Rock'n'Roll ain't pretty and neither is Scott H. Biram. The self proclaimed ‘Dirty Old One Man Band' successfully, and sometimes violently, lashes together blues, hillbilly and country precariously to raucous punk and godless metal.
Biram ain't no candy-ass singer/songwriter either, sweetly strumming songs about girls with big eyes and dusty highways. His singing, yodeling, growling, leering and brash preachin' and hollerin' is accompanied by sloppy riffs and licks from his '59 Gibson guitar and pounding backbeat brought forth by his amplified left foot. The remainder of this one-man band consists of an unwieldy combination of beat-up amplifiers and old microphones strung together by a tangled mess of guitar cables.
Years of non-stop touring have honed his assault to a fine edge; his wide-eyed throw downs in the First Church of Ultimate Fanaticism routinely lead giddy followers to a fiery baptism.
Scott H. Biram won't die. On May 11th, 2003, one month after being hit head-on by an 18-wheeler at 75 MPH, he took the stage at The Continental Club in Austin, TX in a wheel chair – I.V. still dangling from his arm. With 2 broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and 1 foot less of his lower intestine, Biram unleashed his trademark musical wrath.
When Scott H. Biram took the stage at his 2004 SXSW festival showcase right after Kris Kristofferson he was quoted as growling "They said that was a hard act to follow….I'm a hard act to follow motherfuckers!!" The stunned crowd looked on.
"Scott's self described ‘dirty old one-man band' had a captivating immediacy that big rock shows rarely reach. On stage Scott is a man possessed, spitting and snarling like a Mississippi juke-joint shouter on a moonshine bender." – Eben Sterling, Thrasher
"He has a true stage presence that could be fairly compared to that of Clint Eastwood on film. The dude's more dude than most other dudes you will ever meet." – Austin Columnist
"An impassioned multi-instrumentalist unleashing a brutal cacophany with the fury of someone whose check from the Devil finally cleared. Half dirty blues, half underground punk, half honky-tonk, half revival meeting…oh shut up about the math. You'll see the light." – Dayna Papaleo, Rochester City News
"His barbarous exorcism of Depression-era blues—with a bedrock of frantic flatpicking, foot stomps into a floor mike, and gutteral growls through a distortion mike—has made Biram a rising star in Austin." – Brian T. Atkinson, No Depression
"Biram is the kind of guy you don't laugh at all the way just in case he really is crazy. We all wanna be entertained, but nobody wants to get stabbed in the head with a screwdriver." – Frank de Blase, Rochester City News
"With a raw immediacy that recalls Hasil Adkins and Bob Log III, Biram specializes in a twisted hybrid of gutbucket, hillbilly and godless metal. He'll praise the virtues of moonshine and titty bars one minute, then tongue-lash city slickers and hippies the next." – John La Briola, Houston Press
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Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based pop singer Kiesza makes dance-oriented music that touches upon house music, modern EDM, and R&B. Born in Calgary, Kiesza participated in theater, ballet, and tap dancing before joining the Royal Canadian Navy at 17, where she was trained as a code breaker. At 18, Kiesza also competed in the Miss Universe Canada pageant before focusing on a music career. Leaving the Navy, she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston on a scholarship. After graduating, she relocated to New York City and began performing her folky singer/songwriter compositions. Eventually, Kiesza found herself drawn to dance music and began collaborating with producer Rami Samir Afuni. In 2014, she released the Hideaway EP. "Hideaway" itself topped the U.K. and Scottish singles charts upon its April release and received significant airplay in the U.S. when it was released that July. A few months later, Kiesza's full-length debut, Sound of a Woman, arrived, mixing her house-influenced pop with hip-hop-tinged tracks and featuring cameos by Mick Jenkins and Joey Bada$$. ~ Matt Collar
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Nathan Quick has a soulful voice, tasteful melodies, and crisp guitar playing that will have you wanting to come back for more time and time again. He is an up and coming artist with alot to share, so be sure to check him out! His sound draws from a vast pool of genres from classic rock and roll to contemporary singer-songwriter and is something everyone can enjoy!
