Friday, December 7, 2012

Electric Shepherd - The Imitation Garden


San Francisco trio Electric Shepherd join the long list of rock trios that once again prove four on the floor isn't always the best way. Listening the great pscychedelic rock these guys produce without knowing anything about their populace, you'd swear by the excellent musicianship that there were far more members and that these guys have been around a long time and witnessed the 70's wave of psych firsthand but further inspection proves that these guys have released one previous album and that they are all still in their twenties.

In the name of research, I checked out their earlier album and heard a heavy Pink Floyd influence although the band didn't sound at all like clones. On "The Imitation Garden" trippy guitar riffs fly at you from the outset of "Totem". Electric Shepherd put a trance over the listener in "The Escapist" and the heavy wah wah guitar that enters the frame only enhances the cosmic spell. The drummer tends towards a more jazzy side rather than traditioanl rock. The beginning of "The Imitation Garden Part I" reminded me of Valkyrie(what's going on with that band these days?) but it's because both bands have similar influences. Electric Shepherd may not be a metal band but both bands have clearly heard more than a little Wishbone Ash (the "Argus" album is the one that really comes to mind)and managed to incorporate it in their own unique sound. "Totem II" has the band in instumental jam mode. A sparseness of sound is used in "Angels In the Grove". The drums sit mostly in the background allowing the lush guitar sound to strongly breeze in through with sung verses coming in and out of the fray. It's unsurprising that a band who choose a name from a sci-fi story have a song entitled "A Mechanical Flower". The song sounds like someone blowing into a large shell with occasional drumbeats and voices inside their head verging on escape. The song leads into the lengthier "Into the Forest, Father/Angels(reprise)". "Heaven Don't Need" opens with a quiet intro then gets slightly jazzy before the dums thud and there's more than a push towards heaviness though eventually the guitar opts out in favour of a hazy trippiness but a head-bobbing rhythm stays throughout the number.

You know how sometimes just slight lyrical similarities can have you thinking of another band? Well, in the case of "Sometimes I About" as there's a lyrical connection to "The House of The Rising of The Sun" with a reference to New Orleans and similar blues guitar and organ to The Animals' cover though there's far more and longer instrumental breaks in this tune.

If it sounds like I'm raving about this album, there's a good reason for it as it's the type of album that reviewers love to get to listen to but unfortunately makes the quality makes it difficult to get other reviews done as it screams out for replaying and on each replaying new discoveries are unearthed. The December 18th release date means "The Imitation Garden". won't show up on many end of year lists but Electric Shepherd definitely make mine as they have managed to make retro psychedelia sound fresh which is no small feat. Oh, yeah by the way, their bio says they're for fans of Cream, Blue Cheer, The Doors, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Dungen and Tame Impala and I'm not going to argue with any of those reference points.


"Imitation Gardens" promo single is free online music available from their bandcamp

Also check out the electric shepherd site which features spinning vinyl.

Like these guys or after more psychedelia? Then check out Buzzmutt.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

PAPER TONGUES : Why we are not on a major label anymore!

Six Picks With: Paper Tongues

Charlotte, NC based 5 piece (7 when on tour) Paper Tongues were not only kind enough to participate in our “Six Picks” feature with us, but all five members submitted their own picks! Topics are across the board from major labels, to skinny jeans, to even why there is not a girl in the band. Their very entertaining submissions can be found below and be sure to pick up Paper Tongues’ new “Crowd Surfing” EP now on iTunes!

“Six Reasons Why We Are Not On A Major Label”

By: Aswan North (Lead Vocals)
1. Major labels don’t sell records anymore. They sell singles, yet they are still offering record deals. It doesn’t make any sense.
2. Majors are not in the development business for rock bands anymore. We believe that the old-fashioned way of A&R is still very important for the development and success of a rock band. Some of the greatest bands that benefited by this style of A&R’ing achieved unbelievable success by their third or fourth album. Example: Kings of Leon, Phoenix, Muse, Wilco, U2, etc. Labels can’t afford to pay for that anymore so we have to do it on our own with the help of great management.
3. A&R staff turnover. Major labels fire their staff in the A&R department about every two years. The staff is always changing so it doesn’t give you enough time with a unified team to get a product out. Just when you are about to accomplish something at a label with your team you have to start over with strangers. This is still art, it is not just business. You need someone who believes in the art, and not someone who is working for a paycheck.
4. The attention span at a major label doesn’t really exist for one act until a kind of money comes from that act. It would be better for a band to be signed to an NBA basketball team where the organization spends a ton of money upfront, which gives the staff a huge incentive to give attention and tons of focus to the new development of the player, insuring great success in due time.
5. We believe that the major label roll in the band’s life has been replaced by management rolls, making it unnecessary to give away most of the business up front. It is actually more advantageous to hold on to the masters and copyrights to have longevity in the business.
6. Most importantly, we want to be part of a new era. We have a pioneer spirit about our band so we want to be a part of the development process and the new existence that rock bands are forced to live with in the music industry…which is really just a glorified excuse that allows us to really enjoy making and playing music.

“Six Things I Can’t Handle On Tour”

By: Devin Forbes (Guitar)
1. Anybody spraying massive amounts of cologne in the tiny sleeping quarters on the bus. I’m for cologne, but its not healthy to breathe it in.
2. Having no private space or alone time. It is hard to read a book when someone’s cooking an egg on your right and playing NBA Live on your left.
3. Not showering for a week. A lot of venues don’t have a shower, and since we sleep on the bus, we don’t get hotels often. It can get kind of dirty.
4. Being away from family and friends. It is fun seeing new places and meeting new people, but it is hard not being able to be around and invest in the people you love.
5. Sleeping in a coffin. The bunks in the bus are just too short for me to stretch out and there is really no clearance, so if you wake up startled, it is likely you’ll slam your forehead against the roof. Also, the mattresses are made out of cardboard and they rest on plywood, or at least it feels that way.
6. Inconsistent schedule. I’m a morning person and a routine man. I like waking up, making my coffee and eggs and getting my day going right. Tour life doesn’t really afford those luxuries. You go to bed super late and sleep late because you’re usually still on the road when you wake up.
All these considered though, it is a small sacrifice to make to do what I love every day of my life.

