North Dakota, Chad Krystals, and Twingiant
Welcome to the first installment of our new weekly feature, Sound Off, where I will be joined by a different guest each week to listen to and discuss three tracks from local Phoenix artists. If you would like your songs to be considered for future Sound Off columns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachael Koscica Photography North Dakota
Today's guest is Jay Bennett, editorial operations manager at New Times, author of last year's massive Nothing Not New series, and guitarist in local rock 'n' roll band Scorpion Vs. Tarantula.
Today, Jay and I take on tracks from post-punkers North Dakota, hip-hopper Chad Krystals, and masters of sludge Twingiant.
North Dakota, "Thing"
North Dakota are a post punk trio featuring folksinger Michelle Blades, Emily Hobeheidar of Sisterbrother, and Morgan Neuharth. The group will be playing playing every Friday night in September at Long Wong's in Tempe.
Jason Woodbury: So what did you think of that one?
Jay Bennett: Isn't Michelle Blades supposed to be kind of a folkie? A "ukulele/banjo playing type person?
Yeah, most of her stuff is. She plays ukulele, and it's kind of Joanna Newsom meets Cat Power.
This is the most abrasive thing she's done.
Based on what [Steve] Jansen wrote about her...he made her out to be this savant, kind of a genius in the making.
Well, yeah, she's got a really famous uncle, Rubén Blades...
I like it. Very Slits/Raincoats, that post-punk thing. The Fall.
Definitely got that. Somewhere between post-punk and the riot grrly stuff. Positioned somewhere between the two. I didn't like when they did the little --
No, I like that, through most of it, but --
The vocal affectations?
No, just the little "nanny nanny boo boo" bit...
Oh, the little quote in there? I didn't mind it. It king of brought down their anger a bit. Kind of diminished the anger. The overall tone of the song about not feeling a thing, you know? "I don't know what it's like to not feel a thing." Don't they seem awfully young to be so jilted?
[Laughs.] Yeah. I liked the "never wanted you" line. I liked that because so many songwriters like to play the heartbroken as opposed to the heartbreaker. Not only is it cool to hear someone be more straightforward about it, but it says something coming from female performers. Not that it should mean more, but it takes people aback. So many people are used to the "Since U Been Gone," Kelly Clarkson-thing.
I like the sparseness of it. There's minimal guitar, drums, zylophone or a keyboard. Gang vocals sound good. The vocal affectations are not necessarily my thing, but I get what they are doing.
I thought it was pretty cool. I didn't realize it was live till the end.
Yeah, it sounded pretty good. I liked that they were getting up there live without making a racket, and their asses, all three of them, are hanging out in the breeze.
It will be interesting to see how a band like this is perceived in a place like Long Wong's. They book a lot of weird bands now, but I think it's still has this, "party bar" - I think it will be weird to see a band so sparse. You're not supposed to be comfortable listening to a band like North Dakota.