ALIENS
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ALIENS

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | SELF | AFTRA

New York City, New York, United States | SELF | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2001
Duo Alternative Rock

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Press


"ALIENS SINGLES REVIEWED"

Aliens – Committed to Wind CDS (Misc. Music)
The first release from new Austin label Misc. Music is an adequate enough representation of their self-described “dysfunctional music.” Aliens is a guitar in search of a band to fill out the pounding punk sound, but said guitar manages to kick up a decent amount of ruckus through loops and some help on drums. Lead singer Blake’s vocals seem to take cues more from 90’s alternative than punk, with the lead single “Committed to Wind” especially seeming to move around any number of the prototypical early 90’s radio rockers right before their break. But if the singing is blurring those lines, it’s a credit to Aliens that they inject some lo-fi skuzzy energy and urgency back into the genre. Their true sound is best represented on the three live cuts from a 2005 show at CBGB. On “Reflex Motor” Blake yells out harsh mantras across rusty guitar riffs while DJ High Priest works the turntables and drum loops in the back with his own “High Priest Breakdown.” And “Watch and Learn” swirls ferociously with a drawn out apathetic howl and intermittent bark of “God damn it anyhow,” a sound that would work well on a bill with another local punk duo, “Shoot for the Stars…and Kill Them.” If Aliens can match that live punk force on their studio tracks, maintaining the raw energy with more polished recording, they just might kill a few stars themselves.
- AUSTIN SOUND


"HEAD FIRST ALBUM REVIEW BY TOXIC PETE"

Raw, edgy and blindingly intoxicating, 'Head First' is the debut album release from Austin, Texas reality-rocksters Aliens. With nowt really complicated but loads of punkish fluidity, Aliens beat out their electrifying nu-punk with a true grit and intense angularity.

Infectious as clap but much more pleasant to live with, 'Head First' takes things down to street level with a lo-fi rhythmic melee that's driven by incessant guitar chords and a ferociously savage percussive engine room. Vocally, Aliens make sweet noise happen from humble and non-too-showy but honest and occasionally grungy outpourings that are totally suited to the refreshingly organic and
minimalist instrumental backdrop. Altogether, Aliens sound is gritty, pounding and compelling; nothing about Aliens sounds pretentious or self-indulgent, Aliens appear to write and play from somewhere deep inside the gut rather than the heart and their energetic but tantalising roots punk/rock is hemmed by tattered seams and frayed edges that allow freedom of movement and unrestricted ebb of
flow of murky waves of sound that suck you in and hold you fast until you're drunk on Aliens' home brew of homogenous sound.

'Head First' by Aliens is kick-ass nu-punk with a big rockin' twist. Aliens' stripped-back sound is as simple as it is powerful; a basic but smartly innovative cocktail of gritty rockin' sounds that cross genre boundaries and stick two fingers up at pretentious indie normality. Aliens' music is 'now', it's honest,
it's totally laid bare and it's a very pleasant change from most of what's going down at the moment. 'Head First' by Aliens is a simplistic but wholly enthralling work of gritty, powerful grunge-punk - great fun, massively likeable and a somewhat delicious musical morsel that shoves conformity out the door and
brings harsh reality to the party. I love it, it's just a no bullshit work that gets down to business and spits in the face of indie convention and is all the better for its blatant grubbiness and off-the-street attitude. - www.toxicpete.co.uk (PETER J BROWN)


"ALIENS SINGLES"

Aliens have had a textbook career thus far. Their debut EP, hand-numbered through 315, is a raw and unnerving three-song set Live at CBGB, with guitarist and vocalist Blake Sandberg backed only by the beats of DJ High Priest. With two drummers in tow, the local crew's new single "Committed to Wind" b/w "Stow Away," recorded at Memphis's Sun Studios and issued on green vinyl, is equally unnerving, a visceral attack on pop culture. Both spin at 45 rpm for Austin's Misc. Music.

