It’s been nearly 4 years since I last saw Man Man perform (Forecastle, June 2010) and seven years since the first time I had the pleasure of seeing them. Following that last time seeing them, Honus Honus commented in a mild-mannered fashion contrary how he liked my smile and would like to kidnap me in order to get my face on the side of milk cartons under the missing persons section. Fortunately for me that practice was stopped in the late ’80s.
On Saturday, in The Constellation Room at The Observatory, it was nice to see that the insanity never stopped. Following the arrival of Pow Pow, Brown Sugar & Shono all wearing matching backwards skeleton costumes (a departure from the tennis uniforms I’d seen a few years ago), Honus Honus arrived donning a sparkly robe in the style of a boxer or priest, back to the crowd, commanding the energy levels of the room rise to the animlaistic madness that was shortly to pursue and like a practicioner of black magic, his commands to rise had their intended effect. Launching into “End Boss” from last fall’s “On Oni Pond,” the frenzy began and left nothing wanting.
Honus Honus and Pow Pow both have such fantastic stage presence, particularly the former who reminds me of my two-year nephew at Halloween….trying on every costume and playing with every toy that he can find. That includes a space alien mask, a fur coat, a naval jacket, and of course the aforesaid skeleton costume and robe. Falling in dramatic exasperation a number times, Honus Honus and the whole band at large just seem to have so much fun performing; all actors playing the roles they’ve crated for themselves. And their fans love it…sporting warpaint, headbands, capes and a disproportionaltely high number of violations of the wearing-a-band-shirt-to-that-band’s-concert rule.
Opener Xenia Rubinos who had a very tribal, animalistic pop-singed set herself, joined for a number of songs in her own skeleton costume, dancing and acting a back-up singer to the madness happening on stage. Her drummer for the night joined briefly just long enough to stage dive.
With a 20 song set they spanned their entire discography in a strangely cohesive way considering the stylistic differences of the later two albums. While naturally the bulk of the set was dedicated to showcasing their latest, Rabbit Habbits also saw a lot of attention and the other three received at least 2 songs, largely all in their epic 7 song encore. Those in the crowd chanting “one more song” at the end of the first set had no idea what they were in store for. As the encore started with “Steak Knives” it became apparent to any Man Man fan that they couldn’t end on such a light note and that wild times were coming.
- End Boss
- Top Drawer
- Loot My Body
- Mr. Jung Stuffed
- Paul’s Grotesque
- Pink Wonton
- Head On
- King Shiv
- Piranhas Club
- Push the Eagle’s Stomach
- Doo Right
- Born Tight
- Steak Knives
- Life Fantastic
- El Azteca
- Engrish Bwudd
- Werewolf (On the Hood of Yer Heartbreak)
On Saturday night, The National played their first of two nights in the new hometown to frontman Matt Berninger; this time at LA’s historic Greek Theatre. The 6,000+ capacity was certainly a marked change of scenery from the 350 person Bell House in Brooklyn where I last caught them, just prior to the release of High Violet.
What anyone who has ever been to one their performances can attest, whether the stage is tiny or is amongst the biggest in the world, The National deliver one of the most memorable experiences imaginable. Reviews will abound with what songs they played, but I’d prefer this review to talk about the growth of a band and my experiences as a fan of that band hitting success in perfect stride. Having first caught them in Louisville, KY in 2007 (and being so enamored with the performance where my friends and I bought tickets to the following night’s performance in their former-former hometown of Cincinnati, OH) and seeing the blatant nervous ticks of a man not yet comfortable performing on a stage in front of a couple hundred people to seeing that same man, six years later, running through a sold-out crowd of 6,000 people sing-screaming all of the lyrics to their songs made me, as a fan, feel incredibly proud. There’s something about The National that creates a really deep connection with its fans which is why I think that they’ve had the success they’ve had. They’ve never had the regular radio-play outside of the KCRW/NPR/College Radio world. What they have, however, are heartfelt songs about realistic experiences that encourage fans to connect on a quasi-personal level. I hear “Apartment Story” and I picture my wife and I getting ready for hosting a dinner party. I hear “Conversation 16” and I think about loving her so much and feeling like I fail her. I hear “I Should Live in Salt” and I think about how mad she can make me. I hear “About Today” and I think about how scared I’d be to lose her. I hear “Abel” and I think of the inanity of some of my friends. I hear “Terrible Lie” and I ask myself where I’m heading. The National have written the soundtrack to our lives.
