“Flagship” – Jump Into The Gospel

At once prickly and resounding, “Flagship” shows that even in 2010 there somehow remains a recognizable New York City rock-band sound. Certainly things have gotten more convoluted and diverse since the days you could trace a clear line from the Velvets to the New York Dolls to Television and the Ramones and Patti Smith, and the 21st-century alone has spawned a wide-ranging new generation of New York rockers (and note that “New York City band” does not equal “Brooklyn band,” even though Brooklyn is of course part of New York City; anyone from New York knows this intuitively). And yet, as Jump Into The Gospel demonstrates, New York City rock endures, has a distinct vibe, and will apparently survive until the day the internet, because there’s so much music here–and so much interaction and so much sharing and so much you-too-can-be-a-musician–kills music altogether. (And when that happens I suspect the New York bands will be the last to go.)

So what sounds like New York here? Front man Louis Epstein, for one, all nasally and insistent and yet also edgily vulnerable. Second, the tick-tock beat, which functions just as well during the minimalist verse as it does during the expansive chorus, and is the sound of Manhattan’s street grid, and timed traffic lights, and the unstoppable flow of pedestrians immune to the buses and taxis hurtling by. And then, New Yorkiest of all, for no reason I can articulate, that place in the chorus where the melody takes a further step down than you might initially anticipate (first heard at 0:29, on the third syllable of “situation.” (Bonus points: the drummer’s name is Chris Stein, the previous Chris Stein being Blondie’s co-founder/guitarist/songwriter. Such a good NYC rocker’s name it’s been recycled.)

“Flagship” is from the band’s debut, four-song digital EP; all four songs are available for free at the band’s site. Thanks to Some Velvet Blog for the head’s up.




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