A Brief Smile
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A Brief Smile

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"Review: A Brief Smile - Now We All Have Horns"

Instantly epic. Those are the first two words that come to mind when attempting to review A Brief Smile's stellar debut full-length, Now We All Have Horns. From the opening My Bloody Valentine-esque slow-burner, 'Escape Art', to the electrifying and downright breathtaking closing track, 'Vicious' (download the MP3 below), Horns somehow manages to greatly exceed my irrefutably atmospheric expectations.

For fifty-seven minutes, A Brief Smile's Now We All Have Horns plays like an astral roller coaster to the moon. With a flawless balance between vocal melody and instrumental distortion, I could tout the album for an eternity if given the opportunity.

http://musicslut.blogspot.com/2007/09/review-brief-smile-now-we-all-have.html - TheMusicSlut.com

"Leaks of the Week: A Brief Smile + Bruce Springsteen"

Before I started dating Rachael I can't say I was much of A Brief Smile fan, in fact I don't think I had ever heard of the band before her, but since she is such a big fan I have been pretty much overwhelmed by her love of the band and the fact that the band is actually quite good. On one of our first ever dates we went to see the band at Sin-e and the experience was pretty much mind blowing. Instead of getting the syrupy tunes found on their debut album R.E.S.T., we got to hear their new tunes and some of their older tunes with more of a noise oriented sound. Since seeing them then the band have been working on their new album which is set for an October 2nd release.

Throughout Now We All Have Horns, A Brief Smile continue to explore that blend of noise and pop that they tried out that night. Its a welcome change, even though R.E.S.T. was a solid album it just pales in comparison to this one. With loads of feedback, quietly sung lyrics, and a rhythm section that could blow you out of the water, A Brief Smile have completely changed where they are heading musically. The music is obviously reminiscent of Pavement (as so many New York bands seem to be doing now), but where other bands just sound like ripoffs and copycats, A Brief Smile take the sound and make it their own.

The songs on Now We All Have Horns are a delicate balance between melody and noise, during the verses everything is hushed, quiet, and reserved, only to explode at choruses. Everything on this album seems scaled back, reduced production, lo-fi aesthetic, it's all simpler and it fits the band like a well worn t-shirt.

If you want to check out how the tunes hold up live the band is actually playing tonight with Jukebox the Ghost at Pianos. Expect to hear a lot more about A Brief Smile and this album in the very near future!

http://poptartssucktoasted.blogspot.com/2007/09/leaks-of-week-bruce-springsteen-brief.html - PopTartsSuckToasted.blogspot.com

"A Brief Smile: Wise Beyond their Ears"