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Stars have partnered with Plus One so that $1 from every ticket goes to the global health organization Partners In Health (www.pih.org).
Like their celestial namesake, Stars only come out at night. It's been 14 years since the Montreal band debuted with an album of intimate synth-pop whispers titled Nightsongs, but really, any of the increasingly assertive and sonically elaborate records they've released since could be named that. Whether between the sheets or on the streets, the nighttime is when the most pivotal moments of your life play out: the drunken dusk-to-dawn hangs through which eternal friendships are forged; the knowing glance across the dancefloor that leads to exchanged phone numbers, that ominous 3 a.m. phone call from the hospital; the decision to turn a new leaf that can only come when you've spent five despairing hours staring at a ceiling fan. These are the worlds that Stars songs inhabit, to show us that, even in our most vulnerable and naked states, we are never truly alone.
Stars' albums have always served as thermochromic barometers of their makers' emotional well-being, be it the romantic upheaval of 2003's Heart and 2004's Set Yourself On Fire, the newsticker-triggered discontent of 2007's In Our Bedroom After the War, the downcast elegies of 2010's The Five Ghosts (a requiem for singer Torquil Campbell's father, who passed away during the album's creation), or the rejuvenation of 2012's The North (recorded while inter-band couple Amy Millan and Evan Cranley were in the throes of new parenthood). However, as Millan admits, the band initially approached its new seventh album from a place of relative stability. "We've always had so many things defining every album, whether it was the band going through a difficult emotional turmoil, Torq's father passing away, or us having children. And now it's like: You know what? We're pretty good. This is one of the best times of our lives."
This time around, Stars decided to scratch the seven-album itch by shaping their own environment. After inheriting the Mile End rehearsal space vacated by the then-disbanding Handsome Furs, Stars refashioned the space—"basically a dirty apartment," says Cranley—into a fully operational studio, where recording for No One Is Lost began last December with old friend Liam O'Neil (Metric, The Stills) behind the boards.
"It was initially quite painstaking," says keyboardist Chris Seligman. "But we put love into our space and our space gave us love back."
Campbell is also a parent, but his recording sojourns in Montreal allowed him to keep, shall we say, more traditional musician's hours.
"I'm a nighttime guy, I don't really like making records in the day," says Campbell, who made the studio his home for the duration of his recording sessions. "I slept on the couch. I've never enjoyed making a record so much, because I always hated going home at the end of the day. This time, in Montreal, the studio was my home."
Funnily enough, it was during one of Campbell's studio sleepovers that the city itself became truly present: noise was bleeding in from the gay discotheque, The Royal Phoenix, located on the floor below them.
Says Campbell: "I went to sleep to the sound of Charli XCX every night—and I loved it."
So rather than fight the funk, Stars rolled alongside, with the incessant 4/4 thump emanating from below serving as the metronomic template that would form the basis of No One Is Lost. You can hear that influence percolate in real time on the album's monumental lead-off track "From the Night"—Stars' most epic opening salvo since Set Yourself on Fire's "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"—with a near-subliminal pulse vibrating the floorboards beneath your feet before exploding into a kaleidoscopic, French-touched house jam. And that crowd noise you hear at the beginning? That's Millan and Seligman walking into The Royal Phoenix during a Friday-night rager, field-recording gear in hand.
"The sub-bass throb coming from the club below our studio was undeniably and unavoidably influential," affirms drummer Pat McGee. "It motivated us to out-throb the throb."
But the Royal Phoenix proved to be more than just a musical inspiration; the bar essentially served as Stars' home away from home, with the band coming to know the servers on a first-name basis, and even getting cocktails christened in their honour. And through observing the bacchanalia playing out every weekend in their de facto rec room, the thematic framework for the album came into focus.
"I always find it so moving and beautiful to watch people have their nights out. " Campbell explains. "There's something so heartbreaking about it: People have jobs that they have to get up for, jobs they hate, and they live for the weekend; they live for these moments. And they put everything they have into it: They put all their money into it, they put their emotion into it, they sacrifice their health for it, just to make a connection out there, and go home with someone and not be alone."
During the writing of the new album, Stars were hit with another cruelly sobering reminder of just how precious our days here on this planet really are: the band's long-time manager, Eoin O Leary, was diagnosed with cancer.
