April 11, 2014
by Bill Pearis
Dazed Digital: Your last album, Leisure Seizure, took about five years of suffering for your art. Was it easier this time around?It took Tom Vek five years to make his second album. It only took him three to make his third, Luck, which will be out June 9 via Moshi Moshi. That is the minimalist cover art above. The first single from the record is "Sherman (Animals In The Jungle)" which... sounds like Tom Vek. Not a bad thing to have every few years. You can check it out via a lyric video, below.
Tom Vek: I think so. There's pros and cons to working on your own and with other people, but with this one I thought, right, I'll try and get it completely done on my own. It gets closer to this idea that you're expressing a singular - not even a vision, because I'm not sure I have a vision, but a character. That's always been the deal with this project, with these Tom Vek records. Everything has to have been done by me. There are no samples, and everything has to have been made from scratch. It's about capturing something that might be a bit shambolic or something a bit scatty, something a bit imperfect. - [Dazed Digital]
by Andrew Sacher
Mansions/La Dispute/Pianos Become the Teeth @ MHOW - 4/10/14 (via Erin OGrady)
Though it hardly feels like it anymore thanks to "Nirvana," there were other shows happening in NYC last night (4/10), including the sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg stop of La Dispute's tour with Pianos Become the Teeth and Mansions. I arrived there about halfway through Mansions, whose grungy power pop was sounding pretty good last night. I like them on record, but sometimes it's a little polished for my taste and I thought they really benefited from the absence of studio shine in a live setting.
Up next were Pianos Become the Teeth, who I've caught a couple times before but last night's show was easily the best I've seen of theirs. As much post-rock as they are post-hardcore, Pianos are an intense band to watch even if moshing and rushing the stage aren't your thing. Last night they previewed some material from an upcoming album (details TBA) which had vocalist Kyle Durfey singing as opposed to the harsher screams of their earlier material, not unlike he did on "Hiding" from their 2013 split with Touche Amore. The new stuff sounded great and "Hiding" had the crowd shouting along louder than any other song. Keep an eye on the new stuff from these guys.
Finally La Dispute took the stage, and though the venue had been full all night and each band definitely had fans in the room, they clearly felt like the "headliners" (which is still kind of amazing considering it wasn't long ago they played that same venue as openers for Hot Water Music). They've earned it though. La Dispute are an ever-evolving band who have cut their teeth relentlessly touring for years, and their newest Rooms of the House LP has some of their strongest material yet. The band mostly stuck to songs off that album, and though the new songs are less likely to induce moshing/screaming along, when the old favorites did come they actually felt overshadowed by the band's new direction. (Not that the crowd didn't freak out for "Andria" and "Said the King to the River.") And as with most post-Wildlife La Dispute shows, set-closer "King Park" remains a highly emotional live-show moment that still few of their peers are capable of.
La Dispute's setlist from MHOW and a video of "Woman (Reading)" from their Toronto show three days earlier, below...
The first time I met Future Islands was at the now defunct Baltimore DIY space Jesus Camp in 2010. I was playing a show with Adventure and Moss of Aura, the solo project of Gerrit Welmers from Future Islands. I still vividly remember the audience's unplanned yet naturally synchronized sway when Deem, from Moss of Aura's "Still Parade", started playing. Frontman Samuel Herring was in attendance on crutches, recovering (as he reminded me last week) from an injury sustained in the middle of performing as part of a live Dan Deacon show in Europe. Herring still finished the show.
The first time I actually saw Future Islands perform was a few months later. I played a show with them when they came through my hometown on tour with Lower Dens. Ask any fan or friend of Future Islands about them and you'll consistently hear the same two words: honest and hardworking. The hardworking part isn't supernatural — they were already four-year road warriors by that point. It's the confident honesty that's so special. Everyone in the audience felt like Herring was sharing a piece of time with just them, even if it was just for a moment. Sweat dripping, eyes locked. Each live song was a real performance without feeling calculated. To be so genuinely engaging in a live setting is hard work. I've been a fan ever since.
Jump forward 4 years to their (very) sold-out show at Doug Fir in Portland, OR on 4/5. The night was a Baltimore lovefest, with the bubbly-ambient drones of Jason Urick kicking it off and the frenetic Ed Schrader's Music Beat playing next. Which reminds me: go see Ed Schrader's Music Beat immediately — total surprise of the night.
