Here I am with the marvelous Bajofondo Sunday night at The Cedar Cultural Center! Three songs in and my daughter and I just moved to make room for people dancing. While I expected it, it is still super fun to watch. And then closer to the stage there are the less formal people, jumping and shouting to the music. I’m really enjoying Bajofondo’s big sound and how well it translates live. It’s also interesting to explain to my daughter that in Latin America Bajofondo plays to huge stadiums filled with people but here in the States they play small cultural venues like The Cedar. I don’t know if she’s impressed but I sure am! I’m a bit in awe of being in the same room with two time Oscar winning musician Gustavo Santaolalla. Standing five feet away and listening to him talk about Bajofondo’s new album Presente actually gave me the chills. As we sit and listen to this wonderful music and watch the older dancers doing all different kinds of Latin dance my daughter says “It’s like they gangnam style.” That, my friends, is why I brought her Being here is like being at a musical event, a wide variety of people, a beautiful rainbow of clothing styles (my personal favorite!), musicians who obviously love what they’re doing, all make for a wonderful drama filled evening that I’m thrilled to be a part of.
I arrived at the Entry tonight breathless with anticipation, for what you ask? Hoping that Darwin Deez does a choreographed dance routine like he did last time he came through Minneapolis. If I remember correctly there was gold lame’ involved but I could be wrong Yay! Show started with a quick routine to what I believe might have been Minneapolis’ own The Jets. Opened with Human off of Darwin’s new album, sounding more melodic than the album version, but I’ll be honest with you, I’m not just here for the music, I’m here for the SHOW! Let’s see what else Darwin has in store… I was curious as to how Darwin’s new album would translate onstage since he played all instruments and sang all vocals himself on the album. Can I just say AWESOME? The band was great and appeared as happy to be at the Entry as I am. As I pointed out in my preview of Darwin’s newest album, Song’s For Imaginative People, there’s a lot more of Darwin here, and that really comes across in his show. Lots of guitar, lots of Darwin. There are still my favorite dance routines but I got a much better glimpse of the man behind the music and I like that. Something new this time around is the little dance routine breaks ever three songs or so instead of one big number, of course I’m a fan of the new version That being said, Darwin Deez ROCKS! And I’m out of here, if you need me I’ll be enjoying the show!
In keeping with their tradition of being the best world music venue IN THE WORLD, Sunday night, March 24, The Cedar Cultural Center presents Latin Grammy-winning band Bajofondo in one of only eight stops on their North American tour.
Bajofondo, known for their thrilling electrotango that blends all forms of Rio de la Plata music, released their fourth album, and first on Sony Masterworks, “Presente” on March 5. Their first video from the album, Pide Piso, was directed by band founder, producer and winner of a Golden Globe, 2 Oscars, 2 Grammys and 12 Latin Grammys: Gustavo Santaolalla. The animated video imagines the track as a 1980s 8-bit video game with romance on the streets of Latin America at its heart. When I first started watching it I thought “Wot?” But by the time the dog was humping the girl’s leg under the table I was hooked
Rio de La Plata music refers to the river that separates and unites Argentina and Uruguay. Bajofondo’s inimitable sound uses the region’s rich musical legacy of tango, folklore, and milonga as a foundation for their genre-defying compositions that fearlessly cross-pollinate them with other styles. On stage, Bajofondo’s eight members use traditional instruments like bandoneón alongside live video mixing, samples, and scratches to spellbinding effect.
I’m pretty excited to be catching their show, even more so to see people dance to their music. I noticed The Cedar’s website says the “dance floor will be wide open for those needing to move to the music.” Hoping to take my teenager, the rap/hip hop queen, and get her take on the evening’s festivities. Should make for an interesting live review!
