Cryptacize: 1 April 2009 - New York

Rachel Brodsky

I had to wonder if Cryptacize suffers from the musical version of the classic bridesmaid syndrome: Always the opener, never the headliner.


City: New York
Venue: Music Hall of Williamsburg
Date: 2009-04-01

Quirk-pop outfit Cryptacize has actually been present on the scene for a bit longer than any one of their audience members may have realized. Slowly climbing the indie-fame corporate ladder, Cryptacize are a fascinating combination of former Deerhoof member Chris Cohen, drummer Michael Carrera, vocalist Nedelle Torrisi, and the recently added fourth member, bassist Aaron Olson. Their opening act “resume” is extensive: So far Cryptacize has played before bands such as Why?, Shearwater, Ponytail, Marnie Stern, the Blow, and Mirah. Upon watching them open for post-punk garage rockers Vivian Girls and the always experimentally vivid Ariel Pink, I had to wonder if Cryptacize suffers the musical version of the classic bridesmaid syndrome: Always the opener, never the headliner.

Celebrating the release of their second album Mythomania, the group appeared surprisingly unenergetic onstage (or perhaps that’s just their token apathetic shtick?). The band’s sound on record exhibited vast possibilities with an original take on experimental pop music, complete with halting drums, catchy guitar hooks, and Torrisi’s erratic yet willowy vocals. Live, however, the stage of the Music Hall of Williamsburg seemed too big for Cryptacize, who like to let Nadelle Torrisi take center stage. While Torrisi’s voice certainly came across as breathy, melodic, and following in the halting footsteps of Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki, her stage presence on the other hand felt severely lacking. Stuffed into a waist-high black skirt and “carelessly” thrown on white tee, Torrisi certainly was dressed to kill, if not dressed to rock out. Perhaps it was her size (miniscule), or her unwillingness to test out the traction of her flowery vintage heels, but during much of the first half of Cryptacize’s set, all I wanted was for Torrisi to dance and flounce to the pretty music, but alas, she did not. As their set wore on however, Torrisi did appear to grow less stiff, and even hopped up and down a few times to the beat of “Mini-Mythomania” while pressing synths on a keyboard just as teeny as she was.

Artist: Cryptacize

Album: Dig That Treasure

Label: Asthmatic Kitty


US Release Date: 2008-02-19

UK Release Date: Available as import

The band’s instrumentals were perhaps the most satisfying thing about their performance in general. As the show went on, their audience expanded, nodding their heads nonchalantly, as Torrisi bounced equally nonchalantly onstage, her voice changing octaves as each song took an unpredictable turn in a new direction. I should, however, give her more credit: There aren’t many indie front women who are adept as changing key as quickly and as prettily as Torrisi is. That’s why I wasn’t going to blame this leading lady’s lack of energy on nerves. A nervous singer could never hit those notes and change them as effortlessly as Torrisi did that evening. That’s why I couldn’t, and still can’t, come to a solid conclusion on Cryptocize as a band. Where they lack in some areas, they make up for in others.

As more audience members filed in, Cryptacize grew more energetic, performing bouncy love songs with just the right amount of quirk and jerk. Moving through songs like “Blue Tears” and “Cosmic Sing-a-Long”, the likeness to Deerhoof was astoundingly similar, but understandable considering their origin. Chris Cohen’s history was undoubtedly apparent onstage. His instrumental arrangements didn’t so much recall his past with Deerhoof as it did emphasize it. Even when Torrisi’s vocals were at their best, her voice sounded like a feathery, more melodic version of Matsuzaki’s. But the question tonight shouldn’t have been “who does Cryptacize sound like?” but “what more have Cryptacize brought to this sound that already existed?” The answer, unfortunately, is not as much as they should. Perhaps with a bit more time and onstage energy, Cryptacize can truly be the second coming of Deerhoof, with an equally large fan base to boot. What the band really needs is a new direction and/or spirit that will let them turn the corner from being a consistently solid opener, to a surprising and attention-grabbing headliner. They have it in them, and let’s hope they realize that by the time their third album drops.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.