MOVE—an album review for Please Do Not Fight

First of all I highly recommend heading to http://pleasedonotfight.bandcamp.com to listen to the EP I’m about to review while you read it. It makes for a much more thorough and meaningful experience. Go now….good, now we’ll begin.

Zen is a big bear. He is well over 6 foot and has a sturdy frame that brings an unmistakable presence to whatever space he’s inhabiting. He sings, writes and plays guitar for the Bay Area Power Pop Rock band Please Do Not Fight out of Redwood City. On any given night of the week Zen can be found doing something to support the Bay Area music community. In some senses Zen is a traditional folk artist—a man of and for community he ascribes to. Whether it’s hanging out at other bands shows, playing one of his own, hosting an open mic, connecting musicians together or giving guitar lessons to youth he’s out there in the music community breathing much needed life and enthusiasm into everything he does. This is something we need more of in our community of artists in the Bay Area and I would go as far to say in any community anywhere.

Now I could go off about what a great guy Zen is for a while but alas this is a review of he and his band’s latest record “Move” released toward the end of 2009.

The album starts off with a very Weezer-esque tune “I Will Not Forget”. I hear a bit of The World Has Turned in this song and it’s welcomed joyfully. It’s a good opener as it give listeners a preview of the many faces of Please Do Not Fight—male/female vocal interplay, rock solid and inventive drumming, great melodic guitar and bass work and fantastic song writing.

Words Speak Louder is PDNF’s rock song. It’s the song that plays with dynamics the best and has an addictive hook in the back and forth interplay during the verses where the bass drops out and comes in with ripping drums over and over again and then the ferocious repeated chorus line which almost sounds like a pre chorus “Are you feeling left out?”. I could listen to that back and forth on repeat for hours.

BAMF tips it’s proverbial hat to Death Cab for Cutie , an obvious and wonderful mentor for the band. It’s well put together coming off of an almost melancholy rhythm brought to life by the steady tom rolls of drummer Kubes and the melodic yet driving guitar playing of Geoff McCann.

I couldn’t help but think that many of these songs would fit well stripped down with the acoustic guitar, a shuffle drumbeat, standup bass and a little whiskey to bring out the southern drawl I know Zen has deep down inside him somewhere. It’s more of a strange fantasy but this inclination comes out strong in songs like “Please Don’t Wipe Your Smile Off Your Face”.

“Up Up Up “ screams early Motion City Soundtrack which is awesome. Producer Aaron Hellam’s studio magic works perfectly throughout the EP but exceptionally well on this track. It’s full, alive and full of passion. I almost wanted the breakdown halfway through the song to take twice as long and really build since it reminded me of Weezer’s “Only in Dreams” as it drops to a solid bass line with sparse ride symbol however, it also fits the in-your-face energy of the song as is and keeps it tight and short, to the point.

For a six song EP this album takes you through quite the emotional spectrum. There are frustrated angsty songs akin to  the late 90’s pop punk movement which are welcome elements to the more polished and sometimes sentimental 2000 something indie rock songwriting all over this album.  Make no mistake Please Do Not Fight is a loud rock band but there is also a sweet little songwriting element that pervades all the songs on this EP and that makes it more accessible to a wider audience than just grungy club goers and scenesters. The EP ends with a mellow rock song called “Hard to Tell”. It lets you down easy after a wild ride with an acoustic guitar backing the entire song.  The vocal duet between Zen and keyboardist/violinist/vocalist Erin Keely refraining on the lyric “We just need more time” at the end of the song is perfect.  You’ve got all the time in the world Please Do Not Fight and I can’t wait to see and hear what new songs you come up with in the coming years.

-Doug Streblow

July 2010

Listen to and purchase “Move” by visiting Please Do Not Fight’s bandcamp page Here: http://pleasedonotfight.bandcamp.com

The Road to South By

So, as you may or may not know I am in a band called Please Do Not Fight. We had grand plans this year to head out to South By Southwest. It was to be our first ever southwest tour. We were going to play a show in Erin’s hometown of Dallas, hit up some shows in LA with our friends in Picture Atlantic and have an amazing time running around SXSW! It was set to be perfect!

Then the band tour van broke down.

