Upcoming Philadelphia Concert Watch For April 2010. Featuring Nationally Touring Acts!
Trying to find the best shows going on next month, but are too overwhelmed by how many choices are out there? Here’s a Look at some shows that might just be a little too good to pass up! And note, while this list primarily features Philadelphia, it showcases bands who are currently touring the country. So if you like what you hear, then you might just want to check their websites and see if they’re coming to a stage near you! Vampire Weekend, Wilco, Nada Surf, and Screeching Weasel may be sold out, but there’s still plenty of great shows worth seeing.
Making Time w/ Girls and Dum Dum Girls April 2nd at Voyeur Nightclub
From R5 Productions
One of 2009′s most hyped artists. They created the perfect summer record, evoking a narcotic, sunny afternoon yet promising the eventual hangover of summer’s departure. Described by the band as “honest, loose, ethereal, obnoxious and perfect, it is a sincere tribute to the majesty of great pop music and the healing power of rock and roll. They also have the distinction of being the only band I mail ordered a 7″ from in the year 2008!
Dum Dum Girls
Hey kids, there’s even more lo-fi, garage-revivalist, distortion-riffic, cruddy, muddy, poppy rock’n'roll coming your way! This time it’s courtesy of L.A. fuzz-pop act Dum Dum Girls– actually just one girl who calls herself Dee Dee– who just recently played her first Dum Dum show (backed by members of Crystal Stilts, Blank Dogs, and Crocodiles) and is now signed to prestigious indie label Sub Pop. Really cool stuff. Check out the clips below!
Dum Dum Girls
Dum Dum Girls at SXSW 2010
Drive By Truckers w/ Lucero and Langhorne Slim April 3rd at The Electric Factory
Drive By Truckers (from Wikipedia)
Drive-By Truckers are an alternative country and Southern rock band based in Athens, Georgia, though three out of six members (Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, and Shonna Tucker) are originally from The Shoals region of Northern Alabama. Their music is noteworthy for its “three axe attack,” or three guitars as well as bass and drums.
Drive-By Truckers was co-founded by Patterson Hood (son of bassist David Hood of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section) and longtime friend, former room-mate, and musical partner Mike Cooley in Athens, Georgia, in 1996. The two had played in various other bands including Adam’s House Cat which was chosen as a top ten Best Unsigned Band by a Musician contest in the late 1980s.
Together with a revolving group of musicians, Drive-By Truckers put out their first two albums, Gangstabilly (1998) and Pizza Deliverance (1999). Following their second release, the band embarked on a nationwide tour, resulting in a live album called Alabama Ass Whuppin’ (released in 2000 by Second Heaven Records, re-released in 2002 by Terminus Records). They had an entertaining and informative website long before most bands had begun taking advantage of the internet as a promotional tool. It was the band’s constant touring, however, that helped them develop a large and dedicated fan base both on and off-line.
On January 22, 2008, the Drive-By Truckers’ eighth album, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (named after a line in a Cooley song entitled “Checkout Time in Vegas”), was released in the US and went to #37 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Once again, David Barbe produced the album and artist Wes Freed provided the artwork. The album boasted nineteen tracks and features the first song contributions from bassist Shonna Tucker.
Drive-By Truckers backed up Booker T. Jones on his album Potato Hole, which was released on April 21, 2009. They performed with Jones as “Booker T and the DBTs” at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on June 14, 2009.
On 1 September 2009, New West Records released the band’s second official live album and DVD called Live From Austin TX.
The band’s latest release is a collection of b-sides and rarities entitled The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities recorded during the Decoration Day and Dirty South sessions and includes tracks by the departed Jason Isbell. Hood has also announced, via the band’s website, that the Drive-By Trucker’s ninth album is already in the works and is slated for an early 2010 release. The album will be called The Big To Do, and will be followed by the band’s “R&B Murder Ballad album” Go Go Boots shortly after.
Lucero (from Myspace)
Lucero’s sixth studio album and major label debut, 1372 Overton Park, is due October 6 on Universal Republic Records. Produced by Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem) and featuring horn arrangements by legendary Memphis session player Jim Spake (Al Green, John Hiatt, Solomon Burke, Cat Power), the record marks a decided turn toward the Memphis soul sound that has long informed the band’s records from afar. 1372 Overton Park follows the band’s 2006 release, Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers, hailed by Pitchfork as “the best showcase for the band’s taut dynamic yet.” After a run of festival and club dates this summer, Lucero will tour throughout the fall in support of the new album with the Lucero Ramblin’ Roadshow & Memphis Revue, a traveling roadshow featuring Amy LaVere, Cedric Burnside with Lightnin’ Malcolm, Jack Oblivian, John Paul Keith & the One Four Fives and The Dirty Streets. Please see reverse for a list of dates.
