Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Masthead: Editor in Chief Senior Editor Art Editor Music Editor Web Editor Chief Copy Editor Creative Director Art Dept.
Crystal Vinson Devin Shallop Christina Youmans Mitchell Davis Haniya Rae Amanda Hausauer Matthew Scheiderer Haniya Rae
Christine Bettis, Gina Tron
Contributors: Abby Ronner, Alaina Latham, Alison Kjeldgaard, Andy Oâ€™Connor, Anthony Venditto, Catherine Nguyen, Crystal Vinson, David Carter, Elizabeth Price, Falene Nurse, Hannah Palmer-Egan, Jed Heneberry, Jimmy Doom, Justin Stillmaker, Kevin Adams, Kim Kunoff, Kristi Waterworth, Lindsey Lowe, Merideth Webb, Miles Robinson, Missy Wiggins, Mitchell Davis, Molly Horan, Sid Cocain, Tara McEvoy, Trevor Stonehouse, Whitney Meers Pork & Mead Issue 2, Nov/Dec 2011, is published bi-monthly. Letters/Submissions Send all unsolicited material to: Pork & Mead 439 Selden St. #302 Detroit, MI 48201 Copyright 2011 All material contained within Pork & Mead as well as the porkandmead.com website are ÂŠ 2011 Pork & Mead Magazine and cannot be reproduced in any way without the expressed written consent of the Publisher of Pork & Mead Magazine. As ever Opinions expressed are those of their respective authors, not necessarily those of Pork & Mead
40 Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
24 features 24 30 32
| Mogwai | Breathe Carolina | Van Hunt
| Brevity is the New Longevity
| We Asked...
Nov. - Dec. 2011
30 32 8 small features 34 35 36 37 38
| | | | |
Army Navy Beni Brad Sucks Casiokids The Field Notes
39 40 41 42 43
editorials 10 44
| | | | |
The Gift Lanterns on the Lake Leiland Sundries Portugal.The Man The Static Jacks
| The Gift That Keeps on Giving and Giving and Givingâ€Ś | Nostalgia vs. Progression Nov. - Dec. 2011
Brevity is the
g n i d l u o G e i l l E
new longevity Ladies Night Edition Words | Christine Bettis
One-dimensionally doomed until further notice
Ever since I laid eyes on Feist’s third album, The Reminder, I knew we were soul mates. I wear my hair in a bun too, Feist! What she doesn’t keep pent up in her tightly wound bun, she sets free in her music with class and poetic finesse. Minus the fact that I can’t tell her apart from Charlotte Gainsbourg, I think she’s a true original. Her latest album, Metals, was released in October. Unfortunately, I think this album tarnished more than it shimmered. Metals’ “Caught a Long Wind” sounds too much like The Reminder’s “Water” and that trend is consistent throughout the album. Metals is essentially The Reminder, rusted. It’s like Feist left The Reminder out in the rain for the last four years and re-released it under a different name.
j a n i M i k Nic
U n B r i dLeD
Occupy Nicki Minaj’s Album Sales There are a lot of things about Nicki Minaj that I like. I think it’s great that she blatantly stole Katy Perry’s style. Minaj put an edgy spin on it, and continues to rock it better than that stale sprinkle of a pop star. Also, I like to memorize Minaj’s raps and casually recite them for friends; it makes me feel like a bad ass. Her alter egos? They’re clever and crazy…the kind of crazy that rings my bell. However, I have a real problem with her and a few other mainstream rappers (cough KANYE WEST cough) constantly bragging about how much money they make. So, Nicki, you make 50k per verse? Your “money’s so tall that your body’s gotta climb it”? Jeez, that sounds tiring. I guess she won’t mind if I download her album for free. All of you fine people should follow suit.
Electropop singer song-writer Ellie Goulding gained a lot of attention last spring when she performed a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” at the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Royalty never has been synonymous with good taste. This “starry-eyed” chick does nothing for me. I was forced to see Goulding live, and her performance was considerably flat. She had no stage presence, asked the audience how we were doing at least five times, and sang more covers than originals. The most exciting thing she did during the show was a costume change. Who compared this woman to Bjork? For shame. They live in two different worlds. Bjork lives in a swirling mass of creative energy and Ellie on a grey, cratered moon. Ellie is a runner, and she has been known to run with her fans during down time. That’s all well and good…in fact, I think she should stick to running, and not make anymore music.
Adele is an important figure in pop music history because she has brought soul to the genre. Her album 21 is a heartbroken breath taker, and it has been gracing the sometimes vapid radio waves with its strong presence since early 2011. Unfortunately, Adele is probably going to be single for the rest of her life. Any guy flirting with the idea of dating her is going to be scared away by the possibility of their break-up, and the fiery wrath of an album that she’ll record because of it. The good news is that she has been making decent music since before the heartbreak. 21 was her fame rocket, but 21 wasn’t that much better than 19. I have high hopes for 23, and even higher hopes for a possible quarter life crisis with 25. Nov. - Dec. 2011
This woman is an extremely respectable musician; a mastermind of her craft. She’s like a mad scientist on stage, flitting from one instrument to the next at an impressive speed. Garbus does not miss a beat; it’s obvious that she spends a lot of time rehearsing. That being said, what she produces in the studio is close to perfection. Her first album, BiRd-BrAiNs, is a mellow collection that will feed the peace dove in your soul. She took it up a few notches with w h o k i l l, her sophomore effort, which will jolt your senses with horns and lure you onto your feet with drums. Both albums are eclectic to the core. Garbus has cited a wide range of influences, from Michael Jackson, to Phish, to Cindy Lauper. Perhaps that’s why her music is so refreshing; she doesn’t limit her influences to an elitist circle of musicians.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
s p e e K t a h T t f i G g e h n i T v i G d n a g n i v i G on â€Ś g n i v i G d an ditto
Ven y n o h t n A ds |
Nov. - Dec. 2011
his is by far my most favoritest time of year. The air is crisp, fall network television has mellowed my mind into a malleable mush, and I get to finally bust out my pre- Nirvana 12 hole Docs (my fancy fiancée refers to them as my pansy red booties, but I suspect she’s just jealous). As the New Year approaches the helpful romantic in me gets to participate in its twin passions: Gift giving and the singing of cheesy yuletide carols. Ya see- I delight in the plotting, planning, shopping, wrapping and presenting of presents to those I cherish. It’s fun for me, it’s a treat for them and it’s good for the economy. In short- I am everything that is good and true about America. Then there is my unbridled enthusiasm for Christmas songs. Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman… These timeless classics ignite a primal joy deep in my man belly that kindles a spark of kindness and affection for all of humanity that is both exhaustingly charming and obnoxiously annoying to those in my immediate vicinity.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Even as a starry eyed youth deep in the irony heavy New Jersey suburbs, the holiday season brought out the sincere best in me. Sure, I was an obnoxious rolly polly little schnook; but dammit! I was spreading the spirit of Christmas! I was spreading Peace on Earth and goodwill to all. Then and now, those words truly mean something to me.
Partridge in a pear tree, yup that’s Jesus; those 2 turtle doves refer to the Old and New Testaments of the bible; three French hens stand for faith, hope and love; 4 calling birds are the 4 gospels in the New Testament; 5 gold rings is the Torah (sup Judaism!); 6 geese a laying are the 6 days of creation; 7 swans a swimmin’- the 7 sacraments; 8 maids a milking are of course the 8 Beatitudes; 9 ladies dancing are for the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit; those 10 lords a leaping, you guessed it- the 10 commandments; 11 pipers piping are the 11 faithful apostles (suck it Judas); finally 12 drummers drumming represent the 12 points of the Apostle’s Creed, not to be mistaken for Apollo Creed from Rocky. Yes, that is a Carl Weathers reference, you’re welcome.
dated with Partridge Family fan sites. Just sayin’. Anyhoo: There are sites out there that will sell you a live partridge, however here in the northeast region of the U.S.A all we’re gonna get is a Chukar Partridge. The Chukar is more like a glorified hen then anything so I passed on his ass. Instead I went straight to Dartagnan.com.
I spent 12 years in catholic school, sang for 8 years in a church choir and up until this day I never even had a whiff of this shit. It’s like hearing “Lola” your whole life and then wak-
They also source their birds from Northern Scotland, and according to their website the birds are all acquired thru, “weekend estate hunts organized exclusively for D’artagnan.”
ing up and realizing one day, ‘wait a minuteRay Davies is singing about a tranny’. Yes, I know I’m a moron. And yes, I’m okay with that.
I don’t know why, but that turns me on. Another fun fact from their website: “Game meat may occasionally contain shot.” That is badass.
Okay, so now that I had a grip on the lyrics it was time to get this party started. I quickly realized the list is heavily laden with exotic birds. Gravy. Then, after minutes of exhausting research (yeah, I tire quickly) I came to learn that this is a decidedly Medieval English The 12 Days of Christmas. So simple, so mem- song, which means that the birds are to be orable… so perfect. That’s when it hit me. In a presented as gastronomical delicacies- not as bleary eyed nog fog I decided to see if I could pets (which is how I always assumed it to be) make the 12 Days of Christmas become a real- for your loved one to cuddle. Great, my favority for my fiancée, the most wonderful woman ite Christmas carol is all about cooking archain the whole wide world. What follows is an ic fowl dishes. Another little tidbit they left account of my research and attempt to make out when brainwashing us in grade school. this fabulous dream a reality. SPOILER ALERT! - I fail spectacularly, but the Armed with this knowledge and my signature planning process was a blast! cock- eyed optimism I began my quest.
The best part is the price. For around $25 you can have this tasty bird delivered to your stoop, fresh, in less than a week.
They stand for a mindset that I fear is lost in this modern age of self entitlement. I’m talk12 ing about a mindset of putting the needs of 13 others first, of making actual eye contact and smiling to strangers on the street (without having them glare at you like you’re a pederast), a mindset of willingly seeking out your neighbors rather than hiding from them and mocking their dumbass kids behind their backs. It’s a simple and beautiful way to look at the world and when I hear and sing Christmas carols I am instantly transported to that mindset.
There is one song in particular that captures the spirit of what I’m trying so hard to convey here. That song, of course, is the 12 Days of Christmas. Is there any other carol that so perfectly encapsulates the deliciousness of the season? I humbly submit that there is NOT! I’ve loved that ditty ever since I was a wee lad, filled with piss and vinegar (amongst other consumables).
These magnificent bastards specialize in “Delivering the world’s finest natural and organic meats to 4 star chefs and home gourmets”. Nice, right. D’artagnan sells a whole (8 to 10 oz) red legged partridge. This is an important distinction, for the red legged partridge is widely considered to be the bird sung about in the carol.
Two Turtle Doves I couldn’t find anybody to sell me live European Turtle doves. I had a few bird purveyors tell me it would be illegal for them to even talk to me about buying them. So I did what anybody would: I put up an ad on Craigslist. Long story short- no live turtle doves, but a shit ton of explicit sexual offers.