“Six Reasons Why There Is No Girl In The Band”

By: Joey Signa (Guitar)
1. Drama. We don’t need to have to worry about if maybe one time we accidentally gave her a mean look, when in reality our brains were in Never Never Land and our eyes were turned off.
2. Smells. Too many smells happen.
3. Boyfriends. Leave your boy problems at home.
4. Lost. She is always gonna get lost and trying to find her may not be worth it…
5. Weak. What can she carry? Her own cables…maybe??
6. Dirty. We don’t always have the luxury of a shower and we have to be OK with that.

“Six Things About The Pants

That I Choose To Wear On Tour”

By: Danny Santell (Bass)
1. First things first. I don’t own a pair of loose fitting jeans or pants. Out of the 13 pairs of pants that I own, they are all skinny jeans. It is a known fact that skinny jeans make you look a bit taller.
2. My secret to finding unique looking jeans and printed pants is actually going through every women’s section in Target, thrift stores and Forever 21. Plus It awesome to see how many brands can knock off Versace prints on their pants and t-shirts.
3. My last pair off of pants I wore had a leopard print pattern on them. A lot of chicks were digging them live and on Facebook. A true fact was that I had a big ripped hole at the bottom of the crotch of those pants and I still wore them to the airport and show. I didn’t care. I guess if artists like Prince can wear the outfits he wears and bag all the dope chicks, well I wouldn’t mind that at all either.

4. The fourth reason why I like to only own 13 pairs of skinny jeans is because 14 is way too much. 13 has a nice rotation throughout the year of touring. ;)
5. My preferred pant to wear at a live show would be the “Energy” solid black jeans I got tailored from our “Ride to California” video shoot. I feel like you can wear any shoe to match those, plus they were given to me for free, and the only thing better then free stuff are hot chicks.
6. The last reason why I spent this whole time talking about my pants is because my outfits can be a way of expression to who i am. It doesn’t make you gay or a freak to wear what you want to wear. I learned that from Gwen Stefani. Only you can be you and express yourself, and the rest will follow.

“My Six Favorite Things About Playing Gigs”

By: Luke Anderson (Drums)
1. New Cities.
2. Meeting bands and snagging numbers.
3. My energetic self is fitting.
4. Meeting amazing people – that all give you a side hug while talking photos with you!
5. The nervousness/anxiety – talk about a rush!
6. Looking forward to the next gig!
Fronted by the southern local Aswan North, this Charlotte, NC based band has crafted their own brand of rock music, uniting their diverse influences into a cohesive sound that’s been resonating with fans nationwide. After having charted on Billboard’s top 40 for Alternative Rock with 3 of their singles (Ride To California, Trinity, and Get Higher), and having landed a #1 spot on Billboards ‘Heat Seekers’ chart in 2010, Paper Tongues looks forward to building on the successes of their debut album with their new release, the “Crowd Surfing” EP.
(Click image above to purchase)
For more information on Paper Tongues please visit:
Facebook / Official Website / Instagram / iTunes / Tumblr / YouTube / Twitter /

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Electric Shepherd CD REVIEW


After checking over my last dozen or so reviews of up-and-coming indie bands, I've noticed a theme. I keep mentioning time machines, more or less, and how most of these young musicians focus on a specific year of rock as an artistic model. It's like all those 21st century teens walking around in Led Zep tees; rock and roll has folded back on itself and all innovation comes from borrowing liberally from the past and hopefully coming up with something distinctive. Once you've picked 1966 or 1971 or 1978, then it's all just a matter of whether you include The Wink. You know, The Wink is that subtle hint that tells your audience that you know it's 2012--usually conveyed through some modern studio trick such as a digital sample--just so you're adding something new to the musical history archives. But is The Wink actually The Flaw? Shouldn't you just commit to the idea that you're retro, and not come up with ways to distance yourself from your obvious influences?

Some bands avoid The Wink better than others, usually by making a particular recording sound like it was accidentally found in the vaults after several decades of obscurity. I don't think I've heard anyone pull off this trick better than Electric Shepherd. On their new album, The Imitation Garden, this psychedelic jam trio from San Francisco has emerged from their chosen time warp so remarkably intact that you'll think this is one of those '60s garage band reissues from Sundazed Records. You can almost smell the oil stains on the concrete. Do you like spacy vocals dripping in reverb, or dramatic cymbal crescendos that frame the sort of lyrical flourishes that bands like Can and The Doors used as signature touches? Well, settle into your beanbag chairs, cuz Electric Shepherd just pulled into the driveway.

I suppose if The Wink exists in The Imitation Garden, it's that Electric Shepherd's music isn't nearly as drugged out as it sounds. It's full of innovation and intelligence. The jams are challenging and metamorphic, drawing from all those decades of sound and cherry-picking those ideas that seem unexpected and yet logical. Sonny Pearce's drumming, in particular, sounds like Nick Mason after a hundred weekends of drum circles in some Hashbury park. While Mark Nelsen's vocals are borrowed from the first chapter of the Blues-Rock Singer's Primer, his guitar sounds are many--he might be one of those collectors with a room full of heavily-played Rickenbackers. Tommy Anderson's bass, reticent and supportive, is as steady as it is fuzzy.

