Rain or Shine - Artists Subject To Change
Sat, Aug 26
Sun, Aug 27
MusicfestNW Presents: Project Pabst Weekend Pass (21+) - Beck, Iggy Pop, and Many More!
Beck, Iggy Pop, Die Antwoord, Nas, Father John Misty, Spoon, FIDLAR, Whitney, Lizzo, Noname, PUP, San Fermin, Filthy Friends, Frankie Cosmos, White Reaper, RVIVR, The Last Artful, Dodgr, Lithics
SW Naito Parkway
Portland, OR, 97204
Doors 12:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Beck has traveled light years from being pegged as a reluctant generational spokesperson when "Loser" metamorphosed from a rejected demo to a ubiquitous smash. Instead he wound up crystallizing much of the post-modern ruckus of the '90s alternative explosion, but in his own unpredictable manner: Beck's singular career has been one that's seen him utilize all manners and eras of music, blurring boundaries and blazing a path into the future while simultaneously foraging through the past.
Surfacing just as alternative rock went mainstream, no small thanks to his 1994 debut Mellow Gold, Beck quickly confounded expectations with subsequent releases including the lo-fi folk of One Foot in the Grave. But the album that truly cemented Beck's place in the pantheon was 1996's multi-platinum Odelay, that touched upon all of his obsessions, providing a cultural keystone for the decade from the indelible hook of "Devil's Haircut" to the irresistible call and response of the anthemic "Where It's At."
From the world-tripping atmospherics of 1998's Mutations and the florescent funk of 1999's Midnite Vultures through the somber reflections of 2002's Sea Change, 2005's platinum tour de force Guero and 2006's sprawling The Information, no Beck record has ever sounded like its predecessor. In the interim following 2008's acclaimed Danger Mouse-produced Modern Guilt, Beck eschewed the typical album/tour/repeat cycle of the music business. Instead, he expanded his creative palette into such multi-media endeavors as a one-time-only live re-imagination of David Bowie's "Sound and Vision" utilizing 160+ musicians in a 360-degree audiovisual production, and the equally unprecedented Beck Hansen's Song Reader, originally released December 2012 by McSweeney's as 20 songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, complete with full-color original art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and since reimagined as an actual album with the likes of Jack White, Juanes, Norah Jones, David Johansen, Beck himself and many more featured on the first ever studio recordings of its songs).
Beck's relentless creative tide continued unabated throughout 2013 with three standalone singles released digitally and on 12-inch vinyl ("Defriended," "I Won't Be Long," Gimme"), custom-created performances for Doug Aitken's "Station to Station" series of transient happenings, a run of live shows--touted by reviewers the world over as among the very best of his career--and special Song Reader events in which Beck and eclectic line-ups brought the book to life in unforgettable evenings staged in only a handful of cities including in San Francisco, London, and Disney Hall in Los Angeles.
Beck opened 2014 with the 12th--and possibly most well received―album of a peerless career: Morning Phase. Likened by some to a companion piece of sorts to his 2002 masterpiece Sea Change, Morning Phase features many of the same musicians who played on that record--and who also currently accompanied Beck live on the rapturously received world tour supporting the record: Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Joey Waronker, Smokey Hormel, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and Jason Falkner. Featuring the hits "Blue Moon" and "Heart Is A Drum" along with instant classics like "Waking Light" and "Wave", Morning Phase harkens back to the stunning harmonies, classic Californian song craft and staggering emotional impact of that record, while surging forward with infectious optimism.