So here’s what I did: You ever see Home Alone 2? Shut up, you know you did. Remember that scene where young Kevin gives the Now, in order to make the song a reality, I real- A Partridge in a Pear Tree homeless lady in Central Park one of the turtle ized I had to first have a profound understanddove ornaments from Duncan’s Toy Chest? ing of the lyrics. Something you would think Easy enough. The pear tree is almost a gim- Well, some mad genius has reproduced them a caroling connoisseur such as myself would mee. The coolest deal I found was from aar- and offers them for sale at thepinkflamingo. possess. Turns out: not so much. The titular onsfarm.com. They don’t offer the best deal, com. They actually advertise the fact that they 12 Days refer to the 12 Days after Christmas but if you’re gonna go all out on 12 days of are the same doves produced for the film. $25 (Thank you Wikipedia. Mad Respect!) With gifts- do you really want to start cutting cor- including shipping and handling- not too the last day landing on January 6th which is ners with the first one? I thought not. shabby. the eve of the epiphany. The epiphany is the day that the 3 wise men stumbled into a sta- So… aaronsfarm.com offers like 6 varieties Three French Hens ble in the dusty town of Bethlehem to meet a of pear trees. I chose the Columbus Red. It’s cheeky new born Christ child. festive, it’s hearty and in our NYC climate it I called up the lovely people at mypetchicken. will grow like gangbusters. They’ve got an $80 com to score me some hens. I wanted French As you’ve probably guessed by now the song minimum, so I went for the 6- 7 foot tall tree. hens and they laughed at me. Then they gave is steeped balls deep in the Roman Catholic It cost a cool $94.95 with standard shipping. me some options. I could buy 3 full grown Church. Furthermore, each day and gift in hens from them for about $200, or I could buy the song is believed to be an artistic allusion The Partridge. Here’s a fun fact: Google how 3 newborn chicks for a cool $3.50 a head. to something religiousy. Check it: to buy a live partridge and you will be inun- “But how will I know they’re hens?” I asked.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
And thank God I did. Turns out these folks are the only people in the country that employ a man to sex the chicks on the day they are born. Apparently, this is a skill that this particular gentleman has developed over a lifetime of working with baby chickens. I was told what he does is more of, “an art than a science”. Well that just tickled me pink. I went for the chicks, which when you include the shipping- cost around $48. Four Calling Birds There ain’t no such thing as a calling bird. They’re actually “colly birds”- but good old fashioned American lazy ignorance changed the European lyric to something our brain and tongues could understand. A colly bird is also known as a blackbird. Having learned that hip fact, I went in search of a blackbird pie recipe. Turns out, blackbird pie is merely a gamey pot pie. Every single recipe recommended I use chicken or turkey for the bird as pretty much nobody in their right mind sells blackbirds in this country. Rather than get my hands dirty I plan to go to Pies N’ Thighs in Williamsburg. I generally try to avoid that part of Brooklyn as I am allergic to skinny jeans, but this joint serves a chicken potpie that will leave a smile in your pants ($7). Also, if you go for breakfast: try the hippie banjo. Trust me. Five Golden Rings This one is super easy. I simply take my lady to the always happenin’ Staten Island Mall. Once there, we go to visit the Piercing Pagoda, that bastion of teenaged ear piercing. I will then buy her five golden hoop earrings and regale her with the tale of how when I was 14 I went to that very same mall kiosk to get my ear pierced. I am a catch. (about $100) Six Geese- a- Laying There was no way in hell I was buying 6 pregnant geese, so here’s where I get a little creative. Anybody out there familiar with the term eggeury? Yeah, me neither. And guess what else? You won’t find a definition for it on dictionary.com. However, if you visit roastgoose.com you’ll learn (like I did) that eggeury is the art of using eggs to make art. Go fig.
$14, so our grand total from roastgoose.com: Twelve Drummers Drumming $104 I blaze up some Jiffy Pop, grab my lady, grab Seven Swans- a- Swimmin’ the DVD player and slip in that seminal Nick Cannon classic… Drumline! BOOM!!! $1.29 I spoke with Phil from Phil’s Animal Rentals for the Jiffy. And we can put this project to (philsanimalrentals.com) and he was com- bed. pletely unamused and uninterested in what I wanted his swans for. On a personal note: The Math While I respect his professionalism I found his stoic nature a mite disturbing. Grand Total for Holiday Magic: $5,395.24. Phil’s swans are high quality trained birds, but they don’t come cheap. Also, you have to rent Without the swan entourage and the bagpipthem by the pair (“like bowling shoes, HA!” I ers: $725.24 said to Phil. He did not care for my humor.) The swans go for $500 a pair, plus $300 for January 6th Epiphany Sex: Priceless. feed and transportation. I’d also have to hire 2 trainers (Phil said by the way I sound I might The Wrap Up need 3. I think that was his attempt at a joke.) The trainers go for $45 an hour each; with an So that was my grand plan to pitch woo to my 8 hour commitment. That’s $720 just for the woman like no woman has ever been pitched trainers! Day 7 grand total-- $3020. It was woo to before by her man. There were only about here when I realized this whole venture 2 things that prevented the execution of this was doomed to failure due to my poverty. sweetest of seasonal strategies: My lack of funds and my legendary laziness. But that Eight Maids- a- Milking doesn’t mean you crazy kids out there can’t plan your own Holiday Specialness. Just ReOkay, I live in Brooklyn so renting 8 cows and member, no matter what your religious affiliawenches to milk them is out of the question. tion or stance on gift giving- The solstice is the With livestock not a viable option I tried to reason for the season. find 8 wet nurses (note- wetnurse.net is a total porn site). I figured the maids- a milkin’ could stand around and lactate while the lady and I watch Gossip Girl. She’d dig that. I contacted 3 wet nurses. They all hung up on me. So, I figured… Titty Bar. Lace in Times Square offers ½ price drinks and no cover charge in the afternoons. Plus it’s right around the corner from where my lady works. Tips for 8 dancers to shake their boobies at the love of my life: $160, two ½ priced beers at Lace: $20Total cost for day 8… $180 Nine Ladies Dancing Just add another stripper to the Maids- a Milkin’ meat train! $20 Ten Lords- a- Leaping
This is by the far the easiest on the list for me as I am friends with a veritable cornucopia of gay gentlemen. For the price of a round of drinks I can gather the boys together to perform an artistic Gaylord leap for my lady, after Anyhoo, the good people at Shlitz Farms (love wich we can all watch Gossip Girl. Everybody the name, boys) offer decorative geese eggs wins! Cosmos for me and the boys…$120 in five different sizes! I’m a sport so I figure to spring for the Jumbo eggs. A case of 9 real Eleven Pipers Piping life Jumbo sized drained goose eggs goes for around $90. If you are in need of pipers piping then you need to visit bagpiper.com. It’s a one stop Roastgoose.com isn’t just for geese eggs; it’s shop for all things bagpipery. The bagpipers I all about using the entire goose. And those saw listed were all solo acts. There ARE Celtic Shlitz Farms kids offer a ton of goose prod- Bands out there, but they include vocalists ucts. I’m gonna get my sweet lady 6 pounds of and percussionists. I don’t need those chuckrendered goose fat! “Excellent for frying po- leheads… So, 11 individual pipers at about tatoes, making Pfefferneusse, and many other $150 a pop… $1650. Cheaper than the swans, traditional holiday favorites.” A tub goes for but still…
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
What's your song of the moment?
images by: Devin Shallop Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Ansel | Tree Party Words | Falene Nurse 4.5/5 Ansel is reminiscent of 90's indie-rock, feel-good-outfit Jellyfish and their electronica spinoff Moog Cookbook, which strangely makes their sound refreshing and unique, in the forced grittiness of today's indie pop. Front man and former Berkley School of Music alum, Evan Clayton, leads the band. It's a rare feat these days to incorporate mandolin, melody horn and analog organ into an album without it sounding like mishmash. Ansel manages to do just that effortlessly with sophomore album "Tree Party", a remarkably textured production with catchy melodies, carnival like characters and psychedelic influences. Starting with the jaunty "Vanity Fairground" that bounces along merrily, with harmonies and guitar riffs that swirl faster than drunken teens on the waltzers. From that track of youthful abandonment to moments of unbridled joy with "Simpleton Chambers", as well as lyrics of punch drunk love, loss and melancholy found in "Fades on Round" - it's clear intelligent compositions are an integral part to Ansel's sound. As evident by the instrumental "Steamboat Saloon" that captures a sense of a dizzy lament without uttering a single word. My personal favorite "Dew Light" uses Evan's naturally warbled singing style to full effect, at times sounding like Rufus Wainwright's slightly more cheerful younger brother. Hopefully, the cynical and apathetic digital generation will embrace an album with genuine heartfelt lyrics and whimsy. I know I did - and I think it no coincidence that I particularly enjoyed "Tree Party" whilst drinking pints at the local fair.
Girls | Father, Son, Holy Ghost Words | Gina Tron 4/5 It is extraordinarily rare that I fall in love with in album upon first listen, but this album is extraordinary rare. The third album of Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost is holy indeed. It has borrowed sounds from an array of genres past, creating sounds that are original yet dripping with familiarity. The tunes are ultra catchy, and contain authentic and intelligent lyrics. Singer and songwriter Christopher Owens has done a fantastic job of channeling his torturous past into some great pieces; this lanky little fella sure has a lot of soul. Christopher was once raised in the cult, Children of God, which gives the title of the album that much more gravity. Despite his controversial past, Christopher sings primarily about more common themes, such as lost love. His song entitled Jamie Marie is one of an apologetic nature, his regrets bursting out of the chords. Perhaps Jamie Marie is the same girl whom he is referencing in “Honey Bunny,”, “a song about meaningless hookups, and a nostalgia for the girl who possessed substance. “...She really loved me, even when I was bad,” This song has a wonderful beachy sound, with one of the riffs sounding straight out of “Wipe Out.” The overall feel is ever so sixties, and the song is as fun as it is sad. “Love Like A River” is also quite sixties, invoking The Beatles “Oh, Darlin!” with a comparable amount of depth and dynamics. This album is definitely one of the most unique out there right now, one that earns a bit of worshiping.