The new album’s name comes from the address of the Memphis loft in which all four band members lived, practiced and even recorded portions of their 2003 release That Much Further West (the history of the space itself is even more colorful—in the ..70s, 1372 Overton Park was a karate dojo where local resident Elvis Presley, among others, took lessons). Over recent years band members have gradually moved out leaving lead singer and guitarist Ben Nichols the sole resident of the space until word finally came down that the building would be sold and demolished. Almost as if marking the end of an era not only for the building but for the band as well, this record turns the page and signals a strong move toward the Memphis soul sound that has long served as an influence for the group. Nichols explains, “When [saxophonist] Jim Spake put that first horn track down, we began thinking of the record as having a certain sound. We heard pieces of Memphis history being played over our songs and it floored us and we just went with it.”
While 1372 Overton Park serves as a love letter to Memphis and its musical heritage, the band has far from abandoned the country/rock/punk influences that they’ve become known for over their previous five records and countless tour dates in front of rabid fans. “I think the fact that we don’t claim a genre is very important to what Lucero is,” according to Nichols. “There are too many rules in punk rock. Too many rules in country music. We’re hard headed and…god damn if we don’t do things the way we want to do them.”
Playing between 150-200 live shows a year, Lucero has come to be known as much for their hard-touring work ethic as for their critically acclaimed records. In addition to his work with the band, lead singer Ben Nichols also released a solo record in early 2009 and co-stars in MTV’s $5 Cover, a series about the Memphis music scene.
Ultimately, Lucero live to rock and rock to live. No more. No less. Its really that simple. -Amy Sciarretto
Rebels, Rogues and Sworn Brothers was released September 26, 2006 on Lucero’s own Liberty & Lament label.
It is a special time for Langhorne Slim as he is so proud to announce and present Be Set Free, his mighty third album being released by Kemado Records. One of the most endearing and standout qualities of Slim’s live shows is the sureness that one is always entering a genuine gospel-like musical experience full of little miracles. Be Set Free has captured this charisma and spirit -the “hold your heart” moments and “raise a drink” dance vibes shine throughout with lush string arrangements and the fine sonic talents of drummer Malachi DeLorenzo, new bassist Jeff Ratner and new keyboard/banjo player David Moore. Langhorne’s stronger than ever vocals lead the journey blending his poetry through the beautiful chaos and bearing a wisdom that reflects a broken heart battling the perils of true hope.
Be Set Free is Langhorne’s most cinematic and cohesive effort to date. Slim has truly reached a point of light where these songs come from wide-eyed maturity and mastered craft.
Gut wrenching lyrics and gorgeous merry melodies-it would be easy to categorize it as folk, but this time-it’s much more complex than just that slice of pie. Sweet hallelujah choruses bleed throughout tracks like “Land Of Dreams” and “Say Yes” and turn to the darkness of blues filled “I Love You, But Goodbye”.
Be Set Free was produced by Chris Funk (member of Decemberists) who also played various instruments on the record in Portland, OR. The album also features several guest musicians including Sam Kassirer (from Josh Ritter’s band), Erika Wennerstrom (from Heartless Bastards) and Laura Veirs. The album was mixed by Tucker Martine who has recently worked with greats like Sufjan Stevens and R.E.M.
Needless to say ’tis been a non stop journey of excitement for Langhorne Slim. Since March 2008, the band have headlined over 150 shows and played major festivals such as Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, Austin City Limits Festival, Newport Folk Fest, Sunset Junction, Pickathon, Rhythm and Roots, and SXSW. The band garnered heavy acclaim for their performance of “Restless” on the David Letterman show and were WXPN’s artist of the month. This spring, the band will be touring the US and Europe including a US tour with the Drive-By Truckers in April.
One of the most endearing and standout qualities of Slim’s live shows is the sureness that one is always entering a genuine gospel-like musical experience full of little miracles. Be Set Free has captured this charisma and spirit -the “hold your heart” moments and “raise a drink” dance vibes shine throughout with lush string arrangements and the fine sonic talents of drummer Malachi DeLorenzo and new bassist Jeff Ratner. Langhorne’s stronger than ever vocals lead the journey blending his poetry through the beautiful chaos and bearing a wisdom that reflects a broken heart battling the perils of true hope.
Drive By Truckers
Never Gonna Change
Last Pale Light in the West
Rebel Side Of Heaven
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club April 6th at Theatre of Living Arts
Somewhere between the five full-length albums and a decade-long road test across the highways of the world, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club found their way.
Eleven years after bassist Robert Levon Been and guitarist Peter Hayes started playing gigs around their hometown of San Francisco, the duo has now started over, with a new vision, a new drummer, and the gift of a future unknown.
The sound of Beat The Devil’s Tattoo comes from everywhere and nowhere- it draws a map and embarks on a sonic road trip through American music; from howling front porch stomps on the Chattanooga and beer-sloshing Texas roadhouse rockouts, to swaggering proto-punk sneering in NYC’s basement bars.
For six months, Hayes, Been and new drummer Leah Shapiro, holed up in a basement studio together, during one of the coldest winters in recent history. In this house outside Philadelphia —the same place Howl was penned — they built their first album as a new band from the ground up. “It was like a family again, living together and working really closely like that,” Been says. “Something happened to us out there though, I’m not sure if we beat back our demons, or if we just let them take us over completely. But strange days make for strange times.”