Morning Phase debuted at #3 in the U.S., selling nearly 90,000 copies in its first week—besting Modern Guilt's debut week despite the market being down more than 70% since that record's release six years prior—and generating a rare unanimous chorus of critical acclaim:
"a triumph… After listening to Morning Phase 50 times, I can't find a single thing wrong with it… You don't get many albums like this in your lifetime… I can't imagine someone who couldn't find some succor or beauty here"–THE NEW YORKER
"an instant folk-rock classic… Morning Phase's struggle toward the light feels as personal as it does universal."—ROLLING STONE (4 ½ STARS)
"The record's beauty approaches slowly, floats, surrounds and shuts off external awareness in the brain stem."—THE NEW YORK TIMES
"If we needed any proof that albums still matter in this short-attention-span world, Beck's flawless 12th album, Morning Phase, is a triumphant testimony."--NPR
"Each song swims by with gorgeous melancholy, as though he'd found the only acoustic guitar on the moon"—ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY The Year's Best Albums
"The mercurial artist has drifted through a variety of intriguing phases, but none as hypnotic or revealing as Morning Phase."—USA TODAY
"damn near emotionally perfect… no album in recent memory taps into our cultural zeitgeist as effortlessly. This is what it sounds like to come to peace with everyday ambiguity and indecision."—ESQUIRE #1 Album of 2014
"A masterpiece . . . filled with rich Southern California harmonies" - LOS ANGELES TIMES
"gracefully, gradually unfolds like the sweetest of sunrises"—PEOPLE
"rich and inventive, sprouting beautiful and unexpected details at every turn… the gorgeously conceived Beck album we've been waiting more than a decade for"–STEREOGUM
Beck rolled into 2015 taking the Album of the Year top honor at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, as well as the prize for Best Rock Album. Morning Phase also won in the Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) category. With three previous Grammy wins to his credit--Two Best Alternative Music Performance award for Mutations and Odelay and one Best Male Rock Vocal Performance award for "Where It's At"—Beck walked away from attending and performing at this year's awards with double his previous Grammy tally.
Iggy Pop's brand new Post Pop Depression has generated many of the most over the top real-time rave reviews of his storied career. And now the people have spoken in resounding unison with the critics:
Post Pop Depression, released March 18 on Rekords Rekords/Loma Vista/Caroline International, has entered the U.S. chart at a career high of #17—plus #8 on the Album Sales Chart and #1 on the Rock, Alternative and Vinyl Sales Charts–representing not only Iggy's biggest across the board debut, but by far the highest any of his records has climbed on the Billboard 200 since 1986's Blah Blah Blah peaked at #75.
The global community is unified in its love for Post Pop Depression: The album entered at #3 in Finland, #4 in France, #5 in the UK and Austria, Netherlands and Belgium, #6 in Ireland, #7 in Australia, #8 in Germany, #9 in Canada, #10 in Norway, and hit the top 20 in Sweden, Japan, Italy and New Zealand—all, like the U.S., career highs for an Iggy album in those territories.
Post Pop Depression is being supported by a very limited run of one-time-only live performances in specially selected venues. Heralded by an intimate preview performance at Los Angeles' Teragram Ballroom and a two-pronged tour de force that decimated this year's SXSW festival in Austin TX, the Post Pop Depression tour began in earnest March 28 at the Paramount Theater in Seattle WA and plays the Keller Auditorium tonight in Portland OR. This once in a lifetime jaunt marks the sole occasion that the album lineup of Iggy, producer/guitarist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/bandleader Joshua Homme, Homme's Queens Of The Stone Age bandmate and Dead Weather-man Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders—augmented by QOTSA multi-instrumentalist Troy Van Leeuwen and journeyman guitarist/bassist Matt Sweeney—will perform this material, as well as classics spanning Iggy's legendary solo career, in a live setting.
Post Pop Depression is equal parts a dream come true for co-creator Homme as it is a record that defiantly takes its place in Iggy's storied discography alongside the twin towers of The Idiot and Lust For Life–two records and the mythic Berlin era of their creation canonized as much lyrically ("German Days") as sonically ("Sunday") on this new record. The album is a singular work that bears its creators' undeniable sonic DNA while sounding like nothing they've done before. It's a record that wouldn't exist without either Pop or Homme–and one that probably shouldn't in theory if you really think about it–but it does, and we and rock 'n' roll are all the better for it.
