Brisbane, Australia resident Laura Hill is Scraps. Filtering vintage computer instrumentation through decidedly low-tech “bedroom” territory, she imbues Electric Ocean with the strains of early electronic pop. While impossible to describe as innovative, Hill’s musical and emotional fragility couples with her evocation of chilly ambiance to elevate her far above the level of mere nostalgia mongering.
For some inhabitants of 2014, there can nothing more retrograde, at least in terms of recorded sound, than a quartet wielding standard songs via guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. To these forward-thinking folks the 21st century should not be burdened with distortion-peddling garage bands, Beatle-powered pop-rockers, and the overhauled simplicity of umpteenth-generation cherubic punkers. Viva technology! Viva the moderne!
And others, specifically those who consider the merger of live instruments and the creative impulse to be a timeless combination, will just as quickly liken the phenomenon of contempo techno revisionism to the flogging of a lifeless artistic pony. Not just an example of style over substance, but the latest permutation of a trend harkening back to Sha Na Na.
As much as like to think of myself as a non-rockist avant-garde-loving kind of guy, I must admit to falling just a wee bit closer to the classicist side of this scenario. The potential of electronics is far from exhausted of course, but I’m consistently more than just slightly underwhelmed by the vast majority of current computer-reliant offerings, especially when they veer into a purely pop milieu.
PHOTOS: CAITLIN STOWE | At 6:00 this Saturday evening, Dallas-Fort Worth was already drunk and partying like it was 1999. If you were anywhere near Fort Worth’s Panther Island Pavilion around that time, you might have heard what sounded like a ‘90s themed rager clamoring from under the Henderson Street bridge. Actually, not so far off, it was the sound of Los Angeles’s underground hip-hop outfit People Under the Stairs, rallying Untapped Festival-goers in unified fist pumping and lively chanting. Brewskis in hand and emboldened by Double K and Thes One’s humor and bouncy beats, the crowd sang along, “If you don’t like beer, get the fuck outta here!”—lyrics to the duo’s appropriately-named party anthem “Beer,” but moreover, a motto gloriously summing up the Untapped experience.
You could say, then, that Untapped Fest was once again victorious. After debuting only last year, the festival made its return to Fort Worth this weekend. Despite an unfortunate bout of wet, wintry weather—a serious matter of concern for us Texans—the evening’s events proceeded through the toe-numbing cold, bringing festival attendees more craft beer and even bigger, bolder acts than before.
While its selection of more than 200 beers inevitably drew many to the event, Untapped’s rich, rather diverse lineup of indie talent gave them reason to stay. Over the course of six hours, eight local, national and international acts took place on the festival’s two stages, providing non-stop music to pair with the non-stop drinking that inevitably ensued.
After three years, the British alternative rock band elbow are back with a vengeance, including their sixth studio album The Take Off and Landing of Everything and a 12-date North American tour.
The album, recorded in Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios and in the band’s very own Bluefield Studios, contains many familiar step change melodies and mid-song rhythmic shifts that hark back to singles like “Newborn.”
Meanwhile, their new single “New York Morning” reveals a deep lyrical storytelling of the emotional journey of fans and musicians alike. The single has already received an open letter of thanks from Yoko Ono to elbow for mentioning the importance that New York had for herself and John Lennon.
The Take Off and Landing of Everything is available for purchase as of today, and in honor of the album release and the upcoming tour, we will be giving away a copy on vinyl.
“I started paying attention to vinyl when a good friend running sound for us gifted me some of his own personal vinyl he bought the day they came out (Led Zeppelin II, III, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, U.K.’s Danger Money).
I didn’t really start collecting myself until I had been on a series of tours in 2005 playing drums for a band called Vedera. Touring up the west coast, I stopped in at every Amoeba Records and book store to see what I could find.
And in the van, the stack grew. I filled a couple crates from what I bought on that tour.”
Digital Gold was mixed by Jeremy Wilson and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights and Measures Soundlab. The album is out today (3/11) on Celebrity Narrators Records and is available for purchase here.
