Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sleater-Kinney, Egyptian Room, Indianapolis: Live Review

Essentially Pop LIVE REVIEW

Sleater Kinney 6

Guest reviewer Rob Bohn attended Sleater-Kinney’s show at Indianapolis’ Egyptian Room, Old National Centre, on December 4.

Sleater Kinney 5
After that near-decade of silence, Sleater-Kinney is revealed on-stage, flanked by the surreal and not-so-real antiquities of the Egyptian Room. It’s fitting as they actually ARE the reality in the room.  The Egyptian Room is a concert venue in Indianapolis owned by The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, more commonly called the Freemasons; outside is a minaret and a tiled sun-and-camel-in-the-desert scene, and inside has enough stained glass and Egyptian motifs to make you want to tell stories.
Sleater Kinney 7
And that’s what S-K does.  Corin tells those stories with her voice and guitar; Janet’s drums push you, always emphatic, always driving the story-line; Carrie assails you with her guitar, adding that counter-point you missed in the plot.
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In their song ‘Price Tag’, Carrie’s guitar is the repartee to Corin’s vocals – it seems innocuous enough initially, stocking the shelves, working the store, but then – we never really checked the price tag and lured by the devil, the price is too high. S-K has been there, they are no longer the riot-grrrls but have experienced the problems of verisimilitude, with the relative truths and falsehoods of life.  And a twinge of levity as well.
Sleater Kinney 1
If you scan the song titles played, you get the idea – the anthemic (and atomic tourist referencing) ‘No Cities to Love’, ‘Youth Decay’ (I’m curious whose sense of humour is in that title), ‘Bury Our Friends’, and ‘Far Away’ – there is a sense of experienced life, upbeat melancholia, and situational awareness.
Sleater Kinney 4
On ‘Entertain’, Carrie prowled like a cat and sang an intriguing anti-rhythmic lyric until the chorus; Janet was the wind-swept drummer throughout, and Corin soared on guitar and vocal. But then, there was the long pause and the pose at the start of ‘Jumpers’ – backlit, standing still, shadowy backdrop flailing in a breeze – then, BANG, away it went.
Nearing the finale, Corin had an emotional moment of silence for the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood attack, and followed it with ‘Gimme Love’, with the song knowing it is never enough, wishing for a little more, running from the wickedness this life imports. Then followed it with ‘Let’s Call It Love’ – unlike what’s implied by the title, it’s not ambivalent but triumphant, with the lighting artist using her LED lights set to a fiery orange for the climax.  
At the end, S-K played the crowd-pleasing ‘Modern Girl’ – the fitting finish – melancholic again but also with a picture of a sunny day. And that is the modern Sleater-Kinney: triumphantly surviving and experiencing life at its best and worst, telling stories with a picture of a sunny day. Maybe even with a camel in it.


Friday, December 4, 2015

[Video Premier] The Drainage Redray Frazier

[Video Premier] Get A First Person Look At Portland's Music Scene With RedRay Frazier's "Blood In The Water"! — 

Portland has changed so much in the past 5 years, it’s practically unrecognizable. High rises and apartment complexes are springing up all around town, while people who’ve lived here for generations are pushed out into the margins of the suburbs and beyond. 
It’s a time-honored tale of gentrification and urban development – not exactly a newsflash. With things changing so much, on top of so many expectations and stereotypes, it can be hard to find the REAL Portland, or to recognize it when you do. 
Portland’s RedRay Frazier is correcting that with “Blood In The Water”, a first person GoPro tour through a day in the life of a working musician in Bridgetown. 
RedRay Frazier blood in the water video
“Blood In The Water” came about organically, coming from a desire for Frazier to work with longtime friend Novosti Luke, who directed the video. Frazier knew he wanted to feature a sweet new white electric Reverend guitar, along with DJ Klavical’s also-sweet 1967 AMC Ambassador, and a plan was born. 
Frazier & Luke settled on a simple GoPro setup, to counter the technical limitations, and we are left with a personal, intimate glimpse of what life is REALLY like in Portland, and why some of us love it so much! 
Following Frazier getting showered and dressed, Frazier takes us on a guided tour of 3/4 of Portland’s quadrants. 

Some Recognizable Sites And Sounds From “Blood In The Water”:

Frazier’s Portland oddyssey concludes with a raging house show/party, as the band works the crowd into a froth with their low down slinky soul. 

