Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sophie Barker in LA weekly for upcoming show!

wed 5/2
Sophie Barker
British songbird Sophie Barker doesn't have to scream or shout to get your attention. Instead, she captivates you through a series of subtle shimmers and soft confessions on her upcoming album, Seagull. Laid against the cool blue tones of murmuring keyboards, Barker's soothing vocals cast a contemplative spell on starkly spacey tracks like "Just for You" and "Insight." There are a few moments that recall the downtempo sparkle of her early work with Zero 7, but the London chanteuse has found other ways of catching dreams, such as the swooning orchestration of the title track. Even a relatively cloying and innocuous pop tune like "Bluebell" gets rescued by the late intervention of a funky and savvy horn section. —Falling James

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

LIVE REVIEW: the Skatelites @ Goodfoot Lounge 4/18/12

I fell in love last night at the Goodfoot…It was a scene from my high school past:  skinny ties, suit jackets, and doc martens.  The opening band, a ten piece called the Sentiments, featured a full horn section, including a tall brunette on alto in polka dots and cowboy boots.   I liked her immediately.  Drew Carey worked the keys while I gazed amorously at the long-legged alto.  Their singer sounded like a cross between Bessie Smith and Natalie Merchant.  They played a long set and had the whole place jumping to songs like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “One more cup of coffee”. 
Around eleven thirty, the Skatelites walked on.  No single band has influenced reggae music like these cats.  My first thought was, “Since when are there white dudes in the band?”  The two original members on the bass and alto played like seasoned veterans.  Nobody in the house was standing still—ska is incomparably danceable music.   A few kids up front were skanking away mercilessly, all elbows and plaid.  It seemed as though the band didn’t want to stop, playing multiple encores and old favorites like “A message to Rudy,” “The Isrealites,” and Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”. 

It didn’t work out for the sax player from the sentiments and me, however.  I didn’t have an opportunity to catch her until she was on her way out the door.  Because I am the creepiest guy on the planet, I told her that the next time I saw her I’d chase her down.   It was intended as a compliment…

-Earl Elliott

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sophie Barker Chats with CultureMob on her Seagull Tour

  • by Tom Mohrman | 04/22/12 |
  • Share12
Sophie Barker image credit: Jane Hodson

Sophie Barker, who you may know as the vocalist on from Zero 7’s Simple Things, is coming to Seattle to perform at the Tractor with Seattle’s Tiny Messengers on May 5th. Tickets are $10 + Fees, and are available here.
Tom Mohrman: Your new album seems like a marked departure from the music you were making with Zero 7. Is the acoustic thing more of what you are into?
Sophie Barker: To be honest with you, it’s funny you say that. When I was working with Zero 7 they came into the folk acoustic thing a lot more later after we joined them. The way that Zero 7 worked is that we wrote a lot of the songs and they produced around with their particular sound. But we’re all of the same generation.
I think Seagull has a lot of seventies vibe, a lot of Motown, and it’s got a bit of country. I still think there are links in Zero 7, but of course in Zero 7 you had different writers doing different songs. In this one you’ve just got me doing them. It’s still quite down tempo and seventies influenced.
TM: What are those major influences from the seventies?
SB: I was brought up with Fleetwood Mac and Motown. Well… Motown is sort of sixties, then of course you got Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye- all of those influences started quite early. Essentially live music, and when you get to hip hop or trip hop it’s more electronic… it’s a real combination of all these different things. Sometimes instinctively you don’t even know what they are, but you listen to it and the essence of it is soulful. Whether it’s black or white or whatever it is.
TM: How did the tour come together?
SB: Like everything, most of my musical career has been serendipitous. It’s almost like each place has chosen us. I feel very privileged to be playing at every venue we’re playing around the states. I’m really excited about playing the Tractor Tavern. I’ve been really blown away by the hospitality of everyone in America so far. It’s been a very interesting journey, because Zero 7 hit a chord a while ago in America, and it’s like a second coming ten years later coming here on my own. This is a magical time for us. It’s really exciting.
TM: What are your thoughts on the music industry these days?
SB: It’s changed so much. I think that it’s very important that people have as much opportunity to listen to music as possible without having to pay the ridiculous prices they used to have to pay. Now what happens is that everything is open and free to the point where now when I released my album in England, a lot of my albums were downloaded for free in Russia. Which is fine to a degree, but the problem is if you are independant- and most artists are unless you are with a very big label (and there’s no guarantee there anyway) you still have to support yourself financially to do these gigs and get your music out there.
It’s a dichotomous situation, because on one level you want your music to get out there to as many people as possible, but I do also think that people need to realize that this is a basic living…it has to be a give and take situation. Which I think will happen. There needs to be some pledge support. There are now amazing systems like we had with Kickstarter to help us come to America. This is the positive thing about the internet. That you can do viral positivity- you’re going to cure everything in the world.