That description sounds like at least five or six new bands I've heard this year, but what sets Electric Shepherd apart is that they are complete submerged in their musical ideas, as opposed to merely using those sounds as a strategy for defining a specific genre. In other words, these guys aren't saying "Listen to us...don't we sound like one of those cool bands your parents listened to in the '70s?" It's more like, well, these three guys started jamming together and this is the music that flowed from their fingers. While it's certainly informed by '70s blues rock and psychedelia, there is no winking in this music--just playing. While their name is an allusion to Philip K. Dick, not Kurt Vonnegut, Electric Shepherd is as unstuck in time as Kilgore Trout.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Love Dimension is an ever expanding sacred psychedelic music group from San Francisco

The Love Dimension - Forget The Remember (CD, Warrior Monk, Pop)
To quote directly from the band's web site: "The Love Dimension is an ever expanding sacred psychedelic music group from San Francisco (Originally from the lost city of Atlantis) that creates sonic architecture for the benefit of all sentient beings across the multi-verse. The Love Dimension is currently using their musical sound waves to open up hearts and spread the vibration of love on Planet Earth to assist in the quantum shift of the collective consciousness of humanity." Right about now you may be thinking you're in another decade...or century...but fear not, the year is still 2012. But the folks in The Love Dimension are bringing back ideals and values that will definitely remind folks of the progressive 1960s when it was all about peace and love. That said, this band's songs are more current and lighthearted than you might guess. The tracks on Forget The Remember are more pop than rock...and more about moving feet than moving mountains. Pretty cool sounding stuff here. Our favorite cuts include "True Love Comes 'Round Again," "Where Do We Go?", "Tierra Nueva," and "Outer Space."

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Love Dimension (Warrior Monk)



The musical movement that produced such Bay Area bands of consequence as Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, the Charlatans, the Beau Brummels, Harpers Bizarre, the Youngbloods, Count Five, the Syndicate Of Sound, the Great Society, the Grateful Dead, the Sopwith Camel, Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape and others of similar intent all had a common thread that stood in striking contrast to developments in rock music elsewhere. Aside from the distinctive “tin roof with sound baffles” sonic quality that frequently characterized the production values of their recordings, many of these bands encouragingly professed a healthy regard for the most diverse of musical pioneers. Conversely, a number of their counterparts elsewhere seemed paradoxically determined to eschew creative autonomy and instead pander to the lowest common denominator via the fa├žade of self-indulgence.

Taking their cue from the aforementioned healthy perspective (as did the equally charismatic Elvis Perkins In Dearland in recent years) is the Love Dimension (Jimmy L. Diaz - lead vocals, guitar; Celeste Obomsawin - vocals, percussion; Devin Farney - keyboards; Nick Marcantonio - bass; Jesse Olswang - drums). In their forthcoming Forget The Remember album (recorded from August through December 2011 and scheduled for 20 November 2012 release), the ambitious and inspiring San Francisco-based quintet showcases eleven originals that draw from the most diverse of inspirations, from psychedelia (the aptly titled, upbeat Bound To The Sound) to classic country (Hold On Or Let Go?).

Encouragingly (and perhaps in part commensurate with their individual circumstances), the Love Dimension does not hesitate to defer to the like minded accomplishments of others. Witness the relentless optimism of Down The 101, a fascinating hybrid of the dynamic tension of the Last’s L.A. Explosion (Backlash BLS003) and the Underdogs’ Surprise, Surprise (Hideout 1011). In turn, the high drama of Uma Coisa Linda takes its cue from the vacillating tempos of Grand Funk Railroad’s Anybody’s Answer (from their On Time album on Capitol ST-307), with the results acknowledging solidarity with the aforementioned Bay Area pioneers, if not sympathy. The straight ahead garage rock exuberance of Live Divine adequately underscores the point.

While of course geography is only at best of peripheral concern in terms of assessing the aesthetic merits of a given work, suffice to say that the Love Dimension has followed their instincts and has produced a highly original album that has been inspired by the high standards of those who have preceded them. While they may indeed be Bound To The Sound, it is indeed reassuring to realize that theirs is a mission statement with (in their own words) A Human Heart.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Imaginary Interview: Sophie Barker


Sophie Barker is a wonderful secret among the music community. Although she has managed to remain just below the radar of renown, she has been releasing music since 1996, both as a solo artist and in the form of collaborations, the most prominent of which has been with downtempo group Zero 7. The British songwriter released Seagull last year, a reflective collection of songs that she is extremely pleased with. Sophie is also just about to embark on a West coast tour of the United States and she will be making a stop in Seattle this Saturday, November 3rd, at the High Dive. We had the chance to check in with her and she provided some insights on her rich recording history and personal endeavors.

Your newest record, Seagull, is more intimate than previous recordings. Was there a conscious effort to approach creating and recording the album differently than previously employed?
Genuinely, I allow every thought to flow -- my creative ideas just seem to happen in the moment and reflect what I am feeling at the time, and more often than not, they seem to reflect what is happening around me. Seagull came about a feeling of change in what was happening or rather not happening in the world around me. I felt that nothing was connecting and I was looking at the world from the outside in and when the recession hit, it was almost like a veil of vanity and greed had been lifted allowing human beings to have an opportunity to begin properly communicating beyond their veneer, forcing us to become more conscious or aware of other circumstances around us. I also luckily met the right people to produce the album, Alex Pilkington and Mark Tucker, who understood my emotional and musical sensitivity.

Seagull took about five years to come together from when the first songs were written in 2006. Was this an album that morphed over time from its original intention or did it just take time for the tracks to meld together in a cohesive collection?
The reason it took five years is because I couldn't find the right team to produce the sound that I wanted. I went through so many changing musical outfits and all of them were nearly, but not quite -- I nearly let the album go and then I just let go and had the faith that I would know when the right people would come along -- I knew that this album was instrumental in how I would move forward musically and suddenly I found the musical match in heaven.

