LUKASZ WIERZBOWSKI The State Of In - Between
XIU XIU • WEEKEND • DUM DUM GIRLS DUNES • JEANS WILDER • DASH JACKET
Painfully Direct Honesty
Table Of Contents
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Featuredâ€Ś 60 Lukasz Wierzbowski
Poland holds good vibes, inspiring places, and of course this talented photograher.
Jamie Stewart brings forth Angela Seo and a Nintendo DS to the new album.
8 Mr. Hare
Smart shoes for smart men.
Fashion… 14 AESA
80 Dash Jacket
Bam! This a part of the OC you haven’t heard.
18 Profile 22
• Nicolas Burrows • EKTA
Making a lot out of a little.
Faux Reel for real!
90 Dum Dum Girls
On moving in a whole new unexpected direction.
So much more than a living room jam session.
Breaking into bank parking lots, drinking lots of rum, and listening to R Kelly.
Three truths: Humor, sex, and death.
Everything falls naturally into place.
The other side of Los Angeles rarely expressed.
Jewelry handmade with love from Brooklyn.
116 Album Reviews 128 Movie Reviews
70 Haptic Lab
Trust us, this is not your average blanket.
Photography… 48 Andrew Nemiroski
Those darn teenagers!
Cover No1 / Lukasz Wierzbowski Cover No2 / Xiu Xiu Photography : Brian Vu
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Creative Director Writer At Large
Music Editor Lisa Bielsik Fashion Editor Lindsay Peters Multimedia Director
Writers Shirley Vilca Damanjit Lamba Scott Mackie Raciel Cuevas Sarelle Caicedo Amir Razmjou Madison Woodward Josh McDermott
Danny Chau Nathan Riggs Jenny Long Marc Ramirez Evan Adams Tom Murphy Sam Roberts Daryl Sweet
Photographers Nate Miller Paul Rosales David De Ridder Stuart Pillinger Marley Lohr Alex Kacha
All Content 2010 Rebel No Part of Rebel May be reproduced by any means without consent.
Text : Lindsay Peters Photography : Marley Lohr
THINK ON YOUR FEET
In women’s fashion most eyes are placed on shoes. Most designers focus on the archetypal high heel. It has been pumped, slinged-back, lifted from four to twelve inches off the ground, and covered in glitter. Past the choice of patent leather, suede, or different types of reptile skin not much has been said for the men’s shoe. Mr. Hare, a shoe designer based in London, focuses on the versatility, character, and support men’s shoes hold (especially when delving into life’s “nocturnal pursuits”). By taking inspiration from the epicenter of fashion rebellion, London, U.K., Mr. Hare creates shoes for the fashion-forward and self-assured. This new collection, Hot Steppers, features diverse color palettes, and a new eco-friendly material so one can step smart this Spring/Summer 2010. The talented Mr. Hare gives Rebel his perspective on London, beauty, and all the details of his new collection with a little MF Doom thrown in (You know, for good measure). How are you Marc? What did you do today? Today I began working with stores in Dubai, Canada and Beijing. I just ate steak tartar in my room at the Hotel Amour in Paris and tonight I will be partying with my good friends Justus and Sergei at the hospitality of Mr. Valentino. Only Paris can through up such glamour in one sentence. I also, belatedly, told someone I loved them. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do? I make shoes. Everything else is improvised. I realized recently that learning never slows down so what I try to do is new things I never did before, all the time. Tell us about your SS2010 collection ‘Hot Steppers’ ? The Hot Steppers will forever be such a poignant period in my life. Since I committed them to paper, I have ended three loves, made a thousand shoe dreams come true, been top of the league and acquainted myself with my lowest depths. Besides that I believe one of those seminal albums was born which fewer people enjoyed first hand than will eventually recall. What are the predominant themes in the collection? How to look stoosh, but comfortable, when engaging in all the nocturnal pursuits the equatorial (tropic to tropic) nations have to offer. This requires pigment dyed leathers, vegetable tanned breathable leathers and Espanol, una mass, attitude. There is a soundtrack I will share with anyone who wants one. From your point of view, what would you say is the difference between your current collection and the last one? The first collection was me making 7 shoes, no one else made avail-
able to me in the last twenty years. The second collection is me, learning about shoes and making them with my own perspective. The first collection was also about killing it, night time. The second collection had daytime assassin on it’s CV too. What would you say is your favorite pair from the collection? I don’t have a favorite anything. New stuff always has the added advantage of being unique, so my curiosity will never settle for anything I am familiar with. It can cause tears sometimes but the other side of tears is pretty intense too. Since you were born in London, did it only come natural for you to base your company here? Dude! I was born in the same hospital for incredibly good looking children in Croydon, as Kate Moss. I was 7 when punk happened, but it still happened in this town. I speak a brand of English I could only have procured in this town. B.R.I.X.T.O.N. Arsenal until I die. Even if I lived in Boise, Idaho, you would think I was operating from my beautiful city. Can you describe the Mr. Hare customer? In the immortal words of MF Doom “…raised his hourly rate based on how nice he is”. What is the best and the worst part about doing what you love? The best would be waking up every morning. The worst would be, having to end each day by going to sleep at night. Right now it’s real good to be awake. What would you say is beautiful to you aesthetically? Nature, proportions and viewing the world through the eyes of a motivated person. Will you ever move on to designing sneakers? Not unless I believe I can make something better than every other thing available. I am sick of living in a world where people make something because there is money in it. That’s why I had to do something about shoes. I might be able to do a better job but does the world need it? I don’t even need it. How many pairs of shoes do you own personally? At any one time, between about a thousand and about 43. What designers’ clothes do you find yourself wearing the most? It’s between Yvonne Chouinard, Stefano Pilati, Jacob Davis, Raf Simons, Me and Martin Margiela. What do you have planned for 2010? More Surfing, more shoes, more traveling, more honesty, more fun, just more.
Text : AESA
RELICS OF A LOST WORLD AESA PRESENTS MACHINE DE TERRE
RAPT and RAPT 2
Profile : 25, United Kingdom
NICOLAS BURROWS Materials: Pencils, inks, gouache and paper for collage. And an eraser is pretty important too. I’ve been getting more into the paper i’m drawing on as well. How is life in Leeds? Well as soon as this train starts up i’ll no longer be living in Leeds...but yeah the last 5 or so years i’ve been there have been OK. The music scene here is pretty rich, good venues and some interesting bands, and there are some people doing nice visual work, but ultimately it’s not going to be my home. What made you decide that you wanted to make it a career? Well I think the first thing was that in my last year of studying I was commissioned to do some real work, and it was quite a big project for me at the time, and led to a few other things, so I was getting regular illustration work and I thought that yeah, I guess when I leave university I can do this, it’s possible. So it was good timing I guess, otherwise maybe I wouldn’t have had the confidence to pursue it. Also having other guys around doing similar things though helps. Tell us a little bit about the Nous Vous Creative Studio. Nous Vous is myself, William Edmonds and Jay Cover. We met in Leeds when we were all studying and now we’re working as a design studio, illustrators, musicians and exhibiting artists, and we also try to self-publish as much as we can. We’re really close so it’s not just a professional operation, we hang out a lot as
well, which works just fine. It’s really great having these guys to bounce ideas off and to offer support and friendly competition, and people seem to be into how we work together, which is nice. What is the best and the worst thing about doing what you love? The best thing is being invited to work on projects or to show work with really interesting and lovely people, and to be able to get in touch with people all over the world through a shared interest. The worst thing is when you start to become stressed or bored by something that you’re working on, even though you’re still doing what you love. What project are you currently working on, and what do you have planned in the future? Right now with Nous Vous i’m working on an album sleeve for Canadian band Tokyo Police Club, building/making stuff for a contemporary Graphic Design Fair in London and we’ve just finished installing an exhibition up in Leeds which’ll be on for a few months. Hopefully in the near future i’ll be producing a few more small publications and recording some new things with my musical project, Glaciers. What are you doing when you’re not making art? Favorite past time? Well i’ll usually be working on making music as Glaciers, and playing drums in some other bands i’m in, which is pretty good fun.
Profile : 31, Sweden
Materials: Anything that’s free and available. When and how did you come up with EKTA? It’s just a combination of letters that came from when I was writing graffiti. How would you describe your artistic style? Playful, cynic and progressive. Why do you choose to collaborate with other artists? Mainly because it’s great to be able to share thoughts with another person, and be able to talk about content and compositions with someone who is as part of and interested in the process as yourself. Also to grow as an artist and push your visual language. What is the best and worst thing about doing what you love? Money, it doesn’t bother me too much, but sometimes it’s hard to come up with enough funding to realize projects or ideas that won’t generate any money Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweden? Anywhere is good if I’m with my son and girlfriend. Other then that, outside in the sun painting a wall is pretty good too. Who are some of the artists that you have collaborated with? Right now I’m working on some drawings with Ollio and Nils Kristofersson who are both based here in Gothenburg, they are the artists that I work with on a more regular basis as we live in the same city and see each other a lot. I’ve also done a bunch of duo shows with artists such as Lotion (denmark) / DEM (Ita-
ly) and Dave the chimp (UK) making all the work for the show together and not showing any individual work. What is the art scene like currently in Gothenburg? A little boring. I also guess I’m not making any massive efforts to find out about new stuff either. I visit the art museum alot with my son, but mainly because there’s a lot of stairs there and he’s really into climbing stairs at the moment. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists? Don’t waste your creativity working with advertising. What projects are you currently working on, and what do you have planned in the future? Right now I’ve been working on some new drawings for a series of screenprints which will be in a show later on this year. I’m trying to do some work for a show I am a part of in Armagh (Ireland) in May. Also I’m planning to start painting outside again as the winter appears to be over, that’s what I’ve been looking forward to the most in the past months. What bands or musicians are you into right now? Five tracks I’ve been listening to alot recently: • Prince - Lady Cab Driver • The Impressions - People Get Ready • Magic Mountain - Eric burdon & WAR • Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want - The Smiths • Walking On Your Grave - Dead Moon
Text : Brian Vu
ROBERT LANSDEN creates COMPLEX DRAWINGS with simple materials
It’s always more interesting to observe an artist that genuinely loves what they do and works towards their own self fulfillment. Qualities like these are what will truly stand out and appeal to the rest of the world. Robert Lansden is no exception to this, he is an original. If you haven’t noticed by now, Lansden’s forte is drawing. “I love everything about what I do but sometimes, I wish the drawings weren’t so time consuming.” Even as a high school student, Lansden would draw in his notebook instead of participating in the class lecture. “That seemed to be enough for me, drawing, just drawing.”
“I love everything about what I do
When Lansden lived in New York, the draw- but sometimes I wish the drawings ings he would see caught weren’t so time consuming.” his attention more than Lansden tells us that our country needs the pieces in other mediums. “It is so immediate and spontaneous. You can see both to be more supportive of individual artthe hand and the mind of the artist.” Lansden ists and how difficult it is to make a living plans to stay prepared under any circum- as one. The Cole Pratt Gallery has been a stance. A sketchbook is always kept at hand close supporter of Lansden’s since 2005, so he can draw, think, or record whenever in- which held three of his solo shows. He was spiration strikes. When it comes to materials, recently invited by RHV Fine Art (Brookhe likes to keep it minimal and use a pencil lyn) to exhibit his work in the Affordable or a felt tipped pen. Even though Lansden Art Fair in New York City. He’s also prechooses to use simple materials, his draw- paring himself for a solo show at Cole Pratt ings are much more than that. These draw- in May of 2011. For these, Lansden will ings are very mathematical and geometric, be doing some new things. “The drawings time consuming and tedious. Each drawing slowly but constantly evolve. I am beginis different in its own way, but they share a ning to add watercolor to some pieces and sense of natural form and life. Every detail, the work is going to get larger. Also, I’m soul searching for a conceptual reason to every line, fits like a puzzle. make paintings.” We’re very excited to see When asked what Lansden is influ- what he has in store for the future and we enced by the most, he replied, “My work wish him the best of luck. generates from a strong sense of curiosity Advice: “Everyone can learn to draw. I and discovery. I am trying to figure something out or I want to see what will hap- think everyone should keep a sketchbook pen when I do this or that. Then I add the regardless of skill level simply because it is element of repetition. I start with a set of a form of expression unlike any other. Try instructions usually and repeat them until it - you might surprise yourself.” the drawing reaches a conclusion.” After this, Robert chooses what materials best fit his vision. Never having a end product in mind, Lansden follows wherever his hands take him. Depending on the size, the drawings can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Text : Shirley Vilca
FAUX REEL DAN BERGERON IN YOUR FACE
Toronto born and based, Dan Bergeron, has taken the art world by storm. At first glance, he may seemingly be just a street artist, but after further observation it is apparent that he is much more. Bergeron is not only a graffiti artist, but he is also a photographer that chooses to live a humanitarian lifestyle. On the heels of his latest project ‘Faces of the City’, he describes his work as a “document [of] people that are…rarely focused on in the mass media”. Dan uses his work to challenge the media, and work as a counterpart effect on its surroundings and location. We talked to Bergeron about what exactly he means to portray with his art, and what he feels his art is doing to change the focus of our eyes as a society. In the end we find out that he is just a real guy, who at the end of the day just likes to, “spend time with [his] lady, watch films, skateboard…and eat chocolate”. Where were you born and where are you currently based? I was born in Toronto, Canada in 1975 and outside of living in Ottawa, Canada for 5 years when I studied Film and Sound Design at Carleton University, I have lived in Toronto my whole life. Did you go to art school? I have no formal art training and I am completely self-taught. Did you have a background in graffiti? I have a handful of good friends who are writers and there is a solid graff scene in Toronto. This influenced me to take notice of public space and appreciate well-executed hand styles and innovative lettering. But no, I do not have any practical background in graffiti.
