Carousel Caresses Onlookers @ The Echoplex


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.

“Let’s Go Home” will caress those ears of yours:

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Video: The Trouble With Templeton - “Bleeders”

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.

Also published on The Trouble With Templeton / BB

Michael Kiwanuka @ The Troubador, 8/13

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.

Set List:

1. I’ll Get Along

2. You’ll Give

3. Tell Me A Tale

4. Worry Walk

5. Always Waiting

6. Bones

7. May This Be Love

8. I’m Getting Ready

9. Rest

10. Lasan

11. Home Again

12. If You’d Dare

13. I Don’t Know

Related Articles:

2k12 Outside Lands Band Lineup And Ticket Details

Michael Kiwanuka Releases EP, Home Again

Artist Links:


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Album Review: Blonds “The Bad Ones”

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:

Related Articles:

Blonds Announce New Album ‘The Bad Ones’

Video: Blonds “Kite”

Album Review: Blonds “Dark Roots EP”

Band Links:



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Album Review: Torches - “Heads Full Of Rust”

"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.

You can grab Heads Full Of Rust on iTunes or CD Baby.

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PK @ The Roxy, 6/15

“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

Also published on PK / BB

The Mowgli’s CD Release Party @ The Roxy

In a word, The Mowgli’s are happy. The crowd that follows The Mowgli’s is quite a diverse one, not so surprising given their demeanor - filling The Roxy with old and young, long skirts, short shorts and even studded belts. Turns out love & happiness arent’t just reserved for flower power!

The benefits of releasing an album before throwing the party are that the audience already owns, loves and knows every word so this crowd didn’t miss a beat once the curtain rose! The Mowgli’s started things off with “Hi Hey There Hello,” the first track on Sound The Drum. Their set followed the album consecutively, giving a great feel for the flow of things and definitely testing the band’s stamina - their slower songs are few and far between which makes for a great party…and a lot of sweat!

The Roxy proved to be a great host, appropriately presenting and catering to The Mowgli’s big sound. Granted, the best environment to enjoy them is probably your back yard where you have plenty room to dance and be merry. This must be the most amiable group of people, happily talking with the crowd between songs, inviting friends to the stage and Colin Dieden was even nice enough to lend his special necklace to a fan. A defining characteristic of their live performance, aside from constantly moving about, is their sense of brotherhood and togetherness. They sing, they shout, they dance all together - sharing microphones and the spotlight. Even during a solo song like “Time,” a song guitarist Michael Vincze sings with an acoustic guitar, has a sense of camaraderie as his fellow mates offer back up vocals and instrumental support. “Slowly, Slowly” featured a peak in the all-around energy of the room as the band demonstrated that they practice what they preach through shouts, smiles and love for everyone in the room. The song’s excitable instrumental breakdown offered everyone time to get sucked into the moment and release their free spirits. The same went for well-known single, “San Francisco,” featuring more exhilarating shouts and waving hands than the recording implies. Before performing “The Great Divide,” Michael announced, “this song is about how you can make every day the greatest day of your life, it’s the first song we ever wrote.” Producer, Christian Hand joined his friends on stage for some vocal assistance as Katie Earl finished the song with band member introductions to the crowd.

The Mowgli’s define an important lesson that fellow Angelino’s need to learn - it’s time to let go and just live! As they shout in “Carry Your Will,” “Let your faith guide your fate / If you carry your will I will carry my will.” Filling the percussion driven dance party void that The Local Natives have left, The Mowgli’s are a guaranteed good time, even the most bitter moods can be salvaged with a dose of a Mowgli’s track.

Grab Sound The Drum off of their Bandcamp at a price you name for yourself. I suggest giving it a good listen to determine how worth it the album is!

Band Links:


Also published on & The Mowgli’s/ IRR & The Mowgli’s / BB

Check out my introductory article with Brian Lopez will likely make you swoon and his cover of Echo And The Bunnymen ain’t so bad either.

Stay tuned for my interview with Brian!