Fortunately, No One Is Lost translates all that anxiety into pure ecstasy, from the laser-cut new-waved precision of Millan's "This Is the Last Time" to the soaring, Mozzerific chorus of Campbell's "Trap Door" to the dreamy duet "Look Away." And the titanic title track-closer—the sound of a dancefloor being swallowed whole by an ocean of sweat and swapped spit—feels like the moment Stars' entire 15-year journey has been leading up to, a euphoric house banger that distills all the hope, fear, joy, sadness, and sex in the band's songbook into a pair of unshakeable mantras: "put your hands up because everybody dies / put your hands up if you know you're going to lose."
"The fact Eoin got cancer is definitely sewn into the fabric of the album, lyrically and sonically," Millan reveals. "Because you had to believe he was going to be okay. [Spoiler alert: he's currently recovering from treatment quite nicely.] I think that's where the title No One Is Lost comes from: We were the army standing behind him."
Campbell, for his part, offers a somewhat more urgent interpretation:
"This record's called No One Is Lost because that is a fucking lie. We are all lost, we are all going to lose this game and, as you get older, you lose people more and more. Eoin's been facing down the Grim Reaper, and that was bringing us the fuck down. But we decided to go for it anyway, and so did he, and it was enormous act of blind hope to even think he would make it this far. So I wanted to call this record No One Is Lost because I just wanted to close my eyes and jump and hope that was true. Life is loss, love is loss. And loving people is about accepting that you're going to have to say goodbye to them. And that's why it's fucking brave. It's easy to hate, because you never have to let go of anything. It takes guts to be gentle and kind. That's Stars' ethos: this life is very heartbreaking and sad… so let's get completely fucking arseholed and listen to some Dionne Warwick."
Alas, Stars will need to find a new place to get arseholed: The day that the mastering of No One Is Lost was completed last July, word got out that The Royal Phoenix was closing, despite its undiminished popularity among local revellers. But then, this sudden turn of events was an oddly appropriate denouement for an album that evolved according to its own curious logic. After all, No One Is Lost is a record that began with Stars building a studio hideaway that allowed them to function as a self-contained unit free of external pressures, yet wound up being greatly shaped by its surrounding environment. And it's a record that, at its core, was intended as a celebration of life but became a rallying cry for an ailing friend and, now, a eulogy to a beloved bar. But that's the equally wonderful and terrifying thing about living for the night: you never know what the next one's going to bring you. Each sundown marks not the end of the day, but the beginning of a new adventure into the unknown—and No One Is Lost is the radiant flash of pink neon that lights the way. So, go dance.
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Plunging headlong into their second decade as a band, DENGUE FEVER's (www.denguefevermusic.com) new album, The Deepest Lake, their fifth full-length of all-new material, comes at a critical juncture in the bands career. In 2013, after forming their own label Tuk Tuk Records, the band crossed over into a brave new world as both artist and record label owner's. Today find themselves able to wear two hats – as creative musicians with no boundaries as well as label owners who make their own decisions on where, when and how to fabricate their career.
The net result is the aforementioned, The Deepest Lake, a record with more musical diversions than the Mekong River itself. Released in January 27, 2015 – US/Canada & February 2, 2015 in the rest of the world, the ten tracks on The Deepest Lake will satiate longtime fans as well as newcomers looking for something altogether different. Widely recognized for their trademark blend of 60's Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock, Dengue Fever's latest release expands their musical palette to include Khmer rap, Latin grooves, Afro percussion, layered Stax-like horns and more.
From the keyboard and percussion heavy opening track, "Tokay", lead singer Chhom Nimol's unmistakable bird-like Khmer vocals lead the band on a evolutionary musical journey on The Deepest Lake. Be it the John Doe & Exene boy/girl vocals on "Rom Say Sok" that gets your indie grooves on or the six plus minute psychedelic jam on "Cardboard Castles", it's pretty evident that this is a band looking to take chances and not play it safe. By following their instincts on this record and letting many of the final tracks come out of extended jams when demo'ing the album, the band played to their musical strengths. No longer was there a need to ‘find' a song, the songs on The Deepest Lake came to them.
