the Posers is the debut album from New York-based singer/songwriter/guitarist,
Howie Statland and his new band, NYCSmoke. With 11 tracks
of well-formed, intelligent and gritty rock, For the
Posers reeks of the edgy attitude of New York's Lower
East Side. After a creative journey, Statland has hit
upon a musical nerve that leaves no room for wannabes.
It is no wonder that Howie Statland wound up where he
is today. At a young age, Howie's mother, a pianist,
began teaching him her craft in his hometown of Chicago.
At age 13, Howie would hear his first Who album and
be forever changed; abandoning the piano for a much
louder instrument. "I wanted to be Pete Townsend,"
he recalls. With this igniting spark, he bought his
first guitar and poured over collected albums by The
Beatles, The Talking Heads, The Who, The Velvet Underground
and Lou Reed, cultivating his talent.
Three years later, he began performing on the Chicago
club circuit with various bands, further exploring his
own sound and abilities. In 1989, Statland moved to
New York City to attend college. It was here he met
his future band mates of Thin Lizard Dawn who were subsequently
signed to RCA Records. While in the band, he would record
five albums and tour extensively. By their last year
together, the band had grown artistically stagnant and
collectively decided to dissolve the group.
While in Thin Lizard Dawn, Statland continued to pursue
a variety of musical interests with a project called
Low Flame. This solo effort resulted in two self-produced
lo-fi albums; Slave to the Party and Low Flame; the
latter being the score to his independent film of the
same name written and directed by Statland.
In fact, it was Low Flame that caught the attention
of renowned composer, Philip Glass. Glass had attended
a screening of Low Flame at New York's P.S.1 Contemporary
Arts Center where Statland provided live accompaniment.
Impressed with Statland's compositions and talent, Glass
invited him to collaborate on a score for a film by
Ralph Steiner. This led to a live performance in New
York for the film’s screening at the Anthology
Film Archives and another well-received performance
in Luxembourg. Howie views Philip as both a friend and
an inspiration. "He has an amazing work ethic which
I aspire to, " he says of Glass.
After experimenting with sounds and film during his
Low Flame period, Howie decided it was time to "reel
it back in and make a rock album." With his new
band NYCSmoke and the debut of For the Posers, Howie
has done just that.
Much of the raw material for this album came from Statland's
Low Flame recordings and was inspired by a brief period
of couch surfing and even living on the streets of New
York City. Statland’s own recognition of fear,
isolation and self-perseverance sets the tone of For
Within the driving drum and bass of “Empire of
Doubt (wine and roses),“ Statland revels in a
broken dream that captures the breakup of Thin Lizard
Dawn. Through the chaotic guitar solo and angry verses,
Statland ultimately finds deliverance in the line, “Just
one more thing before I go, don’t lose site of
“The Letter,” the smooth steadiness of the
rhythm guitar and simplicity of the verses serve as
the backdrop to a bittersweet love song in which Statland
confesses, “Love is a poison, sucks all my words.
Letters are better seen and not heard.”
With a nod to a certain Beatle-esque melody, “The
Fallout” highlights Statland’s raspy-styled
vocals, melodic guitar riffs and his solid songwriting
skills. Describing the song as “"waiting
for something you love to die," Statland sings,
“If death is really God’s ocean, than we
are his only wound. I heard you talk about devotion.
I hope I hear from you soon. Your feast was a diet of
illusion. You were begging for conclusion to your rainy
Howie's philosophy of "simple is impactful"
is apparent throughout the recording; from the arrangements
down to the manic-noise guitar solos.
NYCSmoke is made up of Statland, Jon Weber (Hedwig and
the Angry Inch) on drums, Martin Ewens (Big Mouth) on
bass, and Rob Perez (Anxiety) on guitar.
The raw urgency heard on For the Posers is due in part
to Statland's production, where he and his four-piece
band played everything live in order to capture the
true energy of his songs. For the Posers is a well-crafted,
hard-hitting, straight-up rock n' roll album without
any of the pretentiousness we've grown accustomed to
With equal doses of sincerity, cynicism and melodic
sensibility, Howie Statland and NYCSmoke challenge “the
posers” and… anyone else who will listen.