Well, to tell the truth the van (‘Mark’ as we affectionately refer to it) had been pretty much on it’s last legs for several months. We did our last tour in October with Mark running on only 5 of it’s 6 cylinders. I’m no car expert but I can only imagine that is – and this is a professional and highly technical term – bad. Then there were the brakes that failed while we were in LA which resulted in Kubes having to pull the E-Brake at stop signs. Point is, Mark has seen better days and after a few further months of driving it around San Francisco in January Kubes finally declared it unfit for tour.

So there we were, vanless with SXSW a mere two months away and without the money to both buy a new van and the gas and food we’d need for the tour. So I did what any normal human being would do under such circumstances.

I complained about it on Facebook.

So here I am on tour with Bird By Bird as their guitar tech/merch person/5th helping hand. So far we’ve hit up shows in Hollywood, Anaheim, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso and Houston and we are now in Austin at the Comfort Suites getting ready to head out and get our wrist bands for the festival.

Bird By Bird sets up in Tucson, AZ

I got to see a ton of friends in Los Angeles and intend to do the same here in Austin. The Bird By Bird guys are all rad funny dudes and I’ve been able to hand out an ample amount of Please Do Not Fight CD’s while meeting some cool new people. I am also – admittedly – growing more and more jealous of watching the band get to play every night which is why I fully intend to hit the Austin streets over the next four days and bust out some Please Do Not Fight tunes on the sidewalk. I’m really jazzed to be here, Austin is a rad town and there’s a bunch of bands – Broken Social Scene, She & Him and Danny Malone – that I’m stoked to catch on our days off.

Jonathan, Ross and Chris kickin' it in North Hollywood

I’ve been taking a ton of photos and video so I’ll be uploading some of that in the not-to-distant future. I’ll post another blog on the festival soon as well.

By the way, if you’re here and happen to see a tall guy playing Please Do Not Fight tunes on the street, stop by and say hi! I’ll hook you up with a copy of our new EP or a T-Shirt if you like. Hopefully I’ll see you then!

Mwah,

Zen

The Redwood City Music Scene

This blog is all about the Redwood Music Scene.

Despite being full of young-people, people-who-play-music and the inevitable sub-section of young-people-who-play-music the fact of the matter is this: There isn’t one.

But it doesn’t have to be that way and we can change it.

We – Please Do Not Fight – hosted the very first All Ages Open Mic Night at The Grind Coffee Bar in Redwood City, CA in conjunction with The Riekes Center For Human Enhancement. Aidan Young – the head of the Creative Arts department at Riekes and my good friend – said it best after the Open Mic was done: “This felt like a shot in the arm for the area”. Over 70 people of all ages showed up to a venue that could honestly only handle 40. There is an obvious demand in Redwood City, not only for local music events but simply, for things to do. Continue reading “The Redwood City Music Scene”

I Heart SF Bands – About this blog!

I heart SF bands.

I really do.

Of course, by saying ‘SF’ I am including not just San Francisco but the East Bay, North Bay, the Peninsula (where I’m from) and even San Jose as well. And by saying ‘Bands’ I’m including not only your typical three-or-more piece rock group but your solo artists and your collaborative groups as well.

Let’s just say that there’s is a lot of music, a lot of bands and a lot of people involved in the music scene around these parts that I really really like.

Which is exactly why this blog isn’t going to be written by just me. This is a collaboration between myself and other people involved in the Bay Area Music scene and it serves three purposes.

1. For people in the music scene to have a space to post their thoughts/vents/what-have-yous outside of the usual venue of their band blog and give them an opportunity to represent themselves

2. To raise awareness and bring further community and cohesion to the local music scene.

3. To give you an opportunity to interact with these people a little more directly and, hopefully, create something fun and engaging for you to read and contribute too!

I’m going to stop there because I think this blog will evolve as more people get involved and I would hate to pigeon hole it so early on. Yes, it’s by musicians but it doesn’t have to be about music. Yes, it’s entrenched in the bay area music scene but that doesn’t mean it has to be off limits to outsiders.

And a little about me: I’m the lead singer, guitarist, singer-songwriter for a Redwood City based indie rock/power-pop band called Please Do Not Fight. But I’m also a huge music fan and an even bigger fan of community. A lot of the people who’re going to be involved in this blog are not only people I respect a ton but are also in local bands who’s music I adore. If you can’t tell, I’m really excited about this project.

My posts here will be weekly at minimum – I hope it ends up being as enjoyable for you to read as it will be for me to write!

-Zen