Tuesday, April 27, 2010

album : crystal castles drops second self-titled album ahead of schedule

The Toronto experimental electronic duo Crystal Castles were slated to release their second album, also titled Crystal Castles just as their first (or iTunes adds a (II)), on May 25th. But after so-called “phenomenal demand and anticipation” for the new CC, the band digitally released their album a month early, Monday, April 26th on Fiction Records.

What follows is 53 minutes of contrasts.

Recalling that their first album was a collection of new tracks accompanied by songs found on demos and 7 and 12-inches released between 2005 to 2007, one might expect their second studio release to flow a bit more cohesively. No, why would anybody expect that?

Every track is singular. Purposely avoiding a smooth flow, many stop abruptly, collapsing at the end of their energy burst, before encouraging the next divergent cut and twist (many of which also take place within each individual track).

When the album soars with trance-y vibes and vox (“Celestica”), it is sharply and immediately contrasted by the following punky electro violence (“Doe Deer”), uncanned with scratched screams and adrenaline pumps.

The video-game feel of their debut takes a backseat, emerging towards the end of the album (“Pap Smear,” “Not In Love,” “Intimate”), with the rest relying more on ethereal dance beats (“Suffocation”) or the standout Oakenfold-Electronic Arts-Karen O technoclash of “Baptism.” The Sigur Ros-sampled “Year of Silence” takes the jubilant, angelic playfulness of the original song, “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur,” and dirties it up with sticky synth mud.

Read the rest on OMN.

Monday, April 26, 2010

buddy guy beams

“Lookey here,” said a 73-year-old Buddy Guy donned in a black fedora and glistening red silk shirt on Friday night at the Roseland. “Nobody Understands Me But My Guitar.”

Charming and chastising the audience, Buddy Guy did more with one hand on the frets than Vishnu, proving his guitar-god status.

Already a man of legendary stature–a five-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer–the man is a pure entertainer, not just for his instrumental accomplishments but for his banter and dramatic to comedic crowd control, skills he’s honed since his days on the Chitlin’ Circuit.

Using that extra hand to pat his stomach, Guy pulled out the guitar gimmickry but with out pedals or effects–just showmanship.

His guitar screamed and weeped as he ran it across his chest, scribbled the strings with drumstick, stretched and switched hands on the neck, or casually propped his elbow up on an amp pairing impressive fretwork with farcical novelty.

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, April 23, 2010

mr. wareheim, i like your style

Today, let's take a gander through a cycle of work by Eric Wareheim.

Exhibit A : Let's get raunchy.

Exhibit B : Let's get lusty.

Exhibit C : Let's get tonguey.

Rewind. Tongue this.

Exhibit D : Let's get sexy.

And his latest masterpiece.

Exhibit E : Let's get grotesque.

See more action with glitter kids (MGMT), drag queens (Ben Fold and Tim Heidecker), and small guitar avatars (Phantom Planet)... more tongue action here. :(

Thank you, Mr. Wareheim for your low budget mess.

Bonus : Some bottomless Absolut + ice, parts one, two and three.

from a one man production to full bonobo live band

English trip-hop producer Simon Green makes beat-driven, downtempo tunes in the vein of Thievery Corporation under the moniker Bonobo. Jazzy and chilled, his music flows between many different genres, taking the snippets he sees fit, while often enlisting a seductive female voice to make his cuts ever so soulful and sexy.

Touring in support of Black Sands, which was released in late March, Bonobo visits the Wonder Ballroom on Saturday, April 24th as part of the Soul’d Out Music Festival, sharing the stage with experimental-electro shoegazers Yppah from Houston and Seattle’s Anomie Bell.

Bonobo snagged the irresistably cool Andreya Triana to stand as his “cohesive voice throughout the record” helping him create an identity across an album that brings together strings and woodwinds on tracks that run from “spiritual, psychedelic Jazz” to “wonky, synthetic Hip-Hop,” as Green describes it. But a cohesion exists because like all Bonobo-productions, it was made by one man, in one room, with Simon Green’s signature all over it.

Picking up where he left off with previous recordings, Bonobo forced himself outside of this comfort zone “pushing slightly off kilter electronica”...

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

yeasayer meandered a sold out wonder crowd

Indie rock bands rise and fall based on capricious blogosphere-buzz, and many internet-hyped acts roll through Portland with mediocre performances. With too many hip 20-somethings playing their instruments so nicely, too many gigs are yawn fests because bands play songs with verbatim meticulousness–working their way though their poppy album tracks as if they just pressed play on their preprogrammed setlist. Why shell out the dough when you can hear the same thing that you already leeched from your favorite blog?

Yet, pulling from their two bombastic releases, the electro-experimental Yeasayer rocked an improvised and imaginative set on Monday night at the Wonder Ballroom in front of a sold-out crowd.

Sounding tight and rehearsed, Yeasayer meandered through fresh and different mixes adding small twists to the sounds fans love–faster and louder here, softer and slower there while Yeasayer’s trio of vocalists harmonized, traded, and shared vocals over the pounding array of rhythm makers, tambourines, shakers, and electronic beat claps.

From haunting beginnings with slo-mo, robo-vox to ’80s-inspired funky synth jams, percussion drove the show with constant sticks clacking to puffed out falsetto exhalations.

Read the rest on OMN.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

spesus christ, live in church

A new electronica act with a cleverly celestial nome de guerre and a handful of digital tracks, Spesus Christ comes home... well, the Oakland/Portland-based trio returns to Portland from their other Bay Area locale for a "homecoming" show this Saturday at "what used to be the Funky Church on Tamarack (just north of Division)," according to producer/mixer Cameron Spies.

Filling out the bill are the seriously jamming, synth-pop duo Adventures! With Might, electro-ambient Soap Collectors (which also features Spesus Christ's Lizzy Ellison), stomach friendly folk from Leviticus Appleton, and mournful beatmasters Your Canvas.

Behind the moans and machines, Spesus Christ pulsates an unclassifiable twinkling and tapping of beats with steam of consciousness raps. Right Cameron?

"Our sound is a mixture of analog and electronic instrumentation. It includes elements of down tempo hip-hop, rock music, indie, and smatterings of about everything else we like listening to. It’s sort of problematic to try to describe our music using genre titles like we’ve just done, so I suggest that you just listen to our stuff."

Take the man's advice and download the simplistically titled yet multitudinously layered EP 1.

Evolving so rapidly, their concert poster can't even keep up with them--the $2 cover has been nixed, the show is donation-based. And gushing with new material, Cameron says, "We are planning to release an EP every month for the next six."

But until the first is mixed (possibly by next week!), Soap Collectors also celebrate a tape release but remind you that "Soap Collectors are people who gather together varieties of soap and compulsively log and organize them into neat piles."

Save me Spesus.

Read this article on The Deli Portland.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

joy + tragedy : jónsi stuns the roseland

In front of an artistically imagined and singularly stagecrafted set, one fragile voice rang softly, slowly. Whispering in and out, incomprehensible at times but always utterly recognizable.

With ninety minutes of genuine, theatrical production, replete with an interactive set and costumes, the unearthly lead singer of Sigur Rós, Jón Þór Birgisson (Jónsi), made the fifth stop of his solo career at the Roseland Theater with a performance designed for an opera house but contained to a mid-sized theater in front of a few hundred people.

Spiritual and spectral, Jónsi strode ahead and Portland followed on his organic journey of birth, growth, and death as he told an auditory story accompanied by visually captivating animations and lights designed by 59 Productions.

The narrative ran the gauntlet from lonely sadness (as Jónsi opened the set alone on an acoustic guitar strumming “Stars in Still Water” to an awed, silent audience) to exuberant joy (“Go Do” followed by “Boy Lilikoi” at the midpoint), from violent climaxes to hopeless depths completely uninterrupted...

Read the rest and see more photos on OMN.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

album : mgmt congratulates themselves on sophomore album

Congratulations, MGMT. You’ve just released your second record–a look into the creatively twisted psyches of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden who’ve never quite taken anything too seriously.

Congratulations, listener. You’ve just entered a new aural world where MGMT makes the decisions and they’ve decided not to create a straightforward, electro-pop album. If you’ve made it through the first listen and haven’t tossed it aside, it warrants additional spins.

Produced by the duo and Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, E.A.R., Spectrum, and credited as the “master of ceremonies”), Congratulations is a testament that no one knows exactly what is going on inside MGMT’s collective heads. Sonic Boom is the first to admit that although he spent nine months (“the pregnant portion of a year”) with MGMT, it “hasn’t led me to deceive I know MGMT better than anyone else.”

A meandering mystery of transformations, Congratulations does not lack in dance intuition but changes too much, too quickly to be a cohesive dance party...

Read the rest on OMN.

Monday, April 12, 2010

blue giant free april happy hour residency at the laurelthirst

The best 5 bucks you'll spend all week will be on a beer at the Laurelthirst... while Blue Giant is knocking the electric blues piss outta ya for free!

Holding down a residency at the LaurelThrist Public House from 6 to 8 PM every Wednesday in April...

Wait, wait, wait. "What's a residency?" asked singer and country guitar slanger Kevin Robinson.

Well, it's where you show up and play to the people that are already in the bar. Okay, that sounds pretty good to The Robinsons and Co. because Blue Giant will be trying out new material and jamming with old friends alongside their normal arsenal of slide and steel guitars and anything that you can strum in between. Bring a mandolin or banjo.