Here’s the link to Pide Piso: http://bit.ly/WCQX7n Make sure you look out for the dog, he shows up twice…
And don’t forget to catch Bajofondo Sunday night, March 24 at The Cedar Cultural Center for some good old fashioned tango-in’ and world class music in a world class venue For more information click here: http://bit.ly/11drku4
February 13 turned out to be one of the best days of the year when it brought news of Darwin Deez’s sophomore album release Songs For Imaginative People again on Lucky Number Music. I’m a huge Darwin fan, HUGE, and news that he’s hitting up the Twin Cities Wednesday night, March 20 at the 7th Street Entry makes me so happy! Entirely self-recorded and produced in Asheville, North Carolina and then mixed in London with Charlie Andrew (Alt-J), Songs For Imaginative People is not what I expected and definitely worth hearing.
Darwin caught my ears and eyes in 2010 when he released his self-titled debut, which included the song, and still my all time favorite video, DNA, with Constellations running a close second. I’m thrilled to see Darwin is still sporting his signature curls, albeit shorter in the back, teeny tiny headband and big ass glasses, making him look in turns like a super nerd and a 70’s porn star. I mentioned before that I couldn’t look at Darwin without thinking of Chip from Napoleon Dynamite and I still find that true.
Darwin continues his awesome videoness on Songs For Imaginative People with You Can’t Be My Girl. Directed by Keith Schofield, the basic concept of the video is that it’s the story of a guy who falls in love with a girl, but never let’s her know. She’s finds someone else, marries, has children and a wonderful life whilst Darwin remains forever alone. The twist is that the entire story is told with the least emotional, most corporate imagery possible: Stock footage. And instead of one girl, it’s a hundred girls. And, of course, this stock footage was created to inspire happy moments, not tell a sad story of loneliness.
The video is also a parody of “found footage” (Tumblr videos) where the videos are nothing but an endless series of hipster, or supposedly cool and interesting, imagery. Darwin’s is an endless series of banal, corporate b-roll, re-contextualized into a bizarre (but hilarious) music video.
*Video description courtesy of Lucky Number Music*
Right now, my favorite song on Songs For Imaginative People is All In The Wrist. My cats were a little taken aback but I really liked it. As usual, his lyrics rock and create their very own video in my mind. I don’t hear a catchy pop song on this album like DNA and Constellations were on his previous release but I feel like I hear more of Darwin and a lot more of his guitar work. Chelsea’s Hotel is another good one with “the dimples on her simple face” being my favorite line.
I’m looking forward to Darwin’s show March 20 at the Entry more than any other show this year. And my fondest wish is that someday my daughter appear in a Darwin Deez video
Check out the video for You Can’t Be My Girl here: http://bit.ly/ZJE5Kf
Stream Songs For Imaginative People here: http://bit.ly/WP5cbv
I’ve been asked to do a preview/review of Canadian artist Hayden’s show at the Triple Rock Social Club 3/31 and since Canada’s never steered me wrong I thought, “Why not?” After listening to his new album Us Alone, released 2/5 on Arts & Crafts records, his first release not on his own Hardwood Records, I was glad I followed my instincts. I simply love his music.
I read various other reviews of his music, most notably by Pitchfork, which says much of his music is “leaden, ponderous, drowsy” and also seems a bit down on his songwriting and instrumental skills, and I disagree. If you like this style of music, which I do, Us Alone is a fabulous album which puts me in mind of Mason Jennings and The Pines, two Minnesota acts that I admire tremendously and feel are not only good musicians but also fabulous songwriters.
I find a difference to each song on Us Alone and I like that even though Hayden’s voice is the same on each, which call me stupid but I tend to like, and if I was looking for the vocal range of an American Idol contestant I suppose I would be listening to American Idol and not Hayden. What I mean by a difference on each song is each on the album are each different, each written in a different style.
Also, I tend to gravitate toward songwriters who write good songs. I am not concerned with whether the songs make sense to me or only make the sense I give them, as long as the artist is saying what he or she wants to say I think they have done their job. Shout out to another Minnesota artist, Chris Koza, for teaching me that, although maybe that was not was he was trying to say at the time he said it
Anyway, let’s just end this with I like Hayden and I’m suddenly excited about checking out his show. You may have noticed I have not gone to great lengths to describe his music but if you have listened to any of the artists previously mentioned, you will know exactly what I am talking about. If you have not, shame on you. Give them a listen and expand your musical world!