Prysm Magazine Debut Issue-Spring 2012

After months of planning and anticipation, Prysm Magazine officially debuts with our big MUSIC & FASHION Issue.

The multi-talented model/artist Raja Gemini graces our debut with the boldness and beauty that only she can deliver. This special issue also includes: Otep Shamaya, Nneka, Tamar-Kali, Imperative Reaction, VNV Nation, LostAlone, Theatres Des Vampires, The Objex, Tunde Olaniran, Just A Band, Ginger V, Being Human's Sam Witwer, Mangled Courtesan Designer/Project Runway Alumni April Johnston, Designer Tarina Tarantino, Designer Veritee Hill, Director Justin Coloma, Photographer Austin Young, Artist Glenn Barr, Jr., Couture features and much more to feast your eyes on.

We intend to give our readers something that stands apart from other alternative publications. We are where the world of dark culture and beauty collides with the avant-garde and arts around the world.

We are where darkness meets decadence.

RAGS & RIBBONS – The Glass Masses

reviewed by Chris Martin
The Glass MassesRags & Ribbons has put together an album of tunes that is a nice listen, but as a whole, The Glass Masses falls just a bit flat. I am not saying that there is nothing good about it — far from that, actually. The Portland, Oregon band has put together some nice harmonies, rhythms, and lyrics; however, more times than not, they fail to put them all together on the same songs.
For some nice harmonies, listen to “Have We Been There Before” or “The Minds.” The band breaks out heavy guitar action on “Lady In The Midnight Sun,” which mixes nicely with the piano, and “Push Back” includes some killer rhythms.
One song that stands out is the final song on the album, “Moving On.” Here, Rags & Ribbons has put together the entire package. Powerful vocals are perfectly framed by gentle piano, screaming guitars that build toward the ending, and thumping rhythms. Getting to this tune makes listening to the whole album worth it. Unfortunately, in the mass of bands who are working the pop/New Wave/electronic sound these days, The Glass Masses just gets lost in the crowd.
(self-released, no address provided)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the life of me, I can’t quite remember what prompted me to start investigating dance music

For the life of me, I can’t quite remember what prompted me to start investigating dance music right after I graduated from college. None of my friends at the time were even remotely interested in the genre, yet I found myself curiously compelled to start investigating those sounds. Maybe it was my nascent love of a good, pulsing beat (one that wasn’t tied to the gospel music played at the church I was attending); I don’t really know – I just remember scouring the techno sections at Virgin Records, Sam Goody, and Hasting’s for something that remotely looked interesting. After much trial and error (and a few conversations with employees who had decent suggestions), I happened across a few artists I liked, and things expanded from there.

The music of Gunslinger reminds me of those heady days a decade ago when I first happened across the music of Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed, and Moby. Early Volumes 1 is powered primarily by a neo-classic house music aesthetic – synth lead lines that twinkle and bubble into the stratosphere, sexy bass thumps, and a four-on-the-floor feel that encourages people to dance long into the night. Cuts like “Run For Your Life,” “Who Have You Been,” and “Gravity” are quite kinetic and call to mind the best communal aspects of rave culture. And it doesn’t hurt that the vocals have a dark, slinky rock-n-roll edge to them.
However, the project as a whole is a rather average entrant into the house music milieu. Even though the music is fun and up-tempo, it’s lacking in depth, complexity, and subtlety. As long as the energy is driving and the tempo is being pushed forward, the music is enjoyable, in that it’s good for dancing without being too special. But when things slow down to attempt some mid-tempo jams (as in “Unbreakable” and “Variation”), obnoxious arena rock tendencies of the Muse-ish variety come to the fore. Personally, I don’t want a theatrical vocalist to preen atop a techno beat; I want him or her to get in, make a solid contribution to the mood created by the music, and then leave so that the DJ can tweak those vocals to enhance the music.
When this album is at its best, it conjures up some very positive memories of the tunes and artists that help break open electronic music for me. Unfortunately, Early Volumes 1 falls flat when it tries to marry a good dance groove to a blasé electro-rock song, and the sum is much less than its parts. I’d imagine that Gunslinger is able to sidestep these issues when he performs live, probably because he’d step firmly into the role of DJ (and not pop singer), so any time I want to throw a party featuring good turn-of-the-century techno, I’ll know exactly who to call.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Live Review: Skerik @ Dante's 4/15/12

Well it was Sunday night, but I couldn’t shake the suspicion that the staff in attendance at Dante’s for the Skerik show outnumbered the crowd.  It was easy to see why—Skerik’s Bandalabra just played at the Goodfoot recently: twice as much music at half the price.  As part of the Soul’d Out fest, Skerik’s band had been wedged into an evening of performance with about a one hour time slot.  The crowd seemed confused and sedated.  Only a woman in her fifties with pink hair braved the dance floor to show off her salsa strut. 

