Thursday, October 31, 2013

get out! : cut copy

My contribution to this week's edition of Get Out!

Hippie—that's the direction Cut Copy has gone with their fourth studio album Free Your Mind. Well, hippie "in terms of uniting traditional guitars and dance music," frontman Dan Whitford told T Magazine. Inspired by the music of the two Summers of Love ('60s psychedelic rock and acid house of the late '80s, respectively), Whitford believes "those eras were about opening minds, stylistically and culturally—it wasn’t just black and white, but all things coming together"—and they’ve been experimenting with this themselves while ensuring that you dance your ass off. Openers include LA's Kauf (aka Ronald Kaufman), whose debut EP, As Much Again, is out now on Cut Copy's own Cutters label, and the US-based (via Milan via Greece) producer Larry Gus showing off material from his recently released, and also psychedelically tinged, DFA record Years Not Living.

Friday, November 1, Roseland Theater, 8pm, $25 advance, all ages

Listen to the third single, "We Are Explorers," from Cut Copy's Free Your Mind (which is currently streaming in full on NPR, plus watch the vid for the title track) out on November 5th:

Check out the rest of OMN's Get Out! picks for October 31 to November 6.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

'making it up' : the blow's first new record in 7 years

If you caught one of The Blow's back-to-back PICA performances at TBA:13 last month, you may have wandered out of the Winningstad Theatre feeling a little bewildered. In a word, the performance was odd—and not in the intriguing, thought-provoking way that the Time-Based Art Festival often strives for.

Although the excitement was palpable as Portlanders gathered on a Sunday night to catch The Blow's first performance in their former hometown in more than two and a half years, the extensive and sometimes awkward monologues—for which The Blow's Khaela Maricich is known—were too long and too out there. It was soon clear that there was no distinguishable storyline, and the cohesive thread that somehow manages to tie everything together in a Blow performance was lacking. In short, the performance was punctuated by long pauses rather than catchy electro-pop.

And, it was that electro-pop that the audience so craved, seeing as The Blow was set to release their first album in seven years on October 1st. Although these initial Portland performances left the audience feeling a bit unsatisfied, the truth is that The Blow is much loved in this town. So, an empty appetite also leaves Portlanders desirous for more, craving a decidedly different, and hopefully more musical, show at the Doug Fir Lounge on Sunday, October 20th.

Now, in The Blow's defense, Maricich did tell OMN prior to their PICA performance:
Performing at the Winningstad is the chance to do something unique because it’s like a lovely little nest of a theater. It’s sort of the opportunity to make an “unplugged” performance, since there is a sense of space and reflectiveness there, which is distinct from the amped up vibe of a sweaty music club. We are looking forward to revealing ourselves in the delicate environment there.
But post-PICA, Portland's expectant of the “sweaty music club” experience. That said, the handful of tracks The Blow did reveal at the Winningstad sounded spectacular—we, maybe selfishly, just wanted more.

And of those revealed, Maricich, alongside partner and collaborator Melissa Dyne, blasted a taste of their self-titled effort in the form of the record's first single, "Make It Up"—a love song that talks about breaking the rules, which seems to be a bit of a mantra for The Blow in general. Whether making lo-fi, electro-pop songs or presenting the band's narrative style of performance, does The Blow sometimes feel like they're making it all up as they go along?

"Yep," is the succinct response from Maricich.

Going "hand in hand into the blackness... making this album was an odyssey of experimentation," Maricich says. (The first part is also a lyric from the album closer "You're My Light.") In their official press release on the album, she continues:
We divided the tasks of making the album between us pretty much according the the differences in how we dream at night. Khaela dreams about people and conversations and juxtaposed feelings: She wrote the lyrics and melodies and many of the compositions. Melissa dreams of being a beam of light bouncing off a Ferrari: Anything that gave the songs dimension (arrangement, engineering, synth programming, sample perfecting, half of the composing) was done by her.
OMN already explored a bit of what it's like to go "into the blackness" before The Blow's PICA performance, and now Khaela Maricich continues the conversation about her collaboration with Dyne on The Blow's new record.