Oh, one more thing – my favorite song on Us Alone is Blurry Nights, which also features his sister-in-law Lou Canon. In 2010 Hayden produced her debut album, his first time producing another artist, and she is accompanying Hayden on this tour. I’m posting a link to Blurry Nights and I hope you will listen. It is just one more reason to get excited about his show
Last thing, I promise. Hayden bears more than a passing resemblance to George Clooney. Need I say more?
Blurry Nights: http://snd.sc/YcND3d
Tonight’s my first time at The Loft, located in downtown Minneapolis on The Barfly’s 4th floor. I’m here to check out Baauer and so far, I’m a little confused. The Loft is a nice space, size wise, but it’s a little janky. Everything looks old gives off the vibe of a bus station bathroom. However, it does have lots of padded bench seating, a few tables, and a cool chandelier, which would be even cooler if all of the lightbulbs worked. Tonight they’ve got two stages going, which is the confusing part. I like to know what’s going on and so far, I don’t. I have no idea who is on either stage, which might be my fault, although I tried to research the show and I really couldn’t find any information about it. Apparently, it’s one of those events you have to be “in the know” about the artists and unfortunately, I’m not. In fact, I’m here tonight because I DON’T know these artists and I DON’T know this venue and I wanted to expand my horizons a bit so I suppose I should stop bitching I’m just Hoping Baauer isn’t on one of these stages and I don’t even know it… Pretty sure Baauer’s onstage now so let’s see what he’s got. More melody and beats and less techno than I was expecting, which makes me happy. He’s good, not Hood Internet good, at least not yet, but he’s good. Crowd is loving it, I’m especially fond of his sampling of Prince’s “Kiss”. All good musicians know that when in Minneapolis, do as Minneapolisians do, play Prince! This is an 18+ show, which actually adds to the excitement, all these young kids dancing and enjoying themselves, high on Red Bull It’s also helps that this is the last show of the tour, that always makes it more exciting. All in all, a nice show. Baauer is good, chooses his samples well including Beastie Boys and Jimi Hendrex, and the crowd is interesting, for those into people watching. Glad I checked it out.
I was hit up late this afternoon with a request to cover the Big League Tour tomorrow night (Saturday, 2/16/13) at The Loft. Had no clue what the Big League Tour is or who’s in it so I did a little bit of investigating and viola, it’s Baauer and Just Blaze. They’re playing the last night of their tour in Minneapolis and apparently, things have been blowing up in the ‘wake of the shake’.
Check out Baauer’s Harlem Shake here: https://soundcloud.com/baauer/harlem-shake
Look for my review of the show this weekend. Should be interesting, as this is my first exposure to trap and bass music
Hi All, LONG TIME NO SEE! This preview marks my return to music writing after having been away for a bit and oh my, is this ever a fantastic reason to be back
Canadian duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, collectively known as Whitehorse, are playing the Entry Wednesday night, February 13. Not only are Doucet and McClelland bandmates, they are also husband and wife, and both are successful in Canada in their own right. McClelland is known for bringing bloody-knuckled tales of bad apples to life. She often shares the stage with Sarah McLachlan as touring partner and backing vocalist. Victoria Day, Melissa’s latest solo album, cemented her status as an “uncommonly talented” artist in Canada, says national daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Luke Doucet is known for his scorching work on his signature Gretsch White Falcon. As noted in Guitar Player Magazine, “whenever and wherever Luke Doucet hits the stage, he wrestles every last ounce of Neil Young-battles-Brian Setzer twang out of his gleaming cream-and-gold companion.” Doucet’s most recent solo release, Steel City Trawler, attracted four-star reviews across the board, as well as a Juno Nomination.
Individually, they have been recognized with awards and nominations from the Juno Awards, Polaris, Canadian Folk Music and Independent Music Awards. So with two strong solo careers, why Whitehorse? The theme of tempting fate appears again when considering how much the stakes have been raised: “We’re kind of breaking one of the cardinal rules. We’re getting away with murder. This isn’t supposed to work. It’s supposed to end in a hail of bullets and tears,” Doucet has said.