Skerik came with his usual arsenal of effects, using a harmonizer pedal to make himself sound like an entire horn section on his syncopated riffs and screaming into his reed to create a cacophony of distorted mayhem where appropriate.  His playing ranges from something akin to the sounds a Tazmanian devil might make if he swallowed a kazoo to something Charlie Parker might play if he’d picked up a tenor.  He lauded Portland for the prevalence of its nude nightlife and alluded to the old Satyricon, saying that the music scene here had been “all down hill” since then.  When the crowd failed to react to the mention of a long-defunct venue, Skerik retorted, “We play a lot of nursing homes where people get that joke.”

The mood of the improvised set modulated from an Arabian night to a metal melee to circus music and electronica.  Andy Coe added sounds from Galactica by slapping the strings of his guitar with both hands while running it through a phaser.  Andy can play some tasty licks, but tonight he was clean. 

The bands member’s all hail from Seattle.   Drummer unparalleled Devon Lewis and Andy Coe are both members of a straight ahead jazz band called McTuff, with whom Skerik has sat in many times, so the chemistry was palpable between the performers as they traded fours and improvised.  The real treasure in this combo, however, is bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, who’s laid back styling, serves as a focal point for the band’s rhythmic dilation. 

Unfortunately, the set seemed to end just when folks began to loosen up.  While some members of the audience held out hopes for an encore, the entire band was packed up and off-stage less than five minutes from their last note.  All in all, the show was a bit of an anticlimax—especially since the real versatility of Skerik’s saxophone seems to be underutilized in this arrangement.  But, for a band that cut a record from their first session, fans must hold the promise of rockin’ things to come.  

-          Earl Elliott

Monday, April 16, 2012

LIVE REVIEW: Afromassive @ the Goodfoot 4/14/12

I’d been gearing up for last Saturday night at the Goodfoot lounge since seeing Afromassive open for Seun Kuti at the Mount Tabor Theater recently.  The house was packed (with couples-- no single women, unfortunately). 

As usual at the Goodfoot, things didn’t get started until late.  This meant that I had to wait around for an hour or so to see a band called Tapwater.  As it turns out, this happens to be the most aptly named band of all time; their music is lukewarm, tepid, and can be accessed from a kitchen sink just about anywhere.  The front man, a young Paul McCartney look-alike, picked a banjo utterly absent in the mix at the soundboard.  The drummer looked too young to get into the venue, and the keys seemed to be the only thing holding the band’s performance together.  The light show was better than the lyrics.

Around twelve thirty, the headliner finally began blowing a few notes for the sound check.  They opened with “Everybody’s Got to Go,” and then went in to Kool and the Gang’s “Let the Music Take Your Mind”.  The performance featured a cameo from Daniel, founding member of Portland’s March Forth Marching Band on trombone.  The horns even did a short tease of the opening to Talib Kweli’s “Train of Thought” album.  Their tune “Stumbing” had just about every set of knees in the place bouncing.  All in all, I’d say Afromassive is the best thing to come out of Humboldt County since, well, you know…

-Earl Elliott

Friday, April 13, 2012

Age Sex Occupation funks up their first album in glorious ways
I love some good funk. Not the smell; the music. The British soul singer revival has been something I’ve enjoyed quite a bit, though the majority of it seems too often a bit overproduced. It was too smooth for real soul music. Lucky me, I saw the name of this three-piece from Portland who go by Age Sex Occupation and just had to have a listen.
In its entirety, This Side of the Fence is a blend of unique funk and soul, with hints of jazz and classical (the piano solo in “Another World), and even a little crunchy indie rock. Lead vocalist Daniel Weiskopf’s voice is smooth as slate, and the cadence of the lyrics is musical by itself. When blended with the combo of guitar, keyboard, bass and drums (from Justin Keeth and Joey McAlister, respectively), each song becomes a well-crafted piece of music that’s something pretty unique. What’s most notable about Weiskopf’s singing is that he’s perfectly comfortable with his own voice — he’s not mimicking anyone else. Rather, he meets the level of aggressiveness he needs at each point in every song like a soul singer much older, never under — or over — doing it.
Many of the songs on This Side are built on hooks and beats that would stand strong on their own. Opening track “Dirt Isn’t Dirty” is perhaps the most traditional funk, with guitar hooks, accenting horns and backing vocals. “Hide and Seek” is a hard stomping romp through dark urban streets. The closer, “Lullaby,” is a bright yet haunting tune that brings the album to a nice, slow end.
It’s not all hard-fought soul, though. There are brighter and lighter tunes like “Volcano,” whose guitar riff sounds something out of a good John Mayer song (that’s a compliment, I swear). “The Day I Ignored Street Signs” is a fun and clean march, reminiscent of early Arctic Monkeys. “Volcano” is upbeat, crisp and just rough-around-the-edges enough to sound like it be a blast to see live.
This Side of the Fence is a highly listenable album that I thoroughly enjoy. It’s haunting and urban, and sounds like the band just has fun when they play. That might be what shines through most here. It’s just fun.
(I made it through the whole review without making a joke about their name. Good for me.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Illness - (2012) A Monument to Our Gilded Age