What was your reason for becoming an artist? Was this always something that you knew you wanted to do? Art as a career kind of just happened, although ever since I was a kid I have always been interested using tools and constructing things in general. Space Lego was my favorite toy when I was young. However, the initial exposure that I had to graffiti through my friends, combined with the fact that I have been skateboarding since I was eight, gave me the motivation to look at public spaces in creative rather than utilitarian ways and this led me to want to try my hand at visual arts. What got you interested in doing photo-based street works? After fooling around with photography as a hobby and getting tired of exhibiting my images in simple black frames, I thought that I would try to add a different element to the uncommissioned outdoor art that I was seeing in Toronto. My first foray in creating photo-based street works was comprised of stickering up random 20” x 24” darkroom prints that I made onto glass or metal surfaces around the city. After I got tired of the lack of spots there were because of the method I was using to adhere my images, I started to print out the images on thin paper and then to shoot people specifically to them up. Once this happened, I really started getting keen on the practice of creating photo-based work for the streets. What materials do you find yourself constantly using? I like to keep it really simple. It’s just black and white images printed on 20 lb paper stock, cut up using shears and xacto knives and then pasted up using water-based, pre-mixed vinyl paste.
What are your steps of doing a wall impression? Best case scenario I like to find my spot first and get inspired by it. Then I think of what will work in that space and I photograph someone doing something to work with the space. Scan the film, minor touch up in Photoshop, print, cut, paste. Very simple. Tell us about your ‘Face of the City’ seriesThe idea behind the Face of the City series is to combine the prominent features of people’s faces with the distressed surfaces found in urban areas. I want to convey the fact that the beauty of people and of public spaces, lies in the scars, wrinkles and abrasions we find. These distressed surfaces reveal experience, wisdom, love, pain and joy to name only a few of the emotions, and they truly reveal who we are as people and where we live as communities. On your website, you wrote that you wanted “to document people that are rarely focused on in mass media.” Why do you think it’s important to use these people as your subjects? As a photographer I document people and places. If I’m going to be responsible, especially considering that I am working outside, I should try to document the people that are a part of the landscape. For the most part the people that you see in ads, actors that you see in television and films and the anchors that you see delivering the news all come from a similar cloth. I think that it’s important to document all of the other people out there so that everyone gets a chance to be exposed and to level the playing field a bit. Public art is the secondary visual language outdoors, advertising being the primary. Documenting those who fall outside of the primary visual lan-
guage allows for the work to be about inclusion, rather than what you see in advertising, which is often about exclusion. What reaction would you want people to take from your artwork? Because I create work for the outdoors, most of it deals with social, cultural or political issues, although sometimes it just plays with the space where it exists. As such, I want the work to create a reaction and start a discourse amongst the viewers and get them to think and talk about subjects that they normally wouldn’t discuss with their friends, neighbors or the person they happen to be beside on the street when they encounter the work. What projects are you currently working on and what do you have planned down the line? I have a solo show coming up in September at Show & Tell Gallery in Toronto based on the Face of the City series. I will be completing a large scale temporary installation in Southampton, Britain over the summer and I am completing an site specific work for the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art in Toronto this coming June. List three things that are essential to being an artist. In no particular order – creative problem solving skills, working hard and then working harder and figuring out how to hide your mistakes. What other things do you like to do in your spare time? I like to spend time with my lady, watch films, skateboard with my friends and eat chocolate.
Text : Damanjit Lamba
An artistâ€™s neurosis liberated on the streets of Brazil
Brazilian street painter MEDO believes there are three absolute truths: humour, sex, and death. His work follows this trajectory with paintings that focus on the “first pains” of fornication, disguised faces, and mutilated bodies. Put off by artists trying to follow the latest trends, MEDO rejects modernity with his black and white and sometimes red paintings that embrace Brazilian primitive art forms and the geometry of architecture. MEDO doesn’t romanticize his primitive work by painting in metropolitan areas. Rather, he sustains the power of his black and white figures by situating them in rural and desolate settings that point to a civilization in decline. The first known chronicles of Brazilian Indians date back to the discovery of the New World in the sixteenth century. Philosopher Michel de Montaigne wrote Des Cannibales in 1580, an essay describing the natives as “[t]hose people ...wild in the sense in which we call wild the fruits that Nature has produced by herself ... ruled by the laws of Nature and very little corrupted by ours.” MEDO’s work recalls this sense of purity and lack of corruption by dominant hegemonic models. Like the Brazilian modernists of the 1920s, if forced to choose between civilization and savagery, the latter is preferred. The canvases used for his street paintings include old sheds, brick walls, and expansive buildings. Distorted and misshapen settings change the initial concept sketched on paper, which is something about the creative process he very much enjoys. One can see that his paintings conform to the dimensions available in each chosen setting. MEDO cites musical influences that range from The Clash to Adoniran Barbosa, a Brazilian samba singer whose songs recounted the hardships of the underprivileged and whose lyrics consisted of an
informal Portuguese language commonly used by the lower classes of São Paulo. Similarly, MEDO speaks to those that are dejected and oppressed in society. He is able to channel all his fears and worries onto blank canvases to create pieces of art that profoundly move all that look upon them. How are you? What did you do today? Just fine, thank you. Today I went for a walk around town and ended up taking some sketches of a really beautiful church downtown. Then I came back home and started a new canvas. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. I was always interested in art as I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I spent my childhood and teen years drawing comics and flyers for punk rock shows. I was always into skateboarding and hardcore music, mostly because of my father. Nowadays I’m more interested in literature as it inspires me the most. But I like all art manifestations as long as they aren’t generic. How did you end up with the name MEDO? What does it mean? MEDO means FEAR. To make a long story short, I used to call myself CRS and my work was totally different. By the end of 2008 I wasn’t happy with any aspect of my life and realized that the only reason I was stuck in that situation was because of a fear of changing, so I decided to make that my new name. Where do you currently live? and how do you like it? I currently live in São Paulo, I love this city but I hate to paint here. I always look for small towns to paint in. When I have some money I get on a bus and travel to the country to find abandoned spots. São Paulo is too crowded and there are too many people painting on the streets. That’s great but I prefer calm places close to nature.
Why and when did you know that you wanted to paint? I started street painting in 2003 when I lived in a middle-west city called Goiânia with two great friends, Selon and Goya from the ALG crew. They were pixadores [graffiti artists] at first and they took me to the streets with them. Their style was more oldschool in terms of lettering and such. It was great learning some tricks from them but after a while I started to paint by myself and did some weird black and white drawings, mostly skulls. Nowadays Selon is a great abstract street artist and I really like his style. Please describe your design process. I study a lot about what interests me. Primitive art, architecture, and then I take these elements and try to draw my interpretation of everything that surrounds and worries me. I use Indian ink and any paper available. I also have the vice of drawing everything really small on paper; I don’t know why I do that. Why does black, white, and red show up in so much of your recent work? I’ve always preferred black and white art. My upbringing as a drawer was basically Indian ink on paper. Red started to show up when I felt the need to have blood in my paintings. It’s also something I picked up from Brazilian primitive art. What do you think art needs more or less of nowadays? Trends piss me off. I think art needs less trends and artists need to be more willing to risk new and different things. What reaction do you want people to draw from your artwork? I just want to express myself when I paint, and I guess the beauty of art is that it touches people in a very unique way. I don’t want to preach anything. Some people get nervous or even angry with my paintings on the streets. I want every person to
have their own interpretation and come to their own conclusions about what they’re seeing. I expect people to think for themselves. On average, how long does it usually take you to finish a project? Depends a lot on what the place I’m painting feels like. When I’m in a quiet place I take my time and enjoy the day. I’ve had simple drawings that have taken me more than six hours. When I’m in the city, it usually takes me two or three hours. When starting a project, do you always have the finished image in mind? Yes, I always take my sketches with me and try to pick the best spot for each one but the places always change what I had pictured in the first place. I like that a lot. Are you a trained artist, or were you self taught? I’m selftaught. I studied digital design but that was a mistake. I hated it and design school was always trying to kill my style because it wasn’t “commercial.” What is the best and worst thing about doing what you love? I paint on the streets because it gives me a chance to feel like a kid again, hanging out, climbing trees, and getting to know new places and abandoned houses. Also, it gives me the chance to turn my mind off from everything that bothers me and enjoy the silence. It’s like a form of therapy for me...haha. I don’t see anything bad about painting, but sometimes I get stuck or worry too much about what I’m doing. That’s always something I try to leave behind and just do what I want. What do you believe makes painting a flexible medium? A blank space allows you to do whatever you feel like.
Text & Photography : Brian Vu
SYNCHRONICITY UNLIKE THE ORDINARY ART GALLERY
The first time I went the Synchronicity Space Gallery was to see Brilliant Colors play with Best Coast, Dunes, and Animal Style in January. For some reason, I had never heard of this place and I was under the impression that it was just another hard-to-locate concert venue in Los Angeles. To my surprise, Synchronicity was located conveniently on Melrose. In addition to that, it was not only a venue, but an art gallery.
Chris Gere and Katie Vonderheide first met when they worked at Giant Robot about two and a half years ago. The two became good friends instantly and started going to concerts together. After hanging out at Echo Curio (Los Angeles Art Gallery) and other galleries, they were inspired to open up their very own space. Echo Curio had played a huge part in the opening of the space, giving the partners answers to any questions they had.
Around that same time, Synchronicity held their one year anniversary with a silent auction that included art donated from various artists. Because I rarely saw galleries like this, the idea of a silent auction sparked my interest. The auction included pieces from Not Not Fun Records, Sumi Ink Club, and PFFR. A few months later, I found myself at Synchronicity once again for a Pocahaunted show. One of our writers, Scott Mackie suggested that I talk to Chris (one of the gallery’s owners) about doing a feature on the space. I instantly agreed to the proposal, and was very excited because we had never featured a place like this before. After introducing myself to Chris Gere, he introduced me to his partner, Katie Vonderheide. Luckily, the two agreed to an interview with us. The excitement was mutual.
“I Guess most people call it networking, but it doesn’t really feel like that because these people are our close friends.”
After looking around Los Angeles for two months, the two found a perfect spot on Melrose. The space is surrounded by growing businesses, like a brand new venue called “The Strange”, a vegan restaurant called “Pure Luck”, and a nice little ice cream shop and galleria called “Scoops”. After having a set location, it was time for the two to think of a name. “We went back and forth with a name for at least a month,” Katie told us. She said the original ideas were too bizarre to tell everyone. “We ended up with Synchronicity and really liked the meaning behind it. It really attached itself to the space. Everything just fell into place.” Even though the space is called Synchronicity, people tend to get the name mixed up. Some call it Synchronicity Gallery, Sync Space, Sync for short. “As long as the address on there, everything should be fine,” Gere says. Chris Gere and Katie Vonderheide both have their own roles with Synchronicity. Vonderheide curates all of the art shows, and Gere manages all of the concerts. When asked who they choose to represent for both art and music, Gere tells us that most of the time the bands usually contact them and set up the night themselves. As for the art side, they choose artists that stand out to them and love what they do. During the time of the interview, Aaron Anderson and Eric Carlson had their work on display. Very ambitious, the two artists made a limited five hundred page unbound book full of
their artwork in a painted black box for the gallery. Currently, Synchronicity is representing PFFR presents Legacy IIX from the same people who brought you Renegade Angel, Wonder Showzen, Final Flesh, unt Hands of God, and the soundmares of United We Doth. At Synchronicity, don’t expect the average art show. The space isn’t limited to just art and music, but also all sorts of things such as film screenings, skits, parties, etc. “It’s nice to have a space to do whatever you want. We’ve made a lot of good friends and have collaborated with many different people,” Gere says. “I guess most people would call that networking, but it doesn’t really feel like that because these people are our good friends,” Katie adds. Synchronicity holds countless memories for Chris and Kate. One of their favorite memories was the Halloween show that Britt and Amanda from Not Not Fun put together. The roster included Ariel Pink, Former Ghosts, Pocahaunted, Tearist, LA Ladies Choir, and Psychic Reality. “It’s great to see people coming in and enjoying themselves.” When you get the chance, you must check out Synchronicity. It’s a phenomenal place for art, music, and overall an amazing place for Los Angeles culture.
