J.D. King, Golden Animals, The Abigails And The Entire Universe At Zebulon, Monday September 18th 2017
J.D. King is a dresser, he was wearing a black hat, an elegant turquoise ruffle shirt, a velvet jacket with plenty of vintage jewelry and he looked like a cross between Zorro and the marquis de Sade, or some romantic blue blood who wants to ignore which century he lives in. But eccentricity is always a plus in music, and when your girlfriend is none other than idiosyncratic queen Linda Ramone, you have to keep up with your appearance. He and his band were opening the night at Zebulon for another residency of the Entire Universe, and their mostly upbeat folk pop music was booming in the room with fuzzy guitars and a tone that would get as retro and groovy as an Allah Las song. However, the next song called ‘Eloise’ was a straightforward Bossa Nova tune, and the following one, ‘Mona’, was a country-inspired train-racing number. The set was diverse and played under J.D. large black hat which didn’t let us see much of his face, while he was strumming his guitar with his heavy-ringed fingers. He also covered McCartney’s ‘Helen Wheels’ before a laid-back, pina colada-on-the deck ‘Luna’, and for a young guy, he certainly had an ear attentive to the past and a unique way to combine many influences into a colorful vision.
Golden Animals had quite a sound, sad as a walk on a dark wet alley after a bad day at work, while singer Tommy Eisner’s deep and melancholic voice sounded like a combination between Jim Morrison and Julian Casablancas if this is even possible to imagine. Now that I think about it, they often sounded like a slowed down version of the Strokes. You know that sad song that plays during the part of the cartoon when the poor little beaten-down hero has lost everything and goes burry his pain in the dark? That was Golden Animals’ music. They had songs a bit more uplifting though, shining through the cracks of darkness, with a touch of country here and there, but their sound was always very heartfelt, layered (they were 5 on stage) and even poignant, with at times a 60’s girl-group vibe although there were only men on stage. It was a retro set with emotional vocals resonating in the place while multi cinematic ideas were crossing my mind at the same time.
The Abigails played a drunken country, slow and strangely familiar, circling around another version of Beck’s ‘Mutations’, or at least stuck in this same bottle of blues. And I like this Beck reference because their first song was called ‘Satan Taps My Head’, while other ones had all the signatures of happiness and good times in hell: ‘Shadow of our Darkness’, ‘Relapse Blues’, ‘Black Hell’… Singer Warren Thomas had this strange and funny demeanor, leading the game with a tipsy dance over country guitars which were jumping from a dragging to an outlaw tempo. It was low-fi country, that is country which never wanted to go too big into the western big guitar department. Interestingly, Thomas was in the Growlers, a band so successful they had now their own festival, but the Abigails seem to be his own and personal thing, filled with dark imagery, twangy guitars and infectious foot-tapping grooves, a mixture they have described themselves as satanic country. I enjoyed their set, just like the two previous ones, and the crowd had grown big inside Zebulon
The Entire Universe are having a successful residency and that was my second time seeing them this month. Their songs navigated around a British invasion pop-rock-inspired sound, while the delivery of ex- Jeffertitti Moon Jeff Ramuno was like a softer version of Liam Gallagher… yeah who else has revisited the Beatles with more conviction than Oasis? With the help of Evan Snyder (Night Beats, Turquoise Noise) and Eric Lodwick (Shining Mirrors, BRAHMS) Jeff Ramuno played some sweet hooks for the attentive audience, while the trio had dressed up as a commando brigade…They rocked the place with a big bright sound and forceful drumming and, as if the connection was not obvious already, they covered McCartney’s ‘Let Me Roll It’… it was probably the perfect night to cover McCartney and Wings.