Perhaps I’m just self-centered. Hell, I am writing a concert review and somehow making it all about me. I feel like Matt could appreciate that. But the story that The National tells is a bit of the everyman story that all of its fan can empathize with and connect to. If you don’t believe me then you should have heard the chants of “Baby, We’ll Be Fine” or “I Was Afraid, I’d Eat Your Brains.” You can hear it the voices that it’s not just singing along with miscellaneous words. Everyone of the 6,000 in attendance singing along sang with true emotion. And yet the story isn’t confined to the lyrical content. The Dessner and Devendorf brothers create a mood and energy befitting and perfectly complementing the story.
If there’s one thing that The National does as good as write amazing songs, it’s put on an amazing performance. Totting around the ever present bottle of wine (which I’ve seen him share on stage with his mother, “Uncle Jack,” and thousands of adoring fans), both Matt and the Dessner brothers have learned to own the stage. A stage now outfitted with one of the most impressive and gorgeous light shows I’ve ever seen (a photographer’s dream). But, I suppose that’s what years of touring and becoming seasoned billboard-charting veterans will do. In the beginning it was largely Matt and occasional touring member Padma Newsome putting on the show, but it’s great to see that everyone is in on the show these days.
I had wondered in advance of the show whether the setlist would be “Trouble Will Find Me”-heavy, the recently released 6th Studio album. Having a catalog as deep as theirs with two releases since my last opportunity to see the band, I’d expected to hear far less of the old material. Fortunately, we were treated to a 24 song set spanning Alligator to Trouble, with, what Matt might call, a “good mixture” across the albums. The setlist was near perfect. Being a new Californian myself, I’d have loved to have heard “All the Wine” for the crowd’s reaction alone. But the closer, Vanderlyle/Crybaby Geeks, from 2011’s High Violet, was undoubtedly the highlight of the night. Stripping down to an acoustic set. For all of the raucous, and stage antics, light show, guitar-shredding, drum-deconstruction, The National is a band about the song and the fans are about right there with them. While About Today may have magically brought the crowd to a hush for those final few lyrics…”may I ask you, about today?” For Vanderlyle, the immense crowd became pin-drop quiet for the encore-closing acoustic song up until we were compelled to chant along in unison…”Vanderlyle, Crybaby, Cry…oh the waters are rising, still no surprising you…Vanderlyle, Crybaby Cry…man it’s all been forgiven, swans are a-swimming, I’ll explain everything to the geeks!” I wanted to cry myself. It was a beautiful moment. It summed up the emotions, both from a songwriting perspective and a performance perspective, of everyone taking a part in that moment.
- I Should Live in Salt
- Don’t Swallow the Cap
- Bloodbuzz Ohio
- Sea of Love
- Afraid of Everyone
- Conversation 16
- Squalor Victoria
- I Need My Girl
- This Is the Last Time
- Baby, We’ll Be Fine
- Slow Show
- Pink Rabbits
- About Today
- Fake Empire
- Mr. November
- Terrible Love
- Vanderlyle Crybaby/Geeks (Acoustic)
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down concluded their national tour with Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside on Monday night at the Troubador in LA. The tour was in support of their latest, “We The Common,” an album that shows great maturity, musicianship, and even civic-mindedness over “We Brave Bee Stings And All.” Seeing Thao on stage, it was clear where her passions now lie, namely that WTC is about a lot more than the songs on the album and Thao’s work with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners is pervasive. By 5 songs into the set, Thao had already flipped through virtually every instrument on the stage. It was impressive to behold. And yet, for all her artistic maturity, she nevertheless has been able to retain that youthful spunkiness I was first drawn to in 2008. That spunkiness was never felt stronger than when “Move” transitioned into a medley with Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy?” or perhaps on her duet with Sallie for their cover of The Ronettes’ “Be My Little Baby.” The pointedness of Thao’s songwriting is almost comically genius, with playful, scathing lines like ” I was always on your conscience, but you were only on my mind” and “don’t we live too long, don’t you wait too much” and the onstage delivery is equally ironically cute. Further, songs like “Kindness Be Conceived” translate wonderfully despite Joanna Newsom’s absence. Her time away from the spotlight seems to have done great things for her, but it’s great to have her back. Sallie Ford’s performance was equally fun, having an almost doo-wop sound and instantly danceable. Songs like “Fried Green Tomatoes,” though somewhat silly, were incredibly fun and perfectly compliments the Thao fanbase. Though I’d not heretofor known Sallie Ford, I’m sold as a huge fan.