“A complex amalgamation of progressive rock, blistering fast metal & jazz-influenced instrumentation.  The band is its own brand of monster with talented musicianship and the prog side of genre integration.”    This is what I read as I listen to this cd.  I fully expect to hear something new, a different kind of sound, one that has not been touched on, or at the very least, not been heard or played by many bands.
My expectations are met halfway through Lengua De La Muerte.  With its crushing riffs, and time changes, it captured me quickly just how much talent this band has.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am simple rock guy; however, as this song moves along, I can’t help but wonder what I have been missing.   These ears have not heard so much action going on in one song, in a very very long time.  Where did music like this go?  An eye in the Walls is more of the same.  A punishing onslaught of terror, mixed with the sweet beauty of a lush waterfall. 

The title track is just an orgy of sound, a delight to the ears.  From the slight sound of the drum & guitar intro, to the rolling bass , the groove is infectious.  The voice that comes next is just the perfect sound of a singer confidently swimming along with the music.  He seems to have no limits, executing the soft sound of a butterfly, flying, to the growl of a wolf.  There is nothing simple here.  They take you on a never-ending ride, twists & turns at each corner, in each second, from each riff.  This is how music should be made.   Fire Escape is a more straightforward song, with its pedal to the metal pace.

Slowpoke is one of those songs that you can listen to over and over and hear something new & refreshing each time.  Like a walk through the forest, the angelic sounds of nature overwhelming you, and it is this feeling of wanting to stay, to absorb all that you can before it is all taken away.  This is moment I am in, this is Slowpoke…which then leads into a short yet beautiful acoustic instrumental Krakatoa, like the sun shining through the trees, and it is the perfect sister to brother Slowpoke.

Misanthropy is next, and what a number it is.  Fierce and ferocious, the music pummels you into submission, and then executes perfect time changes, in one instant were hammered by speed metal riffs & roars, and then the next instant a jazz metal fusion with a layer of groove washed over it.   You would never guess that this song is over 5mins. swiftly along does it indeed carry you.  Turn your Head is another, for this band, straightforward song.  A heavy bass line propels this along, with swirly guitars overlapping.  Like a smooth ride, you’re caught in its trance, & just as the ride is about to end, a straight hardcore breakdown occurs, and just nails you straight in the face with its fury.  Holy shit. 

Take a Number is a spoken word manifestation of the realities of this world.  There is a sense that he is not alone in his thoughts.  Defenestration follows a feeling that it is an extension of Take a Number.  However this time, we are bombarded with a wall of music, encompassing the song, the band, the listener.  This is the direct goal. You can feel the anger built up, although not in a hateful way, the message comes across with a passion that is real, a sorrowful tale of where we may be headed.
Swimming in the ocean.  The waves gently roll across your face, your body.  You’re alone in mind, but not shut off.  You can reach out, by why strain, when all you’re after is all you have? Darkness slowly stretches across the sullen sky.  The storm is on its way. Where do you go from here?  Downside Outright is just that for me.  It is a journey, with its melodic pleasing melody, once fooled you are with the clean singing, the clear whirl of sound from the instruments.  Delicate, they spin you around.  Caught, a simple tempo change to make their point and all you can do is sit here and just appreciate the wondrous control that the Illness have over you.  It may be the slowest song on the record, but the band still manages to keep you enthralled.  What more could you ask for in a song?

We end the record off with Victory, and a victory it is.  Just fantastic musicianship on this song, from the guitars to the bass to the drumming.  Victory leads you down many roads, entering one house while leaving another and this is the path that continues for the rest of the song. The width of the music is beyond scope. The Illness interweaves so very many different styles not only on Victory, but on this whole album.  This is a fitting way to end the album, as it showcases everything the band can deliver, and they certainly do deliver it well.

There is so much possibility in the Illness.  I, for one, am greatly appreciative of hearing a band like this.  I cannot begin to tell you how good this is.  They manage to take so many styles (Mastadon, Mars Volta etc…) and make it their own.  They seem to have the capacity to reach bigger & better heights, to push beyond the boundaries that are found on this record.   Not many bands could I claim to have this going for them.  If you like music (because I do not want to pigeonhole them into a said genre) then you MUST give this a listen.  It is one of the most diverse records I have ever heard.  With 12 songs, they give you the perfect ammunition for your ears, the absolute record experience.  Do yourself a favor and pick up the cd, you will not be disappointed. 


