V.24 No.48 | 11/26/2015
Process of Illumination: Photography by Minie
5 Star Motelles Stun
New record defines solid sound
By Geoffrey Plant
Is there anything scarier, more emasculating and generally terrifying than a bunch of chicks rocking the fuck out?
Sirius, Seven Bells and Silence
Reflections on formative experiences, new music
By Robin Babb
It’s not that SVIIB is my favorite band. It’s not that I thought Curtis was a musical prodigy. It’s because, back when I was in high school and just starting to cut my teeth as a writer with a local music blog, Benjamin Curtis was one of the first musicians I ever interviewed. And he was lovely.
Jennylee right on! · Tech N9ne Tech N9ne Collabos Strangeulation Vol. II · Love Reel to Real
Reviews of new music releases.
V.24 No.47 | 11/19/2015
Stevie Stone Rolls into the Launchpad
By Megan Reneau [ Tue Nov 24 2015 3:16 PM ]
Launchpad was graced with Yung Knowledge, YAK Boy Fresh, BINGX and Stevie Stone on Sunday, Nov. 22. Yung Knowledge officially began the show. The duo were exceptionally charismatic and engaging. Easily captivating the crowd, they initiated audience participation and used that as a flawless segue between songs. YAK Boy Fresh (Y.ou A.lready K.now) was backed by a band – atypical for his work – but they all had incredible chemistry. YAK Boy Fresh’s flow was effortless, rhythmic and rousing. BINGX was extraordinarily entertaining and receptive to audience members. His high energy was relentless and unmatched.
Stevie Stone took the stage after a short film showing him escaping from a mental institution looking like Hannibal Lecter. Working with DJ Picasso, he was commanding and powerful. Stone’s passion for his music was easy to see and feel. He wanted his fans at Launchpad to know he appreciated them. He performed songs primarily from Strangeulation Vol. II; the crowd was wild and reflected Stone’s enthusiasm. With all the excitement and energy he was putting into the show, Stone took small breaks at the beginning of some songs before jumping up and dancing through his set. He invited a few groups of people from the crowd to join him, his touring crew and the other musicians on stage. All who joined him were eager to do so.
Stevie Stone is an unpretentious performer with outstanding content and flow. He subtly harmonizes with the music. He can stay in tempo but change rhythms with ease. His voice is profound and authoritative. When he’s on stage, there’s no misidentifying the drive and expertise he exudes.
After the show, Stevie Stone stayed to interact with fans. While his music is aggressive and direct, Stone was very kind and gentle with his fans. I watched him talk with and take photos with at least 20 people before I left. When I talked to him he was thoughtful and was genuinely concerned that I enjoyed myself. I talked with a few of the other musicians at the show; they were the same way. I felt welcomed and very pleased to see them all.
I loved watching the crowd and their energy which reflected the performers. Being unfamiliar with all of these musicians and their work, I looked to the crowd for guidance. The group was enthusiastic, wild, blissful, and passionate. Everyone was happy to be there, perhaps most of all Stevie Stone.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a chilly rub.
Cashmere Cat wins over Burque
By Megan Reneau [ Mon Nov 23 2015 3:45 PM ]
As I settled into my cushioned corner and zipped up my jacket further in hopes of staying warm on a cold November night, Alxxs Garza started to play. The familiar green and purple lights of Stereo Bar illuminated the early patrons of the event. Alxxs played universally liked electro house, and had beautiful transitions as usual. The crowds in Stereo came and went as groups of friends passed through trying to get their last nicotine fix before retreating to El Rey to stay warm and listen to BK Beats and The 1960 Sci-Fi Era and eventually the headliner, Cashmere Cat.
Yielding to the cold, I retreated as well to the innards of El Rey and was greeted by the heavy beats and tender, uplifting chords that I associate with BK Beats’ live performances. The crowd in front of the stage was more condensed than the rest of the audience, but people were dancing all over. I went to the bar to get a beer, watching the social workings of the mass of fans from afar before diving in myself.