Deer Tick | Divine Providence Words | Lindsey Lowe 2.5/5 Let’s just say that Deer Tick’s latest release, Divine Providence, gets off to an okay start with track one, “The Bump.” This upbeat, rock and roll song is somewhat catchy employing scratchy, rough around the edges vocals and a simple, sort of minimalist approach. Sadly the majority of the record is pretty much a miss. The rawness of the vocals is hastily exchanged for complainy wah-wah lyrics and tonality several tracks in. “Clownin Around” is perhaps the worst, with bits like “I take cover behind my white face paint while I battle my bitter father’s ghost.” Get over it. Subpar lyrics can sometimes be excused if other elements are sufficient enough to buoy up the record, but such is not the case with this one. Track three, “Let’s All Go to the Bar,” seemed like Deer Tick’s attempt at getting a little punky with it, but a blind stab it was. This song comes off as a sad knockoff of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” with irritatingly juvenile lyrics like “I don’t care if you puke in my ride / Let’s all go to the bar.” I mean, really? Can we say college bar-scene jams? Another complaint I have about this record is its overall lack of cohesion. Genre-wise, it’s pretty haphazardly constructed with some punk undertones in the first couple of tracks, then folky sounding ones in the middle, rounding things off with an unmistakably alt country tune, “Miss K.” I’ll admit that for me, “Miss K” is a bit of a hidden gem amidst the tripe. Though the lyrics are still trite, this song is almost charming for whatever reason; however, despite this arbitrary pearl, the record’s not really a winner. Nov. - Dec. 2011
REVIEWS Apteka | Gargoyle Days Words | Merideth Webb
3 /5 1/2
Apteka’s old school rock sound laden with overtones of early 90’s grunge and heavy riffs makes for a heady album full of great loops and samples and stimulating vocals. The Chicago 4 piece’s latest offering features nice heavy overtones akin to that of Stone Temple Pilots or Janes Addiction. Droney riffs and tribal drum beats on tracks ‘Gargoyle Days’ and ‘We Know Time’ certainly do melt the face as intended, but stand out track is certainly 18 ‘Striking Violet’ with its swing style drums and great 19 punk sound.
Butcher the Bar | For Each a Future Tethered
The Fruit Bats | Tripper
Words | Catherine Nguyen
Tripper, the Fruit Bats’ fifth full-length record, is indie music that is tangibly rooted in classic rock. With heady, spatial sounding instrumentation and an abundance of lyrical storytelling, these songs would jive well on a stoner’s playlist sandwiched between the Grateful Dead and Neil Young. Unfortunately, the album lacks intrigue. Although front man, Eric Johnson, has a voice I can appreciate, the stories this album weaves get lost in the muck. The left-field release is mildly reminiscent of music by the Shins only significantly less catchy. Layered vocals and driving percussion make track 7, “Dolly,” easily the most enjoyable ditty this album offers, although I’d say all in all, Tripper is pretty hum-drum.
King Dude, the pagan goth-folk outfit of T.J. Cowgill, is different from anything mainstream music is currently offering. Love is an introspective album with a wide, echoing sound, exploring themes of love and death. Emphasis is less on lyrics and more on the atmospheric sound, and Cowgill’s deep, haunting vocals can get lost at times in the reverb. Gems include “Big Blue Eyes” and the deceptively upbeat “Spiders in Her Hair,” reminiscent of the sound of Johnny Cash. Though it might come off a little strange at first, Love has a lot to offer and will resonate in both touching and terrifying ways.
2 /5 1/2
Words | Kevin Adams
3 /5 1/2
With his sophomore release, For Each a Future Tethered, Joel Nicholson, aka Butcher the Bar, invites a grasp for the familiar. Several tracks resemble a dusty B-side of Elliot Smith. Although he may be tethered to his predecessors, he moves forward. Teetering between the melancholy and the melodic, this 11 track indiepop album is softly whispered lyrics over folksy finger picking with flights of banjos, brass, and handclap arrangements. His plot to “conquer ears, in dives, all over Europe + The World” may not yet be attained, but he is certainly welcomed over for tea!
Carter Tanton | Freeclouds Words | Missy Wiggins
King Dude – Love LP
Words | Lindsey Lowe
High Places | Original Colors Words | Andy O’Connor
On LA chill-poppers High Places’ fourth record, Original Colors, further build on their mix of dubstep and mezzo-soprano vocals. Beats serve a propelling purpose much like dubstep, but High Places manipulate this into songs more relaxing than danceable. A strong example is “Banksia,” bolstered by a bouncy, muted baseline. “Twenty Seven,” the shortest but also the most drifting track, sounds dug up from a lost Julee Cruise session. These songs could benefit from some friction, but the duo has a knack for smooth composition. If Burial is too fuzzy for you, this album might just be your thing.
Korallreven | An Album by Korallreven Words | Jed Heneberry
3/5 Inspired a trip to Samoa, An Album by Korallreven, by—who else— Korallreven, is a collection of dreamy electronic soundscapes that build from minimalist programmed drumbeats and synth punches to a swath of electronic textures and vocal harmonies. Johnny Thunder and Billy Typhoon (also of The Radio Department) use glimmers of natural noise, warm voices, and organic drums to allow the songs room to breathe, and while things occasionally veer too close to ambient noise, songs like “Honey Mine,” with its electrolounge vibe, and “As Young As Yesterday,” which has been remixed by Panda Bear, provide welcome entry points.
Carter Tanton, formerly of the group Tulsa, has released his solo album Freeclouds. This album is a Bowie inspired narrative that urges a dream state throughout as it wanders from thick, layered strings with a subtle twang in the opening song ‘Murderous Joy’ to tremulous ambience with song seven, ‘In Knots’. Tanton’s lovely tenor seduces throughout with subtle and understated intricacy that can break your heart, or feel the warmth of a summer sun like in the song ‘Pasture Sound’. The album is no doubt a full and round journey, displaying his ability to adapt different sounds, but is slightly wanting of cohesiveness.
ces High Pla
Nov. - Dec. 2011
My Brightest Diamond | All Things PYYRAMIDS | Human Beings Words | Kristi Waterworth Unwind
Whiskey Avengers | Dead Man Rockin’
Words | Gina Tron
Words | David Carter
4 /5 1/2
“All Things Unwind” may not be a diamond but it is a nice little indie gem. The album is chock full of folksy goodness with rich glittery instrument combos and moderately dark undertones. Shara Worden gets a bit political in songs like “We Added It Up,” which is sure to please what I am sure is her main audience: NPR aficionados. “There’s a Rat” almost prompted me to hurl out the cheese I consumed this morning, as Shara’s exaggerated yelping and overly playful lyrics seemed, well, pretty fucking cheesy. But for the most part, her album is a pleasant little trip of solid sounds, led by her distinctive vocals.
If the 10-inch vinyl offering wasn’t enough reason to buy PYYRAMIDS debut EP, “Human Beings,” the dark velvety voice of singer Drea Smith should be. Her deep jazzy vocals drip lazily across this album from the start of the single “That Ain’t Right” to the end of the DMX Remix of “Human Beings.” It feels more like a delicious sweater-covered autumn evening in a coffee shop than a studio EP. So drink a hot cup of horchata and wear your fuzziest sweater while you listen to this beautiful collaboration between Drea Smith and OK Go’s Tim Nordwind.
Real Estate | Days Words | Gina Tron
People Get Ready | Eponymous EP 4/5 People get ready to be confused if you expect this record to be some sort of homage to, or even a modernized version of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. However, the impression that this band is relentlessly derivative of dozens of other acts doesn’t cease during this forgettable four-songer. The brief flashes of any song construction that might pique one’s interest are almost immediately abandoned for a return to what’s obviously comfortable for PGR: a gaze haze, layers of fuzz, and gimmicky percussion. There are glimpses of vintage Tom Tom Club, probably courtesy of guitarist Steven Rekar, who tours with David Byrne, but not nearly enough to have fans of Weymouth and Frantz purchase this pabulum. If I could recommend People Get Ready to anyone, it would be to a 13 year old girls who missed out on The Jesus and Mary Chain, but that’s probably an unfair indictment of both that band and 13-year-old girls.
Seemingly in homage to 90’s ska, Bay Area’s Sublime-inally inspired Whiskey Avengers have released their third full-length album, Dead Man Rockin’. Electric-organ fueled reggae spews out of every track, pulsing on the upbeats and occasionally giving way to a walking bass and guitar solo. The melodic duties often fall on Stefan Meissner’s vocals, which he handles effortlessly. Void of any identifying voice, Avengers simply keep carrying the torch of ska, despite the fact that the flame went out years ago. But if cathartic rocksteady is what ails your hungover holiday doldrums, pick up the Avengers’ latest to revitalize and rock.
Youth Lagoon | Year of Hibernation
Words | Jimmy Doom
The first track of Days is entitled Easy, and that’s just how this album is to the ears. It’s easygoing and dreamlike yet fails to be boring. The songs are as simplistic as they complicated: often the lyrics search for meaning in trivial things. Real Estate has developed a distinct whimsical sound, bearing a cross between Animal Collective and alternative rock of the mid 1990s. Their closing track is a breezy beautiful example of that, sure to put you in heaven for its seven minute duration. Despite envisioning this album being played at Hollister, it is definitely worth investing in this piece of Real Estate.
Words | Miles Robinson
3 /5 1/2
If you were to think indie breakout Youth Lagoon’s new pastoral full-length was a bedroom recording, you’d be forgiven. Trevor Power’s ethereal solo project initially started that way, but the ensuing record’s imperfections were intentional stylistic choices; the vocals are doused noticeably in reverb and distortion, the electric keys bleed overtones, permeating the whole mix. This sober texture is led along gracefully by Power’s nostalgic falsetto, then bursts dramatically into hopeful refrains, punctuated by mucronate guitars and synthesized drums, which usually make a curt departure not long afterwards. As exercises in emotional buildups, “Seventeen”, “Posters” and “July” stand out, while others are too static to remember.
Yukon Blonde | Fire//Water Words | Abby Ronner
After a name change from the flinch-inducing Alphababy, Canadian quaternion, Yukon Blonde, introduces a name they’re proud of to the indie music scene. Their EP, Fire // Water, combines the harmonies of Fleet Foxes with a rock and roll edge of their own. The first half of this bewitching EP announces itself with a fiery folk beat that transforms in the second half to powerful wave after wave of soft, somber passion in a Band of Horses’ style that carries you through to the end. Though I can’t say their sound is unique, I can say it’s well worth a listen.
Yukon Blond e
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Mogwai Van Hunt Breathe Carolina 22 23
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Army Navy Beni Brad Sucks Casiokids The Field Notes The Gift Lanterns on the Lake Leiland Sundries Portugal. The Man The Static Jacks
Nov. - Dec. 2011
MOGWAI 24 25
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Words | Andy Oâ€™Connor
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
very generation is equipped with its own segment of doomsayers decrying that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. Whether for political or spiritual reasons, the end always seems to be approaching us, threatening out livelihoods. The specifics have changed – the “world” certainly feels much larger, the stakes might be higher, and that hand-basket might now be a reusable grocery store bag. Greece has been the source of considerable turmoil in recent months, with some speculating that the country's economic issues could bring down the global economy. Will the apocalypse really come this time around? Most likely not – Europe survived the black plague, America got through eight years of Ronald Reagan, and Nostradamus was not exactly known for his accuracy.