Some takeaways from RedRay Frazier’s “Blood In The Water” video:

  • Sizzle Pie’s so good! Why does it have to be so expensive!
  • This may be your last chance to remember what Portland sun looks like for a while.
  • House shows are where it’s at in this city. We need more house shows!
  • Piano and turntables sound awesome together! More people need to explore this combo.
  • As everybody wails and gnashes their teeth over the changing face of PDX, RedRay Frazier reminds us to look around and appreciate what we DO have. After all, the only way our culture will survive and thrive is through support, appreciation, and involvement. 
    You heard it hear first. Get hipped to RedRay Frazier and get involved! This time next year, he’s going to be bouncing the Crystal Ballroom’s dancefloor.
    “Blood In The Water” is the opening track off of RedRay Frazier’s debut album, which is out now!
    RedRay Frazier FB


Friday, October 30, 2015

ArtPeace looks good on MTV.... "Hi:)"

Who doesn't look better on MTV... excited to see the hard working ladies in ArtPeace get some well deserved love on a wonderful display of their music in this well done video
"Free Music" is out world-wide grab it on ITUNES

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

EagleWolfSnake's ZANG! on CD

I have to admit that the cover of EagleWolfSnake's new CD looks like something you might find in a middle school art class, a rather generic wilderness portrait of the three eponymous creatures, apparently penned with a black Sharpie, against a white background. I try not to judge CDs or LPs by their covers, but this minimalist approach to marketing seems to suggest a trio of adolescents who have spent too much time in a garage pissing off the neighbors with folk metal. It's a genuine surprise that when you actually load ZANG! into your CD player, you hear something quite different than you expect, catchy and exuberant power pop that will remind you of Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys or even a touch of The Jam in their later years.

EagleWolfSnake turns out to be one of those trios that sound bigger than they are, much in the vein of The Police, with Nick Bray's layered and anthemic guitar sound, Eli Meyskens' solid and steady bass and Ryan Malley's super-energetic and dense drumming complementing the dense vocal harmonies from all three. (For the record, Malley is responsible for the cover drawing which really isn't that bad, although it might have been transferred from a cocktail napkin.) As a whole the band captures an early-to-mid-'80s sound that's wet with reverb and earnestness without scratching too deeply into the sheer angst of the indie rock that would dominate the scene over the next twenty years.

All eight tracks on ZANG!are, in the best pop tradition, exciting and brief and chock full of the energy that you might see during one of this San Francisco-based band's live performances. Only the closer, "Olivia," slows the proceedings down despite all the cheerful handclaps and playful guitar riffs. While there is a hidden layer to EWS' delivery, prompted perhaps by their previous incarnation as a soul quartet called Music for Animals, EWS is content to be danceable and singable. When your songs have titles like "We Are What We Are," "Whatever You Say," and "Do What You Want," it's best not to be too ponderous. ZANG! is light and fleeting, infused with a feeling that everything's gonna be okay.

If you actually dig the cover of ZANG!, here's some good news: you can buy a T-shirt from the band that immortalizes said image. It's all about the irony, I know. Forget about the cover, however, stick this CD in your car player and head on down the road. You'll come back home with a big, friendly smile on your face.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Introducing Câlisse and the Birth of the New Portland Label Almabrain

The story of how a chord was struck between the band and producer Jason Driver, leading to the formation of a label while recording their debut record.

Câlisse, from left to right: Morganfield Riley, Kevin Hoffman, Karen Moore, James Collette and Rob IgguldenCâlisse, from left to right: Morganfield Riley, Kevin Hoffman, Karen Moore, James Collette and Rob Iggulden
Summer was nearing the end of its peak. The sun had long since set by the time I pulled onto a side street just blocks away from the Doug Fir Lounge.
In my lap were the directions to a small studio nearby called Fur Vault PDX. Yet, from looking around, there weren’t any signs indicating that this was my destination. It wasn’t until I shuffled across the intersection of SE 10th and Sandy that a group of people standing in front of the designated address became visible. Assuming positive intent, I walked up to them.
A tall presence made his way toward me.
“Hi, you must be Joanna. I’m James and this is the band, Câlisse,” he extended one hand as the other waved to the rest of the group. Turning, he walked toward two older members within the group. “And these are my parents. They’re in town visiting, we’re just finishing up.”
The other bandmates playfully teased lead vocalist James Collette about needing parental guidance for the interview. Their exchange seemed genuine though, as if I had stumbled into a few friends hanging around for the night.
His parents said their goodbyes and promptly left. Everyone began to introduce themselves, putting faces to the names I’ve known only through email: Morganfield Riley as guitarist, Karen Moore on keys and backing vocals, and Rob Iggulden as the band’s drummer. The only exception was bassist Kevin Hoffman who joined us later in the evening. Without much immediacy but with the same friendly disposition, the founder of the band’s label, Almabrain, and their producer/engineer came forward.
“I’m Jason Driver, or JD. Whichever you prefer. Glad to finally meet you,” he shook my hand. Moving inside, we walked through a dimly lit maze of walls strewn with art until we finally came to the studio: Fur Vault PDX.