Label: Innovative Leisure
Listen: Classixx : All You’re Waiting For (via SoundCloud)
“And you’re opening for Phoenix on their European tour after this, that’s crazy! How the hell did that happen!?”
Demarco just kinda looks at me with a grin and a shrug.
Oh, I donno. They just came to one of our shows in Paris and liked what they saw, I guess.
The cool ambivalence toward what would otherwise be a career-defining moment for an up and coming band is a good summation of Mac Demarco’s appeal; that being to forgo taking life too seriously in favor of having a good time, an approach that shines through in both his recorded material and his live show.
Mac Demarco is a young man who began making music in Vancouver years ago with his friend Alex Calder under the moniker of Makeout Videotape, before relocating to Montreal and focusing on developing his own material. Last year saw the release of not one but two albums, the vampire-glam of his debut, Rock and Roll Night Club, and the breezy, slacker-rock leaning 2.
His show on Friday, March 22nd, at Sneaky Dee’s, was the first in a series of shows he and his band played as a part of Canadian Music week before taking off to Europe for the aforementioned Phoenix tour. The sold-out set was attended by an army of young men decked out in plaid who spent the duration of the set pogo-ing manically in front of the band, while a harem of fangirls opted to sit at the bottom of the stage as if it were an altar of some sort.
I’m Mac Demarco, and this song is called ‘I’m A Man” , he announced through a toothy smile, kicking off a set that featured a healthy amount of material taken from across both of his albums.
Whereas the recorded material comes off as laid-back music not unsuitable for drinking on a porch in the summer sun, performed live, it takes on a new form, retaining the playful looseness while also gaining an electric groove a la Grease Lightning.
Having seen Demarco before, a staple of his shows for me has always been the esoteric covers he sprinkles throughout his set. He’s done stuff as varied as the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” and Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman” in the same show, and for Friday’s set he presented a cache of covers that was even more expanded and disparate. They fiddled with the opening riffs of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” between songs before launching into their first full cover of the night, a messy, adrenaline-filled take on Rammstein’s nu-metal anthem “Du Hast”. The highlight for the night in terms of covers occurred later, when the band delved into their own jangly take on Weezer’s Sweater Song. Although a lot of influence from the Blue Album can be noted in Demarco’s music, especially 2, the band made it their own by peppering the lyrics with goofy expletives, delivered by Demarco with the glee of a misbehaving 10-year-old.
The band’s endearing immaturity did not end there however, with Demarco evolving into some playground version of G.G. Allin towards the end of the set by charismatically displaying to the audience both his bare white ass (which some female audience members promptly attempted to spank), and eventually ramping up the sexual show-and-tell by pulling out his balls from his fly mid-song.
The band ended their set with “Still Together”, the closing ballad from their latest album. Demarco brought his girlfriend onstage to serenade her, however, as the band launched into a rocked-out, electrified version of the song’s bridge, the two began to make out before jumping into the audience to crowd-surf together in a display filled with the triumph of a scene taken from an 80’s teen movie. I left the venue that night covered in sweat, satisfied to have witnessed once again that Mac Demarco’s recent success is well-deserved.
[photos : John Szlazak]
It was quite easy to forget that it was a Monday night as Foxygen took the stage on March 4th at Wrongbar, opening for Unknown Mortal Orchestra at a sold-out show. The band recently released their sophomore album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, to the kind of acclaim and buzz that can hurt a band just as quickly and easily as it can help them. It being their first show here in Toronto, a sea of eager fans stood packed like sardines in front of the stage, waiting to hear Foxygen’s throwback brand of 60’s psychedelia and rock.
Having enjoyed both of their albums, I counted myself among these aforementioned eager fans, which makes the sense of disappointment I felt toward the majority of their set all the more disheartening. Normally a two-piece, original members Sam France and Jonathan Rado were joined onstage by a keyboardist, drummer, and bassist, the two to focus on vocals and guitar, respectively.