Shapiro replaced longtime BRMC drummer Nick Jago behind the set, bringing a newfound sense of professionalism, which she honed from playing with the Danish rockers, The Raveonettes.
“She knows how to watch when she plays,” Hayes says, “there’s intuition and there’s the ability to watch our body language as we’re really going to dig into something.”
With Shapiro on board, the band recorded in Los Angeles at the Station House, tracking all basic tracks in a shocking four days.
“We wrote over 23 songs for this record and the hardest thing about it was probably narrowing it down to a final 13 track album,” Been says. “There’s just a strange effortlessness now, which I haven’t felt since we recorded our first album. It’s just got that kind of nervous, kind of excited, kind of unsure feeling, where we don’t know where it’s gonna go next, so everyone just stands out of the way.”
Beat The Devil’s Tattoo stirs with a raw sexual energy, melting down their previous four records, and forging a style that encompasses them all. The firebrand fuzz bass from their first two albums B.R.M.C. and Take Them On, On Your Own emerges on “Shadows Keeper,” and “Aya,” Howl’s acoustic driven, edgy Americana is ever-present on “Long Way Down” and the title track, “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo.”
Like the title of the album, a phrase gleaned from Edgar Allen Poe’s 1839 short story, “The Devil In The Belfry,” BRMC stands on the edge of darkness, but never dives in.
“Leah had given me a book of Poe short stories and I’d immersed myself in it. The one phrase ‘Beat The Devils Tattoo’ leaped out at me though for some reason. I read up on it and found that it originally meant ‘the beat of a drum or a bugle signaling soldiers to return to their camps after dark’. But it’s a very old lost phrase. These days, I guess it’s used whenever anyone anxiously drums their fingers on a table or taps their foot on the ground incessantly, they’re ‘beating the devil’s tattoo.’”
With songs of self-destruction and redemption, of heartbreak and ecstatic love, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo traverses much emotional ground. Like Poe’s American Gothic style, the album infuses the soaring spirit of Southern folk with lowdown grit of bijou blues. The slide-guitars and tambourine stomp of “River Styx” brings us “to the water’s edge where every sin has been washed away.” The dusty howls opening “Conscience Killer” evoke a fire-and-brimstone preacher leading the choir at an Alabama big-top revival.
The piano piece, “Annabel Lee,” beautifully ends the UK album with the adaptation of Poe’s story of everlasting love beyond the grave.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
Like the best balladeers, like Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, and Lou Reed, BRMC, translates feelings into sound, and sound into lyrics that sets off on moody journeys deep into the soul.
“We wouldn’t be in a band if people were saying what was in my head, the way I need it heard,” Hayes says, “The only thing that satisfies inner reconciliation is music, spitting it out, making and creating ourselves.”
BRMC’s ceaseless drive to create, to tell stories of redemption and aching desire, keeps them going. It’s an addiction, an unquenchable thirst appeased only by the undying love of rock and roll.
“To me music connects everyone and everything, that is the light,” Been says, “If we’re able to write something, and someone can relate to it, or feel something from it, the light is blinding”
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Spread Your Love
Rasputina April 10th at Johnny Brenda’s
The New York City-based trio Rasputina is led by singer/songwriter Melora Creager, a classically-trained cellist who backed Nirvana on the group’s final tour. In 1992, Creager placed a want ad seeking other cellists to form a rock band; among those responding was Canadian musician Julie Kent, and with the later addition of Polish native Agnieszka Rybska, Rasputina was born. The three cellists’ image further developed by the addition of tightly-laced vintage Victorian costumes, their gothic chamber-pop soon caught the attention of Sony, who issued the group’s debut Thanks for the Ether in 1996; Transylvanian Regurgitations, an EP featuring remixes by fan Marilyn Manson (loz!) Over the year some of the members have come and gone but Melora is still heading the ship with the band’s signature 18th century steampunk imagery.
Linfinity are a New York City based group of musicians who helped form a band around enigmatic front man Dylan Von Wagner, tackling everything from Southern Gothic tropes and rockabilly to beautiful, string-laden Moorish stomps and bombastic chamber pop. New York City
Prudence Teacup writes lullabies for heroes and sinners. She has been called a “reluctant chanteuse” as she often avoids the stage, preferring the quiet hermitage of a cramped room. Her music weaves antique melodies within electronic soundscapes. Fall and redemption, venom and balm, myth and truth all collide in the hiss of her homespun recordings.
In The Sea
Xiu Xiu and Tune Yards April 13th at First Unitarian Church
From R5 Productions
Xiu Xiu, one of the most original bands, is like a synth pop group that doesn’t let the shiny happy face of the genre take over. They know the genre is merely a vehicle for expressing the fully intense and anguished emotions they’ve got bursting out of them. So instead of punchy casios and happy go lucky tunes, the foremost element is this hushed, trembling voice straining towards the epic wail. Yes, it’s dramatic but the sincerity of emotion prevents it from becoming melodramatic. Out of the shards of anguish come experimentally structured songs that dart amongst jittery drum machines, wintry minor key piano, fuzzed out noise, clanging percussion. Building new, fresh songs out of raw emotion that might by a lesser band be inarticulate and messy, Xiu Xiu transcend the genre and any of their many influences, which clearly include Joy Division and Talk Talk. These guys are a downer, albeit in a gorgeous, shimmering beautiful way. Killrockstars Records.