The venue slowly got more crowded as The 1960 Sci-Fi Era joined BK Beats on stage. The two work together seamlessly to create an intricate and energetic tropical/trap set. As more people joined the audience, more people started dancing. I figured I should make my way to the front of the crowd before it got too much for me. I followed the flow of the audience; ultimately arriving to the duo’s left. Not too long after that, their smooth and bubbly set was complete and the stage went dark.
After a few minutes of double checking that the tables were working, Cashmere Cat came onto the stage. The entire crowd applauded and cheered. He began his set with no introduction, as if he needed one, but it added to the atmosphere of humbleness that he radiated.
I’ve never seen so many people cat-themed; I think I’m going to call his fans Cutie Catz. I saw many cat-ear headbands, cat shirts, furry vests with hoods and rounded ears, and even a hooded Cheshire Cat onsie. The crowd reflected Cashmere’s lovable reserve. Distinctly different from most crowds I’ve dealt with at large venues, everyone was friendly and excited to share the experience.
I never thought I–not to mention a huge crowd of EDM and pop enthusiasts –could truly enjoy and get down to a playful vibraphone and harp synth drop. I suppose the springy beats and elastic vocals contribute; overall Cashmere’s style is gentle, which is truly an extension of him. While he may have not spoken to us, he was very active and engaging in other ways.
He was there to bring his followers joy, but not at the cost of his own. He was consistently more energetic than the crowd; when the crowd would recover after dancing to a particularly hard drop, he remained lively and bouncy. He only stopped dancing to focus on important transitions (which were flawless) and to throw kawaii peace signs at the audience.
Cashmere relied heavily on vocal samples, which makes sense, given that he’s worked with the music of some notable artists like Lana Del Rey and 2 Chainz (as remixes/edits), Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West and was a featured producer of Ariana Grande’s album My Everything. Unlike many DJs I’ve seen, Cashmere was able to truly weave the vocals through the music as transitions or as an instrument rather than for self-promotion or using them as a message to the youths in the crowd to get turnt. As a person, I found him adorable, and as a musician, I found him exceedingly excellent.
Cashmere created an environment of pure, innocent, romantic joy in his electronic dreamscape. His performance is the top tier of electronic shows. The entire crowd enjoyed the active and energetic set by Cashmere; I can only hope he enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed him.
Caleb Shomo is Beartooth
By Megan Reneau [ Thu Nov 19 2015 2:35 PM ]
Shane Told of Silverstein has created a podcast called Lead Singer Syndrome. The show is about lead singers in the alternative music scene and their life and struggles as told by themselves. The first episode is an interview with Caleb Shomo of Beartooth, formerly Attack! Attack!, and was recorded during Warped Tour 2015. As a huge fan of Beartooth, I was excited to listen to Shomo's first hand account of his career and the path he's taken.
Shomo started touring when he was 15 as a keyboardist with the band Attack! Attack!, eventually making his way to lead singer. I never was really into A!A! and after listening to the interview, I realize I wasn't the only one (it seems comparable to how people feel about Black Veil Brides, you love them or hate them). Shomo talks about the depression and ADHD that he dealt with prior to being a musician and those same health issues coupled with eating disorders and alcoholism that surfaced fully while working in A!A!
I found Shomo very relatable. While I may not be a professional musician, I'm also in my early 20s and have dealt with many of these things, too: depression, ADHD, eating disorders, alcoholism, being with people who aren't good for me, etc. And to hear one of my favorite musicians talk about their personal experiences and considering how that translates to their music is almost cathartic. I feel like I really connect to Beartooth on a deeper level than before.
I was surprised to learn that all the recording for Beartooth's album was done by Shomo. He wrote all the lyrics and recorded all the instruments for the album Sick. The four other members are featured for touring and live music in general. Beartooth has been astonishingly well received and for that all to be based on the experiences and the talent of one person is incredible. Sick comes straight from Shomo's heart and is his truth. While musing over being a highly metaphorical writer, Shomo says in his songs he alludes to his struggles with Attack! Attack! and his depression and suicidal thoughts that come from them. The day after he wrote the song "I Have a Problem" he quit A!A!