By Austin Powell - AUSTIN CHRONICLE


"ALIENS EP REVIEW"

"The ALIENS EP is dark, stripped down lo-fi grungy goodness. These guys probably like HELMET and FAILURE at least as much as I do........." - MISPRINT MAGAZINE


"ALIENS HEAD FIRST ALBUM REVIEW"

Aliens is tough to label, probably in part because Blake and Ed—the guitar-and-drum duo that comprises the band, and who apparently prefer to use their first names only—have made it their mission to be. Not to be confused with The Beta Band offshoot The Aliens, Austin’s own Aliens (note the lack of the “The”, as this will be important in tracking inevitable lawsuits later) might just be single-handedly bringing something gritty back to our local music scene that we’ve been sorely missing. Sometimes they sound like Helmet, sometimes Blake sounds like Thurston Moore or even “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”-era Michael Stipe, and sometimes they just sound like sheer, unadulterated noise.

Any time a two-person band manages such a noisy sound, the band needs to be watched and possibly reckoned with. Though Head First is their debut, Aliens has already garnered attention from local, longstanding rock bands. They have played at CBGB’s and have somehow made songs like “Committed to Wind” and “Moving Parts” seem slightly familiar. Despite being young and fairly scruffy compared to the skinny jeansed, carefully-coiffed hipster bands lurking around town, they’ve made pins and t-shirts and an early gaggle of fans. All of this means that someday, if you’re any kind of savvy music consumer, you can point to your record shelf, hold up the simple, bright album cover that depicts a swimmer clonking her head on a diving board, and say, “Look, I’ve got Aliens’ first album.” You will thus impress the pants off your unsuspecting guest.

-Dina Guidubaldi



- SOUNDCHECK MAGAZINE


"Survivor Story"

The t-shirt Blake Sandberg wears under his leather jacket speaks volumes. The iconic image — a line drawing of a mutant frog-thing with the caption bubble “HI, HOW ARE YOU” — is at least as famous as its creator, the troubled and sometimes revered singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston, who died in September at the age of 58, and the frog-thing’s question is what many who know Sandberg likely want to ask him. How are you?

Circling the floor at the Knitting Factory while opener Frida Kill bangs out some old school, three-chord punk, he is on-task if driven by nervous energy. He talks to the sound man, sits down behind the merch table, gets up again, greets some friends, heads out to the bar and comes back to round the room again.

There’s good reason for his nervousness. The October 22 set will be the second in five years for his band ALIENS, now a duo with drummer Matt King. It’s been a dozen years since his first and only album, Head First, had its moment on the CMJ charts, and times haven’t been easy for Sandberg in the interim.

Sandberg relocated from Austin to New York in the 1990’s with his eyes on the art scene. While painting was his first interest (the cover of Head First is his work), he discovered a second passion when a friend gave him a guitar. After bouncing around a bit, he was soon making art and making a name for himself in a downtown studio near Broadway and Fulton. Then the world changed.

On September 10, 2001, Sandberg took his parents — who had flown in for the occasion — to the opening of a group show that included his work. The next morning, he was working in his studio when hijacked planes were piloted into the World Trade Center towers. His parents were stranded in a hotel until they were able to get out of town and Sandberg sealed up his windows and did his best to survive.

In the months and years that followed, little was understood about the long-term effects of breathing the air around Ground Zero, but Samdberg knew something was wrong. Bouts of bronchitis and vertigo, and a metallic taste in his mouth that he couldn’t get rid of led him, led him to leave the city and head back to Texas in 2005.

A new doctor and a hospital stay helped him on the path to recovery and gave him the space to start making art again. Through a small business loan, he was able to rent warehouse space in Austin. He set up separate painting and recording studios and launched a label, Miscellaneous Music. Drawing on connections he had made in New York, he recorded tracks with Johnston and another outsider pop songwriter, Jad Fair, as well as avant hip-hop pioneers Ram-Ell-Zee and DJ High Priest. He also recorded three tracks under the ALIENS banner with drummer Hunt Sales, who has played with David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Todd Rundgren, to name a few.