Die Antwoord are a fre$, futuristik, flame-throw-flame-freeking, zef rap-rave krew from da dark dangerous depths of Afrika.
If hip hop should die before I wake/ I'll put an extended clip inside of my AK/ Roll to every station, murder the DJ/Roll up to every station, murder the DJ…
---Nas, "Hip Hop is Dead"
In recent years, critics, fans and artists alike have lamented the turning tide in hip hop. It is commercially successful, it is the voice of a generation and it is the world's music—all positive things. But, despite its diverse audience, it often seems like the artists themselves are not as diverse. How often have we read this bio: said emcee was raised in the projects, hustled drugs to make ends meet, got shot, learned his life lesson and pursued music as an alternative? How many times can we hear about rim size, candy paint, big booties and pushing weight? How many more rap videos will be shot around a pool filled with half-naked women? Hip hop can make you dance, yes. But can it make you think? What happened to the days when rappers had distinctly different personalities and styles? Has hip hop just become a parody of itself?
These are the kinds of questions up for debate on the Nas' newest album Hip Hop is Dead. And who better to stir up debate than the man most consider one of the top five emcees in the history of the game? From his brilliant 1994 debut Illmatic, to his mainstream success with It Was Written, to anthems like "Hate Me Now" and "One Mic" and his venomous lyricism on "Ether," Nas' ability to tell stories, educate, make you dance—and make you look—is the stuff of rap legend.
And while Nas might enjoy the finer things in life like all of us, he's not afraid to tackle subjects like self-empowerment, love, the importance of education and being aware of world issues. Musically, he'll get down and dirty with DJ Premier, ride an R&B beat with Trackmasters or bridge the gap jazz-style with his pops Olu Dara. It is this artistic diversity that Nas hopes will influence the next generation of emcees. "There's so many cocaine dealing rappers and so-called selling drug niggas," Nas says, exasperatedly, "I'm like where ya'll selling this at? People don't know there's so much more you can talk about."
Enter Hip Hop is Dead. The seventh studio album for the kid, it is a chance for Nas to expound on the state of his beloved hip hop. The searing title track, produced by Will.i.Am, sets up Nas' worst nightmare—that hip hop is erased from the earth. It is an indictment and warning to all the labels and fans and DJs who are complacent and not challenging the art form. Without being preachy or jaded, Nas also takes a trip down Memory Lane to reminisce about his love for hip hop in "Can't Forget About You", a jazz inspired track from Will.i.Am. Nas says the song, which features a touch of the classic "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole, inspired him because of its evergreen relevance. "People who are 70, 80 years old know it and people who are 7 years old can get to know it, so it was just right up my alley. It was one of those stellar moments."
Nas also hooked up with a number of West Coast pioneers. For "QB OG", Nas reunited with his Firm biz partner, Dr. Dre and is joined on the track by the latest West Coast phenom, The Game. Bigging up both Queens and Compton, Nas and Game's voices meld so perfectly, you'd think they'd been rhyming together for years. "Play on Player" finds Nas relaxing Cali style alongside Snoop on a melodic track by Scott Storch. "I wanted to do stuff like a record with Snoop, bridge that gap with East Coast and West like on such a level you know? I wanted to do the things that I did on this record just to do something different from my last record, stuff I've never done and stuff I wanted to do."
One of the most anticipated and talked about tracks on the album is "Black Republican," the first ever collabo with Nas' former rival Jay-Z. Produced by one of Nas' longtime beatmasters, L.E.S., the track is anthemic, authoritative and everything fans have hoped to hear. About the union, Nas says with a smile, "This is Ali and Frazier, this is Ali and Foreman, this is Ali and Ali, you know?"
