Bright And Loud: Blog en-us (C) Bright And Loud [email protected] (Bright And Loud) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:22:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:22:00 GMT Bright And Loud: Blog 120 80 Sounds010 For the tenth addition of the Sounds series we focus on the gentler side of music.  Softer songs that won't jolt my infant daughter awake.  This doesn't mine too far back, so less a collection of classics than of more recent fare that has stuck out to me, a lot of it from 2017.

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Planets

Goldfrapp - Jo

Benji Lewis - Not Alone

Drama Duo - Barely Friends

The Preatures - Cherry Ripe

Billie Eilish - Ocean Eyes

The War On Drugs - Knocked Down

Lucy Rose - Moira 

Punch Brothers - Julep

Hannah Georgas - Walls

The Paper Kites - Too Late

London Grammar - Hell To The Liars

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) emily haines goldfrapp hannah georgas indie london grammar punch brothers rock the war on drugs Sun, 17 Sep 2017 15:18:37 GMT
Better Listening Through Circuitry 002 Chilled beats.  Maybe you dance a little, maybe just get lost in headphones.  

If you like what you hear, consider a purchase from the artist site.  These folks work hard to make it look easy.

Recondite - Levo (

Pantha Du Prince - A Nomad's Retreat (

Kiasmos - Looped (

Saschienne - Cache´ (

Four Tet - Angel Echoes (

Gold Panda - You (

Kalipo - Institute of Cottonwool (

Stephan Bodzin - Zulu (

Sascha Funke - Mango (

Tycho - Past Is Prologue (

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) dance electronic house techno trance Mon, 11 Sep 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Better Listening Through Circuitry 001 Better Listening Through Circuitry is an occasional series dedicated to electronic music and the influence it has over all genres.  I'm unsure of the direction this will take at this time, I guess it just depends on whether or not people find value in it.  I know that it will start as a series of playlists, a channel for discovering new listening experiences, or just rekindling a love for something familiar.

Episode 001 kicks things off with a more organic sound.  The fringe elements of electronic music tend to find themselves intertwined with more traditional musical styles.  Ambient and drone artists often work with, or as, neo-classical, instrumental, and minimalist composers as well.  So, we begin, not with a bang, but with a whisper.  Gently played keys and soft strings give way to airy synth pads and analog drones.  It's good for the headphones, a clear night, or just some quiet time alone.

The artists here are all hardworking musicians, but these in particular don't exactly sit at the top of the sales charts.  I've created playlists for a listening experience, but streaming brings little to no revenue to the musicians.  If you hear something you like, please consider buying something direct from the artist.


Alaskan Tapes - Blue, in Script  (

Jon Hopkins - Abandon Window (

The Sight Below - Shimmer (

Ben Lukas Boysen & Sebastian Plano - Winding and Unwinding (

Orcas w/ Sylvain Chauveau and Lucinda Chua - Capillaries (

Brambles - In The Androgynous Dark (

Christina Vantzou - Prelude for Juan (

Max Richter w/ Louisa Fuller, Natalie Bonner, Rico Costa, John Metcalfe, Ian Burdge, and Chris Worsey  - Autumn Music 1 (

Solace Music - Should've Stayed (

Bing & Ruth - As Much As Possible (

James Heather - Last Minute Change of Heart (

Leandro Fresco - Los Anos Que Vivimos En Peligro  (

Bersarin Quartett - Im Lichte des anderen (

Olafur Arnalds w/ Arnor Dan - A Stutter (

Hotel Neon - 3:04 AM (

Aaron Martin w/ Christoph Berg - Coda ( (

Olafur Arnalds w/ Nils Frahm - 21:05 (

Deaf Center - New Beginning (Tidal Darkness) (

Kid Koala - The Observable Universe (

Bruno Sanfilippo w/ Julian Kancepolski & Pere Bardagi - The Legend of The Sailor (

Simon Scott - _Sealevel.2 (

Markus Guentner - Paragon (

Hjaltalin - Ethereal (

Marsen Jules - penstla (

Bvdub - Your Painted Armor Aches to Crack (


[email protected] (Bright And Loud) ambient classical composer drone minimalist neo-classical Sun, 10 Sep 2017 17:03:24 GMT
Sounds009 August 15th, 2017

A eulogy for the 90s and the rock music that shaped a decade.  Yes, Sirens is newer, but it's their best song since Black

Pearl Jam - Sirens

Alice In Chains - I Stay Away

Soundgarden - Mailman

Stone Temple Pilots - Big Empty

Collective Soul - Shine

Deftones - Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)

The Smashing Pumpkins - Tonight, Tonight

No Doubt - Sunday Morning

The Offspring - Self-Esteem

Green Day - When I Come Around

Toadies - Tyler

Garbage - I Think I'm Paranoid

Being a rock star does not exclude a person from the trappings of depression, and the terrible toll it can take.  Please pay for music, but also consider a donation:

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) 90s grunge rock sirens Wed, 16 Aug 2017 02:06:00 GMT
2017 Report Card July 12th, 2017

2017 is halfway gone.  Here are some of the best tunes so far.  Lot of music to sift through, but I think everybody can find at least one album to buy from this lot, and show some love to the tireless artists that create the music we love.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) 2017 best_of_so_far Thu, 13 Jul 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Sounds008 June 16th, 2017

A crash course on the wonderfully diverse rock music of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

Will You Smile For Me Again

How Near, How Far

The Far Pavilions

The Rest Will Follow

Crowning Of A Heart

Summer Of All Dead Souls

The Best


Another Morning Stoner

Insatiable (One)

The Ghost Within

The Betrayal Of Roger Casement and the Irish Brigade

Blight Takes All


Fake Fake Eyes

Weight Of The Sun

Luna Park

Bus Lines

Naked Sun

Relative Ways

They used to play stadiums, now they play small venues.  Nothing last for every, but they work hard, and deserve to get paid.  Buy an album or 6 if you dig em.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) aywkubttod indie rock trail_of_dead Sat, 17 Jun 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Sounds007 June 3rd, 2017

People clamoring for Hip-hop in the 90's - Do you really not know about these songs, or are you just talking to say nothing?

Talib Kweli & Styles P - Nine Point Five

Diddy - Everyday (Amore)

Apollo Brown & Skyzoo - A Couple Dollars

The Lox - What Else You Need To Know

Smoke DZA & Pete Rock - Hold The Drums

Torae - Crown (Ft. 3D Na'tee)

PRhyme - You Should Know (ft. Dwele)

A$AP Rocky - Excuse Me

Vince Staples - Señorita

Joey Bada$$ - For My People

Pusha T - Sunshine

B.o.B - Peace Piece (ft. Big K.R.I.T.)

N.O.R.E. - Still Getting It

A lot of that $$$ flashed in videos and covers is fake.  They're still working for a paycheck, so sign the payroll sheet if you like a song or two.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) djs hiphop hip-hop producers rap rappers Sun, 04 Jun 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Sounds006 May 13th, 2017

Sleek, sensual, serious, and sexy RnB and Pop

Beacon - Headlights

Niia - Last Night In Los Feliz

dvsn - Hallucinations

Milosh - Water


Denitia and Sene - roulette.

Tei Shei - Say You Do

Gallant - Bourbon

Jaymes Young - Dark Star

SOHN - The Wheel

Quadron - Average Fruit

Goldfrapp - Zodiac Black

Lianne La Havas - Tokyo

Laura Mvula - Make Me Lovely

Sheets to get between aren't cheap - the price of the songs on this playlist at the market rate of $.99 means this playlist would cost a scant $13.86

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) pop r&b rnb rock Sun, 14 May 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Sounds005 April 26th, 2017

For some reason women still have to "prove" themselves in the arena.  Sexism, mysogyny, even assault.  These women have endured a lot to "prove" they can rock.  These women have never had anything to prove.

Wolf Alice - Moaning Lisa Smile

The Joy Formidable - Whirring

Auf Der Maur - Followed The Waves

Metric - Glass Ceiling

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Gold Lion

PJ Harvey - The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore

Tori Amos - Cruel

Battle Of Mice - Sleep And Dream

Windhand - Woodbine

Don't be a jerk and try to give 70%. If you like something, go out and give 100% of the asking price

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) indie metal rock Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Sounds004 March 17th, 2017

Loud and proud.  Punk. Hardcore.  Metal.  There are no atheists in the pit, for when you mosh, you worship your false idols.  

Harkonen - Caseydriver

Bane - Some Came Running

Snapcase - Disconnector

Clouds - Heisenberg Says

Converge - The Broken Vow

Torche - Walk It Off

Mutoid Man - Beast

Every Time I Die - I Been Gone A Long Time

Planes Mistaken for Stars - Widow: A Love Song

United Nations - The Shape of Punk To Come

Even gods need to pay rent these days - don't forget the tithe

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) hardcore metal punk Sat, 18 Mar 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Sounds003 March 12th, 2017

A healthy dose of fiercely independent rock starts.  Folk-infused country, retired punks, shining pop rock, and a group of musicians that do it their way.

Boy & Bear - Where'd You Go

The Decemberists - Make You Better

Laura Veirs - Sun Song

Songs: Ohia - John Henry Split My Heart

Low - California

The Evens - Cut From The Cloth

Pinback - Sherman

Sunny Day Real Estate - Every Shining Time You Arrive

The Appleseed Cast - Losing Touching Searching

Neko Case - Ghost Wiring

Rilo Kiley - Close Call

Stars - Wasted Daylight

Hey Marseilles - West Coast

Horse Feathers - Curs In The Weeds

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At the market price of $.99 a song, this playlist would cost you $13.86 to purchase.   Throw the artists a bone... errrr buck.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) country folk indie rock Mon, 13 Mar 2017 02:06:00 GMT
Sounds002 February 12th, 2017.

Chilly Feb in Philadelphia.  Moody Shoegaze starts to melt the ice, while gentle beach rock, and a bit of synth pop really heat things up

Film School - Compare

Nothing - Fever Queen

Amusement Parks On Fire - Smokescreen

Airiel - Airtight Angels

Best Coast - California Nights

Bowery Electric - Freedom Fighter

Engineers - Sometimes I Realise

Still Corners - The Trip

Real Estate - Younger Than Yesterday

Wild Nothing - Summer Holiday

Memoryhouse - The Kids Were Wrong

School Of Seven Bells - Love Play

Bear In Heaven - Sinful Nature 

MUNA - After

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) beach_rock shoegaze synth_pop Mon, 13 Feb 2017 03:06:00 GMT
Sounds001 January 08th 2017

A collection of light and airy techno and electronic pieces.  

Remember to support the artists. If you like what you hear, consider a purchase.

Bvdub - Another Love

Holographic Field - Afloat

Christian Loffler - Nil

Rafael Anton Irisarri - The Witness

Christina Vantzou - Robert Earl

Loscil - En Masse

Lusine - On The Line

Olan Mill - Echo of Tomorrow

Helios - Isostacy

Jon Hopkins - Form By Firelight

The Sight Below - Through The Gaps In The Land

M83 - Waves, waves, waves


[email protected] (Bright And Loud) ambient analog electronica techno Mon, 09 Jan 2017 03:06:00 GMT
50 Must Listen Electronic Albums From 2016 Ital Tek - Hollowed - Cinematically analog dubstep-infused bass music

The Range - Potential - A collection of solid synth sounds built around samples culled from Youtube

Moderat - III - The last hurrah for the finest collaboration in dance music

Recondite - Corvus - Minimal techno for people that aren't turned off by the phrase "minimal techno"

Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm - Trance Frendz - Organic, experimental, and improvised.