How has your songwriting process evolved over time? Did your involvement with Zero 7 or others have an impact on how you approach writing songs or is the process completely separate when you work on your solo material?
The only thing that I have learnt about myself is that it is either there or not, so the way I respond to music and life is experiential hence live -- all the songs I have ever written in my life have always come through me and if it takes too much time or is a painful process then it isn't right -- I have not changed, but through time have learnt to be more confident with my immediate feeling towards whatever experience is coming towards me as everything that you respond to is a relationship in itself, whether it be writing a song or the way you make a cup of tea- be present in everything you do!

You will be performing in Seattle on Saturday evening, November 3rd. Will this be a solo acoustic show or will you have a band with you? What format can the audience expect and will there be any surprises?
This time, we will be full band and they are amazing -- I can't wait to show them to the world and how much of a privilege it is to have these incredible human beings, who happen to be extraordinary musicians, support me on my musical journey -- and there may well be a few surprises....

Do you have any plans to work with Zero 7 again in the future?
I am always open to work with people who I have had a fantastic experience with.

Your recent cover of "A Forest" by The Cure is an interesting take on the song. Where the original version is stark, vulnerable and desperate, your rendition offers a more skeptical female perspective. How did this come together? Was it a song that you always wanted to cover or did it happen spontaneously?
I have always loved this song and what I adore about it is that it is such a good song and something that I couldn't have written myself, but as a performer it represented in me something that I wanted to explore -- I felt that I could translate it as a woman as I feel in many ways Robert Smith is genderless in the way he writes, which is a gift -- allowing me not only to sing a song that I think is incredible, but that I can make my own interpretation of it without taking anything away from the original.

You have collaborated with many artists in the past. In addition to Zero 7, you have worked with Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and Groove Armada. Do you have any other collaborations in the works? Is there anyone in particular whom you would like to work with in the future?
I have been lucky to work with such incredible people, but I do feel that we choose a lot of our path or at least have a choice of what we gravitate towards -- we are given many opportunities to move forward despite our personal experiences which can be very painful and if we have the courage to go through the pain barrier then life rewards you in the most extraordinary way. I would love to work with Peter Gabriel and Damon Alban and hopefully one day I will.

You visited Kenya this past summer to raise money for the Rainbow Collections Children's Fund (RCCF) in order to rebuild a school in great disrepair. How did you become involved in the project and how was did the experience impact you? How can out readers contribute?
I have a collection of music for children that I re-created with my dear friend Kevin Kerrigan -- nursery rhymes and lullabies -- we had lots of friends with kids and all the CD's were terribly produced, yet the songs were beautiful and historical so we wanted to make a more honest collection with a few musical twists and through this project we then thought of doing an international collection -- recording children lullabies and stories from around the world, reflecting the language that we could then musically surround making it easier for children to listen to other languages and music. We were given an opportunity to do an album with an incredible school in East Africa -- we made the album -- 20 hours of music edited in the most honest way into 30 minutes and the school was falling down- that propelled me into building a foundation and a fundraiser to raise money for this school in April 2009 -- we raised over £30,000 and I have just been there in August 2012, and the Nursery, school educative centre is nearly finished. It has taken a while, but has been the most amazing experience seeing something grow from an idea and through passion and determination complete itself in the most pure way. This is how I see my album Seagull.

(To donate to the Children’s Fund): We no longer have a direct donation place unless they buy the Rainbow Collections albums on Amazon.

Sophie Barker and her band will be performing at The High Dive in Fremont on Saturday evening, along with Kimo Muraki & Tiny Messengers and Henry at War.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Winter Sounds' Runner on CD


Nostalgic trends usually take about two decades to bloom. In the '70s we became obsessed with the '50s (Happy Days, Sha-Na-Na), in the '80s we started waxing rhapsodic about the flower children and in the '90s we started making jokes about the downright goofy excesses of the '70s. At the end of the century we started putting the '80s on a pedestal--or under a microscope, depending on your sense of irony--especially in the world of music. Bands from every genre seemingly re-discovered synthesizers and drum machines; the sampling techniques that were employed were merely subtle winks to the audience that we were still in the 21st century, but twenty-year-old music is just as cool as ever. So let's all nod knowingly in unison.

It's seems like I've said all this before. So many alternative bands these days are defined by the dates they type into their time machines, and over the last year I've heard the resurrections of everyone from The Ventures to Kiss to the Smiths. The Winter Sounds--a quintet that alternately claims New Orleans, Nashville and Athens, Georgia as its home--has pulled off an interesting time travel twist in its new CD, Runner. They've ventured into that gray area of nostalgic tribute that comes when enough time hasn't passed for homages to become obvious. Think about that we're in the 2010s, what are we going to start saying about the '90s? Will we start growing goatees (I haven't shaved mine since 1995) and start wearing flannel and knit caps (I can't wait since I found both incredibly comfy)?

I remember 1990, and how all the alternative genres started to merge and everything felt simultaneously cool and possible. A band could blend punk, metal and synth-pop and still sound fresh, and the Manchester Sound was absolute theft, albeit a swashbuckling one. The Winter Sounds still holds onto the late '80s with its earnest anthems filled with synthesizers and electronic drums, but it can also borrow from the fullness and honesty of the early '90s, stripped back and returning to the rock and roll basics that would lead to bands as good as Blur and as bad as Oasis. Throw in an equal measure of Anglo-folk from The Waterboys and maybe Big Country--lead singer Patrick Keenan will remind you of a half-dozen British singers from the '80s--and your time machine is set and ready for adventure.