Merrill Garbus aka tUnE-yArDs (she’s the lone member of the band). Garbus’ primary instrument is ukulele, the tone of which is thin and trebly and lonesome, the sound you usually get from a barrel-scraping demos collection issued long after someone is dead. To this she adds her own field recordings– the sound outside her window, a child being asked about blueberries, indistinct creaks and clatter– along with occasional percussion that seems to consist of whatever nearby could be smacked or shaken. usky and serious or else pitched up to make her sound like a kid humming to herself to pass the time. She’s got a respectable amount of power and range, but more importantly, she sings with abandon. Really cool, weird, interesting stuff. 4AD Records
Real Live Flesh
Life Is What You Make It: A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett April 19th at World Cafe Live
You may think that with a last name like his, Peter Buffett has enjoyed a life of endless privilege. But the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett says that the only real inheritance handed down from his parents was a philosophy: Forge your own path in life. It is a creed that has allowed him to follow his own passions, establish his own identity, and reap his own successes. In his “Concert & Conversation,” the Emmy Award-winning musician, philanthropist, and author combines live performance with candid personal discussion and video clips of his film, TV, and philanthropic work. The inspirational and rewarding event speaks to the challenges of finding a path towards a well-lived life, and favors following passions over conventions. The written companion to the live “Concert & Conversation” program is Peter’s book, Life Is What You Make It (Harmony Books, April 27th, 2010).
For his first major Philadelphia appearance, Peter has unsurprisingly chosen a venue where music and social concern go hand-in-hand: World Cafe Live, whose non-profit partner, LiveConnections.org, creates innovative, free music education programs for Philadelphia children. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit LiveConnections.org and ensure that more kids have access to experience the power of music.
Life Is What You Make It
The Apples In Stereo April 20th at Johnny Brenda’s
The Apples In Stereo
2010 marks the 15th Anniversary of The Apples’ debut studio release, Fun Trick Noisemaker and the 17th anniversary of the band’s existence! Their greatest hits EP, #1 Hits Explosion, was released Sept 1st (Yep Roc / Simian / Elephant 6), with a new full-length entitled Travelers In Space And Time scheduled to land on April 6th in North America.
Touring for the first time since their highly acclaimed New Magnetic Wonder release in ’08, The Apples in stereo plan to tour extensively throughout ’10 in support of the EP, upcoming full-length, and to celebrate 15 years since Fun Trick Noisemaker!
Generationals, a New Orleans-based duo, are steeped in the classic sounds of bygone eras. “Con Law,” their delectable debut, shimmers with the music of the British Invasion, Stax soul, Wall of Sound production, 1950s doo-wop and California-dreaming jangle filtered through a contemporary indie-rock lens. – New York Times Magazine
“Austin by way of Boston by way of Maine neo-psych revivalists Laminated Cat couldn’t be further from the standard model of bands featured on Primitive Futures. They reference Wilco and the Paul Simon, frequent coffee houses and find refuge on craggy coastlines, perhaps the antithesis to the dive-bar, collector-scum contingent documented in these pages. Take a moment, though, to listen to Umbrella Weather. Actually take in the whole beast, and you’d swear it was a long lost jam session of Elephant Six luminaries buzzing under an Athens’ summer thunderstorm. At its peak, the record is flooded with all of the acid-fried dayglo idiosyncrasies that made Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel dense collages of psychedelic madness cut with syrupy Beatles pop. ” – agitreader.com
The Apples In Stereo
30 Seconds To Mars w/ MuteMath and Neon Trees April 24th at The Electric Factory
30 Seconds To Mars (From Wikipedia
30 Seconds to Mars is an American rock band from Los Angeles, formed in 1998. The band features actor Jared Leto as vocalist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter. Founded in 1998 by Jared Leto’s brother Shannon Leto, 30 Seconds to Mars began as a small family project. Matt Wachter later joined the band as bassist and keyboard player. After working with a number of guitarists (as the band’s first two guitarists, Kevin Drake and Solon Bixler, left the band due to issues primarily related to touring), the three auditioned Tomo Miličević to round out the band’s roster.
Their second album, A Beautiful Lie, was released on August 30, 2005. Because the album was leaked five months before its release, the band decided to include two bonus tracks: “Battle of One” (an original song that was also set to be the album’s title track when it was first announced) and “Hunter” (a cover of the Björk song). To further promote the album, the band also enclosed “golden tickets” in 12 copies, which granted their owners access to any 30 Seconds to Mars concert free of charge, along with backstage access.
