Libel is New York City’s proudest purveyors of Protoglam, a delicate concoction of vintage Bowie, post-hardcore and a touch of shoegaze. Basically imagine if the Thin White Duke walked into an early 90s Fugazi show and said, “Guys, this is great, but you need more effects pedals.” Full-length “Comfort in the Noise,” released in 2016, captures both the band’s musical ambitions and songwriting prowess, balancing dual guitar pyrotechnics and solid hooks with fat grooves thanks to the tighter-than-tight rhythm section of bassist Julie Rozansky and drummer Nick Brzoza.
Along with dizzying guitar lines, recent addition Justin Gonzales ornaments the Libel sound with lush atmospherics via synths and washed-out six strings. And singer Gavin Dunaway fluctuates between a smooth baritone and untethered howl, belting out tomes on the arbitrary nature of fame (“Not Invited”), gentrification (“Migration Patterns”), media as a drug (“Dead Air”) and arrogance of youth (“Arrogance of Youth”). There’s even a raunchy sex jam (“Frivolous”) for good measure.
These 10 tracks dramatically build on the band’s previous rock opus, the critically lauded “Music For Car Commercials.” Note: to the band’s knowledge, none of the songs were actually used for car commercials. “Comfort in the Noise” is Libel’s closest approximation yet of its live show, in which a bowler-topped Dunaway (always a Magritte fan – check out “Simulacra”) lets his theatrical side run wild as the band jacks up the intensity alongside the volume.
Gavin Dunaway – vocals, guitar
Nick Brzoza – drums
Julie Rozansky – bass, vocals
Justin Gonzales – guitar, synth, vocals
Gavin Dunaway started playing guitar as a wee lad of 7, growing up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. He’s played classical and jazz guitar but always had a sick fondness for loud rock’n’roll. From 2004 to 2008 he fronted The Alphabetical Order, a mathy post-hardcore band with echoes of Fugazi, that played to decent crowds in the metropolitan area and toured up and down the East Coast. Their sole LP, “I Am Magically Happening,” received a good deal of positive reviews along these lines: “It’s harder than 70s progressive rock but softer than forbearers like Mission of Burma.” (Indie-Music.com)
With the breakup of Alphabetical Order in 2008, Gavin moved to Brooklyn, NY, to join old friend Julie Rozansky, who played bass for another acclaimed DC band, Run Silent Run Deep – proudly unadulterated prog. Julie and Gavin began to jam on songs he’d been toying around with – with the addition of drummer Jonathan Hanson, the newly minted trio began performing around Brooklyn and Manhattan.
However, Libel was more of a side project – Julie played bass and added vocals to the songs of The Art of Shooting, appearing on their debut, “Traveling Show.” Gavin was recruited into the band as well as lead guitarist from 2009 to 2010. During that period, Gavin was also playing guitar for New York post-punk act The Jaguar Club.
Although time was limited, Libel released EPs in 2009 and 2010 – “The Prolonged Insult” and “No Regrets For Our Youth,” respectively. Citing a lack of time, Julie left Libel in late 2010; in 2011 Brian LaRue, who had just moved from New Haven, Connecticut, joined on bass and vocals for the following EP, “Lost Along the Way.” All three of these albums were primarily recorded and mixed by Gavin, with help from local engineers Andrea Zavareei and Joe Rouiller.
In 2012, Nick Brzoza replaced Jonathan Hanson on drums. Brzoza had previously played drums in Brooklyn bands Slowlands (featuring three future members of chillwave outfit Small Black) and Field Theory. After a summer of gigging and heavy songwriting sessions, the trio began recording, “Music For Car Commercials.” It was also around this time the band began showcasing projected animation by illustrator and Italian transplant Michela Buttignol (Gavin’s wife). Michela is also responsible for the Libel logo and album covers for “No Regrets,” “Lost Along the Way,” and “Music For Car Commercials.”
In March 2013 the band had finished recording the 10 tracks on “Music For Car Commercials.” It was also at this time Brian departed (or really became auxiliary guitarist) and Julie rejoined the band. Matthew Stein of Swan7 studios came in to mix the album, which was later mastered by Paul Gold of Salt Mastering.
Shortly after, good friend Justin Gonzales (Pet Ghost Project, Passenger Peru, DLK, Slalomville) joined on guitar, synth and vocals. The band began playing higher caliber venues such as The Knitting Factory, while working on followup LP, “Comfort in the Noise,” released in 2016.
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