out and about: ducktails
  • FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 2010

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Matthew Modanile, guitarist of New Jersey's psych-pop four piece Real Estate and head honcho behind Ducktails, is an artist that experiments with all facets of sound. The two records under his belt, including last year's underrated Landscapes, show his undying interest in sounds that are polished and enthralling, but at times also rough-edged and indulgent. He's inspired, yet technical, allowing his well-versed techniques in all-things rock and Casio to keep his exploration of music boundless.

Ducktails' songs are largely instrumental, meandering pieces. They have a spatial quality to them in that seeing them performed live just feels so much more different as compared to sifting through the sounds while at home on your bed. At Cake Shop, environment is everything. Multi-colored lights hanging from dingy walls, a "stage" carved out into a narrow, almost cavernous kind of basement. It's intimate on many different levels -- from the cramped, claustrophobic architecture to the fact that the crowd becomes a sea of sweaty, tangled bodies (especially in the summer! whew) by like 9PM.

Mondanile, whose third LP Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics comes out this Fall on Woodsist Records, played a handful of songs that gripped the room with their easy going, lo-fi charm. Even though he's a solo performer, he accomplishes quite a bit of handiwork. Some songs are held together with some rapturous guitar-work, where he straddles the instrument in epic fashion its sound piercing passed and above anything he swirls together on an electronic gadget -- and it feels as though its loudness is breaking through the layer of heat and compression in the venue space. Other times, his commitment to the machine is overpowering. The electric knick-knacks haunt, but mostly breed a droning sense of haziness, one that soaks and absorbs the crowd into something of a hallucination.

Both reactions to Ducktails' music -- passive absorption versus active thrill -- are entirely satisfying in their own ways and worth the close encounters and sweat stains. -michelle geslani

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Ducktails on Myspace

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