Alright you jerks…I’ve got a fuckin’ double-whammy for y’all this time around. A show review, AND an album review, all in one easy to prepare, microwave-safe, resealable package! Now, I know you may be asking yourselves, “but Mr. Devil! How can you bring us not one, but TWO tasty reviews all in one easy to prepare, microwave-safe, resealable package?!?”
Easy…because I’m the devil. Plain and simple.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s address the large-sized elephant in the room with us. Gingerjake is a Minneapolis band who, much to their fortune, are fronted by a smokin’ hot girl named Amanda. Did I really have to say that out loud? I mean…you probably would have noticed this when I posted up a couple pics of the band, yeah? Well, I feel like I needed to say it because we believe in a few things here in the Basement. One of those things is music, and while an image, or an aesthetically pleasing figure, or fireworks, etc, etc, might add to a live show’s appeal, it is not the focal point when we review music here.
If all you want to do is stare at Amanda and you couldn’t give a shit about Gingerjake as a band, go here.
The following song lyric is most appropriate at this juncture:
“I think we’re alone now…there doesn’t seem to be anyone arou-ound…” -Tommy James and the Shondells/Ritchie Cordell
Heh…ok, enough banter…let’s get this motherfucker off the ground!!!
Welcome to the Rock in Maplewood in the hood! Tonight we’re going to tell y’all about a little band from Minneapolis called ‘Gingerjake.’ The show we were at also featured the bands Black Days Down, Far From Falling, and Mindrite…but unfortunately we won’t be reviewing them this time.
But…devil? How come you’re not reviewing those other bands?
Because I showed up late! Sue me!
Ok, so here we are at the Rock in Maplewood in the hood and we happen to arrive just before Gingerjake hits the stage. We paid our eight bucks to get in and found a large gathering of people milling around the front of the stage. We joined them after purchasing some tasty beverages and waited for the spectacle that was about to ensue.
While we are waiting I’ll fill you in on some band history as it relates to Gingerjake. Quite some time ago, we’ll say circa 2003, Gingerjake was formed by the cute couple immediately to the left. That’s Amanda Harris and Ian Butler Severson, respectively. They were joined by Joe and Eric Rotter on Drums and bass, again, respectively. This rounded out the original lineup and the band in this incarnation put out an EP, a live album, a DVD and a full length album from 2003 through 2007. They also played 93X-Fest, and shared the stage with a TON of national acts. They did most of this from the ground up, constantly touring and playing shows, and keeping a constant email list, or which I am a member and attribute to some of the longevity of their success as a local Minneapolis band.
From the first EP through the last album the band took a notable turn away from their initial image of straight-ahead metal and took on a popier sound (popier isn’t a real word), probably with the intent of being a more ‘accessible’ rock band, though that’s purely speculative on my part…only Gingerjake knows the reasons behind the sonic design of their music. Whatever the reasons, whatever the direction, the band came to a difficult decision with the departure of Joe and Eric Rotter last year. I don’t know any details, as I don’t know any of the band members personally, so all I can speak of is the solution that the band implemented in the absence of these two. Replacing them would be (and still is) Colin Roegeirs on Bass, Brian Adams on Guitar, and Derek Abrams on Drums.
Oh wait! Holy SHIT!! HERE THEY COME!! The lights go dim and I get the strange urge to make out with my girlfriend, but somehow restrain myself…
So we got a little Carmina Burana while some scattered televisions played various clips of Gingerjake imagery…and the anticipation in the room grows while this happens. I’m going off of memory here…but I believe they opened the show with ‘Get It/Get Off,’ during which Ian gave us his best ‘o-face’ during the opening riffs, as evidenced by the picture to the right…dude could’ve been a porn star…jesus…
After this they played a couple more songs off of their previously released albums to get the crowd into the rhythm. They then started into their new material, which is the reason we found ourselves there in the first place. Since I’ll be ending this up with a little album review action I’ll save the in-depth song-by-song bullshit for that, and just touch on a few main points regarding the live show for the rest of the show review portion. (do you feel like I’m repeating myself?) Show review.
The new band (I guess they’re not super new, as this version of the band has been gigging together since last October/November already) really fucking held it down on stage. I refuse to make any type of better/worse comparison that one might expect here. Why? Because it just doesn’t matter moving forward, that’s why.
Ok, so after this intro and about half way into the set we’re well into the new material and I’m liking it well enough so far…and then…the show got a little personal on a few different levels. Amanda went into a little introduction to a new song called ‘Daddy,’ while Ian sat down with an acoustic guitar and the room got kind of quiet while we heard stories of how Amanda used to hang out with her Dad when she was little. I think I know what they were going for, and it was probably heartfelt, but rather than coming off as anything sincerely personal, it just left me feeling like I was watching something scripted. I’m all for bands laying their personal stories out on the stage…I mean, that can make for really great music, but it can also make you feel like you’ve just been asked out on a date by a block of swiss cheese.
Yeah, I said it, kinda cheesy…
Luckily the rest of the show would be a near straight uphill climb to a strong close which really coerced me into the decision to support the band by picking up their newly released EP, ‘Distillery: Making the World Wet.’
Certainly one of the highlights of the night came when the drummer (remember his name? It’s Derek Abrams, just in case you forgot…) went into full-on drum smashing extravaganza. The stage lights went low and he was accented with some spots and eventually some strobes when he really started jamming out.