With Hip Hop is Dead, Nas has once again challenged the sonic norms, experimented with an eclectic group of producers and collaborated with artists that he's never worked with before. He plays the "black militant" on "Black Republican" the nostalgic sage on "Can't Forget About You" and the inspirational teacher on Kanye West's track, "Let There be Light," and still gets down with "Brazilian dimes" on Hip Hop is Dead. Some might say he's unfocused, but in reality, he's showing us just how diverse rap can be.
And that hip hop is still very much alive.
Father John Misty
"I Love You, Honeybear" was recorded intermittently from 2013 to 2014 in Echo Park, Los Angeles and produced with Jonathan Wilson, who I also recorded and produced 2012's Fairly Fun with.
There's a case to be made that it sounds and acts a bit like Scott Walker, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Dory Previn. Blammo. The songs are a narration of my experience falling in love, which means different things to different people, but which I found incredibly inspiring, personally and creatively. My personal mandate for the writing herein was to claim the experience for myself without resorting to a multitude of clichés. I believe I have addressed the sensuality of fear, the terrifying force of love, the unutterable pleasures of true intimacy, and the destruction of emotional and intellectual prisons with an imprint that is undeniably my own. Blammo. This is a fairly experimental record, in that, I "experimented" with several different approaches for each song (which is part of why it took so long to record) even though the arrangements and styling are fairly classic. Taking a larger producer role this time around gave me license to indulge no small degree of ambivalence and uncertainty. This material demanded from me a new way of being made, and it took a lot of time before that revealed itself. I believe we found a way to make something that is meticulous but natural, dense but still sounds spacious. Mostly I had to overcome the temptation to think that the method by which the last record was made would suffice this time around too. Blammo.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Spoon's New Album And Were About To Ask
Mastered: September 18, 2009
Formats: CD / LP
Personnel: Britt Daniel, Jim Eno, Eric Harvey, Rob Pope
What was the band listening to when they were making this record?
ACDC ‐ Dirty Deeds
Prince Buster ‐ Wreck a Pum Pum
David Bowie ‐ Low
Micachu and the Shapes
Eddie Current Suppression Ring
Since their last album, the band:
had a top 10 album in the US
played its second Mergefest in Chapel Hill
played on Saturday Night Live
went to Japan three times
played in Austin 10 times
played in Chicago 8 times
played in Fayetteville once
played shows in Portugal, Spain, Germany, England, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Norway, Sweden,
New Zealand, and the Netherlands
The only place in the world where Spoon's local booking agent doesn't want the band to play more than
once per album: Australia
Also since the last album:
Jim produced a lot of stuff, including the album by Black Joe Lewis
Rob toured extensively with The Get Up Kids and wasn't able to see his dog Petty enough
Britt produced an album by the White Rabbits
Rumors of Eric Harvey's affair with Amy Winehouse were officially put to rest
Transference is the shift of emotions, especially those experienced in childhood, from one person or
object to another It can also simply mean the act or process of transferring. For instance, from one recording medium to another.
With Transference, Britt Daniel's mom says she's worried Spoon is getting "too metal."
5 of the 11 songs on Transference are the original demos.
How's it different from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga?
it keeps more to itself
it's got more low notes in it
some say it's more orange
furthermore, some say there's not a single bridge on it
An excerpt from a recent post on the band's website:
Here it is a generation later, I've never been asked to be in another wedding party again, and I'm writing
to tell you how me and Jim and Eric and Rob have just finished an album and that we're calling it
Transference. This is the first record we've made without a producer or heavy of any kind and I don't
know for sure because I'll never hear this record in the same way that someone who didn't make it will,
but I think you can tell it. I can. When I listen to it I think, hey, that's how I woulda done it! Which is
really what you wanna to hear from a band, isn't it? It feels like pure Spoon. Love, Britt
1. Before Destruction
2. Is Love Forever?
3. The Mystery Zone
4. Who Makes Your Money
5. Written In Reverse
6. I Saw The Light
7. Trouble Comes Running
8. Goodnight Laura
9. Out Go The Lights
10. Got Nuffin
11. Nobody Gets Me But You
Change is scary to a kid. For most young people, the subject of growth is just an opportunity for a bad dick joke, and lessons in evolution are protested not only by the religious right but also by an entire generation of eye-rolling, bulletproof adolescents.