Denny Bowen (formerly of Double Dagger, currently of Roomrunner) is on live drums for Future Islands this tour. The stoic precision of Bowen, Welmers, and bassist William Cashion provided excellent contrast to the tirelessly raw and off-the-wall Herring. The set was an equal mix of old and new, hitting on the inevitable "Seasons (Waiting On You)" and "Tin Man" but also bringing some tenderness to more restrained tracks like "Little Dreamer" and "A Song For Our Grandfathers." During their encore, a cadre of fans rushed the stage mid-song to dance along.
Future Islands "Vireo's Eye", live in Portland
After witnessing their live set, it should be obvious to even the freshest Letterman fan that their success is anything but a flash in the pan. If you get a chance to see them live, don't hesitate - they are on top of their shit and it's a thrill to watch.
At Coachella this weekend and next, their tour hits a sold out Webster Hall in NYC on April 30. They played Bowery Ballroom earlier in the trek. The band also just announced they'll appear on TV again, this time on Jimmy Kimmel Live! On May 5.
Ed Schrader's Music Beat continues touring with Future Islands, but also plays Shea Stadium in Brooklyn on June 13. They also just released a brand new track from their new album Party Jail which comes out via Infinity Cat on May 20. You can listen to "Televan" below.
All dates are also listed with more pictures and video from the Portland show, below...
photos by P Squared Photography
Neil Finn / with Liam Finn @ Town Hall, 4/8/2014
When he sat down at the grand piano, Mr. Finn realized that part of the audience couldn't see him. When he moved to guitar, his elaborate pedal board failed and had to be carried backstage for repairs. For a while, Mr. Finn couldn't use his detailed guitar effects, playing directly through his amplifier; he joked about how much he missed his pedals until he got them back mid-set. To stay visible, Mr. Finn played his biggest hit, "Don't Dream It's Over" from Crowded House, on guitar rather than piano. When he did return to the piano, band members helped rotate it to a better angle. "It's one of those nights, ladies and gentlemen, when we have to abandon the script," Mr. Finn announced.Neil Finn just released a new album, Dizzy Heights, and was in NYC on Tuesday (4/8) at Town Hall, as part of his current tour. Despite some technical glitches early on (as detailed in the quoted Times review above), Neil carried on like the class act he is, playing for around two-and-half hours, including two encores. His set included plenty of Dizzy Heights, plus songs from throughout his nearly 40-year career, including Spit Enz and Crowded House classics. Setlist and pictures are in this post.
In a way, the dishevelment tied into the songs. Mr. Finn's narrators are often buffeted by their circumstances: insecure about life, entangled in iffy romances, longing for love but braced for disappointment. Yet his music tells different, more confident stories. Mr. Finn writes pop songs that expertly stretch the possibilities of verse-chorus-bridge; they use convoluted chord progressions, toy with meter and are full of twists and turns, even as the choruses stay catchy. - [New York Times]
Neil's band includes his wife, Sharon, on bass and during the encore it became a real family affair, bringing out sons Liam and Elroy (on drums), and they hooked up a computer with Skype so that their grandmother could watch the Finn's play. They did Liam's song "Fire in Your Belly" (not from his new album) and covered Bowie's "Moonage Daydream." Liam pulled a Hendrix and played guitar with his teeth and cut his face in the process. Careful, Liam! You can catch Liam (with Elroy on drums) in NYC at Union Pool next week.
Opening the show were Midlake who are in acoustic mode on this tour. Pictures of their opening set and more from Neil Finn, below...
by Doug Moore
Whitehorse at the Acheron, 2012 (more by Fred Pessaro)
Both Australian sludge/noise unit Whitehorse and prolific and like-minded Americans The Body (who, for the record, are in fact currently based in Portland, OR) are both at Roadburn this weekend and will embark on separate European tours afterwards. Once they've wrapped those up, the two will reconvene for a NYC show at Saint Vitus on May 8. along with compelling local support from Gnaw & Theologian. Tix are available now.
This won't be your only opportunity to catch The Body live this spring/summer -- they'll be back on July 5 at ABC No Rio as part of their tour with Thou, whom they just released a collaborative EP with. Not to be outdone by their tourmates in the absurdly-prolific department, Thou have also released another EP, this one a standalone entitled The Sacrifice. You can stream it below. In a thematically appropriate but wholly unsurprising twist, it features a Nirvana cover ("I Hate Myself and I Want to Die," specifically), a band they've covered before.
