There are some great musical collaborations out there. John Legend and The Roots (and now The Roots and Costello), Jay-Z and Kanye, and who could forget Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead? I know I can’t. Well, another great collaboration you should have picked up on is AM & Shawn Lee—and luckily for you, we’ve got a pair of tickets to their show at U Street Music Hall, presented by 9:30 Club on Tuesday, June 18, to give away.
Lee has collaborated with indie artist AM since 2011. Their debut as a touring duo was at a showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas in the same year. After AM heard Lee’s Music and Rhythm album on the radio in Los Angeles, he decided to reach out to Lee through the Internet. The two became quick friends, sharing a common love for ’60s psychedelia and ’70s Italian soundtracks.
In September 2011, AM & Shawn Lee released their debut album Celestial Electric. When Rob Garza from Thievery Corporation heard the collaboration, he signed the debut album to his record label on ESL Music.
As we covered last January, it’s often quite difficult to nail down a venue for the DC Record Fair. Apparently DC has a dearth of spaces large enough to accommodate 40 or more record dealers, with 40 or more tables, hundreds of crates of records, and often the 700-1,000 enthusiastic crate diggers who descend upon the event.
Then there’s the DJ set up, the bar, the food, and the random other surprises that make the DC Record Fair a special community event. Our friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring put together this piece that outshines any descriptive copy we could conjure up:
He’s been “kicked” out of the band that he started and pretty much defined, only to be replaced by Chester from Linkin Park. That is insane to me, and not just because I hate Linkin Park, but because I can’t imagine STP without Weiland.
And I’m not a purist by any means. I support two versions of LA Guns, two versions of Great White, and even two versions of Queensryche (don’t get me started), but for the love of God, I have to draw the line somewhere. Anyway, so Weiland decided to his own thing and that’s fine by me, and it was fine by a packed house at the legendary Fillmore last week in San Francisco as well.
“In 1999 I was well on my way through a journey of classic rock. I was nine years old, and anyone you might expect to see on a list of “Rock Gods” had become my idols. Bowie, Hendrix, The Stones, and anyone else with tight pants and a guitar were all who mattered. I bought an electric guitar and stopped cutting my hair. At just over four feet tall I considered myself a total badass.”
“Due to my new-found obsession, I took an interest in my dad’s record collection. Unfortunately they were kept at my parents’ cottage three hours north of our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We only used the cottage during the summer, so I waited for the school year to end, and dreamt of a stockpile of classic rock artillery to blast on the record player.
You might expect a description of me opening a dusty cabinet to find Zeppelin, The Who, Bowie, and the rest of my hero’s records hidden away like treasure. Unfortunately, this is not a Rock’n'Roll fairytale and that’s not what happened.
While there were a couple hundred records in a dusty cabinet, the majority of them were 1940s lounge singers, and a surprisingly large number were Christmas records. I was crushed. Someone should have videotaped my reaction; it would have been Youtube worthy. The more I searched the worse it got and my hopes of spending an afternoon listening to classic vinyl culminated in listening to the Bread album Manna. Not exactly what I had in mind.
Dirty Projectors is consistently pushing the experimental envelope. The band’s music doesn’t fit neatly into a box; it defies genre classifications while offering something that each ear can embrace—be that intelligent lyricism, thoughtful instrumentation, or simply the freedom their sounds convey.
The band has been around since the early 2000s with seven full-length albums, a few EPs, a collaboration with Bjork and a short film under their belt. The sole constant in the ever-mutating Dirty Projectors lineup has been creator David Longstreth. We had the opportunity to speak to the mastermind behind it all about everything from last year’s two albums and short film, to inspiration derived from Kanye West.
Let’s start off talking about last year. You released Swing Lo Magellan and the “About to Die” EP. How do you feel these two albums differ from 2009′s Bitte Orca?
Well, in a lot of ways, I think that Swing Lo Magellan was really about the songs, whereas Bitte Orca was more about a vibe. The lyrics were way more important to me on Swing Lo, and also on the “About to Die” EP to me then they were on Bitte Orca.
Bitte Orca is sort of built for the stage—it’s meant to be performed, whereas the songs that became Swing Lo Magellan or the “About to Die” EP are more inward-looking, and the challenge with those songs are to make them into these things that have a life on stage, to translate them into something you’d put in front of an audience. That’s one of the coolest parts about the last year is making those songs into something that would work on stage.
These days there’s a certifiable bevy of garage punk activity that’s worthy of inspection, but back in the ‘90s the roost was ruled by a handful of bands. One of them was the Oblivians. They were unstable, unsubtle, and proudly uncouth, and after roaring through the mid-section of the ‘90s like kings, they disbanded in 1998. Like many outfits from that decade, they’ve decided the time is right for a return to the recording studio, and the good news is that with Desperation, the Oblivians have rekindled their fire with ease. An even better turn of events is that they do so without pretending that sixteen years have transpired since their last effort.
Like assorted other enduring genres, the Garage impulse can be a fairly large descriptive umbrella. That all depends on the person wielding the term of course, for some continue to consider it exclusively as the expression of ‘60s teen bands as detailed most famously on the Nuggets compilations, but also through a slew of other discs; along with Pebbles and Highs in the Mid-Sixties (which combined for over fifty goddamn volumes), the Crypt Records’ issued Back From the Grave series really set the garage-comp standard (only eight LPs, the last two double sets, but all of it massive.)
Other folks, in a manner similar to the use of the descriptor “punk,” have retroactively applied Garage to all sorts of stripped-down musical action, from the more unkempt strains of ’50s R&R to a big hunk of late-‘70s, mostly US-based, punk stuff.
And there is also a prolific wave of ‘80s bands to reflect upon, the majority adopting a look to match their combined stylistic plundering of the original ‘60s garage wave, the devotion of these groups getting them lumped into a sub-genre labeled as either retro- or neo-garage.
Neils Children are a band who’ve been around the block – since their inception back in the early naughties, they’ve supported The Horrors, Klaxons, and Bloc Party been on various “cool lists” and are now on album number three with Dimly Lit being released just this week.
They’ve moved away from the sound that put their peers in the spotlight and have honed a more psychedelic, low-key indie sound that straddles the line between Tame Impala and Warpaint.
Dimly Lit is being hailed as an underground album of the year by many and whilst it will probably get ignored by a lot of bigger publications which favour the electro indie pop gloss and 90s throwbacks that have been popular in recent times, Neils Children are a band with real substance, a band that should be placed firmly on your favourites list for years to come.