For veteran fans, it's a continuation of the strengths Mogwai has honed over the years, and for those just getting into the band; it serves as an apt introduction. The tender melodies and sweeping crescendos are in full effect, and even more refined on this record. Mogwai has always been a guitardriven band, but over the years, they've incorporated synthesizers, pianos and strings into the mix. The diversity that the group has built over the years is in an even fuller bloom on Hardcore. “It's one of the funner albums we've made,” says Braithwaite.
One casualty of the events in Greece were Scottish instrumental rockers Mogwai – don't worry, they're still alive. They were forced to cancel their gigs in Thessaloniki and Athens due to the instability of late. Mogwai is bummed out that they had to reschedule the gigs, and while Stuart Braithwaite, the band's guitarist and sometimes vocalist, expresses sympathy for the situation, he did keep his distance as well.
“A lot of our titles are stories people hear or things people see, and that was just a story a friend told us about some guy that had an argument at a shop. That was one of the things he said,” Braithwaite said. Commenting more about the title, he does want his music to outlive him, though he “doesn't think about it much.”
Hardcore's title ranks among the more provocative of the bands albums. It suggests that music will long outlive you and reminds us that our existence is not permanent. Heavy stuff, right?
at BBC by naming their BCC session’s compilation Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996–2003. One of the songs on Hardcore is entitled, "George Square Thatcher Death Party," with George Square referring to a civic square in Glasgow and Thatcher being Margaret Thatcher. Her policies and alliance with Reagan in the 1980s was the source of a lot of protest and dissent, and 20 years later, she's still left a bad taste in the mouths of the West. Perhaps the best is saved for last on Hardcore - “You're Lionel Richie.” Of course, this is not a medley of “Hello,” “Easy,” and “All Night Long,” but Mr. Richie did have a hand in song nonetheless. The title stems from an incident where Braithwaite saw the soul singer at an airport, and in a state of shock, all he could mutter was “You're Lionel
“In a lot of ways, it sounds like The Pogues on a heap of sedatives.”
“It's a great worry, but to be honest, I'm not any kinds of economics expert, ” he said. Except for that hiccup, it's mostly been forward moving in their camp. They're still going strong from the full-length the group put out earlier this year; Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, out now through Rock Action Records, Mogwai's own label.
When it comes to titles of their albums and songs, the band has never been afraid to use a sense of humor. Some notable examples include “I Love You, I'm Going to Blow Up Your School" from 2008's The Hawk is Howling, “Moses? I Amn't" from 2003's Happy Songs for Happy People (which in itself is a humorous title given Mogwai's music), and “Stupid Prick Gets Chased by the Police and Loses His Slut Girlfriend" from the 2008 EP Batcat. Hell, they took a swipe
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Richie!” Could this lead to a collaboration album down the road? Who knows, but it can't be worse than LuLu. Mogwai also just released an EP, Earth Division, a quarter of songs taken from the Hardcore sessions. These songs differ quite a bit from the tracks on Hardcore, namely in that the songs are mostly slower. Strings and piano drive “Get to France”, and the way they interact suggests an uneasy intensity moving forward. If the Coen brothers decided to adapt a work from Dostoevsky, this song has the nervousness and brooding angst that would serve the adaptation well. Electronics take hold on “Drunk and Crazy,” but the song is not as maniac as the title would make it sound, instead hinting that someone or something is slowly slipping away, never to return. It also has Mog-
wai's trademark sonic surges, which are otherwise missing on Earth. The EP closes with “Does This Always Happen?” which is the most like Mogwai's guitar-oriented material. Consistent with Earth, it is quite melancholic and glacial, opting to draw things out to exemplify the mood. “[Hardcore] itself ended being quite concise, and quite a lot of the songs are upbeat and faster – these ones were definitely more sparse and orchestrated,” Braithwaite said. A standout cut from Earth is “Hound of Winter,” which takes a folksier direction compared to the rest of the EP. In a lot of ways, it sounds like The Pogues on a heap of sedatives. Mogwai have stumbled upon their campfire song with “Winter.” “It's a really straightforward song, I'm quite fond of it,” Braithwaite said. Straightforward – not always a word you see associated with the band. Mogwai's music has often been tagged as cinematic, the stuff of movies that haven't been made yet. The more spacious nature of Earth has led some reviewers to comment that it sounds more “soundtracky” than their other works. Joe Pangari of Pitchfork noted in his review of Earth
that the “bookend instrumentals especially have a cold and studied feel.” Sputnikmusic noted “Mogwai embrace a bleak and beautiful sound much like that of Rock Action, and it is achieved by a heavy inclusion of minor-key piano tunes and emotional strings.” Davin Lee Becker of Dusted pontifcated one the strength of the EP: “Maybe it’s an exercise in restrained menace, where the restraint is the most menacing thing about it. Maybe it shows off how swiftly Mogwai can accomplish a certain vividness of detail....” Braithwaite would agree with these assessments.
tertainment Group distribution center in London earlier this year. That fire destroyed many stocks of records from Rock Action, Rough Trade, Domino, 4AD, Ninja Tune, Warp, and Beggars Banquet, among the biggest names in British independent music. American labels Thrill Jockey and the fire also affected Touch and Go.
“It definitely has that [soundtracky] feel to it,” he said.
For the band, there's a milestone coming up soon. Next year will mark the 15th anniversary of their debut full-length, Young Team. Released through Chemikal Underground in October 1997, it was the band's arrival to the world after the NME-approved singles “New Paths to Helicon” and “Summer.” By far the most acclaimed piece of Mogwai's discography, set the template for nearly every post-rock band in existence, from the tender stylings of Explosions in the Sky to the heavier iteration from Pelican to the grandiose political commentary of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Extended pieces “Like Herod” and closer “Mogwai Fear Satan” still rank among the band's most popular songs. “R U Still In 2 It,” which somehow managed to come
Actually, Mogwai have scored a couple films. In 2006, they released the score for Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, a documentary focusing on head buttfriendly French soccer player Zinedine Zidane. Also that year, Mogwai collaborated with American composer Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet for Darron Arfonsky's The Fountain. While the band does not have any soundtracks coming up, Braithwaite would like to do more if the opportunity arises. Earth did suffer a setback, as pre-orders were not made for the record due to the fire at the PIAS En-
Nov. - Dec. 2011
“It was a really stressful time,” Braithwaite said. “I think other labels were affected a lot more than us,” due to the fact that there was material more obscure than stuff found on Rock Action Records.
through without Prince's legal team interfering, is one of the few songs in the groups' repertoire with vocals, in this case done by Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap. Even with that break from their still-in-construction norm, it is still a emotional tune, dealing with a relationship on the verge of collapse. It is difficult to imagine the current music landscape had that album not been committed to tape. “We weren't that fond of it at the time, but looking back has improved the band's opinion of the record,” Braithwaite said. Team also paved the way for Mogwai's subtle comical sensibilities, though this time it was how the members christened themselves in the record's liner notes. Braithwaite was known as “pLasmatroN,” bassist Dominic Aitchiso was “DEMONIC,” guitarist John Cummings went by “Cpt. Meat,” pianist and guitarist Brendan O’Hare flared himself up with “+the relic+,” and drummer Martin Bulloch simply took them name of “bionic.” Amazingly, most of the band is still intact since forming in 1995. O'Hare left the same year Team was released, and Barry Burns has been taking over keyboard and guitar duties ever since then. Braithwaite also does vocals every now and then, when a particular songs demands lyrics. Violinist Luke Sutherland and cellist Caroline
Barber are also part of Mogwai's live shows. Jokingkly, the band states on their FAQ, “We're always looking for new members to join so that we can become famous for being the largest band in the world instead of the most talented.”
Mogwai are currently touring Asia, which will wrap up December 4th at the Dago Tea House in Bandung, Indonesia. One notable gig will be in Shanghai, which the band wants to visit after playing a festival in Beijing.
The group has released six albums and a host of EPs since Team, but may still remember that as the Mogwai of yore. Funny how impacting a debut can really be.
“Going to different places is always one of the best things of being in a band,” Braithwaite said.
If there's one thing everyone can remember about Mogwai, it's that when they turn their amps up, the results get blistering. The band is on the road fairly frequently; so many folks across the world have born witness to just how much a venue can take Mogwai's real rock power. Even volume punishment gluttons like myself are awed at their crushing loudness. Given the band named their label and one of their albums after the changed name of Stooges drummer Scott Asheton, long stretches of quiet won't cut it. Braithwaite desire this because he wants listeners to be “physically moved” by the music. Of course, unlike some of My Bloody Valentine's initial reunion shows, he insists that staffs at venues did not hand out earplugs as a precaution. One should probably come to a show with the proper gear anyhow.
From there, they will do perform a show in Glasgow's Barrowland on December 22nd and make up the cancelled Greece shows in late January. Recently, Mogwai were announced as a the curators of the Saturday portion of All Tomorrow's Parties' I'll Be Your Mirror taking place at the Alexandria Palace in London May 25-27. So far, bands confirmed include thrash metal cornerstones Slayer playing their seminal Reign in Blood in its entirety, reunited slowcore legends Codeine, Guided by Voices, Sleep, The Melvins, Yuck, Mudhoney, and Mogwai themselves. More bands for I'll Be Your Mirror will be confirmed in the days to come.
“If there's one thing everyone can remember about Mogwai, it's that when they turn their amps up, the results get blistering.”
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Breathe Carolina Lindsey Lowe
Words | Lindsay Lowe
ome of the loveliest ideas seem to walk right out of dreams and into real life. Such is the case with Breathe Carolina. This electronic rock duo from Denver, CO drew its band name from a vivid dream band member David Schmitt had about a woman called Carolina. In the dream, Carolina was living Schmitt’s life while he watched her from an outsider’s perspective. When the time came for Schmitt and the duo’s other half, Kyle Even, to name their project, “Breathe Carolina” seemed all too fitting. Ever since then, the dynamic two have been living out their dreams of making music. Breathe Carolina music draws from many influences. Even describes their style as a collaboration of everything they love about music. “It’s pop meets post hardcore and techno meets rock. It’s club meets garage and everything in between,” he said. “Think a rave at a rock show and you get Breathe Carolina.”
Schmitt, 23 and Even, 26 were sharing a place in Denver with friends when they starting writing songs together in 2007. They made a MySpace page and gained over 10,000 plays in 2008 and eventually 30 accumluated more than 30 million plays over 2009. 31 Needless to say, the ball was rolling. Even said that everything just started falling into place. Breathe Carolina had saddled up with a manager, an agent and started growing a band. Picture two dudes, eager to create, bent over a Mac using GarageBand. Yep. The boys literally built their first album, “It’s Classy, Not Classic,” in Schmitt’s bedroom, and it was released on Rise Records in September of 2008. In 2009 between albums one and two, Breathe Carolina jumped labels, and under Fearless Records they had the opportunity to write with Mike Green (paramore, set your goals) and Matt Squire (30h!3, The Maine). Even said over time the group has been able to really solidify their style. “Now with our third record out, I think the idea of our band has come full circle and we’ve matured as a band as well as people,” he said. “We have made so many memories in the last three years being on tour, and we hope it’s reflection is shown in our progression.” Even said the boys are pretty stoked that their current single, “Blackout” just hit #38 on top 40 radio, trumping the latest from Jennifer Lopez. “We are just excited to see our music living a strong life!” he said. Breathe Carolina has enjoyed many exciting successes of late. They recently performed live on Fuel TV’s The Daily Habit, and also launched a clothing line called Blush. Even said, “We just hope we can keep moving forward, keep progressing, writing and playing music that people enjoy and keep bringing new people into our family.”
