Archive for April, 2013


The studio incarnation of Ducktails, around the time of the release of “The Flower Lane.” (From I do not own this image)

First, I’d like to apologize for being so inconsistent with my posting.  Though it’s been a reasonably long time since the last post, I hope you’ll forigive me for failing to post this one sooner.  Here is the link for a review of the Matt Mondanile-fronted Ducktails’ performance at Brandeis’ on-campus venue, Cholmondeley’s Coffeehouse.  

The Justice’s Version:

However, the newspaper’s editors altered my article somewhat, so I’ve included the original transcript in this post:

Original Version:

Chomondeley’s is usually a relatively mellow hangout spot where artsy music-lovers gather and crank up some tunes while sipping on vegan milkshakes. However, this past Friday night, the arrival of indie contingent Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile’s side project, Ducktails, turned the small venue into a bumping party house.

Previously touring unaccompanied for his solo effort, Mondanile recently recruited keyboardist Dorian D’Angelo, Big Troubles’ guitarist Alex Craig, drummer Sam Franklin and bassist Luka Usimani for onstage support. While the band set up for the show and hung out with the concertgoers in a wonderfully friendly fashion, D’Angelo informed me that,,“Most of these guys have been playing together for a while. They all played on the [most recent] record, [The Flower Lane.].” D’Angelo was asked to join as a replacement for Ian Drennan, who performed on album. “I spoke to Matt a few times on the phone beforehand and was like ‘Yeah, this is going to work out,’” D’Angelo concluded.

Watching and listening to the quintet blast into its opening number, The Flower Lane’s first track, “Ivy Covered House,” it was hard to tell that this was a recent Ducktails incarnation and not one that had been rocking together for years. The band’s live renditions were both very satisfactory representations of the album versions and possessed an added edge, supported by many extended jam intervals as well as Franklin’s powerful percussion grooves and rhythms. Monindale sang in almost a whisper, which created an interesting, contrasting dynamic between the louder, harder music and his vocal performance. Despite the evident connection between the band members, Monindale’s control of the group was clear within its dynamic.

His ability to lead the group while still interacting fantastically with the other musicians shined during what was perhaps the strongest number, “Under Control,” the longest track on The Flower Lane by almost a minute. Though the tune stands as a mellow, yet trippy jam on the album, this third song was the hardest rocking, loudest blasting moment of the entire night, highlighted by Craig’s raw guitar solo and Franklin’s slamming drum fills. The band remarked on how full Chum’s was by the end of the show; packed to the brim with a large, bouncing audience.

After the concert, the party continued inside the venue, as the Chum’s staff sustained the flow of dance tunes. I was able to speak to opening act, Monopoly Child Star Searchers, aka Spencer Clark for nearly an hour. He and Ducktails hung out with many audience members outside of Chum’s and continued to chat, relax and have fun for several hours until retiring to a group of concert-goers’ Rosenthal suite for the night around 3 a.m. As one might expect, he confessed to me his anti-corporate beliefs about society and government, which several members of Ducktails seemed to share, though much less strongly and passionately. Perhaps this type of interpretation was one that I am not necessarily accustomed to, hailing from the Upper West Side of New York City and attending a private collegiate institution. However, it was this attitude that dominated the 1960s and 1970s, an era during which rock and roll music, in my opinion, thrived most prominently and magnificently. Thus, I welcomed his words.

That being said, the concert wasn’t just about the music for me, but about the overall vibe and community that was attracted to Chum’s and the specific musicians who were playing that. The bands actively embraced the student population that swarmed their van after the show and had no issue talking politics, music, art and life for hours on end. That is cool—that’s rock and roll. It’s not just about the music; it’s about much more. It’s about the lifestyle, which Ducktails certainly seem to live up to.