Here he is all lit up:
After a minute or so, he really wound up the fury and actually began smoking a little bit:
He eventually started on fire, after which he was extinguished, all while continuing to rock the fuck out on the skins, crushing through a couple of double-bass/ride cymbal grooves that would have made some of the most talented metal drummers in the world jealous of him. As part of the crowd I can attest to the fact that this part of the show made the whole night worthwhile, no matter the cheese, no matter anything really…this fuckin’ dude’s got skills.
Now, as you may have noticed, we haven’t yet seen the other guitarist in any of the pictures! Well, that’s because every time I took a picture of him he was smiling ear-to-ear, and it was really kind of strange…like he was really happy to be up there, and who knows? Maybe that’s true? Anyway, I did manage to catch him off his guard and came up with this somber portrait of focus and determination:
From here on out, the show seemed to increase in intensity, both with the energy in the music, and the reaction of the crowd. The band closed the show with ‘Never Comes Easy’…or so we thought after it was over and the band left the stage. After a few minutes of the crowd chanting ‘ONE MORE SONG!’ a certain fellow approached the microphone and asked us if we’d like to hear ‘Grey on Blue.’ It’s pretty much their staple song, and a real crowd favorite, though I originally thought that the reason they hadn’t played it was because Eric Rotter was such an integral part of the backup vocals…remember him? Eric Rotter was their old bass player. Haven’t you been paying attention?!?
Well, I was right and wrong all in the same breath. They pulled it off, the song sounded great, and the whole crowd was singing along with the chorus. The way in which they pulled it off, and probably at least a small part of why they played it as an encore, was to have a couple of friends/other band members/what-have-you to help them out with the chorus. It was pretty kick-ass and made for a good end to a good show overall.
And now, before we get to that little album review, let’s take a short intermission…
I know I speak for my own self, and I’m pretty sure I probably speak for Gingerjake when I ask that you check out all the bands on the bill, even if I didn’t write about them here, so here’s some various links, click ‘em and come back in a few…
Black Days Down
Far From Falling
Welcome back!! Let’s go visit some hot chicks at the merch table!! In case you didn’t know, the best time to pick up a band’s CD is at a show. They might charge you 10 bucks for a six song EP, but at the very least, you know that all that money goes directly to the band to help them continue to make music, tour, hire hot merch girls, etc.
So should you pick up a copy of the new EP by Gingerjake? Well I say yes, yes you should. As promised, I’ll whip through a short review of the album. I say short because I know that you’re probably tired of reading this fucking long fucking blog by now, and also because I want you to go and buy it sooner than later…
Here we go…
The EP is called ‘Distillery: Making the World Wet’ and we’re going to ignore the loosely sexual connotation of that little innuendo in exchange for a critical talk about the music on said album.
The disc starts off with a little ditty called ‘Never Comes Easy’ that instantly begs to be compared to ‘No Doubt’ in their prime. It’s a pop song, there’s no doubt about that, and there’s no pun intended anywhere in this sentence. I can certainly relate to being one of those people “working jobs they hate just to make ends meet.” The song really shows the direction that I believe the band to be turning towards, which is a more commercial, more accessible format, and this song is exactly that.
Next up is ‘It Ain’t Right,’ which bleeds with a darker intensity than the previous happy-go-lucky ‘Never Comes Easy.’ The lyrics are sinister and even lay tribute to Depeche Mode with a mention of that pop-culture icon, the ‘personal jesus.’ This is a bit of a slow meander which builds to a pretty big production towards the end. There are certainly some soulful influences here, and Amanda shows off her stunning range of vocals and pristine singing voice during the close of the song.
The third track is probably the one that will take the band to national radio. It’s a track called ‘Stop Calling Me,’ and it’s got the hop, the hook, and the pop sensibility drizzled all over it. When I first heard it live, I was reminded of the concept by Evanescence with their song ‘Call Me When You’re Sober’ where Amy Lee whines and bitches and cries about that dude from Seether…but I realized the error in my ways soon enough. Amanda doesn’t care if you’re sober or not…she just doesn’t want any phone calls at all.
Track four is ‘Daddy.’ Ballad.
Next we get a real funk-biscuit with ‘Save You.’ The track starts out with a monster-stomp funk groove that would probably fit best in a strip club. It’s candy-coated, though I have to say this is probably not the strong point of the album. The song has good parts but as a whole it’s not one of my favorites.
The last track on the album is ‘Curtsy,’ a fine close to the album as a whole. The subject of the lyrics “I just want to be your trophy” even elude to the ‘image’ that I spoke of earlier in the blog. I think the band knows what they’ve got on the microphone, and they (she) acknowledge it here, right out in the open. It’s ok to play it up a little, I mean, work with what you’ve got, if you’ve got it flaunt it, you know, all that jazz…
Now…didn’t I say that was the last track on the album? Well, it is…or at least track six is the last track, but there is a little hidden gem nested in there at the very very end. They added in ‘Get It/Get Off’ which previously was only available on the ‘Get It/Get Off’ Live album, which was limited to the initial pressing of 1000 copies. So if you always wanted that song on a disc, well now’s your chance. I think it’s a really nice thing for their fans, and a cool way to give them just a little bit more of what they all want.
So that’s it, I’m done talking, aren’t you relieved? I sure hope so…I’m actually surprised you’re still here…
Why are you still here?
Oh…right…you want to go buy the ALBUM!! Of COURSE!! Well, it’s not online quite yet (at least as far as I can find) so you’re going to have to email the band and let them know you want to pick up a copy. Here’s a handy-dandy link to get you to their website where you can get all wet:
I am clicking this link to go purchase Gingerjake’s album Distillery: Making the World Wet
Have a nice fucking day, y’allz…
-the devil and the rest of the basement crew…