And a sizable family it is, because a lot goes into Breathe Carolina music. Both frontmen contribute on keyboards, guitars and programming, and Even covers unclean vocals, keytar and bass. Schmitt adds clean vocals and drums to the mix, and they have several band members who tour with them to flesh out their live shows. Live members include Clay Cornelius on guitars, Eric Armenta on drums, Joshua Andrew on guitars, synths, keys, programming and back-up vocals, and Luis Bonet on programming and keyboards. Even and Schmitt, along with the rest of their crew, are super fun, down-to-earth guys. They love playing, touring and enjoying every facet of the experience. “We just want to have fun doing what we want to do, that’s our dream, and we’re living it,” Even said. In addition to turning out solid records, the members of Breathe Carolina have also reaped gratification in the touring aspect of band life. A typical show gets started just as one might imagine. The band gets to the venue round noon. After all the pre-show setup is taken care of, the guys start getting in the zone for their show. According to Even, Breathe Carolina totally digs getting in the crowd to enjoy the openers and help get their fans ready to party. “During our set, we try to stir everyone up. And if they aren’t moving, we make them move!” he said. “Sometimes there are crowd surfers, sometimes kids get on stage… We want the people at our shows to do what they feel. It’s that ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude we’re after! We just hope you enjoy yourself, and if you see us by the bar, come say hi and have a drink!” Even said the band has made a myriad of memories while on tour, and it seems they’ve enjoyed every minute. One notable circumstance involved the tour bus puppy, Kevin. The story goes that the band’s drum tech, “Tasty” decided to bring a special lady back to his bunk one night after a show, but unfortunately for him, Kevin had been there before him and had the courtesy to leave a present on his bed. “The girl rolled into the bunk and right into Kevin’s doo doo,” Even laughed. “Tasty was screaming because Kevin blocked his bunk party!” Apparently, the guys still bring fake poop on the bus to jokingly patronize Tasty, and keep the fun alive. Whether the draw is silly happenings and memories or just exploring new cities with their friends, Breathe Carolina, looks forward to more touring, more albums and more growth as musicians. These guys really are music enthusiasts who want nothing more than to share themselves while doing what they do.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Van Hunt By, Alaina Latham
What Were You Hoping For?
oming a long way from highly acclaimed songs Seconds of Pleasure and Dust, singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and producer, Van Hunt is on a mission to find out what you were hoping for. What Were You Hoping For is the fourth studio album and it took three years to release. Transcending genres and obtaining new fan-bases is something that the singer has been doing in his 14 years active in the music community. The Ohio-born singer started off early in learning music. He began playing drums at the age of seven, the saxophone at the age of eight and he gradually moved on to the keyboard and bass. Being a young musician he learned how to play the guitar and was in a local rock band called Royalty. You can say music ran through his veins and poured out into every instrument that he learned. Not a stranger to different music genres, in order to keep his head above water and pay bills Hunt used to write and produce hip-hop records for rappers. Moving to Atlanta in order to broaden his horizon in music, he was given the opportunity to work with super-producers such as Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri.
In 2002, he later met American Idol judge Randy Jackson, who became his manager. After inking his 32 first record deal with Capitol Records, he released 33 his debut album self-titled, Van Hunt (2004), his sophomore album, On the Jungle Floor (2006). “When I was making my albums I was trying to mix classical and punk. I was trying to take a classical section and mix it with a punk rock band.” Eventually Van Hunt left the label and signed with Blue Note Records where he ran into problems with the releasing of his third studio album, Popular. Unfortunately Blue Note Records, who have the masters of the Popular album, decided not sell it to him at reasonable price. “I was disappointed no one got to hear Popular but it leaked on the internet and I hoped that my hardcore fans finally got their chance.”
you’re making all the decisions but you don’t move as brisk with your decisions. Independently it’s much more fun but it takes a lot of work.” Coming a long way from Seconds of Pleasure, Van Hunt has taken a different approach on What Were You Hoping For? Fans expecting to hear the same Hunt sound of years ago will hopefully fall for the direction that the singer has reinvented for himself. “For the people that know my music they know that I don’t limit myself to any particular sound and I believe that they would enjoy this album.” Van Hunt’s reason for the new title of the album was pretty unique and fresh. “I named the album after the song that is on the album. The song is about a post-apocalyptic world, where there is one family left in the neighborhood and another family stumbles upon them and they need to depend on each other to survive. The two young kids in the family are trying to form a love relationship in the meantime.” He goes on to tell more of how the effects of the world around gave him the opportunity to reflect and take a different perspective, “The entire time I was making this album I was locked into the global recession and how our lives were depending on the decisions of others. And when the decision comes back and bites them in the ass we tend to ask, what were you hoping for when you made those decisions.”
Experiencing the perils of an artist that was out on his or her luck, Van Hunt persevered and started to work on memoir-type book of short stories, which he titled Tales of Friction. “I had written so many songs that it provided me with reasonable living. I just took the time and kept on building up new work.”
Reaching new heights with his music is what Van Hunt is hoping for. Every artist wants to obtain mainstream success and a worldwide fan base and Hunt knows this. “I would love to have mainstream success and who knows it may happen. Things are well right now and if this is as good as it gets then I will take it. To be honest I haven’t regretted anything because to myself I’m still the 14-year-old kid sitting in his room playing on his Casio keyboard.” Naturally Van Hunt continues to produce his music and write his lyrics all the while keeping his mind on the big picture. He just wants his music to be heard and so does his hardcore fans. My friends were baffled when I told them about this man and his music. Once they sat down and listen to this powerful, creative musician they were taken by storm. Hopefully they would pass it on to others and they can witness the titillating sounds of his flamenco guitar and African percussion. “My best way of promoting myself is through word of mouth because not everyone is on Twitter or Facebook.”
Taking the independent route and creating his own label, Godless Hotspot, Hunt took the journey of resurrecting his sound and ultimately himself. “It’s much easier to do business independently because
Keep your ears open to Van Hunt and musicians of his caliber because not only will it shock you and take you by surprise it will also be the music that you were hoping for.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Trevor Stonehouse
n a dusty highway road between Alabama and Kentucky, a rusty run-down van takes an unpredicted rest. The VCR is broken, the stereo is busted, and now, the right front tire has ripped apart. But through the southern summer heat wafts an old pigskin, as the do-it-yourself boys from Army Navy pass the ball – and the time – waiting for the AAA guy. “Doug and Louie are playing on the side of the freeway, as cars go flying by”, says Justin Kennedy, front man of the Los Angeles based foursome. It's a method to keep their sanity; “After sitting in the van all day, whenever we come to a rest-stop, we play crazy football for 10 minutes. We just run around like maniacs in the parking lot”. Whether it's running around on stage, in a parking lot, or in your head, Army Navy's pop-infused melodies and upbeat cozy chords will put a skip in your step and a smile in your heart. The guitars are clear as crystal, the vocal harmonies are like a chorus of giddy schoolchildren, and the rhythms make you jiggle like jell-o. But there's also a dark side to these polished pop tunes. Kennedy often sings about distance, tension, and the let-downs that abound in relationships and life.
ing the essentials – hiring a press release and radio company – The Fever Zone was born. Kennedy describes the upsides of being your own boss: “I think at a label, you're kind of assigned to your staff. But for us we've always been able to work with all the people that want to be part of it. And they end up working harder for you”. It helps when you know innovative individuals. Kennedy explains the procedure behind Army Navy's music videos: “We wanted to do something creative. And we know a lot of creative people”. They just had to look through the phonebook and call up a director. “In the video for Saints, we were just ripping ideas off each other. They were all kinds of ridiculous. We wanted to make fun of that whole thing – doing a big budget, meaningless video”, says Kennedy. Shot from the perspective of Kennedy's
nephew hanging out on set of a big budget video shoot, the 8 year old's innocence is quickly lost to the debauchery of rock stars. Only the freedom of DIY can give you that kind of satire. Paving the way on the video, recording, and touring scene is a unstoppable Army. Or maybe it's a Navy? Doing everything themselves, (with help of some creative friends) Army Navy handles the music business their own way. And with infectious hooks and swooning vocals, upbeat tunes and lyrics that speak of real life tragedy, this Army is too powerful to let setbacks overtake them. Whatever troubles come their way, their do-it-yourself mentality gives them the freedom to find a way around it. Army Navy is like slice of apple pie after a long day of orchard picking. You have to put in lots of work, but in the end, the pay off is delicious.
Maybe it's the influence of Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, who was in a band called PinWheel with Kennedy in high-school. Kennedy describes the fruits of that union apparent in his present day songwriting, “I tend to write really happy songs, with kind of somber lyrics”. After Kennedy and Gibbard went separate ways, it seems Gibbard's bittersweet melodrama still lingers in Kennedy's lyric style. Regardless, the uplifting pop anthems make it hard to stay mad at anything – even a loathsome ex – after listening to Army Navy's new album “The Last Place”. With such happy songs in his head, and a down to earth, roll with the punches attitude – it's obvious that set backs don't bother Kennedy. “There's always some disaster on tour”, he admits. “The Van actually broke down on this tour as well. Like 34 six hours in”. And because of the blow-out, “we're 35 probably going to be late to our show in Louisville tonight”. But Kennedy laughs it off; as a DIY band, there are ups and downs.
images provided by: Army Navy
Army Navy has their own label, The Fever Zone, which they've crafted from scratch. “We talked to some labels, but we didn't really find the right feel we wanted. When we finished the record, we were like, ‘what do we do now?’ We just had to find a way to get it out there”, explains Kennedy. Compil-
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Gina Tron
Beni was born and raised in Sydney, a city whose nightlife is “a bit shit at the moment.” He has recently completed House Of Beni, his debut album of dance tracks influenced by house and disco. One saucy track is “It’s A Bubble” which features legendary drag queen Sean DeLear on vocals. The song contains hints of love “but at the end of the day it’s just a silly dance song.” Which is obvious with its lyrics like “hey streetwalker” and the very silly dance move created for the song’s music video. Beni intended for the video to be a sort of mockumentary, “although it turned out a lot more smartass than I thought it might be.” The over the top queen factor of it prompted YouTube trolls to bash their keyboards with rage. “A lot of people took it completely seriously and thought I was just making fun of the gays.” The outro of his single, “Yeah” reminds him of the ending of Boyz In The Hood, a film he adores. “I remember when I saw that, my brother took me. I was about 10 or 9 or something and it was amaz-
ing. I think I cried. When he [Ricky] got shot in the end, I was really sad.” He also adores the American hip-hop culture in general. “I know that sounds silly coming from a white kid in Australia but I've always loved rap and hip hop.” He cites early 90s hip-hop as his favorite genre mentioning artists Ghetto Boys, Ice T and Warren G. Beni told me about a mixtape he made one day prior which includes Warren G and Ice T in addition to old Dr. Dre, Biggie, Faith Evans, T.I., Brandy , Wiz Kahlifa, Busta Rhymes, R.Kelly, and Lil Wayne. “Ultimately, I’d like to work with R&B artists” He also would ultimately like to create an album for a soundtrack, mentioning that House of Beni was loosely based on the feeling of a soundtrack.
about how I operated on Skype. “Are you typing my responses as we talk or are you recording it?” When I told him I was recording it, he jokingly asked if I would be replaying the interview to my friends at the bar. Charming and blunt, Beni is a very curious motherfucker indeed.