Band rehearsal at Fur Vault PDXBand rehearsal at Fur Vault PDX

“The cool thing about Portland is, everyone’s in a band,” Collette says. He jokes, “I’m actually doing a triangle solo project."
“Don’t forget the Zephyr,” Riley adds and everyone laughs. “But seriously. If you’re only in one band, you’re slacking!”
When the laughter dies, the questions begin. Who is Câlisse and what’s the band’s goal? Iggulden smirks after everyone pauses to chew on the question.
“I’m curious too,” he jokes.
Riley answers amid the group’s hesitant giggles. “I don’t think there were any expectations to what we’re supposed to be, but only because of how we started. James had these songs worked out on his acoustic and they were full-fledged songs. Then, he wanted to record this album. I started helping him with some of that.”
Collette and Riley were introduced through a mutual friend last year, initially because both were scoring films at the time. Despite a slow start to the friendship, they gradually grew to respect one another’s work.
Their single “Omnibrain” was the result of their first collaboration late last year, using the equipment Collette had in his home at the time. There was more at stake, however, than two friends simply playing music together. The duo eventually came to realize their shared desire to create something more. They had the material, but they needed some sort of foundation.
“That was the first song we started and the reaction went really well,” Riley continues. “We were both like, we should continue this, and soon it became a collection of songs.” The pair turned their focus toward creating a full-band sound, a decision which led them to the formation of Câlisse and, subsequently, to producer Jason Driver.
Câlisse formed in October 2014 when the duo enlisted Karen Moore, a longtime friend of Collette, to cover a series of songs by Neutral Milk Hotel. At the time, Moore played the part of backing vocalist. Eventually, when the group began to grow serious about recording, Collette approached schoolmate Rob Iggulden to be the band’s drummer. Despite his hectic schedule as a student nearing graduation and playing drums for local band Future Historians, Iggulden agreed.
“We got lucky. We all enjoyed working together,” Collette says.
With the band missing only a bassist, Kevin Hoffman came along at the right time. Having spent time in New Orleans, he was still fresh from moving back to Portland in early spring when he was approached by Collette. The two had known each prior to Hoffman’s trek to Louisiana and had kept in touch throughout his stay.
Together, the five-piece created a unique sound influenced by the elements of alternative rock intertwined with the emotional urgency in Collette's vocals. The next step was to find an affordable studio and jump-start the recording process.
“These guys called me to use the studio and booked it for two days. They came in and just rocked it, you know. I get a lot of bands that come in and aren’t prepared for the studio, so they get in here and start choking,” Driver pauses. “These guys came in and they had it together.”
Riley jumps in the conversation: “This was my first initial experience recording in a studio and it was the best. It was seriously awesome."
“We were a good fit,” Driver says.
“JD is artist-friendly and very supportive. We’re working really fairly with one another, which has given us [the band] a lot of opportunity to plant some seeds locally,” Collette says. “We have a lot of potential for making it work.”
“I want to be able to help a band like these guys and support them enough to get out there touring,” Driver adds. His own background involves a history of playing music as well. Although he initially began as an audio engineer, Driver switched professions early in his career and spent time working as a touring musician. Later, after he married and looked for ways to settle down, he returned to engineering. Regardless, his collection of gear naturally grew. This, combined with the small space he rents for his studio, has provided him with the opportunity to remain affordable and artist-friendly over the years.
Almabrain logo by Collin BuenerkemperAlmabrain logo by Collin BuenerkemperThe transition from musician to engineer changed his perspective on what he looks for when bands come to him for his services. “I really love when bands get that magic live. That’s one of the reasons I really like Câlisse. They came in with a band, they wanted to play it as a band, and I think that’s the most important part: how music becomes a kind of magic that happens between people,” Driver says.
Hums of agreement echo among the rest of the group inside the studio. He continues, “That time I spent as a touring musician helped me to understand that there’s much more to engineering than just turning a knob or putting a mic in the right place. It’s more about getting the band in the right frame of mind so they can relax and play."
Collette sits on these words for a while. His own history of working with smaller independent labels in his native state of Mississippi prevents him from completely agreeing with his producer’s sentiments. “It’s still intimidating because there are so many talented people. You meet all these random people and you remember their music. There’s great music here. No one’s going to rub it in your face either, so you’re seeing it at face value.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity in Portland, for sure,” Iggulden chimes in.
“You take it as either intimidation or motivation,” Driver continues. “I have a lot of bands that come in and want to record a good album, but they don’t have the budget. This is like having some support where we can take some of the production costs and make some money back by selling albums. It’s a better business model as far as long-term growth is concerned. My initial decision to create Almabrain with Câlisse rode on that philosophy. ”
Processing the direction our conversation has taken, Collette interrupts: “When is it wrong for an artist to want to be sustainable? We just want to be able to play music and travel. Most importantly, we just want to continue playing. That’s the cool thing about Jason though. We instantly felt like good friends and we’ve actually become good friends since this started.”
Regarding the topic of business, I ask about the possibility of the band looking to crowdsourcing as a way of funding their efforts. Immediately, I'm met with an almost hostile “no” from Riley.

