Live Concert Photography: Overlake, Dead Stars and Heaven at Mercury Lounge 5/12/17
Certainly, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’ve likely come across a few posts featuring Jersey City, NJ-based shoegaze trio and JOVM mainstays Overlake. The band, which officially formed in 2012 can actually trace its origins to when its founding duo Thomas Barrett (vocals, guitar) and Lysa Opfer (vocals, bass) were bandmates in another, now-defunct, local hard rock band. And as the story goes, Barrett and Opfer quickly bonded over their mutual love and appreciation for shoegaze and late 80s and early 90s alt rock; in fact, during smoke breaks and after practices and rehearsals with their then-primary band, the duo would spend time chatting and jamming with whatever gear was lying around. After about a year of jamming, which eventually developed into fully-fledged songwriting, along with a rotating series of drummers recorded their 2014 full-length debut, which was released to praise for a sound that My Bloody Valentine, Pavement and Sonic Youth among others. The band’s lineup solidified when Barrett and Opfer serendipitously met Nick D’Amore (drums) at a mutual friend’s birthday party last year.
Up until recently, some time had passed since I had written about the trio. As it turned out the Jersey City-based shoegazers had been extremely busy, as they’ve spent the time touring the States rather extensively to support Sighs and the “Travelogue”/”Winter Is Why” 7 inch, writing and recording the material, which would comprise their recently released sophomore effort Fall. Reportedly, the material on the new album builds upon the massive and enveloping sound of their debut — while adding subtle yet gorgeous flourishes, including contributions from Claudia Chopek, who has worked with Norah Jones, TV on the Radio, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and others, contributing piano and violin on a couple of songs. From the album’s first two singles “Winter Is Why,” and “Gardener’s Bell, the band has managed to subtly expand upon their sound — and while retaining the dreamy, enveloping quality that first caught attention, the song possesses a rousing, arena rock friendly, anthemic hook paired with Opfer and Barrett’s harmonies and some gorgeous guitar work that reminded me of A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns-era The Verve.
Much like Overlake, the Brooklyn-based trio Dead Stars is another local band that I’ve written a bit about over the past few years. With the release of their 2014 full-length debut Slumber and 2016’s Bright Colors, the trio comprised of cousins Jeff Moore (guitar, vocals) and Jaye Moore (drums) and their longtime friend John Watterburg (bass) quickly rose to both local and national attention for a sound that pairs fuzzy and grungy power chords and anthemic hooks and manages to be reminiscent of 90s grunge rock acts like Dinosaur, Jr. and others.
Dead Stars performing at Mercury Lounge last weekend.
Currently comprised of founding duo Matt Sumrow (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and Mikey Jones (drums), both of whom have had stints as either touring or studio musicians with renowned acts like Dean and Britta, Swervedriver, Ambulance, LTD., The Comas, Snowden, The Big Sleep and others, along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends filling in on live sets, the members of New York-based psych rock/shoegaze act Heaven are among some of the more accomplished musicians of the New York scene. With the 2013 release of their full-length debut Telepathic Love, the band received both local and national attention for a sound that draws from RIDE, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, The Cure, The Stone Roses and New Order. In fact, with their current live iteration, the band’s sound manages to lean much more towards the direction of New Order and The Psychedelic Furs.