The band's newly established independence as both label owner and artist marks yet another chapter in the continual evolution of a group unlike many other bands in the Los Angeles music scene. It all began in 2002 when Dengue Fever formed and released their eponymous debut (2003). Packed chock full of ‘lost' Khmer covers, the band paid homage to Khmer rock, a hybrid of Vietnam War era surf, psych and classic rock performed by Cambodian giants like Ros Sereysothea, Pan Ron and Sinn Sisamouth.
The bands sophomore release, critically acclaimed sophomore follow-up, Escape from Dragon House (2005) found them writing and performing original material in earnest. Amazon.com named Dragon House the #1 international release for 2005, and Mojo magazine named it in their Top 10 World Music releases of 2006.
In 2008, their third release Venus on Earth became the band's best selling album. It garnered praise from both critics and fans the world over. In fact, Venus on Earth found support from iconic musicians such as Peter Gabriel, Metallica's Kirk Hammett and Ray Davies who each made mention of the band in the press.
DENGUE FEVER's fourth release, Cannibal Courtship (Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group), was released in April 2011 and found the band expanding beyond their usual comfort zone and experimenting with new sounds.
The roots of the band began in the late 1990's with a 6-month trek through Southeast Asia by Keyboardist Ethan Holtzman. Returning to Los Angeles with a suitcase crammed full of Cambodian cassette tapes, Holtzman and his brother Zac, who had discovered the same music while working at a record store in San Francisco, reunited. The brothers soon bonded over their love of vintage Cambodian rock and in 2002 founded the band with saxophonist, David Ralicke (Beck/Brazzaville); drummer, Paul Dreux Smith; and bassist, Senon Williams (Radar Brothers). Shortly thereafter the members were on hot pursuit for the ideal Cambodian chanteuse to complete their outfit. After a short period of musical courtship that began at a Cambodian nightclub in Long Beach, Ca., Nimol joined the band when she realized the band shared a genuine passion for the music and culture of her homeland.
It's that cross pollination of Khmer rock, garage rock, psychedelic rock and the British Invasion sound that has pushed the band to heights they could only dream of in 2002. DENGUE FEVER as performed in front of thousands of fans at such noted music festivals as WOMAD (UK, AUS, NZ), WOMEX (Spain), Melbourne Festival (AUS), Glastonbury (UK), Bumerbshoot, (USA), Transmusicales (France), Roskilde (Denmark), Electric Picnic (Ireland), Peace and Love (Sweden), Treasure Island (USA) among many others. Their songs have appeared in films such as City of Ghosts, Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, The Hangover 2, the Showtime series Weeds, the HBO's hit series True Blood (who named an entire episode after one of their songs) and featured the band's music, CBS' series CSI: Las Vegas and numerous independent documentaries.
With band profiles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Mojo, Uncut, Magnet, Wired, NPR's "Fresh Air", Radio Australia, KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" and "World Café Live", the time is truly ripe for at least another decade of breaking down more musical barriers. The Deepest Lake is the first, glorious musical step in that new direction.
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Attempting to stand out among your peers when you practice your art in the world of Japanese pop/rock/punk is no mean feat, but New York City-based Peelander-Z has certainly made some serious waves. Blending elements of the Power Rangers, Japanese and American pop culture images, sci-fi, and pro wrestling, Peelander-Z won fans and friends from a wide cross section of the pop audience, appearing on a number of compilations, as well as festivals and conventions.
The group, made up of Kengo Hioki (aka Peelander Yellow -- vocals, guitar), Kotaro Tsukada (aka Peelander Red -- bass, vocals), and Kazuki Yamamoto (aka Peelander Blue -- drums, vocals) came together in 1998. As "legend" has it the three were born in the Z region of the planet Peelander, and their colorful garb was not merely costume, but their "alien" skin. Their debut recording, the mini-album Peelander-Z, was released in 1999, and -- coupled with their frenetic (to say the least) live show -- the buzz led to their first American television appearance, on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade that same year. 2001 saw the release of the debut full-length, Rocket Gold Star, as well as the band's first appearance at the New York CMJ Music Marathon -- a gig they would play a number of times over the next few years. 2002 saw the band take on their first nationwide U.S. tour, and in 2003, Peelander-Z released their follow-up album, P-Bone Steak.