But as we all find out eventually, nothing stays the same—not even in punk rock. The music has moved from the garage to glam to the gutter and back, across Generations Blank and X and 182 and beyond. A record enters the world having captured a moment in time, three lightning chords in a bottle, and then a band worth its salt soldiers on, ready for the next step. Some try to cling to a moment forever, but the true artists move forward, keeping close their heart and signature soul while expanding everything around them with a head full of steam. Often, the wastoid wakes up and the slacker un-shirks as the Roman numeral I gives way to II—or, as is the case with FIDLAR, to the almighty Too.
"The second record is always the fucking scary record, I don't care what band you're in," says singer/guitarist Zac Carper. "We kind of pigeonholed ourselves in one style for a while, this 'garage punk.' Everyone says, 'Don't sell out, don't make a slick record,' but to me, selling out would be making the same first record and just cashing in on that scene. I want to expand and get better at writing more interesting songs, and change, you know? I didn't want us to be labeled a 'punk rock group.'"
"As a band all you can really hope for is that you just keep progressing and moving forward," says guitarist/singer Elvis Kuehn. "We didn't have any specific goal with this record other than to just keep progressing as a band, getting better and exposing the music to as many people as we can."
Carper, Elvis Kuehn, Brandon Schwartzel (bass), and Max Kuehn (drums) ripped modern punk rock a new one on their 2013 self-titled debut. They paired life-risking antics and attitudes with their full-shred anthems about skating, partying, and honest l-i-v-i-n to put their sound on the map, and world tours with Pixies, The Hives, Black Lips, Wavves, and more opened the gates even wider.
On the second time around FIDLAR are pushing their world forward. The band's sophomore album reveals them embracing other sides of their brains and exploring additional musical avenues. But while Too finds FIDLAR diving deeper into their bag of tricks—working for the first time with a producer and outside of LA, incorporating some bona fide studio polish— it's not like they've changed the meaning of the "F" in their name to "fiddlesticks." The "fuck it" ethos still looms large; they've just added more ammo to the arsenal and fuel to the tireless fire.
"It's weird when we get labeled these skater-partier-slacker punk kids," says Carper. "We skated, we partied a lot, but we also worked our asses off. A lot of kids don't realize we don't just get drunk and hit record; it's me locking myself inside my room or studio for six months and writing and recording and not having much of a life other than that. It's my therapy a little bit."
Following the success of the debut record, and amidst five years straight of life on the road (which, for a band like FIDLAR, is a little more toll-taking than for most) since forming in 2009, they decided to pause for a bit in order to iron out some kinks and get their heads clear. They came back after a spell to a friend's studio with nearly 40 Carper-penned songs, set to once again record it all themselves, but hit a wall. "About 30 songs in, it wasn't really sounding right, it was too stock," says Carper. "I realized I needed to write songs and not think about FIDLAR. I was writing for the band but that's not how the band started—it started with songs that I wrote and we just put them together. So I thought I needed to get out of town for awhile and write."
Carper tossed a surfboard and single mattress into the back of his Volvo and drove up the California coast, writing songs on an acoustic guitar while revisiting the music he first loved as a kid: Green Day, Sublime, Elliott Smith, Blink. His fresh perspective did the trick, and in the summer of 2014 the band took the resulting songs from those sessions to record with the producer Jay Joyce in his Nashville studio.
Building largely on the vocal melodies and lyrics from Carper's road-trip acoustic demos and scratch tracks, as well as songs written by Elvis Kuehn and Schwartzel, they completed the entire album in two weeks, recording a song each day and mostly using live takes. Like on their debut, the band perfected and recorded their own parts with direction from Carper, but unlike before, Carper—an experienced engineer in his own right—was able himself to lean on the wisdom of an outside production guru.
