Grooms

Grooms

The Flag, Plaque

Thu, March 30, 2017

8:00 pm

Union Pool

Brooklyn, NY

$10.00

Tickets at the Door

This event is 21 and over

Grooms
Grooms
Having lived, worked, and created in the ever evolving Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn for over a decade, native Texan Travis Johnson has felt the direct impact of the growth and dissolution that comes with rapid gentrification.  His band Grooms practiced, and recorded at Brooklyn's Death By Audio for seven years (first as Muggabears, then as Grooms) before they were forced out of their spiritual and literal home in November 2014 when DBA shut its doors.  A little over a year before, with the band's income not providing enough money to support any of it's members, bass player and co-writer Emily Ambruso went on hiatus from the band, leaving Johnson as the only original member.  Despite these unfortunate blows, Johnson soldiered on, soon recruiting Jay Heiselmann on bass, and actor/comedian Steve Levine on drums.

Travis Johnson's relentless perseverance isn't a central theme, but it's worth keeping in mind when listening to the 11 songs that comprise the new Grooms album Comb the Feelings Through Your Hair, an album which marks a clear aesthetic and thematic departure from the group's previous efforts.  After months of experimenting with sound collages, samples, and electronic beats, the band recorded an obsessively detailed and melodically complex album, with a heavy focus on mood and texture.  Unlike their previous album Infinity Caller (which Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis called "...an exercise in explosion and restraint hallmarked by sweeping guitars, stuttery drums, and cryptic, airy vocals...") many of the songs on Comb... bring the band's rhythm section to the fore, and Johnson's trademark guitar stylings often take a backseat to his psychedelic sample-collages and ambient electronics.  Fortunately the new approach works, balancing pop structures with masterful experimental production that shifts in tone and color in harmony with Johnson's tales of acceptance, loneliness, and impotent violence. 

On Comb..., that violence is most evident on "Something Wild", a song about destroying the high-priced waterfront condos that contribute to the rising cost of living in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and then feeling conflicted about it.  Love is the subject matter on "Bed Version" (a song which Johnson describes as "a fantasy about seeing the joy in my girlfriend's face as she realizes she's not cosmically alone."), and the album becomes wistful on "Cross Off" (a remembrance and longing for the good old days when Ambruso was still an active member of the band), but even on these songs Levine's alternately Krautrock and Elvin Jones-inspired drums, and Heiselmann's propulsive bass help to maintain the album's intense atmosphere.  Album standouts like "Comb the Feelings Through Your Hair" and "Doctor M" deliver head-bobbing pop hooks as Johnson ponders his long-term struggle with addiction, while other songs, "Savage Seminar," "Will the Boys?," and "Grenadine Scene from Inside," explore the thoughts, and feelings of fictional characters in the films Magnolia, Lost Boys, and Steel Magnolias, respectively.

Whether singing from a fictional or personal perspective, Johnson's songs on Comb... are all loosely about letting go of bitterness and resentment.  Like the Brooklyn neighborhood where he lives and works, his internal real estate is constantly being reevaluated, razed, and rebuilt.  Fortunately his internal growth has yielded an album that attentive listeners will find relatable and consistently rewarding.
The Flag
The Flag
Listen between the lines, The Flag likes it white suit clean (e.g. "I wanna mop the floor, mop the floor") My Own Private Idaho bon ami kink or or the pipe-wrench wielding Ah-HA seducer? Probably neither, but now we're down in the boiler room and it's the middle of the summer. Don't even think about dancing you spazz unless you've got flippers. Turns out the reason for all that mopping is the goddamn sweat from these heat waves (Go and visit Tire Fire Island - it's bad enough to be stranded in the tropical sand with no luggage how come there has to be a mountain of burning tires too? These heat waves are gonna melt your brain and that coconut water is all the way up that tree). It's tomorrow in Australia and you already cannot find The Flag. Like a thief in the night dressed as Bryan Ferry during his "Love Is The Drug" eye patch phase, dude boarded the PJ and hit and quit it. This is besides the point, These WERE Powers, maaaan. GODMODE is an "American Label" but The Flag is afraid of Americans. What are you waiting for? That payphone is a robot, so destroy it with these cyborg sounds. The Flag is a cyborg but The Flag is the last human in the neighborhood. Stop nodding your heads you goddamn androids and give me some computer lessons. The record's out on Geographic North, not now but soon.
Venue Information:
Union Pool
484 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.union-pool.com/