You could call the musical marriage of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland a star-crossed creative partnership. The husband and wife duo behind Whitehorse defies the math of one plus one with their inventive, expansive new album The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss and a live show that beats the band with its chemistry and complexity.
Their new album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, released January 15, 2013 on Six Shooter Records (you know Six Shooter, the record company whose motto is “Life’s too short for shitty music!”) showcases their fusion of blistering guitar work and perfectly matched vocals, as well the expanding range of creative possibility that comes as Whitehorse develops and focuses their sound. From the opening track, the psychedelic-meets-Spaghetti Western scorch of “Achilles’ Desire to the sunset-on-water acoustic sparkler “Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song),” the clever pop of “Out Like A Lion,” and the pulp influenced suspense of “Devil’s Got A Gun,” the album covers impressive ground without compromising its artistic coherence.
The album title comes from a Wonder Woman comic glued to the table in a diner in Vancouver, BC. “We loved the drama of it, and it’s almost taken on this personal meaning: our marriage, our career, our home, the road, everything is wrapped up in one,” McClelland explains. Beyond this, the title also conveys a sense of urgency about the world today, Doucet notes. “It is both romantic and intimate, but at the same time it carries a more foreboding social subtext.”
The songwriting process is collaborative without erasing their individual styles; imaginative narratives bear McClelland’s fingerprint, while the intimate personal stories tend to come from Doucet. “The studio process is fairly organic,” Doucet says. “We pull in one of a handful of drummers we admire and play him some songs until his eyes light up. Then the three of us build a song. Often the main vocals, guitars & drums all go down together. Then we add bass, keys, pedal steel, extra guitars & percussion… banjos if needed. Whatever is lying around the studio is fair game. We’ll bash on anything if we can get a sound from it.”
It’s one thing to show innovative production on a record; it’s another to bring it to the stage. Whitehorse’s live show wrests complex layers of percussion, keyboard and telephone receiver amplification with looping pedals, adding complicated (and risky) elements into their mesmerizing guitar work and smoldering vocal chemistry. “We have a pretty complicated setup on stage,” McClelland says. “We’re looping rhythms. Luke has a kick drum and I have a stomp box, and we have seven guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, tons of percussion. So for a lot of the songs, we’re building pretty complicated loops and playing along to that. We’re building it very organically on stage so anything can happen. It’s gone very wrong, and very right.”
This album brings to mind another one of my absolute favorite duos and also a husband and wife team, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, Australia’s answer to Whitehorse. There’s a subtle understanding between these artists, one not often heard, which allows them to be adventurously safe in the music they make, not with the listener but which each other, each one knowing the other won’t let them down. While Chambers and Nicholson are classified as country, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, I feel that the music that they, as well as Whitehorse, make, is more about bare bones, letting the listener take from it what they will, folk and dare I say “Americana” roots rock? However you classify it, it’s downright awesome and I’m assuming even better live.
I’m really, really hoping to catch their performance Wednesday night, or at least part of it. I could use a good show, it’s been awhile
The Midwest’s own Icky Blossoms plays two shows in Minnesota Thursday, January 24, at Amsterdam Hall in St. Paul and Friday, January 25 at Carleton College. A certain person who will remain unnamed has been after me FOREVER to cover them and finally convinced me to check them out, which I plan to.
By the way, I checked out their Rolling Stone video, which always makes me think WOW! :
In the meantime, here is their super cool totally awesome bio and I hope to see you in St. Paul tomorrow night!
Hailing from America’s center, Omaha-based Icky Blossoms formed in the blizzard of 2011 through friendship, trials and a mutual desire to make art and new music. A brainchild born from the boredom of sitting still. Guitarist and vocalist Derek Pressnall met Icky Blossoms vocalist Sarah Bohling and lead guitarist Nik Fackler in the vibrant Omaha art scene and invited them to play in his band Flowers Forever. Enchanted by endless nights in clubs and inspired with a desire to program dance music with instantaneous grooves and depth, Pressnall, an acclaimed visual artist, and Fackler, a spirit-award nominated filmmaker, combined with Bohling’s mesmerizing voice and formed Icky Blossoms.