Where this band winks to the audience is in its decidedly modern production (executed brilliantly by Scott Solter, who has worked with Spoon, St. Vincent and Okkervil River, all personal favorites), and its willingness to shift suddenly out of a song for a sudden lyrical tangent. The Winter Sounds is an exceptionally ambitious band, and exceptionally well-oiled as well since they boast about the 500 shows they've performed in the last five years. It's a trademark of these times that a new band like this can sound so accomplished in its beginnings, something bands weren't generally doing in the '80s and '90s. It will be fascinating to see what the Winter Sounds will do next.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Love Dimension's Forget the Remember on CD


I gotta admit that on most days, the idea of a psychedelic blues garage band from San Francisco sounds like a great idea. The Love Dimension, with its heavy helpings of reverb-saturated vocals and farfisa organs and a plethora of other fifty-year-old artifacts, easily meets this challenge on their new CD, Forget the Remember. Not only does Celeste Obamsawim effectively channel Grace Slick without the arrogant attitude (she relies heavily upon her Native American heritage to add another layer of mysticism), but the entire band commits to the idea that you can still sound like you're playing rock and roll in a small club in the Mission District circa 1966 without winking gratuitously to contemporary kids.

When's the last time you heard a recorder solo in a rock song, as you do here in "Uma Coisa Linda"? When's the last time you heard a lead singer such as frontman Jimmy Dias ask where do we go? and sound so ruthlessly sincere and eager for an answer, ostensibly from someone older and wiser? When's the last time you heard the admonishment, "You gotta live your life" (from "Live Divine") and you thought yeah, you do have to live your life! In these respects, the Love Dimension has done its homework. They get all of these lyrical details down, the wide-eyed-wonder t-boned by a growing sense of cynicism in troubled times. The superficial gee-whiz moments are thrillingly undercut by a sense of liberated sensibilities, which goes some way in explaining the band's fondness for such influences as Johnny Cash and the Velvet Underground--two acts that had to stand outside the mainstream to capture a loyal and more appreciative audience.

I may be overstating The Love Dimension's intent; first and foremost Forget the Remember is, superficially, a fun listen. I hear a lot of modern musicians who can capture that magic '60s garage band sound without too much effort--although I do have to admit that the grungy sound quality of Forget the Remember takes this commitment to quite another level--but if The Love Dimension's success here seems cautiously calculated, it's only because they're crafting something very specific here. It's one thing to sound like a '60s garage band, and another thing to pay homage to '60s garage bands (a la B-52s) while being slightly sardonic about it. What we have here is a group that sounds like a '60s garage band who just cut its sixth or seventh studio album and suddenly wants to grow and evolve into something more complex. That's not an easy trick to pull off, which is why The Love Dimension deserves some attention.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

CD REVIEW: The Love Dimension - Forget The Remember

The Love Dimension - Forget The Remember (CD, Warrior Monk, Pop)
To quote directly from the band's web site: "The Love Dimension is an ever expanding sacred psychedelic music group from San Francisco (Originally from the lost city of Atlantis) that creates sonic architecture for the benefit of all sentient beings across the multi-verse. The Love Dimension is currently using their musical sound waves to open up hearts and spread the vibration of love on Planet Earth to assist in the quantum shift of the collective consciousness of humanity." Right about now you may be thinking you're in another decade...or century...but fear not, the year is still 2012. But the folks in The Love Dimension are bringing back ideals and values that will definitely remind folks of the progressive 1960s when it was all about peace and love. That said, this band's songs are more current and lighthearted than you might guess. The tracks on Forget The Remember are more pop than rock...and more about moving feet than moving mountains. Pretty cool sounding stuff here. Our favorite cuts include "True Love Comes 'Round Again," "Where Do We Go?", "Tierra Nueva," and "Outer Space."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

REVIEW: The Winter Sounds – ‘Runner’


