Entries tagged with: Sea of Bees
photos by Diana Wong
Kimbra & Gotye @ Bowery Ballroom
When it finally came time to play the song everyone was waiting for, the guy standing next to me said, "Already?" and then begrudgingly removed his cell phone and started filming the stage. Truth be told: Gotye's set, which lasted a bit over an hour, was about three-quarters done. So it seemed as good a time as any.More pictures from the smallest show Gotye will probably be playing in NYC for a while, and a Wall Street Journal video interview, below...
De Backer joked with the audience that perhaps he'd sing the song in a creepy low-octave vocoder. Nobody laughed; they didn't want anyone messing with the song they'd come to see.
And as the band played, crisply and assured, it remained a bit puzzling that this song is as catchy and perfect as it is. Its simple verse line sounds straight out of a modern folk-rock tune, nothing out of the ordinary, with the Brazilian guitar sample plugging along in the distance. But then that chorus! The doubled vocals and easy-going nature of the whole thing. Kimbra, the 22-year-old Australian artist who guests on the song and in the video, came out from backstage in a black romper to sing her second verse and belt out some "aahs" during the final chorus. [Huffington Post]
Casiokids @ Public Assembly
Well, another CMJ week has come and gone. How did you fare?
Though Northside summoned a number of my favorite artists to town, the CMJ line-up was rather thin by comparison, so I made it my goal to catch as many new acts as possible this year. With help from BV's tightly scheduled day parties, I managed to squeeze in 46 bands. While it's all still fresh in my mind (ie, before I spend the next week hibernating), here's a recap of my week, complete with my favorite finds...
I kicked things off with trance-inducing, one-man knob twittler Sun Glitters. Figuring out how to bring life to headphone-friendly, sample-heavy music in a live audience setting can be a challenge, but the few I saw this week (Million Young, Chad Valley and Luxembourg's Sun Glitters included) were decent.
If last year was the age of the one-man laptop act, 2011 was rife with lo-fi, synth/guitar-heavy (mostly) male groups cloaked in reverb. Each band had its strengths: Sunglasses (great energy on stage), Gauntlet Hair, Guards (perfectly summed up the sound of the moment), 1,2,3, Balkans (nice balance of in-your-face guitars and sunnily-swaggering vox), Tiny Victories. But after a while, I confess they all started to blend together--especially since a good chunk of these bands came early in the week for me.
What did stand out for me in this category was San Diego's garage-psych outfit Tropical Popsicle. Instead of falling flat, the deadpan vocal delivery of Tim Hines pulled me in and kept my attention, making me forget about my plans to leave midset. Another pleasant surprise for me was Dive, the side project of Beach Fossils guitarist Zachary Cole Smith.
But after a rather slow start to the week when schedule issues and cancellations made me abandon my original plans, things definitely picked up midweek. I spent Wednesday evening shuffling around in the rain to some seven venues. From the synth-driven pop music of Norway's Casiokids (whom I managed to sneak in on my lunch hour) to the decent public radio-friendly folk-pop of The Lighthouse and The Whaler and Lissy Trullie's alluringly husky vocals, the day was full of pleasant surprises--not the least of which was John Maus, easily one of the highlights of my week.
As I walked through the door at 285 Kent, I immediately felt as if I had gone back in time. Thick music pumped from the DIY graffiti-covered space, through clouds of cigarette smoke. On stage, Maus shook with intensity as he addressed the mass of dancing, sweaty revelers. Beneath the shambling chaos of the quick synth riffs and simple drum lines is an unhinged but triumphant quality that is intoxicating. I had heard whispered stories of Maus shows before, but I never really understood the fervor until I saw it for myself.
Thursday was also packed with a number of good finds. I somehow found myself in the 7th floor of a swanky hotel for an "acoustic" (as in not electric; not unplugged) Dum Dum Girls set (though only 2/4 band members were present). Other highlights included the seriously talented and take-your-breath-away-beautiful dreamy folk-pop of Gem Club (who just released their debut album on Hardly Art), and Brooklyn's own, Headless Horseman who make fun, glitchy, hook-laden music with inventive beats (Their song "Wavlngth" was seriously one of my favorites all week.)