Being a band whose music is greatly indebted to the summer of love, the musicians graced the stage trying to dress the part by sporting outfits that could be considered equal parts Willy Wonka and Woodstock.
Despite these wardrobe attempts, the band came off as if they’d just raided their high school drama club’s costume room as opposed the post-modern Jefferson Airplane aesthetic they seemed to be trying for.
It was not only the outfits that harkened back to high school, as once the group launched into their catalogue it became immediate, both with regards to their music and their stage presence, that they could easily be equated with that band at the talent show who were a little too into the Beatles and Jim Morrison. France attempted to channel the essence of the Lizard King, which instead seemed to translate into forced yelps into the microphone as the other four musicians seemed to sleep through most of their songs. On several occasions, the band would start a song only to stop to exchange confused glances and shaking heads with one another before launching into another one entirely.
One would think that an apparent lack of focus would be beneficial to a band known for their messy psych jams, however it only led to guitar solos and song breakdowns that had all of the roughness and none of the fun. The band did make an effort to pull it together toward the end, an attempt which seemed to shine on the songs “Oh Yeah” and Oh No Pt. 2”, the latter being the behemoth of a closer from their new album. Perhaps it was the number of tonal shifts scattered throughout the song that left no room for goofing around, but Foxygen managed to pull it together and launch into a spirited and groovy rendition. It’s performances like that, along with their largely enjoyable recorded material, that still gives me hope that there is a good band called Foxygen, it just didn’t seem to be the one I saw onstage that night.
Despite my mixed feelings, the crowd seemed to mostly enjoy the performance, with a large fraction of them leaving the venue, indifferent toward catching Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s set.
UMO is the mouthpiece of New Zealand ex-pat Ruban Nielson, who, with a bunch of guys from Portland, makes catchy, art-damaged pop songs that have the fidelity of something recorded by a tape player underwater.
The band is touring in promotion of their aptly titled second album, II, which dropped last month. Whereas their first record featured straightforward yet catchy guitar pop, the new album plays with a variety of genres as disparate as soul and psychedelic rock, influences that translated with a surprising effortlessness into the live setting.
Seconds into their set, after launching into the fuzzy opening riffs of “No Need For a Leader”, UMO had already proven themselves in many areas that Foxygen did not. At three onstage members, UMO still managed to display to the audience a sense of presence and command that, until this point, had been absent that night. From the groovy bass to machine-like drumming, they made sure that the audience immediately knew from the get-go that they meant business.
The band continued to power through their set with an energy nestled comfortably between focused and fun, playing a healthy balance of material from both of their albums. Although Nielson’s voice would occasionally get lost in the sea of instrumental noise, the consistent musicianship more than made up for this.
The band saved the best for last, launching into their signature song, “Ffunny Ffrends”, and their new single, “So Good at Being in Trouble”, to cap off their set. The highlight of their show, for me at least, occurred when the band returned to the stage for an encore, which included the band offering (for the first time live, apparently) their take on garage rocker Jay Reatard’s “My Shadow”, which despite being a cover managed to retain all of the raw energy of the original. The band followed this high-octane sugar rush with a spacey, chilled-out version of old cut “Boy Witch” before leaving the stage, however their departure was one that was well-earned.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Another warm, swirling, psychedelic, sonic cruise with dizzying atmospheric guitar hooks, washing over both brash and vulnerable sounding moody vocals from Aussie rock outfit Tame Impala. Taking cues from Innerspeaker track “Solitude Is Bliss”, Lonerism is an entire album about alienation and the power of one – what front-man Kevin Parker describes as “the idea of being someone who doesn’t feel part of the rest of the world”. Like Innerspeaker, there is comfort in this album’s nostalgia – a harmonic tribute to psychedelics pop past – with nods towards the Beatles, Hendrix and Floyd. But, Lonerism manages to ameliorate mere 60′s revisionist rock, and emerge intensely modern and new, with a sound quality only possible in 2012. Both larger in scope and sound than it’s predecessors, Lonerism drives it’s influences into an entirely new direction, making it the most immersive albums of the year.
