New Vacationer, summer pop pop pop.
Familiars is out June 17th and The Antlers hit Chicago June 29th, can’t even wait just a little bit.
Had the pleasure of seeing Spirit Animal in Chicago last week, it’s so refreshing to hear pop thrash rock out there in the world. Here’s a vid of them performing ‘Best One’ at Sweetlife Festival 2014.
Live Review: St. Vincent at The Riviera, Chicago IL
- Amanda Roscoe Mayo
“Are these really my hands?” Annie Clark asked the audience on Saturday night as she listed experiences we all most likely had in common. “Do you ever look at your hands and think, ‘are these really my hands?’ There must have been some sort of mix up.” About 3 times she re-grouped and checked in with concert goers beginning with reasonable and plausible shared incidents building into more and more bazar recollections. It was impossible to discern the tales of building a hot air balloon out of a bed sheet and crashing it in a back yard from Clark’s memory or a fictional but completely believable story from the mind of St. Vincent. The question of what is real and what was not arose often in her performance at the Riviera in Chicago.
The numbers were robotically choreographed with rapid shuffling around stage, a gliding effect aided by strobe lights. Clark looked like an animatronic doll her perfect legs shooting out of a long sleeved mini dress with sculpted bows on the shoulders and electric white curly hair exploding from her head. Her songs were performed with precise intention the requisite buzz consistently providing sustenance for the crowd.
The tension between what was analogue and what was not was palpable. Each musician on stage (besides St. Vincent who was clearly shredding on an electric guitar at all times) was making their instrument produce sounds otherwise foreign to that device. The stage was transformed into a mesmerizing moment of creation with each song, then plunged into darkness at its completion. The dark stage served as a palette cleanser and a reminder that St. Vincent was in control of this performance. It served as a breath between performances and a chance for audience members and musicians alike to get on the same page, a moment to debrief and process what had just happened and get excited for what was to come. There wasn’t a point at which the crowd wasn’t cheering with giddiness when the stage was flooded with light and St. Vincent after the pause.
The real power in the show came from one prop. A very large prop, but a prop none-the-less. Mimicking St. Vincent’s latest album cover where she sits atop a cult-like Mormon inspired throne, a three-tiered square platform sat in the center of the stage. Like an unopened birthday present waiting for the cake to be cut and happy birthday sung, it sat there enticing the crowd. St. Vincent used it to tease us and keep us on our toes. She sexily splayed out on its first and second steps in the beginning songs or used it in play with her choreographed movements throughout the evening. When she finally mounted its top towards the end of the show we were beside ourselves and rewarded our leader for the night with praise. Clark never once stepped off of this throne in a manner indicative of royalty, however. Rather she descended each tier by rolling from above or sliding down the façade, pausing to sing at each level. This act indicated her interest in objects loaded with reliquary meaning without establishing herself as an idol that she intended for us to follow.
If there was any question of Clark’s humanity, it was found in her voice. The pseudo synchronized and mechanical movements paired with sounds of technology—sounds of the future—established St. Vincent as an entity. The glimpse into the soul of that genius came when she sang, her voice breaking control and stretching its wings. One more notch on the talent bedpost, we have taken for granted Clark’s voice, which she made clear Saturday night is beautiful and human just like her.
James Vincent McMorrow’s sound pulls from a generation of great artists who coincidentally share a first initial and is an eclectic mix of his Isle mates James Blake, Jessie Ware, and in America Justin Vernon. The new album, Post-Tropical is a combination of dreamy and melancholic and serves as a reminder that even the darkest parts of human existence can be beautiful. This record is delicate and grounded in an intimacy that comes from escaping that gloom.
With song titles like “Gold,” “The Lakes,” “All Points,” and “Glacier” we are given the sense that a journey did indeed take place and like the “post” in Post Tropical that odyssey has ended leaving debris and recollection in its wake. The “wish you were here” sentiment need not be expressed as McMorrow takes us with him to this inner place he is trying to make sense of. Reality has set in and we are privy to what that means for McMorrow.
Rolling drums, shimmering keys, pulsing synthesizers, and McMorrow’s falsetto build architecturally dense songs that feel warm while his lyrics bring in a somber tone. The vocals become more of a layer than a guide as the words meld together becoming indecipherable, the emotive quality of McMorrow’s voice points due North in determining mood. Post-Tropical is a beautiful undertaking and an emotionally grounded second record from James McMorrow.