Friday, my band-count escalated rapidly, thanks to the BV day showcase at Public Assembly, which essentially had two bands playing each hour. I knocked out a few of the hyped bands in this fashion, including Chelsea Wolfe and Gauntlet Hair. (I also stepped over to Cameo briefly to catch a few adrenaline-packed songs from the Brooklyn duo Hunters.) With her beautifully haunting (but not annoying operatic) vocals Chelsea Wolfe was certainly one of the more memorable acts of the week. Would she be getting as much buzz if she didn't dress like "a medival [sic] reinactment [sic] person from Medival [sic] Times" (to quote an anonymous BV commenter)? Hard to say, but I have to give the woman credit--I couldn't take my eyes off her, and she was one of the few artists I caught twice. But my surprise favorite of the day show was Young Magic. Hip-hop and dark electro-pop may be unlikely bedfellows, but they sure make for quite an interesting pair. These guys are a force.
Other highlights of the day included the eye-catching electro-pop duo Purity Ring (love the name) and one of my favorite SXSW finds from earlier this year, Sea of Bees. At Webster Hall, Purity Ring's bass was so powerful at times that I almost forgot to breathe. Though the band relies on a lot of samples to craft their sound, they are far more interesting to watch due to their onstage chemistry and mysterious gold-piped instrument. Though nothing alike, my other favorite artist of the evening was Sea of Bees. Singer/songwriter Julie Baeziger's genuinely sweet demeanor and earnest acoustic performance are always a pleasant change of pace from the more aloof, laptop-driven artists that seem to sprout with the speed and frequency of mushrooms.
The week concluded not with a bang (I was turned away at the door of Brooklyn Bowl for Unknown Mortal Orchestra, whom I had hoped to end on), but with more of a slow fade-out. Forced to change my schedule at the last minute, I caught a few acts nearby, including Delicate Steve (how those five people were working from the same set list was a mystery at times given the haphazard nature of their sound, but it was fun to watch them put it all together), Races (pleasant and charming), Bleached, and about four minutes of the Kopecky Family Band (fun!) before hopping on the L and calling it a week.
So how does this year's CMJ stack up? Most people I spoke with seemed unimpressed. No doubt, the growth of SXSW--especially over the past few years--seems to have sucked some of the life out of CMJ. (It's hard to compete with free tacos, 76-degree days, and the compact nature of downtown Austin.) But like a hipster chick desperately scouring the racks at Beacon's Closet, I like the challenge of the frenzied search. There's good stuff in there hiding among the dross. You just have to look a bit harder.
Pictures in this post are from day parties at Pianos (We Listen for You) and Public Assembly (Under the Radar) on Wednesday. More of them below...
Wild Flag at Williamsburg Waterfront (more by Dana (distortion) Yavin)
The first round of CMJ 2011 artists have been announced. The initial list includes Neon Indian (Webster Hall with Purity Ring), CSS (Webster Hall with EMA and MEN), Zola Jesus (KF and LPR), Wild Flag (Bowery Ballroom with Eleanor Friedberger and Hospitality), Metronomy (MHOW), Portugal. The Man (T5 with Givers and Alberta Cross), Viva Brother, Wombats, The Good Natured), Kvelertak, Handsome Furs, Memoryhouse, Pharoahe Monch, and more.
The Viva Brother show is on October 19 at Bowery Ballroom with 1,2,3 and Kitten. Tickets are on sale now (or you can try to get in with your CMJ badge). All dates below.
The Wombats show is on October 19 at Webster Hall with The Postelles and The Good Natured. Tickets are on sale now (or you can try to get in with your CMJ badge). All dates below.
DOWNLOAD Stornoway - Fuel Up (MP3)
British band Stornoway released a 4-song '4AD Session' EP via iTunes today. Grab the first track, "Fuel Up" for free above now. Stornoway begin a Noth American tour with Sea of Bees this week in Toronto. Spirit Family Reunion also play the May 26th Brooklyn show at Music Hall of Williamsburg which is still on sale. All dates, and a live video of the same song (filmed on a roof during their first-ever visit to NYC), below...
After playing nine consecutive nights in New York (each at a different location), I was impressed that Julie ("Jules") Baenziger, pictured above, managed to correctly identify the name of the venue - let alone put on an enthusiastic show. No doubt sharing the stage with three friends (including the lovely guitarist/vocalist Amber Padgett) helped to elevate her spirit.
