Well, maybe not literally, but nevertheless, Carousel serenaded their intimate and enchanted crowd. The trio’s great spirits set a friendly tone over the onlookers; their smiles and laughter were undeniably contagious, perking the subdued nature of their electro-pop sound. Despite being relatively new, the group has a solid grasp on their intentions, mistakes only noticeable in the chuckling exchange of glances between drummer, Dan Drohan, and guitarist, Kevin Friedman. Playing a satisfying account of the laundry list of tracks they have compiled since forming in Sept. 2k11, Carousel gave life to their recordings through the enhanced power of live drums and real-time mixing. Although the drumbeats lean towards a simpler style, Dan conducted his strikes in a hypnotizing manner while Kevin, mysteriously playing in the stage’s shadows, pounded his guitar during their unreleased single, “Destiny.”
Naturally, their single, “Let’s Go Home,” had the most crowd response, along with their spot on cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” but the crowd was hardly shy; cheering, dancing and encouraging nothing but more, more, more. Towards the end of their set, singer, Jackson Phillips, motioned his onlookers to move in closer for “Lonely Heart,” saying, “We need everyone to dance more for this one!” We did.
Thomas Calder aka The Trouble With Templeton swept Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide away last weekend. Hailing from Australia, Thomas captivated the assorted onlookers, leaving a long-lasting impression in Los Angeles. This week, The Trouble With Templeton is traveling to New York for the esteemed CMJ Music Marathon. Before you race there to catch a glimpse of his fervent performance, watch the haunting video for “Bleeders,” off the band’s debut album Bleeders [I Wrote A Novel EP].
Foggy silhouettes of Thomas as he walks through a cemetery amongst elegant zombie ballet capture the essence of this strolling ballad as he sings, “I don’t feel your heart anymore / ‘Cause you are so far gone.”
With vocals and instrumental intricacies similar to artists like Jeff Buckley and Andy Hull [Manchester Orchestra], The Trouble With Templeton hones the intensity of desperation and passion with an irresistible allure.
When you are in the presence of Michael Kiwanuka, you will be blown away.
The Troubador in Los Angeles was a very kind host, especially for a Monday, filled with a sophisticated and overt crowd that was more than happy to praise the 24-year old’s brilliant talents. London native, Kiwanuka has been silently seizing music lovers of all kinds over the past few months and its no wonder - his tight grasp of jazz and soul surpasses any of his peers and his modesty merely enhances the generosity offered in his music.
An eclectic group of mates supported Kiwanuka, keeping up with his pace and enhancing the overall stage presence. Playing an hour and a half long set, each song was precise and enchanting, enacting uncontrollable body sways and head bobs. Structured like an impromptu jazz session, Kiwanuka’s strong calming voice was complimented by rich instrumentals filled with sizzling cymbals, refined bass lines, subtle bongos, and of course, exceptional guitar playing.
As he picked up his Les Paul for his melodic and steady “Worry Walks Beside Me,” Kiwanuka explained, “This [tour] in America has been a lot of festivals and it’s been a lot of fun, but some songs you can’t play because it just won’t sound right so I am very glad to play this one.” Scraping the surface of the intimacy of his live tracks, his gentleness quickly contrasted with the accelerated “Bones,” one of his more elastic and upbeat songs, singing, “I guess I’ll leave / This world alone / ‘Cause without you I’m just bones.”
Kiwanuka preceded his cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “May This Be Love” with a short speech of gratitude and recognition: “This song inspired me to play guitar and think about doing it every day…I feel pretty good playing it, I can’t be here without it.” Exhibiting his expertise in guitar, he shifted the originally psychedelic track into a tranquil and soulful performance.
Ditching the general melancholic qualities of jazz, even his downtempo and introspective songs are sanguine and encouraging. Kiwanuka introduced his encore telling his audience, “One more song on one condition, you have to sing it with me!” Finishing off the night with “I Don’t Know,” was the most fun being insecure and repeating “I just don’t know” could ever get. The band extended the track with an enthusiastic free form instrumental, stimulating the crowd to clap and dance along.