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Personnel transitions are part of the history of brass bands in New Orleans. Though the band name may be new, all of the members of the Most Wanted Brass Band are familiar faces. They are playing every Tuesday at 2239 St. Claude Ave. in New Orleans. The show begins at 9:30 PM. Check their website for details on how to get in free.
Most of the musicians in the Most Wanted were longtime members of the Stooges who decided to pursue a different musical direction. They recorded an album, which is available free, here. “This is a Mardi Gras giveaway,” says bandleader Ersel Bogan III. “We want people to get acquainted with us as Most Wanted, though they know our names and faces already.”
The tracks are a composite of the band’s influences, musical passions, and the multitude of musical directions possible with their lineup. Songs include “That’s What You Get (For Being Polite)” by The Jacksons, traditional numbers like “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” and Anthony Hamilton’s “Best of Me.”
“Ha! Well, my first date, I was defiantly underage!”
“When I was an infant, my cot was in my Dad’s study where he had a whole wall of hi-fi equipment, including record decks and old tape machines. The first thing I latched onto and associated music with was the Revox a77 reel to reel tape machine as it was clearly visible to my young eyes! This is where music came from for me in my younger years and then very soon after, those big round shiny records too. To my Dad’s dismay I can just about recall that the records tasted better than the reels as of course it all ended up in my mouth as a toddler.
My Dad’s system was composed of Quad esl57 speakers and 33/303 pre and power amps, so very early on I was developing some audiophile traits. I have now inherited his system and, for me, vinyl doesn’t sound any better than it does on this. So warm and so massive!
Numero Group’s Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles corrals 16 bands that dove headfirst, and while the poker was hot as hellfire, into the choppy waters of occult-focused and occasionally satanic ‘70s hard rock action. Its spoils uncover a pocket of previously uncelebrated motion; if not transcendent it does provide a return of dependable quality.
While humorous, the title of this 2LP is also appropriate, and the Rob Soden-designed cover is certainly amongst the most fitting sleeves I’ve ever glimpsed. Immediately my mind flooded with visions of 10th grade, the memory only strengthened by discovering the jacket was based on band-logo designs that decorated Soden’s high school Peechee folder.
One of my classmates, and to describe him as a metal fan would be a severe understatement, adorned the backs of his spiral-bound composition notebooks in a similar fashion. And I’d noticed other hard rock/metal lovers scrawling logos (I recall the most popular being AC/DC and Metallica) onto the covers of their pads and tablets, so this wasn’t necessarily a new development.
But the precision, consistency and sheer intensity of this one kid sitting across from me in sophomore study hall has always lingered in my consciousness. More than just fandom, his labyrinthine calligraphy was a declaration of extreme devotion; instead of focusing upon algebra or biology, he was ruminating upon and championing the finer points of Zeppelin, Sabbath, Priest, and Maiden.
Twenty five years ago an album was released that defined a new chapter in the musical career of the already legendary performer. When Bob Mould released Workbook in 1989, it marked the first solo endeavor for the musician since he left his previous project as guitarist/vocalist for the Minnesota based band, Husker Du.
With its mostly acoustic sound, Workbook leaned heavily toward the more mellow side of Mould’s musical repertoire, and it also revealed a side of the musician that had not taken shape prior. The album was deeply embraced by Mould’s hardcore fan base and even generated some mainstream and critical acclaim when the album’s best known single, “See a Little Light” placed high on the Billboard charts.
Workbook is arguably one of Bob Mould’s best and most beloved projects and judging by the packed crowd at the 9:30 Club for last Wednesday’s performance, Mould is welcome in DC anytime, no matter what he plays.
When he took the stage it was obvious that Mould’s relationship was his audience is one of respect and admiration. The crowd was a little more polite than usual as all stood with eyes wide and eager ears. The throng clapped solidly and steadily and shouted out things like “Way to go, Bob.” In between songs, Mould told jokes and short narratives in a very intimate way, almost as if he were talking to close friends. As far as live shows go, you’ll not get a more intimate experience than you will Bob Mould.