Some artists have a tendency to leave an audience largely lukewarm or indifferent, but with Sea of Bees, it's hard not to have some kind of a gut reaction. Over the course of the forty-minute set at Mercury Lounge Saturday night (4/30), Baeziger effectively tore down the invisible wall that often stands between the performer and the crowd thanks to her heartfelt delivery and endearing banter.
Though she played with her eyes tightly shut in concentration, she was nothing but smiles in between songs as she offered both lengthy explanations about the events that had inspired her music and the occasional non sequitur. Her shaggy haircut, casual wardrobe, and dimples just added to her childlike charm.
Of course, this kind of unabashed openness begs two types of reactions: deeply identifying with the artist or mocking their unflinching earnestness. But judging by the large number of people who approached Baeziger after the show to introduce themselves, it seems that the yeasayers were definitely the majority.
Baenziger concluded the set with a solo rendition of the love song, "The Woods," before hopping off stage and taking a spot at the front to mingle with fans and friends alike and to enjoy the rest of the "colorful and beautiful" (her words) evening.
AgesAndAges @ SXSW
Up next was the Portland group AgesAndAges. Good communicators, their performance was a team effort that even got the audience involved. For the first song or two, the levels were a bit off, but the sound quickly improved when the band prompted the crowd to shout out suggestions and both the bass and the vocals got turned up.
Though some of the seven members added little in the way of instrumentation other than some light percussion, their vocal contributions really helped fill out the sound and created a strong group dynamic.
Next was LAKE. Like their tour-mates AgesandAges, The K Records group is characterized by group vocals and sunny dispositions. But while the members of AgesAndAges were rooted in place for their set, LAKE seemed to treat the performance as if it were aerobic activity. Between each song, the five musicians changed places and exchanged instruments as if they were playing a never-ending game of musical chairs where no one ever lost. It was unclear if the constant switching served much of a purpose musically, but it did keep things interesting. In addition to the physical shuffle on stage, the band also jumped around their discography, playing both songs from their April release, Giving and Receiving, and older material.
In the absence of an encore (Mercury Lounge had a late show booked), I decided to heed Baezinger's earlier advice to check out the nearby gelateria, which proved to nicely compliment the sweet evening.
Later this month Sea of Bees heads out on tour with Stornoway. AgesAndAges are still out on tour with LAKE. Both bands also played Knitting Factory while they were in town. Back in March AgesAndAges visited Austin for SXSW where they played the Knitting Factory Records/BrooklynVegan day party. The pictures of them in this post are from that Texas show. More of them with tour dates, below...
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: White Fence - Get That Heart (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: White Wires - Be True to Your School ('Til You Get Kicked Out) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Buffalo Tom - "Arise, Watch" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Modern Skirts - Happy 81 (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Modern Skirts - Bumber Car (MP3)
It's been kind of a bummer week with way too many great musicians lost (Gerard Smith, Poly Styrene, Pheobe Snow) but Spring is finally here and, well, the beat goes on. Lots of worthy shows this week.
First up is White Fence who are making a rare trip to the East Coast this week, playing a few shows here in NYC: Thursday at 285 Kent with Woods and Spectre Folk, then Saturday (4/30) at Cake Shop. I feel fairly certain that they are also "Beige Swordfights" listed as part of a sweet Death by Audio show on Friday (4/29) that includes The Beets, Fergus and Geronimo and The Sundelles.
White Fence is Tim Presley who also fronts LA psych-rock band Darker My Love. Where that band is more groovy in a JAMC/BJM kind of way, White Fence sounds like a lost nugget from the late '60s flower power scene. White Fence released its debut on Woodsist last year, and the second album, ...Is Growing Faith, came out this January. Both records are weird and wonderful, lots of great songs made more interesting with vintage sound and old-school tape effects. If you like Love, The Left Banke or, more recently, the Lilys (to name three L bands) you'll dig White Fence's scene.
