The Lisps, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Famous Amos 

FORMED: “2005 in Sammy and César’s loft in the South Bronx.”

FAVORITE NYC VENUE: “Our favorite venue is Union Hall. Skippy is an angel. We always have so much fun playing there. And they love us, though we might have damaged the ceiling tiles at our last show.”

: “The bar is so high here that it really forces you to be exceptional and then rewards you for it. So many of our friends are becoming successful from just pounding the pavement in New York, pure and simple. There’s not many towns that offer that.”

  “I don’t think we got paid more than 30 or 40 bucks for a show for a solid year after we started.  Being a band in New York can be an expensive endeavor, but it’s still fun as crap.”

I was first drawn to the Lisps because, for the image accompanying the song ‘Chaos’ on their MySpace page, they used the photo from the Guinness Book of World Records of the world’s fattest twins riding motorcycles, which I was banned from my grammar school library for laughing at a gazillion years ago. Meaningless? Possibly. But it’s only the first of about a million things about their sensibility that I find so immediately lovable. They’re a pop band at their core, but they ease their way through the genre’s confining walls with not-so-subtle nods to old-time country and vaudeville. They’re led by once-couple César Alvarez and Sammy Tunis, both sticklers for simple, unforgettable melodies and spot-on call-and-response vocals. They released their debut EP, The Vain, The Modest, and the Dead, back in 2006, and they’ve just released their first full-length, Country Doctor Museum, on which they embrace their further-out tendencies. And they get bonus points for a willingness to don ridiculous costumes in photos. (The frilly blue shirts in the photo above are merely the tip of the iceberg, for reals.)

“Last spring we formed to play at Peggy’s (keyboards) birthday party. It was really, really fun!”

“Cake Shop. Great coffee, snacks, and everyone who works there likes the Pastels and Black Tambourine — except Danny, who rages to Yacht Rock and Phillip Glass.”

BEST THING ABOUT BEING IN A BAND IN NYC: “EVERYTHING! New York is 100% awesome in every possible way!”

“Nothing! Well, maybe it would be cool if they could extend a subway line to Sweden.”

Whenever anyone asked me to list the eight bands we’d be featuring this year, I’d get to the part where I’d mention The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and pretty much every time, the person I was talking to would roll their eyes or shake their head and say something to the effect of, “Man, they’ve got to be either the best band ever, or absolutely terrible.” And it’s true: they were clearly always going to be mega-emo and stupid, or wonderfully self-aware and remarkably able to laugh at themselves. Fortunately, they are very much the latter, an indie-pop band in the truest scense of the term, cutesy and coy, with an abiding love for all-encompassing distortion and gentle, ever-present feedback. There are comparisons to be made to My Bloody Valentine, but beneath all the droning guitars and keyboards is a distinct type of jangliness that actually calls to mind much of the Teen Beat Records catalog. They’ve been playing around the city since early last year, and they’ve taken their act overseas, too, selling copies of their debut EP, which features five songs that total less than 15 minutes. They’ve also just released a 7” for their song ‘Kurt Cobain’s Cardigan’, the title of which probably says more about the band than I ever could.

Summer 2007


“Small amps and soft cases make transportation easy.”

“Dodging parking tickets and insults from irate motorists as you double-park for load-in.”

There is something to be said, we think, for having a very new, very unproven band in your stable of artists to keep a close eye on. You get to chart their progress, and if you get on board early enough, you even start to feel this weird, totally self-righteous kind of pride when they do well. And so for us, taking the place of Bear Hands last year, that band is currently Famous Amos. A three-piece pop band from Brooklyn, they’ve just released their first EP, less than a year after forming, and it features one of our favorite songs of the year. ‘Chickenhawk’ begins with a sludgy, overdriven guitar and an irresistible vocal melody. “Take off those white knee socks, take off your mary-janes,” goads lead singer Jason Amos, before the song speeds up to double-time, the guitars get even louder, and dual vocals kick in. It comes to an abrupt end after about 45 seconds, by which point you’ll already be hooked. Their songs are playful and fun, with outstanding boy/girl harmonies, but they’re also incredibly noisy and endearingly lo-fi, with cymbals crashing everywhere. They’ve played a handful of shows all over the country, including a spot on one of Todd P’s parties at this year’s SXSW, so they’re off to a promising start for sure, and we’re rooting for them to keep it up.

This Is Ivy League, La Strada, Team Robespierre

High Places, Violens

Photo Shoot at Bushwick Country Club


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