On Stage: Jinjer, a Ukraine import all about honesty

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Jinjer

In the world of spices, ginger is one of the heaviest hitters. Ginger a spice that is strong – not in a tongue-burning way but rather in an attention-getting powerful way.

In the world of metal music, Jinjer is one of the heaviest hitters. Jinjer is a metal band from the Ukraine – a foursome from Donetsk that is brutal even in its softest moments.

Jinjer, which features Tatiana Shmailyuk, Roman Ibramkhalilov, Eugene Abdiukhanov, and Vladislav Ulasevich, is touring the states in support of its new album, “Macro.” On October 1, Jinjer will bring the tour to the area for a show at the Voltage Lounge (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215- 964-9602, www.voltagelounge.com).

“We’re mostly from the Donetsk area,” said bassist Eugene Abdiukhanov, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Atlanta.

“I’m from Makiivka, which is near Donetsk. The others are from Gorlovka and Zabarovia – all in eastern Ukraine.

The line-up has been together in this form since 2011 except for drummer Vladislav Ulasevich, who joined the band in 2016.

“Macro” is a companion piece to the band’s most recent previous release, “Micro,” which came out last year.

“We recorded ‘Macro’ in Kiev with our producer Max Martin,” said Abdiukhanov.

“We made the album with Max in his studio. The recording period was the first two weeks of June 2019. We didn’t really have time to write for a while. We recorded ‘Micro’ last September and the immediately toured the states. We write between tours. We started writing songs mid-February and finished in the spring ‘Macro’ and ‘Micro’ are definitely connected.

“‘Macro’ is sort of successor to ‘Micro.’ In some ways, they are a double record – similar but, at the same time, different. We wrote the songs in a calendar year, so there is a thread which keeps going from ‘Micro’ to ‘Macro.’  They are musically and stylistically connected. They lie in the dame direction.”

Jinjer plays metal music the way metal music should be. It is intense and in-your-face. It assaults listeners’ ears and rattles their rib cages. It also has softer, melodic parts – if even for only brief period of time. But the band might not be quite as stylized as it has been in the past.

“We sound completely different now on ‘Macro,’” said Abdiukhanov, who is also a jiu-jitsu practitioner. “We’re not using any samplers. All instruments are natural and organic – not highly compressed like other bands. We wanted to sound real – and I think we succeeded.

“With our sound, we just keep going along our way. We are not pure metal. We add a mix of genres and styles. I’m not wasting my time with labels. I just play and compose – compose and play.”

Video link for Jinjer – https://youtu.be/a98LI-arNS4.

The show at the Voltage Lounge, which has The Browning and Sumo Cyco as opening acts, will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Greg Laswell

Greg Laswell is a talented singer/songwriter/musician from San Diego who has played Philly numerous times since he released his debut album, “Good Movie,” in 2003.

There will be something different when he visits Philadelphia this week for a show. His show on October 2 will be his first concert at City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, citywinery.com/philadelphia/) – a new venue that hosted its first show last Friday.

Laswell is on the road touring in support of his new recording, “Covers II,” which was just released on September 13.

The new album was released 10 years after his “Covers” album where he reinterpreted songs from acts such as Kate Bush, Echo & The Bunnymen, Mazzy Star and others.

On “Covers II,” Laswell is treating fans to his versions of songs from The Verve, PJ Harvey, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Placebo, The Psychedelic Furs, Catherine Wheel and Röyksopp. Laswell completely performed, produced and recorded the album by himself — with the exception of vocal contributions from Jenson on four of the songs.

“I finished up the ‘Covers II’ EP and it came out last Friday,” said Laswell, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Portland, Oregon.

“While I was working on that, I started working on my next record, which will probably come out in 2020. I’m constantly writing. Then, I go through what I’ve written and saved to my phone. My iPhone memory is pretty full.

“Sometimes, the music will exist for a while with no lyrics or melodies. My lyrics are very observational – and very introspective. I’ll build up a song sonically and texturally and then add vocals. I like singing and recording at the same time.”

Laswell has also built a reputation as a top-flight producer and that makes it easy for him to record on his own.