It’s pre-show and singer/guitarist of A Brief Smile, D.L. Tashjian, 18, is getting a bit nervous. He’s usually found in the corner warming up in hopes his voice wont crack. During the show, the band worries about the technology and when problems arise, “You kick shit until it works,” Tashjian said. What they do not like to focus on is their barely legal status. In fact, when trying to get gigs at local hot spots like the Tribeca Rock Club and Pianos, they don’t mention it at all. “We really just want to be the best we can be. Age shouldn’t really have anything to do with it,” said Tashjian. However the ambitious group of 18 and 19 year olds don’t deny their boyish look. “We actually try to take on that sort of ‘youthful’ image, at least to a certain extent I think,” said Jared O’Connell, 18, the band’s keyboard player. Each wearing Converse sneakers of different colors, the three original members, Tashjian, O’Connell, and guitarist Garrett Ensor, 19, grew up with each other in Greenwich, Connecticut and on class trips they would write songs in hotel rooms. A Brief Smile will take the stage at Pianos on December 13 and Don Hills on January 20, two more gigs to add to their already impressive list of local venues. Since December 2003 when they recorded their first E.P. Memory Loss, everything has been a learning process. “Often times we’d learn new recording tricks, like better microphone placement, and we’d constantly go back and redo things to make them sound better,” explains O’Connell. The band discovered their sound during the recording of the seven song E.P. which is available for purchase on their website and at the iTunes music store. “Rainy Day,” the last song recorded, was a rediscovery of O’Connell and Tashjian complete with rain effects and simple melancholy vocals. It was recorded on a night when Ensor couldn’t make it to O’Connell’s house in Greenwich. “The whole song was done in one night without any real purpose,” Tashjian said, adding that it has now become a band favorite. But Memory Loss was just the beginning for A Brief Smile, the name chosen from the Elliott Smith song, “Speed Trials.” O’Connell and Ensor moved to the big city in the fall of 2004 to attend New York University with Tashjian in hopes of breaking into the New York music scene. They recruited bass player Remy Walle and Louie Glase who are both 18 and students at NYU. Their first show together was at Tribeca Rock Club on October 20. Booking agent Eddie Eyeball was sold on the impressive package they sent him. “It struck me how thoughtful and artistic it was,” he explained, merely on the presentation itself. “Usually when you see something like that, the music isn’t as good. But their E.P. was equally as impressive.” A Brief Smile played to a very enthusiastic audience of about 50 where they were literally hanging on every note, according to Eyeball. “They have a way of combining epic and intimate in their stage show,” he said. “It causes you to really pay attention.” Aside for Tribecca Rock Club, A Brief Smile has played Don Hills, The Hook, Lit Lounge and The Lions Den. They seem to be stepping into a local music scene that is welcoming them with open arms. “New York is a great motivation and we are constantly trying to better our songwriting and music,” Tashjian said. Their live shows are a way for the band to developing their music, according to O’Connell. They are still working on finding their identity and the business side of the music industry is not something of their immediate concern. “You can do so much with synths and computers than can drive music so much further,” he said. “In order for that business side to step in, we’ll need to keep doing what we’re doing and try to make everything we do a little bit better.” “I like to take one day at a time. I’m more concerned about the music than anything,” added Tashjian. A Brief Smile know their music. They attribute My Bloody Valentine and The Flaming Lips as influences. They also know that the real New York City band is Interpol, rather than the overly hyped The Strokes. In fact the band was on their way to Interpol’s show in November when Ensor saw bassist Carlos D walk into a Duane Reed, twenty minutes before they were to take stage at Hammerstein Ballroom. “The sighting contributes to the sense of the music atmosphere we feel in New York and our excitement in being here as a band,” he explained. Ensor personally credits Interpol for making him reconsider the role of a bassist in contemporary bands. “After one glance at him, it became clear that one does not just walk up to Carlos D and say hello.” A Brief Smile is much more comfortable in the city than in the suburbs of Connecticut and they hope to continue pla - Underrated Magazine NYC

"New York's Best Kept Secret"

So I hopped on the subway back into Manhattan to catch Underrated favorites A Brief Smile's first TISWAS show. I can't even count how many times I've seen these boys play now, but it had been a good couple months since they last played. There seemed to be a few nerves floating around pre-show, and understandably so. But personally, after listening to some new tracks over the summer, I knew they were up to something good.

The only disappointment last night was the fact that the open bar, well, wasn't so open. I am shocked, and relatively surprised that A Brief Smile haven't caught on in this city. They seem to be what everyone needs right now. Fresh, talented musicians that aren't trying to do what's "in" right now or attempt at some recycled 80's act. The new songs are incredibly meticulous and the old ones transformed to sound original. What A Brief Smile is now was executed perfectly in their last two songs: "And So It Begins" and "Perfect Mess." It was, hands down, the best I've seen them play in the year or so I've been watching them. A new EP is on its way with some of the reworked songs plus some new tunes. But for now check them out on their website or buy their EP on iTunes. Trust me, they won't be a secret for much longer. - The Underrated Blog

"The Day I Listened to Some New A Brief Smile Tunes"

One of my favorite young local indie rock bands, A Brief Smile, has made available two excellent new recordings. Definitely an improvement and this week they will open up for the Fray at the Bowery Ballroom. How exciting! Check out the songs below. I hear a little Strokes, a little Morrissey, a little Radiohead and a little Elliott Smith if he rocked out more, and a few other things. All wrapped into a neat little original package though.

http://gillmoreboy.livejournal.com/152140.html - SitDownStandUp


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In the meantime, I decided that I should give you bands to listen to that I enjoy. First off, A Brief Smile have been friends of mine for years and their new EP, R.E.S.T., sounds fucking outstanding. What would happen if Spiritualized had sex with the Stills? Well, now you can find out. Check em out. - BurningStreets.com

"A Brief Smile: Live at Mercury Lounge, NYC"

New York has long been a cultivator of new music that defines a generation. Recently, the city has propelled the likes of the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to new heights, creating the “garage rock” that we all have come to identify this city with. However everything has been a little too quiet for the city that never sleeps, with bands that seem to regurgitate those popular sounds in hopes of similar success. Many yawns ensue, and yet it also forces the seekers of great music to dig a little harder.

