Author Archives: Amber Patrick

TVD Recommends:
An Evening with Yo La Tengo at the Grog, 9/15

We are obsessed with determining the worth of things based upon the length of time something has lasted. We obsess over anniversaries, over dates, over how many years it’s been since a band broke up, or how many years a band has been together. We are fact-guzzling, number crunchers.

But there’s something to be said for the lasting power of a band that spans nearly three decades. A lot changes in a day, let alone 10,950 of them. Thirty years as a band is nothing to take lightly; it’s something to be revered.

After thirty years together, indie rockers Yo La Tengo continue to go strong, having released their newest album, Fade, this past January and having toured extensively already this year with notable performances at both Bunbury Music Festival and Pitchfork Music Festival.

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The TVD Interview

Andy Bothwell, the genius behind the Astronautalis moniker, is very adamant about that name being left on the stage. When he played Weapons of Mass Creation fest earlier this month, he made it very clear to tell the crowd that when they came over to talk to him after his set, his name’s Andy. 

He’s a very laid back sort of man. Approachable. Which is borderline ridiculous because when he takes the stage he spits words faster than you can wrap your head around them. His lyricism is intelligent and crisp, it’s not in the least antiquated, though his subject matter is sometimes a bunch of dead men who we can attribute a lot of science’s great successes to, such as on last year’s This Is Our Science.

Bothwell grew up on a steady stream of music, so it’s no surprise it’s become his life’s work. It’s practically in his veins. He drank it in.

“My mother had me listening to a lot of folk and rock and roll,” Bothwell told us. “The Beatles and Van Morrison, that sort of thing. My father had me listening to a lot of soul, he was a big Rolling Stones fan but grew up in the south, so we listened to a lot of soul and Motown.

I have an older brother; he was hugely influential, he’s six years older than me. When I was young and everyone would listen to New Kids on the Block and M.C. Hammer, I was listening to The Clash, The Smiths, and Blur, a bunch of weird British rock and American indie rock, and ultimately he became a DJ later on—a house music and hip hop DJ—and he introduced me to all that, and that’s sort of where my connection to rap music started. I started listening to New York underground hip hop.”

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The Lighthouse and the Whaler: The TVD Q&A

Tonight indie rock darlings The Lighthouse and The Whaler return to their hometown as part of the Bad Racket Summer Series, coordinated by Bad Racket Recording Studios, at BUCKBUCK Art Gallery. Joining them will be Maza Blaska.

In anticipation of this performance, I chatted with The Lighthouse and the Whaler’s frontman Michael LoPresti to talk about the Whalers near-constant touring, how it feels to represent our city, and the balancing act a band maintains between tour life and family life.

How does it feel to be coming home and playing Cleveland again?

It’s the best ending to a great tour for us. There’s nothing like coming back and playing for the people who care for us the most.

When you’re on tour, how does it feel to be a representative for our city?

It’s a big honor really, people ask us all the time what Cleveland is like and we make sure they know it’s the greatest city in America. Also rocking a CLE Clothing shirt tends to help too.

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TVD Premiere:
Briar Rabbit, “So Long”

“…This must have been when I first moved to Chicago. I went home for some holiday and went digging through my parents records then I found Still Bill by Bill Withers. I was like “Use Me,” “Lean on Me”—great! I had just gone through it with a woman who wasn’t in the right place to really be with me (blah blah blah, I just got out of a break up so I wrote songs that ended up on The Company You Keep.)”

“I remember it was snowing, everyone in the house was asleep and all I could really see was the LED off the record player and “Let Me in Your Life” came on. I don’t know how it escaped me, but holy hell that song hit me like a ton of bricks.

I must have put the needle back 10 times that night—in all fairness it’s a short song. It was for sure a moment and the vinyl was a little warped so it was like my own version of the tune. That song still gives me chills.

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TVD Live: Divine Fits at Bunbury Festival, 7/13

PHOTOS: CARY WHITT | Divine Fits—Britt Daniel of Spoon, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks, and multi-instrumentalist/touring member Alex Fischel—provided a near perfect hour-long set Saturday night on the Bunbury Rockstar stage. As the sun went down over Cincinnati, the band cruised through some new material, as well as its taut, infectious songs from last year’s brilliant debut, A Thing Called Divine Fits.

Since the band started up in 2012, this was my fourth time seeing them (the benefits of having one of the members share your hometown, I suppose), and thankfully little has changed. Using the same, road-tested formula of trading off vocal duties and sometimes instruments, the guys have grown even tighter as a band. Their spiky, new-wave tinged rock has all the elements you can’t help but like, with hardly any filler in-between. The songs are streamlined and to the point, aggressive without being silly, and provocative without trying. Even the set opener, the very atmospheric (and very Spoon-like) song called “Neopolitans,” served as an amuse-bouche to what was to come next.

The Boeckner-fronted “Baby Get Worse” grabbed ahold of the now-larger crowd and did not let go for the next 12 songs the band performed. Daniel soon followed with my favorite off the record, “Would That Not Be Nice,” a track as catchy as songs come, and one that complimented love-scorned numbers like “Civilian Stripes” and “My Love is Real.”

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Ten Must-Sees at the Bunbury Music Festival 7/12–7/14

Bunbury logoIt’s easy to judge a festival by its headliners in the same way that you’d judge a book by its cover. That bold face, large-size print hits you in the face and begs all of your attention. Resist! We’re of the notion that the best part of festivals is inviting new bands to take up residence on your list of favorite aural fixations.

Here’s our top ten list of bands to see at Bunbury Music Festival this weekend. Some of these bands you’ve probably heard of, some are local favorites, and we admit, one is a verifiable cast of all-stars. Regardless, they’re all must-sees, and we anticipate these are the names you’ll be reading in bold face very soon. You might as well get ahead of the curve and hear them now, when you can get up close and intimate at their shows, right?