Friday, October 11, 2013

from pdx to sfo : on a voyage to treasure island 2013

Treasure Island 2011
The West Coast festival season throws a last hurrah each year squirreled away in plain sight in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Accessed via one of those rare left-hand exits off the Bay Bridge, follow the passageway through the forested hillside of the petite Yerba Buena Island and across the isthmus to a man-made mass dubbed Treasure Island.

Organized by legendary tastemakers Noise Pop, the 2013 lineup for this year's "Festival in the Bay" is stellar, to say the least—kudos. With just 13 acts per day sharing two stages over the course of a weekend, the Treasure Island Music Festival consistently features artistically diverse, in-demand artists, making it the epitome of a well-curated festival.

If you're feeling extra ambitious in the nights leading up to fest, TIMF also hosts night shows including a Friday gig featuring a double dose of PDX talent when the 11-piece orchestral indie rock of Typhoon and Wild Ones' lilting, breezy, electro dream pop share The Independent's stage on October 18th (doors at 8:30pm, show 9pm, 21+, $15 advance, $17 day of show).

Listen to Typhoon's "Young Fathers" from their sophomore full-length White Lighter:

As for the 26 acts playing the island on Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th, there's something favorable to be said of just about every single act at this year's fest (including the bevy of DJs playing Silent Frisco sets), but in the interest of time, here's the choice performers that OMN is most excited to see and highly recommends that you catch as well.

Saturday, October 19th

The definition of supergroup in the music lexicon is Atoms For Peace. Composed of the iconic, bass-slapping demigod Flea, producer/engineer extraordinaire Nigel Godrich (credits include arguably several of the best albums by Beck, Radiohead and Travis as well as Atoms For Peace's AMOK), south paw drummer Joey Waronker (frequent collaborator of Godrich's as well as Beck, Elliott Smith and R.E.M.), Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco (of Forro in the Dark and a touring member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and the inimitable Thom Yorke (uh, Radiohead anyone?), the incestuous band headlined Coachella two years before they ever released a record together. Destined for success, that debut did not disappoint. Enjoy the characteristically odd video for "Ingenue":

With the departure of Switch (he never showed up for the live gigs anyway), Diplo's continued his dancehall project with a second full length, 2013's Free The Universe, but this time Major Lazer—the Jamaican commando with a bazooka for an arm—has a female assassin sidekick: Knife Fight. While you can catch an actress playing her in "Scare Me," you best believe booties will be frothin' to "Bubble Butt" in the same fashion as witnessed in this Eric Wareheim-directed cut:

It's been a short while since Little Dragon's released any new tunes but these Swedes will no doubt be in form and put on an intricately emotive set buoyed by the distinctive vox of the Japanese-Swedish-American Yukimi Nagano. Check out their most recent track "Sunshine" (basically an advertisement for homegrown vodka brand Absolut) from June 2012:

Chillwave, "daytime disco"—feel free to spew out whatever buzzy genre names you've got. The fact remains that Poolside's music is best thought about in poolside terms: Sunglasses on, imagine your ideal day lounging on the edge of a cool, azure, aquatic experience as evening descends. That's what the duo of LA-based producers sounds like. And, expect them to be more than welcomed to the TIMF stage as Jeff Paradise is a native for all intents and purposes. Enjoy "Do You Believe" now and download a starter kit of Poolside tracks from their SoundCloud:

Sunday, October 20th

Beck's last musical work came in 2012 but not in the established format—Song Reader was published as a book of sheet music. And although some talented musicians took a stab at interpreting his inaudible release, fans are even more excited about three new tracks in three months, each typically unique. Listen to "I Won't Be Long," which also has an almost quarter-hour long extended mix:

By the time James Blake takes the festival stage he'll have already warmed up Frisco with a late-night DJ set under his 1-800 Dinosaur moniker at the Mezzanine on Saturday. For Sunday's set, expect layered minimalism and the serious (but gracious) side of the downtempo, emotive crooner, like in his video to the title track from Blake's second record, Overgrown:

With a festival-friendly billing of STRFKR, Starfucker will do Portland proud playing a desirable late afternoon slot that'll no doubt highlight tracks from their third full-length, Miracle Mile—a collaborative effort that features new guitarist Patrick Morris (formerly of Strength)—like the lead single "While I'm Alive":

Get the rest of OMN's picks for Treasure Island 2013 in San Francisco.