“I engineer and mix on my own,” said Laswell, referring to his recordings. “Doing it over and over naturally makes it better. I’m not as much a perfectionist as I was. It’s more enjoyable for me these days.”

In addition to the two discs of cover, Laswell has released eight albums of original material since 2003.

He also has gained a lot of recognition for the use of his material in films and television shows.

Laswell has had multiple placements in hit TV series such as “Gray’s Anatomy,” “One Tree Hill,” “Glee,” “NCIS,” “The Vampire Diaries,” CSI: Miami,” and “The Blacklist.”

“Television and movies have been a major force behind my career,” said Laswell, who now lives close to Hollywood in Newport Beach.

“Most of the money comes from placements – and it keeps going. For example, there is a whole new generation of people watching ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ on Netflix and they’re getting exposed to my songs.”

Wednesday night’s show will be a double treat for Laswell’s fans. They will get to hear their favorite songs performed live with a band.

“It will be a bass player, a drummer an electric guitarist and I’m on piano,” said Laswell. “It’s my first time with these guys.

“Usually, I tour solo or stripped-down. This is the first time with a band in eight years, My last two records were so large, I knew it would better live if I had a band.

“I’ve got a good group of guys and we’ve rehearsed more songs than we play. There is still a set ‘set list’ but we’re able to deviate. We’re bringing out an older rock song – and two new songs that no-one has heard yet.”

Video link for Greg Laswell – https://youtu.be/Duh5VMDEDYY.

The show at City Winery will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $18-$28.

Monograms

Monograms is a band from New York that will be headlining a show at Silk City (435 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, http://www.silkcityphilly.com/) on October 2.

If you look at the etymology of the word “monogram,” it is a fitting name for the Brooklyn-based music project. “Mono” means “one” and “gram” means “something written.”

Monograms may be a four-piece band when it performs live. In the studio, it is a project with one man writing something.

That man is Ian Jacobs, a Boston native who has been living in Brooklyn for the last 15 years.

Monograms is the alias of frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ian Jacobs. Over the past few years, the project quickly expanded from a Brooklyn bedroom recording experiment to a full band endeavor.

After he graduated from a community college in New England, Jacobs spent time backpacking around Europe. Upon returning to the states, he moved to the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in 2005 when he was 22.

“I didn’t get into making music until I moved to New York,” said Jacobs, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Brooklyn.

“I never had lessons as a kid, but I loved listening to music. I didn’t get interested in playing in a band until I was in my late 20s. I bought a synthesizer and some turntables and stared making electronic music. Eventually, I got a guitar

“I was always into listening to the crossover with electronic music and rock music – bands like Stereolab, Beck, TV on the Radio and Interpol. I was absorbing everything that I thought was cool.”

Jacobs played in several bands and also built up ideas for his own music.
“I started Monograms in my bedroom as a recording project because I didn’t want to play in bands anymore,” said Jacobs, who grew up in the “witchy” town – Salem, Massachusetts.

“I did three EPs as solo projects. During that period of a couple years, the band lineup was rotating and changing all the time.”

On September 20, Jacobs released “Living Wire,” the debut Monograms album, via PaperCup Music. The current lineup for Monograms includes Rich Carrillo (drums), Michelle Feliciano (synth) and Sam Bartos (bass).

“I can’t give enough credit to my bandmates,” said Jacobs. “But all the songs are still just me in the studio. The writing is still pretty much a solo project. Rich played drums on half the record. Other than that, it was just me in the studio with my friend Ben Rice.

“Ben produced the album at his studio – Degraw Sound in Brooklyn. I’d workshop stuff at Hemlock House, which is my home studio, and bring it to him. His fingerprints are all over the whole record. He produced it and mixed it. It took three months to make the album.”

When it’s time to bring the music to life on stage, the trio of Carrillo, Feliciano and Bartos join forces very effectively.

“This lineup has been in place since late last year,” said Jacobs. “We’ve played a bunch of shows, but they’ve been mostly in the New York area. We have played Philly a handful of times including shows at The Pharmacy and Kung Fu Necktie.”

Video link for Monograms – https://youtu.be/Af-qO1mkvqU.

The show at Silk City, which also features The Stammer, ESSi and Droopies, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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