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Show reviews of Coppermine, Fixer, Stupid, Lower Lot, Lazy Lane and Hurry-Up Offense

Fixer is hell-bent on “making it.” Perhaps that’s why this New York band (in addition to numerous NYC showcases) travels up and down the East Coast almost non-stop hitting one suburban venue after another gathering an ever-increasing following. And it’s also probably why they’ve entered (and won) a succession of battle of the bands contests. You won’t find any introspective shoe-gazers here. Fixer’s music is hard rock, bordering on heavy metal, and is derivative of Guns ‘N Roses, Ratt and Mötley Crüe among many other West Coast bands of the 80s and 90s with more than a little of Bon Jovi’s sound thrown into the mix as well. It’s a bit ironic that their music reflects these influences since most of New York City’s own nationally signed groups of that same era – Circus of Power, The Throbs, Dick Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, Smashed Gladys, etc. – were much darker and dirtier and owed more of a debt to street punk then to arena rock acts. But then again, those innovative bands didn’t “make it,” did they?

Evan R. Saffer has an impressive vocal range and guitar slinger Wilson Lihn is the prototype of the genre while J. Brown and Tim Newton make up a powerful rhythm section on bass and drums respectively. The night of Fixer’s CBGB showcase for the M.E.A.N.Y. Fest, Saffer had the large and enthusiastic crowd’s rapt attention as he strutted the stage shirtless and worked the faithful like a revival preacher. With wailing guitar solos galore, vocals soaring into the upper register and thundering bass and drums, there was no doubt that we were bearing witness to a
Rock Act fixated on making it to the “big time.” Presently, Fixer is working on a full length album as a follow-up to their two successful EPs.

Commentary and photos by Jeff Rey, unless otherwise noted
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More NYC Seen with Lower Lot, Lazy Lane and Hurry-Up Offense

Brooklyn based Coppermine released a self-titled album in 2001, but it was their promotional single “On And On” that was my introduction to their talents. So, it was that lilting, emotional melody that motivated me to catch one of their shows at Tribeca. They didn’t disappoint. Coppermine were a bit loose that night, perhaps because of technical difficulties, but that in no way diminished the strength of the songs they placed on display. A self-proclaimed “mattercore” band, Coppermine take the basics of rock and infuse it with jazz and funk flavorings. It made for an attention grabbing set that ran the gamut from delicate compositions to out and out rockers.

The present line-up is a diverse group coming from varied backgrounds. Lead singer and guitarist Jonathan Buck originally started the band as a spin-off of his avant-garde jazz-funk group 21st Century. Buck was a trumpeter in those days. Yotam Ginzburg’s sensitive guitar stylings exhibit jazz influences without letting that get in the way of rocking out when called for. Bassist Ted Williams was with the Prodigys out of Pennsylvania and did a stint with Chapel Hill’s Teddys Craft, while drummer Jonathan Riley has worked with noted jazz/blues pianist Marcus Roberts and the legendary Ahmed Jamal. Guitarist Kevin Hunter (who didn’t perform the night I caught the band) has recorded with the likes of Shania Twain and Janet Jackson. Quite a mixed bag to pull your tricks from.

In between gigging all over the city, Coppermine is in the process of recording
Seven One Eight an EP scheduled for release in early 2004.

Whether smashing her maracas, pounding on a keyboard or going crazy on her accordion, Dana Ehrlich passionately leads her band Stupid through uninhibited, punk-inspired songs with just enough melody, hooks and dynamics to push them to the power-pop side of things. While those pop sensibilities are evident on Stupid’s 9-song (plus an unusual bonus track) CD, live the Brooklyn quartet (along with Ehrlich, Byrd on bass/guitar, Matt Bixby guitar/bass and Ben Hoyumpa on drums) comes across as a much harder-edged outfit. More than anything else, this is probably due to Ehrlich's highly animated stage persona. Working herself into a frenzy, she is sometimes reminiscent of an early Patty Smith especially on the primal scream-like “You” and on the breathtaking climax to “Waste,” perhaps Stupid’s strongest song on both their album and on the night of the set I caught at the Luna Lounge.

Ehrlich formed Stupid about four years ago with Byrd and prior to that was in the Brooklyn punk band the Sobs which she had founded with Bixby. That long time experience together was apparent at their live show. With the additionally tight drumming of Hoyumpa, this is a band that can take things to the very edge of chaos and then pull it all back in a blink.

Stupid recently made a foray out to the West Coast and their music can be heard on the Plug Ugly film release
Devils Are Dreaming and (thanks to Ehrlich’s day job) on national TV promos and along with the unlikely mix of Aaron Carter, Britney Spears and the Ramones they appear on the Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius soundtrack with "Chicken Dance." Dana’s journal on Stupid’s visually unique website is hilarious while being a true to life chronicle of the trauma of being in a punk band. You can go there for pix, samples and other interesting stuff.
Stupid's Dana Ehrlich
Photo from
From top, Coppermine's Jonathan Buck, Ted Williams and Yotam Ginzburg at Tribeca - delicate compositions and out and out rockers.