As a kid, Beni showed early signs of his proclivity to dance music through the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince. On the other hand, The Eagles were not his thing. “My dad used to love The Eagles and I can’t stand The Eagles. You know that scene in The Big Lebowski where he’s in the taxi and he asks him to turn the radio off. That’s exactly what happened every time he played Hotel California.” Beni deejays every few weeks, spinning a cross between house and techno with some sprinkles of rap. He used to throw a lot more rap in the mix when he began at 18, paying no mind to BPMs and whatnot. He soon learned to finesse his beat-matching because people “said it was shit.” Speaking of shit, when I asked the very stylish Beni what kind of clothing he likes he told me, “I like um, I like expensive shit,” mentioning Dior and Balenciaga. As we were wrapping up, Beni was very inquisitive
images provided by: Beni
t was 7 PM on the east coast and 7 AM down under when I spoke with Beni. He was drinking tea and complaining that he had been smoking too many cigarettes. He told me I should be drinking tequila by 7 at night. I felt uneasy about him asking me so many questions, but I soon remembered a quote of his I had come across. I then inquired about this statement, “I’m a very curious motherfucker.” “Since I said that, I’ve been asked that a lot.” He told me that statement applied to mostly to music, but I immediately learned it applied to most everything.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Whitney Meers
n spite of his self-proclaimed “nerd” status, Brad Turcotte is a musical visionary. Performing and sharing his music under the name Brad Sucks, Turcotte, a high school dropout from Ottawa, Ontario, was at the forefront of a movement that revolutionized the music industry. Back in the Napster days, when record labels shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to prevent pirating, Turcotte was in the early stages of creating a business model for his music career that thrived on creating music offering it with the Internet masses for free. “I spent a lot of time just being creative,” he says of having an abundance of free time after he dropped out of school. “I did a lot of music and did a bunch of writing.” It was around that time that he found himself obsessing over the possibilities of the future of his music. From there, he formulated a core belief in a strategy that involved sharing his music with as many people as possible, rather than focusing on the copyright incentives that agencies such as the RIAA felt so compelled to protect at that time. Nowadays, the idea of an artist put-
ting music online and giving it away free of charge seems to be a prerequisite to establishing any sort of a fan base. But, when Turcotte first started making music, he was the odd man out in a sea of musicians trying to capitalize off record sales in an era where people were downloading music through file-sharing sites for free. And, like many early adopters, Turcotte knew that the technology that allowed for file sharing was the wave of the future. As such, he seized upon that opportunity. “Music’s going digital. That’s obvious to me and it was obvious to me ten years ago,” he says of the continued push toward distributing music though online markets. As one of the leaders of the digital music movement, Turcotte has a knowledgeable comprehension of the revolution, something that most musicians neglect in an era where, despite a shift into an electronic age, there remains an emphasis on the power of an artist’s record label.
“What I really didn’t want to do is lose money on tour and have a shitty time,” he says about his choice to focus on building his online fan base instead. His Internet fans are his core market, and Turcotte is able to achieve continued success by providing new music and updates via a medium that has the potential to reach millions of people with the click of a button. By now he’s gotten to the point where he’s in demand, where his fans request to see him live in various cities, especially in the United States and Europe. He says he’s finally at the point where it’s becoming too much to handle on his own. He’s set to embark on his first tour soon, something he hadn’t ever imagined himself doing ten years ago when he first started creating music. Perhaps the most pertinent aspect of Turcotte’s success is that he doesn’t suck at all. In fact, he’s extraordinarily talented. He describes his music as “downer party music.” His upbeat tempos seem to counter his deep, emotionally driven lyrics, but the magic of this so called “one man band with no fans” is that as it whole, it works, creating songs that are both catchy and smart. “I try to sing about things that are real to me,” he says. Citing early bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy as major influences, most of Turcotte’s songs hint at the deeper, darker intricacies of life, with lyrics that are positioned against an electronic backdrop that hints to the industrial movement of the early 1990s. Right now, Turcotte juggles his time between setting up his tour, recording another album and handling his own publicity. And, to this day, it’s not the album sales and digital downloads that support Turcotte’s music. Though he’s licensed several of his songs for use in commercials, his fans are his primary support system. His music thrives because of ordinary people who submit donations and offer money for his tracks, even though they’re under no obligation to do so. “If you have something valuable that everybody wants, I don’t see how you can’t make money off of that,” he says.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
images provided by: Brad Sucks
Words | Molly Horan
lights flashed blue, green, pink, and the floor was alive with people jumping up and down, swaying and leaping.
Casiokid's new album dropped two weeks earlier. Aabenbaringen over aaskammen is the first album they were really able to take their time with explained Enderson, allowing themselves three months to record. They created their own world for the album, which is driven by the narrative of a fictional explorer. They'll be traveling to Japan in November, which both Johnson and Enderson said was somewhere the band had wanted to play for a long time.
Their second song brought in some vocals, soft and fluid, complimented by a sound reminiscent of an organ grinder. The bass was deafening, the kind of beat you can feel go through every inch of your body, which made it all the more necessary to dance.
With the tracks from the new album, both musicians said the band was facing the new problem of having too many songs to fill a set, and that they sometimes improvise choosing songs that fit the mood of the audience. Johnson points out it's great when people come to an earlier show and tell them they'll be back for a second show that night, because they'll have the opportunity to see some different songs. The band members spoke with me until they were called away to set up. The room was packed by the time I entered, and everyone was excited and ready to dance. The show started with a pounding beet and dreamy synth. The guitar was buzzing, making a strange, almost alien sound. The woodwinds in the background sounded tranquil, almost like music that would be played at a spa, but the tempo and volume built and built covering any sense of tranquility. The
The third track got a little intro, the band explaining they had written it in honor of the Olympics. The song was anchored by claps and violent shakes of the Shekere (beaded gourd) and you could tell the band was passionate about it because they were really getting into it, jumping up and down on stage. Later in the set they got in even more movement, waving their arms in anticipation of a song's crescendo into a sound explosion. Other instruments were added in later in the set, including,much, much more cowbell and steel drum. When they announced it was their last song the crowd wilted a little in disappointment, but kept dancing until the very end.
images provided by: Casiokids
was able to speak with Ketil Kinden Endersen and Omar Johnson of Casiokids in a cramped corridor of Pianos just before one of their sets. We talked of their experience with various music festivals, their new album, and of course their plans for the future. Enderson explained his best festival experience he had had was in 2008 in Denmark, saying he was amazed by the positive feedback from the audience. Johnson added that it's a huge change from playing small clubs to have a thousand people cheering for you, it's a huge kick. He mentioned they'd been able to see a label mate, Erica Spring play earlier, but because of the number of shows they were doing for CMJ they had to find other artists to listen to by luck. The band has done about 150 shows over the last few years by Endersen's estimation, traveling extensively. He didn't notice much difference in audience reaction between countries, and as Johnson interjected, people everywhere like dancing. Enderson did say there's a difference on audience
reaction based on time of day and size of the venue. And, of course, he added the audience sing along in Norway when they sing in Norwegian.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Elizabeth Price
an enveloping Mr. Tom Bauer on an enigmatic bass and all anchored by drummer Jon Powell The Field Notes have come out of the predictable college town of Columbus Ohio to fuck with the hegemonic idea that all college town bands only exist to serve the indie and folk fan set. This rabble rousing with the hegemonic has been advantageous for the band (it should be noted here that Mr. Bauer happens to come from a town by the name of Defiance) The Field Notes describes their music as being solipsistic, organic, and not being made in the interest of building a following. The Field Notes don’t pretend to be novel and make no promises that you won’t leave their grasps smelling of a sweet time. There are no pleasantries involved in pleasing everyone.
lose your eyes- imagine a hot toddy. This hot toddy is going to quell whatever it is that’s ailing your pretty heart, put an afghan over your shoulders. Take boiling water; add in Mazzy Star spice, a sultry Feist lemon, and guitar riffs reminiscent of Elliot Smith. Throw in whiskey, or bourbon if you so fancy-but nothing too fancy. Swill. You feel the warmth yet? That’s The Field Notes setting in. Containing the lyrically flared Lara Hillard, an uncompromising multi faceted Jason Liggett on guitar,
The band follows no template and – astute readersthat is how the Field Notes move you to action, to be inclined to run out of the corners of musical boxes, peek about, and soak in their sound. The band produces jambalayas of jazz, funky bass and rock, with slight nods to folk and alt country. With the song “Best of Me” you get a little twang, but not too much to scoff at or enough to make the hokey dance. The end of the song has the sweet drumming of Powell tucking you into bed nicely with Hillard reminding you that you’re “such a deliberate, inspiring mess.” Yet it’s the song None In A Million that will sniper you in the middle of the day when you find it so lovingly spewing lovingly from behind your lips. The song will make you grin so wide your teeth will feel like November. Sip some on that toddy whilst I
explain this to you. With Hillard crooning “if I'm gonna get in, I better misbehave.” it becomes hard not to sit up straight, adjust your tie, and settle in for a story. Liggett’s fancy plucking commandeers you to pay attention while Hillard pins you in the coral to dispel all the things your ma told you about nice Midwestern girls. The lyric “I just want to be backed against the wall” will stay with you all the livelong day. If you’re too emotionally flat to know what Hillard means with these incendiary words and too numb not to rally under the bawdy rhythm of Liggett’s guitar riff then I suggest a defibrillator. The Field Notes haven’t been around long enough to defy any rules. The freshness of this makes for a different kind of urgency emitting from the band members. You can see their identity slowly building as they defy the tip toeing that comes from starting a band in a college town. Cheers to that journey and what’s to come. While the band is getting more and more tracks under their belt expect a full LP soon as well as shows in and around the Midwest with sights set on more faraway lands. In the mean time you can check out the new tracks the band just finished up laying down at famed recording studio Back Seat Productions in Ann Arbor MI on the band’s website www.TheFieldNotesBand.com. There is potential written all over The Field Notes. Be the first on your block to claim them.