Christian Loffler - Mare - Atmospheric and tranquil dance tunes for the setting sun

Chicane - Twenty - A retrospective of one of the forefathers of Trance

Trentemøller - Fixion - The Danish musician sinks further in to post-punk, jazz influence electronic madness

Pantha Du Prince - The Triad - Chilled tunes like light glistening on a glacier

Telefon Tel Aviv - Farenheit Fair Enough (Reissue) - A long lost laid back classic

Max Cooper - Emergence - Blissful electronica for dancing and sitting

Dusky - Outer - Modern, soulful European techno

Solomon Grey - Solomon Grey - House infused R&B music from a team that pops up seemingly everywhere these days

Ulrich Schnauss - No Further Ahead Than Today - Trance infused chilled tunes for the people coming home at 5am

Loscil - Monument Builders - Urgent ambient music for the encroaching urban sprawl

Skepta - Konichiwa - This grime masterpiece won the coveted Mercury Prize

Ian William Craig - Centres - Avant noise soul music

Dalek - Asphalt for Eden - Avant noise hip-hop

Isan - GlassBird Movement - Airy, subtle electronic music, perfect for headphones on a clear day

Robot Koch and Savannah Jo Lack - Particle Fields - The soundtrack to a sci-fi movie that doesn't exist

Lorn - Vessel - Bass heavy, atmospherically grimy jams

Gold Panda - Good Luck and Do Your Best - Japanese inspired cut, copy, and paste music for the Akai lovers

Nicolas Jaar - Sirens - Eclectically composed downtempo music for the modern age

Underworld - Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future - House music connoisseurs eschew gimmicks and get back to making house music

The Avalanches - Wildflower - They have a sample for that

Jubilee - After Hours - That Miami dance sound straight from New York

Baauer - Aa - Inspired dubstep for people that keep saying they don't like dubstep

Jessy Lanza - Oh No - Mature pop music for people that want pop music to grow

Sasha - Scene:Delete - King of Trance slows things down to deepen the mood

Juan Atkins and Mortiz Von Oswald - Transport - Detroit techno stalwart makes the "classic rock" version of Detroit Techno

Kygo - Cloud Nine - Proves that Tropical House is not a dirty word

Eric Prydz - Opus - Disco infused house music from someone unexpected

Jason Ross - Anjunabeats Worldwide 06 - The student becomes the teacher on the king of Trance labels

BT - _ - The king of analog compositions returns to his experimental side

James Grant and Jody Wisternoff - Anjunadeep 08 - The dynamic duo of deep house return with another superb mix

Tycho - Epoch - Post-rock infused ambient electronic music that's not anywhere near as pretentious as that sounds

DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall - The father of experimental hip-hop returns with his greatest piece of work since Endtroducing

Dawn Richard - Redemption - R&B infused pop-EDM

RÜFÜS DU SOL - Bloom - Happy Nu-Disco good times

Tourist - U - intimate, soft-spoken dance tunes

Marian Hill - Act One - jazz-inflected sumptuous electro-pop

Honne - Warm On A Cold Night - Sweet and sophisticated music for swaying with a partner

Shield Patterns - Mirror Breathing - Ambient inspired chamber pop

Blue Foundation - Blood Moon - Indie electronica tunes that are the synth version of singer/songwriter

Kaytranada - 99.9% - hip-hop mind creates EDM and sprinkles it with guests

Simian Mobile Disco - Welcome to Sideways - Dance this way.  Their way.

Flume - Skin - EDM for people that hate EDM

Kowton - Utility - Old school Detroit mentality from the new school of producer

Deadmau5 - W:/2016ALBUM/ - The modern messiah of dance digs deeper to his analog roots

ANOHNI - Hopelessness - Revolution music from a singular voice and Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 04 Jan 2017 03:50:17 GMT
24 Hours in New York (A Hip Hop Collection) Taking on the task of creating a 24 hour playlist is a bit ridiculous in the first place, narrowing it to a specific genre and city, even more so, but I like a challenge, and I love Hip-Hop.  I'm sure the results here could be hotly contested, so let me start with what the playlist is not.

It is not a claim to historically document NY Hip-Hop in any significant way

It is not a claim to accurately portray all of the greatest NY Hip-Hop songs ever made, though I will say that most, if not all of the greatest NY rappers are present.

It is not created by a person who is from, or has ever lived in New York state or city.

So what the hell is it then?

It is a list of songs I made based on personal preference.  Each song or artist is either from New York, or so ingrained within it that they may as well be (Guru is from Boston.  Think a lot of people would make that association?).  For groups or collectives, I used the rule that half or more of the members had to be associated with NY.

I had to play it a little fast and loose (Tupac is from New York, but c'mon, he's Cali sound the whole way), and I was bound to what could be found on a music streaming service, so don't judge too harsh.

Phew.  Have a listen.  Have fun.

This is an Apple Music playlist primarily because there are exclusive titles there that would have prevented me from posting some good stuff in Spotify, although I am working on a Spotify variant of the list, as many more people use that service.


A spreadsheet of all the artists and songs can be found here:

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Bronx Brooklyn Harlem Hip Hop Hip-Hop Long Island Manhattan New York Queens Wed, 26 Oct 2016 21:02:37 GMT
24 Hours Of Me Becoming a parent is a life changing moment for anyone.  I was immediately filled with fear the moment my daughter was born, for all the things she would have to face in her life. One of those fears was that she would not be a fan of music, but my wife assured me that in our family, that's just not possible.  Still, I made a plan: Create a 24 hour playlist of music that means a lot to me, music that has influenced me, music that has made me who I am.  This is not meant to be a historical document, a Rolling Stone list of the top ## of whatever, it is meant to be a guided tour, for my daughter, of the music that brought me to the point in my life where I was standing in a hospital room with a newborn in my arms, something I thought, at times, might never happen.  

Below I've broken down the list hour-by-hour.  This is not THE definitive list, as I just don't think that is possible with the tools out there and the time allotted.  I did this with resources available in Spotify, and while it is a pretty comprehensive set, there are certain items just not available through Spotify, or any other online music resources that allow me to build playlists exactly the way I want (Tool, get with the future).  Again, can't stress enough that this isn't a historical document, artists are in there multiple times, some songs don't even represent a love for the artist, just that song in particular.   It is a good start, and something that I hope my daughter will find value in some day, even though by the time she is old enough listen to some of this, Spotify may not be a thing (Hence the screenshot playlists). This was a fun project overall, something introspective that can be expressed externally, a piece of who I am to share with someone I love.  If you listen, have fun, this is me.


9AM - Beginning of the work day for a lot of folks.  Music to chill out with, and a nice way to begin the day


10 AM - A little more playful in the morning.  Start off with some Hip-Hop, beatstrumentals, and synth rock.


11 AM - Getting a little mixed now, starting with some beach rock and shoegaze, melding it in to alt rock, and some 90s rock


12 PM - Kicking it off with an emo classics - 1 song from each iteration of Further Seems Forever, followed by a mixture of modern indie rock, post hardcore, and alt rock classics.


1 PM - Punk grew out.  The multifaceted musical phenomenon spawned a multitude of micro-genres, many of which are great for lunch time listening.

2 PM - I came up during the storied east coast vs. west coast hip-hop days, and they played a large part of my teen years.  This is my personal east vs. west battle set list.

3 PM - Hip-Hop plays a large part in my musical journey,and the turn of the century-slash-early 00s were integral in that.  Neo-soul, New York sound, and some old school flavor fill out the after lunch hour.

4 PM - Quirky indie rock, and some of the folks that influenced it.  The end of the work day calls for some relaxing top 40 (my top 40) alt-rock and classic rock hits.

5 PM - End of the day grooves.  A good list of alt-electro goodies

6 PM - Not a lot going on musically at 6pm.  People eating dinner at bars, at home, at friends houses.  Talking, not really listening.  So, I filled this hour with the music that was the background to so many family dinners.  My parents favorites, the ones that stuck with me, helped me understand that music should be fun!

7 PM - This is the "riding the subway to the venue" playlist.  Getting the night out started, chill dance tunes followed by some old school techno.

8 PM - A nice mixed bag to get the night started.  Some new school hip-hop, electro pop, and R&B.

9 PM - A little more fun with this one with some upbeat alt-rock and electro beats.

10 PM - Indie hip-hop for hanging out with friends.  Nuff said.

11 PM - Instrumental, beat driven tunes, with a couple of like-minded vocal tracks built in to the mix.

12 AM - Old school dance party.  House house house

1 AM - Chill electronics.  Warm synths, warmer strings.

2 AM - It's late, chilled ambient and some orchestral scores to keep the mind at ease

3 AM - Some low key 90s and 00s alt-rock to keep the night going

4 AM - If you're up at this hour, you deserve what you get, in this case METAL!

5 AM - Yup, it gets weird.  Chilled electro tunes blended in to classic rock and back again

6 AM - Taking it easy first thing in the morning.  Not too harsh for the waking up crowd, not too loud for the clubbers just getting home

7 AM - Smooth R&B mix for the ride in to work, or the ride home from a loooooong night.  Starts and ends with the King of Pop.

8 AM - You are either starting or ending your day here.  Whichever one it is, Trip-Hop is what you need.

24 hour playlist starting with 9AM (may be better to view in Spotify as the embed link stops at 200 songs).

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sat, 08 Oct 2016 19:28:03 GMT
Hip-Hop Albums For People That Can't Stop Complaining About Rappers These Days We all have that friend that's posting constantly on Facebook that Hip-Hop isn't what it used to be.  I assume that most of them mean the 90's with maybe an adventure or 2 in to the early 00s.  The below list is not intended to try and introduce them in to some new style (HEY EVERYBODY LISTEN TO AESOP ROCK!), but rather give them some contemporary (released between 2015-now) albums that should fill that lonely hole in their heart.


Skyzoo "Music For My Friends" and Torae "Entitled"  Skyzoo and Torae are two New York peas in a Hip-hop pod.  So much so they released an epic album in 2014 as The Barrel Brothers.  Whether together or apart, they are formidable MC's, well versed in their hometowns deep history, as well as contemporary kings of it's heyday sounds.  For fans of: Gang Starr, Nas, Reasonable Doubt era Jay-Z.

Big K.R.I.T. "All My Life" Big K.R.I.T. is the heir apparent to the Dirty South kingdoms cultivated by rappers like Nelly, Ludacris, and T.I.  With anthem ready hooks, more to say than most of his peers, and an unmatched work ethic, he's sure to have some longevity.

Royce Da 5'9" "Layers"  Royce has been his own worst enemy for most of his career, something that may have held him back from sitting next to rap royalty like Eminem, than man who gave him his shot.  The past few years have been kind of a reset for him.  He got clean, teamed up with DJ Premier to form PRhyme, and in 2016 he put out his first proper solo album since getting clean with Layers, which is a prelude to something he promises will be more.  Lot to love here from a master MC.

Lushlife "Ritualize" Philly MC/Producer Lushlife teamed with CSLSX to release potentially the first (or at least best) ever shoegaze hip-hop album.  While his indie rock leanings may make one think he would be pigeon holed amongst a certain subset of hip-hop, Ritualize is actually an impressive ode to classic rap stylings.  His lyrical style recalls classic Ghostface albums, and the beats are majestic enough to shut down all of the haters.


N.O.R.E. "Drunk Uncle" If you miss the 90's style of hip-hop, go with a tried-and-true 90's rapper.  N.O.R.E. has been a love em or hate em rapper since 1998's S/T album (his time with Capone remains relatively undisputed).  Drunk Uncle is his strongest solo effort to date as he attempts to get back to the top tier of rap.


Diddy "MMM"  See above.  Considered just a mixtape, I guess, but really this is a fantastic return to form for the rapper/producer/business mogul.  The best thing he's done since the 90's


Vince Staples "Summertime '06"  If Kendrick Lamar is the heir apparent to the kind of epic, socially conscious, yet also mainstream and profitable rap that Tupac helped pioneer, Vince Staples is the direct result of his infamous Thug Life tattoo.  Street level, wise beyond his years, and with one of the sickest flows in the game, when most of his peers don't seem concerned not only with what they say, but how they say it.

Jay Rock "90059" A gritty west coast rapper that carries on a rich tradition of "too hot for prime time" Watts-based street level rap.  Silky smooth raps over groovy beats that aren't vying form the spotlight, but relish in their low end brilliance.


BJ The Chicago Kid "In My Mind" One for the R&B set, the kind that long for the types of fruit that collaborations like 112 and Biggie or K-Ci, Jojo and Gang Starr would bear.  Smooth R&B that never loses it's hip-hop sensibilities.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Thu, 11 Aug 2016 23:04:29 GMT
The Twilight Sad Bill Murray may have said it best: “It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s going to last you for the rest of your life.” You could be at the point where you are feeling the winter blues, popularly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. So, why not pack yourself in to a bar and listen to some music that knows just how you feel? The Twilight Sad may not make it all go away, but they at least ensure a good time is had.

Boot and Saddle may not have been a prime venue for them. Don’t get me wrong, I love that place, but the Scottish band has just too much energy, despite bright titles such asNobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave. Think folk music that drank a bunch of Red Bull and had an affair with reverb. It makes for a good time, and one that made for a helluva Wednesday night.