Keeping with the color scheme, Ottowa, Ontario's White Wires are back in town for a one-off show on Thursday at Bruar Falls as part of a fun line-up of party rock and power pop. One of my favorite live bands of the last few years, White Wires play no-nonsense three-minute pop and do so with a joy you can't fake. White Wires new album, WWII, gets in and gets out in less than 30 minutes and should appeal to fans of the Nerves, early Tom Petty and The Undertones.
The rest of the show, brought to you by the good folks at Daed Pizza, looks pretty cool too with all-girl trio Babyshakes, and Games which is a new band formed from ex-members of Gentleman Jesse and Busy Signals. Obviously, this is not the synthy Games who now go by Ford & Lopatin. You can listen to this Games' swell debut single over at the Rob's House Records website.
What else? Buffalo Tom play Bowery Ballroom on Thursday (4/28). The Boston trio were once dubbed "Dinosaur Jr. Jr." (being signed to SST and having J Mascis produce your debut, it was an easy joke) but became one of the most popular bands of the early '90s alt rock scene. 1990's Birdbrain and 1992's Let Me Come Over are indie rock classics that were unavoidable on college radio and Alternative Nation (or episodes of My So-Called Life) and still hold up.
The band went on hiatus around 2000 but returned with 2007's Three Easy Pieces and have just released a new album, Skins, which came out in February. It's pretty good. More mature, yes, but Buffalo Tom can still bring the noise too. If you have any doubt, you can download the entirety of Buffalo Tom's Mercury Lounge show from November 2010 courtesy NYC Taper. You can also check out a track from Skins at the top of this post.
And finally, Lord Huron are here on Thursday (4/28, the night of Too Many Good Shows) at Mercury Lounge. (And at tonight at MHoW with Femi Kuti) (we're giving away a pair of tickets on Facebook). I like their EP well enough, and the Merc show seems likely to sell out, so I'm really here to say if you're going do go early enough to check out North Highlands who play right before them. It's their first show in a long time, as the band have been putting finishing touches on their debut album which they've been working hard on all winter. The band are promising lots of new songs which is pretty exciting. Anyone who's seen them play know North Highlands are great live and I think 2011 is gonna be a big year for them. Go see 'em! And yeah, stay for Lord Huron I guess.
That's mostly it for this week. A few more daily picks are below:
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27
Blogs may have gotten over their crush on Austin band Oh No! Oh My! but that doesn't mean they've gone stale. Hear their still-catchy indiepop tonight at The Rock Shop tonight. Go early to catch Atlanta's underrated Modern Skirts (check out two tracks at the top of this post).
photos by Amanda Hatfield
Sea of Bees @ SXSW 2011
The Loom are back from a trip down to SXSW and will play a Brooklyn show tonight (April 9th) at Southpaw with My Cousin The Emperor (their CD release party for The Subway EPs), Sgt Dunbar, The Hobo Banned, and Yellowbirds. The show is one of two local dates on tap for the folkies, as the band will also join Sea of Bees at Sycamore on 4/23. That's two weeks before The Loom head out for a week-long tour with Christopher Paul Stelling that gets as far west as Madison, Wisconsin. All dates are listed below.
Also back from SXSW, Sea of Bees (the musical project of Julie Ann Bee) will be SUPER busy towards the end of April! The Sycamore show is one of eleven shows in eleven days, all at various NYC venues. The NYC tour kicks off at The Living Room on 4/21 followed by appearances at Spike Hill, Sycamore, The Rock Shop (with Smoosh), Pianos, Cake Shop, Mercury Lounge, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall, Glasslands (with Takka Takka), and Sycamore before a final show back at The Living Room on 5/1. In May and June Sea of Bees will be out on tour with Stornoway (one more NYC venue included). All dates are below.
One of the SXSW shows that the Loom played was the Muzzle of Bees Backyard Barbecue. We posted a set of pictures from that. A video is below. One of the SXSW shows that Sea of Bees played, in addition to an NPR "tiny concert" taping, was the "Tree House Diddly" on 3/17 on the roof of Cheers Shot Bar while the sun set. Those pictures are in this post and continue with the NPR video and the other stuff, below...
Stornoway have announced a leg of select North American tour dates with Sea of Bees in late May that will include a stop in NYC at Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 26. Tickets go on AmEx presale at noon today (3/30) with regular sale hitting on Friday.