Most people that have listened to the album would assume that he wrote a lot about alcoholism and substance abuse issues, but that was all metaphorical, although he has dealt with alcoholism. He says it's easier for people to understand and accept that musicians deal with substance abuse issues rather than mental issues such as depression, which can be argued about most people with mental health issues.
The primary focus in this podcast is Shomo's journey with Attack! Attack! which Shomo hasn't spoken very much about, so it's very illuminating for folks that have been following him for the last seven years. Originally Shomo was the keyboardist and transitioned to guitar then to lead (clean and unclean) vocalist. After being signed to Rise Records via myspace, A!A! began recording their first album shortly after. Someday Came Suddenly, A!A!'s first recorded album after being signed, sold approximately 150,000 in the first year of sales which came as a huge surprise to most people considering the amount of criticism they received.
Told is an excellent interviewer, and is able to ask very perceptive questions because he's been an active musician for well over a decade. He's able to relate to his guest on a very personal level. Told is very astute and able to draw out some wonderfully insightful observations and stories. New episodes are released every Monday for the foreseeable future and I plan on listening to every single one.
The Daily Word in emojis, the flu and the future via Twitter
By Megan Reneau [ Thu Nov 19 2015 10:59 AM ]
Only a twitter bot can predict the future.
The suspected organizer of the terrorist attacks in Paris is reportedly killed.
A summation of anti-feminists to induce your daily rage.
Learn more about the history of lesbianism on the island of Nantucket.
Good Charlotte is back, thank Satan.
Morsels by Megan Foldenauer is deliciously lovely.
Where revenge porn and sex work intersect.
Take-out flu shots delivered by Uber? Alright.
The Year of the Weedrat
Band equals social justice, cats
By Maggie Grimason
“You came into my life/ and it became clear to me/ that you'd always be by my side.” “That song is about Ginger,” says guitarist and singer Becki Jones, gesturing to the petite tortoiseshell cat sleeping on the couch.
Pimentel & Sons
The Gift of Music
This year, it’s instrumental!
By August March
Fret not, for we have the perfect present for those with symphonic, soulful or other sweet-sounding inclinations.
Grimes Art Angels · Beliefs Leaper · East West Quintet Anthem
Reviews of new music releases.
V.24 No.46 | 11/12/2015
Diiv releases new single "Bent (Roi's Song)"
"Is the Is Are" comes out February 5, 2016
By Robin Babb [ Tue Nov 17 2015 12:20 PM ]
If you’re a Spotify user, you can now stream a new single from Diiv's upcoming album Is The Is Are, out in February of next year. The new track, released November 4, is called “Bent (Roi’s Song),” and it’s the second cut from the upcoming album they’ve released.
Diiv's 2012 album Oshin was good but ultimately didn’t blow me away. Filled with glittery, new wavey guitars and some very 80’s drum machine beats, it seemed to be more a tribute to the band’s sources of inspiration than an original work. They were reminiscing along with Yuck and Silversun Pickups, trying to master an old sound. With the two new singles released this year, it seems that they’ve gotten what they can from the old genre and are now building on it.
The first single, “Dopamine,” is a lovely teaser of the new direction that they seem to be heading in, with a distinctly shoegazey sound that I’m very into. They’ve jumped forward a decade and ditched the flat-sounding drum machines, buried the vocals down in the mix like true My Bloody Valentine followers, and have put their very tasty guitar licks front and center, where they belong. “Bent (Roi’s Song)” is in the same vein, clocking in at almost six minutes of fuzzy tremolo and muttered vocal melodies that ditch the soaked-in-reverbness of Oshin. It’s a wall of sound with a heart.