Opening act Port St. Willow may have sounded like they were trying to do a Radiohead impression, but the sound was deeper and more hypnotic than that. Surprisingly, the crowd remained entranced as well, keeping silent for most of the set, something the band thanked us for, and keeping the mood they were trying to build intact. A soft warm up to the noise Twilight Sad would bring.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 03 Mar 2015 01:52:00 GMT
Brooke Fraser Some musicians find success in the mainstream, some find success in faith-based music, but it’s rare for an artist to so finely walk the line between them as Brooke Fraser does. Rarer still for them to not implode at some point (see: Creed). But Fraser is a unique talent, a songstress quite adept at crafting a tune that will make even the lightest of pop fans take notice, and still put enough of herself and her thoughts in it as to garner critical acclaim from both mainstream publications and Christian publications—and top both charts in her native New Zealand. Fraser is a people’s person. Exhibit A: her show at World Cafe Live this past Tuesday night.

A few songs into the set, Brooke sat down suddenly, and revealed to the audience that a few days before, she had suffered from a nasty bug, or food poisoning, and was still a bit weak. So throughout the set she would bounce around for one song, and sit for the next. After the reveal, there were times where the fatigue was noticeable, but she pushed through it, for us. At no point did her voice falter, and she stretched further than before with her new material from Brutal Romantic. A more synthetic album than her previous efforts, it is also more playful, and the playfulness it requires from her singing never faltered, even if her body couldn’t keep up.

Opening act Dark Waves was exactly what you would expect from a band named Dark Waves. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. They had a fun brand of modern alt-rock meets The Cure music that worked out surprisingly well up on stage. It was an odd pairing for the main event, but there were a few people that seemed to be there just for them, so it all worked out in the end. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Mon, 16 Feb 2015 01:52:00 GMT
The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes aren’t simply another entry in the post-rock shoegaze encyclopedia, they are masters of the genres. Not content to stick to the formulaic drones and extended instrumental noise sessions, they take the sounds and shape them into complex and alluring compositions. As a live act, those compositions sound meatier than ever.

As the fog machines blasted on Sunday night, the soft opening of “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt. 1: The Ocean” emanated throughout the backstage of Underground Arts, before quickly blasting into the main event of “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt. 2: The Innocent” in an explosion of fuzzy guitars and soaring vocals. Loud, thundering riffs permeated the evening, as the husband-and-wife duo of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas made their way through their retro brand of psychedelia, including a sped up rendition of the stunning “People of The Sticks.”

Openers USA Out Of Vietnam delivered a solid set of lumbering guitar rock. The band’s quiet/loud dynamic, mixed with the epic length of the songs (at one point while the audience applauded at the seeming end of a tune, the lead singer pointed out that the song was only a quarter over) should please fans of unclassifiable, glacially paced rock ‘n’ roll.

Philadelphia’s own Tinmouth were first up and a pleasant surprise, playing quirky guitar-driven rock that is both unique and familiar at the same time. I felt the need to comment out loud that they would be right at home on the Dischord record label. Hit up the band’s Bandcamp page for a sneak peak of their upcoming full length

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 28 Jan 2015 01:52:00 GMT
Lia Ices Anytime somebody recycles some oversimplified line about how stale pop music is and “everyone sounds the same,” I want to cram artists like Lia Ices into their ears. But, Lia Ices wouldn’t allow it, she is much too nice for that kind of thing.

In a dark little bar in Philadelphia, on a snowy Wednesday night, a group of like-minded individuals gathered in the back space designated for live musical acts. It should have been a hefty crowd, but bad winter weather (as predictable as it may be) has a way of keeping people home—the venue was empty. A group of young men from Montreal stepped on to the stage, bashfully said hello, and launched into a fantastic set of Joy Division-inspired synth-rock. Sharing vocal duties among 3 of the members, they were slightly awkward with the banter, but seasoned pros with their instruments. They called themselves SEOUL and they haven’t released much yet—they made it quite clear that, despite heavy demand, there was no merchandise to sell, as their album is not complete.

After a brief pause, and a few more bodies in the space, a trio of ambiguous people take the stage. A few taps of her feet and Lia Ices’ voice exploded through the darkness. An unassuming woman when you see her take the stage, she suddenly becomes a completely different person. The energy that propels her voice outward contorts her body as well. She dances round the stage, feeling everything from head to toe. A magical blend of splendid vocals, indie singer-songwriter ideals, and the kind of energy that fuels all-night dance parties. It was an intimate affair that maybe should have been a little more public, but I’m not going to complain. I love a quiet night among friends.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sun, 25 Jan 2015 01:52:00 GMT
Rosu Lup I want to be the first to say (or maybe the second or third, I read as much as I can, but I can’t catch everything) that Rosu Lup will, or at least should, be the next highly touted Philly indie band. There is nothing quite like watching a group of musicians that visibly, and of course audibly, love what they do. It’s exponentially better when they are good at it, of course.

Rosu Lup is, thankfully, both of those things. I hate to compare rising talent to existing, but their catalogue is light right now. They know it, and they are working on it. So, for every person that wants to like bands like Mumford and Sons (or even if you already do), and thinks that maybe Dawes is kinda cool, but wishes there was a little more melody to give them some “oomph,” keep your ears open. I expect, at the very least, that they will become one of the stronger mainstays of the burgeoning Philly indie scene.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sat, 24 Jan 2015 01:52:00 GMT
Manchester Orchestra Expectations vs. reality can be a tricky, and sometimes hostile, thing. If you would like to read about the show that a portion of the crowd was expecting at the Temple Performing Arts Center, please read my review of Manchester Orchestra’s TLA show from earlier in the year here. The dueling sold out nights were hard, fast and mean. This show was none of that.

What Andy Hull and the gang brought behind their companion release to Cope, with the similarly bare but uplifting title of Hope, was a lot of “no.” There were no crushing guitars, no blinding light shows, no raging screams in support of deafening drum crashes. There was also no restraint at one point when trying to get the audience, who insisted on hooting and hollering during the low-key show, to behave. Hull was content to strum the same chord over and over until they settled down and respected the setting.

What Manchester Orchestra presented instead of its typical show was a gorgeously thought-out acoustic set, beautifully rendered in the splendid arts hall. Stripped-down versions of the songs from Cope, as well as older hits, gleefully echoed off the walls and were punctuated by moments of fragile silence. Andy Hull was at the top of his game, far more personable than his rock persona permitted during the aforementioned TLA set. He was charming between songs, comically lamenting how the tour was “slumming it” at “hole-in-the-wall venues,” and jokingly promising a return to their roots and a stand-up act at North Star Bar.

The full band kicked it off as Hull crooned songs about death and divorce. Calls for “Shake It Out” were met with hostility, as Hull refused to play it and seemed angered by the thought of it, yet quickly pulled himself back together and wrapped it up with some humor about Taylor Swift and Florence & the Machine stealing the title. A few particularly inebriated members of the audience became troublesome, and I worried for a while that the band might just give up on us. As the setlist moved along, musicians slowly disappeared to leave Hull alone and exposed in the spotlight, just him and his songs. It was a very intimate affair, and one that, unfortunately, lost momentum a few times.

Opener Chris Staples was both unexpected and pleasantly surprising. His indie-rock, singer-songwriter style was both expertly crafted and incredibly catchy. Having never heard him before, I had his songs stuck in my head afterward. Andy Hull even took a moment to describe him as one of his favorite songwriters “of all time.” Bold accolades for any musician to receive from another.

Despite the low points provided by a few bad eggs, it really was an awesome show, that, like the album, was a great companion piece to the tour earlier this year. Manchester Orchestra is one of the premier rock bands on the scene today, and has spent a great deal of 2014 proving it. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 09 Dec 2014 01:52:00 GMT
Chuck Ragan There’s nothing quite as satisfying as an artist who consistently entertains you across projects and genres. Hot Water Music vocalist Chuck Ragan has long been known for his on-stage charisma and raspy vocals, fronting the band that many of us associate with road trips and mix CDs. But when he graced the stage of World Cafe Live on Thursday night, the audience wasn’t thinking about Hot Water Music. Chuck Ragan and the Camaraderie came out guns blazing, starting the show with Til Midnight’s opening track, “Something May Catch,” and reminding the crowd of his diverse talent—and musical sincerity—that has spanned decades. Having never seen him live as a solo act, I was treated to a personal experience that I certainly didn’t expect. Taking to the stage like it was his home away from home, you get the sense that Ragan knows it’s where he belongs.

With all his cards on the table, he wooed us with sway-worthy tracks like “Wake With You” and “Bedroll Lullaby,” and charmed us with a story about savoring the time you share with loved ones. At one point, Ragan expressed his gratitude to the venue and staff, requesting a round of applause for the workers who continue to support live music.

An energetic Camaraderie features Jon Gaunt on the fiddle at Ragan’s side, a pedal steel manned by Todd Beene adding some distinctive character to the outfit, David Hidalgo, Jr. on drums and Joe Ginsberg on bass. Chuck Ragan strummed a full set of tracks from several albums, including “Vagabond” and “Revved” from his latest release, and a new track, “Flame in the Flood,” part of the score for an Americana-themed video game currently in development. He was also joined on stage by Chris Thomas, Martin Guitar’s Director of Artist Relations.

Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, opener Adam Faucett was warmly welcomed, pouring his soul into his melodic vocals, and finger picking like it was second nature.

If you haven’t experienced Chuck Ragan’s solo work, he will maintain the energy that you’ve come to expect and welcome you with open arms on a poetic journey full of romance and plenty of life experience. He has proven himself a genuine entertainer and an authentic talent. You’ll walk out feeling like you’ve just caught up with an old friend, and you’ll want to do it again soon -Lindsey Elgie

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Mon, 08 Dec 2014 01:52:00 GMT
We Were Promised Jetpacks There is a possibility that I have a slight crush on Scottish indie rock. Not only do they take the sensibilities ingrained in the genre by its forefathers, but work in some stylings that are not heavily associated with the U.S., such as shoegaze. The 1-2 punch of We Were Promised Jetpacks and The Twilight Sad brought a variety of flavors to Union Transfer, and a fair amount of swooning.

WWPJ brought a worthy follow-up show to their last UT visit, which was recorded for a live album. They are genuinely appreciative of both the city and the venue. Heavier than their counter parts, the often raucous sound managed to keep everyone on their feet. Adam Thompson has an impressive voice, and he exercised it all night long, coming out strong with the post-rock slow burn bliss of “Safety In Numbers” and closing the night with the rowdy high note of “Short Bursts”

The Twilight Sad came out equally as strong. Pulling out all the stops with his performance, James Graham was a dancing ball of fire in front of the post-shoegaze powder keg of guitars and drums that burned in the air. Alternating between gentle waves of reverb-soaked guitars, cinematic synths, and mic-less shouts accompanied fits of near rage, it was an emotionally draining set for The Twilight Sad at the very least, but filled with genuine passion and not a false note

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 25 Nov 2014 01:52:00 GMT
Stars Not that this is really necessary, but, in the interest of full disclosure: I have seen Stars live multiple times, and enjoyed each and every one of those shows immensely. So unless they were going to work really hard to disappoint, there was pretty much zero chance I was not going to have a blast at Union Transfer on Wednesday night. There are a couple of really basic equations that make it work so well.

Amy Millan + Torquil Campbell = the greatest male/female dynamic in music today.

(Party rock + love ballads) – silly pretentiousness = a repertoire full of kick ass tunes.

A rabidly loyal fan base x a band that loves them back equally as much = an immersive experience in every set they play.

Party all the time. That’s the attitude. Not the frat party, beer-cans-to-foreheads attitude. More like best friends that work awesome jobs and then hang out every night after work and have a great time attitude. BFFs and such. Just enough cursing to get a point across, but never crude. Just enough to drink to feel good, but still make it to work on time the next day. Always a lot of dancing, singing, and laughing. 13 years of it. Feels longer, still hard to believe their second album Heart—Stars’ first with Amy as a full time member—is only 11 years old. Everything they do feels fresh, modern, and achingly urgent when it comes to matters of the heart.

The long, drawn out notes of “Ageless Beauty” whisked along the walls and through the hearts of everyone in the crowd. “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It” and it’s epically danceable synth-infused chorus became a battle cry for the evening. The somber tone of “Dead Hearts” brought the arms-around-shoulders sway moment of the night, and if ever a song deserved a lighters-up sing-along, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” is it. Amy is a little shy on the mic, but Torquil never forgets to pepper the evening with loving words for adoring fans.