On August 31, 2006, the band won the MTV2 Award for “The Kill” at the MTV Video Music Awards, one of their two nominations. The second nomination was for Best Rock Video; however, they lost to AFI’s “Miss Murder”. In the video, members of the band reenact scenes from The Shining. A Beautiful Lie was certified platinum by the RIAA in January for distribution of over one million albums.
In 2006, while on the MTVu $2 Bill Tour, the band did a signing with Music Saves Lives, drawing people to the importance of the non-profit.
In October, the band began their “Welcome to the Universe” tour, sponsored by MTV2 and were supported by Head Automatica, The Receiving End of Sirens, Cobra Starship, Rock Kills Kid, and several other bands including Street Drum Corps. The tour was “environmentally sound” according to a 2006 interview with then-bassist Matt Wachter. “Jared and Shannon put together this thing called Environmentour which is illustrating ways—alternatives—to kind of clean up some of the mess we leave behind. We fueled the bus with vegetable oil,” he explains. On November 20, MTV2 premiered the video for “From Yesterday”; the video is the first American rock video ever shot in its entirety in the People’s Republic of China. The music video is loosely based on the film The Last Emperor.
On April 29, 2007, the band performed at the Australian MTV Australia Video Music Awards, where they were nominated for three awards, winning “Best Rock Video” and “Video of the Year” for “The Kill”.
As of Spring 2007, the band is supporting The Used as a part of the “Taste of Chaos” tour and have scheduled a string of dates in Europe supporting Linkin Park. They are also scheduled to play Roskilde, Rock am Ring, Pinkpop, Give It A Name Festival and Download. 30 Seconds to Mars were one of the hosts for the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008. While on the 2007 Taste of Chaos the band also did and interview with Music Saves Lives.
On March 21, 2008, 30 Seconds to Mars performed at ‘My Coke Fest’ in South Africa, which saw the band back on South African soil since the inception and recording of A Beautiful Lie. At a Press Conference Leto describe the experience as deeply personal, with the added hope that some new material may see the light of day on African Soil. The band played to a sold-out crowd in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
On December 11, 2009, according to AOL Radio Blog, with votes from listeners of the site’s Alternative Radio station, the Top Alternative Song of the Decade of the 2000s was 30 Seconds To Mars’ hit The Kill from 2006, which had major success, along with the album which the single appears, A Beautiful Lie
MuteMath (From Myspace
The members of MUTEMATH had reached their breaking point. Collectively gathered on the front porch of their New Orleans home-studio where they were struggling to record the follow up to their 2006 critically-acclaimed Teleprompt/Warner Bros. debut, the quartet screamed at each other with the full weight of the accumulated frustrations that had escalated from weeks of fighting. To heighten the tension, a lawn mower droning in the background drowned out their voices, inciting them to yell even louder in misguided efforts to be heard.
Finally, drummer Darren King voiced what everyone was thinking, but feared saying out loud: either call it quits or swallow their individual pride and try to write the best songs they ever had. “No one said a word at that point,” recalls vocalist/frontman Paul Meany. “And without comment, apology or agreeing, I just remember all of us walking right back inside, going straight to our instruments, and just starting to play music.” That was the day King, Meany, guitarist Greg Hill, and bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas began to write what would become Armistice.
But before that day would arrive, the band had written close to 16 songs in the midst of their 3 years on the road and had full intention of arriving in New Orleans to record and sculpt these ideas into the 10 or so songs they would need for their sophomore release. But after weeks of recording and working in every seperate corner of an old uptown voodoo Victorian, the internal conflicts over what parts made up the best ideas began building to a full on creative stalemate. Growing exhausted with their crumbling democracy, the band started looking for an outside producer to evaluate the situation. One by one, they were flown in every other day for a week until they met Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello, The Hives).
“What caught our attention about Dennis was that he had the most simple, yet slightly offensive suggestion for us,” says Meany about their first visit. Upon hearing what had been recorded so far Herring said, “Why don’t you just try writing some new songs?”
“I’m surprised no one had really entertained that option up until then,” Meany comments, “perhaps because it seemed like too daunting of a task considering how invested we’d become in the existing ideas.” But Herring continued to push his point, “You obviously aren’t happy with what you have, and honestly, I don’t think its great either. Stop spinning your wheels; shelve these songs; and start spending your time writing together. Don’t worry about recording your record right now. Just write it.”
Taking a few days to think about it after Herring left, the band attempted a discussion on what to do next, but still could not come to any unamimous agreements until that noteworthy day on the front porch where all the conflict would come to a head.
“All of the constant fighting had left us unable to resolve anything,” remembers Mitchell-Cardenas. “But something special happened when we just decided to shut our mouths, pick up our instruments, and disregard anything we had written prior.” Something began to align in the creative universe. Songs were forming on their own at a fast pace, almost as if their true sound was being discovered for the first time. It was in this moment that their first single “Spotlight” fell out of the sky.