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Portland-based hard rockers White Orange’s

reviewed by Garrett Lyons
white orange WHITE ORANGE   S/TPortland-based hard rockers White Orange’s self-titled debut is filled with distortion and amplifier-blowing walls of noise. The sound takes influence from heavy rock acts like Mastodon, The Locust, and The Melvins with the distorted guitars of early Dinosaur Jr. Sometimes it comes off perfectly, with the wonderful track “Wonderful” being a simple stunner. Other times, the feeling of jabbing drywalls screws into your eardrums would be less painful, with the opening track “Where” being nothing more than a crash of repetitive chords with super-fuzzed out vocals. Happily, with the exception of “Where,” White Orange is a solid metal record. There’s nothing complicated about it. It’s loud, it’s simplistic, and it is chock full of hard-edged sounds. It’s a full on rock album that needs to be played at full volume to be fully appreciated.

(Made in China Records, PO Box 10608, Portland, OR 97296)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Watch a puppet-y video from Stephanie Schneiderman

Exclusive: Watch a puppet-y video from Stephanie Schneiderman

By Whitney Matheson, USA TODAY
A few months ago you may remember when I played Stephanie Schneiderman's wonderful cover of Elliott Smith's Between the Bars in a podcast.
The singer/songwriter released the album Rubber Teardrop this summer, and I'm thrilled to premiere her latest video on the blog today.
Enjoy the soothing clip for River Stone below. I think puppet designer Elodie Massa Allen deserves props as well for her miniature version of Stephanie:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tales From The Campfire

 – an interview with Campfire OK, Part 1

  • by Dan Coxon
Campfire OK will play Bumbershoot 2011. Photo by Kristen Marie Tourtillotte.
Seattle has long held a reputation for fostering musical talent, and its current crop of new bands is no exception. From Fleet Foxes and The Head and the Heart to Champagne Champagne and Mad Rad, Seattle’s musical pulse is still beating strong – and Campfire OK seems to be one of the next bands set to become a household name.
Campfire OK’s debut album, Strange Like We Are, is an enchanting mix of winsome folk and rousing sentiment, and they’ve been steadily building a reputation across the city over the last couple of years. Our own coverage of their album release party summed them up as an “elegant blend of piano-and-drum syncopated rhythms, rich melodic lines hinting at despair, and dynamic multiple-vocal stylings”.
I caught up with frontman (and songwriter) Mychal Cohen and drummer Brandon Milner in Capitol Hill’s Caffe Vita, to chat with them about the band, the Seattle scene, and Mychal’s love of tattoos.
Dan Coxon: Where did the name Campfire OK come from? When did you settle on it?
Mychal Cohen: I was bartending – this was a while ago – and I was learning how to tattoo… Mind you, every other interview, when I’ve been asked this, I’ve just not told the truth, and said “I don’t know, I just thought of it one day”.
Brandon Milner: I don’t think I even know the truth about this. This might be the moment that I find out.
MC: I never told you this?
BM: Well, we’ll find out!
MC: I was trying to learn how to tattoo, and I had this tattoo machine at my house. And I was starting to collect all these drawings to tattoo – on myself, eventually. And I drew, like, a campfire on a coaster, while I was bartending, and for some reason underneath it I just put ‘OK’. And that was it, it was really just a campfire and it said OK. And I was, like, this is so silly. That’s such a silly phrase. And I kept that little thing for a long time, and I really liked the way it looked. Then I eventually started writing the words, and… I don’t know, I sat on it for a couple of years, actually. And I actually have that campfire tattoo on my leg. That was the first tattoo I ever gave myself. That’s a weird statement to say!
BM: I did not know that.
MC: I know.
DC: It sounds almost too perfect. I’m not sure that could even be true!
MC: If the leg on these pants would come up you’d see it, it’s right here.
BM: Not many bands work from the tattoo backwards.
DC: And now everyone’s going to want that tattoo.
MC: Well, it’s not a pretty tattoo! I mean, the first one I ever did… it’s pretty shabby looking.
DC: There’s a big tattooing culture in Seattle, isn’t there. I’m not sure why.
MC: I think there are a lot of really talented artists, and it’s accessible, and the mindset behind getting a tattoo in a profession is so laidback. Like, I could be a lawyer if I wanted to. Here. In New York, no way.
DC: Going back to the origins of Campfire OK, it started out as your (solo) project, didn’t it. At what point did you decide that you needed a band?
MC: That point came along when shows started to be booked, and I just kind of realized that I actually wanted to pursue it and would really like to play the songs live. It was a very natural progression, it wasn’t like, “I want to form a band”. Once again it’s kind of a backwards thing. I wasn’t thinking “I want to form a band”, I was “I want to make a record”. Then came the band. And it’s sort of morphed into this thing. To me, the record still feels like a project, but our shows, and our practices, and the new stuff we’re working on for the next record, really feels like a band.
BM: I think we went about it differently than some bands. Because some bands, they form, and then when they’ve got their songs solidified that’s when they make a record. They form, they make a record, and then they go about the process of trying to interpret that to play it live. Mychal made this record with mostly himself, and just a couple of people doing some stunning musicianship. And then we totally used that as a basic sketch to form the way the songs are now, which is pretty randomly different to the way they are on the record.
MC: At first it’s like, “These are the parts on the record, try to learn to play them.” But it quickly, for us, became like, “Well, there’s actually some chemistry between all of us. Obviously we can feel it in the room.” And everyone’s desire to play the parts in a little bit of a different way came out, and it started to really move us, and bring us together as musicians and not just people playing a record.
DC: You said you’ve been working on material for a new album. Do you think this will be noticeable? Do you think there’s a different feel to the new stuff because it’s come from the band, rather than just you writing it on your own?
MC: I think that there is always a noticeable difference when moving from one record to the next. With any band there’s always a noticeable growth. Do I think that this will be attributed to us being a band, rather than me writing by myself? I have no clue. The songs are fairly different. [To Brandon] What do you think?
BM: Yeah, I think this record is fairly different, because a couple of things happened. One is, the first album is very, very piano driven. Mychal somewhere along the way learned to play guitar, and Mychal, coming from the piano, plays the guitar in some unconventional ways. So there’s more guitar on the record, and he’s still the principal songwriter. But because there’s more community input from the band I think this record is going to end up being a lot warmer. It reflects our sound now.
MC: Very true. I agree, and in that sense you could possibly tell that it is from a band, but at the same point I’m still writing the songs, as a principal songwriter. So the feeling – like, are we going to go from this band that we are now to a country band? No. I mean, they’re still Campfire OK songs, but they have a different attitude.
DC: Are you playing the new songs live?
MC: We’ve started to play a couple, yeah.
DC: Are you going to play some at Bumbershoot?
MC: I think so. We’ll probably play two.
DC: Have you played Bumbershoot before?
MC: We’ve not played Bumbershoot.
DC: But have you been to to the festival?
BM: I like Bumbershoot. I think it’s changed a lot over the years, but it gives me an excuse not to go to Burning Man. So you don’t just sit around and write bad poetry while half your friends are at Burning Man. But yeah, I think it’s a cool festival. And the great thing about Bumbershoot is not the bands that you know, the great thing about Bumbershoot is the bands you’ve never heard of. The best bands I’ve seen at Bumbershoot have always been the random, Brazilian funk band that I went to see because I couldn’t get in to see Famous Band X. So I’m hoping that we’re gonna be that band for a lot of people. Not too many people know who we are, but they’ll walk by, and hopefully we’ll make an impression.
This interview continues in Part 2. Click here to read the concluding part of the Campfire OK interview.