The North American dates coincide with Stornoway's appearance at Sasquatch 2011 alongside The Flaming Lips (playing all of The Soft Bulletin), Death From Above 1979, Wolf Parade, and many others.
All tour dates, some videos and a stream of a WNYC session they recorded last time they were in NYC, below...
Austra @ BrooklynVegan Day Party @ Swan Dive
A few days have passed since I got back from Austin, and I'm still struggling to process the week. Yes, it was my first time at SXSW. Thanks to the never-ending supply of free tacos, music, beer, fellow music-devotees, and sunshine, I managed to retain that little-kid-like wonder throughout the week - even when severe sleep deprivation set in. (And I thought CMJ was a rush. Ha.)
By the time I left Austin on Sunday morning, I managed to see some 54 bands (no counting impromptu street performances) play in 20 different venues. Some were of course flops, but on the whole, I was impressed by the showcase of new and emerging artists. CMJ is great, but let's be honest. So many of the bands that play there play nearly every week in New York or Brooklyn anyway. Austin, on the other hand, seemed to get a much wider variety of acts, and I made it my goal to see as many unfamiliar and/or international artists as I could (in addition to of course scouting out some of my favorites like Sam Amidon, The Loom, tUnE-yArDs, and Papercuts).
Instead of potentially boring you with a lengthy play-by-play (which you can catch on my personal blog if you're interested), I'll try to succinctly present the highlights from my week. (Though to be fair, this is something of an impossible task.)
Since I flew into Houston and drove over (waaay cheaper), I didn't get to see a ton of music on Wednesday, but what I did catch was excellent. My first band of the festival, Still Corners (who recently signed to Sub Pop along with Memoryhouse), turned out to be one of my favorites all week. The British group's well-executed, dreamy sound was the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful outdoor setting on the lawn of the French Legation Museum for the the Bella Union/Yours day party. My two other favorite finds of the day were BOBBY (a Mountain Man side project that later played at one of the BV showcases) and the delightful Cali singer-songwriter Sea of Bees, whose eerily beautiful song "Gnomes" played on repeat in my head all week and prompted me to seek her out a second time the following day.
With the exception of the NPR Showcase, which featured the likes of Wild Flag, The Joy Formidable, and The Antlers (more on that later), the majority of Thursday left me lukewarm... that is until I stumbled upon Austra at the Domino showcase. (Austra also later performed at the BV show at Swan Dive on Saturday - pictures in this post.)
Wow. Zola Jesus may drive me a bit crazy at times due to Nika Roza Danilova's overly dramatic performance, but Austra seemed to strike exactly the right balance - theatrical and eye-catching without coming across as disingenuous or too over-the-top. Their beat was addictive, their appearance and dance moves, arresting. No question about it. Austra is definitely an artist to watch - and probably my favorite live act all week. Many of the sets I caught were only partial - I was constantly arriving late and leaving early in order to scamper off to another venue, but Austra held my attention (understatement of the year?), and I stuck around for the entirety of the set (Bill did too).
Tim Perry, the singer and songwriter behind the local band AgesandAges, has started a cult. You can join, but first you've got to drop out of society.
"The whole album is about willful isolation, a voluntary detachment from the rest of civilization," Perry says. "But it's as much of an effort to bring people into the fold as it is to keep it isolated."
Also of paramount importance is commitment. "If it makes sense to you, then let's do it full force, but don't muck up the path with negative rhetoric or with your physical presence."
Despite the tone of separatism that serves as the album's theme, the delivery of the 12 songs on AgesandAges' debut of brisk indie-folk, "Alright You Restless," is actively sunny, inducing an "Up With People" vibe. Each song is presented like an inspirational manifesto echoed by a seven-member choir attesting to the message." [Oregon Live]
Portland's AgesandAges's new LP was just released on 2/15 via Knitting Factory Records. Check out their new video for "Navy Parade (escape from the Black River bluffs)" below.
The Northwestern band is hitting the road with Olympia, Washington group LAKE for a North American tour in middle April and will descend upon NYC for two dates later that month: April 29 at Knitting Factory with Iowa's Paleo, and April 30th at Mercury Lounge with Sea of Bees. AgesandAges will also be representin' at SXSW (exact dates TBA).
All AgesandLake tour dates, that new video and more below....