“We’re eager, but we’ve held off from being too eager to jump out there because we want to be sure we’re putting on the best performance that we can in Portland,” Collette explains, lingering briefly on the topic as a way to justify the outburst. “Like I said, there’s a lot of talented people here. We want to step our game up and earn our keep. We want to show we’re working hard.”
From there, the conversation strayed back into a casual tone and humor still remained much on everyone’s agenda as the evening came to a close. The relationship between Câlisse and their producer seemed strong to an outsider walking in that night, almost as if one couldn’t exist without the other. There was definitely a chord struck in the creative process, yet this venture is far from the finish line. The next step is to share the work.

Câlisse’s debut album, 'Farewell, Blacksheep,' is set to be released via Almabrain this November. In the meantime, catch the band performing with And And And and Times Infinity at Dante’s on Wednesday, September 30 and listen to the first single from the upcoming record below.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Video Premiere: Carry Illinois, “Smoke and Medicine”

Video Premiere: Carry Illinois, “Smoke and Medicine”

Written by  August 28th, 2015 at 10:55 am
Photo by Pooneh Ghana
Photo by Pooneh Ghana
There are some childhood memories that stick with us forever. For Carry Illinois’ Lizzy Lehman, an incident with her brother became one such memory, one that inspired her to write the confessional tune “Smoke and Medicine.” The Austin-by-way-of-Evanston songwriter has a knack for channeling small moments into meaningful tunes, as evinced by the band’s debut album Alabaster, which counts its influences as spanning from Laurel Canyon to Smiths hometown Manchester, England.
“I simply didn’t want to hide anymore. ‘Smoke and Medicine’ reveals my imperfections, my secrets, my truths, and my need to express that, like most people, at times I need to quell my fears, anxieties, and sadness through a less than accepted vice,” Lehman tells AS. “When I was in high school, I told on my brother for smoking pot in the garage solely because I was not a fan of the kids he was hanging out with.  A few years later, I found myself hiding away, just the same, partaking in order to feel just a little bit better.  I needed to apologize for what I had done and own up to my own hypocrisy.  I needed to say that I wasn’t always the perfect child, that I did things wrong time and again, and that I needed to decompress from life.  I wanted to tell the world that I wasn’t doing anything wrong even though so many believe otherwise.  We shove legal chemical cocktails into our throats every day and still become unhinged.  It seems that the universal mentality about drugs is backwards, and I want people to know that that is truly how I feel.  Clearly, as we have seen over the past few years, the times are changing, laws are changing, and minds are changing.  People are beginning to see light and it should be discussed.
When deciding how the song should be portrayed visually, I wanted the movements to express physical and mental struggle as well as growth, change, and freedom. I wanted the video to be simple yet strong.  I wanted it to express the trials and tribulations of youth that every young person deals with on a daily basis.  Toronto based video director Sammy Rawal did an excellent job bringing my visions to life.  The video was filmed in black and white with hand colored red shadows behind Toronto based dancer Ila Kavanagh as she moved.  The red shadows emphasize the very difficult dance we go through when navigating the ups and downs of life.  It is tough to grow up and get through it all, but if we work together, support one another, and stand up tall, we will be able to breathe through it and take on another day.”
Check out the premiere of Carry Illinois’ “Smoke and Medicine” video below, and get Alabasterhere.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

LA's Folk&B Ladies ArtPeace Announce Release Date For "Free Music" And Video Teaser!

