Lord of Nothing
I’ll Never Leave U
Half Lyfe
So Busted
I Love You
What’s the Point?
Nothing & Nowhere to Hide
This is Alone
Troublesome Truth

Slugs

Facial

JR Slayer

Slugs

Facial

JR Slayer

Slugs

Facial

JR Slayer

Slugs

Facial

JR Slayer

Slugs

Facial

JR Slayer

Slugs

Facial

JR Slayer

Slugs

Facial

Slugs

 

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