The Skulx, The Courtesy Tier, Zero Holds, The Gills, Wild Sun, Slim Wray, Willie and the Giant, Charles Ellsworth

October 15, 2015 | 12:00 pm | 95 Stanton Street | New York, NY | 21+ | FREE!  
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Rocker Stalker / Switchbitch Records / Behind the Curtains Media CMJ SHOWCASE

The Skulx

The Skulx is. An affair ten years in the making. A decade of camaraderie, a century of rock & roll influence, and a lifetime of die-hard dedication to the craft. A never ending drive to create, with nothing to prove, nothing to lose.

Written and recorded in a fever of creative energy in the earliest months of 2015, look for The Skulx self-titled debut release later this year.

The Courtesy Tier

Courtesy Tier is always a surprise, sometimes even to themselves. Layton (drums) and Omer (guitar) have been playing together for the last seven years, but they weren’t always a duo. As members came and went, they perpetually conceptualized themselves as a four and sometimes six piece band. Then, during their second winter in New York, the boys had run out of other band members. Regrouping in a closet size practice space under the Smith Street overpass, they finally had enough room to rehearse, and they liked the sound. By the following summer they were ready to record, but a New York budget requires some finagling. With three mic’s in a 7×7 room, “The Resolution” was born.

Courtesy Tier is a two man cadre. Whether invoking the Meat Puppets, Morphine, Ataxia, J Dilla, Don Caballero, or Chris Whitley they synthesize the soul of rock with melodic blues. While a forerunner of the DIY movement in Brooklyn, they aren’t your usual Brooklyn sound. The album name exemplifies their process: go with what you’ve got and you’ll find your way there.

Zero Holds

ZERO HOLDS. Zero holds barred, hold nothing back! This was the hard fought consensus reached when the arduous band name debate was finally over. There’s no shortage of rock bands in Massachusetts, nevermind New England, the area is as artistically rich as they come. Zero Holds needed a name suited to their newly founded, sharper edged creative sword of a rock and roll four-piece.

“Zero holds space for bigger numbers, bigger things to come. The potential is absolutely limitless when it comes to us filling that space and defining this name.” Says Joe Touchette, who takes care of punchy rhythm guitar and main vocal duties in ZH. “It’s like having a fresh chance, and the proper platform to convey our little message to the world. It becomes clearer a bit more each day, that in life you have to take risks, work really hard, and fight infinitely for the things that you love. Anything goes at this point, no holding back.”

For the band formerly known as THE ROMAN NUMERAL THREE, a neo-trashy fuzz-rock outfit, the page has turned with the addition of drummer Tyler Leadbetter. The group is anxiously attempting to unify their efforts in creating a faster paced, more rapacious sound honoring their punk and cult rock idols such as Alkaline Trio, Misfits, Hot Water Music, Social Distortion etc.

Lead guitarist Mike Rague is pursuing a new direction with ZH. He is taking a slightly more aggressive rock and roll approach, citing influences from a wide mix of bands such as Dredg, Interpol, Ramones, but also nods heavily in his lead play to stoner rock icons Zeppelin, Floyd, and The Cure. “While Joe holds down the rhythm, I aim to add the texture and body to it, whether its ambient or melodic. All of that usually builds up to a powerful chanting chorus part that the crowd can get in on, we have fun with it.”

Zero Holds will build upon the community vibe and enthusiasm generated during their time as college age keg party rockers (in Roman Numeral) to explore new, and more pressing issues of ambition, maturity, and giving meaning to what they do.

As a whole, Zero Holds’ energetic, punk-influenced sound is now more politically and socially aware, with big anthems of both victory and tragedy. Touchette’s lyrics evoke the fragility of success and the friendships that buoy us in defeat.

The Struggle EP will be the band’s self released five song debut.

“This EP is about figuring out what that proverbial good fight is, as much as actually fighting it”, Joe explains. “How we aim for the best and still sometimes lose, and who the people are that lift us up when we fall.” Bassist and vocalist John Thomas adds “The struggle is about the freedom to create, and how we pursue that freedom. It’s about moving forward through obstacles, and not letting anything hold you back.”

That forward momentum is reflected in the up tempo, gang vocal choruses that anchor the songs on the EP and shore up their live performance. “We’re about that connection you feel when everyone is singing along, because every one of us in the room has been right there where you are,” Rague adds. “Moving forward, even if we have to carry one another, that’s what this EP is all about.”

The Gills are a 4 piece rock band consisting of 2 sets of brothers. The Wheeler Brothers,(Jesse and Chris)and The Prince Brothers (Matt and Andy).

Jesse was inspired to pick up a guitar and a Beatles song book when he was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 15. This was a real brush with death that took him and the whole family on quite an exhausting hike up “The Mountain”. After extensive treatment …including Chemo Therapy, he reached the peak and went into remission. He has recently celebrated 8 years cancer free.

The songwriting comes primarily from Jesse and Chris who (like the rest) were raised in a family of musicians who not only worked hard to provide, but also cultivated a love for real, rich, and soulful music.
They each have their own unique voice and writing style that work together very smoothly while upholding their individuality.

Matt and Andy make up the rhythm section, they lay a strong foundation with heavy grooves, clear dynamics, and prominent but tastefully placed expression. Due to playing together their whole musical lives, they can lock in and work as one unit. They can stand aside or whisper if needed, but when it’s time to take it there, they are able and willing to dig into some serious emotion and get it all completely out.

The Gills are 4 siblings on a mission to build a dream of creating and sharing music they love, spreading hope and strength through Jesse’s story, and raising money and awareness towards helping other people who are going through the absolute hell of cancer.

The main motto on stage is to pour every ounce of sweat and emotion out, and spill it into every human soul that’s present.