images provided by: Andrew Powell
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Justin Stillmaker
he Gift is a rock band hailing from Portugal that has released their newest album Explode. The album does just that on first listen. You can’t quite pinpoint all the sounds hurling at you while you listen but after the first few you songs, it begins washes over you.. The album seems to radiate vivid bright colors. Part of the strangeness and uniqueness derives from lead singer Sonia Tavaraes voice that seems to rise from the ground and ascend into the heavens. But it is in fact the whole band working together that delivers this unique sound. Nuno Concalves is the keyboard player and band’s spokesperson. His brother John is the bass player that gives this band it’s thumping beat that grabs you on a visceral level. They are rounded out by Miguel Ribeiro the guitar player that seems to make his guitar sound like a million different instrumentsa all at once. This is an accomplished by a band filled with confidence and ability. This does not happen overnight and The Gift has taken the long way to creating something truly beautiful and unique.
produced everyone from Coldplay to Badly Drawn Boy. Just because they were working with a big name producer didn’t mean they were recording at big swanky studios and hanging out at posh hotels. Just the opposite they rented a house in Madrid for five months and went about recording the album. Ken lived with them the entire time. So they chose him because besides being a great producer, they knew they could stand to live with him for the next half year while they recorded. With such a unique sounding album, I asked them if any artists directly influenced them. They said leading up to the recording they listened to a lot of records by Animal
Collective, Deerhunter, Ariel Pink, Grizzly Bear and the Flaming Lips but they can’t really point to one influences while making the record. That’s because the overwhelming influence of the record and this band is Portugal itself. It is evident in the strange texture their music invokes as if there music has risen from the soil of their home country. I’ve never been to Portugal but their music sounds how I picture their country.Quiet, small, reserved yet bursting with life and personality and speaking a language that I can’t quite comprehend but yet still understand.
The Gift have been playing and recording together for the last seventeen years. It’s even more impressive that this fearsome foursome found each other since they come from a small town called Alcobaca with only six thousand people. The band has the DIY spirit built into their DNA. There are no cool hip clubs for them to play to get exposure and get signed to a major label. This means the band handled everything themselves release dates, music videos, photo shoots, tours, marketing and all the finances. In my brief time talking with this band you could tell they don’t regret doing it this way for a second. They love the control this has given them over their vision. And the long uphill battle now seems all the sweeter now that they are getting to do a large world tour and getting the type of exposure every band dreams of.
images provided by: The Gift
This didn’t happen on accident. For their newest album they chose to work with Ken Nelson who has
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Alison Kjeldgaard
ix-piece indie rock band Lanterns on the Lake is still adjusting to their newfound fame. Born less than five years ago out of a self-recorded EP, the British band has already blossomed into international fame. Now, to support the September release of their first full album, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, they are revving their engines to headline a whirlwind European tour. I spoke with vocalist Hazel Wilde about self-recording, touring with Yann Tiersen and being compared to Mazzy Star. Once upon a time in Newcastle, Wilde was that girl in high school who was constantly trying to form a band. Though she didn’t always succeed, she never doubted that she would have a musical career as an adult. “Maybe that’s a bit naïve,” Wilde said. “But I don’t know, I just always thought I would get to do it at some point.” Wilde’s teenage dream came true when Lanterns on the Lake signed their first label with Bella Union in 2010. “We weren’t really sending demos or anything like that off to labels,” Wilde said, “but we were at the point in the band’s life where we thought, ‘We’re really ready to make an album now.’” Their first full album, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, was released last September. The word “otherworldly” immediately comes to mind to describe this highly atmospheric album’s instrumental melodies, which perfectly compliment its dreamy lyrics.
Critics have often compared the band’s ethereal sound to Santa Monica’s alt-rock twosome, Mazzy Star. “I don’t think any of us in the band ever listened to Mazzy Star,” Wilde admitted. “Not that we don’t like them, it’s just that it’s never really been something that we feel influenced by or listening to at any point.” Unlike Mazzy Star, however, Lanterns on the Lake has mastered an intricate layering of diverse instrumentation. Included on Gracious Tide, Take Me Home are the glockenspiel, kalimba, organ and synth. To name a few. “We’re trying not to, like, overload the songs with loads and loads of instruments,” Wilde said. “We do it in a way where we only put things on that we think suit what the song is about and serves a purpose.” Indeed, though almost every song uses a different set of instruments, the entire album is beautifully cohesive. Closing my eyes, I can imagine nothing but…wait for it…lanterns floating on a lake. “I think I saw, like, a photograph, or something like that, with some lanterns on a lake,” said Wilde, describing her inspiration for the band’s name, “and I just knew it fit.” The sextet came together in 2007 through old ties to their hometown in Newcastle. Band mate Sarah Kemp lived around the corner from Wilde; Wilde’s ex-boyfriend Paul Gregory is now the band’s guitarist. “It’s quite incestuous,” Wilde said. “We kind of knew each other in lots of different ways.”
“It’s a really personal thing that you can feel proud of because you’ve put all of that time and that effort to learn how to record it yourself and mix it yourself,” Wilde said. The band has come a long way since. Just last week, they finished touring with Yann Tiersen. “It was great,” Wilde said. “Him and his band are really nice guys and we got on with them really well…When it came to an end it was like, you know, ‘Could it last a bit longer?’” With only about a week to rejuvenate, the band will be hitting the road again to begin their first headliner tour. “It’s going to be a long month,” Wilde admitted. “But we’re really, really excited.” Belgium, Holland, France, Germany and Denmark are a few of the locales the band will hit. But when can we expect them back across the pond? “I would absolutely love to come back to the States,” Wilde said. “We were over in March by South by Southwest [in Austin] so it would be really good if we could be back there in the New Year. I think it just depends. We’ll have to see what happens.” Until then, settle back in a comfy chair and let the misty, atmospheric music of Gracious Tide, Take Me Home flood your mind with melancholic memories.
images provided by: Lanterns on the Lake
Within the first six to eight months of their formation, the group holed up in an old house in the English countryside to record their first EP, “The Starlight.”
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Mitchell Davis
The group’s folk-Americana tracks revolve around winding narratives that evoke vivid imagery to the listener’s mind. Their sound had been compared to some of the greats, including Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and the Band. Loss-Eaton does not take these comparisons lightly and uses the praise as inspiration to carry on the torch with his own sound. The group’s debut album, The Apothecary EP, features songs that span an array of sounds and emotions. Songs from the album seem to start with simple images that soon evolve into a winding, stream-of-consciousness story. This is no mistake. Loss-Eaton makes an effort start his writing process with a simple object and seeing where it takes him. He has a unique ability to take an image such as paint chipping away from a house and turn it into a song that touches on themes such as memory, regret, love, and desolation. Loss-Eaton’s baritone voice delivers the songs with a sincerity that match-
es the passion of his words. Mainly an acoustic guitar backs him, but he also manages to work the harmonica into almost every song. Since he actually learned to play the harmonica before the guitar he feels very comfortable with the instrument and especially enjoys using it to engage live audiences. The group is currently gearing up for the release of their second effort, which they have dubbed The Foundry EP. The album displays the band maintaining the simplicity of The Apothecary EP while striving to include bigger moments as a full band. A standout track centers on Brooklyn’s worst fire of the last ten years that recently took place in the Greenpoint neighborhood. The song looks back on the neighborhood’s history as a shipyard in the 18th century up until the present time. The Foundry EP will be released in January or February of 2012. The group also plans to release their first vinyl, a 7” single of the song “Rockabilly Roller Queen”. The song will be released as vinyl/mp3 only and will feature a more fun rock n’ roll sound. Throughout 2012 Leland Sundries will also work on completing and releasing their debut full-length. Upon its release the band plans to tour around the Northeast and at some point in the year undertake another national tour. Loss-Eaton is very excited to visit new places that will give him both new inspiration and the opportunity to spread his music. He also looks forward to visiting some favorite places he has already been. Boston is always a special show due to the fact that Loss-Eaton hails from the area. They also enjoy playing Birmingham, where they have opened multiple shows for Taylor Hollingsworth. The Buccaneer in Memphis is a favorite venue and shows in Northern Vermont have been memorable stops as well. Wherever the road takes them it is sure to be full of images and people that will continue to inspire new stories for Leland Sundries to tell. Nov. - Dec. 2011
images provided by: Leland Sundries
ic Loss-Eaton, the leading force behind the band Leland Sundries, recently completed a national tour during which he found himself in many interesting situations and places. The shows were a change of pace as the band normally performs with a full lineup when they play near their home base of Brooklyn, New York. The solo trek allowed Loss-Eaton to branch out from the more textured rock sound that the members as a whole produce. Although he enjoys the power of performing as an ensemble he also relished the chance to draw from a larger solo repertoire, including covers of songs by Tom Waits and The Stanley Brothers. Throughout his time on the road it was the people and places he encountered that truly inspired him though. Whether it was a BBQ pit in Nashville, a commune in Virginia, or an ice cream parlor in Albany, Loss-Eaton seemed to end up with a unique story from each place he visited. This accumulation of stories resembles Leland Sundries’ songs, each of which tells a story of their own.
Words | Mitchell Davis
returned from taking in some more of the festival the van, trailer and all contents were nowhere to be found. They had been robbed.
Despite this setback things are going quite well for the band otherwise. Overall, the summer festival circuit treated the group very well. This was especially true at Bonnaroo where in addition to their scheduled performance the group played a special late night set atop the Mr. T parade float, closing it out by spraying those lucky enough to stumble upon the set with champagne. Vocalist/guitarist John Gourley and bassist Zachary Carothers were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet legendary rocker Neil Young, one of their prime inspirations, and play music together.
With so much good to focus on the guys of Portugal. The Man are choosing to be optimistic. With their van and trailer found they now have the means to embark on the aforementioned fall tour during which they plan to break out some older cuts from their back catalog along with highlights of the new album. Their guitars and keyboards will be replaced, but they still hold out hope that they will again see the missing instruments that they spent so much time with. The new album has been very well received and with the help of their new label they hope to spread it to even more listeners. Always looking ahead, they plan to begin working on a new album early next year. It is certain that it will take much more than a few thieves to keep Portugal. The Man down.
images provided by: Portugal. The Man
n Sunday August 7th, psychedelic indie rockers Portugal. The Man played one of Lollapalooza 2011’s most memorable sets. Throughout the afternoon the sky had been filling in with menacing black clouds. A sizable crowd had gathered to see the band, which were returning to the festival after a well-received set in 2009. The rain held off for most of the band’s time but fittingly began to fall during the frantic “Chicago”. The rains only made those in the crowd sing along louder as it turned into a downpour. The band continued to blaze through their set with incredible craftsmanship and energy, happy to have missed most of the rain. Upon the completion of their time the band sought shelter for their gear and returned it to their van and trailer waiting nearby. Unfortunately, this would be the last time they saw some of these possessions. When the group
Luckily, the story does not end there. The van was reported stolen and within twenty minutes of appearing on the Chicago news it was found. The band received an outpouring of support from fans and media outlets. They even managed to become a trending topic on Twitter as fans posted lists of the band’s missing gear. The collective efforts continued to pay off as a large portion of the gear was recovered. Drummer Jason Seachrist’s set was found along with a number of other pieces. The search for the guitars and keyboards goes on. Finding anything in this situation was considered unlikely and the band posted on their official site genuinely thanking fans, Chicago Police, and old school journalism, for the outcome. “Send me to the battle please sir” goes a line in “Chicago”. With a little help, the group had scored a comeback win in this battle.