AARON ANDERSON & ERIC CARLSON
Text : Sarelle Caicedo
A Look at the Life From a Modern Lens
It doesn’t matter if high school was a good time for you or not. There are definite images that come to mind when the topic is mentioned. For some, those images include braces, grueling homework, bad haircuts, loud parties (where everything consumed was bought by someone who was old enough to buy it for you and your friends), first tattoos, and the list goes on. Contemporary photographer Andrew Nemiroski’s vivid photos define what high school must be like in New Jersey. Nemiroski’s photos have an air about them that will never go out of style. The content of each photo provides something that anyone who has been young, and wants to hold onto those great and unusual times can relate to. Nemiroski started out by just photographing rollerblading tournaments, but has taken endless photos of mysterious vans, alluring cats, bizarre looking strangers, skateboarders, bikers, and portraits of his friends. In this honest interview, Andrew lets us in on how he feels about the age-old debate of manual vs. digital photography, dark rock music, and what life might have to offer after high school. How did you get started in photography? It started out with a digital point and shoot taking pictures of flowers and sunsets which eventually escalated into a DSLR taking pictures of rollerblading. I wanted to take pictures of skating so I bought some pocketwizards and flashes. At one point I was really into panoramas and HDRs which is what actually got me well known in skating world. At huge rollerblading competitions I would take high frame rate sequences and stitch them into panoramas. I would wait until the finals to catch the winning tricks and I guess people were really impressed with my work so a magazine started paying me for every shot they published. But man this was my peak, I was so dedicated to photography at this time. I would go out to Philly every other weekend to shoot blading and lug a backpack full of gear and clothes, carry 3 lightstands in my hands along with my blades, and my macbook to edit the photos on the go. My backpack was on the verge of exploding sometimes because of the amount of shit in there. But unfortunately, I’m over digital photography, external flash photography, action photography, and pretty much any kind of photography. Even what I’m doing right now. It’s just not as fun as it used to be, I need some inspiration.
a roadtrip out west. I was in Arizona with Timothy over winter break a couple weeks ago, and that place is pretty damn incredible. Education wise I want to study engineering at Northeastern University, but I recently got deferred, so hopefully I’ll recieve some good news in April! How would you describe your photographic style? I don’t think I have a discrete style to my photography. I kinda just document the lives of young adults. I just take pictures of things that I think look cool. But, vaguely speaking, my style is contemporary photography. Film or digital? Why? Film because it looks a ton better. Digital was fun for a while, but it started to bore me so I picked up a Yashica 124G. Shooting 6x6 was something I had never done before. I was so juiced on film when I first got it, getting back shots is really anticipating when you know you got a good roll coming in. The colors film produces (if done correctly) look so amazing. I haven’t shot a photo with my DSLR since August. My “digital bag” has dust on it actually, haha. What camera are you currently using? What piece of equipment are you dying to have? The two cameras I shoot with are the Mamiya 7 and Contax T2. I haven’t used my Mamiya at all lately. The Contax T2 though, that thing is the best piece of equipment I own. Considering that the Mamiya 7 was the camera I was dying to have for the longest time, I’m pretty much set right now. I don’t want anything. Though I would like to try out a high end pricey Leica with some crazy fast lens to see what all the hype is about. When you’re not out shooting, what are you doing? I’m either rollerblading or filming for my video, “Killin’ it”. I’ve been filming for my video for about 8 months now and it’s dropping at the end of February. Otherwise, being a “darn teenager” with my friends. What is the best and worst part about photography? • Best - Being really hyped to get a roll of film back. Usually after a vacation. • Worst - HDR “photos”
Would you like to pursue it as a career? A couple years ago, all I wanted to be was a photographer and go to an art school or something. Now, not at all. Who knows, maybe in a couple years I’ll get really into it again and try to do something with it. I doubt it though.
What music are you currently listening to? My taste in music has been a little different lately. I can’t get enough of Bob Dylan, his music is unreal. Lately I’ve been into dark wave like Joy Divison, Bauhaus, and Sioxsie and the Banshees along with some punk hardcore like Bad Brains, GG Allin, and Adolescents.
What are your plans after graduation high school? My friend Timothy Kelly was talking about a $500 monthly AmTrak pass? That sounded pretty awesome. Definitely trying to go on
What do you think art needs more or less of nowadays? “When you see it, you’ll shit bricks” photos. “When you see it, you’ll say what” photos.“What the hell is going on” photos.
Text : Brian Vu
Lukasz Wierzbowski THE STATE OF IN - BETWEEN
Like myself, Lukasz Wierzbowski only has a year and a half of school left. When we’re not doing anything school related, we’re pursuing our careers. However, we do have our differences: He studies Social Psychology, and I “ I feel like i’m trying to capture the study Design and Interac“state of in-between” where everything tive Media. He lives and breaths shooting film for is like an unfinished sentence. I’m not it’s beauty, and I shoot digisure if you can call it a style…” tal for it’s practicality. The only thing that we share in common is that we love what we do to death and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Lukasz Wierzbowski (sometimes referred to as “Luka”) is a twenty-six-year-old student living in Wroclaw, Poland. He lives there because of it’s good vibes, inspiring places, and creative people. Wierzbowski was a very clumsy and neurotic individual. When he was in high school, he smoked a lot of cigarettes, read a lot of Marcel Proust, and listened to a lot of Portishead. Photography came naturally right after. “As a teenager I was obssesed with making short movies but after some time I realized that I needed something more portable so I switched to photography. It was love at first sight.” When it comes to photography, Wierzbowski wanted to go back to the roots. After a short period of using digital, he decided to make his project “neon.tamborine” analog only. He yearns for the mystery that comes with shooting film, rather than the instant gratification that is digital. Lukasz is inspired by light, people, and places. When shooting, he prefers to use his Canon Rebel K2, but when he can’t carry that around, he uses his Olympus mju II for it’s convenience. When asked how the photographer affords so much film, he replies “I just got use to it. I usually buy expired film which is cheap. And the processing is not that expensive as well.” Wierzbowski is always shooting photographs. Whether it’s his friends or family, or even someone he had just met, he seems to be shooting non-stop. His style is very distinct, and can be recognized in a flash. His photographs are very rich in color, and sometimes beautifully uncomfortable. “I feel like i’m trying to capture the ‘state of in-between’ where everything is like an unfinished sentence. I’m not sure if you can call it a style…” One thing is for sure, Wierzbowski’s photographs will certainly not bore you. He’s constantly updating his Flickr and website so visit those sites to see more of his work.
Text : Emily Fischer
HAPTIC LAB HANDMADE HEAVEN
Hand-stitched cotton pillow.
Silver Lake, Los Angeles
University of Michigan Campus
Detail, hand-stitched silk shantung; private collection.
â€œReadymadeâ€? machine-quilted cotton map.
Text : Douglas Sweeney Photography : Alex Kacha
JEANS WILDER ANDREW CADDICK TAKES US DEEP INTO THE OCEAN
I suppose that when you think about Southern California, you think about spring break, the sun, the Beach Boys and other stereotypically happy-go-luck things that are associated with it. I also suppose you don’t think about the seedy underbelly the exists throughout the region, the homelessness or the sharks that swim in that ocean. While Andrew Caddick’s friends represent the sunshine through Bethany Cosentino’s Best Coast and Nathan Williams’ Wavves projects, Caddick seems to have taken a different route in his music making endeavors. Jeans Wilder represents the murky depths of the ocean that the Beach Boys didn’t get around to singing about. When did you start recording as Jeans Wilder and how did you come up with that name? I started recording as Jeans Wilder in April of 2008, after performing noise under a variety of names. I came up that name sometime in 2007, because I just come up with band names all the time, and I thought it was pretty funny. It’s the “plural” of Gene Wilder, he was such an inspiring actor, doing really whatever role he wanted, just like I feel I approach any sound I want. The problem with that though, is I used to always change my name whenever I thought of one I liked better, so I would never have the same name for more than a week or so. But, I kept coming back to Jeans Wilder and ended up using it. I even thought about changing it from Jeans, but people liked it, so I kept it. What are some of the other names you’ve used? Heavy Cloud Thy Casual Destroyer, Trasheater, Gluehorse, Gnashing Teeth, Teen Shaving and Darkwand Lightwand. I’ve also played in Fantastic Magic, Young Brides, More Fur, Ikebana (both preWavves Nathan Williams), Gateway Drugs, and Heavy Hawaii. I also helped write a couple songs on the first Wavves record, and have new bands with Jen Paul (Woolcoats), and Dent May (no name for this yet). What are some artists that have inspired you to make music? Lesley Gore, The Beach Boys, Sade, Cameo, The Shaggs, Sonic Youth, Public Image Ltd., Ennio Morricone. Also newer artists like: Grouper, Jen Paul, Wavves, Abe Vigoda, Pink Priest, Best Coast, Grass Widow, Raw Moans, The Savage Young Taterbug, Tanlines, Nude Beach, etc. It’s really cool to have friends that are doing something super interesting, it keeps it fresh. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it? In the beginning, it was a lot more experimental and sparse and know I would say it’s just my “version” of straight-forward pop. But, I would say it’s like getting caught in a rip current after you just huffed a bunch of glue with your best gal, and as the ocean pulls you towards an early grave, all you can do is think of your lost love, as the sun sets behind you. A lot of your music has a darker theme than the acts that you are sometimes associated with (Best Coast, Wavves) what do you attribute this to? Well, when I first started, Jeans
was really just a way for me to vent all these negative feelings I was having at the time, anonymously, at least at first. Also, my sense of humor used to be a lot darker, so it was me projecting anything and everything, good and bad, but with a fucked up sense of humor about it. What do you feel are the advantages to being a band or artist from the San Diego area as opposed to say Los Angeles or anywhere else? I don’t know if there are any advantages, actually. I feel like San Diego is kind of hard to break out of. I mean, there have been bands that have gotten big, but it’s always been one of the places that just seems so relaxed, that it’s weirdly non-supportive. I mean, people will support you, but on the other hand, they have palm trees, the beach, and nice weather, so everything else comes after, you know? Many of your songs have a lo-fi feel to them, what is your recording process like? At first, I recorded in a park by my parents’ house. I would get really stoned and walk around with a micro-cassette recorder and then transfer it, very poorly I might add, to my computer. Then I moved to recording live to a cassette player and recording that to another and so on and so forth. Then I just started using Garageband and started getting (slightly) better and cooler equipment, so the sound is changing to a more “hi-fi” sound, I guess you could say. I just feel like the new recordings have a lot of different layers that I want to people to hear, so I’m working on making it sound not as much “underwater”. In a perfect world, what bands/artists would you collaborate with? Oh man, where do I start? Beth Ditto and I talked about doing a cover of “The Boy is Mine” a long time ago, I’ve always wanted to do that. I think doing a duet with Beth (Best Coast) would be really fun. So many people: Grouper, Jana Hunter, I would love to go to Peaking Lights’ farm and record something with them, Prurient, etc. I’d say someone crazy like Bjork or Outkast or something, but yeah right. I’m pretty open to collaborating with people, but the ones I’ve done so far have been perfect, on a professional and personal level, so it would be nice to continue to have that relationship. Do you have any releases coming up that you could tell me about? I have a split cassette with Deep Sht on Leftist Nautical Antiques, the “Simpler Times” 7” on La Station Radar, a split with Dunes, a cassette called “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” on Sixteen Tambourines, from Japan, an EP called “To Shreds” that I recorded with a drummer and the songs are a lot crazier, at least for me, another 7” here or there and finally my two-years-in-the-making-LP “Nice Trash” is currently coming out on La Station Radar, from France, but I’ll be shipping it to U.S. labels, once its finished. What are you most excited about in 2010/the future in general? Finishing the record, recording new stuff, traveling, getting to connect and interact with people, just having fun. Last year was kind of a drag for me, personally. But this year has been great, so far.
Text : Douglas Sweeney Photography : Brian Vu
things IN ORANGE COUNTY are finally looking up
Honestly, it’s no surprise that Orange County’s music scene is flourishing right now. It’s only human nature that when faced with such oppressive boredom in a stale suburban life, you’re only option is to get loud, to get noisy and to get creative. Thom Lucero and Mat Towles of Dash Jacket are no exception to this theory. They exemplify everything that is right with the OC scene right, as well as everything that is right in music today, worldwide. They’re definitely in good company! Dash Jacket play frequently at UC Irvine as part of Sam Farzin’s [Moon Pearl] Acrobatics Everyday and are even on his D.I.Y. label Life’s Blood. They’ve also collaborated with Irvine’s Tan Dollar and recorded their new album with Wonder Wheel’s Paul Rosales. Dash Jacket’s raucous avant-garage pop sound may draw it’s influences from many places, but what Mat and Thom create is music that is truly addicting and ultimately impressive. No doubt we will all be wondering what we were listening to before when we all find out about Dash Jacket. When did you guys start recording under the name Dash Jacket and how did you come up with that name? Thom: Well, we actually started recording the stuff that would become Dash Jacket stuff in December 2008, and we didn’t have a name then. We just knew our old band (the earthenware yawn) was pretty much done, and that this new stuff was a departure, but we didn’t come up with a name until probably a week or so after our first release (“Some Songs”) was done. We were throwing around a bunch of names for a couple weeks, but they either sounded dumb after a while, or we looked them up on the internet and they came up with some electro band from Vegas whose members were all strippers/porn stars (that’s actually true, I forget what the band name was though). If you listen to “Always Nothing” on Some Songs, the lyrics are basically just a list of the band names we didn’t use. But Dash Jacket has humble and kinda lame beginnings, I was just reading on Sonic Youth’s myspace about Kim’s new clothing line, called Mirror/Dash, and the first thing they put out was a jacket. It was a Mirror/Dash jacket. I saw the two words next to each other and liked the sound of it. I suggested it to Mat, he liked it, and eventually that’s what we decided on. At the end, it was between Hate Pop and Dash Jacket, and we went with the latter. Also, technically, the very first Dash Jacket recordings were “blah” and “Pomegranate Lips” from our second album, Blah Blah. I did those myself in my room in Arcata in September 2008. Mat: Thom had recorded “blah” and “Pomegranate Lips” up in Arcata by himself in his room in late 2008. those became the first Dash Jacket songs that were actually done and recorded. I had recorded really rough demos on cassette and my laptop for our early songs that would be on *Some Songs *like “Today Tomorrow” and “Vivian Girl” and other songs that never made it. Like Thom said, we really had a ton of names we were thinking of, several of which have become song names or just phrases we like using. Dash Jacket just sounded the nicest, I suppose. It’s catch-y.
