Siren Music Festival Celebrates 10 Years, Announces Lineup

Coney Island’s best, biggest, and only festival is celebrating 10 years at the iconic location. The Siren Music Festival is set to take place on July 17th in everyone’s favorite summer hot stop. The festival, which is in it’s 10th year, is starting to announce a few bands that are slated to play this year. Amongst the performers announced so far are Surfer Blood, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Matt and Kim, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Harlem. More bands are to be released soon, but the lineup so far looks pretty amazing to us.

The festival is FREE as it is every year, and it’s always packed, so you better make sure you plan to get there early. Siren Music Festival has been booking the coolest acts since the beginning. Past performers include the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peaches, Modest Mouse, !!!, TV on the Radio, Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon, Brendan Benson, VHS or Beta, Tapes ‘N Tapes, We Are Scientists, Dr. Dog, White Rabbits, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Ra Ra Riot, Islands, Beach House, and Bear Hands just to name a few.

Who knows what additions will be made to the lineup this year.


Bear Hands Clawed Their Way Through CMJ, Now Preps for Upcoming Release of Debut LP, “Paper”

You hear a name like Bear Hands and you think what? Cute and cuddly? Or has the ability to gnaw your face off and rip you in two? Well with this particular band, you’re half right on both ends.

            Punk-alt quartet Bear Hands make the nightly New York rounds, finding new venues to rock and new fans to woo. But it all started in 2006, just a couple of Metro North rides away, when singer Dylan Rau, bassist Val Loper, guitarist Ted Feldman, and drummer TJ Orscher decided to birth the band that is Bear Hands. Rau, Orscher, and Loper were well-versed in the punk-angst ways fashioned by Connecticut school boys, but when Rau graduated to the Wesleyan University music scene, he met fellow co-ed, guitarist Ted Feldman, and decided to refine his personal punk flare with the help of his cohorts’ musical inclinations. “I’m trying to rid myself of my more punk tendencies,” Rau says. Rau writes all of the group’s songs and remembers, rather shamefully, the first song he ever wrote when he was 13. A pre-teen emo anthem, I wonder? “Yeah, I’m sure,” he scoffs, rolling his eyes. But even in the group’s four-track outing, Golden EP, you can’t help but get sucked into Bear Hand’s brand of post-punk, laced with dynamic instrumental breaks and Rau’s ‘tudish cadence.

            Rau’s voice does usher the band on stage, but in person he’s quite stoic, low key. In a pleasant way, not in an I’m-too-cool-for-this-interview sort of way. He’s thin, and the presence of his mangled bun atop his head gives him a towering feel. But when we sit on the top floor terrace at The Delancey, he hunches, coils himself into the chair. Cross-legged. Doe-eyed. Already in a humbled position, he states, “I’m really terrible at guitar.” Rau, who shares guitar responsibility with Feldman, has never taken a guitar lesson. “I’m trying to play the guitar less,” he says. This strikes me as ambitionless. “Oh, I have ambition. Just not to get better at guitar,” he quips.

            The band recently flooded CMJ, playing the NME showcase with The Antlers and The xx—of which Rau is a big fan—The Mercury Lounge, and The Bowery Electric. Although they only played five songs, they stole the show from The Antlers, leaving everything on the stage, particularly during “Sickly Brunette,” a track so seeped in badassitude, it begs to be listened to on repeat to get your ass out of bed in the morning. They’re currently putting the finishing touches on their debut full-length LP, Paper (release date TBA), which Rau says is “85 percent done.”

Although Bear Hands remains unsigned, gigs keep popping up all over the globe. The band recently came back from a stint in the UK and around Europe. “We do pretty good in the UK. But Paris, that was a really great show.”  The guys also recently played a November show in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with Chairlift and Telepathe. And you can bet they had fun, because in the end, Bear Hands is about fun. It’s about head banging till it hurts and reveling in how good it can be to just be. And that’s where the dichotomy exists. They shred on stage, tats ablaze, faces contorted. But when it comes down to it, they’re just a couple of nice kids from Connecticut that decided to extend their pipe dream. And now, Bushwick-based and Brazil-bound, it all seems possible. Inevitable, even.