Over the next five years, the group toured, appeared at numerous festivals (including Bonnaroo and SXSW), made television appearances (Spike's Most Extreme Challenge, for one) and released more manic J-pop/punk masterpieces, including 2005's Dancing Friendly and 2006's Happee Mania. After a busy 2007, which included the band's first DVD release (Peelander Is Fun!), the band was shaken up in 2008, when it was announced that Peelander Blue (Kazuki Yamamoto) was being "called back" to the Planet Peelander, as he was next in line for the crown of the kingdom of his home world. The actual story as to why Yamamoto left the manic trio is far more mundane -- family commitments -- but Peelander-Z was able to soldier on, when Peelander Green (Akihiko Naruse) signed on to further the group's momentum. In 2009, back to full strength, Peelander-Z released its fifth album, P-Pop-High School, and spent that spring touring their new collection. In 2013, the group tried on a new look for Metalander-Z, a spirited sendup of '80s hair metal. ~ Chris True
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Grindcore pioneers Extreme Noise Terror formed in Britain in early 1985, originally comprising vocalists Phil Vane and Dean Jones, guitarist Pete Hurley, bassist Mark Bailey, and drummer Pig Killer; after just one live appearance, the group was signed to Manic Ears Records, soon releasing a split LP with Chaos UK titled Radioactive. Pig Killer then left the group, with Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris coming aboard as his replacement. Winning the admiration of Radio One DJ John Peel, Extreme Noise Terror recorded a notorious session for Peel's show in 1987, their first of many appearances on the program. Drummer Tony "Stick" Dickens replaced Harris to record the band's first full-length effort, A Holocaust in My Head; in the wake of their sophomore record, Phonophobia, ENT collaborated with the KLF on a cover of the latter's "3am Eternal" which earned "Single of the Week" honors in NME. Extreme Noise Terror's appearance at the 1992 Brit Awards triggered a national furor after the band aimed a machine gun at the audience, firing off a round of blanks. Over the next two years, the group toured relentlessly, adding guitarist Ali Firouzbakht and substituting bassist Lee Barrett for the exiting Bailey. Original drummer Pig Killer also returned to fold for 1995's Retro-Bution, but left again after only a few months; his replacement was former Cradle of Filth member Was. More serious was the defection of Vane, who joined Napalm Death; ironically, ex-Napalm Death frontman Mark "Barney" Greenaway then joined ENT, making his debut on 1997's Damage 381. In It for Life followed two years later. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Myles Mills is an 18-year-old, born and bred Manhattan native. He grew up in Harlem and attended boys' private schools amongst the wealthy elite for most of his life. While most of his friends are en route to become lawyers or Wall Street types, Mills has chosen a different path, turning his unconventional background into raps as he vies for a spot on top of the hip-hop hierarchy. It's hard to believe that Mills, who goes by the stage name Skizzy Mars, recorded most of his singles—that exude the sophistication of a seasoned professional—while still in high school. Lyrics came easily to the rap prodigy who started penning his own as early as ninth grade. Flow and delivery took time, but eventually, the up-and-comer came into his own. And Mills has seen rapid success since last January when he released his first single "Possibilities." But it was his candid song "Douchebag" that set music critics abuzz. Since then, Mills has dropped single after single creating hype purely through word of mouth.
Interested in music early on, Mills became attracted to the harmonic tones and lyrics of alternative and indie music by way of bands The Killers and Death Cab for Cutie. Broadening his sphere of influence, he eventually became obsessed with Kid Cudi and his idol Kanye West, but has allowed rock music to remain a key component in his own material. It is in this way that Mills solidifies his individuality; fusing and integrating antithetic sounds that deviate from what the public ear has become accustomed to. "The thing is I'm never going to change my sound," asserts the rapper who often raps over entire indie rock tracks, rather than just sampling parts of the original beat. "I'm never going to make music that I don't want to make. It's just a matter of people liking it. So far they do." The artist knows a good song when he hears it, spitting rhymes over emerging indie group Foster the People's popular song "Houdini" and Gouplove's feel-good hit "Colours." His knack for metaphorically pleasing lyrics full of clever pop-culture references and puns doesn't hurt either. Although the fresh talent is not signed to a record label yet, it is merely only a matter of time. Meanwhile, he recently signed with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and is gearing up to drop his mixtape Phases come this spring/summer while simultaneously recording his debut album. Both the mixtape and album will be completely original, featuring an entirely new sound, and it is that experimental enthusiasm and willingness to take risks that tells us we'll be hearing more from the promising young star.