What are some artists that you consider to be your biggest influences? Thom: I feel like we’re always finding new music, so we’re always finding new influences. But as far as majorly influencing us: all the bands we’re surrounded with in Orange County (namely Tan Dollar and Wonder Wheel) have an inevitable influence because we’re constantly surrounded by their music; watching and listening to them keeps us thinking about ways to play music and write songs. Of course, the Beatles are a cliche answer, for a good reason. They were the best band ever, period. For me, at least. No Age and Wire helped me to embrace the power of minimalism; getting rid of what’s unnecessary is something we base our sound on, I think, hence it’s just the two of us, and our songs are short and have unrepetitive structures (mostly). I love the simple pleasures of 60’s bands like the VU, and all the millions of bands who took their blueprint and did something original with it. I’m a sucker for pure pop like Nodzzz, I can’t get enough of them. The Kinks are one of my very favorite bands, I wish I could write a pastoral portrait into 3 minutes like a Davies. And the experiments with texture that Eno, Bowie, and the Talking Heads did in the late 70’s inspires me to find new sounds with those pedals. That’s an abbreviated version, but I think it works.. Mat: We both like a lot of the same bands, which is good. The Ramones, The Urinals, Wire—these were all primary influences in the beginning (and still are). I really like short songs the most; I’m not a huge fan of longer songs. I think Thom and I bring in different areas of influence. Thom said the Beatles in his response, but I like the Beach Boys more, which I think is good. It’s not to say that I dislike the Beatles, which I don’t at all (I love love love them), but I don’t think it’d be smart to have two total Beatles freaks writing all the songs for one band. That’s how Oasis started (shudders). Other huge influences: Tiger Trap, Talulah Gosh, Big Dipper, Mika Miko, Nirvana. How do you decide who drums/play guitar on which song? Does it vary? Thom: That’s easy: usually one of us comes to practice with a song written, or a chord progression or something, and that person is the one who plays guitar and sings lead. For the songs that we write together (“San Pedro,” “Melting Gaze,” “Hello, Goodbye,” “No Way Girl,” etc.), they usually come out of “jams,” where we’ll just be fucking around, playing around with chords to come up with a progression until something hits us and we keep doing it and working it out until it becomes a song. These ones are the most satisfying, because the songs just kinda fall together out of some sort of musical telepathy. Anyways, in these cases, whoever happens to be on guitar or drums at the time ends up playing that instrument on the recording and when we play it live. Mat: Generally whoever is playing guitar when a song is written is the one who plays guitar when the song is recorded and played live. The same goes for the drums. I can’t really think of a situation where that hasn’t been the truth… Usually we each write the part ourselves though. One of us will write the guitar part and the other will write the drum part. We also share melody and lyric writing duties. And harmonies and guitar lines and tambourine parts are all shared, too. (It really works out because both Thom and I are what you might call virtuosos on the tambourine, so the
tambo parts come to the both of us pretty naturally.) You guys are often compared to other beach-pop and garage-rock acts, how do you feel about this and what do you attribute that to? Thom: I can dig all the beach-pop and garagerock. I love the beach and I love summer and I love pop. And garages. I think the comparison comes from the recording quality sometimes; our first 5 releases were all done in Mat’s garage or my Arcata bedroom on Garageband, with no external mics, so the fidelity certainly isn’t hi. That and the fact that we like to play fast and put poppy melodies over the top of it, and I guess it’s easy to compare us to all the other stuff. I try to keep that out of my mind though. We try to make each album a step forward from the last, so hopefully our sound will stick out to people as it progresses. We’re continually changing what we wanna sound like, and we can only hope that what we do stands out to some people, and that they like it. The weirdest thing for me is that we’ve been compared to Wavves more than to any other band, and that band has never entered my mind when coming up with songs or anything. I guess we share some influences, but I think we’re doing pretty different things. Mat: I think when we first started that whole wave of beach-pop garage-rock acts started to come up too. It’d be lying to say we weren’t influenced by it a little bit, but it would also be false to say “we liked what everyone else was doing so we did it too”. I love “garage-rock” and “beach-pop” but I would never say that’s what we were trying to do when we first started out. We’re just doing the kind of music we like. I also don’t think we use a lot of the rock-n-roll influences and “surf” guitar that a lot of these garagerock bands use nowadays. Some people tell us we’re like noisy 60’s garage-pop, which is sort of the catch-all term for anything remotely fuzzy or pop or “beach-y” these days. At least from my perspective, my writing is far more influenced by bands like Tiger Trap or The Beach Boys or Eggplant or Sonic Youth than or Dick Dale or Ty Segall or the Standells or anything like that. “Beachpop” is tricky because it’s one of my all-time favorite styles of music, culture, art, ideals, climate; but there are bands from England that people call “beach-pop” which tells you right there that “beach-pop” can mean a million different things to a million different people. You guys are both from Orange County but have lived in Humboldt, CA and Long Beach, where do you plan on living in the years to come? Where do you feel most creative? Thom: I’m hoping to live all over the place. I’d like to live in San Francisco for a while after college. I went to New York City last summer, and left determined to live there for a while in the future. I’d like to spend some time in Europe too. We’ll see what happens. The most immediate thing, hopefully, is a move to Los Angeles, hopefully sometime later this year. I can’t say I really know where I feel most creative, I haven’t noticed a pattern. I just try to make sure I have something on me at most times, so that I’m ready when inspiration hits. I carry a little notebook in my back pocket, a journal in my backpack, and I’ve recorded a good amount of melodies on my phone, most of which I reject or forget about later. There’ve been countless times that Mat’s called me and I
answer and he says, “Hang on, I’m gonna call back, don’t answer next time, I gotta leave a melody on your voicemail.” I guess I don’t really feed off of the environment I’m in. It all comes from the inner environment, the mind, or whatever. Mat: I have no idea about the future, really. We could be living in the south of France or the Brazilian coast in the years to come, who knows! I would also like to live in San Francisco after college. But I think for now we’re staying in Orange County (or maybe Long Beach). I really love Orange County. Southern California is the place to be, dude. We probably feel most creative in the presence of other artists and musicians and friends and loved ones. In a garage or at a show, anywhere that has paintings on the walls or music playing in the background. Because of this, I think we’re feelin’ pretty creative where we are at the moment. We’re surrounded by tons of super talented people and friends. Unlike what Thom said, I think I feed off my environment almost entirely. I spend most of my day writing things down and looking and listening. A lot of inspiration comes from little things that just happen to catch my ear or interest. That would explain all the times I’ve left melodies on Thom’s answering machines. As a band, what do you feel are the advantages to living in Orange County? Thom: I’m only just now starting to think there are advantages to being in a band in Orange County. It used to suck here, music scene-wise. But now I think there’s all kinds of fertile ground for creativity, with groups like Acrobatics Everyday and Revolutionary Poor putting on great shows, and venues like the Avalon and La Cave and Detroit Bar and The Crosby and Trashpretty hosting bands that are actually good. In the past year, we’ve made countless new friends, all of whom are in great bands or put together great shows. There’s alot of creative energy bouncing around, and things are really starting to open up. I really think it’s a great place to be right now. Plus, the beach is right there, the weather’s amazing, and LA is just up the freeway. And we all know how amazing the LA scene is right now. Mat: Before starting Dash Jacket, I think we would have said there were no advantages to living in Orange County, save for the weather and the beach. In our first band, it was super difficult to get shows because we didn’t know anybody and we were just teenagers and all the musicians that we played shows with were our friends and one of us usually set them up. But since we’ve been in Dash Jacket (and been able to drive all over and stuff) I think we’re finding Orange County to be a great place to live and play. There is so so so much happening right now, it’s a total rush to be part of it all. Acrobatics Everyday, the Revolutionary Poor, Burger (Records), The Crosby, Costa Mesa in general (haha!)—they’re all right here! And there are so many other great things, I’ll probably forget to mention them all. But I’ll try: Trashpretty, the Avalon, Jumpin’ Chupacabra, La Cave, KUCI, the Santa Fe Café @ the Fullerton Train Station, OC Weekly, anyone who puts on house show, guerilla shows, Detroit Bar, UCI parking structures, Miller Electric, all the great art galleries in Fullerton, Orange, Laguna, etc. And that’s not even mentioning all of the brilliant bands and artists in Orange County right now. Gosh!
You have a forthcoming record coming out on Life’s Blood, what can you tell me about this? Thom: It’s called “Romance,” and it’s a major departure in several ways. First, it’s the first one we’ve recorded with someone else, that someone else being our resident Renaissance Man, Paul Rosales (aka Wonder Wheel). As a result, the sound of the recordings is much different, not as blown out as before, and with his signature delay on the vocals. We’re really stoked on how it sounds. There’s also a big difference in the actual songs. There are more instrumentals, more atmospheric use of pedals, there’s a song that’s nearly 7 minutes, and there’s even an acoustic guitar! Our ideas were all over the place with this one, so we had a hard time figuring out how to sequence it, but I think we’ve decided on a song order and we’re just wrapping up the process of getting all the files together and sent to the right people, and I gotta finish up the artwork. Basically, if you’ve seen us play from about November through March, you’ve seen some of these songs, although there are a couple that we’ve never played live. We’ll save those for the record release, maybe. Mat: This is album is all new stuff—new songs, new recording style, new label—but it was written pretty much how we have always written stuff, which is just continuously writing and then putting to tape what we had. Thom has pretty much already said everything that needs to be said. Will you be touring for this record if so, where? Thom: Yes, we will be touring, although it’s possible that by the time the tour starts, we’ll have another recording out to be touring behind. We like to knock ‘em out fast. But yeah, we’re putting together an epic (for us) tour with our amazing buds in Tan Dollar and Weed Diamond, up to Seattle and back, via San Diego, LA, the Bay Area, the central valley (Sacramento and Davis), Santa Cruz, SLO, Humboldt, Portland, and Olympia. It’s our first tour, so we’re super excited to be going with such awesome bands to such (presumably) awesome places, a couple of which I’ve never been to before. We’re almost done with the booking, we’re just looking for Humboldt, basically. Which is ironic, because Mat and I know a bunch of people up there. It’s just hard to get something to line up. If you can help us out, do it!
County band). We wanna do a 7” of two old songs of ours, which we wrote in high school when we were in the earthenware yawn, but never really recorded the way we wanted to. One side will be a song of mine called “Goddess From the Sea,” and the other side will be a song of Mat’s called “Hold My Hand.” Both songs are pure pop, some of the best songs we’ve written. I dunno who’ll put it out (maybe Psychedelicate Records?), but it’ll be awesome for sure. After that, we wanna record two albums simultaneously, one leaning more towards the poppy side and one that’s more experimental and atmospheric. We were thinking of recording them with two different people (the poppy one with Madison, the experimental one with Paul). I think we’ll call the more experimental one “Hot Mystery.” We’re already coming up with stuff for those albums. Exciting stuff. Mat: A career cut short by a sudden, spectacular, though untimely death on par with those of Buddy Holly, Hank Williams, and Darby Crash. What can you tell me about your own label UVR? Thom: Originally it was just that we wanted some way to get our own music out, so we’d buy cheap cd sleeves and paste makeshift artwork on them and burn the cds. We wanted to put a name on it, maybe create something that might turn into an actual label, so we came up with Ultra Vivid Records, named after one of our songs, “Ultravivid.” Things are only a little bit more official now, as we’re putting out our own cassette and we’re actually releasing a cd by someone other than ourselves! It’ll be by our buddy Mermels, who plays the chaos pad and other craziness in Sam Farzin’s (of Acrobatics Everyday and Life’s Blood) band Moon Pearl, which both of us play in as well. So yeah, the label is picking up ever so slightly. It’d be cool to put out stuff by other bands in the future, and maybe even save up enough money someday to press some vinyl. We’ll see.
Mat: Like Thom said, we will be touring, but necessarily FOR this record. We’re playing a lot of shows between now and the tour, so I guess you could say that will be the “tour” for this album. By the time we tour this summer we will have newer stuff out that we’ll be playing a lot of. But a lot of these songs will probably stay in our setlists for a while. Most of them are pretty fun to play. The tour is your basic West Coast tour, up to Seattle and Olympia and back. We’re really stoked for Humboldt. I’m excited for Olympia the most, though it’s tough finding a show there.
Mat: I came up with the name UVR while sitting on the grass at last year’s Coachella listening to Throbbing Gristle bark and whine about whatever was bothering Genesis that day or everyday or whatever. I was trying to think of my favorite label names, and a lot of them were acronyms (SST, PPM, ZTT, ZE, I.R.S., and to a lesser extant K, KRS, Y, 5RC, etc.) and so I thought our label needed to be easy to remember and simple to say like those names. Somehow I just thought of the song Thom wrote, “Ultravivid” and realized that Ultra Vivid Records would work perfectly. So UVR it was. We’re really stoked on UVR right now because we’re really getting into it. We’re releasing a Dash Jacket cassette, which will be our first non-burned cd-r release, which is rad. We’re also putting out a cd-r of Michael Mermelstein’s album (under the name mermels) called *Thizzneyland*. We’re really excited to put more music out, especially music that isn’t by us. I think we’re hoping to put out books, too. Art, poetry, scratch-n-sniff—that kind of stuff.
