Author Archives: Amber Patrick

Ra Ra Riot:
The TVD Interview

The finest things we experience take their own time to truly evolve. A fine wine, for instance. It matures for years, cultivating its unique aromas and tastes. And some bands do much the same—they follow their own muse, creating masterpieces instead of churning out an onslaught of half-conceived albums.

Ra Ra Riot, the former baroque-pop darlings, reflect this refined maturation process. Two years after the release of their captivating album The Orchard, they return to us with a lineup change and a new album, Beta Love. We had the opportunity to discuss the venture into electronic elements with bassist Mathieu Santos. 

You’ve just released the newest album, Beta Love, and it’s a bit of a departure from 2010’s The Orchard. What do you think shifted the band’s sound?

I think a lot of different things. The biggest part was that we knew we wanted to approach the writing and arranging of this record differently. When we first started as a band, we had all these different instruments at our disposal, and at first, it was a strength of ours, but I think over time we sort of got into this rut. We learned how to write and arrange together so well that we just approached the songs in the same way; we were always adapting the songs to the band. It was like, “Oh, yeah, what’s the violin part going to be? What’s the cello part going to be? What’s this? What’s that?” We just started doing the same thing in every song, I think.

When we approached this record, we wanted to listen to the songs once and say, “What does this song need?” Just let it develop more naturally. We also wanted to embrace things we might have been too self-conscious to embrace in the past, like a lot of the electronic elements or the thematic elements. Shortly before we started working on the record, we had a lineup change, which shakes things up. We let a lot of the decision-making happen in the studio as opposed to figuring it all out beforehand. There was a lot of spontaneity and improvisation in the studio, which also helped shape the music.

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Passion Pit:
The TVD Interview

Electro-pop act Passion Pit has been gaining speed since its beginnings in 2007 as people across the country latch onto their clever beats, juxtaposed with frontman Michael Angelakos’ distinctive falsetto.

This band, however, is more than just a smart orchestration of keyboards, synths, and drums. Upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that Angelakos’ music and lyrics map a cathartic pathway through his personal challenges. In a generation where honesty in music is rare, it’s refreshing to find a musician who can be open with his audience about a battle with mental health, while still filling dance floors.

Though Angelakos is the mastermind behind the Passion Pit moniker, it takes a small army of talented men to flesh out the live band and bring his musical musings to life. We had the opportunity to talk to Ian Hultquist, keyboardist/ guitarist with the band.

How did you meet Michael?

I met Michael in 2006. We had a mutual friend, and we were putting together a band just for fun—it wasn’t Passion Pit. Our mutual friend said I know a guy who could play bass and keyboards, and he called Michael. I met him at the first rehearsal.

What was your first impression?

(Laughs) He seemed very young, but super creative and very musical. I felt like he was someone who was capable of doing some great things in music.

And now you guys are in a band together that is Passion Pit. When you’re writing, do you all collaborate together or does one person usually serve as the catalyst?

The writing works with Michael basically doing everything. Even on records, he played everything. The three of us outside of Michael were not part of Gossamer. The way it works is Michael finished the record and then brought it to us, and we kind of create the live show altogether. It’s a matter of learning songs, rewriting songs, kind of changing things around here and there and that’s where it becomes a collaboration of what we’ll bring to the stage.

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Lady Lamb the Beekeeper:
The TVD Interview

We first heard about Lady Lamb the Beekeeper from fellow Brooklyn darlings Pearl and the Beard. As it turns out, word of mouth is a fabulous way to find new music and in the case of Lady Lamb, this suggestion offered us a musician who engages her crowd with her rawness, sheer musical prowess, and nuanced delivery of powerful lyrics. 

We had the opportunity to talk to Aly Spaltro, the powerful young songstress behind the Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper moniker, about her first album Ripely Pine (released in February of this year) and her humble beginnings as a sales associate at a movie store. 

Was there an album or musician who inspired you to pick up the guitar?

No, I don’t think so. I started teaching myself when I was 18. And it wasn’t prompted by any one musician inspiring me. When I look back at it, it seemed to have happened just out of the blue. I was in a tough spot in my life at the time. I had just heard from college potentially and taken a year off to take a long trip to Guatemala that fell through at the last minute.

So, I was faced with being at home in my town in Maine while all my friends went to college. I’ve always been a pretty productive kid, so the idea of being home and not doing anything worthwhile wasn’t an option for me. That’s when I started teaching myself to play. I had a strong poetry background from high school, so it was a thing of wanting to challenge myself to put my poems to music.

Do you think it’s important to learn other instruments so you can achieve different colors of sound?

Yeah, for me it was natural. I taught myself the guitar and I was also interested in picking up other things I could. At the time when I was layering my own recordings, I was playing a little bit of keys and bass and light percussion, harmonica and autoharp, anything I could get my hands on.

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TVD Recommends: Shaky Knees Music Festival, 5/4 & 5/5

It’s that time of year again, music lovers! Time to get outside, get some sun, and hear your favorite bands in new or familiar settings. Joining the list of summer festivals we think you should definitely attend this year is the local new kid on the block, Shaky Knees Music Festival.

Shaky Knees Music Festival, which will span both Saturday, May 4th and Sunday May 5th, boasts a delightful indie folk/ rock lineup which will span three stages in Atlanta’s Historic Fourth Ward Park and the Masquerade Music Park. Single day tickets are still available, as well as tickets for the late night Black Angels/ Goat show on Saturday. Please do not wait to buy them at the fest; we’re sure this is going to sell out.

There are over thirty bands playing the festival, so to help you out, we’ve got our picks for must-sees for both days. We know you’ve got the big guns under control, but both days offer amazing bands from start to finish, and we’re here to help with the rest of your concert schedule.