Friday, October 4, 2013

outdoor project : crater lake + umpqua national forest

The pure, pristine waters of Crater Lake 
This past summer I started contributing to the Outdoor Project, an online resource that's actively building the best outdoor adventure library on the web. Starting in the Pacific Northwest, the amount of high-quality content on the site is continually growing, and I chipped in just a little bit with some photos and descriptions from an iconic Oregon location that I visited during my summer travels.

Inside the caldera: A view from the summit of Wizard Island
I documented several adventures in the Southern Oregon Cascades including a handful activities at Crater Lake (like the Cleetwood Cove Trail that heads down to the water's edge as well as a trip around the caldera on the Crater Lake Boat Tour with a stop to trek to the top of Wizard Island, plus the roadside jaunt Sun Notch) and the surrounding Umpqua National Forest (with nearby trips to Toketee Falls and Campground and the North Umpqua Hot Springs).

The 113-foot Toketee Falls on the North Umpqua River
Visit the Outdoor Project to inspire your next outdoor adventure.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

melville : bio

Melville's Thomas Yates, Ryan T. Jacobs, Tim Skerpon and Jim Meyer. Photo by Hanmi Hubbard Meyer.

I recently wrote a bio for the Portland-based band Melville in anticipation of the release of their new EP, Maquette. Here's the long version of the several blurbs I produced.

Melville's Maquette is just that: a small, preliminary model. The six-song EP is a starting point—potentially an outline that'll be expanded upon, possibly a preview of what's to come, but also maybe just an exercise that will enable the four-piece, Portland-based band to chart completely new sonic territory.

The future unknown, the model currently on display is the combined effort of a band in the making since 2011 when songwriter and vocalist Ryan T. Jacobs first debuted Melville at the LaurelThirst Pub. Since then, he's found not just a steadfast lineup but also a family in band members Tim Skerpon (drums), Thomas Yates (bass) and Jim Meyer (keys).

While today Melville might peg themselves as melodic indie rock, somewhat nebulously in an aural area "between Radiohead and Americana," as described by Jacobs, Melville knows this is just the beginning.

Melville's introductory offering, Maquette, was recorded at Type Foundry Studios with Adam Selzer (M. Ward, Sallie Ford, Blind Pilot, The Decemberists, Peter Buck of R.E.M., She & Him) and mastered by Gus Elg at Sky Onion (Typhoon, Nurses, Horse Feathers, Blue Cranes), and its music has garnered radio play on Portland stations like KINK, KNRK and KZME.

Much as life evolves depending on the whims of the world, so does the music of Melville as the band grows to know one another's talents and idiosyncrasies, becoming comfortable in their own skin. All multi-instrumentalists and experienced songwriters, good intuition is perfected by critical ears and a mentality that this band's sonic palette is limitless.

With deep roots in American rock 'n' roll, the band members feel strongly that they're still discovering their collective selves. Continually looking forward, Melville is most excited about the future because of how well the past has gone.

And while this exploratory attitude is unflinching, what's sure not to change is Melville's delivery: expertly crafted, emotive songs. Drenched in earnestness, Jacobs' visceral vibrato personalizes each lyric for every listener, whether listening to a Melville record or seeing the band perform live. It's music that moves you, which is exactly why Yates was adamant about joining the band as a permanent member following a one-off Mississippi Studios performance in 2012.

As the band grows together interpersonally, so will the music transform sonically. Founded on openness and a collaborative spirit, there's a tangible longevity to Melville that begs the group to explore and discover new layers to its sound. For now, Maquette is the base layer—but Melville will be charting a fresh course from here.

For more on Melville, read my article and interview with band leader Ryan T. Jacobs on OMN and check them out at their upcoming album release gig on Thursday, October 24th at Mississippi Studios with Oh Darling and Spirit Lake.