What can we expect from Dash Jacket in the future? Thom: Perhaps someday we’ll become able musicians! In 20 years, we’ll probably be constructing 5 hour conceptual opuses about life in parallel universes or something. But as far as the nearer future, we’ve already got plenty of plans bouncing around our heads. Once we get Romance out, we wanna start recording with our buddy Madison, who’s in Canyons (another amazing Orange
What is the recording process like for you guys? Thom:We’ve gone through different phases, according to our proximity to each other and our connections to people with recording equipment. The first album was done in Mat’s garage over the course of a couple weeks. We’d come up with a song on guitar, record it quickly, overdub vocals, and then figure out what to do for percussion. We didn’t have a drumset at the time, so we mostly
just looped a distorted tambourine to simulate cymbals and banged on various objects (guitar cases, boxes of granola bars, guitar pedals) and ran them through distortion for a drum sound. For the next album (Blah Blah) and the eps (Atoner and Spacer), I was living in Arcata and Mat was living in Orange County (about 800 miles apart), so the recording was much different. Some songs were recorded completely by Mat, some completely by me, and some of them were recorded partly by one of us and then sent to the other to add percussion or guitars or vocals or noise. I would usually set aside a whole evening or day on the weekends and lock myself in my room for 5 hours and start and finish a new song. A lot of these songs had odd origins, too. For “Wash,” I recorded about five minutes of myself playing one chord through a delay and tremolo, and then listened to it until a song came to me. Then I structured the song around that one chord, and you can here it still, it’s that shimmering sort of ambient guitar sound that fades in at the beginning, and it’s in the background of the chorus. So that song was pretty much a creation of the subconscious, which is really cool to me. I was into Max Ernst and Hans Arp and stuff at the time. With “Anna Says,” I wrote that as a challenge of sorts. Mat texted me and said, “Write the song that Lou Reed would’ve written having just heard “Anna” by The Beatles for the first time,” so I went home that night, and “Anna Says” is what came out. For the “High Spirits” cassette, which’ll be out soon, we were once again in Matt’s garage, with a drumset for the first time. The recording process here was a little more cut and dry, real simple. We’d record a basic track of guitar and drums, played live, and then we’d overdub more guitars and vocals and whatever else we felt necessary. And with “Romance,” we were with Paul. We went over to his house in Orange in late February and knocked out all the tracks in about 6 hours. We recorded drums and guitar live, overdubbed a couple things, and then recorded the vocals in his room. Real simple. Who knows what the future holds, but I do know that with the 7” we wanna do a more classic pop recording style, overdubbing different guitars for texture, more types of percussion, insane vocal harmonies… And with the two albums, we’re thinking of going even more all out. Keyboards, drum machines, flamenco guitar stylings… who knows. We wanna take our time, maybe spread the sessions over a couple weeks or a couple months. Mat: The recording process is my least favorite part of music, to be honest. As Thom said, we’ve had different phases in our recording history, but one thing always remains the same—I end up staring at the guitar or the laptop or my hands wondering why they won’t do what I want them to do. But we power through it and eventually we get it done. Recording in my garage is fun because it’s quick and easy. Recording with Paul was also pretty quick and simple, which I liked. For a few songs it’s a unique recording process, like the song “Matinee Show” on our *blah blah* album. I recorded the song onto my tiny cassette tape recorder originally, with just myself and my guitar. Then, too lazy to re-record the song onto my laptop, I just played the tape while my laptop recorded the whole thing. That’s double lo-fi right there. Take that Lou Barlow. Your live show is quite different from your recorded songs, why is that so? Thom: Most of that is because of the
way the songs were written and recorded. The older stuff was recorded on the fly, without a live performance in mind. We recorded our first two albums and the two eps before we played our first show. We added stuff to the songs until we were satisfied with how they sounded, so there’s a ton of guitar tracks, a bunch of vocal harmonies, and no drums. In a live setting, we’re only two people, guitar and drums, so the songs have a sort of natural transformation. The live versions are faster and more powerful, more energized, but maybe the melodies and harmonies don’t come through as much. So the experience of seeing Dash Jacket live and the experience of listening to a Dash Jacket recording are really very different, and I’m okay with that. I just hope people aren’t disappointed with the recordings, or vice versa, haha. The songs from High Spirits and Romance are more faithful to the live versions, because they were basically recorded live and then fleshed out with overdubs. Mat: I get bored with songs very easily, kind of like Everett True. It would drive me crazy to play a song the same way that it was recorded. It’s also a bummer when bands sound exactly as they do on the album when they’re playing live. That’s no fun. It also has a lot to do with how much of the recordings we can recreate with only the two of us in a live setting. I guess we try to replace what we can’t replicate with energy (the type of which usually alternates between nervous and furious). What are you most excited about in 2010/the future in general? Thom: I’m excited for a lot of things. I’m excited for the tour this summer, and I’m excited to move to Los Angeles hopefully soon. I’m excited to be done with school in about a year and a half, to really go out into the world and experience things. It’d be cool to play shows in places I’ve never been, Europe, the East Coast, South America. Also, I’m excited for all the music that exists right now, and all the stuff that’s coming out soon. Avi Buffalo later this month’ll be awesome, next month’ll be a doozy thanks to both Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees releasing a new a bum, Ariel Pink’s 4AD debut in June, the next zinger from No Age sometime this summer, some new MIA, and Panda Bear in the Fall. And all the smaller stuff on tiny cassette labels in between. It’s a good time to be a music enthusiast, and a good time to be alive. Mat: Making more music, hearing more music, making friends, making enemies, playing shows; EVERYTHING! I’m really excited to see what Life’s Blood releases in the future and to see what our friends do in music and art and film and writing and stuff. Specifically, I’m excited about new stuff from our best friends: Canyons, new stuff from Cosmonauts (who are recording with Paul Rosales), new stuff from The Light Rays (also recording with Paul), Tan Dollar’s new tunes are really boss, our friends The Lovely Bad Things, No Age’s new album in summer, new tracks from our friends Pulse Out, the art of Aaron Alford (check it out), Airborne Age, Wonder Wheel, I’m really hoping for some new stuff from tomorrow’s tulips, Moon Pearl, and I’m excited to see where UVR goes. Also stoked on: 2010 World Cup, *The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret*, and the Weed Diamond/ Tan Dollar/Dash Jacket tour this summer.And of course the End of Days in 2012.
Text : Raciel Cuevas Photography : Lauren Dukoff
Dum DUM GIRLS
MOTHERS TEND TO WORRY ABOUT GIRLS WITH GUITARS
Dum Dum Girls...
I like girls. Shocking, right? A 20-something year old male who is attracted to the opposite sex is about as rare as a 1971 original vinyl pressing of Carole King’s Tapestry. Hit up your local Goodwill and I guarantee they’ll have at least five copies of the damn thing. But “I want to make music for the rest want to hear an even of my life; I’m not interested in bigger shocker? I like girls with guibeing in a scene that’s trendy for tars; in fact, I can’t a year or two.” think of a guy that doesn’t. Something about a woman strumming power chords and singing indecipherably is adorable to the point where even Kim Deal was attractive for a brief moment in 1993. At least this was the case regarding my opposite sex and their chordophonic abilities until the emergence of the Taylor Swifts and Miley Cyruses tainting the image of female musicians with their Costco bought acoustic guitars and vomit inducing squeaky clean attitudes. Much to the delight of nerdy fanboys everywhere, such as myself, Dum Dum Girls have emerged just in time to salvage my fantasy of having a cool girlfriend interested in screeching out Jesus and Mary Chain covers with me. Kristin Gundred, better known as Dee Dee, is the archetypal indie girlfriend: she’s a shy 27 year old Los Angeles native decked out in vintage store, post punk revival chic, with a degree in literature from UC Santa Cruz and the ability to be your entire band. In regards to her multi-instrumental ability, she admits “I’m not that good at any of them. Singing is the thing I’ve been doing the longest that I actually have training in, but…I can get across what I’m trying to by not being technically gifted.”
Dee Dee began the self described “blissed out busszaw” – a term she jokingly coined to describe a noisy yet melodic sound—home recording project, Dum Dum Girls, by herself in 2008. “When I started [Dum Dum Girls] I wasn’t starting anything,” admits Dee Dee. “I was just recording stuff and I had put it online for a few friends to hear. My husband was on tour and I wanted to share a song; the easiest way was by posting it on MySpace.” Humble beginnings a thing of the past, Dum Dum Girls gained momentum in early 2009 with releases on small indie labels Captured Tracks, HoZac, and Dee Dee’s own Zoo Music. After an all star first performance at Woodsist & Captured Tracks Festival (backed by members of Blank Dogs, Crocodiles, and Crystal Stilts) last summer, Dum Dum Girls were signed to major indie label Sub Pop, placing them at the top of the female garage noise heap. Shortly after being added to Sub Pop’s roster, the project expanded to an all girl quartet compromised of Dee Dee’s personal friends scattered across the country, including Brooklyn native Frankie Rose (formerly of Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls). On the intentional all girl line-up, Dee Dee says, “It was because that’s something I’ve never experienced and I really wanted to know what it’s like to do it that way….It’s the first time that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing.” She continues, “I made a point to gather up good friends to do it with me….That’s why the distance isn’t so much an issue….At the end of the day you need people that you can spend the rest of life with.”
Being brought out into the spotlight has had some uncomfortable repercussions for the reserved leading woman. Astute followers of the band will recall the mysterious veil shrouding its history, with any and all pictures of its anonymous member being taken in blurred out or obscured fashion. Recently things like her real name and former ensemble, the bluesy trio Grand Ole Party, have been made common knowledge, but that doesn’t mean she’s willing to answer to it or talk about them. “Now that we have a live band and a record coming out, I obviously understand that you have to be a little bit more visible and that people are going to want to know things about you,” Dee Dee concedes. ”But I still don’t think a ton of that information is really imperative to whether or not you like the record.” The record Dee Dee refers to is I Will Be, Dum Dum Girls’ full length debut released on March 30 to much critical acclaim. I Will Be clocks in at just under half an hour, and is compromised of 11 tracks –all written and played by Dee Dee—attesting to the joys and sorrows of teenage romance. As for the sound itself, the record features a more refined “first generation Dum Dum Girls” aesthetic. “It’s still noisy, it’s still fuzzed out, and there’s a lot of vocal reverb, “she explains when asked about the cleaner production.”But I really wanted instrumented parts to have their own little niche in the song instead of being compressed into one flat noise.” To capture that ideal sound, Dee Dee and Sub Pop enlisted the help of industry veteran Richard Gottehrer, co-founder of Sire Records, writer of classics such as “My Boyfriend’s
Back”, and producer of acts ranging from Richard Hell to the Raveonettes. “I decided to record [the album] myself in the same way, and the improvement would be to find someone to mix it that really knew how to mix,” she recalls. “The art of mixing is something I know nothing about….I didn’t want to duplicate [the production on the first EP], I wanted there to be improvement in some degree…. We ended up landing Richard, which was crazy. I did my own mixes of my recordings…and then digitally I sent him each track stripped of any effects. Using my mixes as references… [he] essentially postproduced it using his skill and the tools he had access to, which were miles beyond what I could do.” With a seemingly growing trend in girl groups relying on lofi as a gimmick, (ie: Best Coast, Pearl Harbor, Vivian Girls, etc.) Dum Dum Girls’ newfound direction is a welcome change, embraced as a natural progression rather than being different just for the sake of it. “I’m not trying to distance myself from anything,” clarifies Dee Dee. “I want to make music for the rest of my life; I’m not interested in being in a scene that’s trendy for a year or two. I’m just trying to get out the sound I hear in my head.”
Text : Lisa Bielsik Photography : Brian Vu
young friends, old souls
After being in several different bands, Kate Hall (drums), Stephanie Chan (vocals/guitar), and Mark Greshowak (bass) united in Los Angeles and became roommates. They all shared a love for playing music and there were already instruments all over their living room shortly after moving in. Given these two proper elements, they started playing together. Songs began developing, and things started happening. Everything just seemed to fall into place for the trio so quickly, and now we’re left with much more than a jam session, the final product: Dunes. How did all three of you get together to start making music? Stephanie: Kate and I first started making songs when her friend came down and we wanted to throw a band together. Then, we got Mark involved since he was visiting too. We wrote some songs with our friend, then kept some of the riffs, and made them into real songs. Kate: We have all played in bands so it made sense since we weren’t playing in bands anymore. Stephanie: All the equipment was just set up at the house, so it was all natural since we’re roommates now. What can you tell us about the previous bands you’ve all been in? Kate: I drummed with Mika Miko for three years, and then started doing Dunes. Stephanie: I was in Finally Punk and The Carrots. The Carrots were a 60’s girl du-wop throwback style thing I played guitar for. Finally Punk was four girls, we all switched around what we’d do. I couldn’t necessarily play drums, but I’d drum on some songs. It was for the fun of the show. Mark: I’m from Seattle, and I was in a band called Talbot Tagora. How did each of you start of making music? Kate: I always liked music. My dad was very musical and he’d play the piano all the time. It just naturally happened. I wanted a guitar, and I wanted to play bass, and then I just ended up playing the drums. Music has just always been in my family. Stephanie: My mom plays keyboard a little bit, but I actually wouldn’t say my family is too musical. I started playing guitar when I moved from El Paso to Fort Worth, Texas where it’s really conservative. I didn’t have any friends so I just started playing this mariachi guitar my sister had. So, I started playing that, then I started playing in my first band when I was 16. Mark: I started playing bass. I was pretty bored in the suburbs just like everyone else. My parents were always very musical too. Kate: I think everyone’s answer is basically just “high school”. It seemed like you guys fit into the LA crowd very quickly and naturally. How have the shows progressed since you first started playing? Kate: Living in LA for a long time and going to shows a lot, everyone becomes friends, and it’s like a little community.
Stephanie: We know people from our previous bands too. They’ll hear about us being in new bands and ask us to play when they hear that we’re in a new band. Mark: It’s all about support. Kate: My favorite show we’ve ever played was in Stephanie’s friend’s living room. Her friends play as a couple-folk duo together without amps or anything. Just violin and acoustic guitar. It’s the sweetest thing, your heart really breaks when you watch it. We didn’t know anyone, and there were maybe five people there. After they played, we set up our amps set up in their pristine white-carpet living room. We thought. All of a sudden, maybe ten party people show up from Detroit. They started jumping off my kick drum and headbanging and playing my tambourine. They loved it and started rocking out, so we just started rocking out. It was so weird and so cool. They baked us so many pies. Stephanie: It was just the best night all around. How would you compare your recorded tracks to your live performance? Mark: We recorded every track separately in our living room. The drums were recorded first, and I was playing a really quiet bass so it wouldn’t pick up on the mics. We just added on top of that. Recording in your living room gives you the chance to layer it out a lot and add stuff, like bells and keyboards. Stephanie: I’d say it’s a little more ambient than we are live. Kate: The live set is a lot more punk. What can you tell us about your upcoming releases? Stephanie: Our first release is going to be out on Mexican Summer in about a month. It’s an EP with seven songs. We did all the artwork ourselves, the cover is a photograph taken from our living room of a creepy hallway that we always look at while we’re practicing. It’s self-titled and it’s going to be limited to 500. Kate: Mark recorded the EP at the house. We just did everything in the living room. Mark: We wanted it to be house themed. Stephanie: Our second release is a 7” with four songs that’s going to be released on Art Fag. It’s going to be called “Old Souls”. It was recorded by Bobb Bruno. Kate: I think we’re just going to do a full-length after that. Mexican Summer and Art Fag are some of our favorite labels. What’s your connection to them? Kate: Our other roommate Brian plays drums in The Soft Pack, and told Mexican Summer about us. Shout out to Brian. Stephanie: We’ve known Mario, who runs Art Fag, for a really long time from other bands. We’ve played his night down in San Diego two or three times, which is pretty frequent for our short lifespan as a band. Kate: He’s been super supportive from the beginning. After the second show we played with him he asked us to do a 7”.
