blackmarket
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blackmarket

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I first saw Blackmarket at the 2007 SxSW festival. The band was performing on a bill with retro-metal monsters Danava, and they went on early, to a mostly-empty club.

What struck me about that performance was all the heart Blackmarket put into it -- they sounded as professional as any arena band, and they had the rapt attention of every single person in the thin, earlybird crowd. Blending the melodic sensibilities of bands like The Beatles and Radiohead with the dark lyricism and artistry of artists like David Bowie, Blackmarket immediately struck me as the next Arizona band to make a mainstream splash.

But like Jimmy Eat World, the last Arizona band to make a mainstream splash, Blackmarket has had to build an audience (and revenue for stateside touring) by playing overseas. Blackmarket’s already got a substantial, enthusiastic following in Japan -- they played a sold-out show in Tokyo last December, and have been invited to play the massive FujiRock Festival there in July. They’ve also been picked up by Japanese label FAEC. The video clip below captures part of Blackmarket performing their song “Night in Question” on their recent tour of Japan:

Watching the clip -- which is as sonically and visually clean as most professional footage -- it’s almost baffling to me that these four guys from Lake Havasu City, Arizona who’ve been playing together since junior high are not signed to a record label. I say “almost” baffling because the record industry as we once knew it has gone tits-up, and the revenue and traditional methods labels used to employ to find new acts for their rosters (like the dying breed of A&R reps/talent scouts) are long gone. If it were 1998 instead of 2008, I’d bet a hundred bucks that Blackmarket would be signed and riding a big, nationwide promotional push.

But as it is, Blackmarket is an entirely indie band. Their self-titled, self-released EP hits the streets on June 24, and not without some stellar credentials behind it. The album was recorded by the superstar team of Sean Slade (Radiohead, Hole, Dinosaur Jr.) and Matthew Ellard (Weezer, Elliott Smith, Morphine). “It was great working with Sean and Matthew,” says vocalist and guitarist Daryl Lamont. “The contrast between Sean’s ability to capture the feeling of a song and Matthew’s technical standards really contributed to the overall sound of this album. For a group of kids that have played together for so long, the album feels more like an accomplishment than any sort of pretentious satisfaction.”

The EP, which I’ve been playing over and over for the past three days, doesn’t contain any sense of pretention, which is a nice change of pace from most “radio-friendly” releases. The opener, “Magic Tricks,” is a jangly jaunt through mid-’90s college rock, followed by the single “Sheila,” which merges the raw energy of garage rock with the pop of early Knack songs and a modern rock edge borne on low-moving bass lines and emotive vocals (the EP contains a radio edit version of the song, as well). The other three tracks on the CD display the band’s diversity -- there’s the acoustic-based “White Lie,” which is driven by multi-layered vocal harmonies patterned after The Beatles and Beach Boys; “Bad Call,” a fast-paced hard rock number with a catchy chorus that sees Lamont weaving in and out of vocal registers like Thom York on a bender; and “Drag Addict,” a woozy, borderline prog-rock number decorated with keyboards.
- Phoenix New Times


After previously being available only in Japan, the group Blackmarket is about to hit the open market. The Lake Havasu, Arizona rock quartet will release their self-titled debut EP June 24, with a full album on tap for later this fall, both of which will be released via No Office Records. The group worked on the EP and album with noted producers Sean Slade (Radiohead, Hole, Dinosaur Jr.) and Matthew Ellard, who has worked with Morphine, Weezer and Elliott Smith. The group's singer and guitarist Daryl Lamont said the experience was educational in more ways than one.

"Sean and Matthew were both very easy to work with," says Lamont. "At some points I forgot we were even doing anything. A very relaxed environment to say the least. We all had plenty of questions about Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith and Weezer and of course Radiohead. They're both so laid back you wouldn't even know they've worked with some of the best."

The group has previously released an EP and album via FMAC/Rough Trade in Japan, where they will play the FujiRock Festival in July. The group has a handful of US dates lined up, but what should curious listeners expect for the group's American debut? Lamont is glad you asked.

"Honesty, I guess. Trying to be true to our own sound and still be aware of what's happening in music now. I think a lot of bands subscribe to one type of rock, it gets a little monotonous," Lamont says. "Our first record is a quest to not be bored or boring and still be pop. We'll see how many birds we can kill."

- CMJ


Discography

Blackmarket "St. Vincent Decor" (American, Japanese and German release) - 2010

Blackmarket "The Elephant In the Room" (American Version) - 2008

Blackmarket EP (American Version) - 2008

Blackmarket "The Elephant In The Room (Japanese Version) - 2007 on Five Man Army

Blackmarket EP (Japanese Version) 2007 - on Five Man Army

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Bio

Blackmarket came roaring out of the Arizona hedonistic party town of Lake Havasu back in 2008. After a triumphant victory in Las Vegas at the Amplify Festival, frontman/guitarist Daryl Lamont, bassist Mikey Emerson and drummer Langdon Chieffo took their honed-since-junior-high-in-basements-and-garages-camaraderie and poured it into their critically acclaimed debut album ‘The Elephant In The Room’.

Released by No Office Records in November ‘08, it had instant impact and was described as ‘an arsenal of huge guitar riffs…leave-it-all-out-onstage rock ‘n roll’ by Flavorpill LA and ‘one relentless riff to another’ by Performing Songwriter. Tracks for their sophomore-jinx-killer ‘St. Vincent Décor’ are finished. Produced by Pete Min (Airborne Toxic Event), these tracks take that already existing intensity and weave layers of melody and musicality through it.

Those who have chosen to produce Blackmarket (Pete Min, Sean Slade, Matthew Ellard, etc.) have worked with such musical luminaries as Radiohead, Dinsaur Jr., Hole, Morhpine, Weezer, Elliot Smith, Debbie Harry and Duncan Sheik. These connections are no accident. The tightness of the hooks, the insight in the lyrics, the undeniable power in the presentation…all of these are evident immediately upon hearing Blackmarket.

Blackmarket have delivered performance after performance of fiery vitality and desperate intensity. To 5,000 screaming fans at the legendary Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. Headliners of their own extensive tour and also as support for UK buzz band The Subways, Blackmarket twice brought their particular brand of heady mayhem to the twisted grandeur of Post Cold War Germany. The sandstorm of their live show will be destroying your town soon.

Look for their single ‘Tongue Twister Typo’ on Rock Band Network this spring, catapulting Blackmarket and ‘St. Vincent Décor’ into home entertainment systems like a burglar invited to stay for dinner.