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Website:  http://www.weareartpeace.com


And here is the video teaser for single "Hi:)" which is out Sept 18th

On one lazy yet fateful Saturday afternoon, Birmingham, Alabama born and Oakland, California raised, singer/songwriter Taura Stinson googled "Serape Headboard". Feeling unimpressed with initial results, she headed over to Craigslist in hopes of finding a local designer willing to make her Serape dreams come true. She came across Chrissy Depauw's "Love Shack Designs" and the two began discussing specs for Taura's new art piece(pun highly intended). As the conversation came to a close, Taura felt a cosmic nudge deep in her soul and asked Chrissy if she'd consider bartering for the headboard. "Sure, what do you do? ". "I'm a songwriter", Taura responded.

Now Taura could have listed her many accolades, being a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum songwriter who has written for/with artists including but not limited to long-time writing partner Raphael Saadiq, Steven Tyler, Andre 3000, Kanye West, Destiny's Child, Kelly Rowland, Paloma Faith, Jennifer Hudson, Solange Knowles and even Earth Wind & Fire, but being humble she didn't. Instead, Chrissy (an accomplished Singer/Songwriter herself) visited Taura's website and jumped at the chance to seal the deal. Chrissy would handcraft a custom Serape headboard for Taura in exchange for a song. Feeling energized by this quirky coincidence, in less than a week Chrissy had completed the most amazing headboard that Taura had ever seen and they quickly arranged their first writing session.

The stars aligned perfectly as Taura and Chrissy connected on a level only understood by fellow Artists completely committed to their craft. They discussed the highs and lows of their journeys during that magical session and their shared view of the state of the music industry, coupled with infectious melodies and a relentless guitar loop... their first song was born.

Chrissy's journey had been the antithesis of Taura's. The San Diego native became a staple at the Santa Monica promenade years ago and her angelic voice would cut through crowds like wild fire. During her tenure she'd sold over 30,000 copies of her independently released self - titled acoustic cd. She has also shared the stage/worked with many artists including Andy Grammer, Capital Cities, Colbie Caillat and Javier Colon.

Both Taura and Chrissy contributed their talents to film. Chrissy served as co-writer and performer of "Set it on Fire" and "Dream" on the Honey 2 soundtrack, while Taura has co-written songs for various films including but not limited to the certified Diamond soundtrack for Men in Black (Will Smith), The Sitter (Jonah Hill), Epic (Beyonce'), Black Nativity (Forrest Whitaker & Angela Bassett) and Rio 2 (Jamie Foxx & Anne Hathaway), but the 2014 Gina Price-Bythewood film "Beyond the Lights" is where their collaborative journey officially began. Their song "Airplay" was featured in the film and was performed by Chrissy.

Both Taura and Chrissy felt their serendipitous union was not destined to end with one song and so they embarked on an musical journey, with Chrissy encouraging Taura to rise from the anonymous background she'd grown accustomed to and join her in splitting vocal duties.

One night Taura had a vision of herself standing alongside Chrissy with the name "ArtPeace" scrolling behind them. "Me, an artist?" She asked herself. Her soul replied, "Hell, yeah".

Immediately they began work on their soon to be released debut album entitled "Free Music". It includes the haunting single "High", co-written and produced by Darien Dorsey who also serves as co-executive producer. Darien's formal training at the Berklee College of Music coupled with Chrissy's undying love of 90's R&B and Taura's eclectic sensibility rendered a pervasive collection of music that bursts through the rigid and confined walls of "genre". ArtPeace describes their sound as "FOLK&B" which marries the organic sound of Folk music with rich lyrics and instrumentation that bleeds like the blues.

In addition to Darien, ArtPeace collaborated with Raphael Saadiq on the Southern hinged backyard song, "Son of A Gun". Saadiq also duets with the ladies on "Heaven Down Here" which is the sonic equivalent of licking batter dipped beaters of Grandmas best kept secret recipe.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Juleah Had Me At Mazzy Star, Oasis, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Verve...

Stumbled on Austrian multi-instrumentalist Julia Hummer who goes under Juleah WHAT A TREAT!

Following the release of her debut, self-titled EP in 2012, Juleah released the album Shimmering Road and another EP called "Entangled and Entwined" in 2013. Her latest offering, Melt Inside the Sun, is her most unique creation to date. Out for release on May 29, Melt Inside the Sun trades some of Juleah’s signature reverb-soaked guitars and faraway vocals for a new more mature soundscape.

I will agree with her bio above that this release is the most unique over her previous releases. In a genre so hot right not it’s hard to stand out and Julia did just that! I don’t know German, which she sings on 2 tracks, but I felt as if I knew exactly what she was saying.
Dirty blues, hooky guitar riffs and almost stoner rock fuzz is what sold me on my favorite track “Wild Machine”

I see she has put this out on vinyl and that is exactly where I would want to hear this whole album!  Recommend checking this gal out!