Text : Scott Mackie Photography : Brian Vu
CHEAP PILLS AND POST - PUNK THRILLS
In a song from 1997, “Tattoo,” Jack Drag expressed the desire to “sleep through the 80’s revival.” If you’ve heard his recent miserably commercial sell-out band, the Submarines, you might wish he had chosen to sleep through the 80’s revival that has seized control of indie music at the moment. Bands “spearheading” this revival can be neatly categorized under two headings: (1) Glo-fi, which takes it primary color palate from 80’s cheesy-synth-pop, upgrading it to state-of-the-art 2010 “wasted in the sun” anthems. Bands espousing this aesthetic: Washed Out, Toro y Moi, Small Black, and Millionyoung. (2) Neo-darkwave, which is influenced almost entirely by Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain. Representative bands include: Little Girls, Former Ghosts, Kordan, and Manhattan Love Suicides. It is in this second category that Weekend can be loosely placed. The San Francisco indie scene seems to be really amazing, with a bunch of new, exciting bands, including Brilliant Colors, Young Prisms, Tamaryn, Girls, Grass Widow, Nodzzz, The Mantles, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Hospitals, Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips. How would you describe your experience in SF and the SF indie scene? Who have been your favorite bands to play with? Any particularly memorable shows? Are there any up and coming bands that we should know about? It’s somewhat mind-blowing to think of all the incredible groups that call San Francisco home. These are all bands and artists taking risks and creating new, challenging music and I think that’s what makes us proud to be part of it all. With or without the attention that’s been placed on San Francisco recently, these bands would still be writing and playing like crazy and I think you’ll find that degree of humility in all the groups you mentioned.
Our experience is pretty limited so far considering we’ve only been playing shows for 7 months or so – but everyone we’ve encountered since has been really genuine and enthusiastic about the potential for music in San Francisco and about all the talent within it. Speaking of talent Young Prisms are surely one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a long time so we love any chance to see them live (which is often considering we play together a lot and will be touring down to SXSW with them). Also I just saw Rank/Xerox the other night and they blew me away as well. Really great angular post-punk. Not from San Francisco, but Speculator from LA puts on one of the most enjoyable live shows I’ve seen in a long time. Nick is the man. Getting your first single on Mexican Summer was a real coup. How did that come about? How do you feel about the label? Though they put out great music, they are a bit pricey . . . does any of that $$ come back to the band? When we first started, I had written and recorded some demos of songs we would come to flesh out – and posted them as our first tracks online. Some of them got some attention from blogs like MBV and Transparent and soon after we were contacted by Keith at Mexican Summer. He was interested in putting out a release and it just so happened that we had left the studio that day with two rough mixes which he really liked, and so it was. We went back into the studio to record All-American and Youth Haunts and that’s what you find on the 10”. Mexican Summer is a great label full of talented artists and we’re honored to be a part of it all. Keith is really passionate about the music he puts out and the end product shows. All the records are high quality virgin vinyl, hand numbered with download cards and amazing artwork. If the prices are too much, track the bands down at a live show and I’m sure you can find it cheaper.
I think the mentality over there is that these records are not just the songs, they’re limited edition objects. Some people don’t necessarily need physicality with their music anymore, and you find those people heading to iTunes or eMusic or mediafire. But those who are invested in music as a physical object with art and liner notes and wax, are finding that over at Mexican Summer. How do you feel about playing SXSW? You are going to play a Mexican Summer showcase, which will undoubtedly be the coolest thing happening this year in Austin. We’re really excited about the opportunity to play SXSW, and also to be on the road down there with great bands like Young Prisms and Woodsman. We’re playing the Gorilla vs. Bear/Mexican Summer Showcase and the Transparent/Weekly Tape Deck showcase – which are both packed with a ridiculous amount of incredible bands. Can’t wait to meet up with our friends from London as well, along with a slew of other people we’ve been in touch with over the past year. I hope I still have some hearing and a few brain cells when I get back. We just saw you last night at the Echo. Your live sound is somewhat different from the 10 inch. There is a lot more post-punk energy in the live performance . . . and really great use of dynamics. Is the band’s sound evolving? If so, where do you hope to take it in the future? I’d like to think that we’re always evolving, but I agree that the live show is much more about the build up and release of energy. We have always thought of our live show and our recordings as two separate experiences, they have to be. All-American is our oldest song, and is the product of one person in a room so it doesn’t have that live band dynamic like the other tracks do. We get lumped into the shoegaze/lo-fi group a lot because of the early demos that were released, and I think our upcoming LP will play a little closer to what you saw in the live show. The post-punk
energy and the darkness. I think people will be surprised to hear the range of material on the LP. Besides destroying SXSW, what are the band’s immediate plans? Future releases? Working on our LP is the first priority at this point. A debut LP is a huge statement for a new band, and we’re working hard to get it to communicate our ideas. We’re recording all our material with Monte Vallier at Function 8 in San Francisco. Monte is so easygoing and knowledgeable about recording and music in general. We come to him with some pretty wild ideas and he’s always adventurous and willing to try them out. We have a few more tracking sessions with him and then mixing + mastering. Beside that, we have a split 7” with Young Prisms coming out in April/May on the incredible Transparent Records from London. We just tracked a Part Time Punks session at KXLU which was fun, and we’re slated for a Daytrotter session the day after our Noise Pop show as well. We’re always writing and playing shows and hopefully we’ll get out on a bigger tour this summer. I’d love to hit Europe before the year ends too. I think we’ve been really fortunate with the labels we’re working with at the moment, so I can’t say we have any complaints about that. What labels would you like to work with? The 7th grade suburban-punk kid in me would say Alternative Tentacles. How did you arrive at the name Weekend? Focus groups full of teenage girls.
Text : Douglas Sweeney Photography : Brian Vu
PAINFULLY DIRECT HONESTy
Ever since forming in 2002, Xiu Xiu has broken just about every rule they could and have inspired countless bands and people along the way. Through Jamie Stewart’s incessant honesty, Xiu Xiu has made even the most jaded of hipsters feel. Being painfully direct may not be what most people go for when making music, especially in today’s climate of increasingly “ironic” music, but Stewart has spawned a plethora of popular records and a following that any modern day artist would be envious of. We sat down with Xiu Xiu in Echo Park, L.A. to talk about his new record, his origins and the way he makes music. When did you start recording as Xiu Xiu and how did you come up with that name? I started Xiu Xiu in early 2001. Xiu Xiu is the name of the protagonist from a Chinese movie called Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl. You and Deerhoof are covering Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division, them included who would you say are your biggest influences? Gosh, that’s going to be a long list. Of course the typical 70’s and 80’s post-punk bands like New Order and Bauhaus, The Smiths especially and Morrissey. A lot of different Asian percussion musics, noise and experimental music, modern-classical, dance-pop, Appalachian folk. Growing up, what would you say was your favorite record? When I was in Junior High, I was really obsessed with Purple Rain by Prince. Then in High School, this record called Filigreen & Shadow by This Mortal Coil. Your music and songwriting is known for being really
honest and direct, what do you attribute this to and do you think there should be more honesty in music? The reason is that the bands that have meant the most to us are the bands that approach music in that way. So it’s sort of an attempt to keep that circle going and to pay homage to bands that have touched us in that particular way. Personally, I think there should be more honesty in music, but that’s just my personal opinion. I don’t think that a band has to be honest to be good, probably for me to like them they do, but I think a lot of people want the exact opposite from music. You started Xiu Xiu in San Jose, how would you say that living in a certain place can effect your music? Yeah, it certainly can. One curious thing about being in San Jose at that time that we started Xiu Xiu, in San Francisco, which is about an hour away, there was a really vibrant experimental and noise scene that was happening there in the early 2000s. We really wanted to be a part of that scene, but we were too distant from it to really be a part of it and too nerdy to really know how to infiltrate it. So we had some sort of vague idea about what it sounded like and there really was nothing going on in San Jose so we really wanted to try and play music some place. So we made a lot of fumbling attempts to become a part of that scene, which did not work for us at all. But I think that the combination of us being sort of close enough to something that we could have a vague idea of how art music was developing but being far enough away from it that we couldn’t become totally enveloped in that scene and just become some copy-cat band even if we wanted to, even though we sort of did [laughs]. It ended up being sort of a lucky stroke for us because we ended up doing something, because it wasn’t part of that scene, didn’t fade out when
that scene died. Which I feel fortunate about, because there are almost no bands from that scene around anymore. From that scene, who would you say were the ones that helped you get started? Nobody helped us, really. Except for Deerhoof, everyone else sort of just blew us off [laughs]. Deerhoof has always been extraordinarily supportive, they got us our record deal, they’ve just been really good friends to us since the start. You’ve worked with Freddy Ruppert on Former Ghosts, what other bands have you played with/collaborated with? Oh, a lot: Ruppert of course, this Italian band called Larsen, Ten in the Swear Jar, Devendra Banhart, Dead Science, Grouper, Why?, High Places…I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. In your experience, what label have you had the best experience with overall? Kill Rock Stars, for sure. They are extraordinarily honest, which is something that very, very unfortunately lacking in varying degrees with almost every other label that we’ve worked with. Plus, they’ve been around for a long time so it’s nice to be working under something so reliable.Their politics are very much in line with ours. Your new album is called “Dear God, I Hate Myself”, what inspired that title? I was going through a time of feeling that way, which was particularly acute in the last few years. Finding myself literally praying those words one night and feeling very confused and guilty about feeling that way. It’s a personal sentiment that is unfortunately something that socially needs to be kept private. A lot of other emotional difficulties that
one is going through are able to be discussed but for some reason you can’t talk about self-loathing. I think it was an attempt to make that feeling slightly more public and to sort of clarify some feelings I was going through. Most of the music on the album is pretty upbeat, was that juxtaposition a conscious decision? Most of the songs are pretty much dance-jams. Yes, it was a conscious decision. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it? I would probably just say “art rock” or “experimental pop” if I had to explain it to my friend’s aunt or something [laughs]. What purpose do you believe your music serves to yourselves and to your fans? For me, it’s a way of clarifying the extreme, emotionally intense events in my life. As for other people, I have no idea. I’m glad I have no idea and I hope that it wouldn’t be about that for them and it could be about whatever for them. What I unfortunately get from it I would hope would be different from what other people would get from it. What are looking forward to most on this tour? I suppose just playing every night. This is the first U.S. tour we’ve done in a while. What can we expect from Xiu Xiu in the future? I don’t really know [laughs]. I guess, we’ll just try and make the best record that we can make again and play the best that we can play again.
Text : Danny Chau, Damanjit Lamba, Amir Razmjou, Josh McDermott, Jenny Long, Madison Woodward, Sam Roberts, Nathan Riggs, Tom Murphy, Daryl Sweet
Zola Jesus Stridulum EP Sacred Bones Text : Tom Murphy
With this EP Nika Roza Danilova, known otherwise as rising post-punk behemoth Zola Jesus, has stripped away the dense layers of noise to be found on her earlier releases and opted for a kind of sonic clarity that allows her phenomenally powerful voice, a voice honed by ten years of operatic training no less, to really take over. While previous releases New Amsterdam and Tsar Bomba relied heavily on waves of fuzz and shoegazey mess to create atmosphere, the emphasis here is definitely on true song-writing. For such a young artist, stripping away all possible gimmicks and frills like this in order to create something altogether more exposed artistically seems like a massively bold move but she has executed it stunningly and created a truly memorable record. Obvious comparisons here are to Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins and Siouxsie Sioux, although there is also a contemporary element to the whole thing that a lot of acts who dredge up older sounds in this manner tend to lack. The synth lines are moody and funereal, the drum-loops hypnotic and tribal. The EP even opens with a flurry of extremely creepy whispering noises, which led me at first to worry that the whole thing would be too histrionic and overtly “gothic”. However the element of the music which saves Zola Jesus from this is in the purity of the vocal hooks, which not once lapse into cliché. The song “I Can’t Stand” is even centred lyrically around providing reassurance and hope to somebody in a bad way, reminding them “it’s not easy to let it all go, but once in a while it’s good for your soul”. The best way to sum this up is that though in tone, Zola Jesus has a disposition towards eeriness and romanticism in the style of a host of other post-punk acts, she makes up for this by using it as a platform upon which to create genuinely soaring and beautiful music which is never self-indulgent. With this EP, she has crafted 6 pop songs that are at the same time instantly accessible and intensely emotive.
Nedry Condors Monotreme Text : Danny Chau
There is an undeniable sense of familiarity in Nedry’s sound. Condors is the London-based trio’s debut LP, but more than anything, it acts as an audible documentary, placing the last 20 years of Southern Britain’s underground scene on a timeline of both the past and present. The band unearths the essence of Bristol in the 90s, while firmly planting itself in the blossoming dubstep movement of London. The first minute of “A42”, the first track off Condors, serves as a fitting introduction to the group’s dynamic. Twitchy percussion lays the groundwork for a murky synthline, reminiscent of your favorite Portishead jam. Vocalist Ayu Okakita’s soaring vocals, equally sweet and haunting, are then married with a wobbling bass, a signature mark of dubstep. Taking cues from trip-hop, drum n’ bass, post-rock and the aforementioned dubstep, the spectacle is not in the number of genres Nedry encompasses, but rather how organic and fluid their chimera is. Each individual sound bit holds its own reflection of time and history, but together, establish a sound entirely their own. The focal point of Condors is, undoubtedly, Okakita’s malleability. Her voice, a chameleon, perfectly configures itself to the surrounding soundscape. In more sparse arrangements, Okakita projects in soothing wisps. Her emotional range is deep, however, and is seen most convincingly in “Squid Cat Battle”, Nedry’s most provocative outing. Icy vocals ascend into banshee shrieks, showcasing Okakita, completely untamed. Ayu Okakita’s versatility is itself a reflection of the band. It is that same versatility that defines Nedry as it is now, and what it can be in the future. As it stands, Condors serves as a brief look into a kaleidoscope; a kaleidoscope of intersecting idioms within British underground culture. Without implicitly declaring it, Nedry has become a procession, parading two decades of artistic achievement. Through their own sound, they glorify what is, and what was.