The only downside to Kiwanuka is that his recorded tracks hardly do his aptitude justice. He has full command of his guitar, which he describes is a product of his environment: “You can grow up two ways in the 90’s, I guess: you can have loads of computers around the house and make beats or you can get a cheap guitar down the street…I couldn’t do cool stuff like different drum beats so all of my songs started out as just me and my guitar.” The casual and exposed nature of his songs makes his stage presence even more congenial and his sense of humor is simply irresistible.
Now that they are beyond the raw self-recordings, all the potential of Blonds is true! Not that there was a doubt, its just nice to be right. This adorable couple has finally completed their anticipated LP, The Bad Ones and are gaining some much-deserved attention.
Carie Rae and Jordy Asher alluded to a darker side in their Dark Roots E.P. but stuck mostly to dreamy up-tempo songs. The Bad Ones delves more into what sets this duet apart - juxtaposing gothic and methodical with a contemporary and relatable fairy tale theme. Blonds wastes no time channelling their ‘50’s influences in the short but sweet opener, “Heartstrings.” Asher’s quiet count-off sets a personal tone for the album as it whisks you into an ethereal time-warp.
Blonds’ comfortable style on this album is easily mistaken for being rough and the use of samples like the one applied in “Amen” to shift the tone can be misleading; however, Asher’s graceful instrumentals, such as the orchestration in the title track “The Bad Ones” contrast the underlining scratchy loops of the sweet and catchy “Time” and Rae’s overall gritty vocals to remind listeners that despite their informalities, the production mindset is still top-notch.
Characteristic smooth blends of genres ranging from surf-rock strums to vertical jazz guitar are as straightforward as it gets in “Mr. E,” a Jack Marshall-style track that is seductive in its downtempo verses. Blonds ace catchy in the emotionally affixing singles “Run” and “Time,” both lyrically hopeful, “Time is on our side” and “All I need is a pair of shoes / All I ever do is run, run, run” with bridges that expand expected limitations.
Asher’s vocal presence is minimal until the last half of the album but he is hardly absent, considering he wrote and performs the songs as Rae sings. Taking over in “Gospel Kid” is a welcomed shift with jolting strums and ultra moody sensations. Rapid alternate picking and finger-style jazz guitar drive the album, conveying authenticity and reverence to their influences. The Bad Ones is sedated but Rae and Asher manage their dynamic qualities well, offering little room to grow restless.
Indulge in their title track video for a dose of the darkness:
If you have not listened to this album while driving the canyons at night, you still haven’t heard it right. Two years after his debut, Forget, George Lewis Jr. aka Twin Shadow returns with an album that secures a lot of new attention without removing old fans. Although Confessis comprised of brighter songs than Twin Shadow’s first round, it still retains the dark edge that defines Lewis’ style and draws you in.
Twin Shadow drives the eleven tracks down an emotional road, conflicted in relationships and acknowledging how they transform. Given that Confess is no doubt a comprehensive collection of Lewis’ talents, it is noticeably less intimate than its predecessor but holds its ground nevertheless - although I still rather hear more of his guitar shredding and aggressive drum lines. Its the nature of the album though, recorded in a real studio (as opposed to the previous basement), produced by Lewis himself, and modeled to beckon, Confessis simply more accessible.
Although run time is almost 50 minutes, the songs transition so gracefully that it’s hard to believe its over. Luckily Lewis includes a hidden track, “Mirror In The Dark” which allows for realignment to the real world again. Yes, real world, because regardless of how common Indie music gets, Lewis still drags you into his shadows, creating something like that Las Vegas effect - the sensory saturation that leads to the ‘how long was I in there?” realization. This is the conclusion to an entirely voluminous succession of tracks, especially “Patient” with marching percussion interlaced with a synth buzz and a quick drum bridge that was recorded on a football field. This drum style is a definitive characteristic of Confessand makes an appearance quite frequently, adorning “I Don’t Care” at Lewis’ commanding claps until he sings some of the harshest words I’ve ever heard: “Before the night is through / I will say three words / I’ll probably mean the first two and regret the third” while chanting “Hey” methodically.