Paola Capó-García

Flying Solo with Cale Parks

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Google Cale Parks and you’ll wonder if he’s human or cyborg. The confusion will hit you when you read the extensive—and impressive—list of bands he’s been a part of in recent years (drumming for Aloha, White Williams, Owen, and Cex, among others), and you’ll question how he has the time/energy/ability to do it all. But multi-instrumentalist Parks doesn’t want to be just another drummer in the experimental synth-pop crowd. Instead, the Ohio native is working hard from his Greenpoint pad to establish himself in the music melting pot of Brooklyn. His advantage: wit. Parks is a funny guy with bulging eyes, pleasant disposition, and, you know, talent. The past three years have seen the 30 year old go from MySpace stalker to tirelessly touring solo act. One night we sat in the backseat of a Zipcar—innocently (Parks is a real gentleman)—outside The Bell House in Park Slope and discussed where he’s at and where he’s going.

You’ve played in so many bands, primarily as the drummer for Aloha. How did the solo venture come about?

How it happened is I made a MySpace page in 2006 with all my solo songs on it and started adding Aloha’s friends, not looking at who they were. I just started click add add friend add friend backspace add backspace and so I asked record label [Stiff Slack] in Japan to be my friend and they were like, “We love Aloha! Send us your stuff.” And I was like, “I don’t have a solo record. Why don’t you put it out? Ha-Ha.” And they were like, “OK.” And that’s how it happened. That’s how I did Illuminated Manuscript. Then I started writing more songy songs and trying to sing.

 What are songy songs?

 Songs with singing, songy songs!

Do you consider yourself a good singer?

No. It’s hard, I have a baritone voice, so it’s hard to project and then when you strain too hard…I don’t know, this is technical talk.

What are you saying? It’s too technical, I can’t understand it?!

No, no, no! Sometimes you strain your voice and it’s hard to project and blah blah blah. But I just started singing live, it’ll be a year in November, so it’s still a new thing. Singing in your apartment is different. But I like singing. I like to think I’m getting better.

Are you trying to get better?

My mom and sister teach, so I called my mom after the Grizzly Bear show [at McCarren Park Pool] and I was like, “Oh my God, they sing so good. Can you send me some voice training books?” And I did a couple of tours with Passion Pit and Michael [Angelakos] has the most incredible voice ever. Listening to him sing and do his warm ups backstage, it’s not even singing, it’s just weird sound effects and sounds that babies make. Just crazy.

Do you prefer being part of a band or performing solo?

I’ve always been in other bands playing drums. It’s not like they don’t take you seriously because you’re a drummer, but you want to make yourself known. I had other ideas for songs that weren’t appropriate for bands like Aloha.

Are you looking to form a permanent band with Eric Lyle Lodwick and Drew Montag Robinson or just have them as part of your solo act? 

I’m not sure, we’ll see what happens. I don’t want to speak before anything happens, but we’re having a lot of fun playing together. So far, so good. I’m happy with it.

What shows have you done outside of New York?

I did a full US tour with Passion Pit this summer. It was me, them, and Harlem Shakes. I was the first of 3 in an 800-capacity theatre. I played all over solo, but it’s hard to connect with an audience because I’m doing so much stuff on stage. I sing and I play a sampler pad and I play keyboards and I drum and I play cymbals.  

Do you work on the side to support your music?

At APC in SoHo, it’s a French clothing store. I’m not touring till after the winter so I’m just working and only doing local shows for a while.

What’s your favorite local venue to play?

I played at Le Poisson Rouge once and it was amazing. I like Santos Party House.

How early did music factor into your life?

I’ve been playing music all my life, since I was 13 playing in bad bands and garage and all that fun stuff.  My friend David was like, “I have a guitar,” and I’d be like, “Well let’s see what you learned at your guitar lesson this week, David.” “I learned the intro to ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith.” “Cool, let’s play that.” “And I learned ‘Basketcase’ by Green Day.” “OK, let’s play it.”

Wow, hard stuff.

Yeah, almost as hard as a Weezer song.

So your albums,  Illuminated Manuscript and Sparklace came out in the past three years, are you planning on any new recordings?

I had [To Swift Mars] EP come out in August. I did a remix for [Bear Hands], “What a Drag.” It’s Three 6 Mafia meets Pet Shop Boys with Dylan [Rau]’s voice. Yeah, it’s that good. I have a couple of remixes lined up that I’m working on and I’ve got a bunch of new demos, so we’ll see in what format they’ll come out, if it’s me, my name, or another project, or if I make them into a car commercial.

 Cale Parks and his band are slated to perform at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, on November 14th.

 For more touring and general information, visit his MYSPACE or Cale’s WEBSITE . Also check out Cale’s photos from the Polyvinyl CMJ Showcase AFTER THE JUMP!