With a huge archive of music in my head nowadays, a song/band has to change my life a little bit for me to look into them. Get some headphones. Listen to The Winter Sounds’ latest musical journey – Runner – with me. Now, please.
Beatufitully bright synths swell to the incessent rhythm of a steady drum beat. The melodies seem to unfold before your very eyes and each chorus feels fully-developed. Gang vocals in the chorus really give it energy and a delicate strength. They remind me of a band that no one knows(but everyone should) called Nightmare of You. They’ve developed a similar style with their theatrical indie rock. Unexpectedly, during a full breakdown you hear an organic sound; a piano. Then it’s time to blast off into space again for another glorious chorus. As far as openers go this is an extremely epic and polished entrance to Runner for TWS.
“Devils” hits you hard right away with jarring synthesized band hits. Nothing sounds washed out, but every fraction finds it’s own frequency to shine. They have this worldly feel to their music that displays quite an ecclectic blend of global influences. They manage to build from something so simple into a controlled chaos consisting of the marriage between non-chalant vocals and thick instrumentation. There’s an undeniable Robert Smith aspect to their singer, who I’m guessing is Patrick Keenan(only one random site lists him as a “singer-songwriter” so I thought it was safe to say).
Was that moment awkward? Anywho. Track three, “Run From The Wicked” tones down the intensity, but keeps the rhythm up nicely. If Two Door Cinema Club was a little harder, I’d expect something dance-y like this track. I’m really enjoying the drums actually. This song displays a different genre of rhythm in each part of the song: the intro started with an indie rock anthem, transforming seamlessly into a four-on-the-floor dance beat, which then drops momentarily into an emo-esque breakdown. Turning the intensity knob slightly down again, TWS delivers another toe-tapping anthem fit for a scene from your favorite 80’s movie. “Old Man Old Woman” helps you sink just a little deeper into your chair with delicate use of reverb that is never to the detriment of the vocals. It’s only track four and I’ve already been on such a journey.
Hello synths. “Bird on Fire” delivers this empowering and speedy riff backed by an unrelenting rhythm section – the bass is killing it. This is almost like a Cure song on speed. The violins riding alongside the synth sounds makes for a great team. This feels so fresh to me. Even the vocals have an overdrive to them that separates this from the others on the album. All of a sudden, we’re into “Shoulders Above” which sounds like a cover of a Dookie b-side. The chorus sounds so Greenday it’s crazy. Another great break and build brings you into an epic outro. The switch to a more organic sound makes this track a standout favorite of mine.
Experimenting more, “Young Love” strays further. With their Wombats-esque sound displayed here, they deliver more of a straight up indie rock tune…oh, but with a gang of violins. Did I forget to mention the mob of stringed instruments? And our first real deep breath comes with “Don’t Change At All.” Despite a pretty loud chorus, the rest of the song acheives a pretty relaxed feel. Bringing the strings to the front somehow bring out a folky/country dance track.
The country-infused “Everything Comes Home To Die” is almost too upbeat and danceable for the meaning of the song. “I can’t stay here another hour. Who wants a nightmare?” That’s a Saves The Day move I know well. I’m loving the instrumental break, hitting a pop-punk-infused breakdown for the bridge. Back to what they do best, “You Had a Bad Dream” displays there unique genre-blending with a jarring transition into the jaunty piano rock chorus that’s actually pretty fun and catchy. This is also a great track to show how well the string production is on this album. Sometimes just a single line, and sometimes a large wall of violins, they lift these songs up pretty high above a typical rock sound.
Gradually bringing the tempo of the album down, “Robots Marching” is well-received but the most generic sounding. While I appreciate the slower song, this might be the weakest track on the record thus far; but, at just(barely) over two minutes, it was an appropriate rest for my toes tapping in my chucks.
An instrumental interlude will bring you back to a engaging pace, starting with a simple dance beat is met with a lovely synth line. “Carousel” is just as easy-going as a couple of the previous tracks, but there’s an intensity that makes you move around. It’s the softness a la Passion Pit that they’re achieving with this tune. This is a great callback to some of what I loved about their sound, as they draw out each instrumental part nicely. This is the final track as well, and it’s a pretty lovey-dovey ending for Runner.
I can’t wait to listen to this album again. I had it playing while I was proofreading this review, and while I was emailing it to my editor…and once more after that. I’ll probably be listening to it well into the evening. I’m excited to look into more from The Winter Sound, and you can too here:
  1. The Sun Also Rises
  2. Devils
  3. Run From The Wicked
  4. Old Man Old Woman
  5. Bird on Fire
  6. Shoulders Above
  7. Young Love
  8. Don’t Change At All
  9. Everything Wounded Comes Home to Die
  10. You Had a Bad Dream
  11. Robots Marching
  12. Carousel

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Whole Bunch of New Portland Music Videos



Lots of local music videos to watch! Here's a new batch of clips from assorted Portland bands, and these run the gamut. Get ready for some streamin' vid.

First up, here's the new and lovely video from Forest Park, for their 10-minute epic "Golden," off their self-titled EP released earlier this year. Directed by Jarratt Taylor, it's about a lengthy journey the band takes—starting each on their own and then coming together—and follows its own undeniable dream logic, resulting in something that's pretty captivating. (For the record, Forest Park has not broken up, despite some recent rumors I'd heard.)
Lots more apres le jump! Zut!

Now here's a live performance clip from Tu Fawning, who I post about all the time here, I know, but they are great and everything they do is worth checking out. This here's a stripped-down, spooky acoustic take of "Blood Stain," one of the countless highlights on their incredible A Monument album. Shot in a bar in Berlin, the band suggests keeping an eye out for the "mildy annoyed construction workers in the background."

Here's another live performance clip, this one from local folksinger Jeffrey Martin, who's accompanied by Anna Tivel for an affecting run-through of the song "Angeline." The clip was shot by Keaten Abbott, who also shot the video for the Shivas' "Gun in My Pocket." This one's pretty straightforward, without any tricks—showing that sometimes all you need is the right performance of the right song at the right time.

And here's a short film called The Audition, which also serves as the de facto music video for Kim Baxter's "Devil on My Side." Baxter is a member of All Girl Summer Fun Band, and recently released her solo album The Tale of Me and You. Shot at Type Foundry studio in evocative black and white, the clip (directed by Chris Flanagan) riffs on the Italian films of the late '50s and '60s.

Lastly, here's the latest video from Rags + Ribbons, and they wanted to incorporate ecoroofs into their video instead of shooting a straight performance clip. The video was made with Perception Northwest's Brynden McNew and ecoroof expert Amy Chomowicz, and was shot at the warehouse of Gunderson, Inc., a manufacturer of flatbed railcars who also have an ecoroof on top of their industrial facility. This video should do for ecoroofs what "Thriller" did for dancing zombies.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

THE LOVE DIMENSION : "Forget the Remember"


The Love Dimension is a psychedelic blues garage music group from San Francisco displaying an amazingly eclectic mix of music's past and future. Think: Spacemen 3, Jefferson Airplane, Spiritualized, Primal Scream, X, Blues Magoos, Ultimate Spinach, 13th Floor Elevators, The Youngbloods, The Byrds, The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, BRMC, Shocking Blue......

The Love Dimension is currently using their musical sound waves to open up hearts and spread the vibration of love on Planet Earth to assist in the quantum shift of the collective consciousness of humanity. Shining light through the spectrum of love and the inner journey, The Love Dimension successfully rocks the audience out of their minds and into their hearts.