I may spend a large portion of the year draped in cynicism, bouncing back and forth from punk acts that feel the world is ending, hip-hop acts that feel that society has let them down, and metal bands that may or may not be trying to raise Satan, but at a Stars show, all of that disappears, and the gooey romantic pops up, if only for one wonderful night.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sat, 15 Nov 2014 01:52:00 GMT
Kimbra I don’t want to be accused of hyperbole here, but if you weren’t at the Kimbra show in Philadelphia on Friday night, there is a black hole in your life that can now never be filled. I was a bit skeptical going in, thinking that maybe the hype surrounding the live set wouldn’t be able to live up to the expectations I had for it. Sure, Kimbra is great on every song on both albums, she even makes “Somebody That I Used To Know” somehow still bearable years later. Was World Cafe Live the right venue? Did this crowd really want it? Was she just going to be another pop entertainer going through the motions?

Yes it was, yes they did, no, she most certainly was not. She was exciting, electrifying, energetic and fantastically charming the entire night. Her music goes beyond age, sex, and race (the audience was one of the most diverse I’ve seen in a while). She wore a dress that would make Bjork jealous and a set of platform shoes that made her effortless gliding across the stage seem miraculous. Her jazz infused pop-stylings took on another life from the stage. Even the more melancholy songs were made dance-worthy, and the entire audience was eating it up. Wispy and cheerful, Kimbra never lost energy, and I was never once let down.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sun, 09 Nov 2014 01:52:00 GMT
Run The Jewels Many a producer has cultivated a career to the point where they can do whatever they want. El-P is one of few that started there. He’s taken years building his hard-edged beats and fusing them with some of the most vicious rappers in the underground, including himself. Never one to shy away from any subject (war, crime, broken families, even his sister’s rape), his lyrics cut just as deep as his beats. Throw in the equally seasoned Killer Mike (who made is debut on Stankonia of all places) to add in a playful balance to the act, and you have Run The Jewels. A pair of evil geniuses that answer to no master, and with that freedom comes no limits to the creativity that they (literally) give away for free.

Their shows follow suit, an off-the-cuff, we’ll-do-what-we-want ode to when the parents were away and the kids did play. A couple of guys who met in there thirties after established careers and just became the best of buds. One of my favorite lines comes in the middle of the song “Banana Clipper” where Killer Mike drops a sweet dedication to their friendship: “Producer gave me a beat, said it’s the beat of the year. I said ‘El-P didn’t do it so get the fuck outta here!’” The new songs are stripped even more bare than hits like that, but don’t think that means they lack complexity. Bass and analog heavy, they are some of the more raw beats El-P has done yet, and they shook TLA to its bones.

Not shy by any means, the two came out to Queens “We Are The Champions” blaring over the crowd before launching in to their set. By the time “36” Chain” came around they had two lucky audience members on stage dancing in the background. The highlight of the night for me came about halfway through the set when opener Despot came back out to join them in on of the best song from El-Ps last solo album, the vicious “Tougher Colder Killer.”

Despot did a solid job up front, but still only vaguely addressed the fact that he’s been promising an album for about two years now with nothing to show for it other than a single or two. I can’t even tell if he’s serious that it’s being done with Ratatat or if that’s just a running joke. The other opening act, New York punk-rap act Rat King, brought its A-game and some low-end beats, reggae-style vocals, rapid fire raps, and a genre defying array of songs.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 04 Nov 2014 01:52:00 GMT
Sylvan Esso Even if a group’s formula is simple and straightforward, they can add an infinite layer of complexity by just having fun. Sylvan Esso is probably one the most fun duos in music right now. I’ve been lucky to see them live multiple times, and each time I marvel at the duo’s chemistry—they way they meld, the smiles they share, the happiness in their hearts and their music is all genuine.

Selling out Union Transfer, they brought that joy to the masses on the final leg of their US headlining tour. The thunderous claps of “Play It Right” and the slow build of “Hey Mami” were all present in glorious 360 degrees of sound. Amelia with her trademark platform shoes, and Nick with his eternally energetic attitude towards the sound they have cultivated. It was utterly infectious and the crowd fed off every bit of it. The sensual bounce of “Coffee” and slow, drawn out howls of “Wolf” soared through the ceiling and up to the balcony. Not a sour note in the evening. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 28 Oct 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Slowdive Towards the end of the ’80s and early ’90s, shoegaze had fallen out of favor with the heavyweights of music criticism. By the time grunge rolled around, it had just about gone the way of the dodo. But, there was staying power. Not a well populated genre by any means, there are only a few heroes within, and though they never had the mainstream visibility they once did, their followers are fierce and loyal.

Any doubt about that should be put to rest with the reunion tour of one of the heavyweights, Slowdive. The UK natives caught a lot of bad press because of the attacks by the press, but the sold out crowd at Union Transfer alone should be enough to hush any detractors. Bringing it low, slow, and dripping with reverb, not only did they sound great, they honestly looked great. Not that looks have anything to do with talent, but, seriously, they haven’t aged poorly by any means. Back to the show, as attractive as they all are, there was a lot of great music. Crashing guitars, soothing vocals, and a lovely light show all brought down the house.

Opening act Low, the definitive slower group, brought its A-game as well. I would have preferred a longer, more career-spanning set, but the songs played were all on point. While they haven’t really changed up their sound in the 20 or so years they’ve been around, they do it better than anyone.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sun, 26 Oct 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Porter Robinson Porter Robinson may be a self-taught musician, but he is definitely someone who has taken the time to study hard. Through the songs he has, it is evident that he has deep knowledge of where dance music has been and where it is now. He is also well-embedded in the pop culture surrounding it, mostly because you’d think he would be the target demographic for his music rather than the person creating it. He’s taken all of this knowledge and youthful energy and used it to throw one hell of a party.

My feelings on live electronic acts and their failings as live events has been pretty well documented in various ways. Robinson managed to buck that trend by hosting a show that was not only audibly stunning, but visually thrilling as well. His affinity for the 8- and 16-bit era fantasy games permeated the screens behind him, weaving epic tales in to the waves of synth leads that guided the crowd through his musical journey.

Wave after wave of luscious synths intertwined with drum skips and cuts bounced off of each other to build something that sounds jarring on paper, but is really ethereally pleasing to the senses. Songs such as “Sad Machine” and “Lionhearted” hit their peaks with fantastic lighting displays and shots of CO2 and confetti raining down on the hyped crowd, before settling down to give us all a moment to breathe. If the show had a failing, it’s that it didn’t seem to have come close to selling out. The Tower Theater was a great choice with it’s GA pit and seating options, and it was still very full, but deserved to be just a bit more populated.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Thu, 16 Oct 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Nas Depending on when you start counting, hip-hop as a genre is only about 35-40 years old. In its young life, it has managed to obtain a fair amount of history, and more than a fair amount of controversy. To have not only an album, but a career that still thrives, even 20 years in, is still quite rare. Big stars have either died (some at the hands of another, some from poor health), some have leveraged their star power to transfer into other industries, and far too many have faded in to obscurity. It’s a genre with an unusually high turnover rate for fame and fortune. Nas has not only bucked those trends, but managed to almost single-handedly reshape hip-hop with a single album.

The Album
If you’ve never listened to Illmatic and you consider yourself a hip-hop fan—or a socially conscious human being on any level—you really owe it to your brain to give it a shot. It’s hardcore hip-hop, but it is very cerebral. Even the act of spitting on the sidewalk is described with poetic lyricism. Now, growing up as a white male in middle-class America, I won’t pretend to understand the plight of growing up in the Queensbridge projects, but I can respect art, no matter who it is from. Nas paints a portrait of life that is frighteningly timeless, yet shaped by a specific place in a specific era. The beats that back it are the grunge music of hip-hop—stark in their simplicity from 5 of the biggest names in the game. Drum-kicks and bass-lines that defined the era interspersed with minimal melodies and a notable sample or two. If Illmatic has a failing, it’s that it is a very New York album. Maybe the New York album. Much like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, it is tied to a place that it will never escape from.

The Documentary
The few hip-hop docs I have seen did not sit well with me. Granted, most I’ve seen are related to the murders of Biggie and 2Pac, and were sloppy attempts to present some sort of conspiracy theory. There are exceptions to the rule, and Sunday night’s screening of Nas: Time is Illmatic at the Keswick Theatre presented one of them. It is less the story of the making the album than it is a family drama. It tells of the life that shaped the mind that wrote the album.

Brothers Nasir and Jabari, and father Olu Dara figure predominantly into the tale. It’s the story of a boy who becomes a man, maybe too soon, but at least gets some time to be a child. Like many of his peers, Nas’ life began in the slums, but he did not come from a broken home. His family had it better than most in the Queensbridge housing development, having access to some of the nicer things of the days. Noticeably absent is Fannie Ann Jones, his mother, who passed away in 2002. Despite that absence, she is a central character of the documentary. The sentiment comes to a head in a heartbreaking moment. Jabari is recalling his mother fondly when he seems to be heading down a trail of thought that may lead to him saying he wishes it was his father who had passed instead. He catches himself, and simply states that his mother deserved to be alive to reap the praise for raising Nas that his father receives.

It’s that personal. The film is brisk and weaves an intricate tale of innocence lost that never overstays its welcome. In a mere hour and 10 minutes we see the transformation of a bright young man with no interest in being just another cog in the wheel go from a boy to a man. He suffers the loss of friends to the violence of the day, but perseveres. It’s a funny, sad, and exhilarating tale.

That brings us to the major failing of the film. It is a family drama, and an engaging one, about the birth of an artist. Beyond a few sound clips, and brief interviews, it does very little to give any actual insight into the making to the album. AZ was the lone other MC on the album—his verse on “Life’s A Bitch” won almost as much praise as any that Mr. Jones dropped, scored him his own deal, and pegged him as the Snoop to Nas’ Dre. Yet, he is in the film for barely a minute.

Large Professor, DJ Premier, L.E.S., Pete Rock, and Q-Tip were integral to shaping the album. Anecdotal stories from interviews in past publications paint a vivid picture of a group of beat-makers that melded seamlessly with Nas’ style of poetry, and even helped shape it. To reduce them to mere sound bites that seem to say “I had this beat, and he liked it” is to rob the viewers of deeper insight into the creative process of a hip-hop album as a whole, and not just the lyrical content, majestic as it may be.

It was a disappointing oversight, but not so much so that it lessened the blow of what preceded it. It’s still a powerful music documentary, and it feels a little incomplete, but thankfully doesn’t overstay its welcome, and still manages to bring proper moments of joy and sorrow.

The Show
Much like the doc, Nas’ live performance of Illmatic was short, sweet, and to the point. Also like the film, it was a family affair, this time between Nas and his fans. No entourage and a minimally intrusive DJ meant that Nas was front and center with a rabid group of admirers. So he came out and wowed everyone.

This is a man that has performed in stadiums and festivals all over, worth millions. Yet there was not a single ounce of ego on that stage. There was, instead, a humble man truly thankful for what he has. A humble man that brought his brother out on stage to hug him in front of legions of fans, and talk about how much he means to him. During the performance, he took multiple opportunities to shake hands with everybody up front.

The setlist was in the name. 9 sweet classics, minimal intrusions, and a whole lot of flow. The DJ threw some curveballs to keep it fresh (mixing in the beat from Notorious BIG’s “Sky’s The Limit” into “One Love” was a magnificent moment) and there was a pretty sweet display in the background that flashed scenes from Nas’ life before and after the fame hit (remember Belly?). In my favorite tale from the night, he fondly recalls—with childlike excitement—the moment he and his producers got permission from Michael Jackson himself to use the sample from “Human Nature” for “It Ain’t Hard To Tell.”

Then like that, the evening was over, there were only a few extra hits thrown in. Hit’s that had the MTV video views to be respected, but not nearly the importance. A bit of a sour note on an otherwise perfect evening, but Nas was there to entertain, clearly not to play to me. So there really are no valid complaints about anything that happened, it was truly a beautiful night for music, and a great celebration for a classic album, and an artist who is a modern classic. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 08 Oct 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Little People I’ll be the first to admit that, as much as I adore the genre, electronic music isn’t always the most stimulating thing to watch live. Sure, there are artists and DJs (Deadmau5 and Bonobo) that have the money to throw down on huge sets, live bands, and amazing light shows. Most producers, however, get left to playing in between day jobs and other ventures. What it does have going for it though is the unique opportunity to sit in a room with a bunch of like-minded folks and hear the music you love on a sound system, and at a volume, that trumps anything you have in your house.