(And speaking of Saint Vitus and Nirvana...)
Check out the Thou stream and all lists of tour dates below...
Death in June @ The Bell House, 2013 (more by Greg Cristman)
Influential and controversial neofolk band Death in June toured last year, including a show at The Bell House. The band are planning a return trip this year and, while the whole tour hasn't been announced, the NYC show has: The Webster Hall on May 31. The show is with the Miro Snejdr-Herr Lounge Corps and tickets are on sale now.
As to the controversy part, we wrote before their tour last year:
The band has repeatedly toyed with Nazi imagery over the years, which has led to show cancellations on a few occasions including in Chicago (this 2013 tour currently has a Chicago date scheduled). And though Douglas P has repeatedly denied any nefarious use for a Death in June logo depicting a totenkopf the fact remains that it was an insignia for the SS during the Third Reich. (For the record, Douglas P, sole original member still with DIJ, is an out homosexual.)Despite the controversy, last year's Bell House show was kind of a non-event.
by Wyatt Marshall
Gwar at the Housecore Horror Fest in Austin, 2013 (more by Trent Maxwell)
We lost Gwar frontman Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, a couple weeks ago and now the surviving Gwar members have released an official statement on his death via a video. In it they talk about the memorial service that will happen just before August's annual GWAR-B-Q in Richmond, VA which will continue as planned in Brockie's honor. (The band added that Brockie passed away peacefully in his sleep.) Watch the video below, in which Gwar gives a forceful reminder that "Orderus would order you to be present and to pay tribute to Dave Murray Brockie, his own personal slave!" In just over two weeks, the universe has lost two ultimate overlords.
Gwar has also announced the creation of The Dave Brockie Foundation. Here's a mission statement from Gwar's site:
The Dave Brockie Foundation is a charity fund with the mission of promoting the advancement of music, images, letters and performances in the arts. It will endeavor to encourage promising talents, as well as preserving the legacy of Dave's body of works. It intends to be a support system to those who have dedicated their lives in pursuit of creativity. The Dave Brockie Foundation will be a resource for artists in the fields of music, film, literature and all visual arts who cannot find funding through mainstream channels. The DBF will also strive to catalog and preserve Dave's vast collection of original images, recordings and written words, and make them available for the world to appreciate. The foundation's first goal is to finance the creation of a memorial monument in Richmond, Virginia to provide the world with a place to pay respects to the memory of a very cherished man.
Donations can be made on Gwar's website.
Watch Gwar's message below...
by Bill Pearis
Todd Terje released his teriffic debut, It's Album Time!, this week. (Stream it at Rdio.) While he's best known for '80s-inspired arpeggiated workouts like "Inspector Norse" and "Delorean Dynamite" the album kicks off with new single "Leisure Suit Preben" which owes more to Ennio Morricone's exotica side than to Jan Hammer. It may also owe a little to a classic video game.
The single's accompanying video, directed by Espen Friberg & Emil Høgset, follows Preben himself (played by Edvard Tidemann) on a sleazy drunken night in Oslo. Like the song itself, it takes an interesting turn halfway through. Watch it below.
photos by Amanda Hatfield
The Love Language / Porches @ Baby's All Right, 4/10/2014
Raleigh, NC group The Love Language are in the midst of a short East Coast tour which hit NYC last night (4/10) at Baby's All Right. The band's line-up has morphed a little over the years but still front and center is Stuart McLamb whose confessional songs have always been at the heart of things. Later this summer they'll be part of the Merge 25 festival in North Carolina, so look for them there if you're going.
Also on the bill were Brooklyn's Porches, whose 2013 album Slow Dance in the Cosmos has been steadily picking up acclaim. Their heartfelt songs were a nice fit with The Love Language. Opening the night were another local band, KDH, who got things off to a rocking start. Photos from the whole evening are in this post.
photos by P Squared Photography
Laura Mvula @ MHOW - 4/9/14
British pop boundary pusher Laura Mvula is currently on tour in North America leading up to her appearance at Coachella this weekend. Ahead of that, she stopped in NYC for a sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday night (4/9). Pictures of that show are in this post.
Opening the show was Wisconsin indie pop band PHOX, who release their debut album Slow Motion on 6/24 via Partisan. They play NYC again on July 23 at Mercury Lounge. Tickets for that show go on sale today (4/11) at noon.
More pictures below...