Listen : Tame Impala : Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (via SoundCloud)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Leeds quartet Alt-J (aka ‘triangle’, aka △) not only wrote one of the most diverse and addictive albums of 2012, but successfully created a new “non-genre” genre. Exploring a variety of music styles, including pop, folk and R&B, Alt-J masterfully piece together a beautifully rounded puzzle of style and influences. Nasally, blues-like vocals gush over dark, fuzzed-out bass -lines, guitar scratching, island beats and intricate vocal harmonies that are never short on literary references or imagery and never feel over-complicated or too ambitious.
Listen : Alt-j : Fitzpleasure(remix)
Listen : Alt-j : An Awesome Wave (viaSoundCloud)
Rating: 5/5 stars
After a long three year hibernation, Grizzly Bear awakes, evolved, lurching with a thundering new record and some teeth. A record, as much about coming together as it is about falling apart, Shields is an unpredictable album that re-defines the band’s group dynamics and takes comforts in it’s own imperfections. Showcasing guitarist Daniel Rossen‘ s expressive six-string style and “psychedilic tempest” songwriting abilities, this album is a stormy swirl of aggressive guitar swells building into roaring climaxes that is quite unpredictable. But while it explores a wide range of themes, textures and sounds, it is ultimately the unpredictability that makes Shields such a rewarding listen.
Listen : Grizzly Bear : Yet Again (viaSoundCloud)
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Longtime Miami indie Goddess Chan Marshall was born again in 2012 with a short, cropped, breakup haircut and the first Cat Power album of original material in over six years. Transformed by her struggles as an artist, Marshall revisits her roots and comes into her own with this collection of moody, bluesy, songs layered by drum machines, synths and beautiful background vocals, which help showcase Marshall’s seductive, whispered croons and clever wordplay. If that isn’t enough, Marshall raps on the album and there is a surprise appearance from Iggy pop in the middle of the ten-minute Velvet Underground homage ”Nothin But Time”.
Listen : Cat Power : Ruin
Over the weekend, Discosalt attended the first ever Catalpa Festival on Randall’s Island. Two solid summer days/nights of diverse live music from an eclectic lineup including The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg , TV on the Radio and Girl Talk – all under a blue leopard print banner commanding the crowd to “DANCE BITCHES!”. Despite the rain, some poor footwear decisions and two “wham jam, no thank you ma’am” sets of Umphrey’s McGee, the NYC festival, striving to be a pioneering East Coast festival comparable to California’s Coachella and Chicago’s Lollapalooza, managed to deliver.
SATURDAY – JULY 28
8-8:45PM TV on the Radio
Having not performed in New York since September of 2011, this was a real homecoming for Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio and a real treat for the predominantly New York based crowd. After being cheered on stage by the collective fan cries of “Brooklyn!”, the band tipped their hat (and beard) to another New York musician – dedicating “Second Song”, to a “dear-departed inspiration, Mr. Adam Yauch…I would not be in New York City without the words of that man.” This was one of the best performances I’ve seen out of these guys, and in a surprisingly short set, the band managed to hit all the crowd pleasers, squeezing in “Staring at the Sun”, “Wolf Like Me” and “Will Do”.
9:30-11PM The Black Keys
The Ohio garage-rock duo (with a little help from some friends), oiled up their gritty back-to-basics blues engine with some sonic lube worthy of classic rock torque. Ripping into a seemingly endless zeppelin-esc guitar rock grab bag to draw the biggest crowd on Saturday – with plenty of audience participation na-na-na’s. In only 90 minutes, Auerbach and Carney cranked through a crunchy set of soulful modern blues rock, gunning down broken dreams and witchy women with a raw intensity that is best experienced live, and along the way nailed down some fan favorites like “Your Touch”, “I Got Mine”, “Thickfreakness”, “Girl Is on My Mind”.
SUNDAY – JULY 29
So…the last time I saw Matisyahu perform, he was an Orthodox Jew. Now, he’s ditched the Chassidic shtick for a clean shaven look, crowd surfing and inviting female audience members to dance on stage with him. “No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me … no alias.” His face is smooth, but his voice is even smoother, as Matisyahu managed to skank out some new gems off his new album and revisit some old classics – playfully chastising the audience for requesting “King Without A Crown” and “One Day”, saying – “Obviously I’m going to play them, Those are the only two songs everyone knows”.