Once the band had grasped the benefit of their new mindset, they didn’t waste any more time. All previous 16 ideas were completely scrapped and the band began to work together in the same room everyday just starting with a tempo and key to play in. It turned into a marathon style writing session yielding a new song about every other day. The band eventually signed on Herring as their official producer and after 3 months in New Orleans shaping up almost 20 brand new songs, they headed to Oxford, MS and worked more closely with Herring to put the final details in place.
Fueled by the bands chaos and confusion, MUTEMATH has created a work of tremendous beauty and meaning on Armistice via such tracks as the hypnotic, musically inventive “Clipping,” the propulsive, high dynamic charge of “The Nerve,” the quirky tribute to Murphys Law “Backfire,” and the nine-minute, soaring, closing opus “Burden.” Instead of brushing aside the questions and anxiety that propelled the projects birth, the quartet embraces them, with each song questioning where to go from here.
Since MUTEMATH released its first EP in late 2004 and hit the road in 2005, their inherent nature has challenged limitations and expanded parameters. By the time of the 2006 self-titled debut, their blending of adverse genres into its own innovative sonically adventurous creation earned them a reputation as one of modern musics most daring young groups. By 2007, they would find themselves Grammy nominated and declared by Alternative Press as “the #1 band you need to see live before you die.” But in the process of pushing boundaries even further for themselves, they almost pushed themselves out of existence. “It was a risk we had to take,” says King looking back on what they set out to accomplish for Armistice. “This record was by far the most painful music-making experience I’ve ever had, but also the one Im most proud of.”
Its evident that this record is not a high-minded story with a beautiful resolve, but rather the experience of knowing when to stop fighting for the sake of progress. Without a doubt, ideals get mamed and dismembered in the scuffle, but Armistice emerges as a transcendant anesthetic to keep us singing and dancing through it all.
Neon Trees (From Wikipedia)
Neon Trees is a rock band from Provo, UT, with origins in Southern California. Formed initially by neighbors Tyler Glenn (lead vocals/keyboards) and Chris Allen (guitars), the band made its first home in Provo, eventually adding Branden Campbell (bass) and Elaine Bradley (drums/vocals) to the lineup. Although a well known band in Provo, the band didn’t receive nationwide exposure until late 2008 when they were chosen as openers for several of The Killers’ North American tour dates.  Not long after, the band was signed by major record label Mercury Records in early 2009. Additionally, the group was voted Band of the Year in 2009 by City Weekly, a popular Salt Lake City publication. Although they had several prior independent releases, the band released its debut album at Mercury/Def Jam, Habits, on March 16, 2010. with “Animal” as its lead single. The band performed “Animal” during their March 23, 2010 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and the band will be touring opening for 30 Seconds To Mars and Mutemath throughout the Spring of 2010.
30 Seconds To Mars
Calling My Name
Hot Chip April 25th at Theatre of Living Arts
Warmer, deeper and more stripped back than their previous record, ‘Made In the Dark’, ‘One Life Stand’ is still conscientiously crafted and informed by the kind of intelligent evaluation that is now second nature. The seductive and surprisingly glossy finish they can deliver when the mood takes them and the song demands are replaced with an emotional honesty and an open-hearted optimism that is disarming and often unexpectedly affecting.With both feet in the Jack Track underground roots of classic house and techno, and a heart in candid song-writerly craft, this record, in its entirety, is convincingly inspired by Joe Smooth, Marshall Jefferson, Derrick May, Theo Parrish, Bill Withers and Bill Callahan all at once. ‘One Life Stand’ seeps through to your soul while defiantly striking a pose (albeit in a jumper and glasses) in the middle of the dance floor called Now!
“We never have any plan when we record”, says Joe Goddard, one half, along with Alexis Taylor, of a core duo that have had the name Hot Chip since they played Pavement and Spacemen 3 covers at Elliott School, Putney where they first met in their early teens. “Things happen and we try to follow the thread wherever it leads.† People might be surprised by a song like ‘I Feel Better’ coming from us. It’s kind of a big, commercial song that came from nowhere. We decided to embrace that instead of discarding it on this album.”
But even this accidental towering Euro classic just waiting for a Robyn or a David Guetta to add shimmering synths and perform it on some glittering music awards show from Dubai- isn’t enough to drag the whole thing in one direction. There’s still one of those gorgeous ballads that make you feel like you’re looking though a gap in Alexis’ curtains as he emotes almost privately on the ironically titled Slush (a recent collaboration with Robert Wyatt was inspired and makes perfect sense when you hear this). Songs from Joe like ‘Brothers’ and the beautifully naive ‘Alley Cats’ seem to move closer to Alexis’ instinctively candid style. Gospel-inspired arms-aloft future house classics like ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’ arm-wrestle with the spooky bass-line heavy Detroit influenced disturbance that is ‘Take It In’- something which might have Jeff Mills wondering why he’d never thought of putting something whistle-able on top of his brooding psychosis.
‘One Life Stand’ is brimming with the easy eclecticism we have come to expect- absorb if you will, the idea of avant icon Charles Hayward of This Heat making like Marshall Jefferson’s 909 machines on real drums. Still, uniquely, Hot Chip remain upliftingly accessible.