NEW ALBUM "FORGET THE REMEMBER" will be released on NOV 20th on WARRIOR MONK Records. Make sure to go out and buy it, won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Memorials: Duo set to bring psychedelic soul to the amphitheater


Erinn Grotefend
On Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. Becker Amphitheater will host The Memorials, a band with a genre that is unlike any other that has performed at Cal State Fullerton this semester.
The progressive rock, psychedelic soul and fusion band consists of Viveca Hawkins (vocals) and Thomas Pridgen (drums), who formed the band in November 2009.

“We are walking memorials,” said Hawkins. “Living breathing monuments to a sound that might be forgotten or a sound to be remembered.”

Before Pridgen formed The Memorials, he was a part of the rock band, The Mars Volta. His eagerness to express himself to his fullest extent led him to form his own band.
“I don’t know what void I was trying to fill in music,” said Pridgen. “I think the music filled up a void me.”

The Memorials released their latest album, Delirium, on June 5 this year. Hawkins described the record as polished and more refined.

“This record inside and out, visually, musically and lyrically shows that we are weird,” Hawkins said. “We are trained and able to play a variety of styles.”

Hawkins writes the lyrics for the songs using life as her inspiration.

The band’s first album, The Memorials, was released on Feb. 14. Hawkins said the first record was rushed and she was pressed for time to write lyrics.

“I had never made this type of music before so I was just popping songs out with no vision or desire for cohesion,” Hawkins said. “This time we really tried to make sure that we put a little more order in all of it.”

According to Hawkins, Delirium has a dream, nightmare and insomnia theme. With songs like “Dream,” “Delirium” and “Gone” the theme is twisted throughout the album.

Hawkins’ mother, who sings gospel and jazz, influenced her when she was a little girl. The lead singer would attend class with her mother who was studying for her associates’ degree in music.
“I don’t try to emulate other artists. My voice alone sets me apart,” Hawkins said.

Towards the end of October, The Memorials will tour throughout Europe including Germany, France and Portugal. This is the first European tour for the band.

“We feel like it’s going to be a blast,” Pridgen said. “We’re so stoked to be able to play in places people dream of going.”

For now, the band is going to take their time and tour. Beginning in January and February, The Memorials will get back into the studio and start recording.

In addition to attending the Wednesday concert at the Becker, listeners can find The Memorials on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, September 24, 2012



Leave it to an overseas tour with EDM artists to change everything for The Memorials drummer Thomas Pridgen. “I was tripped out because people would start dancing before the music starts,” he remembers, “here… I don’t know anything dude. I guess when I got to that point it just kinda got weird.”
Weird? Sure, but also inspiring. The experience helped Pridgen come to an epiphany. “I think now music is starting to be at a point where as much as you think you know, you really don’t know shit, so I’m like, I don’t know shit anymore, so fuck it, let’s play around, let’s just do whatever we want, let’s go to places that people don’t ever go to, because I don’t really know anything. I’m just now going into a complete experimental mode where I feel like let’s just try it. Let’s try it, and if it fails, it fucking fails miserably, but let’s just try it.”
It was with that ideology that Pridgen, and singer Viveca Hawkins, went to work on Delirium, The Memorials sophomore album that was released this spring. “We mixed stuff up with the first record (The Memorials), but not as drastically,” Pridgen explains. “I thought it was cool to be able to fuck with the listener, and be like oh you think we’re gonna go here, but we’re gonna go HERE.” Even with a fairly radical take on experimentalism, there were a few things Pridgen wanted to make sure happened on Delirium. “For me it was the sound, and the arrangements, and being able to hear Viv.” He continued, adding “let’s show Viv can sing jazz. Let’s show I can play drum and bass. I’m just showcasing all our talents.”
According to Pridgen, The Memorials still have a long road ahead of them. He feels, as a Black duo in rock music, they’re going to have to put in extra effort. That being said, Pridgen is actually excited at that prospect, saying “I’m down for it. It’s feeling like now, fuck it dude, let’s just go in, because we don’t have anybody to say no to us and I think that’s what Jimi (Hendrix) was about. I think Jimi was working harder than all those motherfuckers. Everybody else would sit there and play their gig, he would come out there and he would thrash the gig. If you look at James Brown, if you look at everybody that was Black who had any kind of influence, they had to work their fuckin ass off to get the notoriety.”
Pridgen, who graduated from the Berklee College of Music at the age of 15, and was the drummer for The Mars Volta from 2007-2009, says, point blank, “people will notice after a while that we’re working our asses off.”
Currently, The Memorials’ hard work has them on a US tour through September 20th, and after that they’ll be headed to Europe until the end of the fall. By the time they come back, The Memorials may be a household name for rock fans.

The Memorials

By Adam Bernard

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Teaming up with Gunderson Inc. in Portland, OR to provide the backdrop for their gorgeous new video, Rags & Ribbons tell a masterful story for their single "Moving On." Set against the manically twisted and rusted world of railroad ties and steel rails, the group dresses the part and roughs it with the regular crew, turning the already powerful and drifting "Moving On" into nothing short of an epic tale. Watch as the group works to save a mysterious plant in this incredibly well crafted video, a feast for both eye and ear.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

China asks Corvallis businessman to remove pro-Tibet mural

Reported by: The Associated Press

 The Chinese government is trying to pressure the mayor of Corvallis to order that a businessman remove a mural advocating independence for Tibet and Taiwan. Sept. 11, 2012. ( By Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press writer SALEM, Ore. (AP) —

 The Chinese government is trying to pressure the mayor of an Oregon college town to order that a businessman remove a mural advocating independence for Tibet and Taiwan. Two consular officials flew in from San Francisco earlier this month in an unsuccessful bid to persuade Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning to find a way to have the mural removed.

The Chinese consulate earlier sent a letter saying the mural "has caused strong resentment from the local Chinese community." The mayor says the art is protected speech under the First Amendment and she has no authority to order its removal.