Little People has one of my absolute favorite ambient hip-hop albums. Mickey Mouse Operation is, in my humble opinion, the greatest piece of instrumental beat making since DJ Shadow’s Entroducing. Instrumental hip-hop is often built off of samples, but Little People likes to limit that and focus more on original instrumentation. Hearing it live, even if it was just a guy fiddling with effects, was cathartic. To just sit back and listen—and watch others listen and appreciate—felt good. Upstairs at The Trocadero, there had to be less than 40 people in attendance, but we were all in it together. Opener Yppah had a solid set of his own brand of bass and drum heavy hip hop—a lot of melodic undertones, similar to Little People, but grungier. The first set by Lost Midas was a far more dance-able affair that would not have been out of place on Ninja Tune

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 07 Oct 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Beach Fossils I’m a digital lifestyle kind of guy, but I am not ashamed to admit that I miss some things about my old Tower Records lifestyle. Once a week, I would peruse the aisles looking for new music, sit at the listening stations and soak up the employee recommendations, and chat with anybody that popped up in the electronic music aisle (I’ve made lifelong friends that way). When the pickings were slim, I’d sometimes purchase an album simply because I liked the cover—not the most scientific methods for discovering good music. I’ve applied that school of thought to my shows now, browsing the local ads and venue websites for something new. So, on Sunday night, because of a name and a poster, I ended up at Boot and Saddle.

The members of opening act Axxa/Abraxas do not look the types of fellows that would be in a hazy shoegaze act, yet there we were. It was awesome, a throwback not just to beach tunes, but ’90s era riffs and lengthy sonic breakdowns. They also knew how to throw down a solid indie vibe, mixing in more traditional verse/chorus structure.

Next up was the odd but delightful Heavenly Beat. Sometimes you have to work with what you’re given, and in this case that means a majority of the music came from a box, save for the live bass and acoustic guitar. It was warm and fuzzy summer music with just a hint of dance-pop, and the lead singer reminded me of a Paul Rudd character—he had that quirky, off-putting charm.

The main event, Beach Fossils, came out, and the crowd had definitely picked up. Things were getting dance-y. I don’t know if Dustin Payseur picked up on that immediately, or if he was going to do it anyway, but he kicked things off by jumping in the audience and singing directly to the crowd. I love seeing things like that, it’s not just somebody going through the motions—they want to have fun. I have listened to their albums and I dig the reverb soaked, indie-beach revival sound they have, but it works so much better live. There is a crunchy garage rock feel that punctuated the parts that felt over-processed on the albums, and the catchy choruses came through much clearer. My blind leap in to the deep-end paid off once again, and I bought albums from all three acts, regardless of the cover. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:52:00 GMT
WHY? Fusing musical genres together is not a new idea, nor is it a generally unpopular one. There have been some missteps in the past (nobody says “rap-rock” with a straight face anymore), but the good outweighs the bad now. Enter Yoni Wolf and his merry band of minstrels, who played at Union Transfer on Monday night. While primarily a Wolf project, it’s a gleeful combination of indie-rock band in the background, with the eccentric rapper leading the way as ringleader.

Always upbeat, even if the coded wordplay is not, Wolf is an artist that puts his whole body into every performance. He projects everything out into the crowd, which was soaking up every single word of it. The sounds were really fleshed out, and the setlist was a great mixture of old and new(ish).

Opener Dessa brought here own unique brand of sung hip-hop that expertly melds R&B-style choruses against angst-ridden verses. Not one to shy away from delving into insecurities and injustices, the Doomtree chanteuse is also not afraid to experiment with sound. Mixing classical styles with modern boom-bap drum hits and smooth vocals that flow seamlessly into spoken word slam-poetry readings. It was a good night for creativity, and a proper welcoming to fall.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Thu, 25 Sep 2014 00:52:00 GMT
The Hold Steady We have made things complicated. By we, I mean all of us. We took rock ‘n’ roll and broke it down in to so many genres that it borders on the ludicrous. The bands and genres aren’t inherently bad, greatness exists in all of them, but we over-complicated things. So, sometimes it’s refreshing to be able to look back to a simpler time and see a band that can be labelled simply as ROCK!

The Hold Steady is one such band. Raw, powerful, high-energy, drunk, physical, so on and so on, they encompass all that is guitar-driven, fast-living rock ‘n’ roll. If you haven’t seen the band live—until Monday night at the perfectly suited Underground Arts, I had not—this means a group of people joining as one big ball of energy. Some of them play instruments, there was a guy singing, some people up front, some in the back purchasing merch and beers…but don’t be mistaken, this was a collective—everybody was part of the show.

That’s really the best way I can describe it, and if you’ve never heard a Hold Steady album and want to hear what it’s all about, you really can’t go wrong with any of them. There’s sixth of them, and they all appear to be pieces of one giant rock ‘n’ roll catalogue, rather than independent moving parts. Guitar-centric madness that has seemingly no place in today’s genre-driven markets, but exists as some sort of ghost of music past that came out of the grave to remind us all what it is supposed to be about. This may be drivel to most, but if you get The Hold Steady, I hope you find that this is an accurate description. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Thu, 11 Sep 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Bob Mould Billy Joel famously sang “Only The Good Die Young” in 1977, which became something of a mantra in the punk-rock scene. Sid Vicious, Darby Crash, Kurt Cobain, etc. But the fact remains that a large portion of the idols lived, and some of them even got better as time wore on. Heck, even Joel couldn’t have believed it entirely as he still packs ‘em in. Husker Du and Bob Mould existed and were melded in a time and place when that school of thought was really at its peak. But, Mould still stands. He also runs around, screams, plays guitar like a monster, and is an all around amicable and entertaining guy.

So legions of fans, both old and new, piled in to the TLA on Friday night to witness the spectacle that is, for better or worse, labeled as pop-punk. It’s fast, it’s loud, it’s fun as hell, and Mould is its godfather. While he didn’t waste time with too many words to the audience outside of the occasional “thanks” (I do like it when an artists takes some time to talk to the fans), Bob and the boys did cram in a lot of music to the set. A career-spanning set, the show was populated by what was hands down one of the best crowds I’ve been a part of recently. The audience was filled with genuine Mould fans and everyone was respectful of the request to refrain from filming the show, as it was being professionally captured from start to end for what I assume is an upcoming live release, so keep an eye out. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Mon, 08 Sep 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Trombone Shorty Long days deserve late nights. While the Made In America festival garnered the most attention on Saturday, it was later that night that the real party began. Kicking things off around 11 p.m., the very soulful sexual Charles Bradley set the tone for the evening, and let Philly know that the party wasn’t over yet. The main event, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, hit the stage shortly after midnight, giving the stragglers from MIA plenty of time to trickle in and get things really moving. An extremely fun triple threat of instrumentalist, vocalist, and general party animal, it was an amazing set full of vibrance and life, the things you need for that second wind on a musical binge. A great end to a great day for the city.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 02 Sep 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Hieroglyphics There is nothing quite so awesome in music as a group of distinctly unique personalities that can come together as a cohesive whole and make great music together. It’s rare, but I feel as if the idea works most in hip-hop. It’s a genre that was born out of the idea of collaboration. Between personalities, ideas, and physical equipment, it really started as a collaboration between two copies of the same record, extending the breakdown to keep the party going. So, the hip-hop collective was born. When most people think of the ’90s, one particular collective comes to mind, but this isn’t about them, so I won’t even utter the name. While the East Coasters had a grit and grime that was new and fresh, the West Coast revealed in a separate style that was a far cry from their mainstream counterparts more vicious tendencies. The leaders of this pack were undeniably the members of Hieroglyphics.

Fast forward 20+ years and an underground empire has been established. Once the Hiero crew hit the stage at TLA on Friday night, the energy and the power was through the roof. Most of these guys are pushing mid- to late-40s here, but they bounced around the stage and met the crowd with genuine enthusiasm and happiness like a bunch of kids who just got out of school for the summer. The style of hip-hop that they specialize in means it’s really just a group of people on stage with microphones and a few guys on some turntables. Not a lot to see, room for error and boredom if the background players aren’t carrying weight. Not Hiero’s style. They bounced back and forth, came out to support each other when the time was right, and knew when to give the individual the spotlight.

Del tha Funkee Homosapien—the unofficial masthead of the group, if only because he came the closest to mainstream fame with Gorillaz—came out of the gate with a bang. Pep Love is the strongest wordsmith in the group with a flow and cadence that’ll make smoke come out of rookie MCs’ ears. Casual is an artist all around, a great MC but an accomplished producer as well. Opio, Tajai, A-Plus, and Phesto are of course part of the separate but related group Souls Of Mischief, which has it’s own claim to radio fame from two decades ago.

Each artist was given time to shine and the group as a whole would come together to perform and back songs from the groups prolific catalogue. Hits from 3rd Eye Vision like “After Dark” were met with rowdy callbacks from the crowd. “Make Your Move” showcased the groups slower rhythmns and and ability to form a cohesive whole, and they closed out the night with the perennial hit “’93 til Infinity,” which brought down the house. It was a great show, even better seeing a group of old friends on stage together again. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 26 Aug 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Bear In Heaven A lot of bands come out of New York. That shouldn’t be seen as a sign that nowhere else has great music, New York City just provides a large portion of the saturation. So, being just two hours away has some heavy benefits. Bands from NYC tend to like ending tours at home, putting them in Philly before making that full-circle or the night before they make it home. Each has their benefits, primarily that the first night on tour is a chance to see the band fresh, rested, and ready to kick things off, rather than late-tour, tired, jaded (depending on how it’s going) and just generally worn out. And sometimes, as was the case with Bear In Heaven on Wednesday night, maybe just a little bit nervous.

Moving away from the laptop sounds I’d heard in the band’s previous visit, not only was Bear in Heaven playing a bunch of new songs, the musicians were using a little more instrumentation. The new songs, from the brand new Time is Over One Day Old, sound great—“Time Between” and “Autumn” especially carry the heavy percussion and bass over nicely to the live environment and manage to sound a little more epic. Some of the older fare such as “Sinful Nature” probably would have benefited from some additional support, sounding a little too stripped down. A minor gripe for sure.

Opening act Young Magic brought an interesting mix of thundering drums, lilting synths, and vocal drones. The images on the screen behind them added a nice touch to the ambiance. Weeknight was a little tough on me at first, though I respect what the musicians were trying to accomplish. The songs they closed out with grew on me more however, taking their initially muddled sound and fleshing it out with some flourishing touches. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sat, 23 Aug 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Philly Folk Festival Friday night saw the kick-off of the 53rd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. Featuring an eclectic mix of folk, blues, rock and bluegrass, the wooded fields of rural Pennsylvania roared to life amidst a mish-mash of music, food, merchandise and hula hoops. It was a solid mix of old and new, as well as national and local. Philly natives Katie Frank and The Pheremones made their 3rd public appearance in the last 7 days, the collaborative project A Fistful of Sugar, and South Philly siblings The Wallace Brothers also pitched in.

The main event kicked off with another Philly-Jersey native John Flynn before breaking in to national blues act Shemekia Copeland and international folk troubadour, Scotland’s Archie Fisher. The evening culminated with two powerhouse bands with distinctly different flavors, starting with the Celtic rock fusion of Tempest, and closing the night out with bluegrass powerhouse, and newest members of the Grand Ole Opry, Old Crow Medicine Show.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:52:00 GMT
The Bailey Hounds Fresh off a lengthy tour with Incubus and Everclear over in Asia (or so they would have you believe), Philadelphia’s own heroes of blood and lust, The Bailey Hounds, swung by Boot & Saddle with their dark tales and occult leanings. They also have a wicked sense of humor. The somber guitar licks and catchy hooks that permeate their songs translate well into a live environment, and though the set was short (they exclaimed that they played all they had), the future looks exciting as they get ready to enter the studio again.