After the hectic events surrounding Lollapalooza the band retreated to their home base in Portland, Oregon, to prepare for their upcoming fall tour in support of their sixth album In the Mountain, In the Cloud. The album was released on July 19th and is the band’s sixth in the same amount of years. In the Mountain, In the Cloud finds Portugal The. Man moving towards a more classic rock sound while still keeping Gourley’s signature high-pitched vocals and the instruments’ psychedelic backing. Released by Atlantic Records, this is Portugal. The Man’s first album on a major label. It has been a good experience for the group so far, having enjoyed the added promotional support that a major label’s resources can provide. The process seems to be working out as first single “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)” and opener “So American” have been garnering radio airplay.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Gina Tron
spoke with Nick Brennan, drummer of The Static Jacks while he was stuck in traffic with his girlfriend. They were trying to get into Atlantic city to make a Smith Westerns and The Artic Monkeys concert that evening. “Hopefully we beat this traffic and make it to the show.” Nick has been drumming since elementary school, not long before meeting singer Ian Devaney, in junior high. He met the rest of his band-mates in high school, with the exception of Michael Sue-Poi who came into the picture in 2008. Nick and Ian participated in theatre back in their school days and enjoyed being in front of an audience, so “it just seemed natural that we would form a band and
play in front of people.” The band began playing together at 14, a time that marked the existence of Ian’s giant fro. “He definitely didn’t have the haircut he has now.” It was around this time that the name, The Static Jacks, was born. “It had something with Henry plugging in his guitar, and it exploding, like a static guitar jack plug in kind of thing.” The name stuck, but Nick tries not to dwell on the name. “I go in and out of liking it.” Well, I guess that’s no different than the love-hate relationship most people have with their given names. The band lives in Westfield, New Jersey where the majority of members grew up. Nick says he is proud to be pegged as a New Jersey band, but made sure
to note that he and his members were “never into pop-punk or that whole scene which is a really big part of New Jersey music.” They are, however, influenced by straight-up punk music. They can be defined as fitting into the garage genre, and although they probably don’t like it, are often classified as pop-punk. They liked The Strokes when they were younger, which evolved into their interest in The Misfits and The Replacements. If you check out their band merchandise, you will see a skull tee which is an obvious homage to The Misfits. When Mike joined the band he brought his love for David Bowie and Depeche Mode to the mix. Their latest album, ‘If You’re Young,’ dealt with the theme of “youthful anxiety”, many of the lyrics coming from from the fear of not succeeding. “We were starting to get older, all our friends were in college doing the things that people were supposed to do and we were just kind of at home trying to do this band thing.” That fear tied with “the normal relationship stuff and girl problems you go through in late teens and early twenties” created the general feel of the album. Perhaps they are not as anxious as before, but they are developing their anger levels. “We've definitely gotten angrier as we got older, which i think shows in our music and in our lives” They have also developed more awareness in terms of politics, but have yet to incorporate that into their music. “I think its something we’d like to explore, successfully, hopefully. I think its hard to do that without sounding lame, but that is definitely something we’d like to grow and see if we can do it. “ We chatted a bit about The Occupy Wall Street movement. “I can’t believe that people haven’t been doing this since the nineties, since corporate America has become so prevalent.” He questioned the organization of some of the protesters, but also argued that its “not fair that they [the protesters] are being characterized as...unemployed young people who don't know what they’re talking about because that's clearly not the case at all.”
images provided by: The Static Jacks
When it comes to comfort on the road between gigs, a lack of discussions, political or not is crucial for The Static Jacks. “We used to just talk to each other all the time, it kind of got to the point where it was literally like ‘I cannot talk to you anymore’ so now we kinda learned that the key to touring is reading and listening to your I-Pod in the van, bringing your laptop and loading up on movies.” They do however talk and laugh about the weird people and adventures they encounter on the road. “We haven’t even toured that much but we already have a whole lifetime of stories.” One of them includes a recent trip to Vermont, getting lost and arguing at 1am on a dangerous dirt road. “If you can just picture, five skinny jean indie guys in a van on the edge of a cliff in the middle of Vermont not knowing where they’re going.” I can picture it, and since I actually grew up in Vermont, a place where real rockers were a rarity, I like what I picture.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Nostalgia vs. Progression
Pop Culture’s Perceived Stagnation By David Carter
“People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around - the music and the ideas.” –Bob Dylan
ulture is formed by art. And artists, as a culture, have always used past art as inspiration. But when does using inspiration become replication? Recently, the pop culture of the 21st century was put under the microscope and people have begun debating whether today’s musicians are building upon the sounds of their inspirers or if today’s music has simply stopped progressing. In May of this year, Simon Reynolds released his book Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its own Past (Reynolds interview from straight.com). In it, Reynolds submits that the pop culture - specifically its music - of the 2000’s to present-day has had no real push forward and that music may even be experiencing a “creative plateau” (he also points to film, television, and fashion as proof that the current culture is obsessed with recycling the past). This attitude has ruffled some fans’ feathers but one would be hardpressed to deny Reynolds’ argument fully. It seems to be a fact that for every Animal Collective pushing boundaries there are a dozen Fleet Foxes rehashing the past verbatim, and there really is no response from progressive music to compare to the clout of a Lady GaGa – a near carbon-copy of Madonna.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
And it’s not just the critics that are noticing. Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia) of Sleater-Kinney released “Entertain” in 2005 as a call-to-action, a protest to what she saw as rock’s dormancy. And in 2007, Sufjan Stevens was quoted saying, "Rock and roll is a museum piece. There are great rock bands today. I love The White Stripes, I love The Raconteurs. But they're just reenacting an old sentiment. They're channeling the ghosts of that era; The Who, punk rock, the Sex Pistols, whatever. It's been done." So is musical ingenuity petering out? While bands like Vampire Weekend expound upon the sounds of surf-rock, i.e. progress, other bands like Band of Horses, Avett Brothers, and The Black Keys seem to be repackaging the old and reselling it as new. The argument could be made, however, that if it's new, old, what difference does it make? What sounds good is good and that is all we, as a culture, need. But music, we sometimes forget being lambasted with saccharine-filled pop and great nostalgiabands, is an art-form that, in order to fulfill its role as an art-form, needs to evolve. It could be said that stagnation in an art-form during a certain period is a reflection of the stagnation of the minds of that era.
tion of forming a cultural identity with their music. With all of this in mind, it appears Reynolds may be correct. It does appear as though so much of today’s pop culture has been consumed with looking back that we’ve forgotten to move forward. But that seems to be describing only a portion of today’s music. One could accuse Reynolds of only skimming the surface and ignoring the fact that music’s progression may no longer be primarily exposed through pop culture and, instead, found dwelling in “underground” music, off the charts and the beaten path. Many sub-genres and lesser known bands are pushing music forward but without a large audience to propel the surge. And because of this, these bands are likely to fizzle out, be forgotten. And through no fault of their own. Music is a consumer-driven art. Underground bands that have the direction and the desire to push forward, likely will never be heard; or heard enough to leave an impression, which could be a large factor into the perceived stagnation. And one can’t blame music for what it is that people like. One could even go as far as to say music is evolving but its fans are not.
Or at least, that's what's at risk. And sonically, it does seem space is becoming limited. With the abundance of music being made today in conjunction with the lack of an advent of any groundbreaking instruments to forge new ground musicians are building much of today’s new music with the same tools musicians used 50 years ago – range and nuance are quickly drying up. And so is the presence of music’s classic motivators. The blues and country were born from strife, as was rap. Rock and folk were cradled and raised by protest. Disco, grunge and rave music were fueled by drugs. And much of the other music from the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s was driven by money.
And, at the same time, this perceived inability to progress could also be the listening population’s inability to perceive progression before the music of today can be put into a historical context. One could pose that the progress this generation has made musically will remain imperceptible until enough time has passed and we are allowed to look back and reflect. Ken Burns - documentarian, director and producer - when receiving criticisms for not including modern jazz musicians in his 2001 documentary Jazz retorted, “So, who of today’s jazz guys are as important as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, [or] John Coltrane. And they’ll go, well, we won’t know for 25 years. And I say, yeah, and that’s called history.”
Today, America isn’t facing any major defining cultural shift. No new drugs have hit the scene. And the pursuit of money is seen as selling-out. So where’s the motivation in America? (In his book, Reynolds suggests that music’s next big sound might come from one of the world’s burgeoning countries –Brazil, India, China- rife with conflict and societal barriers).
A great way to monitor the influence of musical ingenuity of the 2000’s is to reflect on the strides that late-90’s rock-juggernaut Radiohead has taken over the last decade. Evolving from OK Computer to In Rainbows without a doubt shows forwardthinking and growth, even if In Rainbows arguably has ties to 90’s post-rock.
And consider that the generation forming today’s pop culture, in large part, is made up of the babies of Boomers. It is the first generation to look back at arguably the greatest cultural and musical era in history. An awestruck few and some emulation is to be expected. Not to mention that this generation’s “obsession” with the music from earlier decades is likely only fostered by their parents. After all, it was the Boomers who were the first to embrace the no-
But therein lies another artifact of today’s pop culture. All music has exposable roots, but because bands today are said to be building within the preexisting genre of, say, math-rock, doesn’t necessarily mean that those bands aren’t evolving. The line may not be clear, but that is also a limitation of labeling bands with genres. Progressive/math rock has its origins in the 60’s but the prog-rock of today, although methodically similar, is a new sound that
Nov. - Dec. 2011
stands on its own and should be respected as such. (For proof, compare Fang Island’s “Daisy” to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”.) And lest we forget that progression is not always synonymous with positive movement. We saw music in the late-70’s morph into disco, which contracted and gave way to 80’s glam-rock and new wave, which then gave way to 90’s rave. New and progressive, sure, but also some of the most ridiculed and hated music of all-time. Simon Reynolds is, at the very least, partially correct. The pop culture of the 2000’s is for whatever reason stuck in a time warp. But saying that this culture’s desire to recapture some of what made previous decades great is a detriment to the growth of current pop culture seems like a bit of an overreaction. What we see in today’s culture is the result of many convoluted factors careening into each other. And it is as unique and different as the culture of any other generation.