Local businessman David Lin, an immigrant from Taiwan, installed the mural earlier this year and says he won't take it down.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Memorials to bring music fusion to Columbus

Courtesy of The Memorials
The Memorials is scheduled to perform Sept. 11 at Skully’s Music-Diner.
Sometimes a band’s sound is so unusual and new that people in the industry have a difficult time placing it into a genre. And for at least one band, it likes it that way.

The Memorials is scheduled to play Tuesday at Skully’s Music-Diner as part of its Water Guns, Bar B.Q., and Hot Chocolate Tour. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

“It’s a fusion project, juggling up everything, said drummer Thomas Pridgen. “I don’t know if we can name it (the sound) and I don’t know if we really want it named. I think it’s cool that people can’t put their finger on what it is.”

Interlaced in the fusion are genres such as afrobeat, progressive rock, R&B, jazz, soul and hard rock.
The Memorials formed in late 2009 after Pridgen ended a nearly three-year run with the Latin-infused progressive rock band The Mars Volta, which won a Grammy in 2009 for Best Hard Rock Performance for its song “Wax Simulacra.”

The Memorials’ tour name, Water Guns, Bar B.Q., and Hot Chocolate Tour, is a playful tribute to daily occurrences in the lives of the band members and the cities where the band is slated to perform, Pridgen said.
“We were just thinking of all the stuff we like to do, things we would do on tour. I like to drink hot chocolate and we’re going to all these places that have awesome barbecue,” Pridgen said.

Although Pridgen and Viveca Hawkins, the vocals of the outfit, had fun naming the tour, the duo is all business when working.

“When you start a band, you’re starting a business. It’s hard work, it’s expensive, it’s stressful. You’ve got to deal with a lot of people’s emotions and a lot of people’s opinions, and for me it’s about (getting) to tell all those quitters to eat s--- when I go to accept my Grammys,” Hawkins said.

Pridgen, who was endorsed by cymbal manufacturer Zildjian Cymbals at age 10, Hawkins and former guitarist Nick Brewer all attended Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Brewer is no longer with the band, after leaving around the time the tour began, and other members have come and gone working with other projects, Hawkins said.

Pridgen said the band’s songs are open to interpretation and that even he and Hawkins interpret them differently.
“(Brewer and I) would go in and try to write the hardest song, and in my mind I’m singing about hate. And then Viv hears it, and she hears love,” Pridgen said.

Pridgen praised Hawkins’ talent as a vocalist and lyricist.

“She writes what she knows. A lot of it is crazy in itself because she’s writing over stuff that’s not normal to anybody. She’s stylistically creating something that doesn’t exist,” Pridgen said.

John Vishak, production manager and house talent booker at Skully’s, is expecting a well-attended and energetic show.

“It’s a good sound. (The Memorials is) definitely a West Coast band, heavy on the percussion. Thomas is a great drummer, really high energy. One hell of a show,” Vishak said.

Vishak also had trouble verbalizing the sound created by The Memorials.
“I really can’t try to describe them. They’re well-polished. They’re a tight band regardless of what you might think of their music,” he said. “When a band has a good attitude it transfers to the audience.”

Mission Bells and local band Forest & the Evergreens are scheduled to open Tuesday’s show. Skully’s is located at 1151 N. High St., and tickets are $8 at the door for those over 21, and $11 at the door for 18 and up.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The memorials in Peoria!

Cue & A: The Memorials project plans Peoria stop




Thomas Pridgen and Viveca Hawkins will bring their musical outfit, The Memorials to Peoria on Sept. 14.

Posted Sep 05, 2012 @ 11:08 PM
Last update Sep 05, 2012 @ 11:54 PM

San Francisco drumming prodigy Thomas Pridgen will bring his project The Memorials to Peoria for a showSept. 14 at Shifters Pub, 500 Main St.
Pridgen, who started drumming at age 3, became the youngest student ever to earn a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston (he was 15).
Pridgen formerly performed with The Mars Volta and formed his own group in December 2009, calling on friend and former Berklee College of Music student Viveca Hawkins to join him. The result is a diverse sound that combines Pridgen's thunderous drumming with Hawkins' versatile voice.
Ahead of the show, Pridgen and Hawkins answered a few questions by email. Here are excerpts of the interview.
- Danielle Hatch
Describe The Memorials sound for someone who might not be familiar with it.
Pridgen: Life as we know it won't exist much longer so I'd describe it as the reboot button on a musically deprived, dumbed-down universe...
Hawkins: I guess my most common answer is psychedelic soul/progressive rock. There are heavy riffs and complicated rhythms that are complimented by thick vocal leads and storytelling for people to actually relate to.
You're on a three-month tour. Where will that tour take you, and what are you most looking forward to?
Hawkins: We have been on the road for a month since we left (California) by way of the south. We have one more to go as we make our way home from the East Coast back down through the Midwest. Then we have a break before we go to Europe for the first time.
Describe an experience when you were completely moved by music. Who was the artist?
Pridgen: It was a dark and gloomy night, Tony Williams was playing and the whole building was shaking...
Hawkins: Last time I cried at a concert we went to see an R&B artist named P.J. Morton at Yoshi's in Oakland. It wasn't so much the music as it was the lyrics... But these dudes called Blackfoot Gypsies in Nashville moved me to change my clothes after they rocked my world as one of our openers.
What can people expect from your show in Peoria?
Pridgen: Some dope (expletive) and a picture. We allow wild animals in our show so come ready to party.
Hawkins: We're coming to do the same thing we do every day... Try to take over the world. Seriously. We play to win every night. Come be a part of the glory.
The Memorials, made up of drummer Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta) and vocalist Viveca Hawkins will perform Sept. 14 at Shifters Pub, 500 Main St. Doors open at 10 p.m. Admission is $10; ages 21 and older. For more information, visit