James McMorrow plays Lincoln Hall in Chicago this evening. The show is sold out and not to be missed. For more information visit Lincoln Hall’s website.
Mike Tyson announces new Black Keys album set to drop May 13th. Single to be released tomorrow. TURN BLUE is the name of the game, way to keep us on our toes boys.
Forever fan girl of The National. This music is everything.
Basic Cable Interview
February 19, 2014
Amanda Roscoe Mayo: Just to start, in your own words… what’s going on here?
Michael John Grant: Five dudes who just like drinking a lot and basically started playing music in addition to that.
AM: When we were talking about this project some months ago before you released Good to Drive you mentioned you wanted to make a sound that was a cross between Nirvana and Black Sabbath (if I remember correctly). Do you feel you have achieved that?
MJG: Lacked on the Sabbath part and made up on the Nirvana part. We went a more Nirvan-y / Black Flag kind of way. We’ve been hearing a lot of Mud Honey references, which I think is good.
AM: What about those two distinctive sounds caused you to want to cross-pollinate that voice into Basic Cable?
MJG: They are the things I know most about, it seems like the most fun to do. It’s really easy, might as well do something you’re good at.
AM: So you know you’re not the only Basic Cable out there… Basic Cable also happens to be the name of Conan O’Brien’s house band. Any comment?
MJG: No. (laughs)
AM: You’ve been together as Basic Cable for about a year, what made you guys decide to write and record an album?
MJG: It all kind of flowed really easily. You know, that’s kind of the idea when you start a band, to write and record a record. We had it out within a year of being a band, which is pretty fast. It was just the natural progression of how easy it came to play.
AM: Good to Drive was recorded in an art gallery and is a pretty noisy record in general, were you trying to capture as much of that noise on the record by recording in the location you did?
MJG: Yea, the guy who engineered it, Mike Lust, didn’t really add any effects he just mic-ed the room. We recoded everything live except for vocals and synth. It’s pretty much the most organic way you can do a record I feel.
AM: The album art for Good to Drive is a funeral wreath, which, to me clearly debunks the sentiment of being “good to drive,” tell me about that as a choice for artwork.
MJG: That was something Ryan, our drummer, came up with a few months before. We released a tape, from a show in Cleveland and included it with that. We’ve been happy with it ever since. Ryan made the wreath himself, he made a small version of it and we photographed it for the pressing. We had all these perverse plans but they didn’t quite pan out…
AM: The sound is really specific and holds a pretty significant amount of body in terms of credo, but what’s the content behind the songs? Is the album exploring any themes on a narrative?
MJG: Its mostly just talking shit on everybody we know, on all our friends. Joel said it best I think, he said that ‘everything sounds pretty aggressive but every song pretty much sounds like two dudes not getting along.’
AM: With that let’s get into some meat. Song titles are succinct and limited to just a few syllables, which says a lot about the music to me. It really drives itself and operates in a way that is both simple and loud without shouting its business to everyone. You kind of have to pry to get behind the reverb. “Blonde Ambition” seems to act the most like a single. Can you tell me more about that song?
MJG: That was one of the first ones we wrote, it just kind of came out. Once we finished this song we were like ‘that’s what this band is going to sound like.’ We never wrote any single-esque material, but you’re right that one definitely sounds the most like a single.
AM: Let’s also talk about “Where’s Your Husband?” and “California Kiss…” those songs seem to have the most guts to spill…
MJG: “California Kiss” was the only song we all creatively wrote together. We would normally get together and someone would have a riff and we would go off of that. We made it up spur of the moment, flowed easily, the noisier it got the better it sounded. It’s about a friend who was on tour and smoked crack for the first time (and maybe only time).
“Where’s Your Husband?” Was a heavy as hell riff I wrote. It’s about somebody… that’s why we have the lyrics blacked out.
AM: I know you guys are all pretty busy with stuff in Chicago and you in particular travel a lot, is Basic Cable something that is a project that will happen when it can or do you see pushing it further than one album?
MJG: We’re definitely going to try and do another album. I’d like to have it recorded by May, the band will go on whenever we’re all in the same place at the same place. It’s fun and we all love doing it.