Eventually, he made it back to NYC himself, setting up shop in Brooklyn in 2009. When a mutual friend introduced him to drummer King, Sandberg saw a new life for ALIENS.

King’s setup includes a small drum kit and a cajon hand drum as well as electronics for looping and processing beats, giving ALIENS a much bigger sound than the guitar/drum duo that was in vogue during the band’s first life. They hit hard at the Knit, delivering a strong set that went off with, or despite, a few hitches. Sandberg’s dirty blond bob and the riffs he grinds out of his guitar belie a certain Kurt Cobain influence, but when King switches from open-palms to sticks, the songs can take on a Ramone-esque immediacy. The set is primarily comprised of songs from Head First — including a raucous take on his personal 9/11 anthem “Survivor Story,” during which it’s a bit hard to believe his affirmation that “we are all right now.” Live, the duo foments a certain excitement, direct, urgent, almost pleading. They end with a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Alien Mind Control.”

With a renewed commitment to playing live, Sandberg is ready to give ALIENS another go. Songs are in the works for a second album and he’s set up a Bandcamp page (aliensnyc.bandcamp.com) where Head First and other recordings can be heard in full. - Kurt Gottschalk - Red Hook Star Revue


Discography

"Enjoy Killing Time" Single 2020

"Leave Luck To Heaven" Single 2013

"Neversleep" Single 2012

"The In Side" Single June 18, 2010

"Head First" LP / CD MISC. MUSIC label

"Committed To Wind"/ "Stow Away" 7" Single

"Don't Panic ALIENS Live at CBGB" 7" Single

"CD/EP" five song Limited edition
of 100 hand numbered copies.

Photos

Bio

ALIENS are "Electrifying nu-punk with a true grit and intense angularity, play rock music as it's meant to be; with the guts." (ALIENS Toxic Pete, [UK]). Blake plays guitar and bass simultaneously with a custom sound system he built. When combined with live drums and pounding drum machine beats, ALIENS make a unique and exciting hybrid rock and roll sound. "ALIENS bring something real to the party!" (Toxic Pete)

ALIENS debut album Head First reached a large audience on college radio in the U.S., landing it in the CMJ Top 200 for more than four weeks.

ALIENS have recorded with Hunt Sales (Iggy Pop, David Bowie) and Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine), covered Daniel Johnston, and performed with Half Japanese, Awesome Color, Hot Cha Cha, Peelander-Z, and Claude Coleman (Wilco), and poet and Andy Warhol star Taylor Mead. They have been named Verbicide Magazine's #3 unsigned band. ALIENS are emerging as one of New York's most exciting independent underground bands.

PRESS:

"...muscular, driving guitar hooks..." - Alarm Magazine

"...a visceral attack," "pogo-worthy." - Austin Chronicle

"fierce," "exactly what I needed today, a kick in the ass!" - Covert Curiosity

"Punkish, noise rock-like awesomeness; a drum machine often has to be used to lay down the back beats for the incessant guitar riffs ranges lead singer/guitarist Blake Sandberg puts on his songs. Forming in NYC in wake of September 11th attacks, created "alien" persona) - The Indie Face of Music

"Sandberg’s less-than-punk vocals are almost indistinguishable from your favorite R.E.M. record, but then the chorus kicks in with heavily distorted guitars, and the drums take off leaving Peter Buck in the dust. The punk influences are brought to bear; the simple hooks, the feedback buildups, the excessive power chords, it’s all tthere. Head First ventures into new areas of rock which will hopefully be expanded on soon" - John Michael Cassettas

"If ALIENS can match that live punk force on their studio tracks, maintaining the raw energy with more polished recording, they just might kill a few stars themselves." - Austin Sound

"...single-handedly bringing something gritty back to our local music scene." "Sometimes they sound like Helmet, sometimes Blake sounds like Thurston Moore or even 'It’s The End of The World As We Know It'-era Michael Stipe, and sometimes they just sound like sheer, unadulterated noise."- Dina Guidubaldi, Soundcheck Magazine

Band Members