This show celebrates the release of The Gills brand new album “Motor Running”. Ticket price includes a copy of the CD upon entry!

Wild Sun

Wild Sun’s original brand of psychedelic 90s rock have been getting crowds buzzed and breaking bar sales records. Debut album produced by Bryce Goggin.

Slim Wray is a party of two that isn’t afraid to get dirty. A brotherhood based on an extensive history together in the New York City music scene, Chris Moran (drums/backing vocals) and Ryan Houser, aka “Howzr” (vocals/ guitar) have not only developed a tight musical chemistry, but have fine-tuned the art of bombastic, irreverent rock ‘n roll. Running on thunderous drums and gritty, fuzz-fueled guitar riffs, Brooklyn’s Slim Wray welcomes their single “Bear” off their forthcoming album Sack Lunch.

The blues-based, primal rock duo, who finds inspiration in The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Nirvana, and The Kinks, offers up a garage rock delight with “Bear.” The single attacks with a rousing introduction and swiftly transforms into a plain good time, featuring slamming guitar chords, growling vocals, and infectious “woo hoo’s!” Raucous and gritty to the core, “Bear” provides a tantalizing taste of what’s packed in the rest of Sack Lunch.

The story of Slim Wray has been one of dedication. Howzr grew up in Indiana, while Chris was raised in the hills of Brewster, NY. Both have been musicians, pranksters, and adrenaline junkies from an early age. They separately made their way to the New York City and found each while playing in the punk and indie rock scene. Their first project together, Ten Pound Strike, produced a few EPs with legendary producer/engineer, Joe Blaney (Ramones, The Clash, The Beastie Boys, Keith Richards, Modest Mouse, etc) while blasting away at now-defunct CBGB and other rock clubs around the North East. After other members of Ten Pound Strike burned out on endless nights, the band disbanded. The two took a year hiatus as Chris explored Asia and Howzr honed his sound on old Surf and Blues albums.

The two reunited in 2011 to form a two-man project, Thick as Theives, with the goal of focusing their raw, stripped-down sound with the ghosts of the past and the attitude for today. In 2013, they renamed themselves Slim Wray and finished recording their debut album, Sack Lunch. The album was recorded live at Vault Recording Studios by producer and former bassist of The Push Stars, Dan McLoughlin.

Willie and the Giant

The self-titled debut album from Willie and the Giant is a double shot of vintage rock and soul, tastefully wrapped and carried like a party gift into the now. Open it up and you’ll find a few key ingredients missing from a lot of today’s music—for starters, space, warmth and plenty of dynamic range. This one begs to be played on vinyl through a hot tube receiver and some big, boxy hi-fi speakers.
Which makes sense. The retro-minded Nashville band cut these new songs at all-analog studio Welcome to 1979, where an impressive list of legends and contemporaries have recorded before them—Todd Snider and Dave Schools’ Hard Working Americans, The North Mississippi All-Stars, Those Darlins, Jason Isbell, even Animals frontman Eric Burdon.
“We wanted that warm, saturated sound that you can only get from tape,” frontman Will Stewart says, “and Welcome to 1979 specializes in just that. It was cozy, too. Everything there is intentionally stylized to take you four decades back in time.”
“It definitely felt like a special place,” adds six-foot-five lead guitarist Jon Poor (aka The Giant). “From the minute we walked in, we were instantly at ease.”
This positive feel carried over to the sessions, which found the Nashville group’s Alabama roots on prominent display. Both Stewart and Poor were veterans of the Birmingham scene before relocating to Nashville, striking up a friendship and starting Willie and the Giant. For their self-titled debut LP (out April 21 on Cumberland Brothers Music), the band’s two singer-guitarists, plus bassist Grant Prettyman and drummer Mac Kramer were joined in the studio by friend and ‘Bama staple Matt Slocum—who tours with Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson—on keys.
Everything was recorded live together in the same room—Slocum’s sparkling hammond organ, Prettyman’s in-the-pocket grooves, Kramer’s ebullient, driving beats, Poor’s soulful Stratocaster licks and Stewart’s silky and expressive lead vocals.
“When we play, we really feed off of each other,” Poor says. “So this approach was perfect to capture our sound and really bring that human element to it. Most of our all-time favorite records—if you go back and research them—were done live, and we wanted to emulate that.”
The spontaneous results offer up plenty of eclectic magic— sweltering swamp grooves, dark and lonesome spaghetti-Western tunes offset by feel-good soul-pop ditties, gorgeous dueling guitar melodies, fist-pumping no-frills American rock & roll, glammy ’70s raveups, fiery Southern anthems and stadium-ready psychedelic blues epics.
“This record is a culmination of the band writing and arranging together for the last year,” Stewart says. “It’s a blend of our personal playing styles and influences, which continue to change and evolve as we learn each other’s tendencies. The songs are diverse, stylistically, but still find cohesion through the production and the way they were recorded. We wanted the sound to be uniquely our own without being overly referential and I think we achieved that.”

Charles Ellsworth

Born and raised in the White Mountains of Arizona, Charles Ellsworth first gained an appreciation for a simple, not so distant past. His vivid lyrics and near-familiar melodies weave to tell stories of heartbreak and loneliness while shining a light on the perseverance of the human spirit. Charles has subtle way of exploring the idea that even when all seems lost, there is always a sliver of hope. Declan Ryan of Independent Clauses ( called his and Vincent Draper’s recent release Salt Lake City: A Love Story, “a triumph for american songwriting…blending outlaw grit with a raw streak of self-awareness.” His ability to go from a stomp-your-boots anthem reminiscent of Springsteen, to a simple love song in the vein of Townes Van Zandt assures that it won’t be long before his name, lyrics, and melodies are stuck in music lovers head’s everywhere.

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