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illicitizen / Press

“R&B has influenced a long list of rockers over the years, ranging from metal and/or hard rock bands (Living Colour, Faith No More, Primus, the Red Hot Chili Peppers) to new wavers (Blondie, the B-52s, Soft Cell, Frankie Goes to Hollywood). In the case of Illicitizen (a New York City-based male/female duo consisting of Eric Cavanaugh and Maria Zaccaro), R&B is something to be combined with art rock, alternative rock and indie rock. Their album, Feathers and Wax is best described as art rock, alternative rock and indie rock with elements of funk, soul, disco and urban contemporary. And their direct or indirect influences include, among others, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Brian Eno, the Fixx and the Talking Heads. Cavanaugh and Zaccaro do like to get funky, although the funkiness that prevails on gems like “Warsaw Six Gun,” “Orphan,” “Nothing” and “Letter for Gorky” is...”

“Illicitizen March' Outstanding Original Artist”

“The first thing that stuck out to me was the lyrics. They are putting down something that is ripe to be picked up. The album is twelve tracks of bass lines, funky guitar, & some thought provoking lyrics. I dig it alot, you may as well....”

“In terms of music discovery, radio is still a behemoth compared to the web, why do you think culture moves so slow in following technology in terms of music? Neither of us can recall the last time we discovered new music we wanted to listen to on the radio. There are some exceptions, but most markets are pretty sewn up. Even for finding “new” old music, we both rely on the internet first and foremost. Radio is where the top sellers are rewarded with royalties. But counting those numbers as culturally relevent is akin to using unemployment figures that do not represent the under employed, and people who are no longer elegible to be counted. I mean no offense. But I think the portable music player has supplanted the radio station. That being said, we love hearing our record on a bonafide broadcast station. And there’s a huge difference between College or otherwise independent radio, and most commercial FM broadcasters. So there is RADIO and radio.”

“Illicitizen consists of two members, Maria Zaccaro and Eric Cavanaugh. Maria plays bass and has programmed the sequencer (and so much more) and is responsible for a large portion of their sound. Eric plays guitar and sings, which is why the rest of their sound relies on him. A great look all around as well as a great sound. Eric looks like a cross between Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello, yet totally cooler than either of those two (who, in my opinion do happen to look very cool themselves). Maria’s look honors Debbie Harry, in style and attitude. Though they have that New Wave sound, they’re not stuck in that era. They have a creative approach and a wonderful interplay between them and their instruments. The bass playing is fantastic, keeping the songs going yet great with Maria playing octaves and driving along runs. Eric’s guitar solos are sharp and melodic. Maria doesn’t smile, it’s part of the attitude though and the stage presence, which all works toward the great sound”

“Greensboro may have been more sedate than usual the evening of March 12, but as the street hummed with traffic, one tavern nearly throbbed with the sound of ear-splitting bass. The Charlotte-based alt-rock duo [wooed] the crowd with a collection of hits including the YouTube sensation "To Arms," "Two Eggs Any Style," and a host of others. Eccentrically dressed in a 70's style leisure suit, frontman Eric Cavanaugh pulled the crowd in with his eerie, David Byrne-like voice, even as he alternated between quirky sets and some of the band's heavier material. Not to be outdone, bassist Maria Zaccaro managed to keep the crowd entertained with her own mix of bass kept the quirky vibe going well into the midnight hour. [At] night, they don their Chuck Taylors and latex skirts, breaking all the musical rules as indie group Illicitizen. The couple's rebellion against the tyranny of the Top 40 has earned them the praise of critics and a legion of fans from Boston to Savannah. ”

“Illicitizen - Bands that meld together lots of styles of music are usually either A) lauded, more often than not if they're a younger band, and thus "reveling in their influences" or B) vilified, for not mastering a particular style. Illicitizen's Eric Cavanaugh, a Charlotte music scene veteran (The Blots, the vastly-underrated-at-the-time Frocky Jack) suggests a third paradigm: an open-minded bandleader who enjoys throwing his phonetical fishbasket into the sea and making dinner with whatever happens to come up. Not to further a food analogy, but think of it as cooking with seasonal, if not regional, ingredients, and putting together something that works: in this case, the songs themselves. Free, Keg & Cue, ”

“Charlotte, North Carolina's Illicitizen are Eric Cavanaugh and Maria Zaccaro and their first release, self-titled, is an eclectic mix of fluent blues guitar playing and soft, rhythmic synths and programming to back it up. The two-piece have combined their musical skills expertly to create this great first album, a real testament to their hard work and tireless effort. Illicitizen have produced an LP of excellent quality for a debut release with very few flaws, and certainly something to be proud of... Cavanaugh's vocal style echoes David Byrne from his Talking Heads days and a young Jarvis Cocker, slow, quiet yet attention-grabbing and melodic while Zaccaro's steady bass line, similar to that of Joy Division, compliments it wonderfully...”

“Local Flavor A HOMEGROWN ACT WORTH WATCHING Illicitizen: WHO: Quirky and original male/female indie-rock duo of Eric Cavanaugh and Maria Zaccaro that forgoes the popular guitar/drums configuration of most mixed-gender pairings in favor of guitar, bass and vocals against programmed rhythm tracks. WHEN: 10 p.m. today. WHERE: Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. WHY: The duo celebrates the release of its self-titled 17-track debut, which highlights demonstrative vocalist Cavanaugh, whose dramatic delivery echoes David Byrne in his Talking Heads days and Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano. On the' eclectic disk, the pair swerves from cabaret-folk to arty post-punk to jangly minor chord alt-pop without losing its, identity or its sense of humor on tracks like "Two Eggs Any Style," "Therapy" and "Olives and Almonds." Tickets: $5. Details: 704-333-9799; www.snugrock.com.”

“It's not easy to try and categorize the music of Illicitizen – hints of '80s rock, dark mod, indie rock, blues, punk, folk – combined with the fact no two songs sound the same musically. "Detached" reminded me of the tone of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" – though I couldn't decide if it was closer to Donovan or Butthole Surfers interpretation. The music retains a stripped-down, garage feeling to it, without sounding cheap or "high school." "New New One" had the vibe of a song from the 1950s with some punk riffs thrown over the top of it. "Two Eggs Any Style" uses a bit of a reggae groove in it. ”

“...“Monstr0”, has all the passion of the classic 60’s Folk protest song, beefed up, with an element of Indie pop sensibility that draws my attention to The Verve’s 90’s Britpop. In fact if one listens closely, [Cavanaugh]’s voice has a boyish Richard Ashcroft sound to it...”

“Illicitizen's demos for their upcoming full-length include promising touchstones from throughout the punk/post-punk era: the Jam's spiky beats, the Clash's agit-prop, early Elvis Costello snark, etc. This is an item-donations Homeless Benefit, with Kimosabe and Holster also on the bill. Evening Muse”

John Schacht - Creative Loafing
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