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One of the major success stories of 1992, Arrested Development are a progressive rap collective fusing soul, blues, hip-hop, and Sly & the Family Stone-influenced funk with political, socially conscious lyrics. The group was founded in the late '80s by rapper Speech and DJ Headliner, who decided to make the transition to a more positive, Afrocentric viewpoint after hearing Public Enemy. Arrested Development's debut album took its title from the amount of time it took the group to secure a record contract; 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... produced the hit single "Tennessee," a strongly spiritual track that hit the Top Ten and sparked the album to sell over four million copies. Its two follow-ups, "People Everyday" (a rewrite of Sly's "Everyday People") and "Mr. Wendal" did likewise. Accolades poured in; Arrested Development won Grammys for Best Rap Album and Best New Artist, and was named Rolling Stone's Band of the Year. The group returned one year later with Zingalamaduni, which some reviews hailed as a major work, though overall response was more ambivalent. In 1996, contrary to Speech's earlier assertion that the group would be around for ten or 12 years, Arrested Development officially broke up. Speech went solo, though his debut album failed to make an impact. In 2006, the band reunited and released Since the Last Time in Japan. A year later the album saw release in the U.S. ~ Steve Huey
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After Nickel Creek disbanded in 2007, mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile assembled an all-star quintet called Punch Brothers (the name comes from the Mark Twain short story Punch, Brothers, Punch!) with guitarist Chris Eldridge, formerly of the Infamous Stringdusters; bassist Greg Garrison, who has played with Ron Miles and Leftover Salmon; banjo player Noam Pikelny, who has worked with John Cowan and Tony Trischka, and violinist Gabe Witcher, a sought-after session musician and a member of Jerry Douglas' band for a half-dozen years. The new group quickly signed with Nonesuch Records and issued a debut album, Punch, in 2008, which was anchored by Thile's ambitious 40-minute, four-part suite "The Blind Leaving the Blind." The double-disc (plus a third DVD concert disc) Antifogmatic, produced by Jon Brion, arrived from Nonesuch in 2010, and was followed in 2012 by Who's Feeling Young Now?, produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, Modest Mouse), and the Ahoy! EP. ~ Steve Leggett
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$1 from each ticket purchased will be donated to charity.
Merrill Garbus has performed as tUnE-yArDs since 2009, and that band name has always been synonymous with forward movement—whether because of her explosive performance style or the always-surprising way in which her songs unfold. First gaining notice with the debut BiRd-BrAiNs, which The New York Times called "a confident do-it-yourselfer's opening salvo: a staticky, low-fi, abrasive attention-getter," Garbus forged a reputation as a formidable live presence through relentless touring. In 2011, tUnE-yArDs released its second album, w h o k i l l, a startling and sonically adventurous statement that led to a whirlwind period where Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner accrued accolades from critics (including the #1 spot on the Village Voice's 2011 Pazz and Jop poll), performed in front of increasing numbers of rapturous crowds around the world, and collaborated with the likes of Yoko Ono and ?uestlove. It was a thrilling ride, but it was one that needed a little bit of recovery afterward.
"I took the Fall [of 2012] off and started taking both Haitian dance and drum lessons," says Garbus of the post-w h o k i l l period. "It was nice; I was trying to be healthy and have a good time. And then, in January , I was like, ‘I have nothing.' I've never had nothing before—I've always had some songs that I'm planning on recording; I've always been working live with the looping pedal and writing that way. And I thought, ‘OK, if I'm going to grow as an artist, I need to do this differently.'