Beginning the Bunbury experience at 2pm on Friday is The Mitchells, a group of Cincinnati siblings that double as skilled songsmiths, whose alternative folk sound is grabbing a lot of attention from the local crowd.

North Carolina natives Delta Rae take the Main Stage at 4:15. This sextet, comprising siblings Ian, Eric and Brittany Holljes, as well as Elizabeth Hopkins, Mike McKee, and Grant Emerson, could win you over with their vocal harmonies alone. Factor in the percussive elements of their sound that recalls old Southern music, and you’re theirs—hook, line and sinker.
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The TVD Interview

Most twenty-somethings who sling on guitars and pick up drumsticks are after two things: free beer and babes. We know all about that noise. We’ve seen our fair share of “bands” like that. The first time we heard Oberhofer at the House of Blues in Cleveland however, we knew that wasn’t what was going on here. This group of twenty-somethings–consisting of former music composition student Brad Oberhofer, Dylan Trevelen, and Ben Roth, two of his friends from high school, and New Yorkers Matt Scheiner and Pete Sustarsic—is something else. 

Brad Oberhofer composes music that is near-orchestral, well thought-out indie rock. It has whimsical elements of vaudeville and all the beauty of classical, juxtaposed with heavy moments that simply rock out. It just comes natural to the Brooklyn transplant.

“I don’t really draw my inspiration from anything specific,” says Oberhofer. “It’s bits and pieces that come just from everyday life. Things that make me happy and things that make me sad, things that make me feel other things. I wouldn’t say there are any specific musical influences, though.”

We recently woke up Oberhofer to discuss his move cross country for school and some of the antics he’s pulled since taking the music world on his journey.

When you first moved from Tacoma to New York, was there a huge culture shock? 

No, there really wasn’t, actually.

You just felt like you fit in?

I don’t think I was assessing whether or not I fit in, I think everyone fits in everywhere because you are the same person wherever you go. When I came to New York, I didn’t really feel different or feel like the environment accepted me or didn’t accept me, I just felt like I was in a new place with a lot of new things to do.

That’s a good way to look at it. I feel like a lot of people get confused when they go somewhere new and they change. It’s good to hear that you were still yourself.

I think a lot of people do change when they find themselves in new environments.

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Kingsley Flood:
The TVD Interview

“When I first heard the Clash,” recalls Kingsley Flood’s frontman, Naseem Khuri, “I was six years old and terrified. My sister would put on their first album and I’d run to my bed thinking we were under attack. Maybe because it was the first seed, but those first songs were jarring enough to stick. Why are these guys bored with the USA? Why are they fighting the law? The urgency of those songs stayed with me and has never left.”

“Bob Dylan had the same effect on me—like millions of others. Here were people talking, singing, yelling about things that mattered. I was never really a dancer—I used my rock and roll for other purposes.”

It is with that same urgency that Kingsley Flood draws a crowd, switching seamlessly between songs from their unique folk-infused rock that has a crowd dancing feverishly one moment and attentively listening the next. With Khuri manning an acoustic guitar and the mic stand, the rest of the band consists of Jenee Morgan (violin/ saxophone/ vocals), Chris Barrett (trumpet/ keys/ percussion/ vocals), George Hall (lead guitar/ vocals), Nick Balkin (bass/ vocals), and Travis Richter (percussion/ vocals).

We had the opportunity to talk to Khuri about the band’s latest album, Battles which was produced by Sam Kassirer, the band’s upcoming Newport Folk Festival performance, the importance of live music, and as is our way, a few thoughts on vinyl.

How did you meet the other members of the band?

Nick and I were random roommates through Craigslist and I knew he played guitar in a pop band. I needed a bassist for a gig I was playing one day, so asked him to pick up a bass for the first time. Having not played much in public, I have no idea why he agreed.

Everyone else we just met through a vibrant and eclectic Boston music scene; we’d see people in bands or clubs or dark alleys. We bribed them with promises of long face-melting solos.

When listening to music, are you drawn to the orchestration or the lyrics first?

Neither and both. I try hard to listen to songs as a whole, and only make the distinction when one of those things really stands out, like when there’s some amazing lyric that cuts through. A lot of Springsteen songs do that for me. I’ll jump when some lyric strikes hard.

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Dirty Projectors:
The TVD Interview

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.

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TVD Recommends:
The Hush Sound at the Grog Shop, 6/8

After a four-year hiatus in which the members of Chicago indie rock band The Hush Sound parted ways in order to embark on other musical endeavors, 2013 proves to be the time in which the band members find themselves back together again and bringing fans what they’ve been waiting for—new music and the hope of a new full-length.

We chatted with the radiant Greta Salpeter (vocals/piano) regarding the band’s endeavors, influences, and why the hiatus was necessary. We recommend you catch them Saturday night (6/8) at the Grog Shop.

When you first began toying around with music, who were some of the musicians that influenced you?

60’s folk stuff, Fleetwood Mac, Motown, Yo La Tengo, Bach, and Cat Power.

How did you learn to loosen up from a classically trained mindset?

I never had the discipline to be a dedicated classical student. I would learn 16 bars of a piece, then write my own song in the key of the song. It taught me how to use one theme as a springboard to new ideas, which was hugely important to my development as a songwriter.

How do you keep things fresh after nearly a decade together?

I try to approach things from a new angle. If I’m about to sing a song which feels very distant from my current standpoint lyrically, I’ll try to focus on another aspect—the playing, the vocal performance, someone in the crowd who seems to be responding.

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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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