“I’m always naturally drawn to simple, honest, big productions- things like ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’.† Even if I’m lost in underground stuff, I’m always drawn to music with hooks in it. This record is the best and clearest expression of that kind of idea for us so far.” says Joe.
Alexis concurs: “Instead of being something to shy away from it should have that honesty, always. That’s what I want from other people’s music too”
When they speak you quickly realise these are two people who would have become friends whether their tastes in music saw them working together or not.
“We bonded at a very early age. We’ve known each other for 18 years”, remembers Joe. “We met in first year at school. We were in different form groups but I became friendly with his group of friends and we’d eat our packed lunch out on the stairs. We used to spend our Friday evenings at 15 or 16 playing acoustic guitars and hanging out. He would write songs on his guitar and I would help him record things round my house on computer. We were always very serious about it. Alexis is more obsessed with music than almost anyone else I know and I am pretty bad too. Even back then we were trying to record things properly.”
“He had a 4 track. He was the only person I knew that did. And he was always up for recording stuff. We had the name Hot Chip set in stone even then. We did a gig together when we were 16 at lunchtime or something- covers of ‘Range Life’ by Pavement and ‘Walking With Jesus’ by Spacemen 3 and our own songs too on organ and electric guitar. It was quite lo-fi but not acoustic. We both listened to The Beatles, The Kinks and I loved Prince and Stevie Wonder, Tim Buckley too. We went to separate Universities but we still carried on, stayed in touch, getting into new things like the Rodney Jerkins productions and trying to make things inspired by Aphex Twin and Destiny’s Child in our own little way…” Alexis drifts in a kind of reverie. You realise music for him is a desperate passion. That he almost lives through what he loves (does?)
Joe is not far behind though according to his school friend. “He’ll be straight off the tour bus wherever we go. Right into a record shop and gone for maybe 4 to 6 hours. Sometimes I join him, standing behind him at the deck waiting to listen to things while he’s trawling through a vast pile, totally oblivious. Maybe he takes no notice because it’s just me”
Asked how he relaxes Joe, he says he just likes to work. He recently recorded Kano and Little Boots and is sought after for his empathetic skills. “When I’m not working I buy records. I love the calmness in a dusty old record shop. I buy music to DJ with but to learn from too. That’s how I unwind.”
But this obsessiveness about music from all genres and all eras is not just about the anal retentiveness of the collector. All of this free time research is clearly feeding into the records they write and record together.
Joe uses them at his own Greco Roman nights while the clearly scholarly Alexis mentions his love of the directness of author Raymond Carver and 20th century Greek poet CP Cavafy before getting right back to what makes him tick.
“I guess if you could say this record had any starting point it was listening to Derrick May’s ‘Strings Of Life’ the original mix of that. It’s inspiringly primitive sounding and quite rough – with wild panning from left to right. Those production values together with Bill Withers’ ‘Harlem’ and one by Swamp Dog called ‘God Bless America For What’ really hit home. They seem now to make some sense of what we have done. Then there are the steel pans, played by Fimber Bravo (formerly of Steel n’ Skin). I loved records like Van Dyke Parks’ ‘Discover America’, which evokes a beautiful atmosphere using that instrument. They were intended to be all over the album but we restrained ourselves a bit!”
Similarly, Joe’s intentions were quite clear. “I got really annoyed with aggressive processed digital dance music. I wanted to think about the antidote to that, to bring back some of the original spirit of dance music. I was thinking about records like ‘Stand On The Word’ by The Joubert Singers. It’s a gospel record really, but played in New York clubs in the 80s. These records mean what they say and it’s the same with Alexis and what he writes. It’s important for things to feel human. Some things are so airbrushed and slick and perfect…. we quite like to try to do something more human than that. I like things that have something not right about them, I suppose.”
This could also explain how the location for much of the recording of “One Life Stand” was chosen. In the heart of a disused industrial building in London, Lanark Studio, run by Hot Chip’s Felix and Al, was reduced to a blackened hole following an accident in 2008. The studio was rebuilt and refitted with all analogue equipment just in time for the sessions to begin in Spring 2009, and the defiantly eccentric atmosphere was important to shaping the sound of the new record.
The three other members of the band each bring their own unique skills to the Hot Chip dynamic, which have been fused over the years through relentless touring and live performance.
Owen Clarke, a school friend of Joe and Alexis, is a quick-witted instrumentalist with a stubbornly experimental streak only matched by his ear for a catchy guitar hook. His artistic visions have also been the catalyst for most the band’s artwork from the first album onwards.
Al Doyle, a highly talented guitarist long coveted by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, can play virtually any instrument, and on “One Life Stand” this includes bass, cello, synthesizer and the flugelhorn, which he learnt so that it could be played on just one of the new songs.
Fellow producer Felix Martin completes the formidable 10 armed-beast that we know as Hot Chip with a passion for house and techno music that has also seen Al and Felix embark on their own studio projects including original material as well as remixes and production for other artists (including Kraftwerk and planningtorock) and DJ’ing around the world.