"So I went to my studio five days a week and told myself I would be doing two demos a day. I also had rules: ‘This week I'm only going to write using drum machines'; ‘This week I'm going to write using vocal melodies first, and build something around that.' At the end of that, I had about 30 demos."
Those demos would eventually gel into Nikki Nack, the stunning third album by the Oakland-based band. A complex, textured statement that opens with a clarion call to ‘Find A New Way' and spends its 13 tracks getting there, it's a showcase of how Garbus's songwriting has blossomed, and a testament to how current technologies can combine with themes from the past—Saturday mornings spent watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse, puppet shows based on Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, hard days made less so by the refuge provided by top-40 radio—to create something utterly original.
"It was weird what stuck," Garbus says of the writing process. "The first song that felt finished is not on the album, and I almost scrapped ‘Water Fountain.'" That pulsing track's post-apocalyptic vision is presented as a sing-along, a tale of streets where once-useful structures have been rendered into disintegrating husks with Brenner's bass playing providing an increasingly concerned counterpoint. "I almost threw it away," she recalls, "because it sounded like a kids' song. But I really liked the theme, which mirrored what I was seeing in Oakland—people don't want to pay taxes, but the taxes are paying for the water fountain, and for the trash to be picked up, all these bare essentials."
Having studied both Haitian dance and drumming during her downtime, Garbus also visited the island nation in the spring of 2013 (she penned a piece about her time there for the online magazine The Talkhouse). The trip informed the record both spiritually and practically, and led to Garbus adding another instrument into tUnE-yArDs' musical arsenal (which, as she documented online, includes items like a bag of rice and a stool this go-round). "There's this drum called the boula; it sets the tempo for all the other drums," she says. "It's the smallest drum, and it's played with two sticks, flat to the skin. That element of Haitian drumming acts as the hi-hat, or the metronome, for a lot of the songs on the album."
Callbacks to the past are all over Nikki Nack, as befitting its jump-rope-chant title. Garbus's vocal performance on ‘Wait For A Minute' recalls Quiet Storm balladry, and the song also contains a direct callback to her own past: A wobbly keyboard line provided by a Casio she received as a gift when she was nine years old. ‘Left Behind' is underscored by a jittery nostalgia, the playground chant from which the album's title is taken eventually giving way to a chorus where Garbus's voice is masked by glossy-yet tarnished production that brings to mind the radio reigns of Lisa Lisa and En Vogue. "On the chorus," she says, "I sang those three parts and we put the recording through some crazy tape to make it sound like it was old and warped and distorted." Instead of weighing the music down, though, the heaviness of the past defiantly animates the track, which culminates in a cacophonous "Holiday, holiday"/"Let's Go Crazy" call-and-response.
"That song may be the epicenter of the album for me," says Garbus. "There's a sense of people not being okay with change, and how uncomfortable change is. I have a great amount of nostalgia for times past, and I feel extremely uncomfortable with that because I think it's so misdirected and misguided to think that things were ‘better back then.'"
Nikki Nack has uncertainty about both the past and the future, but that's in keeping with Garbus's overall aesthetic of constantly questioning and burrowing for a "new way," tempered by the joy that goes hand in hand with new discoveries. "We worked with other producers for the first time this time around, which required that I humble myself quite a bit. We've worked with other collaborators, of course, like Eli Crews as a recording and mixing engineer again, but to ask Malay (Alicia Keys, Frank Ocean, Big Boi) and John Hill (Rihanna, Shakira, M.I.A.) for input on the tracks I had to let go of tUnE-yArDs being rigidly my production. I have a very specific vision for the sound of the band and I don't think women producers get enough credit for doing their own stuff, so I was resistant – but we grew, Nate and I both, and the songs grew. And it turns out that's what's most important: the songs, not my ego."
"Every single composer, artist, writer—anyone that I respect, there is crazy shit that's happened in all these art forms," she says. "When the shit started changing, people were like, ‘Ugh, I don't want that, what is that?' And it's kind of painful sometimes being on the front line of whatever I'm doing—I'm pushing myself, so I am going to rub up against my audience's expectations, and there is going to be some friction and tension there. My job is to get comfortable with that and accept it rather than kowtow to it."