"I told Jay from the get-go to do his thing," says Carper. "You have to admit that you don't know everything to learn how to do something, and let people teach you and observe. You have to let somebody drive. He would ask about what music I was into, and got all this weird editing and electronic-y elements out of it, which I loved. It made the songs sound as chaotic as they did in my head."
Meanwhile, the honesty and self-analysis in the lyrics and storytelling on Too show an introspective personal depth that has evolved right long with the music. Songs like "Sober," "Overdose," "Drone," and "Stupid Decisions" show a deeper side to FIDLAR, who, as Carper says, made this album wholly for themselves.
"Anything I do, any song I'm writing, it's for me, 100 percent, it's a way I cope with life. On the first record, even on this record, it's all true stories. That's how I write, on actual experiences. Recording vocals on this record was a fucking emotional roller coaster. Our music's not complicated; it's three chords, four chords, max. I want people to hear my lyrics and understand them, not to have to decipher. I'm not trying to win a fucking poet contest. I like straightforward music, lyrically at least. I'm a sucker for hooks."
The finished product is a complete package, another unique moment from a unique group— three chords of lightning in a bottle; four chords, max. (In fact, that pretty much sums up the FIDLAR boys: "Three chords; Max.") The twelve songs here take those ingredients we've come to love and add just the right mix of something extra, touching on elements of pop, rock, scuzz, punk, synth, and more. "40 oz. On Repeat" kicks off with power chords and kick- stomp drums, a triumphant confidence to the pace where before was the frenetic thrash of joyful naivete?. "West Coast" has all the sunshine of an AM radio single delivered through Carper's darkly charming lyrics: "Woke up, you caught me with a smile/passed out on your bathroom tile." And Elvis Kuehn's "Why Generation" is a ready-made anthem, replete with a hook-laden sing-along chorus. There's something for everyone here, but it all sounds
distinctly FIDLAR. ("You can take influence, but it should always sound like FIDLAR," says Elvis.)
"The new record sounds pretty chaotic, especially with the production value," says Carper. "To me, it's a very weird sounding record, a very unique sound. The producer dragged that out of us. We're ecstatic about it. It's everything we wanted it to be and more. I was so scared about making another stock, garage rock record. We needed it to be different."
Change, as we know, can be scary. But as the four members of FIDLAR are proving, it's essential to our growth: as rock and roll musicians, as friends, as brothers, as human beings. The kids will come around.
"It's true what they say about chemistry in a band," says Carper. "You get four people together who can write music or play a show, and when it clicks, it clicks—and we click. The performance is getting a lot more professional. Instead of all of us getting blacked out drunk onstage, we're actually learning to perform. We can still take the piss out of everybody, though. It's kind of like sticking your tongue out and saying, 'Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.' That actually explains us to a T, 'Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.' But we have a lot more focus now. That point comes for every band. Even 15-year-olds grow up."
Whitney make casually melancholic music that combines the wounded drawl of Townes Van Zandt, the rambunctious energy of Jim Ford, the stoned affability of Bobby Charles, the American otherworldliness of The Band, and the slack groove of early Pavement. Their debut, Light Upon the Lake, is due in June on Secretly Canadian, and it marks the culmination of a short, but incredibly intense, creative period for the band. To say that Whitney is more than the sum of its parts would be a criminal understatement. Formed from the core of guitarist Max Kakacek and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich, the band itself is something bigger, something visionary, something neither of them could have accomplished alone. The band itself is something bigger, something visionary, something neither of them could have accomplished alone.
Ehrlich had been a member of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but left to play drums for the Smith Westerns, where he met guitarist Kakacek. That group burned brightly but briefly, disbanding in 2014 and leaving its members adrift. Brief solo careers and side-projects abounded, but nothing clicked. Making everything seem all the more fraught: both of them were going through especially painful breakups almost simultaneously, the kind that inspire a million songs, and they emerged emotionally bruised and lonelier than ever.
Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago history, after Ehrlich and Kakacek reconnected - first as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment and later as musical collaborators passing the guitar and the lyrics sheet back and forth. "We approached it as just a fun thing to do. We never wanted to force ourselves to write a song. It just happened very organically. And we were smiling the whole time, even though some of the songs are pretty sad." The duo wrote frankly about the break-ups they were enduring and the breakdowns they were trying to avoid. Each served as the other's most brutal critic and most sympathetic confessor, a sounding board for the hard truths that were finding their way into new songs like "No Woman" and "Follow," a eulogy for Ehrlich's grandfather.
In exorcising their demons they conjured something else, something much more benign—a third presence, another personality in the music, which they gave the name Whitney. They left it singular to emphasize its isolation and loneliness. Says Kakacek, "We were both writing as this one character, and whenever we were stuck, we'd ask, 'What would Whitney do in this situation?' We personified the band name into this person, and that helped a lot. We wrote the record as though one person were playing everything. We purposefully didn't add a lot of parts and didn't bother making everything perfect, because the character we had in mind wouldn't do that."
In those imperfections lies the music's humanity. Whilst they demoed and toured the new songs, they became more aware of the perfect imperfections of the songs, and needing to strike the right balance, they eventually made the trek out to California, where they recorded with Foxygen frontman and longtime friend, Jonathan Rado. They slept in tents in Rado's backyard, ate the same breakfast every morning at the same diner in the remote, desolate and completely un-rock n roll San Fernando Valley, whilst they dreamt of Laurel Canyon, or maybe The Band's hideout in Malibu, or Neil Young's ranch in Topanga Canyon.
The analog recording methods, the same as used by their forebearers, allowed them to concentrate on the songs themselves and create moments that would be powerful and unrepeatable. "Tape forces you to get a take down," says Kakacek. "We didn't have enough tracks to record ten takes of a guitar part and choose the best one later. Whatever we put down is all we had. That really makes you as a musician focus on the performance." The sessions were loose, with room for improvisation and new ideas, as the band expanded from that central duo into a dynamic sextet (septet if you count their trusty soundman). And that's what you hear — Whitney is the sound of that songwriting duo expanding their group and delivering the sound of a band at their freest, their loosest, their giddiest.
Classic and modern at the same time, they revel in concrete details, evocative turns of phrase, and thorny emotions that don't have exact names. These ten songs on Light Upon the Lake sound like they could have been written at any time in the last fifty years. Ehrlich and Kakacek emerge as imaginative and insightful songwriting partners, impressive in their scope and restraint as they mold classic rock lyricism into new and personal shapes without sound revivalist or retro. "I'm searching for those golden days," sings Ehrlich, with a subtle ripple of something that sounds like hope, on the track "Golden Days". It's a song that defines Whitney as a band. "There's a lot of true feeling behind these songs," says Ehrlich. "We wanted them to have a part of our personalities in them. We wanted the songs to have soul."
In 2014's hip-hop culture, built on stale rhymes about sex, money and drugs, Houston-bred, Minneapolis-based artist, Lizzo relies on inventive wordplay and an ability to seamlessly flow between rapping and singing to set her above the rest. Her debut solo release LIZZOBANGERS lives and dies by Lizzo's unique delivery and cadence, fueled by the depth of her pop-culture, social and historic references, ranging from Lizzie Borden to Cogsworth to Anna Wintour.
We're called PUP. We're from Toronto. We play loud music. Listen and love it / hate it / whatever
Brooklyn-based San Fermin, now an eight-piece touring enterprise, did not start that way.
