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Marco Benevento:

A

p r o f i l e

Three Bands to

Check out at Bandcamp.com

Jukebox The

Ghost


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Editor’s Note Three Bands to Check Out at Bandcamp Jukebox the Ghost Marco Benevento Reviews Tracklist


Editor’s Note As a campus-based magazine, most of our interviews for Cake are limited to e-mail, so when the rare opportunity for some face time arises, we get pretty excited. Such was the case for our feature on Marco Benevento, which I’m very proud to present to our readers. Marco is a musician of many talents, and lucky for us he’ll be returning to Ithaca for a performance at The Haunt on Nov. 30. Until then, you can keep yourself musically occupied by listening to this issue’s track list on Spotify. We hope Cake’s different components—our printed issues, website and online playlists—help you discover and appreciate some new music. Peace Raquel

Staff List Editor in Chief, Raquel Dalarossa Layout Manager, Noah Delin Publicity Chair, Paige Hoffmann Finance Chair, Adam Rudofker Layout, Kasey Speth Editor, Jessica Afrin Photography, Tommy Geanakos Contributors Zachary Weg Elise Edmonds Michael Petit Matt Schulman Brian Windschitl

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Three bands to check out at .com Brian Windschitl

Shark Week

Delicate Steve

Sexy Fights

These garage-punks are among my favorite independent bands right now. Their psychedelic, electrifying sound can be compared to the Black Keys or possibly Cage the Elephant. Shark Week delivers a heart-wrenching explosion of incendiary guitar and thumping drums, led by frontman Ryan Hunter Mitchell. Best for the lovers of the punk-era Johnny Thunders, The New York Dolls and The Ramones. Shark Week is a mind-blowingly great listen that will bring any group of music lovers to a head-banging, foot-stomping, rumbling rumpus. Currently they have two EPs available on Bandcamp, for free. Take a gander.

Led by brainchild Steve Marion, Delicate Steve may be one of the most entertaining bands you’ll hear in a while. The only way to describe the happy-go-lucky sounds that are produced by Steve Marion’s guitar is to attempt to imagine an obscenely melodious mix between bands like Yes, Vampire Weekend, The Fall, Ravi Shankar and 10cc. Perhaps it’s easier to just think of a better, more entertaining Ratatat. The band currently has two albums out—Wondervisions and Positive Force. Emotions run high in Delicate Steve’s sound, as the experimental band does not incorporate lyrics into their music. Overall, Delicate Steve is best for anyone who wants to feel happier and uplifted, with the ethereal and enlightened tunes screaming from Marion’s compositions leaving you with a newfound bounce in your step.

Hailing from Chicago, IL, Sexy Fights is an explosion of electropop. The band synthesizes catchy tunes that are overlaid by vocalist Jordan Brzezinski, whose voice is almost as beautiful as she is. Backed up by Philip Shoemaker on guitar and synth, Bryan Hart on drums and Russell Augustine on guitar, Sexy Fights has a wonderfully hazy, winding sound that sweeps you away in technicolor. With each listen through their EP, you’ll fall more and more in love with this fuzzy, cozy sound. Sexy Fights has a mysteriously endearing quality to its synthesized compositions and each song inevitably draws you into their complex music.

sharkweekdc.bandcamp.com

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delicatesteve.bandcamp.com

sexyfights.bandcamp.com


Jukebox Jukebox the Ghost is a Brooklyn-based band that originated at George Washington University in 2003. The three band members—piano player and vocalist Ben Thornewill, guitarist and vocalist Tommy Siegel and drummer Jesse Kristin—have a one-of-a-kind dynamic and enthusiasm that was demonstrated during their visit to Ithaca’s The Haunt on September 14. After seeing such a great show, we were excited to chat with Tommy about the band and their third album, Safe Travels.

the

Ghost

Q: Where did you get the name Jukebox the Ghost from?

Q: When did each of you start playing your instruments?

A: We had a different name in college (“The Sunday Mail”) and were desperate for something different, to the point where we were all mining for name ideas in books, music, etc. I came up with “Jukebox,” Ben came up with “Ghost,” and we stitched them together in a really primitive/grotesque way. 

A: Ben’s been playing since he was a very, very young child. I’ve been playing since I was 12, and Jesse is roughly in the same category as me—our interest in playing coincided with puberty, which I think is the case for most people playing rock music.  Something in the pituitary gland that needs loud noise. 

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Q: What type of music do you play? What genre do you consider it? A: I’m happy to let other people decide our genre. We just write pop songs and arrange them the way that we like—if people need to put us in a box, they’re totally welcome to.

recording of [latest album Safe Travels] and the song selection ended up reflecting that—family deaths, major breakups and a whole host of events that made us feel connected with some more contemplative songs that we might’ve shied away from in the past. Our new record…feels like the culmination of everything we’ve been trying to do so far, and definitely is our best-sounding and most “realized” album.