Both of the new tracks touch on frontman Zachary Cole Smith’s struggles with substance abuse and attempting to find a path to sobriety. 2013 saw him and Sky Ferreira (who’s featured on the upcoming album) arrested in New York for possession of illegal substances. “Dopamine” especially feels like a hazy, drug-induced stupor, with the repeated refrain of “I got so high I finally felt like myself,” and ending with a frightening question: “Would you give your 34th year/for a glimpse of heaven, now and here?” On the day of “Bent”’s release, Cole made a statement on the band’s Tumblr in which he said that “roi’s song is about a lot of people, including myself, and our struggles along the path to clarity, sanity, and sobriety.” On the track he details the day-to-day struggles of fighting addiction, singing: “Fought my mind to keep my life, but my body’s putting up a tougher fight.”
Thankfully, things seem to be taking an upward turn for Cole both personally and musically these days. You can stream “Bent” on Spotify or on YouTube, and you can get the new album Is the Is Are on February 5 from Captured Tracks.
Courtesy of the artist
Women, Concerts, Misogyny
Fans and the scene deserve better
By Robin Babb
There’s a reason that Kathleen Hanna used to shout “girls to the front!” at Bikini Kill concerts.
Christine and the Queens Christine and the Queens · Timmy's Organism Heartless Heathen · YACHT I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler
Reviews of new music releases.
V.24 No.45 | 11/05/2015
Courtesy of the artist
I don't understand Chairlift's new single "Ch-Ching" and I love it
Chairlift's new album "Moth" comes out in January
By Robin Babb [ Tue Nov 10 2015 2:12 PM ]
Occasionally I will get so hooked on a new song that I can’t listen to anything else for a while: I just play it on repeat until I’m absolutely sick of it. I haven’t quite gotten sick of Chairlift’s new single, “Ch-Ching” yet, but it’s for sure that everyone around me is sick of me talking about how damn good it is.
If Chairlift hasn’t been on your indie band radar for a while already, it’s time you change that. Last year I saw them perform at Alcatraz. Yeah, like, the old prison. It was an uncomfortably swanky private show where most of the patrons were several decades older than the band and had no idea who they were. I table-surfed a couple glasses of wine, was side-eyed by the staff, and was one of three people who actually applauded after each song.
Chairlift makes smart synthpop gems that get stuck in your head frighteningly easily, like their hit from 2012 “Bruises” that got more airplay than anything else they’ve done. Since that 2012 album Something, Chairlift hasn’t released any new music as a group — although singer Caroline Polachek released a solo album as Ramona Lisa last year, and bassist/
“Ch-Ching” is catchy as all hell, with a more lush sound than their previously stripped-down and simple recordings. There’s more samples and more synth textures going on, and Polachek’s voice is more vocoded than I’ve ever heard it (which is still not much, but noticeable after the almost total lack of vocal effects in their past work). But there are some definite similarities with their past work when it comes to the lyrics: as with many of their tracks, it’s really hard to tell what “Ch-Ching” is about. And I love that. The chorus alone is equal parts sexy and totally mysterious: “Getting what you want can be dangerous/But that’s the only way I want it to be/I double dare you to keep a secret/And pass it back under the table to me/I put the stash in the bookshelf/Open your mouth and I’ll slip you the key/Now crack that combination/
Chairlift’s new album Moth comes out in January of next year.
By Rini Grammer [ Thu Nov 5 2015 2:29 PM ]
The Hotline Bling music video from Drake has a lot of people losing their shit. Everyone is making fun of Drake for how he dances, but personally, I love it. I think it's totally great when people are, like, fully and unabashedly themselves, you know? The video has inspired lots of new memes and weird videos, which are my favorite things about life (obviously things are going great for me). So I've collected my favorite videos and memes, plus the original, too! So yeah, here's my list. Suck it, nerds!
Drake on me (please):
Drake the Pokémon Master:
Tina Beltcher is always ready:
Drizzy has always been in Twin Peaks.
For Avatar fans.
And for 2003 Runescape fans!
Finally, my personal fave: Ready to rave?
Annual Winter Solstice Concert at First United Methodist Church
Bach Violin Concerto in A minor, Cantata BWV 151, a selection of beautiful Renaissance motets of the season and recent music from Irsee Monastery in Bavaria.
The Steve Maase Project • blues, rock at Molly's Bar
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