Of the three Joe says, “They are crucial to us in terms of the aesthetic and the feeling. Talking to you about how Alexis and me work is necessary, but Hot Chip is very much a band and they are a vital part of it. What we do live together is a whole other thing that has a life of its own too. Things evolve as we try them out live.
“Often we don’t play the same parts on the same instruments when we go back to playing live”, says Alexis. To be honest it’s not that important to us. It’s better that the songs speak for themselves, regardless of arrangements. I find it boring to go and hear people replicate a record note for note. I can’t really see the point of that”.
Such is the commitment to a kind of theoretical drift in their method, there is quite a good chance that the songs from ‘One Life Stand’ may well end up rendered on the spoons when Hot Chip get to playing them live soon. However they choose to frame them, they stand tall alongside those beloved ‘proper songs’- the many inspirations Joe and Alexis amass on a seemingly daily basis.
One Life Stand
Ozomatli April 28th at World Cafe Live
In their fourteen years together as a band, celebrated Los Angeles culture-mashers Ozomatli have gone from being hometown heroes to being named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors.
Ozomatli has always juggled two key identities. They are the voice of their city and they are citizens of the world.
Their music– a notorious urban-Latino-and-beyond collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga– has long followed a key mantra: it will take you around the world by taking you around L.A.
This has never been truer for Ozo than it is in 2009. More than ever before, the band is both of the world and of L.A.
Originally formed to play at an area labor protest over a decade ago, Ozomatli spent some of their early days participating in everything from earthquake prep “hip hop ghetto plays” at inner-city L.A. elementary schools to community activist events, protests, and city fundraisers. Ever since, they have been synonymous with their city: their music has been taken up by The Los Angeles Dodgers and The Los Angeles Clippers, they recorded the street-view travelogue “City of Angels” in 2007 as a new urban anthem, and most recently, they were featured as part of the prominent L.A. figures imaging campaign “We Are 4 L.A.” on NBC.
“This band could not have happened anywhere else but L.A.,” saxophonist and clarinetist Ulises Bella has said. “Man, the tension of it, the multiculturalism of it. L.A. is like, we’re bonded by bridges.”
Ozo is also a product of the city’s grassroots political scene. Proudly born as a multi-racial crew in post-uprising 90s Los Angeles, the band has built a formidable reputation over four full-length studio albums and a relentless touring schedule for taking party rocking so seriously that it becomes new school musical activism.
“Just being who we are and just doing what we’re doing with music at this time is very political,” says bassist Wil-Dog Abers. “The youth see us up there and recognize themselves. So in a playful, party-type of way, I think it’s real easy for this band to get dangerous. We are starting to realize just how big of a voice we actually have as a band and how important it is for us to use it.”
In 2007, the reach and power of that voice went to new global heights. The band had long been a favorite of international audiences—playing everywhere from Japan to North Africa and Australia—and their music had always been internationalist in its scope, seamlessly blending and transforming traditions from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East (what other band could record a song once described as “Arabic jarocho dancehall”?), but last year, they entered the global arena in a different way.
They were invited by the U.S. State Department to serve as official Cultural Ambassadors on a series of government-sponsored international tours to Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East, tours that linked Ozomatli to a tradition of cultural diplomacy that also includes the esteemed likes of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong.
For those who wondered how a band known for its vigilant anti-war stance could become a partner with the very Bush administration they have so vocally critiqued in the past, the band was clear about their position: it was all about responding to a global “cry for change” by using music to promote messages of peace and understanding.
As Bella told The Los Angeles Times during the band’s visit to an orphanage in Cairo, “Our world standing has deteriorated. I’m totally willing and wanting to give a different image of America than America has given over the last five years.”
In places like Tunisia, India, Jordan, and Nepal, Ozo didn’t just play rousing free public concerts, but offered musical workshops and master classes and visited arts centers, summer camps, youth rehabilitation centers, and even a Palestinian refugee camp. They listened to performances by local musicians and often joined in for impromptu jam sessions with student bands and community musicians. Most shows ended up with kids dancing on stage and their new collaborators sitting in for a tabla solo or a run on the slide guitar.
In the case of Nepal, the band’s trip was part of a celebration of the country’s newly ratified peace accord and they arrived with a direct message: “different instruments but one rhythm, together we can make a prosperous Nepal.” Their concert, which drew over 14,000 people, was a historic one—Ozo were the first Western band to do a concert in Nepal and the event was the country’s first peaceful mass gathering that was not a protest or religious ceremony.
For the U.S Embassy in Nepal, Ozomatli were a model of how diversity promotes change. According to an official embassy release, “Ozomatli is living proof that diverse backgrounds make a stronger and more prosperous whole. Ozomatli’s nine members are committed to addressing social issues of local, national and international importance and they use the power of their own diversity to achieve this.”
Suddenly the lessons of L.A. had found their way into the world at large.
“I’ve always felt that music is the key to every culture, the beginning of an understanding,” says vocalist and trumpet player Asdru Sierra. “It’s a language far more universal than politics.”
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