Levee Drivers are equally as driven for their unique sounds. Rockabilly with a little bit of a punk edge (just a little), they howled and screeched their way across the stage, nearly bringing down the roof. Equal parts melody and raw rock, they are 100% awesome. Katie Frank & The Pheromones kicked off a long week of performances. Filling an itch I didn’t even know needed scratching until I heard them play, the band harkens back to the heydey of Aimee Mann and her ilk. So, if you missed the B&S show, catch up to them at Rittenhouse Square on Wednesday or the Folk Festival on Friday.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Beck Braving sweltering heat and the looming threat of rain, the massive crowd at Wiggins Park saw yet another epic close to the XPoNential Music Festival with a fabulous lineup. Featuring a healthy dose of local talent, spearheaded by up-and-coming giants The Districts, flavorful acts like The Lawsuits, and colorful heavy-hitters Man Man. Jersey was well represented by the soulful Nicole Atkins, and even Britain had a solid mascot with the fearsome folk rock Bear’s Den. Boston rock group Lake Street Dive, J. Roddy Walston and The Business, Diego Garcia, and Old 97’s all brought their A-games to a rowdy, but friendly crowd (one of the reasons it remains one of the few festivals I would suggest to both friends and family). Wiggins Park headliners Trigger Hippy closed out the daytime festivities with the raucous rock one would expect from a band founded by members of Black Crowes and currently fronted by Joan Osborne.

The evening saw an unforgettable night of music, and probably the strongest closing the festival has ever had. After hometown heroes The Districts banged some heads, indie-rock gods Band of Horses came out strong and finished even stronger. Playing a full set of gold, they were friendly, they were funny, and they were on fire. Beck…was Beck. He is the artist for that person in your life that says they listen to everything, because Beck plays everything. He goes through every musical genre and the attitude that coincides with such ease and reckless abandon. With a youthful presence and a look in his eyes that screams “entertainer,” it’s hard to believe that Mellow Gold turned 20 this year. Really looking forward to another slam-bang event next year!

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 30 Jul 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Veruca Salt For some people, the drama that tore Veruca Salt apart was the most heartbreaking piece of ’90s nostalgia. For most people, we don’t know what the hell it was all about. Some surmised it was relationship drama with Dave Grohl (a drunken admission at an Australian concert pretty much ruled that out, however). Other interviews hinted at drugs as a catalyst for the dramatic events that ripped the band apart. Whatever the reason, it’s all in the past, as the fully reunited band proclaimed to an eager audience, “Aren’t you glad we got over our shit?”

Over it indeed. As the group entered the stage to raucous applause, Nina Gordon and Louise Post, once legendary ex-BFFs, smiled, embraced, shared a peck on the cheek, and partied like it was 1997 for the remainder of the night. Nina Gordon—publicly amused by bands that wear their own gear and sporting an “It’s Holy” shirt in celebration of their newest single—Louise Post, drummer Jim Shapiro, and bassist Steve Lack together again. It was a good crowd, too. A strong turn out and more than a few crushes—one audience member brought Post and Gordon flowers, which they graciously accepted. There was a dedication to REO Speedwagon and a song about Bowie. While the animosity is clearly gone, the band (wisely) chose to forgo the material from the era in which Post carried on the moniker solo, sticking with the classics and nailing every one of them.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Everything about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (CYHSY) spells out a band that wants to have fun. From its humble, hard-working beginnings, to the peak of its commercial success, this is a group of musicians that really just wants to entertain us. So, from small venues like North Star Bar to the heights of success at Union Transfer, we circle back around to a smaller, but noticeably sold-out crowd of rabid fans at Johnny Brenda’s—which has seen its fair share of CYHSY madness in the past.

Though there is a bit of a rotating cast of characters, original member Alec Ounsworth remains at the forefront of the band’s image. He is a passionate, energetic performer, and of course, a hometown hero. Coming gently out of the gate with “Blameless,” from the new album, Only Run, the band bounced from newest right into oldest with the higher energy of “In This Home On Ice.” Despite the limited confines of the Johnny Brenda’s stage, they did a great job of keeping up the pace all night. Hitting on their entire discography, without relying too heavily on just the new album, was a nice treat as well.

Opening act Stagnant Pools did a great job of blasting out low-end rock ‘n’ roll some eager followers. A two-piece much in the same vein as Japandroids, but slowed down considerably, they blasted out some slow burn rock with subtly catchy guitar hooks, crashing drums (seriously amazing) and mumbled lyrics. One to look out for. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 01 Jul 2014 00:52:00 GMT
BANKS Jillian Banks, better known simply as BANKS, is a carefully crafted mystery. Notoriously shy of social networking, her management team handles all of her needs, keeping tight control over the info that gets out. But even with little to go off of other than a couple excellent EPs, a sold out crowd packed in Underground Arts to watch her perform on Saturday night.

Still fresh to the scene, she made some brief comments about how new touring is to her before performing just about every song she currently has out. There are two major takeaways I had from the show. First, fans already adore her. I’ve seen few acts come to clubs like Underground Arts with no album out that have had the ferocious level of love that I saw on Saturday. Second, she is still very much in the make or break stage of her career. Despite good press in major publications, stardom is not guaranteed, and BANKS herself still seems a little uncomfortable in her shoes.

The biggest reason I have to say this is her backing vocals. There was an awesome light setup that even the venue found impressive, great musicians backing her performance, but still the use of a backing vocal track. Her voice is impressive, and the songs are all great, so why not let her voice shine in the live act? The only song that she radiated through on completely was a cover of the late, great Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody.”

But, enough of that. It was still a great show, full of fantastic songs. As I mentioned, she has the showmanship portion down. Hitting on everything, including personal favorites “Goddess” and “Waiting Game.” It was a short set, hitting the stage at 9:15, the entire set (encore included) was done by 10:15. Almost as carefully crafted as her persona. BANKS is definitely on the rise and I am looking forward to the album. Based on the enthusiastic audience, the next time she comes through, there will be no problems with her selling out again. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 10 Jun 2014 00:52:00 GMT
The Menzingers Following the release of Rented World on April 22, The Menzingers embarked on an extensive US tour, stopping home to play for a full house at Union Transfer on May 31. 

The foursome kicked their set off with the Rented World opener, “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore.” Almost immediately, the stage diving and crowd surfing began, with no protest from band or venue. Between the dueling vocals of Greg Barnett and Tom May, and the heavy-handed guitar and bass lines, there wasn’t a moment of stillness to be found.

Playing through a mix of tracks old and new, The Menzingers accommodated their still growing fan base with songs like “A Lesson In The Abuse of Information Technology” off of the 2007 album by the same title, and highlights like “Deep Sleep” from Chamberlain Waits and “Casey” from their breakout record, On The Impossible Past.  

It’s easy to see why The Menzingers have made such a name for themselves. Any suburban adolescent can relate to the laments of unrequited love and misguided happiness. While it’s clear with Rented World that the band members are growing up and refining their skills in the process, their trademark Americana lyrics still pay homage to small-town youth. 

Local group Cayetana started the evening off with driving guitars and bass lines. PUP brought its aggression to the stage through catchy punk tracks, and Lemuria followed with smooth vocals over gritty guitar.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 04 Jun 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Manchester Orchestra As much as I love spending time looking for the next big thing, trying to find something new and important amongst the endless list of releases spouted by record labels and music blogs, when it comes down to it, most people aren’t going to do anything new, at least not well. So what I ask of most of them is to at least try to do what has been done before in a really awesome way. So, for two packed shows, the members of Manchester Orchestra saw fit to come to Philadelphia to melt the faces of all of their fans and lay waste to all the naysayers that might be teetering on the edge of admitting that they one of the best rock bands right now.

I get where there may be some hesitation at first. Andy Hull has a voice that screams “emo band,” but if you get past the distinctive pitch, you’ll discover a pedal-to-the-metal band with anthemic tunes that sit nicely in a playlist with the likes of Foo Fighters, rather than some of the other contemporaries they are often associated with. They came out softly, a bit unexpected, keeping in the dark during a mostly solo rendition of “Deer” accented by screams from the crowd.

They declared that they were going to change things up a bit from night one, ensuring that repeat offenders would not see the same show twice. Then they exploded into a 14-song set that included piercing epics like “Pride” and “I’ve Got Friends,” which guaranteed more than one person would be sore the next day, as well as anthemic newcomers “Top Notch” and the slightly gentler “Cope” from their newest album, named after the last named. While brief on conversation, even skipping the standard encore break (I hate encores, earned or not), they were not short on energy for any of the set. Though not the final song, the evening built to and culminated with the fiery “Virgin,” which could have been the only song they played for the whole night and I would have been satisfied.

It’s also worth noting that this was an expertly crafted show by all involved. From the sound engineers to the lighting, it looked and sounded perfect. There are usually enough unknowns to throw a few hiccups in, but this was truly a flawless performance by all involved. I tried desperately to make it in time to see both openers, but a prior engagement forced me to miss Kevin Devine, which I sincerely regret. Balance and Composure always put on a good set, and this time was no exception. Toeing a fine line between alt-rock and shoegaze, there is something both very British and yet still so American about their live sound that I can’t put my finger on, but I really enjoy. It was a good night for rock n roll. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 28 May 2014 00:52:00 GMT
The Both The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) have a stage presence that harkens back to the days of The Rat Pack. Talented musicians come out, talk a bunch, tell some funny stories, rag on each other, and then play some great music. It’s a tried-and-true formula that not too many bands use anymore, opting for the more standard strategy of playing a bunch of songs, and every so often acknowledging the crowd with some humor.

It was fun, but also, in a way, a little heartbreaking. Aimee Mann was waxing-poetic about their DC show the night before, and name dropped Ian Mackaye being backstage (no surprise, that man can go anywhere he wants in D.C.) to much applause, as well as Fred Armisen, to much, much more applause. For the purposes of my story, The Both are Ian Mackaye: well-respected, talented musicians with loads of charisma and a fantastic catalogue of music, who could barely fill Union Transfer in it’s smallest iteration. Was there just more Fred Armisens running around, with younger appeal and fresher takes on the genre? Or was everyone resting for the Broad Street Run? Why wouldn’t everyone and their kids come out to see these two power houses take it to each other and play some kick-ass music?

I digress.

It was a great show. The banter was witty (there was a legitimate conversation about “Bottled In Cork” being misconstrued as “Butt Court”) and the music was high-energy and hook-heavy. The Both material such as “Pay For It” and “Milwaukee” really just oozes Ted Leo, but Mann brings her magic to all of it. The standard solo efforts were covered well (“Save Me” never gets old) and even a cover of ’Til Tuesdays “Voices Carry” seemed bearable with Leo’s high-pitched wailing contrasted with Mann’s softer tones. I hope you placed well in the 10-miler if you missed this, and if this is all very confusing to you, pick up their debut, and ready yourself for the next time, lest I write another “you should have come out, man” review.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 06 May 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Matt Pond Pardon the cliche, but yes, Matt Pond is like fine wine. I can understand where people may say things like “I’m not a Matt Pond fan.” But, I still believe that every album released has something that most people will like on it, even if it’s just one song. For the Pond faithful, every release is a lovingly crafted masterpiece of introspection, love, longing, nostalgia, and generally warm, fuzzy feelings, even if the lyrics themselves are a bit cynical.

So, a group of us gathered at Underground Arts to celebrate the 10th anniversary of what I believe to be the true start of the path he’s traveled to create more and more enjoyable albums, Emblems. That’s not to say it is a poor or sub-par album, it’s just the beginning of a pretty awesome journey through music and songwriting. Always seeming a little bashful and maybe slightly out of place, Mr. Pond brought along the usual suspects to lead a very willing crowd through some sing-alongs, a bit of dancing, and—judging by some expressions—some intensely personal moments.

My personal two favorites from the list were the two most rousing in the set. “Lily Two” had people swaying hard enough to shift the venue a couple of feet, and “New Hampshire” was a sing-along with enough memories of days gone by to bring a few tears to the eyes of participants. Of course, the album itself wash’t the only treat. Pond is always good for a smile, and would not let any cry of affection from the audience go unanswered. He also took the time to address what I think we all already knew—his eternal bromance with guitarist Chris Hansen. There was enough time to fill up the set with other giants such as his treatise on ‘the scene’ “Halloween” and the epic “Love To Get Used.” Probably the best way anyone there has spent an evening since the last time they saw Matt Pond play.

Openers Rosu Lup and The Lighthouse & The Whaler both earned their time in the spotlight. The former jamming out with trumpet, violin, guitars, and a healthy dose of Cello solo; the latter a more high-energy romp that would feel right at home in a playlist with the likes of Band Of Horses. Both are more than worthy of a deeper dive. Start off on Rosu Lup’s “Dust and Days,” filled with swelling strings and bellowing calls. For The Lighthouse, check out “Venice,” filled with light, dancing guitars and joyful attitude.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sun, 04 May 2014 00:52:00 GMT
We Are Scientists Have you ever seen The Ratpack perform live? YouTube some of that. Try to push the subtle (and overt) racism and sexism out of your mind and focus on the dynamic. The jokes, the genuine friendship, and the cohesive group dynamic. That style of music performance lost a lot of popularity with the advent of the arena rock band (not trashing those, I love them too). It became less about putting on an act and more about putting on a show.

