In my late teens, I frequented the North Avenue bars by Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Those watering holes usually served us Coors Light, Black Haus shots, and whatever our young hearts desired even though we were all under 21 by a few years. But those once-hot spots have long closed down, and have absolutely nothing to do with the band featured on A-Sides today. I only bring up my self-fulfilling piece of nostalgia because A) I love non sequiturs and B) the band Ionia made me think of Iona College. (To others, I’m sure a geographical place comes to mind.) But, lame wordplay aside, let’s get to the NYC band featured on A-Sides today. They’re as hard-rocking and hard-working as anyone around.
Ionia is a five-piece act fronted by Blaise Beyhan who writes and sings songs that actually say and mean something (say that five-times fast) about the world at large. At a session filmed at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains two weeks ago, Blaise and his bandmates (Mike McPhee, Freddy Epps, Chris Ahkao, and Kyle Walters) performed two of those socially-conscious tracks (“Origins,” “False Prophet”) and discussed it with this guy (I’m pointing to myself). Watch the performance of “Origins” and the interview below and check out “False Prophet” right here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmNGp2UZfVM.
Spirit Animal, like Ionia, hail from “The Big Apple,” and by that, I mean NYC. Alas, there is no apple that’s big enough for anyone to live in. Believe me, I’ve tried. OK, I haven’t tried. Let’s try it together. How, you ask? I’ll stop. Keeping with this highly unnecessary analogical theme, the fruits of this band’s labor – an EP called This Is a Test – was just released and it’s a highly enjoyable blend of pop, rock funk and soul. The band, fronted by D.C.-based musician Steve Cooper, has rightfully earned praise for their infectious EP and energetic live performances. Last week, however, Cooper and his bandmates Paul Michel, Cal Stamp, and Ronen Evron stripped it all down at an A-Sides session, also filmed at the Conservatory, with a raw performance of “Love Crime.” Watch the foursome perform, and talk about it below. Watch. Listen. Love.
About A-Sides with Jon Chattman:
Jon Chattman’s “A-Sides Music” series usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing.