Friday, July 29, 2011

q/a : digitalism ‘loves you, dude’

After Digitalism released their debut album, Idealism, in 2007, the Hamburg duo of Jens “Jence” Moelle and İsmail “Isi” Tüfekçi had to sit back for a while, allowing the world to ”absorb it.” Sitting back isn’t entirely accurate; they did tour their asses off and then they holed themselves up in their studio bunker to begin work on 2011′s flippantly titled I Love You, Dude.

The new album merges loads of styles derived from myriad influences for a record that ”keeps things simple yet [is] completely full of sounds,” according to the band. I Love You, Dude falls somewhere between Daft Punk (on the closing tracks “Miami Showdown” and “Encore”) and Cut Copy (on the single ”2 Hearts”) yet offers a distinctively Digitalism, electronic flavor on the album opener “Stratosphere” and first dish “Blitz” alongside the places where it wanders into more vocally prominent territory (“Circles” and “Forrest Gump”) in a manner not heard on previous material. There’s a chilled trip hop vibe with the added female vox of ”Just Gazin’” while the dance-punk screeches and abrasion of “Reeperbahn” are anything but calm but immediately followed by classic, Digitalism-ized house on “Antiobiotics.”

Describing their sound as “cinematic electronic 2180’s music that’s full of riffs,” Digitalism are visual thinkers, imagining “movie scenes to our music” and titling the songs as such once tracks are finished. The most playful poke of this technique is “Forrest Gump,” a song co-written with The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas and which feels like it could fit on his solo 2009 album, Phrazes for the Young. But the result is better than the frontman’s affair with synths because the source material comes from experienced electronic masters rather than a one-off attempt.

Digitalism’s live performance has also been noted over the years as the duo, along with a touring drummer, gets the nod to headline this summer’s HARD Tour, which stops in Portland at the Roseland Theater on Thursday, August 4th. The line up is stacked, also including electronic duos and solo acts like British house makers Jack Beats and French electronic producer Gesaffelstein. (The originally publicized bill included DJ and HARD creator Destructo and London dubstepper Caspa, but Caspa broke his leg and Destructo, being the organizer of all the HARD parties, will be forced to stay in LA to prepare for upcoming festivities.)

To get ready, listen to Digitalism’s HARD Summer Tour mixtape below:

OMN had the chance to catch up with the duo, chatting about the new album and their influences, before the tour kicked off.

It’s been four years since your first album. Why so long in between albums?

First of all, it seemed like after we dropped Idealism, it took the world a while to absorb it. In some countries the album was released before people had even heard about us. We then went on tour for the next years, played lots of concerts and festivals around the globe. It didn’t really feel like we had to make a new album very soon [after] or that people were ready for the next longplayer. About two years ago, we stopped the live tour and started doing DJ gigs again, which was kind of “back to the roots” for us, because that’s how we started. We could try out new tools and ideas from the studio without people knowing about it. We then started working on the new album last year and now we’re here! It didn’t take very long to make it, but we think we needed that time in advance.

I Love You, Dude definitely shows growth in your sound. There are moments of Idealism-era Digitalism but there also seems to be more material with prominent vocals and several songs that are stylistically very diverse. How did this evolution happen?

It was quite a natural development for us. Compared to our first album, the new one feels like it was written by a band rather than made by producers. That’s probably because we’ve been playing so many live shows and gained so much new experience around the globe over the last years. We learned a lot during that period. Before we started the band, we had never been to a festival before, and we had never played live. So the songwriting was something that was new for us, and it kind of started with “Pogo” and a few other songs on the first album, but since it was so much fun doing that and performing them, there was no doubt that we would take that even further on the next record.

I Love You, Dude definitely reflects that live background now, as the songs aren’t based on the usual “club tempo” 130 BPM anymore. The music is much more extreme, the disparity between the songs is bigger now, like there’s really fast or slow songs, more melodies or much harder elements. It shows our current musical taste, and that has evolved over the last years. And of course, we feel more grown up now.

What’s the story behind the title of your new album: I Love You, Dude?

The title was a pure gut-decision...

Read the rest on OMN.

Monday, July 25, 2011

pdx pop now! 2011 : notes from sunday

Sunday, July 24th was hot, inside and out, at PDX Pop Now! 2011. It was day 3 of the all-ages, free festival at Refuge, and although we didn’t catch every single band today, it was likely the top overall day of music at this year’s fest. Saving the best for last, here are some of the day’s highlights, in chronological order no less.

Unassumingly emotive: Lizzy Ellison of Radiation City and her slow building soulfulness. Delicate but strong at the same time, once you realized this girl could really sing guitarist Cameron Spies took the lead vocal role for some male-female interplay. Cameron was equally passionate albeit a little more brash at times until Lizzy brought him back into her delicate range, which was not quite as airy as Beach House’s Victoria Legrand or as robustly soulful as Amy Winehouse but somewhere in between with a touch of Regina Spektor. Radiation City verged on sunniness but remained coy like a single sunbeam peaking through the clouds on a gray day, timidly bursting through the last nebulous layer in preconceived streams.

Rough around the edges: And being exactly who they are were The Woolen Men. Swapping instruments and vocal duties, playing a stripped down, stand up “drum kit,” their closing song “West Coast” reeked of wild Captain Beefheart and Lou Reed’s lyrical chatter.

We all need at least one slogging, heavy metal set per day: Thanks goes to Diesto and their varied stack of beat up Orange, Marshall, Hiwatt, Ampeg and Yamaha amps. Also a fan of Red Fang? Try Diesto’s latest, High As The Sun, recorded by Red Fang’s Adam Pike.

Most likely to bring classical music to your street corners and coffee shops or even Holocene: Classical Revolution PDX

Hottest electronica set: With an arsenal of electronic noises, Onuinu (On You In You) built a dancey set that morphed from chillwave to the whole room moving, smiling as he competed with the passing train whistles. If the names Tropics or Deaubird sound familiar to you, Dorian Duvall has also gone by those monikers but today he deftly turned knobs, mic clutched in hand. Adding his own vocals to the mix while steadily increasing the energy, he might be a shining point in this rising class of solo, young electro dancemakers.

Fred Armisen spottings: One. And there’s the proof. Plus somebody from @PortlandiaTV was retweeting our stuff. Thanks!

Besting the noise of a passing train: Look outside through the garage doors of Refuge and you’ll see a flow of freight cars noiselessly floating by. That’s because Holy Sons was easily drowning them out with their melodic, psychedelic, fuzzy, haunting, dusky rock. Led by Emil Amos (of Grails), the vocals were wrenching, although Emil did show a softer and quieter side at times, and backed by his talented band, which had no use for keeping things concise.

Read the rest on OMN.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

pdx pop now! 2011 : notes from saturday

Besides the highlights that were mentioned elsewhere (Lost Lander, Loch Lomond, Wild Ones, Palo Verde), here are a few notes, in chronological order, from Saturday, July 23rd at PDX Pop Now! 2011.

Totally captivated: Although the crowd was small, the best part about kicking off PDX Pop Now! day two for Ezza Rose was the complete focus she received from the audience. Calm, quiet and relaxed, heads tilted a few degrees left or right and fixated eyes stared longingly while ears indulged in her delicate uke plucking alongside her stripped down band–just an upright bass and violin.

Loud, shirtless and screaming in their black jeans: Wizard Rifle, but of course. Who else? Plus they were the second heavy two-piece of the day rocking an Orange amp, although much smaller than Palo Verde’s.

Dance party that caught the crowd off guard: Following the bouncing pop of Monarques, E*Rock threw down a set that could’ve opened for Major Lazer, with “pumped up” (think clubbed up) cuts off his new record, The Clock & The Mountain. It may have been better suited for another night at another venue, like his home spot Rotture, but nevertheless it made for hot body movin’. And although you can oft find him DJing around town, you’d be wise not to miss his next performance. Listen to “Chrome Plates” from the new record:

Theme music to your next dream: Let Blouse transport you with their demur, ’80s inspired synth lines and shoegazing ethos. At their best, they sounded like a female fronted Smiths but mostly they were just looking to guide you through your next dreamsphere with their wispy rhythms.

Best flute solos and fastest djembe hands: Dusu Mali, which means “Gentle Heart of Mali,” and their African-inspired rhythms mixed with American blues, which melded many influences (dubbed “the Portland blues” by drummer Edgar Doumerc) and instruments. Fronted by native Malian Ibrahim Kelly (nephew of Ali Farka Toure) and highlighting his incendiary guitar work (mouth play included), the rambling five-piece brought some international flavor–just look at their names to get a clue of their varied backgrounds as the band also includes Tah Rei (keys/flute/sax), Tyler Smith (guitar/djembe), Terry Tomei (bass)–amongst the sometimes narrow, or at least normal, indie options.

Best brief appearance(s) of a purple, hooded cloak: Adam Forkner of Purple & Green as they were sound checking. It quickly disappeared (although it would make a reappearance later in the set) and it was nothing but slick R&B/electro hooks alongside singer Justin Leon Johnson. It was all super fresh beats and synth hits from Forkner and pure diva star action from Johnson plus some fly popping from their Aviator’ed dance boy and a head stand from Dusu Mali’s Ibrahim Kelly. We almost lost our mind.

And then we did… when Johnson took a leave from stage and returned purple cloaked only to toss it off revealing neon green jean short cut off hot pants… hence, the green. Wriggling his shirtless torso but scarf draped shoulders across the stage, this was the act that E*Rock should’ve preceded and possibly the best set of the fest (so far for damn sure), not to even mention the bootylicious white girl Johnson handpicked from the side stage for a romp during the final number.

Read the rest on OMN.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

pdx pop now! 2011 : saturday, 2:45pm — lost lander : watch an interview with matt sheehy

Just a handful of shows into their live career and playing the seven songs they know best, Lost Lander, clad in white attire, showcased the moving songwriting of Matt Sheehy backed by a talented cast (Dave Lowensohn on bass, Patrick Hughes on drums, and Sarah Fennell on keys/vox) plus Brent Knopf (ex-Menomena, Ramona Falls) on guitar today.

Tinged with tambourine, key, guitar, whistling, and drum accents, Lost Lander put together a billowing set of intricate pop from some seasoned players, including the only two tracks you can hear thus far from the band: ”Afraid of Summer” (because Sheehy was so hot up there in his three-piece suit) and “Cold Feet” (as featured on the 2011 PDX Pop Now! Compilation). Find both streaming here.

Lost Lander’s debut album, DRRT, is already recorded and while Sheehy still hopes for a fall release on the album, watch a brief video interview below:

Read this on OMN.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

pdx pop now! 2011 : nurses

It’s been a quiet little while since we’ve heard much from the unconventional music-making trio of Nurses. Currently prepping to release their third album Dracula via Dead Oceans on September 20th, the band has planted somewhat stable roots in Portland and will be closing Saturday night’s stacked PDX Pop Now! lineup at 11:50pm with a set that will feature Wampire’s Rocky Tinder joining the trio… or at least stripping to his skivvies.

Numerous prospects about this album should excite even the casual fan.

1 — The band hid themselves away in the Oregon coastal forest and shed all instrumental roles to find even quirkier sounds in their environs and minds. ”We just kept contributing ideas until we felt it was right, like three songwriters or producers.”

2 — Focusing “more heavily on groove and beats,” every song may be danceable ”but that’s not all that we want the songs to do.” By their own account: “There’s a lot more energy in everything, which makes for a really fun live experience.”

3 — Finally, Dracula was mixed by a man with “a lot of experience making weird records.” That credit goes to Scott Colburn, who has engineered two Animal Collective records as well as Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible “and tons of other bands.”

Oily as ever, read on as OMN caught the multi-instrumental, many-faceted collaborators Aaron Chapman, James Mitchell and John Bowers for a few questions.

You recently revealed the spectrally hypnotic “Fever Dreams” (below) from the new album. Care to share a couple of words on the track?

“Fever Dreams” was written right before we went to Europe last fall, and it was instantly one of our favorite songs to play, and I think it’s a good song bridge between Apple’s Acre and Dracula. There are a few songs on the album we’ve been playing live for quite a while, like “So Sweet” and “Eternal Thrills,” and I’m really excited about what we did with them for the album. There’s a lot more energy in everything on this record, which makes for a really fun live experience, too.

Where was the album recorded?

We rented a cabin just outside of Manzanita, OR and turned it into our own live-in recording studio in the coastal forest. We were away from our usual lives with all these ideas that we had gathered over the last year or so, and spent the majority of five weeks just working on music, and walking in the forest or on the misty dark beach. The cabin was essentially a large room with a couple doors separating rooms, which made us all involved in every aspect of the recording, and all of us wrote parts for basically every instrument. There were no real instrumental roles, we just kept contributing ideas until we felt it was right, like three songwriters or producers.

What direction is this album headed in?

With Dracula, we focused more heavily on groove and beats–elements that associate with the body and movement. You can dance to pretty much everything on the record, but that’s not all that we want the songs to do. The soundscape elements that were so present in the feel of Apple’s Acre still exist, but used more subtly as emotional undercurrents, and things to tickle your ears while the groove drives the songs.

Read the rest on OMN.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

i think we're alone now

Is this really the official video for Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now"? What the hell were they thinking when they cut this video?

Digging up this video was prompted by the discovery of the 2008 documentary of the same name, which tells the story of two mentally askew, and at some times unstable, Tiffany "stalkers."

The film really has little to do with Tiffany and rather provides a voyeuristic look into the psychology of obsession in the cases the two individuals profiled: "Jeff, 50-year-old man [at the time of shooting] with Asperger's syndrome, and Kelly, an 'intersexual' who claims to have had an inspirational friendship with the singer when they were teens." At only 61 minutes long, it's an odd bit of insight into something that goes beyond obsession and into emotional fragility and self-delusion as it quickly become apparent there are other issues beneath simply being in love with Tiffany.

Watch the trailer below but your easiest bet to see the whole thing is streaming on Netflix.

Friday, July 15, 2011

the black lips in space

And other floating locales from Georgia (possibly Arabia Mountain?) to the Andes and Africa brought to you by director Jake Burghart for The Black Lips' third single from Arabia Mountain.

Even though it's all just plain silly, watch out for the Cole Alexander trampoline nip slip.

And if The Black Lips have taught us anything from when they incited Portland's Wonder crowd to bust down the barriers, you know you've made it when a girl up front is swangin' a dildo on a string like she's ropin' steers.

omn goes mobile with pdx pop now! 2011

That’s right! We did it once at this year’s Waterfront Blues Festival and we’re doing it again for the 2011 PDX Pop Now! festival. Oregon Music News is proud to announce that OMN Mobile ( is officially live today and will be your mobile source for information on the 2011 PDX Pop Now! fest, which runs from Friday, July 22nd to Sunday the 24th at Refuge.

You’ll also be seeing this QR code around the fest on flyers, posters, banners and t-shirts, so make sure you’ve downloaded the requisite app from your App Store or Marketplace so you can scan it.

Like always, the 2011 PDX Pop Now! fest is free for all ages and includes more than 40 performers on two stages. It’s three days full of everything from bands you’ve never heard of, because they’ve yet to record or release much music or because you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last 15 years (Rollerball), to reunions (The Minders) and send offs (Guidance Counselor), to scene mainstays. It’s indie, R&B, punk, electro, psych rock, hip-hop, folky singer/songwriter, dance, metal, pop, and two-steppin’ bluegrass from some of the hottest bands around town.

We’ll be publishing several smaller previews of our favorite acts over the next week as the festival approaches but the real meat of our content can be found by navigating through the mobile site where you can find the complete schedule, general fest information, and artist bios including past OMN coverage like interviews, live reviews and mp3 downloads plus a place to share what you’re doing and who you’ll be seeing on Facebook.

At the fest, we’ll have live coverage of each day (which can be accessed on your phone as soon as it’s published) complete with photos and video. Stay on top of everything by following us on Twitter @oregonmusicnews and use the tag #PPN in your tweets.

We could tell you to check out the image below for the complete line up… or you could click on it and take it with you on your phone. See you at PDX Pop Now!

Take OMN's PDX Pop Now! 2011 mobile site with you here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

watch dirty mittens chat about ‘heart of town’… and jay-z

Sometimes jobs and life can get in the way of the making of a great album. For the Dirty Mittens both and more have gotten in the way of Heart of Town, which has been two plus years in the making. But thank goodness it’s here, and just in time for some real summer weather in Portland.

It’s an album that was meant for sunny times made by a family of friends that formed in 2006. They’ve been through line up changes, and while they may be looking for a drummer at times, they’re proudly here with their first album after more than five years of gigging about town and going on tour.

And it’s this friendship and dedication to one another and their craft that has held the band together over the years. Lead singer Chelsea Morrisey attests, “We get along great. It [the band] is more like a family. We’ve only released one record but we’ve already been on the road, more than once.” She continues, “I wouldn’t still be in this band if these guys weren’t great and we didn’t still get along really well because our time is valuable. We’re young and we don’t want to spend it with people we don’t care about and love working with.”

Heart of Town is the product of their labor and love; an album recorded in an abandoned Masonic temple in North Portland (about which guitarist Ben Hubbird says they had to hide from the high school kids when they came and went so potential vandals wouldn’t even know the building existed or could be entered) and with Jim Brunberg in his mobile studio. It features guests like Laura Gibson, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, Dave Jorgensen of Blind Pilot (who was originally a “full-fledged member” of Dirty Mittens and played all the trumpet parts on the album), and Matt Sheehy (who Chelsea literally “grabbed off the street” to do vocals on “Arcadia” minutes before recording).

Heart of Town is a record ripe with catchy tunes like “Arcadia,” “This Here Year,” and “Row” (below), all of which appear on the first half of the album. But, much as the band has grown up and together over the last five years, the album builds in strength and confidence as it continues. It’s no less pop-perfectionism, but the soulful passion of “B-58″ (which Chelsea might refer to as her “500-pound, black woman” vocals), the super-bouncing explosion of “Steppin’ Up,” and the retrospective emotion of “Any Time, Any Day” perfectly close the 12-track, first volume.

We’re thankful for this debut album, but the real reason why we really love the Dirty Mittens and have been anticipating this release is their live reputation.

And it’s no wonder their dynamic performances are memorable with an attitude like Chelsea’s: “You have to demand respect and attention from your audience. People these days come to shows and they don’t even know why they’re there and they’re not really listening. I just want to remind them why they’re there. And why I’m here. This is not an easy thing; this a 40 hour a week job for me and it all comes back to those moments where people either remember you or they don’t.”

With that, the band, which also includes Patrick Griffin on bass, Noah Jay-Bonn on keys, and Josh Hawley on keys and guitar, are ready to celebrate the release of Heart of Town (a title that comes from a Jay-Z lyric and comes out on Magic Marker on July 12th) at Mississippi Studios on Thursday, July 14th with Black Whales (who are also releasing a CD, the reverbed Shangri-La Indeed) and Orca Team.

Watch the Mittens’ Chelsea Morrisey and Ben Hubbird talk about recording Heart of Town, Chelsea’s love for Jay-Z, and her debut performance of “One of Us”… yes the Joan Osborne song:

Get more Dirty Mittens on OMN.