Luckily you have me to do all the hard work. I’ve seen many bands come in and out of this city, and there are a few that have caught my attention. With shows happening every night of the week, there’s something to be said if I catch a band twice in one week.

A Brief Smile, a young band based out of New York, has been on my radar for the past two years. I’ve seen them play almost every venue, at every time slot, and something keeps me coming back for more.

Last night the floppy haired fivesome made their Mercury Lounge debut, showcasing a number of songs off of their debut LP R.E.S.T. It’s a far cry from the garage rock of yesteryear, instead harboring on a shoegazy pop that is both stylized and memorable. Opening with “Kitchen Floor,” there was not a weak moment in the set. Lead singer DL Tashjian’s vocals had never sounded stronger, counteracting with keyboardist Jared O’Connell and lead guitarist Garrett Ienner’s striking accompaniment.

There’s something to be said for musicians that strive to stand out in city like New York, therefore it’s impossible to regard A Brief Smile without noting their age. The fact that they would have been turned away by the 21+ venue only adds to their appeal. Just watching Ienner with his head down, lost in a wailing guitar riff, or O’Connell pounding at his keys – it’s that same promise I saw two years ago, only heightened. And if anything, their age excuses their endearing awkwardness between songs – drummer Louie Glaser joked that Tashjian’s voice was notably lower when speaking.

A Brief Smile is at their best when they seem to get lost in their own songs. Meticulously layered, there’s a reason why I keep coming back for more. Each time a song sounds just a little bit different, whether it’s the addition of Glaser’s backup vocals, John Carnes bass line foundations, or a noisy intro conducted by O’Connell. With so many carefully crafted parts, it would seem easy to get lost. But then you have moments like in “Vicious” where all is quiet and Tashjian’s vocals echoed throughout the attentive crowd. It’s those clever combinations that keep A Brief Smile a necessary part of this fickle city.

Their band’s debut album R.E.S.T. seems like only the beginning, as they ended last night’s set with a new song that further illustrates their potential. Technically savvy and self-contained, A Brief Smile will make its mark in due time. Fortunately for them, they have time on their side.

http://breakthruradio.com/index.php?b=review.php%3Fid%3D20 - BreakThru Radio

"8 Questions with A Brief Smile"

If you recall, a few weeks back I fell in love with A Brief Smile. I figured an interview was the next logical progression of getting to know the band a little better, after familiarizing myself with their wonderful R.E.S.T. EP. I rounded up 8 questions and here's what the guys had to say.

1. MySpace - the friend or the enemy?

Louie (drums): Myspace is our friend. There’s a lot of amazing music on myspace that will forever be under the radar. Myspace is a fantasy come true for all
those amazing musicians with brilliant ideas who lack the motivation and
power to get up and find other musicians to play with and promote their
stuff. Someone played me this Dan Bryk guy he had found on Myspace,
amazing stuff that will probably never be heard by more than a few
hundred people. What a thought, all these basement dwellers are
spilling their ideas onto the internet, creating this pool of musical
innovation for everyone to tap. It’s kind of like the Wilco song “Late
Greats” ? the best band that you’ll never hear on the radio—now they’re
on Myspace.

John (bass): I hate and love myspace's music community for one reason. It allows anyone on the planet with a computer and half a brain to put music out there for the 'world' to see. This can be cool because some really good unsigned artists are available for you to look up and get information on (webspace is otherwise pretty expensive) but for the most part, the community is full of hack losers clinging to a dream and a false sense of empowerment that comes from thinking the world wide myspace population is going to hear and love your music.

2. Bigger influence - My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai or Jesus & The Mary Chain?

Jared (keys): i don't really listen to jesus & the mary chain that much but i would imagine that a lot of bands i listen to tried to sound like them, like slowdive, the raveonettes (or mogwai and mbv for that matter). so maybe thats sort of an indirect influence. i love my bloody valentine. isn't anything and loveless probably are a bigger influence than any mogwai record. i did see mogwai live once, but never would've been able to see mbv live because i was too young then. i suppose we try to make sounds like mogwai a lot, and sometimes try to do that sort of slow-build dynamic thing they do. to me, the answer to the question is my bloody valentine though...i really like both of those bands though.

Louie (drums): We listen to a lot more My Bloody Valentine than Mogwai or Jesus and the Mary Chain. We like it all, but we revere Kevin Shields.

John (bass): I like the jesus and mary chain best. Their guitar sound on you trip me up and upside down is so sharp and cool. Like a worm wrapped in barbwire or something. Or a super powerful killer robot shooting magnetic death beams into your eyeballs.

