Ever feel like you’re at a crossroads? There are moments when you have to wonder if people actually still read. Some have told me that people “don’t read to understand but simply to comment.” Ok, there might be some truth to that, especially in a 2018 quick-paced social media world where as soon as you write something you feel may have the depth to it is quickly demonized and taken literally when something might be figurative. But I need to stress here, anything that I have written is merely an opinion, just like many other writers with much more talent than I have. No one is pushing agendas, just opinions.
Maybe I’ve just become jaded and disillusioned or it could be that I’ve just fallen into the trappings of an elitist when it comes to expecting more from the artists that cross my path. Why shouldn’t we expect more from someone expressing themselves within the confines of 3-minutes to create a song? I don’t think it’s much to ask. I come into Posh Hammer’s Dancing In Place with an open mind and wide-eyed skepticism. Posh Hammer is a brother/sister duo comprised of 20-year-old multi-instrumentalist Navied Setayesh and his 19-year-old sister Tasnim who handles all lead vocals for the project. Now at just five tracks, it’s difficult to get a thorough assessment of the group’s music.
The brief opener “An Introduction” has Tasnim singing along to Navied’s electronic twiddling with washes of keyboard and a bass drum thumping as the song moves into a crescendo to… nothingness. Expectations were high just then, but they stopped short of climaxing. At least give listeners a reach-around there. But it eventually makes sense in the long or short run of it all. They quickly follow up with “After We Dance” and we get a better sense that the music lushfully embraces 80’s electronic pop without any triviality. In a sense, John Hughes would have come calling, not only for the shining enthusiasm they have for the lost decade of music but because layered within the context of its music, the lovelorn teen angst of the era is just what the doctor ordered here. Tasnim’s lyrics & genuine delivery on top of her brother’s composition works perfectly. Then on “To Kill Time” I can’t do anything but wonder, hot damn, how is it that they can time warp musically without dating themselves? It works to the Hammer’s benefit. The feeling of heartbreak is easily captured here and more so with “It Once Was Summer.”
And this is the point where Posh Hammer deceives us with “Leave Me Here Tonight” where the song continues the rallying cry of “An Introduction” and influences become apparent with the bouncy bass drive and underlying guitar interaction. The Setayesh siblings outdo themselves on this track. Hah, they fooled me here but it’s so damned good. I’m interested to hear more of what they have to offer in full-length doses because this right here teases me too much.
Now if there’s one thing I know, it’s crack pipes. I’m not a New York City transplant, I was born and raised in the big city when crack run rampant in my neighborhood, Time Square was filled with peep shows and hookers, and, did I mention crack? Even famed pop artist emblazoned his artwork in East Harlem on a playground with a “Crack Is Wack” mural. But I digress from anything remotely to do with The Crack Pipes, who hail from the great state of Texas. It’s been 11 years since the release of their last album, 2007’s Black And White but they back! There’s always been a lot going on within the band, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The six members of the band all bring something to blend into the band’s sound, whether it’s a Wurlitzer, harp, organs, or your standard rock aficionado instrumentation (bass, guitar, drums.) But here they are with the album Fake Eyelashes (Super Secret Records) that runs the gamut from quiet pop to a soulful sound to straight freak out. It might be what you expect from The Crack Pipes, or it may surprise you. Whichever direction the band takes, seems to be done carefully so you won’t expect what’s coming next.
The group opens with the title track, which might lull you to sleep as it rocks back and forth, yet the background harmonies are executed perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, just because it puts you to sleep doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. It allows for the awkward explosion directly after, waking you up from that slumber. WTF am I referring to? Well, “Lil’ Cheetah” is the rockin’, frolickin’ joint that has a rhythm you won’t soon forget. Mike Corwin is a fucking relentless animal here while BillySteve Korpi’s clean distortion along with Ray Colgan’s vocal seems to move in unison. And Coby Cardosa’s keyboard antics can’t be ignored either. This song alone is possibly the embodiment of what everyone should think The Crack Pipes are about (but there’s more to them.)
There’s a lot o’ soul here, not like Charles Bradley or James Brown soul, but more like Andre Williams. You know the kind, where the band will disappear into dark, dank alleys and then appear out of nowhere, hitting the stage with an unrelenting fervor! “Bang Bang Bangs,” the unassuming “(I’m a) Moon Man, Baby,” and “Sweet & Low” bank on that feel, without getting caught up in feelings like Drake may.
Then again, the band cuts its sound with a more melancholic “Medusa, Do You Mind?” lead by echoey vocals, Nick Moulos’ sublime bass, and Cardosa’s organ. Here’s the other side of the band where they challenge listeners with sounds of varying eras moving from the 50’s through the 70s within the group’s sound. “Sea of Beverly” finds solace in change as does “Sha- Zam” where Corwin & Korpi get wicked! There’s a lot to take in with Fake Eyelashes but if you have the time, I suggest adding on some mascara and a little blush along with it.