But honestly, Blue Giant doesn't strum. Sometimes it's mellow and folky acoustic, sometimes slightly psychedelic. Lots of Southern twang with a fiddle here, then electric riffs and ass kickin' harmonica there--Bringing It All Back Home-era Dylan.

"Got to pay your dues if you want to play the blues, you know it don't come easy," sings Kevin Robinson.

But it's damn easy to enjoy Blue Giant for free.

Read this article on The Deli Portland.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

brahms : the xx with cojones americanos

Don't ask questions, just get it. Thick synths and dark dance grooves outta NYC.

I'd like to offer up a comparison. They too, like The xx, are just baby-faced kids, but have two discernible advantages :

1 -- Being from America, they like to write their name in all caps : BRAHMS.

2 -- BRAHMS puts in some ass kicking behind their simple, dreary rhythms rather than forcing meager, depressing rubbish on the world.

Plus check their Neon Indian remix of "Psychic Chasms."

charlotte gainsbourg brings beck-penned tunes to portland

She has been making noise across the pond since the release of her first album in 1986. Now on her third record, IRM, she got some help from a pivotal co-producer and writer, Beck.

Born in London and raised in Paris, Charlotte Gainsbourg has been a force in film and French pop music over the years but the support of her newest collaborator has propelled her into the international limelight. Providing some backing instruments and vocals, Beck has stamped Gainsbourg’s album with his twisting signature as the album works from poppy and sweet, full of sleepy sunshine to heavily dramatic, wrapped in confusion, all the while flavored with tidbits of dreamy French. The first single “Heaven Can Wait,” a duet with Beck, belongs on the thump-y edition of Sea Change while other songs transform from the robotic “IRM” to an Air-inspired “Le Chat du Café des Artistes” to raw blues on “Trick Pony.”

The title for Gainsbourg’s latest release is French for MRI, inspired by an experience in 2007 when she was rushed to a Paris hospital...

Read the rest and win tickets on OMN.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

q/a : mayer mawthorne learns how to sing new soul

Andrew Mayer Cohen grew up on Hawthorne Road in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just outside of The D. Listening to “the best music ever made” while riding around in his pop’s car, Motown soul and Detroit jazz became the samples for his favorite hip-hop tracks.

A singer, songwriter, producer, rapper, disc jockey, audio engineer, multi-instrumentalist and more, Mayer Hawthorne is “just trying to make music that’s timeless.” Lately, that’s been a fortunate calamity of ’60s Motown-style soul, an act that’s touring around the States as Mayer Hawthorne and The County.

Mayer is also one-third of the electro-soul-hip-hop group Now On (where his nom de guerre is Haircut), and recently, he’s been caught kicking it with Snoop Dogg.

Next up, Mr. Hawthorne comes to Eugene and Portland opening for the indie-electro (and also falsetto singing) Passion Pit...

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, April 9, 2010

q/a : passing through the pretty lights

Derek Vincent Smith has been fabricating aural landscapes as Pretty Lights since his first album dropped in 2006, giving away all his music for free on his website. Supported by fan donations, touring and merchandise, the Colorado producer’s sound has evolved from hip-hop-influenced ambiance to banging glitch-inspired dubstep and electro on his latest six-track release, Making Up A Changing Mind, the first in a series of three EPs that will come out before the end of 2010–and all this comes after PL just put out album number three, Passing By Behind Your Eyes, on October 6, 2009.

The man is becoming prolific as he extensively tours including stops at this year’s Coachella and SXSW. Coming to the Roseland Theater as part of the Soul’d Out Music Festival on Wednesday, April 14th, PL does not play a DJ set. He brings along his Monome and live drummer Cory Eberhard. The duo combines machine with man–electronic tapping with crackling drums that stop and start, bend and break, always together, with ultimate precision–all backed by a euphoric multimedia show of dazzling lights and transmuting video.

Read the rest and download a track from Pretty Light's new EP on OMN.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

jónsi solo : surreal set design at the roseland

Enlisting the help of 59 Productions, Jónsi, the ethereal lead singer of Sigur Rós, brings the most fantastical and theatrical stage show that Portland will see all year–at least for a spectral rock concert that is.

Stepping out solo for the first time after more than 15 years surrounded by his Icelandic band mates, Jón Þór Birgisson (Jónsi) chose a company that designs sets for the likes of the Metropolitan Opera Company and the English National Opera to help realize his vision.

Part museum exhibit, part interactive rock showcase, this concert is the live stage experience for Jónsi’s debut release Go–an experience that intertwines film, theatrical performance, an art installation, animation, and a live gig to reflect the epic, cinematic quality of Jónsi’s music.

