I was recently asked the “age-old” question, “if you were to go back in time when would you go to?” After remembering how slow rocks change, I ignored my geologist instincts to go back to the Late Paleozoic to see the Appalachian Mountains created and grow large. I decided to base my answer, rather, on what was happening musically during different times. This still proved challenging. Presented here are some of my finalists (focused rather on specific years rather than decades or eras…)
5. 1839: Pablo Casals finished recording the Bach cello suites. Before this, they were used as practice/warm-up pieces for cello. Casals made them stand-alone pieces to play. Where would Master and Commander be without Suite 1: Prelude? More importantly, where would we all be without the entire collection? Well, we’d probably all be right where we are but without some of the best cello pieces accessible.
4. ~1985: Stephen Malkmus, David Berman and Bob Nastanovich met. They all worked at the Whitney together in the late 80s. With others, Malkmus, Berman and Nastanovich, in different combinations, make up Pavement and Silver Jews. If Pavement was never a band, then Built to Spill may not have ever been a band. If Built to Spill was never a band, then maybe the Microphones wouldn’t have been a band (who knows?). And if Silver Jews had never been a band then Silver Jews would never have been a band and that’s bad enough by itself.
3. 1993: I was three and had no idea what was happening. In Seattle, In Utero was released by Nirvana. Seattle’s the best. In Omaha, Saddle Creek Records was started.While Conor Oberst has a pretty bad rep, his record label produced bands such as Cursive, The Good Life, Rilo Kiley and now is home to Rural Alberta Advantage, Big Harp, Maria Taylor and some other stars. Omaha is not the best but has created some pretty awesome music.
2. 1981: The Clash play their historic show at Bond’s. Welcome to America, boys.
1. 1983: The Smiths.
In summary, if I were to go back in time I would go back to about 1980 and stay there until about 1995. Sounds fun!
Night of Hunters is the twelfth solo studio album released by singer-songwriter Tori Amos, a classically trained pianist who has never shied away from the weird, elaborate, or less conventionally popular. To wit, Amos broke away from musicians with whom she had worked in the studio or on tour for more than a decade. She chose to enlist lesser-known talent on Hunters, including her daughter, Natashya Hawley; her niece, Kelsey Dobyns; and principal clarinetist with the Berlin Philharmonic, Andreas Ottensamer. The result is a strong album that begs to resonate from your speakers. Turn up the volume: Tori is back.
Amos has released several concept albums since her 1992 solo debut, Little Earthquakes. Hunters is no different. Inspired by classical music made famous by greats like Bach, Chopin, and Debussy, the album follows the journey of a woman dealing with the end of a relationship in which she has lost herself for the sake of her lover’s happiness. The musical themes and detailed story behind the album, which includes the appearance of a mythological creature who guides the woman’s journey through figurative and literal light and dark, reminds one of an operatic heroine.
Hunters is Amos’ first release on German classical music label, Deutsche Grammophon. “Edge of the Moon” and “Job’s Coffin” are especially stunning. The latter is one of several songs that features Amos’ daughter, who was also featured on 2009′s Midwinter Graces. In “Coffin,” Amos can be heard singing, “Since time why do we women / give ourselves away / we give ourselves away / thinking somehow that will make him / want to stay / make him stay,” leading the listener to think, perhaps, of an opera’s mournful melody that plays before the heroine’s all-too-early and tragic demise.
Though Hunters isn’t rife with “deep weirdness” – that is, the oft-odd lyrics and atypical instrumentation that drove earlier albums like 1996′s Boys for Pele – the album is solid in its delivery and hearkens back to the inspired storytelling and earnest instrumentals that brought Amos her worldwide following. Learn more about Tori Amos and the tour supporting Night of Hunters at http://www.toriamos.com/.
Richard of artroommelody.com
I have a challenge for you. Google “Shakey Graves” and see what you can find. Basically nothing right? You can google my own high school band and get more results. The most valid thing is the bandcamp (WHICH YOU SHOULD GO TO NOW AND DOWNLOAD THIS ALBUM) but seriously…everyone has bandcamps. I had been listening to him for a few months when I met a guy in Austin who, when he saw that I had him in my library, got excited saying that “Shakey” was a childhood friend of his. So, despite his absence on the internet I have confirmation that the guy does exist and the music isn’t just coming from the gods.
Get this now and SERIOUSLY pay for it. I know it’s name your own price but throw a few bucks to the guy. I think he might have a studio recording coming out around Christmas this year (“but hey who really knows?”).
So many really exciting things are happening in Maine this fall.
Although not chronologically first, the MOST exciting thing is that PIXIES are coming to Portland. No Joke. It’s sold out. Also no joke. BUT it’s Nov 2 and I bet we can all scrounge tickets by then, yeah? Work in progress. See you all there.