Despite being such an impassioned lyricist, Lewis is unusually straightforward and somewhat curt, implying a tiredness in searching for love. Amongst the grungy electric guitar shreds (the kind that supports that nagging void of instrumental bragging) and biting synths of “You Call Me On,” Lewis pointedly says, “I don’t give a damn about your dreams / Or a world that is falling at the seams / Because that’s what it’s supposed to do.” Lewis manipulates his accent to fill milliseconds with more words than you can actually hear. His David Byrne-style vocals (yes, that is a more accurate description than the lazy Morrissey associations) in “Run My Heart” echo in accordance with his quiet and slow guitar picks, starry keys and the stunning background choral voices layered over Lewis’ depicted struggle make this track genuinely standout. ”When The Movie’s Over” is the closest Confessgets to Lewis’ previous umbra, getting especially moody and truly harnessing the new wave inspirations. Authentic and honest, this song has a dominating bass line and chiefly twitching synths along with whistling samples that channel Britain in the 80’s.
Of course, the single “Five Seconds” wore on me until I realized that the abrupt start and overall feeling of incompleteness is actually Lewis’ success in conveying the act of just jumping into something. Rich and fast, the synths scale during the chorus while electric guitar tells its own sentient experience.
Confess is an artistic effort, capturing a moment and the nostalgia that lingers. This album was composed for dreamers - the vanity of our youth and the beauty about that fleeting era of our lives. Delicately combining new wave synths with post punk-styled rhythms, Lewis compliments his instrumentals with fervent lyrics filled with articulate double entendre’s and ambiguity. Regardless of his seemingly level-headedness, Lewis can still isolate emotion that transcends comprehension. This juxtaposition is what makes Twin Shadow so infatuating…and Confess so addicting. Check out Twin Shadow’s acoustic performance of “Run My Heart” from Yourstru.ly. Gives me chills!
Its great to see George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, on a bike - especially in cheetah print creepers and towing a stuffed coyote. “Five Seconds” is the world’s introduction to Confess, Twin Shadow’s second album due out July 10. Commencing with a nostalgic narration by Twin Shadow himself, the video immediately changes pace as we watch the unspoken bond between two bros defeat a gang of bunny masks with bats - known as the Princes Goons. Its graphic, its emotional, its flat out awesome. Oh, and this leads into the follow-up video, “Patient,” which looks just as promising. D’angelo Lacy co-stars, directed by Keith Musil.
Twin Shadow Tons Up for tour in July:
7-27 @ Paradise in Boston 7-28 @ Corona Theater in Montreal 7-30 @ Lee’s Palace in Toronto 8-061 @ Crofoot Ballroom - Pike Room in Pontiac 8-06 @ 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis 8-08 @ Pyramid Cabaret in Winnipeg 08-10 @ Saits The Gateway in Calgary 08-11 @ Venue in Vancouver 08-14 @ Doug Fir Lounge in Portland 08-16 @ Great American Music Hall in San Francisco 08-18 @ Soho Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara 08-24 @ The Cellar Door in Visalia 09-04 @ The Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix 09-05 @ Tricky Falls in El Paso 09-07 @ Bluebird THeater in Denver 09-08 @ Waiting Room in Omaha 09-09 @ The Granada Theater in Lawrence 09-11 @ Opolis in Norman 09-13 @ Trees in Dallas 09-14 @ The Mohawk in Austin 09-16 @ Fitzgerald’s in Houston 09-17 @ Cine El Rey in McAllen 09-18 @ Bottletree in Birmingham 09-19 @ The Earl in Atlanta 09-21 @ Orange Peel in Asheville 09-23 @ Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro 09-24 @ Black Cat in Washington 09-25 @ Union Transfer in Philadelphia 09-27 @ Webster Hall in New York
“You never know a person until you know their fears.” With that said, its safe to claim the worth of listening to the lyrics for Torches’ bits of wisdom - and thats a pretty good one. Their twelve-track debut album Heads Full Of Rust is quite a solid introduction to the Los Angeles local (ok, South Pasadena) dwellers, especially given that these guys (and lady) manage themselves. The album is also graced by engineer, David Newton (The Henry Clay People, Happy Hollows) and mastered by Mark Chalecki (Silversun Pickups, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and with those stats alone, you know you won’t have to tread lightly.