Foreign Born Person To Person Secretly Canadian Text : Damanjit Lamba
Foreign Born embrace folk and African forms of music in their sophomore album, Person to Person. Perfect summer music only comes around so often and this album can attest to having all the elements necessary for such a label. Hailing from Rebel headquarters (California, in case you forgot!), Foreign Born have proven their resistance to the jaded mindset most individuals fall victim to when exposed to an undesirable amount of sunny weather. Standout track “Winter Games” is at once seamlessly structured in terms of instrumentation and at the same time lax thanks to Matt Popieluch’s raspy vocals. “That Old Sun” has a Beach Boys inspired beat and utilizes a Kim (Thai percussive string instrument) to enliven the main hook. “Early Warnings” holds strong with playful guitars and inventive drumming that keep the album refreshing. African high life guitars, horns, cowbells, and the tambourine are a testament to the band’s desire to include varied influences and provide fans with a summer album that doesn’t feel dated as the days get shorter.
Real Estate Reality EP Mexican Summer Text : Danny Chau
The album art for Reality is telling. Depicted is a sea of monotony on a crowded interstate. The word “reality” is set in uneven, eroded typography. Above stands the band’s name, filled in with all the color that Reality appears to be lacking. Clearly there is something to be said about the tone before the first track even begins. Stylistically, the record doesn’t branch far from Real Estate’s debut LP. It’s the sound of the Jersey coast, of parties lasting until dawn, of the carefree spirit of youth. Yet, as Reality sets in, it becomes increasingly difficult to see this as a sunny record. It isn’t perfect. There are dull moments, but it showcases the band tuning into a central emotion, all the while presenting itself as blithe as ever. “Motorbikes” is a jam session, plainly stated. The blend of harmonious strings are all set at a calculated pace, as if to convey a certain fatigue. A perfect introduction to what seems to be the overarching concept of the record. Each song draws upon an element of reverie; of the past, of anything to escape the impending future. “Drum” is an ode to an unforgettable night, centered on a subtle gesture. It flows like molasses, but there is an unmistakable charm in the rudimentary composition. “Basement” is the most poetic of the sextet. Singer Martin Courtney narrates a story set in the present, driven by the agony of watching and waiting. The chorus tells a different story entirely; one of the past. Encapsulated are memories of a beach, and birds, and of calm. And in these warring sentiments, Martin comes to a realization, as we all do: “The past is full of episodes / no one will televise.” “Younger Than Yesterday”, one of the last songs on the album, solidifies the record’s concept as a whole. Reality drags our youth out to the forefront, with our memories and experiences in tow. Because we all grow and mature. We all find ourselves bound to the tedium of work. And at that point, it’s easy to lose sight of it all. Reveling in nostalgia isn’t an escape from the present or the future. It just makes the ride bearable.
Adam Green Minor Love Rough Trade Text : Damanjit Lamba
On the heels of a divorce, Adam Green’s latest album bears the sorrows of a ruined love. His sixth solo album is stripped down in the manner of Lou Reed and his deep and engaging voice takes center stage. Adam Green isn’t completely up-front about the sadness lingering throughout his music. He compares this concealment to the approach we all take when meeting someone for the first time; we let strangers in to a certain extent but refrain from bearing our souls Roman Catholic style. Proof of his new found cynicism can be found in “Castles and Tassels,” a lively song that narrates a fairy tale with a less than encouraging moral lesson: “You’ve got to have money.” This album also points to the pros of being chummy with The Strokes and the artists that make up their side projects. Rodrigo from Little Joy and Joe Steinbrick and Greg from Megapuss were enlisted to help Green craft Minor Love. The songs “What Makes Him Act So Bad” and “Stadium Soul” are as upbeat as this album gets with ‘60s guitar riffs that deserve to be looped repeatedly. The only song on the album that is hard to get through is “Oh Shucks,” a distorted mess of reverb and rough guitars that doesn’t fit in with the harmonious tones that dominate. This album is pop music for those that hate the optimism present in most of the genre. If songs about being love-struck and cute puppies put a bad taste in your mouth, Adam Green’s latest effort can be your saving grace. He combines the easy listening of pop music with a sense of fatalism to guarantee your barf-bag remains untouched.
Fucked Up Coupled Tracks Matador Text : Sam Roberts
A friend of mine once said, “the debate over whether Fucked Up can still be considered a hardcore band could be endless.” This has everything to do with massive grey areas in the supposedly strict definition of the genre and the complete lack of musical definition for the “indie” genre, which they seem to be leaning toward these days. This is the reason people associated with both the indie and the hardcore scene claim to hate Fucked Up so much; because of the context they see the band in respective to their camp. Fucked up are seemingly all about context. It has greatly helped and permanently damaged their repuation. Context makes this collection of rarities and singles so interesting, yet inconsistent. The the first song on the compilation, ‘No Parasan’ off their first seven inch, show Fucked up as a pretty traditional, but far from standard, hardcore band. Really exemplifying the Negative Approach comparison, ‘No Parasan’ is a killer representation of their initial genre. The first few tracks continue with hardcore blasts before meandering in the direction of Fucked Up’s current “experimental hardcore” label. This starts with one of my favorite, and lesser known tracks; the seven inch version of ‘Generation’. Although it’s not in a chronological order, the compilation seems to stand as a overview for the band’s history. While I would certainly not recommend this as an introduction to Fucked Up, it does hold up well as a display of their varied styles. I think that was their purpose with the compilation, being their second full-length release from Matador. For most, the compilation will hold as an introduction or perhaps an explanation of Fucked Up as a hardcore band for the indie crowd whose sole impression is 2008’s shoegaze-influenced ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’. Into the middle it starts trailing in quality, sounding more weird but also less consistent. The hardcore tracks are traditional to a fault, and the experimental songs feel less assembled. While interesting for reference, I have no intentions revisiting those experimental tracks, like the ‘He’s So Frisky’ cover, and the way-too-out-there Daytrotter tracks, more than once. All in all, ‘Couple Tracks’ is a compilation that demonstrates that Fucked Up’s range can often make them a hit-or-miss project.
The Strange Boys Be Brave In The Red / Rough Trade Text : Amir Razmjou
I first saw The Strange Boys about 2 or 3 years ago at FYF in the echo. I had just witnessed Two Gallants (a set I will probably never experience again), and as we lingered around thinking of a place to go eat at, we saw this bunch of what looked like local highschool kids go up on stage. I thought, “hey young local band, might as well see what they sound like before we leave.” 40 minutes of dancing later, I bought the sampler to what turned out to become their first LP on In The Red, “And Girls Club”. It turned out they aren’t from highschool (just look unbelievably young), and actually hail from Austin, which made sense considering their masterful blend of blues/country/rock. These kids would end up becoming one of my favorite modern rock groups. They played again at FYF the year after, and unveiled the new Strange Boys. They swapped their drummer Matt Hammer for Mika Miko drummer Seth Densham, and grabbed Mika Miko’s Jenna deWitt for sax/backup vocals, and also grabbed Tim Presley for percussion purposes. The band seemed to have moved on to a more song oriented approach, while keeping their garage roots very much intact. Most of the songs on Be Brave were unveiled that night to the intimate crowd as the sun was going down and Lightning Bolt was blasting off at the stage to the left. From the single to the album title, Be Brave suggests a band not afraid to follow their creative sparks no matter where it takes them. “I had to be brave/ You gotta be/ Don’t seem like no choice to me”. These songs don’t abandon The Strange Boys rock and roll feel by any means, but songs up that alley have been better thought out and are further between. The album makes use of much more instrumentation than on “And Girls Club”, giving a very “Honky Tonky” southern feel to the whole think. Ryan Sambol’s vocals still cry and croak, but in a more masterful way than the previous LP. From the rhythm guitar parts, to the bass, to the lyrics, this album is very COLORFUL. The album kicks off with a harmonica hook on “I See” which will infect your brain and shake your hips for days to come. “A Walk on the Bleach” downshifts to a ballad-esque vibe and revs up again towards the end. If you look down to the core of these songs, they’re just lonesome and paranoid ballads, some backed by a band, some featuring Sambol alone, but most are a mix and match of both. Be Brave is defined by its opening riff and features deWitt spazzing out some awesome sax solos in between the choruses. In the outro of “Between Us”, the Strange Boys show us their more experimental side; an organ driven mini jam with reverby vocal cries reaching out. “Da Da” is representative of the honky tonk feel of this album, maybe because of the old timey piano driving the track forward. “Night Might” is the closest The Strange Boys get to their older songs and kicks off with one of the best riffs I’ve heard in a good while. It also credits Willie Nelson with some lyrics, but it’s unclear whether Nelson wrote them for Sambol or if Sambol simply borrowed some lyrics and is giving credit where its due. The album shuts down with three ballads, with the highlight being the closer “You Can’t Only Love When You Want To”, which shows Sambol’s masterful and inventive solo guitar work, as he talks about an angel he meets and loses. “You try never to trust someone/ cause why should you/ but you do/ just as soon/ as love tells you to”. I am very excited to see how this young band grows and fluorishes in the years to come. They’ve certainly gathered a great deal of attention in the past year (they sold out the Echo a couple weeks ago!), and only seem to be starting. We can only hope Sambol keeps his guitar and his southern spirit at hand. “Anyone with an original thought/ Who speaks out and can’t be bought/ Always seems to wind up shot/ So don’t look so shocked/ If on a clear bright day/ I get blown away/ Look no further/ Than the CIA”. Maybe tinfoil hats will be the next big thing.
Local Natives Gorilla Manor Frenchkiss Text : Daryl Sweet
Local Natives are a Los Angeles indie band with roots in the new psych folk movement and already a strong hipster following. To hear pre-album launch acoustic versions of tracks such as Camera Talk, featuring mandolins and acoustic guitars, might have left you expecting a very folky affair on their LP. The album itself however is electric and percussive, and it turns out this is no bad thing, with poly-rhythms driving on 3 part harmonies sung with an enthusiasm that is immediately infectious. Gorilla Manor is an excellent debut, exhibiting pop sensibilities but with a depth that rewards further listen. Take the fleet foxes, and add a healthy dose of upbeat youthful punch, with a result that you can dance around to, and you’re not far off Gorilla Manor. Gorilla Manor feels like a soundtrack for youth and adventure, with standout tracks ‘Wide Eyes’, ‘Sun Hands’ utilizing the mixture of vocalists to great affect, and ‘Camera Talk’ with it’s continental feel beckoning a nostalgia for experiences had traveling. Gorilla Manor has a distinct sound of celebration and revelry, which they manage to sustain throughout despite adopting a more mellow mood in the latter half of the album. Also worth mentioning is a cover of Talking Heads ‘Warning Sign’, which they very adeptly make their own and so it somehow fits into an album where it could have been an interruption. In songs such as ‘Airplanes’, Gorilla Manor has pure pop moments that could see the band move beyond the indie crowd into a more mainstream audience. And if the album is lacking something, it is that edginess and sense of unpredictability that characterized the debut albums of similar bands like Yeasayer. The songwriting never gets too complex or innovative, but everything is performed with a lack of affection, and it’s hard not to love the harmonies and textures involved here. The LP manages to mix fresh and immediate sounds with rustic intimacy and melodies that stay in your head for days after listening, and is addictive ultimately because it is a feel good record. This feel good vibe makes up for any lack of musical ingenuity they provide. There is nothing too challenging about Gorilla Manor, and ultimately that may prove it’s downfall - it won’t be the most enduring album released this year, but it is a great starting point from a promising band. For some good time music this spring, Gorilla Manor is thoroughly recommended.
jj n° 3 Secretly Canadian Text : Evan Adams
I realize that jj are, among other things, mysterious: pictures of the band were released only recently, and little information about the members is available, especially when compared to their Secretly Canadian label mates. With their prolific yet surprisingly short foray into the indie music scene, however, it seems that the Balearic-loving Swedes are losing their mystique; their sound is becoming more and more predictable. Their new LP – naturally titled jj nº 3 – proves that predictability can be positive. In other words, jj nº 3 continues the sound they established on their previous record, jj nº 2, but the result isn’t boring; each track reinforces why jj are one of the most interesting bands making music today, a considerable feat considering the wealth of similar artists. Tracks like “And Now,” “Into the Light,” and the exceptionally fun “Voi Parlate, lo Gioco,” for example, forward jj’s signature, unique blend of Balearic-style beats, beautiful vocals, and breezy, almost twee arrangements. Unlike similar groups like The Tough Alliance, Windsurf, or Air France, whose styles seem more ambient or dance or production oriented, jj show through like tracks like these and more – namely album highlight “You Know” – that they are ultimately masters at producing solid, accessible pop songs. While many tracks do help to finally define this seemingly enigmatic band, it is important to note that jj nº3 also indicates subtle signs of change. That is, on a number of tracks jj explore a more serious style. For instance, songs like “Light,” “No Escapin’ This,” and first single “Let Go,” while still evocative of jj’s idiosyncratic approach to pop, are moodier and perhaps deeper than anything on jj nº 2. Similarly, one of the most interesting tracks, “Golden Virginia,” would be right at home on an early Patrick Wolf album with its brooding tone and gorgeous, surprising use of what sounds like pan flute. Even album opener “My Life” – an unusual and clever nod to hip hop in typical jj fashion – is still more earnest and delicate than “Ecstasy” or the like. jj nº 2 is an arguably tough act to follow. Fans will likely be inclined to compare the two albums, and many will probably be disappointed that jj nº 3 is, for the most part, simply more of the same. I encourage those listeners to postpone such hasty judgments. Although some tracks hint at stylistic growth, the record is, as its title implies, a continuation of the former. For me, though, that’s a good thing.