But really — more cool stuff is happening. Check it all out at hilly town:
Some highlights –
Mount Eerie this Saturday a Oak and the Axe
Astronautalis/Lady Lamb the Beekeeper at SPACE
Drive by Truckers at State Theater
Gillian Welch at State Theater
OH AND DID I MENTION THAT PIXIES ARE COMING?
AudioDax is a two man Electronic Hip Hop band comprised of Thomas Balcom (Temble) and Matt Rivera (Krypton Flo). They met in College and their musical bromance began. Thomas and Matt make up a perfectly seasoned odd couple. Temble and Krypton Flo pass their songs back and forth; Temble crooning out smooth vocals among Krypton Flo’s clever lines. The resulting sound is fresh and catchy and party inducing.
They played at the Vogue in Indianapolis, IN on August 12th a grungy concert hall with some history. It opened in the 1930′s and acted as a cinema and adult movie theater before slipping into its role as a dance club and concert hall in the late 70′s. AudioDax performed first, opening up to cheers from a rowdy fan base. They performed mostly from Pop Rocks their 2nd mixtape but peppered their concert with older songs as well, but are free to download or stream online. My favorite tracks being “One Night” and “September.”
Charming their mostly younger crowd the shows vibe was energetic, upbeat and dance-friendly respective to the music itself. It was a solid turn out, fans filling-up the Vogue’s open dance floor. The band experienced some mic trouble, a few songs cutting in and out, but they recovered effectively. The duo performed for just under an hour before handing the stage over to Nappy Roots, the night’s following act.
AudioDax states their goal as crafting music for “good feelings and even better times.” A mission I feel is well accomplished. AudioDax’s tracks are fun, the music is bouncy and really fresh. Currently, the pop/hip hop drift towards electronica in popular music is obvious, giving AudioDax current relevance. Their timely mix of an emcee and singer should also help to carve out a unique place in the industry.
AudioDax’s vibe is impossibly upbeat. I think it’s part youth, part passion and a lot of talent that gives them the crisp edge. I also appreciate how they’ve played with their genre. It’s not that their songs are without roughness or some of the general themes common to pop and hip hop music–you’ve got the expected partying, sex, drinking and drugs—but these guys don’t lean on it. Additionally, the sweet flavor of their songs makes each track seem somewhat innocent and light, creating an approachable summer party sound. With their talent, enthusiasm and creativity I find AudioDax quickly painting themselves as the good guys of hip hop and look forward to the evolution of such a young group.
Richard is from the Hoosier state so all styles of music appeals to him. He also has a website called artroommelody.com where he writes about art in every form.
Anyone who knows and loves Bon Iver can tell the tale of front-man Justin Vernon’s debut recording experience. After the breakup of his former band, the end of a relationship, and a mononucleosis infection, Vernon headed to his father’s cabin in the woods of Wisconsin, seeking solitude.
What emerged from this ultimately cathartic experience was the dark, sparse, and hauntingly beautiful album For Emma, Forever Ago. Everything about the album just worked; listeners could hear Vernon’s isolation and identify with his emotional longings.
Four years, an EP, and several collaborations later, Vernon released Bon Iver’s (semi) eponymous sophomore album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver. Just taking a quick listen to his collaborations (an eclectic combination of ambient, experimental, indie rock, and hip hop), and you know this album will be different.
Honestly, with all the praise the debut album received, I’m surprised Bon Iver didn’t get more hate. However, upon listening and relistening, you realize that this sophomore album is still brilliant. And while it’s different, it’s not that different.
Despite the large variety of new sounds present – dirtier and grungier guitars, plenty more horns and woodwinds, 80s style balled synths(on more than one track mind you), random blips and bleeps, metallic percussion, saxophone – there are still more than a few songs that could have been recorded on For Emma and no one would be the wiser.
The first track, “Perth,” serves as a prime analogy to the transition of sound Vernon has taken in Bon Iver. It starts with a few seconds of a breeze blowing and distant clanking (perhaps dinner plates inside a home or rustic wind chimes). Then a soft guitar progression with only a hint of grit on the peaks of the pattern enters and fades. Then a church cathedral vocal harmony joins a military snare pattern under Vernon’s opening verse, finally giving way to the chorus which includes the initial soft guitar progression along with a standard drumset backbeat.
It’s not what you would expend from Bon Iver, but it’s also pleasantly familiar. They definitely sound more like a rock band at certain moments while in other moments I feel I am back in Vernon’s Wisconsin cabin.
If there is one thing consistent between both albums, it is the excellent songwriting and attention to detail. There was a lot of ambience you could pick up from the sparse arrangements in For Emma. You can only imagine the level of detail in this lush second effort. Every close listen draws another interesting detail I hadn’t heard before. Sometimes I have to stop listening and ask myself, “What was that exactly?”
Of all the various sounds present in Bon Iver, I’ve find the most strange and uncharacteristic of that familiar Bon Iver sound to be the strange, sparkling 80s synth tones and pads that occur on “Minnesota, WI,” “Calgary,” and “Beth/Rest.” It almost comes as a little out-of-place or even gimmicky, like a purposefully unexpected turn in an otherwise cohesive plot.