Exploring the Color Spectrum with White Orange. And Red Asses

By: kevin.stewart-panko white orange - live

The psychedelic slew-foot of Portland’s White Orange first came to my attention because of the intricate design of their …And This is Why I Speak to You in Parables picture disc EP. My copy of …Parables sat at the front of my ‘to listen to’ pile for a long while. I would love staring at its symbol usage, mystical air, busy symmetry and how all those artistic elements would stare back at me and keep me transfixed.

It was a few weeks before I mustered up the nerve to actually throw the platter on my turntable. I admit it, I was afraid the musical quality of it wouldn’t proportionally live up to its visual artistry. Luckily, …Parables wasn’t half bad. It didn’t blow me into the middle of next week, but I could bop, groove, head nod and toe tap along to the band’s lengthy songs and Nebula/the Sword/Deep Purple/Torche stylings without feeling obligated or like I was forcing myself to find good in White Orange’s sonic space ride.
On September 20th, their ironically-named hometown label, Made in China Records will be dropping the quartet’s self-titled debut. Prepare yourself for another round of artwork you can get lost in for days and more soaring, acid/stoner rock/metal where the crunch and chug is itself off-set and complemented by shades of shoegaze and Dinosaur Jr.

The folks at their PR company, XO Publicity have granted the public free access to lead-off single, “Dinosaur Bones.” Check it out here.
As well, below you can find the video for said song which combines a performance by the shaggy, unwashed band, some crazy-ass bikes and a gaggle of super-hot cheerleaders decked out in white and orange with a storyline centered around an especially spirited game of what we used to call Red Ass back when I was in elementary school. You may recognize the game, and its rules, by a different name, but whatever you call it and whatever rule variation you use, someone’s going home with a welt or 20.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interview with Luke Strahota of The Satin Chaps

Sometimes you just want to step back and listen to some real good time music that will get you out your seat and dance until your feet get swollen. Well This is your chance to Check out The Satin Chaps hailing from Portland Oregon.
How did you guys come up with your name?