6:15-7PM Matt and Kim
Matt and Kim definitely win the festival award for funniest stage banter …or drummer Kim Schifino has revealed a horrible case of tourettes. “I know what you’re thinking, we’re a little out of shape, I’ve been doing exercises, though — something called a Kegel…because I want to fuck the shit out of you tonight!” When Kim wasn’t shouting “fuck” or “shit”, she was shouting, well “fuck” or “shit” or restarting “Daylight” after hitting Matt’s keyboard with her sticks. “I get crazy with the sticks and I just have to hit shit”. The band left the stage thanking the crowd for taking their 2012 virginity.
7:45-9PM Girl Talk
In my next life I want the energy level of DJ superstar – Greg Gillis. The one man mash-up party monster (along with a crowd of 20 or so aggressive people dancing non-stop around Gillis) drew the biggest crowd of the day and did not disappoint. Gillis performed an hour plus set of dozens of effortlessly produced classic hip-hop, pop and rock mashup-style remixes – including everything from M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” mash with Ice Cubes “It Was a Good Day” to Nirvana, Notorious B.I.G, Elton John and the bounce friendly Nine Inch Nails “Wish” mashed with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone”. There were lights, confetti, inflatable animals, balloons, balloons filled with confetti, toilet-paper guns, crowd surfing and enough sweat and bouncing to make a porn star blush. Gillis closed the high energy set with his version of Gun’s and Roses “November Rain”, as confetti rained down on the crowd.
9-9:40PM A$AP Rocky
I was really rooting for A$AP Rocky… that is, until, the air horn. The upcoming 23-year-old Harlem rapper, rocking a “Fuck Swag” T-shirt and signature skinny Jeans, spent more time shouting over his own backing tracks and firing off bullet sound effects, whistles and air horns, than he did rapping. While surrounded by a stage entourage that never consisted of less than 8 people at one time, the image conscious A$AP Rocky told the crowd – “people used to fuck with us for wearing skinny jeans around 2004. Now we’re right here with our skinny jeans and you embrace that shit”…well…how about embracing some music.
9:40-10:45PM Snoop Dogg
Interspersed by pre-recorded blacksploitation inspired skits on a giant projection screen – which included the Doggfather firing an assault weapon at the crowd, smoking weed and taking out a “bitch” – was a crusty old man dancing, a Lady of Rage appearance, a furry Nasty Dogg with an eight-foot long stuffed penis and a giant spliff, a cloud of weed smoke and of course Mr. Snoop Dogg backed by the original Dogg Pownd, performing the 53- minute gangsta rap classic – Doggystyle. The set was on point as the entire crowd, even security, could be spotted singing along with the familiar sounds of “Gin and Juice”, “Murder Was The Case,” “Serial Killer,” “G’z and Hustlas” and, of course, “Doggy Dogg World.” Snoop ended the Doggystyle set declaring – “I ain’t stopping, I’m like the bunny, I keep going and going”, just before coming back with two encores- a Pharrell-assisted “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Young Wild and Free” as his DJ played Wiz Khalifa verses. Unfortunately, Snoop’s alter ego Snoop Lion never made an appearance.
Then….there were these people…
Chromeo DJ Set
The Chromeo DJ set on July 8th felt just like that – a DJ set. Regardless, good times were had by all – even the Ottawa Police and fathers of small children. Chromeo plays their next show July 28th in Sacramento (with instruments).
For more information visit: Chromeo.net/tours
‘If I had known Deltron was playing’, a statement heard from a Snoop Dogg attendee following the Snoop Dogg show on July 10th. I think it would be safe to say that Deltron had some competition that night, with Snoop playing on the main stage and El-P and Killer Mike playing at Ritual nightclub nearby – but never the less, the fans did come out.
The excitement level was high before the show even began. Fans spoke about the legendary album that came out over a decade ago, reminiscing about how they found out about the trio and wondering what Deltron 3030’s new music would sound like. I personally found out about Deltron through Tanner Hall’s pioneering ski segments (circa 2002) and found some fellow skiers in the crowd that night that were just as enthused as I was.
The ‘Deltron Orchestra’ came onto stage and sat modestly while the crowd roared with anticipation. This was followed by Kid Koala then by Dan the Automator (rockin’ tails) who kicked things off with an instrumental to get the crowd going. Then all of a sudden, like a lion out of a cage, Mr. Del the Funkee Homosapien graced the stage accompanied by Dan the Automator conducting the Deltron Orchestra.
