Last Night at Death By Audio: K-Holes, Alps, Hunters, Zulus

It was a dark and stormy night… no really, it was! And I counted only two people at Death By Audio not wearing black – an apparatus of the weather and of the dark sounds going on at the Billburg venue.

I missed Zulus and I heartily apologize. But on to the next one:

Hunters have an amazing take on minimalist garage, co-fronted by Derek Watson and Isabel Ibsen, sharing a single mic to belt it out. It’s an honest 50/50 of duties, with the pair coming together to make some gilded harmonies on top of basically two-chord pop. I wish that second mic had been working -- Ibsen really has some on-stage freak outs that make you wanna move.

Anyway, don’t take that the two-chord thing the wrong way – it’s incredibly catchy, the songs get stuck in your head with the odd, left-field fervor that defines the band. Really, it could be called pure pop -- it’s boiled down and bleak without being sad. It’s like they took the radio vernacular and wrung it clean of antidepressants. It’s a hook-filled sound that’s attracted the attention of Nick Zinner and James Iha -- both worked on the band’s debut EP.

Alps was a one-man storm of ambient loops and guitar-driven pop, with vocals delivered with vehemence. Both takes revealed an honest effort, but the vacillation between the two happened so quickly it was a little jarring. If that was the intent, then the goal was met. Dude has a lot of heart, throwing down his black Strat at the end of his set with the conviction of a classical conductor. It seemed like a relief for him -- the multitasking was off the wall.

K-Holes emerged from the dissolution of the great Golden Triangle -- the other side of which went on to spawn X-Ray Eyeballs. It’s all a Hozac tree, and the label is pressing some magnificent records for all the bands. K-Holes just sold out of their first vinyl pressing of their debut LP on beautiful translucent gold vinyl. Very stoked to get a copy, because not only does it look great, it sounds amazing. The estimable Jarvis Taveniere recorded the 10-track at Live With Animals, the long-running Brooklyn artspace owned by two K-Holes members (Animals is about to shutter up, sadly). Taveniere also mixed the self-titled record, but at his own Rear House Studios.

Live, K-Holes is a beast - a mixture of no wave, and psychedelic, smattered with a little punk. Lead vocalist Cha Cha Con commands the stage with the power of a medium, staring off into the middle distance like one gazes at a desert sunset. It’s almost a séance, otherworldly as much as spiritual. And at times, it’s like each band member is doing his or her own thing, but it just happens to line up into this great music: Sax 5th Avenue is wailing on that reed like a punk Albert Ayler; Creepy D is doing some guitar noise; Bam Bam is throttling his single floor tom, and Junglaya is gluing the whole thing together with her fluttering basslines (and did it last night with a cast on her wrist, for god’s sake.)

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