The name was a term I came up with when I was a kid. I thought "satin chaps" would be the opposite of "leather chaps." Of course, it could also be an upstanding gentleman. The double entendre was perfect for the group; it mixes a bit of class, kitsch, and kink.

How did you guys all meet? Why did you choose the style of music you are currently playing?

I became inspired to form the band when I started listening to the soundtrack to the movie Vampyros Lesbos. The song from the soundtrack that struck me most was Drodge CX 9. The funky bass line, the piano, the quirky horns parts. They way everything worked together. I realized this was all composed, someone wrote this and it wasn’t jazz or funk, it was just groovy as hell. I was captivated and immediately started researching similar music, which led me to discovering the German collection, “The In-Kraut: Hip Shaking Grooves Made in Germany 1967 – 1974.” From there I discovered The Gert Wilden Orchestra and his soundtrack to The Schulmädchen Report, a 1970s German soft-core series. I started getting little melodies in my head; particularly one that I couldn’t shake that eventually became “Pigtail Park.” I knew I wanted to put together a big band and I knew I wanted to cal it “The Satin Chaps.” Around this time, The High Violets were beginning to go into hibernation so I started looking for people to put the band together with.

I first approached Peter Dean who I knew through The Chap’s original guitarist, Colin Sheridan. Colin played bass in The High Violets and also is in Federale. I knew Peter was a really funny guy and I enjoyed his general vibe, so I knew I wanted to play music with him. I had never spoken to Eric. I had loved The Dandy Warhol’s and we had a bunch of the same friends but I was just really intimidated by him, he’s a great drummer and brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the table. I knew he loved soul music and I knew he had good time, so I sent him a Fabebook message out of the blue and we soon got together with what was the original lineup of The Satin Chaps.

Eric and Pete bring a solid soul foundation, I kind of bring a bit of the ‘60s production catalogue / soundtrack sort of vibe, so the two elements just merged together to create The Satin Chaps sound. We wrote the album together with the other original members of the group, the players featured on the album.

Since your album is primarily instrumental, Did you plan it that way ? Did you ever consider getting a vocalist? Would you ever consider it or have guest singers?

I intentionally put the chaps together to be an instrumental group. It just felt like a nice change from all the other bands I had played in, one less thing to worry about. That said, we learned at our early show that people like to have a song or two thrown at them with vocals, I think it helps connect with the audience just a bit, so we play a few songs from The Nuggets compilations where Eric or I sing. Eric is a natural singer, I am more of an entertaining singer, very good at karaoke. We both love singing, but I would never want either of us to be "lead singers." I like things to be somewhat compartmentalized, so I would want just one singer who does nothing but sing, be an actual front person, but they would really have to bring it. My ideal front person would be a cross between Tina Turner, Tom Jones, and Wayne Cochran. If I could find that person, I would consider a lead singer. I would totally be into having guest singers, it would be great to set up shows like variety shows where we are sort of the house band and have cool singers join us on stage - King Khan, Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley.

We have also thought of having three female vocalists, not to sing lyrics, but more melody lines. There is a great band in Portland called The Suicide Notes, sort of a cross between The Ramones and The Ronetts. They’re going to join us on stage at our album release show when we play Baby Hold On by The Mohawks.

Your album has a very classic sound to it. What steps in recording did you take to achieve this?

The most important thing for us was that our players be on the same page as far as style and influences. At first we where pretty adamant about our sound being 60’s go-go/ German soft-core porn soundtracks But we as we wrote more, we had fun interjecting related genres such as garage rock, surf, French pop, and spaghetti western influences.

As far as recording, Eric has a great studio with old ribbon mics and vintage gear. We weren’t trying to be purist snobs and we definitely took advantage of modern technology, but we tried to approach the process the way it would have been done in the late 60’s. Minimal micing, playing live together as a band, and minimal overdubs. We prioritized it as; first the right players, then the vintage instruments, then the appropriate recording process.

If you could set up your dream show. What artists (Alive or dead) would you choose to play with and why?

'60s / '70s era Tom Jones or Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders, because feel every bit of what they're doing and they command attention with the sheer passion they put into their performances. They're a bit campy and a little silly and I like that, I think it's humbling, but you can't deny their energy. I would have loved to have played with Georgie Fame because his early stuff was super swingin’. I would have loved to have played with early Sha Na Na. The footage of them performing at Woodstock is always my favorite part of the movie, a bunch of greasers totally freaking out in gold lamé jackets. The footage of the crowd’s response is what I love, people just smiling and clapping their hands, totally getting into it. I love to see people smiling when we perform, it means we’re doing something right.

What do you hope people will get from listening to your album?

I hope people will get happy and get to our shows and get dancing and get sweaty.

Tell us Something quirky about yourselves?

We are very prompt, and that gets us in trouble playing in a “rock n roll” world. Venues and bands tell us to show up at a certain time assuming that we are going to be an hour late, but there we all are, on time and ready to go.

