Last weekend, Dave Keneston and I covered the three-day MOVE Music Festival at various venues throughout the city of Albany. I already filled you in on the action from Friday night right here on Old School Record Review. Saturday and Sunday, we were able to take in a nice mix of talented young acts who are just beginning their journey in the music business, and established acts that grew out of the Albany area and are now touring nationally and internationally as they near the verge of widespread recognition.
We began our Saturday evening with Lynette Williams’ intimate set at Justin’s, long one of the most comfortable venues in Albany for musicians to really connect with an audience. Ms. Williams applied her deeply resonant voice to a group of jazz-flavored folk songs. One of my favorites was her original “Papa Says,” a moving song about a young woman’s struggle to synthesize her own romantic experiences with the very traditional perspective of her father. She went on to put a smile on the face of everyone in attendance with a really sweet version of “Wait in Vain” by Bob Marley.
You can listen to her album Songs For Sarah on Bandcamp.
One of the artists generating the most buzz throughout the weekend was teenage singer and keyboardist Jocelyn Arndt, whose band includes her brother Christian on lead guitar. A pair of unassuming, polite kids majoring in English at Harvard by day, the Arndts live a double life as hard rockers on nights and weekends. While they are living what must seem like a charmed life to many of their peers, the only thing extravagant about their music is their explosively raw talent. Jocelyn’s vocal style belies her youth and innocent demeanor; she roars and wails through songs like “Hitman,” and “Cinderella,” and sounds like a woman of twice her age on sultry slow numbers like “Gaslight.” With a sound designed for mass appeal through genre diversity, she seems on track to follow in the footsteps of her hero Grace Potter as a soul-singing, songwriting star known for intense live performances.
Next up was Kayla and the Tellers, another band led by a keyboard-playing, songwriting, female singer (Kayla McMahon). The Utica-based band has only been playing together a few months, but released a live EP last month and has a full-length album in the works. The group is carried by McMahon’s broad-ranging voice, which reflects a heavily retro-Rhythm and Blues influence. The venue requested a two or three-piece band for the gig, so violinist Jen Mascaro was unfortunately absent from their performance at the festival. However, you can hear the unique sound of her soul violin on their record. Check out their original song “Rain”:
Blues-Rock trio Wild Adriatic headlined the Saturday night lineup in the outdoor tent at Stout. Frontman and chief songwriter Travis Gray’s voice and lead guitar playing drive the band’s sound, which should appeal to fans of superstar indy rock acts like The Black Keys or The Kings of Leon. Drummer Mateo Vosganian and bassist Rich Derbyshire back him up with the kind of pounding, in-your-face rhythms you want from a classic rock power trio. The onstage personas of the bandmates are a study in contrasts – your eyes are first drawn to the frenzied movement, wide-eyed intensity, and swaying afro of Derbyshire, then to the aggressively bearded bashing of Vosganian at the drum kit, while Gray stands unassumingly still toward the front of the stage, screaming like Robert Plant and wielding his axe gracefully; authoring clear, melodic solos and fills. Wild Adriatic has been touring relentlessly for the past two years, and recently signed on to play Bonnaroo this summer, so this may have been our last chance to see them play at a small local venue for a while. The tent was hardly big enough to contain their audience as it was.
Here is their new single, “Strange Persuasions”:
Sunday night back at The Hollow, I caught two bands who were pure, danceable fun. The first was New Paltz Reggae/Ska troupe The Big Takeover. When I arrived, they already had the crowd moving and sweating to the riddim. Singer Nee Nee Rushie has the kind of vibrant stage presence that can be infectious to the crowd, and her instrumentalists know how to lay down a groove. Around since 2008, they maintain a rigorous regional tour schedule, as befits a band that appears to absolutely love what they are doing. I can’t wait to see them again at a full performance, I’ll be bouncing and shaking until they stop the music. Check them out performing the song “Party” at Club Helsinki in Hudson last year:
Finishing up the weekend was Jimkata, festival-circuit veterans whose fan-funded 2012 album Die Digital brought them a new level of critical recognition and success. They are not exactly your traditional jam band, as they combine a comfort with electronica and synthesizers with a rock songcrafting sensibility that brings catchy hooks and funky beats. Here they are performing the title track from their latest record, Feel In Light, last year in New Jersey:
They remind me a lot of my favorite synth-washed indy band of the last several years – Yeasayer. Others might liken Jimkata’s sound to MGMT or LCD Soundsystem, but I think they are more rock influenced and less hook-driven pop. Singer and guitarist Evan Friedell seems more interested in crafting intricate, innovative tunes than simply generating catchy choruses. Check out songs like “Swimming in the Ocean,” and try to keep a smile from drifting across your lips and your body from jumping up to dance:
Check back tomorrow to listen to Dave Keneston’s Old School Record Review podcast, featuring interviews and performances by several of the bands who performed at the festival.