Q: How did the band start playing together? A: Ben and Jesse had already been playing together during their freshman year of college (‘03), and I joined the band after they called me about a flier I put up in the music department. [We’ve had] a slow, steady growth for the last 8 years. Q: What’s you favorite song or album to play? A: Anything from the new record. Honestly, we’ve toured so much that most of our songs are muscle memory at this point. The new ones are more fun because we haven’t totally solidified our live arrangements and neurons are still firing.

Q: Who do you listen to and what are your biggest influences when writing music? A: Influences are a funny thing…the things I listen to don’t necessarily have any impact on the band. These days, I like a lot of angular post-punk, ‘70s prog-rock, punk/new-wave crossover stuff from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Deerhoof has been my favorite current band for a while now. The other guys listen to totally different stuff. We don’t have a lot in common, taste-wise. Somehow we can generally agree on what Jukebox the Ghost should sound like, though. As far as songwriting goes, Ben and I tend to write separately and bring mostly-finished songs to the table which we then pick apart as a trio.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much fun do you actually have on stage (10 being an infinitely large amount of fun)? A: 10,489 Q: Your website says you guys have had “a shift in the band’s creative trajectory.” A: We were dealing with some heavier life issues during the

Elise Edmonds


Marco Benevento A profile


Above the wisps of his black beard, the gray-

blue eyes of pianist Marco Benevento glisten in the dim light of the Ithaca Econolodge. He has a show at The Haunt in an hour, and he has graciously accepted a request to speak about that deep love of his: music, of course. “It’s been in my life forever. I started playing the piano when I was five,” he says while we sit in a darkened mini-cafeteria of sorts at the Econolodge. “I did drawing and painting and I liked art classes, but music turned into this thing where now it’s this enormous creative outlet for me,” he continues. But Mr. Benevento isn’t simply creative behind the piano; he is some type of musical wunderkind, capable of pressing out sounds you would have never thought existed. Just listen to the soft, twinkling piano on the track “Call Home,” from his 2009 album, Me Not Me, or the domino-like lilts on “Fireworks” from his newest record, TigerFace, and you are transported to a sublime realm of musical bliss. For Marco, such inventiveness behind the piano is a product of his passion for music and his fascination with sound. Mr. Benevento, however, isn’t simply providing you with earcandy—he’s just being true to himself. As he explains, “It’s important

as a musician, or as any artist really, to not try too hard. I feel it’s important to just follow your heart with music and write whatever it is that you like to do, whether it’s something that sounds like you’ve heard it from a million different bands or something that you’ve invented yourself.” Whether he intended to or not, Mr.

Benevento has created some of the most unique and exciting music out there. This refreshing musical disparity is evidenced clearly by TigerFace. The album, which came out in September, opens with two jumpy/poppy tracks featuring vocalist Kalmia Traver (from indie favorites Rubblebucket), and then seamlessly blends into more thumping, rock rhythms. Of the new album, Mr. Benevento says, “I spent more time on this one than on any of my other records. My other records, I would record them and then a year later, they would be released and this one I recorded two years ago.” Why the increased amount of time? “I’ve just been sitting with the stuff, rearranging and writing a lot of stuff over it,” he explains. Such a work ethic can be traced back to his early days at Ramapo High School near his hometown in Livingston, New Jersey where he practiced his piano skills with the school jazz band and local bands. From Ramapo, Mr. Benevento went onto the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. where he continued his work behind the piano. Now at 35 years of age, Mr. Benevento is in the prime of his career, playing shows across the country whether it be at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge or Ithaca’s own The Haunt. “I’m at a comfortable place with my own music and my own compositions and being the leader of my own band. I feel like I’m just staying true to the stuff that I want to write and, from there…whatever will become of it,” he says. What has “become” of it is a music that’s at once entertaining and emotional, fast and slow, and, simply, beautiful. He’s not just a piano player or musician; Marco Benevento is a music maker. Zachary Weg

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Reviews [albums] Converge “All We Love We Leave Behind” Epitaph Records Released: Oct. 9th, 2012

A

Popular thought might suggest that Hardcore punk is the product of an angst or frustration that is usually associated with youthful adolescence. So what happens when punks reach middle age? The undeniably cathartic answer has arrived in the form of the brutally honest and reflective new album, All We Love We Leave Behind, by the legendary post-hardcore quartet Converge. The opening track and first single, “Aimless Arrow,” is the most accessible song on an album that honestly requires a ton of listens to fully appreciate. Front man Jacob Bannon bellows in an almost clean tone, “To live the life you want, you’ve abandoned those in need” over a ridiculously intricate but catchy riff by guitarist and producer Kurt Ballou. The lyric is one of many relating to the personal sacrifices the band has made in the pursuit of art, especially with the time spent away from their loved ones. The album continues with “Trespasses,” a track that is so heavy and full of energy that it should contain its own warning label. Some other exceptional tracks are the eerie “Glacial Place,” the almost ballad like “Coral Blue,” the heart wrenching title track and the painfully reflective closer, “Predatory Glow.” The production on this album is refreshingly natural and emulates the band’s revered live sound. Drummer Ben Koller, who has already cemented himself as one of the best in the business, does a phenomenal job as always and actually carries songs like “Veins and Veils” with a kind of controlled chaos. The real strength of the album, however, is the mature perspective of an aging group of dudes in a youth dominated culture. The last line of the album, “I bow down to you, extinguished youth,” emphasizes this perspective, and serves as the exclamation mark on this truly unique and introspective album. Matthew Schulman