We Are Scientists brought the act back—and a fair amount of show with it. New York rockers and funny men Keith Murray and Chris Cain have been in the biz for a fair amount of time. While they may not sell out a Vegas show, they packed Boot & Saddle with a rowdy bunch of appreciative fans, enough so that two shows were required to contain the madness.

When not crushing their unique blend of garage, punk, and pop rock, the NYC kids entertained the crowd with geography lessons, seafood sandwich recommendations, onstage acrobatics, and a few martinis. Less like a rehearsed act, more like the friends we all hoped that Matt Leblanc and Matthew Perry were in real life. There was no shortage of good times on the tail end of their stop in the city of brotherly love.

Openers PAWS had some fun with the crowd beforehand. Slamming down some good old-fashioned crunchy guitars and hammered drums that were ripped from the pages of The Violent Femmes handbook. Equally adept at charming the crowd with thick Scottish accents and comparisons of the homeland to New Jersey as they were at banging heads, they were a worthy start to the evening

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Real Estate It’s always nice when things come together just right. I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach Thursday night at Union Transfer. Something felt off, out of balance—like at any moment the ceiling would come down on us. The woman next to me overheard my sentiments and agreed heartily. I carried the feeling with me all night long, something just wasn’t right about the crowd, the night. If the show wasn’t sold out, it was really close—full to the brim with almost no place to move anywhere. The back bar was empty, the top bar was empty, every living soul was engaged in Real Estate.

That may have been why I felt uncomfortable. There wasn’t the usual roar of talking that I hear in the back portions of Union Transfer. I wasn’t surrounded by at least one obnoxious group that apparently viewed a live performance as the opportunity to talk louder than the band. Nobody seemed to want to kill everybody around them. We were all in the moment. Brought to us by Real Estate, of course. If anyone is going to chill Philly out, these Jersey boys are certainly capable.

Playing what seemed like a brief set—time passed quickly—we were all entranced by the mellow, beach-worthy sounds of these gentle giants. Slow-burn hits like “Green Aisles” and “Had To Hear” jumped to epic life off of the pages of a summertime romance novel. A cover of George Harrison’s “Behind That Locked Door” gently glided over the audience while the shimmering lights flooded the stage, bringing a warm festival feel to the mid-size venue. The band themselves were extremely receptive to the welcoming crowd that was one of the most appreciative I’ve seen yet at Union Transfer.

It was a solid night that really got started when openers Pure X came out and warmed the audience up with their own version of reverb-saturated goodies, punctuated by dual vocalists and a nice dose of talk box. First act Francisco Ferdinand may need a little work, but if they treat the experience of opening for players like Real Estate as a break and not a one-off experience, they may have a chance to do something. As they are now, they were a bit out of place, as their sound relies mostly on drone and repetition, rather than fully realized songs

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Mon, 07 Apr 2014 00:52:00 GMT
The Ataris As I’ve said before, I am a huge fan of the “album” tours that a lot of artists are doing now. It’s a good chance to not only hear great albums live, but sometimes we are getting the chance to hear songs live that were rarely performed prior, and sometimes haven’t been played in over a decade. For a band like The Ataris that already had quite the catalogue before So Long, Astoria, some may never have been played at all.

It’s also hard for someone like me to write a review, because I am not a writer by trade, and it was pretty straightforward. They played all of the songs in order, took a break, came back out to do a few acoustic numbers, and then a final song with the whole band. We were kind of waiting to see if Kris Roe would break down and fire the whole band onstage, but it was a relatively drama free show. So, here are some of the highlights of the show for me.

– Donald Spence (Versus The World frontman) had one unruly fan tossed in epic fashion. First he called her out on the mic for coming to a show just to dis the band, then, when she wouldn’t relent, he had her thrown out. I normally would hate when a band acts like this, breaking character to address one person, but she was being really obnoxious, so, thank you sir!

– This was an alt-punk show people! One lousy crowd surfer. ONE! I know it’s a bit more difficult at the TLA with the barricade and all, but I expected more from Philly.

– I did not recognize a single member of the group. It was odd, I haven’t given them much thought in the last decade since they parted ways, but Roe in particular seemed like a stranger to me.

– It’s nice to see a band that has all the alt-rock tropes down and doesn’t make them feel forced like they had been rehearsing them for a Broadway show (bouncing around the stage, hyping the crowd, et cetera).

– They were genuinely happy to be there. At one point Spence hugged Mike Davenport and they smiled at each other. It was spur of the moment, and it seemed like in that instance the crowd wasn’t even there. It was just some old friends having a good time.

– They didn’t trash “The Boys Of Summer.” I really expected them to hate this song and that it is what they are most known for commercially. They respected it, they played the hell out of it, and they forced us all to join in on it. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Mon, 31 Mar 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Oldermost I will be the first to admit that my tastes can be strange when it comes to music. Some people would describe them as “hipster” or “contrarian.” I just prefer to believe that I like what I like. For instance: I absolutely love Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket. Love. Them. I can’t stand Dawes or Mumford and Sons. All talented musicians, but it doesn’t click for me. Anyone can be a contender for my affections, and who knows what will stick. Enter another player in the game, Philadelphia’s own Oldermost.

Before their release show for I Live Here Now on Saturday night at Johnny Brenda’s, I had a chance to listen to some of their work, and I dig it. Their sound resonates with me. A little bit off-kilter, with an acceptable amount of mainstream know-how thrown in to keep it melodic. Great vocals and a good chemistry on record.

The show itself was pretty straight-forward. Not a bad thing at all, mind you. I love local record release shows. It’s mostly family, friends and well-wishers. Things tend to be louder from the audience-chatter side of things (why people go to see a musical act and try to talk above the act that is playing is still beyond me), but they were fun and it’s a blast to see someone who could make it big someday take their early steps.

Oldermost are entertainers, most importantly. Lead vocalist Bradford Bucknum eschews passion in every note, no matter how minor (not a pun, I promise). Bandmates Dan Wolgemuth, David Richards, Stephen Robbins, and Geoff Bucknum all work equally hard to bring down the house, as much as their laid back sounds allow. A throwback to ’70s sensibilities, as well as the guitar/drums/keyboard aesthetic, they know how to jam without being boring, yell when it’s time, and lull you back down to earth when it’s over.

There is still some polishing to do, and I really hope this isn’t just a post-college project for these guys. I’d love to see them follow through, and where their sound will take them as they cultivate it. Like Leonardo in Django Unchained—they have my curiosity. I’ll hang around and see if they grab my attention

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 25 Mar 2014 00:52:00 GMT
Wild Cub It’s always a bit awkward when a band plays a new song in the middle of a high-energy set. Everyone has (presumably) been singing and dancing along, when suddenly nobody knows the lyrics, the beat, or any part of what comes next. So amplify the awkwardness by 100, because I am new to Wild Cub. Prior to the sold out show at Johnny Brenda’s on Friday night, I had only heard their debut album, Youth, twice. Once upon release, and once again the night before the show. I like it. A lot. After seeing them live, I like it even more.

I say that with mixed feelings. They sounded great. They were friendly, personable and funny. Ringleader Keegan DeWitt recalled early in the evening about the paltry attendance at their first Philly show and swearing they would never come back. But this capacity audience welcomed them with open arms. They tore through the songs from their album with ferocity and glee, and it was all eaten up. But I felt like something was missing. They are talented musicians, but the live act seemed to be lacking that little something to separate them from the pack. There was a lot of fire, but I couldn’t find the spark. Couldn’t see where it was all coming from.

Maybe I’m the one that was broken. Maybe my lack of knowledge, or faith, or camaraderie with the band meant that I wasn’t seeing this all from the right angle. So I spent the ride home listening to the album again. It’s a great album, even if it does borrow heavily from a multitude of sources. It’s fun and I can hear that they were having fun, and I had fun listening. I hope the next time we meet that I can feel that energy, know the words, know the beat, and see what drives them to do this. What drives them to come back to a town that they had written off, to try again and succeed when they very well could have faded in to obscurity. Until next time…

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 25 Feb 2014 01:52:00 GMT
Screaming Females I want to write a comprehensive volume of how awesome New Year’s Eve was at Johnny Brenda’s with Batty, Swearin’, and Screaming Females, but, alas, I cannot. I like to consider myself a professional. I go to shows, try to grab some awesome shots, get the set lists, listen to the artists for quotable moments, and report back to the loyal Swollen Fox fans. But…it was New Year’s Eve. I had some drinks. I know that all of the bands involved were awesome. Crowd surfing and mosh-pitting figured predominantly in to the evening. I was amongst friends and loved ones. I also took some pictures. That’s all I can give you. If you were there, I hope you’ll post your highlights in the comments. If not, I hope you had fun wherever you were.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 01 Jan 2014 01:52:00 GMT
Minor Alps Earlier this year, a fantastic new venue opened in Philadelphia and the inaugural act was a duo comprised of two rock stars with storied pasts that found there way to each other. The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) had wonderful banter akin to groups that had been together for years. They played a raucous set that mixed unique new material with songs from the individual artists repertoire. So when Minor Alps (Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws) came to World Cafe Live on Friday night, I had very high expectations. Expectations that were not entirely met, at least for the first half of the show.

Before I am ripped to shreds by anyone, let me say the two are fantastic musicians and I absolutely love the album, but something was off at the beginning of the night. The duo came out to much fanfare and Caws seemed to immediately take control, engaging the audience and leading off with “I Wanna Take You Home,” the Nada Surf song that featured Hatfield.

All seemed fine, but going into a 3-song streak from the Minor Alps collection it was clear that Caws was taking the lead. Whether on purpose or through technical error, Hatfields vocals took a back seat. There was essentially no interaction between the two for the first half of the set, and for a quieter, more intimate show, very little was done to address the audience. Hatfield herself seemed out of it, but being the penultimate show of the tour, she may have just been tired. Even on her own material, she seemed to take a back seat.

Then the halfway point hit, and “Inside of Love” came on and the place woke up, both on stage and off. Finally, the vocal duties evened out. There was a sense of energy that suddenly flowed through Hatfield, and Caws began to play off of it for the remainder of the show. Taking time out to talk about his experiences in the city, both in the clubs (his reference to Brenda and Johnny’s gave me a chuckle) and at World Cafe as part of a festival, Caws was still the more vocal of the two, but it was good to see Hatfield get a second wind.

By the time “The Way You Wear Your Head” hit, their voices had soared together, especially on “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands.” Hatfield took the lead on “When Will I Be Loved” by The Everly Brothers, and closed out the show with Nada Surf’s “Fruit Fly.” leaving the audience begging for more.

Opening act Sylvan Esso left a mark on my brain…and in my ears. Featuring Amelia Meath of Mountain Man and Nick Sanborn of Megafaun, the two form an unlikely electronic duo. Amelia’s soulful vocals glide effortlessly over Sanborns pulsating, minimalistic analogue beats. They were very much in tune with each other for the entirety of their set. She would slide back and forth across the stage, while he would bob and shake with the beats with a huge grin on his face. It was a magnificent set, and while they haven’t released a an album (or even an EP) yet, I jumped at the chance to own their single. While the sound may have been a little out of place considering the main event (they would have faired better with a crowd that still has Purity Ring on their iPods) they were well received, and deservedly so. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Mon, 25 Nov 2013 01:52:00 GMT
Hayden Singer-songwriters, for the most part, get a bad rap. There is often this stigma attached to the genre that if you’re not Beck, or if you didn’t have the decency to die like Elliot Smith, then you are worthless to the genre, and I hate it. I just want a person that has the skills to write and sing me a song that is pleasing to hear. Something that sounds good in my head, and evokes an emotional response. Somehow that has become too little to ask. The critics of this form can go #$%& themselves.

Hayden came to Philadelphia to play to my people. People that want a song, that want emotion, that want a life that has built up to the very point that a particular note was played. Spanning all of his epically understated, but prolific career, his set at Boot & Saddle on Wednesday night hit all the right notes.

