PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Touring to promote his new album, Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens played his first of two shows at famed Chicago Theatre last Friday and created a beautifully intimate experience for the mesmerized, sold out crowd. Stevens focused mostly on his new material, playing all 11 songs on the album, while also sprinkling in fan favorites throughout the night. As opposed to his previous tours, this show leaned more towards a poetry reading than a rock production, but like always it highlighted Stevens songwriting prowess and intense passion.
Little Scream opened up the show, and while they were a bit timid, they fit with the mood in the room and worked well to warm up the audience. Lead singer, Laurel Sprengelmeyer, made a point of telling the audience how much she’s been enjoying touring with Sufjan Stevens and how she cries every night during his performance.
After a short break, the lights came down and the crowd cheered with excitement as Stevens entered the room. From the moment he stepped onstage, Stevens was completely in the moment and never stepped outside his focused demeanor. In fact, it almost seemed as though he was unaware that there was a crowd in front of him at all, and instead concentrated inward toward the memories of his past. Stevens’ new album is an honest and emotional piece, centered around the passing of his mother in 2012. As he sings each song, you can see the anguish in his eyes and feel the passion behind his words. You simply can’t help but be drawn into his captivating energy.
All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.
Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore the diverse music with connections to New Jersey. You’ll hear in-depth interviews with some of Jersey’s best music makers and have the opportunity win tickets to some of the best concerts in the state.
“This week’s show features a few stalwart NJ players, but mainly focuses on new things; it is spring, after all. Let’s hear some music that is hopefully new to you but is also new to me! What are we doing here if we’re not really digging around to find the future? We feature Lauren Marsh, Jersey Jung, River City Extension, The Milwaukees, and many more.
We’ll also chat a bit about Record Store Day, and fully engage the new fully engaged video component at WFDU! Out with the old, and in with the new: click play already!” —EZT
“For me vinyl has always brought controversy, rebellion, love, hope, philosophy, sex, truth, irony, and mind expansion. From making up dances to Beatles tunes on my sister’s close n’ play as a toddler, to dropping my new 180g Lights On white vinyl on my vintage Dual turntable, it never ceases to amaze. My dream as a young musician would not be realized till I saw the needle meet the spinning platter and play my song… and now that day is here… a long time coming.”
“My parents had all those crazy records like Martin Denny’s Jungle Themes or A Flurry Of Bongos or Native Ports of Call. I would be entranced in the hipster lingo of the liner notes and the faraway bird calls—who were these exotic cultivated people? Then there was Jobim, Sinatra, Carole King, Neil Young, and all kinds of soundtracks. Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell all played in my home.
In Florida I was living Linklater’s Dazed and Confused reality with Zeppelin, Floyd, Hendrix, Frampton, and the Stones. My sister reported back from college with Bowie, The Clash, The Jam, The Specials…the lyric sheet, the double gate fold, the pictures, the lifestyle I would imagine—many many afternoons with a hifi setup thrown together from whatever was available at the local thrift store or garage sale down the street.
Hundreds are Hamburg duo Eva and Philip Milner, and their latest single “Ten Headed Beast” is a showcase for their ability to create haunting and sumptuous soundscapes combined with thought-provoking lyrics.
Eva’s evocative vocals lift up an already impressive piece of composition that blends minimalist beats with layered piano and strings to transcendental heights. Regarding the meaning behind the lyrics, Eva states: “[Ten Headed Beast] stands for all the conflicting perspectives and feelings in me.”
“When you make an important decision, afterwards you try to find out if it’s the right way…” says Hundreds vocalist, Milner. “I tend to question my own decisions again and again. That’s hard sometimes and to put the ten headed beast to silence isn’t easy.”
If you’re in the UK, we’d thoroughly recommend checking out Hundreds captivating live show at the following dates: 22nd April at Ramsgate Music Hall in Ramsgate, and 23rd April at the Garage in London.
Single “Ten Headed Beast” and album Aftermath are released via Sinnbus. You can keep up to date with the duo on their official site.
What monstrous crimes against common decency and human hearing haven’t the Butthole Surfers committed? I don’t know, but it’s a short list, and that’s what I love about them. The band from San Antonio, Texas spent much of its career producing an obscene caterwaul, causing irreparable damage to both the ears and the minds of those human beings—and I count myself one of them—who couldn’t wait to hear what outrage the Butthole Surfers would perpetrate next. Distortion, transgression, and a dedication to doing the next wrong thing—these are the qualities that set Gibby Haynes and Company apart from the competition, and made their acid-fried freak rock rodeo a must-listen, must-see for anybody interested in finding just how far a band would travel the road of outrage to reach the palace of infamy.
The band’s live shows are legendary, and their albums remain wonderfully unlistenable despite the passage of time. I put them on whenever I feel the need to remind myself that some musicians simply do not care whether you like their music or not. It’s a refreshing attitude, and one that left the band penniless for the longest time; they spent many a day foraging through trashcans for food, and collecting bottles for the deposits. And as most people know, founders Haynes (vocals, saxophone) and Paul Leary (guitar) could have had good jobs; Haynes walked away from a top-notch accounting firm to starve, and Leary was on the fast track to respectability and financial success as well. They remind me a bit of Manson Family killer Tex Watson, another bright Texas boy who took an unexpectedly permanent detour on his way to the American dream.