The Calendar moves very quickly what is going on yours that you would like people to know about over the next few months!?

Our album doesn’t officially release until late May, early June, so right now we are breaking in a new guitarists and preparing to perform at The Soul’d Out Music Festival here in Portland on Sunday, April 15. June will see us playing around the region, promoting the album, and August will hopefully see us getting on the road, trying to so a small West Coast Tour down to L.A.

Website: The Satin Chaps

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Age/Sex/Occupation - This Side Of The Fence

Age/Sex/Occupation – This Side Of The Fence
2012, Age/Sex/Occupation
Portland trio Age/Sex/Occupation converged on the left coast, but their roots have chutes all across North America.  The darlings of Indie Soul-Rock, Age/Sex/Occupation range from soul to pop to gritty blues on their upcoming album, This Side Of The Fence (due out on May 29, 2012.)  Working with producer Jordan Richter (Caves, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers), Age/Sex/Occupation step out of the past into a fractured present and make it their own.  Songs such as “Dirty Isn’t Dirty” and “Zombie” are a party waiting to happen, and Age/Sex/Occupation shows off a brilliant melodic sensibility on the “Another World” and the McCartney-esque “The Day I Ignored Street Signs”.  The influence of late 1960’s and early 1970’s rock n roll, R&B and blues are all everywhere, and Age/Sex/Occupation play it all out like they lived through it the first time.  This Side Of The Fence is a worthy effort.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Age/Sex/Occupation at or on FacebookThis Side Of The Fence drops on May 29, 2012.  Keep checking the band's website(s) for updates.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jan-Simon: White Stripes, White Hills, White Zombie, Black Sabbath, Orange Goblin

White Orange - White Orange
file under stoner
White Orange  - White Orange Jan-Simon: White Stripes, White Hills, White Zombie, Black Sabbath, Orange Goblin… As if we do not have enough there is now White Orange and it would be too simple to just say that White Orange is a new colour based on the above ingredients. Of course there are traces of Sabbath to be heard, but that is quite normal for a band listing Nebula, The Sword and Kyuss as some of its reference points. Still it is not just stoner. White Orange puts a lot of nineties indiegrunge (like Smashing Pumpkins, Mudhoney, Nirvana) in its rock and refers in an original way to spacerock. Between all noisy guitar lines and wahwah explosions we hear the call “to set the controls for the heart of the sun”.

This somewhat strange mix is what makes White Orange so catchy. The great nonsensical and yet profound lyrics (“Sometimes less is more”) combined with guitars that are at one moment staccato and repetitive and the other complete freakout wah-wah weirdness are unusual, but are delivered with a naturalness as if there has never been anything else. As if time and space have warped in an inexplicable way to have all alternative guitar music of the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties converge into one spot. At that crossroads we find White Orange, hurling an endless flow of monster riffs into the atmosphere like an Icelandic volcano.

After a enervating riff-o-rama the final track ‘Sigourney Weaver’ is a welcome closer. Laid back and full of psychedelic distortion the album flows towards its end. No weak finish but a pleasant warm shower after an intense dive into the mind-expanding world of White Orange.
Rating: 85/100 (details)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The throbbing, ropey guitars creative a sensual vibe to Black Pussy's

Black Pussy
On Blonde
Made In China Records 2011
The throbbing, ropey guitars creative a sensual vibe to Black Pussy's new album On Blonde.  With a deceptive bong hit to start the album's opener, Marijuana, we are treated to some fat guitar riffs with a retro 70s stompin' beat.  This is alternative rock with a punk ethos that echoes through the catchy yet repetitive chorus.  By the end of the song though it gets a little grating due to the excessive use of the chorus.  However, this is a minor point that is quickly washed away by infectious beat and warm distorted guitar lines of Can't Take Anymore.  The whole track has a really laidback cool texture and stands as a highlight of the album.  It's like as if The Ramones had big afros and platform shoes while writing songs.  The multiple vocalists swapping back and forth on the track only serve to enhance the "cool" aspect of the track.  Swim is up next and the band lays even further back in their recliners then on the previous song.  The wood block strikes instantly have your neck popping while the guitars take an indie rock approach to some Trouble inspired riffs.  A monstrous stoner doom riff and pulsing bass guitar storm out of the speakers on Ain't Talkin about Love.  The song drops back into some slightly unharmonious vocals and fat bass before ushering back in those menacing doom riffs and bluesy guitar licks.  And the cycle repeats.  My favorite track is the closer, Indiana.  It's a more emotional and barren song relying on some late afternoon fretwork and longing vocals.  In some ways it reminds me a bit of the approach Sleater Kinney took on their song Modern Girl.  Suffice it to say I am a big fan of Black Pussy's On Blonde album.  And if you like Indie rock with some serious retro 70s references then On Blonde will be right up your alley!