Maura Johnston, 2014
Click Image To EnlargeSaturday11April Fitzgerald's07:00 PMAll Ages$10.00
Pegstar, Fitz, & Stubwire are very happy to announce a special show at which the Houston music community attempts to raise 10k for Be The Match. Your favorite venue and Houston area bands are joining together for this cause. Please join us for this very worthy cause.
With Performances from:
Another Run as Radiohead
The Beans as Michael Jackson
Catch Fever as U2
Empty Shells as Nirvana
Fire Moth as CCR
Fox & Cats as Say Anything
King Finn as Queen
Otis The Destroyer as David Bowie
Sunrise & Ammunition as St. Vincent
-Us as Drake
We Were Wolves as Pearl Jam
You $10 entry fee will be matched by A Local Business & donated to BETHEMATCH.ORG
Click Image To EnlargeSunday12April Fitzgerald's06:00 PMAll Ages$18.00 ADV $22.00 DAY OF$24.00 DAY OF BOX OFFICE
Hailing from Coral Springs, Florida, punk-pop band New Found Glory were formed in mid-1997 by vocalist Jordan Pundik, bassist Ian Grushka, drummer Joe Moreno (replaced by longtime drummer Cyrus Bolooki after the band's first release), and guitarists Chad Gilbert (previously the vocalist for Shai Hulud) and Steve Klein. Having recently graduated from high school, the bandmates wasted little time amassing a cult following, eventually rising to the upper tier of punk-pop music alongside Good Charlotte, Saves the Day, and other Warped Tour-affiliated bands.
Renowned for their energetic live shows, A New Found Glory toured up and down the East Coast in the late '90s, selling out the entire pressing of their 1997 debut EP, It's All About the Girls, along the way. (The EP was released by Fiddler Records, which later reissued Girls with new cover art in 2003.) The full-length debut effort Nothing Gold Can Stay followed in 1999 on Drive-Thru Records, and the album was reissued later that year when A New Found Glory signed a major-label contract with MCA. Another EP, 2000's From the Screen to Your Stereo, found the boys tackling a number of cover songs; the disc also paved the way for the release of the band's first gold-selling album, the self-titled New Found Glory, which appeared later that year. The latter album marked the official debut of the band's new moniker, which dropped the indefinite article A from their original name. A high-profile tour with blink-182, an opening slot on the Warped Tour, and an appearance in the teen flick American Pie 2 helped increase New Found Glory's exposure, and they stepped back into the studio at the end of 2001 to work on a follow-up record.
The results of those recording sessions were released in the summer of 2002 as Sticks and Stones. Propelled by the hit single "My Friends Over You," NFG snagged a headlining spot for the 2002 Warped Tour and watched their album climb to gold certification. After the tour and its resulting hype, New Found Glory then reentered the studio with a newfound restlessness. The result, issued in May 2004, was Catalyst, which found the band's sugary punk-pop steeped in new influences ranging from hardcore to thrash to new wave. The concert DVD This Disaster: Live in London appeared later that year, documenting the band's strength as a live act.
Catalyst peaked at number three on Billboard's Top 200 and eventually went gold, propelled in part by the success of "All Downhill from Here." Hooking up with producer Thom Panunzio (Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Petty), NFG released their matured fifth full-length, Coming Home, in September 2006. As before, they immediately hit the road in support of the album, adhering to a lengthy schedule of headlining dates throughout the U.S. and U.K. with the Early November and Cartel in tow. The second edition of From the Screen to Your Stereo arrived in 2007, featuring pop-punk covers of songs like Lisa Loeb's "Stay" and Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me." The group then joined the roster at Epitaph Records and set to work on a new album, Not Without a Fight, with blink-182's Mark Hoppus in the producer's seat. Two years later, New Found Glory went back to working with producer Neal Avron, who had worked with them on Sticks and Stones and Catalyst, for their seventh album, Radiosurgery. Kill It Live, a live album that also featured a trio of new studio tracks, arrived in 2013. An eighth album, Resurrection, followed in the fall of 2014. ~ Jason Ankeny & Andrew Leahey