They played the classics like ‘Mastermind’, ‘Things you can do’ and ‘Virus’ off the Deltron 3030 album. They played some new songs off of ‘Event II’ coming out in August. They even ended things off with ‘Clint Eastwood’ by Gorillaz, which I think was the highlight of the night since it caught everyone off guard. Apart from Del battling with the extreme volume of the orchestra on some songs, this was a show with no sad faces – all members of Deltron delivered and I predict that ‘Event II’ will be of epic proportions.
They continue their tour at ‘Rock the Bells‘ in San Bernadino, August 19th.
For more information visit: www.kidkoala.com
The kid who never left summer camp
It started off with an exciting interaction between musician and fan that you see little of these days; a guy who went into the crowd, shot streamers, played humorous videos and got the fans involved – In every single song. The over-involvement and camaraderie with fans brought me back to an awkward phase in my life; a time of dirt-staches, first hairs, under confidence, and no-reason-boners (NRB’s). Rich Aucoin brought me back to summer camp – circa 2001.
His motivational, ‘you-can-do-it’ attitude reminded me of the camp counsellor who eats, sleeps, and would even die for camp (if it came to it). The one who counts down the days in which he can once again take part in the mind-moulding process of young pre-teens. Not to say that Rich Aucoin didn’t have his songs but the show grew tiresome when every song consisted of the same crowd/chorus involvement and motivational slogans.
All things aside, the Halifax native is a promising musician with foot stompers like ‘It’ and ‘Push’ and the fans that liked him, loved him to death. I don’t think this will be the last you will hear of the CMW indie award winner and I am intrigued to see what he comes up with in the future.
For more information: www.richaucoin.ca
Usually when David Gray comes through the capital he plays at the intimate and high class venue known as the National Arts Centre. At the NAC people are accustomed to wearing fancy clothes, drinking expensive wine, sitting down while the musician plays and erupting into a unison of applause when the song finishes. Singing is frowned upon and dancing is strictly forbidden and punishable by death.
Last Friday marked the first time David Gray has not played at the NAC in Ottawa and the first time he’s ever played at Bluesfest. There was singing, there was dancing and there were a lot of first timers to the Englishman’s bobble-head style, but he was of no disappointment to them. He played songs from ‘White Ladder’, ‘Life in Slow Motion’, ‘Draw the Line’, and his newest album ‘Foundling’. At the end of the show the crowd shouted for an encore, but because of strict festival scheduling, the encore was not possible.
David finished off his tour in Shelburne, Vermont on Saturday and has no other tour dates planned yet.
For more information visit: www.davidgray.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
Label: Dead Oceans
Back with a second album of thoughtful new themes, Sun Airway’s Soft Fall, out October 2nd on Dead Oceans, takes us to an ethereal layer between worlds. The sonically inspiring sub-strata of Soft Fall began in songwriter/producer Jon Barthmus’ house in Philadelphia. Classical foundations were chopped, dissected, and sewn back together by a string quartet in one recording studio, with live instruments overdubbed in another, then re-edited and assembled back at home by Barthmus. David Wrench (Caribou, Bat for Lashes, Bear in Heaven) took it all to new heights with some masterful mixing.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Continuing their open-ended and forward-thinking music policy, the next release on OWSLA sees the label pull another left turn as they welcome veteran French DJ/producer collective Birdy Nam Nam to the fold. Vocals on two tracks are done by the legendary Teki Latex, head honcho of Sound Pellegrino and member of French electro/hip-hop outfit TTC. Across four albums and numerous EPs, the quartet made up of Crazy B, Pone, Need and Lil’ Mike have persevered in their efforts to push new sounds, epitomizing the label’s anything goes approach. The Jaded Future EP features three original productions from the crew as they use their hip hop background as a jumping off point to explore different refractions of their multi-faceted sound and comes backed with a varied array of remixes.
Title track ‘Jaded Future’ sees the group laying down thick synth waves over a skittering 808 southern-style beat, warping the melodies and vocals with trademark turntable manipulations to give the track its swing. The track gets handled by UK rap upstarts Foreign Beggars who re-wire the original, swapping verses dexterously over a low-slung instrumental, while thePelican Fly remix takes the stripped down rap fundamentals and reworks them into an amorphous club instrumental.