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Vinyl Video:
Bethesda, “Go”

Kent’s indie darlings Bethesda recently released a music video for their single, “Go,” from their sophomore album, The Reunion, to be released on April 9, 2013. In it, the band faces off with a troop of Irish step dancers to deliver an exhilarating performance. 

We chatted with Eric Ling, who plays guitar and sings backup vocals in the six-piece for a little insight into the band’s relationship with director Cory Sheldon and the video’s concept.

How did you begin working with Cory Sheldon?

We had been told through friends that we should work with him. He was already making a name for himself as a film-maker and had recently premiered a full-length film called Color at the Akron Art Museum. We looked him up, and he had done a couple of Eisley music videos, and we LOVE them! A few of our friends were friends with him, and so we reached out and asked if he would be interested in working with us.

He seemed really excited about it! Since then we have become good friends and are likely going to use him for another music video that we are shooting and releasing soon.

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TVD Recommends:
San Cisco at the Grog Shop, 3/27

We get it. The snowy weather has you down, and you’re just plain tired of clearing off your car and driving fifteen miles per hour under the speed limit on your way to work. Really, we understand. We’re tired, too. What we need is something that’s going to take us from frigid to cheerful as fast as the weather changes here in Northeast Ohio.

Dripping with a washy and infectious sound layered with direct, exposed vocals, the Australian four-piece San Cisco is sure to warm up our cold Cleveland hearts tonight at the Grog Shop. The band comprises Jordi Davieson (guitar/lead vocals), Josh Biondillo (guitar/vocals), Nick Garner (bass/vocals), and Scarlett Stevens (drums/vocals).

Don’t read this book by its cover. Yes, they may be completely adorable, but their sound is intelligent pop that has memorable hooks and catchy guitar lines that will stick in your head longer than that to-do list you’ve already forgotten.

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Weekend Shots!


Hey, Cleveland. We’ve been a little dead—and for that we sincerely apologize—so we thought we’d remind you just how much you’re loved with a double-whammy edition of Weekend Shots. That’s right, we can’t pick just one great show because honestly, there are two things you have to be at this weekend in Cleveland. Hell, they’re probably more than two, but we’re trying to keep it simple.

First up, on Friday there is a recruitment event and party at Bad Racket for the upcoming Brite Winter Festival. There will be free food and drinks as well as a sweet dance party going down to get you jazzed up for Brite Winter. Come out, sign up and dance, dance, dance!

If you’re miffed because you missed out on getting tickets to see Walk the Moon this weekend at the Beachland, never fear—we’ve got a show for you that will fill up your Saturday night. The Beachland presents at the Grog Shop, Why?, Astronautalis, and Dream Tiger. Headliners Why? hail from our sister city Cinci and comprises brothers Jonathan and Josiah Wolf, Doug McDiarmid, and Liz Hodson. The band is a hip-hop indie-rock band that’s going to have you moving. Rounding out the bill are alt-hip-hop artist Astronautalis and new-kid Dream Tiger, who is slated to release her first album this spring.

What’s better? The Grog Shop is hooking you up with two tickets to this show. Comment on this post with why you should be at Why? We’ll select a winner and let them know this evening. All love, Cleveland.

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Weekend Shots!


This year’s whizzing by at a fast pace, isn’t it? Hard to believe we’re almost to February. The weather’s been pretty good here in Cleveland, but you’re not here for weather updates. Which is fine. We’ve got what you’re after, which is a weekend full of good music, no doubt. 

We can’t settle on just one show that you have to be at so we’re shouting out to the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern for having the best shows this weekend. Friday night kicks off your weekend with Freakwater in the Tavern. The alt-country band will have you tippin’ back whiskey sours and nodding along as their lyrics notoriously hit close to home.

Saturday night we’re suggesting some soul in the Ballroom for Wesley Brite and the Hi-Lites who are playing two sets and two fantastic local DJs, Partysweat and Alr!ght. Be sure to say happy birthday to Mark (the owner) if you catch him. Sunday, we’ll see you in the tavern for Jenny Owen Youngs, an upbeat singer/songwriter who’s destined to leave you in a good enough mood to face even Monday morning.

Not your cup of tea? Here’s the rest of the best!

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Matt and Kim: On the Precipice of Big Things

Matt and Kim have been steadily gaining an audience since their formation in 2005. With four albums under their belt, the duo’s energetic performances have crowds moving, and their witty banter creates an atmosphere of pure joy.

And yeah, they’re in love, too. You get that vibe from the way they catch each other’s eye on stage, Matt’s references to Kim’s sex appeal, and the way they find an opportunity to grind on each other mid-set. The point is, Matt and Kim are true performers. Live, you won’t know what to expect and honestly, isn’t that the best part of a show?

Matt was kind enough to field some questions for us via email.

How do you challenge each other to continue to grow and evolve your sound?

I don’t know if we challenge each other.  I will say, when starting this band, we were just learning to play our instruments, so for many years it was evolving because we were actually figuring out how to play.

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TVD Recommends: Dessa at Beachland Tavern, tonight, 1/9

Dessa possesses a compelling balance of brazen aggression with delicate, songstress-style crooning which creates her own unique and sublime niche. It’s not her voice that sets her apart, although it’s evident that the Minnesota native can sing.

It’s her delivery. When Dessa begins rapping and gaining speed, she spits fire, serving your ears with her unique brand of intelligent lyricism; her background in slam poetry proving a potent weapon.

Dessa’s newest album, Castor, the Twin, offers remixed versions of previously released works with the integration of live instruments. It’s got a jazz element that melds seamlessly with her sly vocals, but don’t get too cozy. Right when you’re vibin’ to it, she’ll switch up and spit something that makes you really tune into what she’s saying. We’re anxiously awaiting the next album. In the meanwhile, we’ve got this show to look forward too, right?

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