Azad Cheikosman’s gentle voice guides the melancholic theme while the electric guitar pickups give their tracks a radiance that floats the subdued mood. The single, “I Want Something” shuffles along but its slight repetitiveness is unique to the album. Instead, their dreamy tunes are relaxing enough to unwind with but plenty catchy to make for some great sing-a-long jams. With focused instrumental build-ups like in the title track, “Heads Full Of Rust”, Torches define their aptitude for their devices and how to unite them in an utterly charming style. “Whine” and “Dead Face” both capture the sleepy town concept perfectly with calm yet progressive melodies that sweep you through a graduated series of parallel strings and echoing hums. Their overall use of spring reverb and varying tonal characteristics are strong elements that carry throughout the album, complimenting the lyrical theme of an unbounded search for fulfillment. The raw claps of “Lights Go On” positively shape the track’s ruminative manner while the eagerness of “Out Of The Desert” charges with the chorus, “throw up my fists into the air screaming someone let me out of here!”
Never getting too tender or harsh, Torches perfectly exemplifies indie <em>rock</em>. From self management to manipulating shuffled percussion with falsettos and channeling dreamy surf rock guitar sequences, this trio has composed an extraordinary debut album.
“I don’t like the parking in this town!” singer, Travis Hawley, joked to the crowd. Playing their first show at The Roxy in Hollywood (and overall second gig in Tinsel Town), the San Luis Obispo based PK was more than ready to rock the legendary venue. The crowd was so exhilarated just at the sight of these hunks, Travis really could have said anything and they’d go wild.
The vitality of the room was hardly one-sided despite PK’s odd shyness and preference to play straight through their set with hardly a break. The show kicked off with quick-paced “The Catch,” and Travis didn’t waste any time scaling the truss. Monkeying around is these fellas specialty – the rousing energy in their pop meets punk rock songs is no doubt a product of their vigorous spirits, which radiate off the stage and flood their diverse fans.
PK started “1920″ with Travis playing an acoustic guitar smiling as he told the crowd, “Alright, watch me mess this up.” This acoustic opening led to an unexpected flare into the whole band pounding their instruments, accelerating the overall pace of the song and throwing the crowd into an uproar. The synth-laden “Some Nights” proved to be a great excuse for all the members to show off their inner rockstar – bassist Mikel Van Kranenburg played with his appendage lifted in the air as guitarists Matt Depauw and Nick Fotinakes synchronized and jumped around stage. Drummer, Rico Rodriguez was unstoppable regardless of the heavy percussion load of each song. Most of the onlookers mouthed every word and if they couldn’t do that, they were certainly jumping to the music.
Travis’ astute articulation shined in their single, “London” as the power in their heavy chords amped up the instrumentals. Although PK live nearly mirrors their sound in the studio, their stage presence trumps any recording: oozing power, potential and utter command, leaving the crowd no choice but to hang on their every note. Their boyish charm swoons and their sincere talent makes them inextinguishable, plus their attitude combined with the sanguine melodies prove its just a matter of time before rockstar is more than just an attitude. Setlist: The Catch Sea Wolves Innocence Some Nights Not In Love 1920 London Berelain