Icky Blossoms combine bass-heavy electronic grooves, pop structure, and a rock & roll swagger to pioneer a sound on the audio vanguard: music that is simultaneously avant garde, catchy and danceable. Their music spans from the anthemic to the introverted, chronicling the twists and turns of the human condition. Nodding to great sub-genres of the past, while creating songs firmly propelled into the future. Each band member arrives at the group from distinct musical backgrounds and collectively cite varied influences including contemporary pop, electronic, hip hop, experimental, no wave and world music. When Derek, Sarah, and Nik each input their particular inspirations they create a final product that is not only wholly unexpected, but greater than the sum of its parts.
Icky Blossoms’ sound and explosive live shows caught the attention of Omaha’s distinguished Saddle Creek, which has since signed the trio to release their debut LP. The self-titled album, produced by Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio, is slated for a July 17, 2012 release and features tracks that range from “Perfect Vision,” an experiment based around trunk thumping low end and chainsaw guitars, to “Babes,” which was lauded by Rolling Stone as a “girl-power dance anthem.” Other standout tracks include “Heat Lightning,” with its hypnotic arpeggiated synths, electro pulse and sirenesque vocals; the more raucous “Sex to the Devil,” featuring futuristic synth lines and esoteric lyrics; or “Temporary Freakout,” a classic pop song within an unconventional structure.
With a strong emphasis on DIY, the trio plans to integrate all their artistic abilities into the band, able then to better connect with those who choose to follow their creations or attend their live shows. Imbued with a celebratory atmosphere, their concerts have grown to be conduits for personal expression and individual creativity for everyone in the room. Loud, sweaty and out of control, the edge of their music and personalities combine with the hooks of their pop songs, creating a show which is one side dance party, one side mosh pit.
By brazenly denying to be subservient to a single genre or medium, Icky Blossoms is set to garner the attention of a truly diverse audience and make a lasting impact on music to come.
Let’s talk about Lucy Schwartz. The 22-year-old singer/songwriter is currently on tour and will be here Thursday night, October 25, at Mill City Nights opening for Josh Radin and A Fine Frenzy.
Lucy confuses me a bit. When I listen to her, I hear the mezzo-soprano vocal range of Sarah McLacahlan but on songs of hers such as “Porcelain” they’re accompanied by folksy, indie strings and instrumentation reminiscent of the Avett Brothers. Remember, I’m all about who someone reminds me of, that’s how I identify music, so please don’t get hung up on “But you said she sounds like this!” and remember that the beautiful thing about music is it speaks to each of us individually. As I continued on listening to “Keep Me” it’s a more thoughtful song but performed as if she’s got a crowd with her, identifying with every word.
And then along comes “Ghost In My House” (Data Romance Remix, of course), which has beats that make it sound like it should be played at every dance party, EVER. The beautiful “You Are You Are” with only a piano as accompaniment lets the listener get lost in Lucy’s beautiful vocals, and “When We Were Young” puts me back in the hook-y, popp-y, groov-y, little bit folks-y frame of mind.
But my two favorites?? By far, “Seven Hours” featuring Aqualung and “Darling I Do” with Landon Pigg. In other words, this girl was made to sing WITH people! And have I mentioned that Schwartz is a prolific songwriter? Her song “In The Arms” was featured in September 25′s episode of Parenthood and the aforementioned song “Darling I Do” with Landon Pigg was written and performed for Shrek Forever After. She’s also written songs for Grey’s Anatomy, Army Wives, Twilight, and the Meg Ryan movie The Women, among others.
Check out Lucy’s music here: http://bit.ly/SeJOaC and check her out Thursday night at Mill City Nights – for more information, click here: http://bit.ly/T7Bbe8 But don’t forget, I’ve got a pair of tickets up for grabs! Get ahold of me if you’re interested and I’ll see you there