3. You can pick 3 bands, what's your dream line-up to open for? Bands can be disbanded or still kicking around.

DL (vocals/guitar): This is a really difficult question... ? 1. Spiritualized - With the lineup from Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, before he fired those guys. ? 2. Nirvana - playing In Utero ? 3. Radiohead

Jared (keys): i'd like to open for blur in the early or mid 1990s, the talking heads and maybe the flaming lips if they let us use some of the confetti and have the people in animals costumes on the side of the stage...i doubt they'd let us though, but i guess i'd still like to open for them. in fact, i'd be interested in opening for any artist i like, say, for example, david bowie, the beatles or emily haines cuz she's hot.

Garrett (guitar): Since I can choose the impossible: Jeff Buckley, Pink Floyd (pre Dark Side), and yes, Led Zeppelin

4. What's your favorite infomercial?

John (bass): The one with the flying and the guys jumping over walls with rope and stuff where they stand on mountains in awesome uniforms and put swords in front of their faces. It was really cool looking and the guys were all super hot.

Garrett (guitar): The one with Chef Tony ? I believe the company name is Miracle Blade. They put Cutco to shame ? Chef Tony can cut through pure marble and even steel without any effort. The knives never dull either...... you should see what they can do to the skin of a tomato......

5. Dream venue? Best venue you've played at already.

Garrett (guitar): The Berklee Performance Center in Boston. I saw Sigur Rós perform there in 2002 which was one of my most astonishing concert experiences, much due to the intimacy of the venue. My favorite one we’ve played at is Bowery.

DL (vocals/guitar): Either Mars or Pompeii. Mercury Lounge is definitely my favorite of the venues we have played at. The sound there is really great both on and off stage.

Jared (keys): my favorite venue that we've played is mercury lounge. the soundguy was awesome! bowery ballroom was amazing. i liked rothko a lot too, but its gone :(. dream venue: playing in the taj mahal with a variable reverb decay time - Themusicslut.org

"A Brief Smile & Mason Proper @ Sin-e 3/1"

It has been a crazy week over here in the world of the untoasted toaster pastries (hence the reason there were not posts). I've gotten myself stuck at work three days this week, was forced to miss the free El Perro Del Mar performance at Other Music, and missed out on countless hours of reading about the music I love so much. Ugh, weird week for me, which is why getting out to see a couple of bands last night was so refreshing.

At the prodding of another blogger, I decided to take in her new found obsession Mason Proper and one of her older obsessions A Brief Smile. I've never heard either band before, never seen them live, and new only what she had told me about them. So I had no idea what I was in for, I just knew that I was out, alcohol would be within reach, and even if the bands stunk I could mock my blogger friend for liking them. Things were looking up.

They continued to go my way as five young guys called Mason Proper took the stage and proceeded to belt out Ted Leo inspired rock tunes. Using an assortment of synthesizers and your standard band fare, Mason Proper flat out rock. I was shocked, cause in all honesty I expected some whiny, emo tinged type music and instead I was getting something I could easily picture popping up on my iPod. For about 30 minutes the band beat themselves into my brain and now I'm going to have to go and get my hands on a copy of the album.

Up next was A Brief Smile who I also didn't expect to like but was completely wowed by. Instead of rocking Ted Leo style they take the noisier Pavement like approach with lots of feedback and moments of sonic fury that would have deafened me if not for the fact that the sound system was not up to par at Sin-e last night. Other than tuning their instruments after every song (I was later told they haven't played in months so they were a bit rusty), the show was an absolute success.

So I got two bands I now have to check out thanks to one night out this week. That's a pretty good ratio! - Pop Tarts Suck Toasted.blogspot.com

"Anti-Gay Slurs Put Radio Hosts in Dog House"

Anti-Gay Slurs Put Radio Hosts In Dog House
2007-04-04 14:20:00.130,
Story by: Rachael Darmanin
When New York City band A Brief Smile walked into WFNY, 92.3 Free FM's studios last week for "Talent Tuesdays" on The Dog House's morning show, they were expecting their first shot at commercial radio play. But what they experienced was something quite different. Upon entering the studio for their interview, bassist John Carnes made a comment about the decline in quality of the station. As a result, the show's two hosts, Jeff Vandergrift ("JV") and Dan Lay ("Elvis"), shot back with relentless insults, calling him a "pansy" and eventually "a faggot."