Up next ‘Goin’ In’ heads directly for the floor, ramping the energy with its jarring rhythm, descending synths and pitched-down vocals. Label head Skrillex turns in two remixes here (his first since the legendary Levelstake); his ‘Goin’ Down’ mix (the title being homage to Yung Joc’s 2007 trap classic) supercharges the original with siren-like synths, staccato snares and 808 bass while his ‘Goin’ Hard’ mix ups the tempo as he fires off a snarling drum & bass production with breaks, razor -sharp synths and rampant energy. The track also gets the remix treatment from fellow countryman and Clek Clek Boom main man French Frieswho reworks it into a deep and deadly percussive banger.
Rounding out the EP is ‘Cadillac Dreams’, a syrupy joint that pairs lush, expansive pads with screwed vocals. Culprate’s restless rework jumps from swinging rap to rapidfire breakcore percussion and back without ever losing its footing while A$AP Rocky collaborator Soufien 300 completes the package staying true to the spirit of the original while drawing it out into a languorous G-Funk haze.
Rating: 5/5 stars
No one could accuse Dirty Projectors leader David Longstreth of doing the same thing twice. Swing Lo Magellan is a poetic art-pop album, matching warm and personal music with outlandish intellectual ideas that is eclectic, without being esoteric. For a band constantly experimenting with their own sound, this album is no exception. More “beat-driven” and accessible than any Dirty Projectors previous albums, Longstreth has cited a slew of influences here, ranging from Nirvana, Lil Wayne, Michael Jackson, Neil Young, En Vogue, Blind Willie Johnson to classical composers Arnold Schoenberg and György Ligeti…and maybe even a little Dylan.
Listen : Dirty Projectors : Gun Has No Trigger (via SoundCloud)
Rating: 5/5 stars
If ’sleep is a welcome gadget’ for Canadian electro-pop duo Purity Ring, then Shrines is what pop dreams are made of. Together, Corin Roddick and Megan James blaze fearlessly into the future with clean pop melodies that conjure surreal dreamscapes of the arcane. Roddick lays out a dense ephemeral fog of sensual beats underscored by Megan James fearful and fragile voice, driven by corporeally obsessed lyrics that are appealing to both hip-hop and french house enthusiasts, alike. On Shrine, Purity Ring utilize technology to create a sound that is, surprisingly, the complete antithesis to the future – an album more about bodies, than computers.
Listen: Purity Ring : Ungirthed
Listen: Purity Ring : Lofticries
Listen: Purity Ring : Obedear
Listen: Purity Ring : Fineshrine
Rating: 4/5 stars
Bravestation may be the future of indie pop. The latest worldbeat torch bearers combine the ambient textures and spaced-out guitars of New Wave sheen with vibrant harmonies and tribal percussion to achieve a sound both immediately familiar and new…with mystery.
Back in 2010, the band released a self-recorded/produced EP, which i(heart)music called “one of the best albums of the year…occupying a space somewhere between The National and The Killers,” and The Toronto Star lauded for its “airy, sidewinding mini-epics”.
Equally acquainted with Foals and Fear of Music, this quirky “tribal pop” Toronto foursome have released their debut album – Giant’s & Dreamers. With ‘Giants & Dreamers’, Bravestation dive even deeper into their realm of sonic exploration and imagination. The song-writing and recording process began over a year ago, with each member capturing ideas in isolation on their home computers; the resulting demos shared in a communal online space for collective sculpting. An independent one month tour of the United Kingdom in June 2011, following an invitation to play the main stage at North-East England’s largest music festival, Evolution (alongside Iggy and The Stooges, Two Door Cinema Club & The Kills), provided a great opportunity to road test the new material in front of a foreign audience; before returning to Toronto to finish the album in basements, bedrooms and Canterbury Studio. This constantly shifting discourse led to the revisiting and reshaping of ideas over time which contributed to the new material’s unique complexity – adventurous artistry, filled with visions of fantasy and a future that struggles between dystopia and utopia.
The album, including recent singles ‘Western Thrills’, ‘Tides of the Summit’ and ‘Signs of the Civilized’, can be streamed on the band’s Bandcamp page. If you missed the videos for ‘Signs of the Civilized’ and ‘Western Thrills’, these can be seen on the band’s YouTube page.