The construction combines a physical set based on a burnt down taxidermist shop with video content projected across the stage. But the content is truly woven into the fabric of the show rather than just televised on a video screen as images and lights appear inside windows and museum-like cases as well as on Jónsi himself.

Read the rest and see videos of Jónsi's stage production on OMN.

q/a : hockey's been around the world

From SoCal to Spokane to Portland, Hockey eventually found a home and full lineup... but they don't spend much time here. For many in-the-know PDX hipsters, it feels like Hockey has been doing the same thing, for a while now. And for Hockey, sometimes it feels that way too.

After loads of hype in 2009, Hockey saw themselves propelled onto an international stage where their achievement checklists became quite impressive, quite quickly.

Constantly on the road rocking festivals around the world with their new wave, dance-rock, Hockey burned up the American blogs with dynamic, disco-funk performances at SXSW, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and CMJ while dazzling the English and European press at Glastonbury, T In The Park, Leeds, Reading, and many more. Sharing some main stages with big acts as well as touring with buzzworthy, indie dance acts Passion Pit and Friendly Fires, Hockey is trying to stay fresh--musically, mentally, and physically--as they continue to gruelingly spread their dance-rock rhythms worldwide.

As Hockey's lead singer Ben Grubin told the Crystal Ballroom last December, “You may not know this, but we’re from here.”

Read the rest of the interview and win tickets to see Hockey this weekend at the Wonder on OMN.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

lcd soundsystem + mgmt stomp through portland

The day before his gig at Sasquatch, James Murphy rolls through the Roseland on Saturday, May 29th (yes, this is also the opening day of Sasquatch where LCD Soundsystem will headline on Sunday, May 30th).

In the post-Sasquatch shockwaves that tumble through town, Portland is one of only four cities getting two nights of MGMT (the others being San Fran, London and Paris).

Taking into consideration that many PDX denizens will likely be at the Gorge until Tuesday (we like to think they care about us), MGMT crashes the Crystal Ballroom on Tuesday, June 1st AND Wednesday, June 2nd after headlining Sasquatch on Monday, May 31st.

Get the rest of the details on OMN.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

muse was made for arena rock

In 2006, Muse played an intimate (by their standards) gig at the Roseland Theater–a venue they easily sold out. Back in Portland on Saturday night, Muse may not have sold out the Rose Garden but they crowded the floor and lower levels with an audience antsy for a show tailored to fit Muse’s musical theatrics.

Frames sheathed in curtains rose from stage to rafters as digital bodies marched on the stairs behind the translucent drapes. At the top, a body fell backwards slowly knocking down the line like dominos. As the white silhouettes floated to ground (reminiscent of the cover to Absolution), the cloak fell revealing vertical parallelepiped pedestals (a term that could likely appear in a Muse song title) where the trio towered above Rose Garden’s floor on their split skyscrapers as the rebellious chorus of “Uprising” was splayed across the massive, video-screened structures.

With guitars holstered on their pillars, singer Matthew Bellamy flicked away at the most electric neck frets as Christopher Wolstenholme’s bass steadily throbbed the open air in rhythmic waves. Dominic Howard’s drum kit rotated 360 degrees as the elongated cubes shrank into the floor...

Read the rest and see more photos on OMN.

Friday, April 2, 2010

soft metals grow strong

Two DJs met at a gig. One a vinyl addict and the other an analog enthusiast, both wanted to make music more than just spin it but neither had yet found the right person to make music with.

In April 2009, the two DJs started to “mess around” (in the musical sense) for fun, jamming together on vintage synths, tapping on drum machines, and fiddling with analog gear. Soon they realized the other was musical counterpart they had been searching for… and maybe something more.

Soft Metals is the love story of Ian Hixx and Patricia Furpurse played on vintage synthesizers and drum machines,” says Patricia Furpurse.

Read the rest and download new music from Soft Metals on OMN.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

album : jónsi is happy ‘go’ lucky

Out of the cold, dark depths of Iceland, a project has been flowering for more than a decade hidden beneath the confines of minimalist, fantastical rock. Zipping like a hummingbird, spring has sprung and with it the most robust, joyous album of the year–the debut solo album from Sigur Rós falsettic frontman Jónsi, out this Tuesday, April 6th on XL Recordings.

Go sees Jón Þór Birgisson following the same trajectory that Sigur Rós last left with us on the sonically divergent yet accessibly poppy Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.

More acoustic guitars and fewer strings defined the band’s last effort giving fans a new auditory outlook, and Jónsi has continued in this vein adding the most complex textures of his career to his unmistakable, spectral vocals.

An epic environs surrounds the nine songs thanks to arrangements courtesy of Philip Glass protegé Nico Muhly...

Read the rest on OMN.