Of course, there are other strange, eclectic moments within the album (the classic rock/country guitar mesh at the end of “Beth/Rest” and the blips and bleeps in “Lisbon, OH”) to reassure the listener that this album, as best I can tell, is a breakout album. Debunking any previous assumptions that Bon Iver has a particular sound or genre.
While I do find the mesh of disparate styles to be interesting, it can also be a bit disconcerting or even annoying for those looking for a cohesive sound. You can’t deny the brilliance of Bon Iver, Bon Iver although I do hope their next effort has a more focused aesthetic and sound.
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.
On a long drive back to Portland from a northern Maine seacoast town I decided to relive some musical favorites from past years at Bates – I played some Tallest Man on Earth, some Langhorne Slim, some Deer Tick and even some Elvis Perkins. It’s been almost two years since these bands were basically my go-to music and I’ve struggled to find anything since then along the same genre of these pseudo-folk-indie-pop stars that I’ve been as excited to listen to on repeat for three moths. So I’ve looked to other genres to fulfill my obsessive personal music interests.
At last, I can return. Boston natives You Won’t rock. They display the same vim of other-year favorites with reflections of recent musical trends – the more soulful-rock oriented influence of popular Mumford and Sons and the less formulaic electronics of Passion Pit’s diminishing popularity. The group’s first album, Skeptic Goodbye, is available for download on bandcamp.
This Friday and Saturday (Aug 12/13) music is coming to Bangor. KhaBang is a Music/Art/Film Festival that’s been going on since the 5th and ends the 14th. Lupe Fiasco, Grace Potter and Atmosphere among other will be hitting the stage Friday, followed by My Morning Jacket, Surfer Blood and Portland locals, Brenda on Saturday. Check out the full lineup here.
Should be fun!
The sweetness of summer is pretty much universally understood to be unrivaled, and I’ve yet to come across a band that epitomizes the epic summer anthem quite like Portland, Oregon-based Typhoon. Introduced to Typhoon last summer some months after the release of their excellent full-length album Hunger and Thirst, I have had the privilege of seeing them play twice in the last few months: once on the west coast at the 4th Anniversary bash of Tender Loving Empire, the group’s home-grown recording company, at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland; and out east at the Mercury Lounge in New York City while on tour promoting their newest EP, A New Kind of House. The band’s an unusual ensemble, with upwards of 15 members including both a string and horn section in addition to two drummers working full kits. While one might think such a cohort runs the risk of being becoming a chaotic mess of a super-band, anchored by front man Kyle Morton’s artful lead vocals and vivid, elegant lyrics the band manages to create remarkably tight instrumental arrangements which nearly always include a particularly economical use of choral capacity — background vocals are provided by the entire band, not a single member’s voice goes unused. As a result of all of the above, the sheer volume of instrumentality, at any given moment as delightful as it is complex, entirely avoids becoming overwrought. They are, in short, alternately warm and bold, or mild and easy — that is, the perfect summer night in a musical nutshell.
Having established the good-on-paper qualification of Typhoon’s recorded music, let me also say: boy, can these guys play the bejesus out of a live show. TLE’s birthday showcase featured several other acts signed to the label, but Typhoon’s ceaselessly energetic performance saw even the most subtle songs in their repertoire completely adapted for live performance; that is, into jams you couldn’t help but rock out to, making them the memorably unequivocal focal point of the night. The venue and the band’s following may have been significantly smaller in New York than their Portland counterparts, but the performance ethic translated with crystal clarity. After playing at Lollapalooza on August 6th they are headed back to Oregon via Missouri and Colorado, so if you can’t catch them before the summer ends do check out both Hunger and Thirst and A New Kind of House.
Check out some of their stuff here.
Recommended tracks: CPR-Claws Pt. 2 (Hunger and Thirst)
The Sickness unto Death (Hunger and Thirst)
The Honest Truth (A New Kind of House)
Summer Home (A New Kind of House)
Also recommended: video of the lead singer performing a cover of Bruce Springstein’s “Atlantic City” with Danielle Sullivan, who’s also in a pretty great Portland band, Wild Ones. (They date each other.)
Lily Joslin is a Portland, Oregon native. How cool.
A couple of years ago, WRBC seemed to be a promotional organization solely for new Icelandic music. It was all pretty good and this past year I started to miss new Nordic sounds. Just in time (before I spent all of my money and flew to Scandinavia), Danish band The Great Dictators appeared. With a vocal mixture of Matt Berninger (The National) and Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello, although I like to think of his voice more in the context of Wristcutters: A Love Story) and incomparable lyrics the singing drives the band. Instrumentals, however, don’t fall short in making the band another Nordic hit. An EP is coming out soon, but for now check out Coffee & Cigarettes. More music is available here.