In December of 2012, the initially makeshift project performed a single concert—from sheet music—and signed a record deal. Their self-titled debut was subsequently released worldwide in the fall of 2013 via Downtown Records. Following rave reviews, the band was thrust into the spotlight, performing sold out shows and festivals across the world and opening for the likes of the National, St. Vincent, Arctic Monkeys, and The Head and the Heart. "Suddenly, we were not in a vacuum. We were in the thick of it, which was thrilling but also terrifying," bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone says. "There were all these new possibilities and gray areas. It was a shock to the system—out in the world, barely at home, constantly in a state of semi-crisis."
Many of the songs on Jackrabbit, San Fermin's second album, existed only on Ludwig-Leone's laptop for the better part of a year, as he toured and turned the band into an ensemble operation. When at last he revisited them, he knew that they had to be reborn.
"The first record was written in a very pre-composed way, recorded when I didn't think this would be a band. So I went from being this isolated composer guy to sitting in the back of a crowded van with seven other band members playing shows in rock clubs every night," he says. "When I got back, I ripped these holes in the middle of the existing songs and added some new ones. I rethought everything I had been writing."
Recorded piecemeal in many sessions under Ludwig-Leone's watchful eye, Jackrabbit bears the scars of experience admirably. If San Fermin could seem prepared and guarded to the point of being polite, Jackrabbit lines that record's complicated compositional maneuvers and grandiose pop eruptions with necessary aggression. It is urgent and in your face, like a band sweating and singing in a cramped venue. It is emotionally complicated, too, like a group of strangers who have suddenly had their lives interrupted and linked by unexpected circumstances.
Fittingly, Jackrabbit is filled with moments in which each member of the band is prominently featured: John Brandon (trumpet), Stephen Chen (saxophone), Rebekah Durham (violin/vocals), Michael Hanf (drums), Charlene Kaye (lead vocals), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar), and Allen Tate (lead vocals). The two discrete characters born by the debut album have been replaced by multiple personalities, treading new and difficult terrain.
This evolution is at the heart of Jackrabbit, a powerful record where moments beautiful, brutal and a bit of both produce songs that don't know how to let you out of their clutches or console you with easy answers. At once lived-in and sophisticated, Jackrabbit feels a lot like real life—charmed, challenging, and wonderfully compulsory.
Greta Kline's musical output as Frankie Cosmos exemplifies the generation of musicians born out of online self-releasing. Kline initially built a reputation with her prolific catalog of bedroom recordings and as a performer and advocate of New York's All Ages DIY scene. The beauty in Kline's writing does not lie within immense statements and large gestures, but instead can be found in her ability to examine situations and relationships with heartbreaking sincerity. In 2014 Kline released her first studio album, Zentropy. Within months of its release, Zentropy became one of the most critically acclaimed independent albums of the year and was named New York Magazine's #1 Pop album of 2014.
In 2015 Kline signed to Bayonet Records, immediately releasing an EP where she experimented with writing in an electronic setting. The EP Fit Me In was well received and garnered a Best New Track from Pitchfork. Kline then began recording her next album appropriately titled, Next Thing. Like Zentropy, Kline approached Next Thing by fleshing out several old home recordings, and by writing half of the album from scratch. Next Thing explores new emotional and instrumental territory for Kline, and is slated for release April 1st on Bayonet Records.
From the increasingly fertile Louisville, KY, DIY scene emerges White Reaper – an incandescent power trio who is ready and willing to blow out eardrums far and wide.
The band – formed by Tony Esposito (vocals/guitar) and twin brothers Nick (drums) and Sam Wilkerson (bass) -- combines sparkling hooks and fluid, fluttering rhythms to create psychedelia-tinged garage punk that make heads bob without sacrificing an ounce of sonic bite.
RVIVR is a four-piece punk rock band from Huntington, New York and Olympia, Washington.
Lithics is a four person band from Portland, Oregon that makes minimal punk music informed by The Fall, Pylon, Captain Beefheart and Devo, as some main influences. The sound focuses on interlocked bass and drum rhythms paired with shrill guitar counterpoint and female vocals.