Cat Power “Sun”

Matador Released: Aug. 29th, 2012

A

Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, is back again after six years with her recently released album Sun. It is also the first album on which Marshall incorporates synthesizers and snippets of auto-tune. Over the course of the album you will hear extensive use of piano, layered vocals, reverberating guitar, infectious drums and a steady bass outlining the comforting progressions. This album is a soft-spoken groove of melancholia. That’s a lot to call one album but with one listen you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Take the track “Cherokee” for instance. There is plenty to absorb at once. The airy guitar guides the voice to take on a nostalgic feel. The drums and piano remind Marshall to continue with the song despite her sorrowful mantra, “I never knew love like this, I never knew pain like this/When everything dies, bury me upside.” Yet underneath all of this there is a resoluteness to it. Marshall has accepted what she sings as fact. Meanwhile the track “Ruin,” which starts with a rock pace in the piano and drums, playfully ponders her life. When she says “What are we doing?/ We’re sittin’ on a ruin,” could she be talking about her unfulfilled respite from composing music? Whatever it is she specifically recalls in this song, you can’t help but be completely enthralled with the notion that we should all be sittin’ on our own ruins. Thematically, this album presents the listener with questions and life lessons. Some questions she answers, others are left open to our own judgment; the life lessons are universal enough to fit into any listener’s life. It is this interaction amidst the grooving and distant instrumentals that makes this album so enticing. Needless to say, Cat Power has me clicking the replay button time after time. Michael Petit

Three Days Grace “Transit of Venus”

RCA Records Released: Oct. 2nd, 2012

B

If you know anything about Three Days Grace, you’ll be very confused looking at this new album cover. Three Days Grace has lost its grunge-ness. Conformity? I think so. Going from dark colors like black and brown to very vibrant ones like orange and yellow is a huge switch. Granted, it’s just artwork. But this switch is audible, too. 3DG has gone through an obvious sound change, which began with their last album, Life Starts Now (2009). This is not the same 3DG we heard on the radio singing “Riot” or “I Hate Everything About You.” Their darkness has met some sunshine, giving a much lighter feel to both the sound and the lyrics. Now the question is, do we like the change? Well, their newest album, Transit of Venus, is an improvement from Life Starts Now, which didn’t represent 3DG well. Venus seems to have had a bit more thought and care put into it, but unfortunately it doesn’t even come close to matching the greatness of their first two records. When I first heard the new single, “Chalk Outline,” I wasn’t even quite sure if it was 3DG. Adam Gontier’s raspy voice is still the same (or maybe even a little raspier), but the overall sound has a much softer feel. Even the lyrics don’t seem to cut as deep. “The High Road” is about as close to their old stuff as you’ll get, while “Give In to Me” has a pretty sweet old school sound that is not common with these guys. 3DG decided to really show off their new optimistic outlook on life in “Time That Remains,” a song about living life to the fullest and not regretting a single day. Transit of Venus is unique and diverse, and it does show how talented these guys are; however, they’ve changed a lot since 2004, to the point where I question whether or not you can consider them the same band. At the same time, I’m not quite sure if they want to be the same band, looking at their new song “Expectations” where they clearly state, “expectations, go to hell.” Well, as a longtime listener of Three Days Grace, I did have expectations. They simply are not who they used to be. Elise Edmonds *Albums are graded on a letter grade scale. Kind of like your homework.

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t s i L k c a r T The

! t n u o c c a y f i t o p S r u o n o t s i l y a l p s ’ e u s s i s i h t t Check ou

Cakezine

1. Marco Benevento, This Is How It Goes 2. Converge, Aimless Arrow 3. Three Days Grace, The High Road 4. Delicate Steve, Wally Wilder 5. Earl Sweatshirt, Chum 6. Marco Benevento, Greenpoint 7. Jukebox The Ghost, Somebody 8. Blondfire, Where The Kids Are 9. Twin Shadow, Run My Heart 10. Cat Power, Cherokee 11. Kanye West, Clique 12. Django Djano, Defalt 13. A$AP Rocky, Goldie 14. Atlas Genius, Trojans 15. Icona Pop, I Love It


November/December 2012  

Our 20th issue! With Marco Benevento

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