Playing most of the major songs that the crowd was hoping to hear, and at least addressing the ones he wouldn’t, his simultaneously gruff and gentle croon bounced over the walls of the mostly-full venue. He playfully touched on the themes of each song, whether they be about his cat or his wife, and touched on the origins of certain older fare, just as any decent artist should. It was a basic setup and the backing band was phenomenal and multi-talented. Why is that something that should be discounted? I don’t know. It was a grand evening and one full of song and heart. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sat, 16 Nov 2013 01:52:00 GMT
The Dismemberment Plan Washington DC has a long and storied history of quality music. It deserves a lot of love, for it’s clubs and it’s children. But there is a small area, right outside the city—Northern Virginia (lovingly referred to as NoVa)—that doesn’t get enough credit. Nestled up right against DC, sometimes to the point where it would be hard to tell the two apart if there weren’t a bridge and a body of water between them, NoVa needs some attention it doesn’t often get. In addition to being an area that heavy hitters like Ian Mackaye would hang out in, it was home to some hardcore players such as the band Frodus, the record label Lovitt, and legendary shops like Record Convergence. Dave Grohl is from the area and even penned a seemingly poignant opus to the neighborhood of his youth in the Foo Fighters song “Arlandria.” If you ask anyone who the hometown heroes are/were you could get a dozen different answers, but mine has always been The Dismemberment Plan.

Purveyors of spastic/nostalgic/melodic indie-rock created at a time when DC was still focused on punk and hardcore, they were the cultivators of a fresher sound in an era when Fugazi ruled. Any time a show was booked in DC post-1997, they could sell out back-to-back nights at the best clubs in the city, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked in to Union Transfer Sunday night and saw the stage pushed forward as far as it would go. Maybe a few dozen people were on the floor as the opening band, Yellow Ostriches, started. “What is going on here?” I thought. “Where the f@#$ is everyone?” Not in Kansas anymore, as it were. In spite of my doubts, though, quality over quantity would win the day.

The crowd would thicken, but as soon as the band hit the stage, the number of people present didn’t matter, just that we were all present. As soon as Travis Morrison’s nasally, nerdy voice emanated throughout the floor and up to the balcony, we were all one in the madness. Classics such as “Time Bomb” and “Spider In The Snow” brought back the sadness and nostalgia of living and loving in NoVa, even if you’d never been there. They stood tall and brought screams and shouts that began in the chest and burst forth through the mouth on “You Are Invited” before sliding into their most recent single “Invisible.”

The evening was full of sharp wit from Morrison, sound issues on the guitar rig, and sing-a-longs from the audience. There was also shameless self-promotion with a live display of merchandise on two willing participants that culminated in the grand D-Plan tradition of pulling up as many people on to the stage as the venue will allow for a rousing performance of whatever they feel like—this time it was “The Ice Of Boston.” There was a genuine look of enjoyment on the entire bands faces for the entire performance. Travis even saw an old friend in the crowd at the end, came down to give her a kiss on the cheek, and apologized that he didn’t have more time to say hello because he had to perform. It doesn’t get much more real than that. That’s all we really want from our performers, right? For them to be people.

At the end of the night, personal feelings about the new album aside (it’s a little “blah”), it was just plain fun to see a group of old friends hit the stage again. Sure, it’s in a new(er) city, with a smaller crowd than I’m accustomed to for them, but they played like we were the only people in the world. Even as the night was winding down, and the eternally cliched words “all good things must come to an end” were uttered by the Morrison, a doubtful voice in the back countered “that’s what you said 10 years ago”—maybe, just maybe, proving that the party will never die.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 06 Nov 2013 01:52:00 GMT
Deltron 303 Formula for creating an unbelievable amount of hype: (a) become an underground rapper connected with some of the most influential groups of a generation, (b) befriend a turntablist who rates among the best in the world, (c) befriend producer who is to underground hip-hop as Kanye is to the mainstream, (d) get together and create an album that is the stuff of legend, (e) separate for 12 years, (f) do a reunion tour with a full band and orchestra.

Deltron was, as far as fans were concerned, a one-off project. The stuff of underground hip-hop legend. A sci-fi concept album featuring the heaviest hitters of the time, it was an epic ode to creativity in a genre that often felt stale. So, fans listened. But the coming of a second album was not something easily foreseen, or even remotely expected. The individual players had gone back to their respective corners, but, not hindered by a decade of hype, not only was it a pleasant surprise, but a grand return for a genre that had become stale. The announcement that there would be a supporting tour with the aforementioned players involved was icing on the cake. So did it pay off?

Grand epic answer: yes. Coming out with horns, strings, and turntables blazing, the classic masterpiece “3030” filled TLA with it’s blaring orchestral pieces and imaginative raps about magic and mechs. The entire group seemed genuinely happy to be out and about. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien danced and pranced around the stage as if it was the first time he had ever performed. Dan The Automator bounced back and forth between manning the effects pads and conducting the string sections, as Kid Koala reminded us all of what can truly be accomplished if you give a man 3 turntables. The backing band brought a fair amount of energy as well, one particularly spunky trombone player was trying to steal the show. Every track, old and new, sounded eternally more expansive live than the albums could ever allow.

I have to be honest though, and insist that there was a glaring issue with the evening that just kept it from being as perfect as I dreamed. Whether he was too high (said it himself) or too far removed from performing the material, Del seemed to forget a fair amount of the lyrical content. Sometimes just skipping lines, and seeming to fill certain other blank spots with gibberish, and in some instances losing his timing with the beat. Overall though, he was really having a blast, so, it wasn’t a game ender. By the time they got around to the epic finale of the Gorillaz hit “Clint Eastwood,” he honestly could have been quoting Hemingway all night and the crowd would have been just as in to it.

Scheduled opener Itchy got held up in the UK, so the crowd was treated to a genuinely amazing extended set by Kid Koala on the turntables. No computers, no effects machines, just 3 turntables, 2 mixers, and a crate full of vinyl, it was one of the most fantastic displays of turntable mastery I’ve seen in at least half a decade. This was a truly awesome display of old school hip-hop aesthetics.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Wed, 16 Oct 2013 00:52:00 GMT
London Grammar I hate comparing one band to another. Unless done with the greatest of care, it can be disrespectful to at least one of the parties involved. If you aren’t a writer by nature (like me!) then you can possibly just end up pissing off everybody involved. With that out of the way, when I first heard London Grammar, I thought “This sounds like The xx with an awesome vocalist.” I still think that they borrow heavily from the less-is-more alt-rock/electronic trail that The xx blazed, but they are so much more than a generic rip off.

Less is more, from an instrumental perspective, but more is definitely more vocally. Don’t misunderstand, Dot Major and Dan Rothman are talented musicians. In fact, if they formed an instrumental group, I would go see it in a heartbeat. But Hannah Reid, what can I say? Every note that comes from her mouth screams raw power. It’s amazing to hear, and I suggest that if you have the chance, you listen to it. Monday night at Underground Arts may have just been my favorite moment of 2013. The whole group has taken ground that has been treaded before, and brings a raw poetry to it. There wasn’t a missed note in their performance.

Gliding effortlessly through heavy hitters from their debut album, If You Wait, this utterly charming British trio won me over instantly to the point that I may not be able to listen to their album for a bit just because how well their sound translates to a live environment. Dot Major, a self-professed ‘button pusher’ works seamlessly between the keys, the drum pads and triggered effects, and an actual drum set. Hannah makes the pop stardom-worthy vocals seem effortless and easy, as Dan lays on light, atmospheric guitars. Hits like “Strong” and “Hey Now” take on a new life as the bass and vocals rattle the ear drums. They even breathed new life in to Chris Isaak’s sexually charged classic “Wicked Game.”

Opener Jaymes Grant took his signature electronic sound and gave it some more depth for the live set. Backed by a drummer and a bassist, songs that rely heavily on analogue synths on his EP, Dark Star, became even more dynamic live with crunchy guitars that almost drowned out his achey vocals. “Dark Star” and “Two More Minutes” gain a sense of urgency when the blips and beeps are replaced with hard guitar romps and crashing drum hits. His cover of “What Is Love” turned the eternally goofy SNL joke into a heartbreaking plea for peace. I now desperately hope he launches a full-length very, very soon.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Thu, 10 Oct 2013 00:52:00 GMT
Surfer Blood Unlikely rock stars are the best kind of rock stars. There is no pretension, no posturing, just a genuine aim to please. Surfer Blood may not be the most energetic band in their genre of hook-laden rock ‘n roll, but they may be the friendliest. Playing to a small, but loyal, crowd late in to the night at the TLA on Friday, the four unassuming gents from Florida skated through a quick set that hit all the right notes, even if it clocked in at just over an hour.

John Paul Pitts is a kind of everyman front for the group. When he attempts the tried-and-true live act tropes (dueling guitars, head banging solos), he looks almost uncomfortable. Warming up to the mic is when he appears to be the most at home, making eye contact with the audience, and soaking up their attention. The rest of the band seems content to let him be the center of attention, playing along when he acknowledges their existence, but laying low when he is back on point. It may seem boring to some, but it makes them seem approachable, and in an odd way, brought a lot of us closer to them. Maybe you had to be there. If you were, my guess is you spent most of the night dancing or singing along.

The songs themselves sounded great. Especially the numbers from Astro Coast, the band’s 2010 debut LP. Stripped of its heavy reverb, “Swim” is a much rawer piece of power pop. The jarring screaming that pokes its head out on the newer album, Pythons, especially in pieces like “Demon Dance” seems to make sense live when partially drowned out by effects-laden guitars. Instrumental portions were drawn out in appropriate places, but even then they rarely top 3 minutes. Short and to the point. The front row even got a serenade, as Pitts hoisted himself on the barricade, supporting himself on the shoulders of a few welcoming fans. It all made for a low key, intimate affair, even though the songs themselves lean towards encouraging a more lively event. 

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Sun, 06 Oct 2013 00:52:00 GMT
Local Natives I was supposed to see Local Natives back when they were playing Union Transfer, but I waited too long to buy tickets and the scalped ones were way too overpriced. I shook it off, having a passing familiarity with the material, I thought “how good could they be?” Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Taylor, Kelcey, Ryan, Matt, and Nik exploded at the Electric Factory on Saturday night. Each member was equally invested in the performance, jumping and hollering around the stage (at least as much as their equipment will allow) and bringing the crowd to a renewed fervor with each individual song. They took each song to 11, adding a extra notch and bringing to life the studio recordings.

Even the slower tracks like “Who Knows, Who Cares,” which closed out the main set, felt injected with a rush that doesn’t exist on tape. During a set that hit on most of the tracks from their new album Hummingbird and their debut Gorilla Manor, the audience tried their best to keep up with them, and even towards the end, as I sipped on some cold water in the back (it gets hot in there), all I could see was dancing.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 03 Sep 2013 00:52:00 GMT
Shigeto and Beacon You have to go in to any electronic show with the most basic of expectations. Most rock bands go something like this: lead singer, guitarist, drummer, bassist, maybe a +1. That’s what you expect to see when you go to a rock show. Most electronic acts are a person, a synth and some computer equipment. That’s what you should expect at an electronic show—it’s about the sound, and anything beyond that is a bonus. Friday night at Johnny Brenda’s was full of bonuses.

Heathered Pearls brought the basics to his set, but ambient music doesn’t get the chance to tour much, so he was welcomed with arms wide open arms by the few in attendance at that time. Warm drone synth sounds permeated every corner of the bar, while hypnotic patterns pulsed behind his silhouette on two giant screens.

Beacon came out to a slightly larger crowd, and growing enthusiasm. My date for the night assured me that they were very attractive, and her sentiments were echoed by the cries of “take your shirt off!” from the back of the room. The attitude is well deserved because Beacon specializes in bringing the sexy back. 808 drum hits and hip hop bass lines shook the floor while Thomas Mullarney’s vocals gently swayed the crowd. Hitting most of the hits from their full-length debut, The Ways We Separate, songs like “Drive,” “Bring You Back”, and “Nobody” (which contains a delicious sample of the Keith Sweat song of the same name) got everyone in the mood, even if the duo still doesn’t look completely comfortable onstage.

If the first two acts were quiet and contemplative, Shigeto jolted everyone back to life. A pretty awesome hybrid of organic and synthetic, he glides effortlessly between his Akai pad and computer, twisting knobs furiously and juggling sounds, and his drum set (which is beautiful), where he is really a sight to behold. By song 3 the crowd was bouncing up and down as pulsing synth sounds washed over frantic beats. By the last song, Shigeto’s energy level was off the charts, his hands and feet going so fast there was no way to keep up. We were all worked up as well, ready to start the night. Too bad, then, that it marked the end.

[email protected] (Bright And Loud) Tue, 03 Sep 2013 00:52:00 GMT