Liars Sisterworld Mute Text : Nathan Riggs
In the music video for “Scissor,” the lead-off track on Liars’ new album Sisterworld, we find front man Angus Andrew floating in a life raft. Rocks begin to appear, threatening to pull the whole raft under. The more rocks he throws off, the more new ones appear. It soon becomes clear that despite moments of relief, he is going under no matter what. Sisterworld is like what happens immediately afterward, once the rocks have won--it starts out above the water, but it soon plunges down and mostly stays there, catching only occasional glimpses of the surface. Structurally, the album begins quite like their last full-length, 2007’s Liars. It starts with an explosive (though more varied, this time around) rock track, followed by a calmer, clearer pop song, and then it gets weird. But whereas Liars’ third track, “Leather Prowler”, played as an odd abstract diversion to the proceedings, Sisterworld’s “Here Comes All the People” establishes the tone for most of the album. Its combination of next-room-over guitars, hypnotic bass, and mutating song structure is a template used on most of these songs. Also, its creepy “counting victims one-by-one” chorus is telling. There is plenty of dread here, lyrically and sonically. Things get even stranger and further-away on “Drip,” and from there on out it’s a losing battle to resurface. Their loudest-ever song, “Scarecrows on a Killer Slant,” follows, but by the time we get to “Drop Dead,” it’s clear that the dark, strange and removed has won the battle. Though the album makes room for some neo-Krautrock here and some no-future jams there, Sisterworld mainly revels in seeing what is below the surface, both of ourselves and of the band’s music. This approach drives the album and culminates blissfully on closer, “Too Much, Too Much.” Some bands are singles bands, and some are album bands. Liars instead seem focused on crafting a body of work, and Sisterworld is another fine entry for one of the most intriguing bands of the new century. They may get lost a time or two on this album (“I Can Still See an Outside World” can’t seem to find where it’s going), but as a whole Sisterworld is engaging and adds significantly to their catalog. It is also their most confident, modern and singular sounding album, which should leave us excited and hopeful about where they’ll end up next.
High Places High Places vs. Mankind Thrill Jockey Text : Josh McDermott
Having read somewhere that High Places have relocated from Hawaii to Moscow in terms of their sound, there was some apprehension on listening to High Places vs. Mankind, the second long player from the L.A. [via Brooklyn] duo of Mary Pearson (vocals) and Rob Barber (other). Sadly, the first single from the album “On Giving Up” initially brought to mind some kind of unholy union involving Ladyhawke having a baby with High Places, so much removed was it in sound from the “traditional” High Places jam, which tends to sound something like the theme from Super Mario having a baby with (SOMETHING WONDERFUL), and so tropical besides. Happily, these thoughts and these feelings and this track were more an anomaly when put in the context of the entire album and the awesomeness of some of the other tracks. Prime example is ‘The Longest Shadows’, a lengthy affair that begins, uncharacteristically for High Places with an admittedly mild straight-up guitar riff, before traipsing into a surreal, almost orchestral-feeling electronic reverie tangent midway through, before switching right back to the riffage set out in the intro. The use of, for want of a better term, more obvious instrumentation sets High Places vs. Mankind apart from their earlier efforts, bringing forward what would on earlier records possibly be heard as heavily treated samples, producing something that is recognisably “High Places” but at the same time new and not. Pearson’s voices is still saccharine, if a little matured from previous works where you were sometimes wondering if she really in to this whole singing thing. Thus, the initial disappointment on listening to High Places vs. Mankind is short lived, and it is an album that grows on every listen. Any initial misgivings must be put down to the usual callow urge to want artists to just release ‘more of the same,’ rather than explore new musical vistas, with the latter High Places vs. Mankind has in spades.
Blacklisted Eccentrichine 7” Six Feet Under Text : Madison Woodward
Recorded during the same sessions as their latest LP and carrying on with the same over all tone. Blacklisted’s Eccentrichine is something of a modern novelty, with heavy influences of 90’s Grunge and other Alternative acts the 7” showcases some of the band’s most creative and well written songs to date. Blacklisted have been pushing the envelope of the hardcore/punk scene for the better part of a decade now, but with their newest material they have truly come into a sound that is all their own. This new sound has alienated some of their original fan base and though their new releases have garnered them much praise, it also has given way to some aversion. Haters aside, Blacklisted are writing the music that they want to write and in a genre saturated with trends and cliches it is refreshing to hear a band doing their own thing (which is exactly what this type of music is about, right? Exactly.) Bottom Line: Check this record out if you’re into Archers of Loaf, Mudhoney and early era Nirvana. If these four songs wet you’re appetite, be sure to check out their new LP No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me or really pick up any of their releases, everything they have done is great.
Toro Y Moi Causers of This Carpark Text : Evan Adams
Upon a first listen, it is arguably difficult to describe what transpires throughout Toro Y Moi’s debut LP Causers of This. Chaz Bundick – under the playfully convoluted moniker Toro Y Moi – offers a set of dream-pop songs similar to those of fellow South Carolinian Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, but there are striking differences. At times the album even sounds a lot like Neon Indian’s superbly chillwave Psychic Chasms, but that’s not entirely true either. The answer, then, does not lie in comparisons. Causers of This is unique, and that is what makes it great, at least to a large extent. Bundick explores many sounds, experiments with various genres, and makes interesting and disparate stylistic choices. What results is an involved and sometimes dense album that sounds more like a collection of remixes than anything else. That is, Bundick seems to operate like a DJ or producer in Causers of This – in the same vein as artists like Pictureplane, Gold Panda, or Universal Studios Florida . Such an approach produces mostly positive effects, but the album is not perfect. Rather, his complex and sometimes tedious arrangements cause it to vacillate from excellent to misguided. For example, it is often hard to distinguish one track from the next, an effect that makes the album feel longer than it actually is and ultimately creates distance. His ability to make each song flow so coherently, however, is also remarkable and mostly engaging. Furthermore, Bundick’s production-based tendencies allow him to masterfully exploit and manipulate dance music from the 80s and 90s – as evident in “Lissoms” and “Causers of This” - but in doing so he ignores one of his best instruments – his voice. He is by no means the most skilled vocalist, but tracks like “Blessa,” “Minors,” and “Low Shoulders” suggest that Bundick can use his voice in subtly engrossing and clever ways when he wants to. As I suggested earlier, Causers of This is, for the most part, a great album. It is difficult to describe and even harder to compare; those characteristics alone set it apart from many albums being produced by his many contemporaries. Still, Bundick’s overly involved production leanings – though completely appropriate and effective at times – keep the album from reaching its full potential. Something tells me, though, that it won’t be long until he finds his niche.
Joanna Newsom Have One On Me Drag City Text : Jenny Long
Let me guess why you don’t like Joanna Newsom. You think she sounds like if Billie Holiday bore a cat and taught it to sing. Oh no wait. It must be because you are so overly concerned with the aesthetic of your identity that you can’t bear to step away from the subculture you have clung onto since puberty. Or maybe you are part of that movement of one: so frustrated by the indefinite dissolution of counter-culture that you have risen above all music; Hence, why you only listen to Chaka Khan and Lady Gaga “unironically”(ironically). Now that I have the various dissenters pinned, I’d like you all to suspend your pretensions and buy this album. With this article I hope to dismantle your hostile shell of distaste while simultaneously unburdening myself of all the words I’ve wanted to use this past week to glorify this work of musical mastery. As the album doubles Newsom’s discography, it furthermore solidifies her potency and brawn as she has now tapped the well of her artistic potential. If you have a heart you will feel something. The first of the three disc set begins with “Easy” as she is preparing us, “No-one knows what is coming,” lulling us, “I am easy/ easy to keep/ Honey, you please me/ even in your sleep,” while concurrently putting us in our place, “ Who died and made you in charge/ of who loves who.” At its inception it ensnares us with the kind of string and horn orchestration that would make George Martin and the Beatles proud. From what I have gathered the album is the synthesis of every heartbreak endured in her lifespan. It is a love song to every man, “Your eyes are green/Your hair is gold/Your hair is black/Your eyes are blue.” We could speculate that her crooning might be over Bill Callahan, Andy Samberg, or Noah Georgeson (her famous rumored beaus of the past) or she has transcended her own romantic experiences to tell an innate and prevailing tale of longing. However an impossibility, “Good Intentions Paving Company” is a 7 minute pop hit. She takes metaphors that might otherwise be trite (the road to hell is paved with good intentions) and manipulates them with a wittedness that makes it not only sweet but universally relatable, “I fell for you, honey/easy as falling asleep.” There is a juxtaposition of the baroque sparsity seen on her premiere album, Milk-Eyed Mender and the sprawling epical sound of her second album, Ys. From the eleven minute title track, “Have On One Me,” to the 2 minute hymnal, “On a Good Day” she celebrates the most elemental human experiences: love and loss, death and rebirth. If you care for the romance of nostalgia, this is just that. The sixth song of her second disc “Occident,” summons the rattlings of an old woman on her deathbed mourning her life’s history, “all my life, I’ve felt as though/I’m inside a beautiful memory/replaying with the sound turned down low.” And though her voice previously conjured the familiarity of a granny singing in the kitchen, the recent shift in Newsom’s vocal finesse leaves no room for intolerability in the prissiest of listeners. There may just be too much sonic strength to close the album. The last song “Does Not Suffice” refers back to the greatest track on the second disc, “In California,” and winds the album down with a solitary sadness and an oblivion of static. The darkness and anguish of her words should not be seen as despair but exaltation. Over the last 6 years Newsom has somehow become half oracle spewing the wisdom of the ages and half a precise and masterful artisan.
SPRING 2010 COMPILATION
ZEADRON DEL GOMEZ • TAN DOLLAR • MOHAWK TALK WEED DIAMOND • SPIRIT SPINE • THE MUDDY FLOWERS WONDER WHEEL • DASH JACKET •RAILCARS
DOWNLOAD HERE PHOTOGRAPHY : LUKASZ WIERZBOWSKI
Text : Brian Vu, Lisa Bielsik
MOVIE REVIEWS Live At The Smell Cold Hands Video Text : Lisa Bielsik
Capturing the raw attitude, emotion, and aesthetic of a somewhat underground space can often be a difficult task to fulfill. The Smell, a DIY venue in downtown Los Angeles, has developed a persona of its own through artwork, concerts, and culture within a tiny, makeshift space. What was formerly a Spanish market, has now been transformed into a hole-in-the-wall venue with music, paintings, and many other icons of self-expression. The Live At The Smell DVD holds two hours of footage that deliver a feel for what the venue is all about. The bands featured on the DVD are so native to The Smell that they are often labeled as “The Smell Bands”. Acts like No Age, Foot Village, and HEALTH seem to have grown up through their shows they’ve played at The Smell, and their performances on this DVD are vital for every noise-rock fan to see. But, the sets are not just limited to the noise-rock genre. Indie/Experimental groups like High Places, Abe Vigoda, Gowns, and BARR are also included in the documentary, adding a real mix to the live footage. With ten bands in total, this DVD has the ability to give someone who has never been to The Smell a real taste of what it’s like to experience a show there. The footage on the DVD was recorded from September to October 2008, and the recordings definitely portray the same feel to them that recent shows do. With this in mind, I can honestly say that I feel like The Smell will hold true to itself forever. Word on the street is that the second and third DVDs are already in the process of the making; be sure to keep an eye out for them.
Animal Collective ODDSAC Director : David Perez Text : Brian Vu
I’ll start off by saying that I didn’t have a clue what ODDSAC was going to be or what to expect. Of course I saw the thirty second trailer, but it still wasn’t enough to give me a single hint. Nonetheless, I was drawn by it’s mystery. You know, the type of mystery that drove you to watch Cloverfield because you didn’t know what the hell it was about, only to find out it was a huge regret. After watching the first few scenes, I thought that ODDSAC was going to be a series of individual music videos like what Beach House recently did with the release of Teen Dream. After watching ODDSAC as a whole, I was surprised of how cohesive it was. Danny Perez knew exactly how to translate Animal Collective’s music visually on screen. He and the band drew inspiration from one another and it certainly showed. Although much more darker and louder, the music was reminiscent to Animal Collective’s older releases. Evident in ODDSAC, Animal Collective and Danny Perez share an interest in cheesy 80’s horror movie cinematography and music. There were some unexpected parts where it would get loud and kept the audience on the edge of their seats, which was certainly their intention. I know I can speak for everyone when I say that my eyes were glued to the screen from start to finish. Danny Perez, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin were nice enough to do a Q and A after the screening where fans got to ask questions about the film. ODDSAC was made on and off for four years during the creation of Strawberry Jam and the well received Merriweather Post Pavilion. Most of the film was filmed on location at a Castle in New York and Deakin’s Mother’s house in Maryland. The band chose the name ODDSAC because of their infatuation with gummy candies. They also liked how it looked in all caps. All in all, I did appreciate the movie for it’s originality visually and musically. It’s amazing how this band has reached out to other mediums besides music. They recently were guest editors for The Fader magazine, put forth an art project at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and now a visual album all in 2010. It’s safe to say that Animal Collective is one of the most productive bands of our time. One can only imagine what this band has in store for the future. We’ll see as time moves forward. No regrets.
Fashion… / 14
Aesa Jewelry aesajewelry.com
Mr. Hare mrhare.co.uk
Photography… / 48
Lukasz Wierzbowski lukaszwierzbowski.com
Dan Bergeron fauxreel.ca
Nicolas Burrows nicolasburrows.co.uk
Robert Lansden rlansden.com
Synchronicity Space www.syncspacela.com
Design… / 70 Haptic Lab hapticlab.com
Musicâ€Ś / 80
Dum Dum Girls wearedumdumgirls.com
Xiu Xiu xiuxiu.org
Now What? www.wearerebels.com