The DJs kicked the 21-year-old bass player out of the studio for disrespecting the show but still gave the band a shot at playing their song, "This Machine," off of their self-released debut album, R.E.S.T., on air. As with every Tuesday's segment, the hosts discussed the song and brought callers on with their reactions. After playing the song, Elvis exclaimed, "I thought the bass sucked, threw the rhythm off of everything. It felt like a faggot was playing it." Carnes, outside of the studio, immediately reacted to the use of the slur and came back in to react.

"Flamer or faggot are hateful words," Carnes tells CMJ. Upon re-entering the studio, he informed the hosts he was bi-sexual. "They are trigger words for me and when I heard them say that the bass sounded like a faggot was playing it I kind of went into an uncharacteristic rage," he adds. The hosts, unaware of his sexual preference before using the word, told him that they didn't care and that he was acting like a baby.

Following the show, Carnes was found punching the walls of the green room until a staff member came to calm him down. "He took me to the lobby, explained to me the nature of the show, but I never got an apology from him which I was pretty upset about," says Carnes. Instead, it was Carnes who sent an apology the following day for insulting the show, but still explained his hatred of the word. Elvis did respond to the bass player via e-mail, saying, "Relax, no worries bro. We are an edgy show that rips on everybody. Sorry it went that way. By the way, I have two brothers that are gay, no one needs to be bashed for who they are."

Elvis also responded on air to an aggravated e-mail from a listener, saying, "Listen, if I am with my friends and I say that was very faggy... it has nothing to do with their sexuality... [Carnes is] the one who came in and was disrespectful... so I kicked him out. Then he came in saying he was bisexual and everything. Quite frankly I didn't care. I'm not interested in your sexuality, just don't act faggy in here. I can use the word if I want to. If they try and take it away from me, I'm still gonna use it." He also added that they ceased with the derogatory remarks once Carnes revealed his bisexuality and that the show in fact employes a bisexual staff member, Rudy, who runs the boards.

Rashad Robinson, senior director of media programs for the Gay And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is not satisfied by the station or CBS' (which owns WFNY, and along with the show's hosts and producers, did not return calls by presstime) reaction. "We are shocked and appalled that this kind of defamatory and vulgar comments are allowed on the air," Robinson says. "At the end of the day, this is the type of commentary and terminology that incites violence. [Programmers] like CBS and the folks that sponsor this show have a responsibility to not create a climate where this is supported. In a world where people are very aware of what homophobia looks like, if they are the only ones that cannot see it, CBS has unfortunately put together a staff of people who are severely unaware of cultural norms."

This is certainly not the first time so-called "shock jocks" have had their antics called into question. In fact, a similar incident occurred January 15 on The Dog House with openly gay rapper Cazwell. "I did my research, I knew what I was getting into," he says. "The key was to stay positive because once they find a weak spot, they'll go into it for entertainment. Everything they did was to appease their ignorant audience. They seemed cool after, asked if I took it seriously, but I admit I was shocked that this is allowed to happen." And while Cazwell says he would go on the show again, he wants the hosts to know that people are offended. "If some kid is struggling with his identity, this fuels the fire," he says. "They need to cool it with the homophobic talk."

Queerty.com, a gay-focused blog that posts on everything from fashion to politics, was the first to respond to A Brief Smile's appearance. "No matter how many times I hear homophobic slurs—and that's what these were, homophobic slurs—my gut drops," editor Andrew Belonsky explains. "I've become so used to hearing remarks similar to those made by The Dog House boys—and that's what they are, boys. Unf - CMJ


Never Have The Time [VIDEO EP] - March 2008 - Wrecking Ball Music

Now We All Have Horns (Oct. 2007.) on Wrecking Ball Music

R.E.S.T. (2006) available on iTunes, Amazon.com and abriefsmile.com - Self-released

The Memory Loss EP (2004) - available on cdbaby.com - Self-released




New VIDEO (feat. music video for Never Have The Time) here:

Now We All Have Horns, the new self-produced album released by Wrecking Ball Music on October 3rd 2007.

It can be streamed in full online @


The music echoes of dreamy idealism and youthful lust, blasting along in an orgiastic fire of Rhodes-driven excess and feedback heavy guitar squalls. From the stark depictions of the lonesome detached situations in their lyrics to the crashing fervor and squalor of their choruses, the New York five piece are out to rethink expectations in sound and song alike, all the while grounding their melodies in classic pop influences. Buzzing with the energy of open-eyed youth and ambition with no end in sight. A Brief Smile, I think not.