When it came to freaks on the 80s underground scene the Butthole Surfers had no equals; nobody even came close. It speaks multitudes, at least to me, that they traveled for a while—and I’m talking the entire band along with a female pit bull named Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad—in a tiny, Chevy Nova with “Ladykiller” painted on it and a roll of barbed wire on the front bumper. In the studio, according to Leary, the band was committed to making “the worst records possible,” and in one infamous case involving the song “Creep in the Cellar” discovered a backwards fiddle on the recording, which resulted from the studio simply taping over a country band that failed to pay its bill. The Surfers, delighted by the addition, said leave it in.
Alice Cooper On Vinyl Resurgence: “…the kids, I think they’re tired of buying air. They don’t get anything with it. I think this generation is rebelling against the technology thing. I sign more records than I do CDs anymore.”
50 Iconic Indie Album Covers, The Fascinating Stories Behind The Sleeves: They’re images you’ve seen a thousand times, but what do they mean, and how did they end up on the cover of your favourite ever albums?
“It was one for the books! The Sonics blew it up at Easy Street Records on Record Store Day 2015 with the help of some very special friends…”
South London Record Fair announced: “Taking place 23rd May at The Paperworks, Elephant & Castle, there’ll be label showcases – with the likes of Ninja Tune and Erased Tapes already confirmed – special guest DJ sets…”
“…For an industry that many suggested was a relic of the past, it would seem that the interest in listening to music has never been higher, and that far from being moribund, the world of recorded music is currently changing very quickly and for the first time in forty years audio quality is on the agenda once again…”
Captured Tracks, Greenpoint’s Hidden Gem: “…Starting as a record label before branching out into a record shop in 2013, Captured Tracks is slightly hidden on Calyer Street. Just a small white sign outside the shop points to its basement location. But, if you haven’t heard of the label or been the store, it’s certainly worth seeking out…”
Greetings from Laurel Canyon!
Today it finally feels like winter here in the Canyon. Cold and grey, yet it’s so fucking dry up here. From such a warm winter, it’s gonna be “brown” spring.
The big news today is that the Armenians are on the march. Their protest to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the genocide Armenians suffered at the hands of the Turks in 1915 will likely shut the city down today. I can dig it and will gladly work from my garage office in the Canyon.
As it is, I’ve been super tired because this week it was my turn to volunteer to help direct traffic at Jonah’s school. They call it a “Kiss & Ride.” It’s cool, but we need to get up at 5:45pm to make it to school early.
Genocide vs. Kiss & Ride?
To be honest I had no idea who Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman, formerly of the Fleet Foxes) was until just a few weeks ago. A fellow concert photographer had posted an amazing photo of him in a Facebook group and said it was a fun shoot. So, I buy the CD (yes, sometimes I still buy CDs) brought it home and ended up leaving it on the kitchen countertop in my house. I have a four-month old baby and the record is called I Love You Honeybear. My wife comes home to find the CD and based on the title thinks it’s a children’s record, that is until she gets to track 6 which is called “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow.”
To make a long story short, she asks me about it and I tell her that I just got it and haven’t listened to it yet, but I think it’s some sort of hipster rock or something. He’s coming to play two sold out shows at the Fillmore in April, I tell her, and I want to check it out thinking that I am pretty tuned into the music scene and somehow missed this one. Even with a 7am flight to the Monsters of Rock Cruise in Miami happening the next day, I’m committed to seeing what all the buzz is about.
Simply put, it was remarkable. What I witnessed last week at the legendary Fillmore was easily the best show I have seen in 2015, and quite possibly one of the best shows ever. Artistry beyond artistry if you will, 50 shades of musical genius. Father John completely blew me away. He opened up with a swooning version of the title track “I Love You Honeybear” and then the songs and performance just kept getting better and better. I’m not sure Father John is capable of writing a bad song, but if he ever did hit a sour note, his stage presence made up for it. “I’m working hard up here folks,” he says to the crowd. Not in an egotistical way, but more of an “I fucking love to entertain this room” type of scenario.
PHOTOS: MANNY HEBRON | There was a buzz of French accents circulating The Echo Wednesday night. The Los Angeles hipster-French (and faux French) community, complete with striped sailor tops à la Godard’s new wave film Breathless, was in full attendance to support their newest electro pop sweetheart, Christine and the Queens.
The alter-ego of 26 year-old Heloise Letissier, Christine and the Queens took the stage ready to make her L.A. debut. Christine is in a fitted black suit flanked by two featured dancers—with their intricate choreography, it would be wrong to simply call them “back up.”
A crescendo of synth and bass fills the venue. The melody holds a sophistication that draws from the French noir classics. A pulsating rhythm leans ever so slightly behind the beat creating a sleek groove. There is energy of excitement to her playful interaction with the audience but an effortlessly cool vibe in Christine’s vocals. Her performance of “iT,” also the opening track to her English debut EP, “Saint Claude,” released the day prior via Neon Gold and Atlantic Records in the US, was sung as an arrangement of both English and French, like much of the record.
The runaway hit, “Tilted,” also acts as the centerpiece of the evening’s show. A quaint mid-tempo pop tune that is catchy as hell without being derivative, the song’s bouncy choreography quickly became a Christine and the Queens signature. Featuring detailed movements with isolated gestures and graceful weight shifting nuances.