The Neighbourhood – I’m Sorry EP Review

You know how there was always that one kid in high school that was just plain cool? He (or she) could wear whatever, do whatever, even say whatever they wanted and it would immediately be awesome. It didn’t matter if it started as a trend or not — once this kid set it in motion, it became something new and better. Well, if the alternative music scene were a high school, California-based newbies The Neighbourhood would definitely be that kid. With their debut EP I’m Sorry, the band creates an elaborate mix of soul-inspired roots and today’s best indie techniques that is, in a word, cool.

The EP is only 5 songs long, but each track manages to pack a notable punch. They all feature the same languid vocals and rich bass lines, recalling notable qualities of soul-infused soft-rock acts such as Sade, while simultaneously incorporating layer upon layer of complex melodies and semi-clandestine lyrics. What results is a modern take on old favourites, a new kind of easy-listening smooth jazz for today’s generation. This is best embodied in the first track, “Female Robbery,” which sees the mellow vocals take on an almost sensual quality when paired with the furtive and sneaky subject matter of the lyrics.

What is clear above all is that all members of The Neighbourhood are truly, and above all else, musicians. As they have previously stated, melodies are the priority, and it is immediately clear that this is a winning approach. Instrumentals and musicality become the foremost components of every song — even the vocals, which roll as smooth as any tone, seem more instrument than man. It is a refreshing change from indie bands that pride themselves on having off-key, wounded and whining vocals as a mark of legitimate sensitivity. It also allows them to improve upon well-founded cliches of the alternative music genre — for example, third track “Baby Came Home” is grounded on an extremely smooth bass line and a deep, throaty moan to become a truly emotional take on the “lost little girl” trope (see Augustana’s “Boston” for an example). Details like this make it obvious that the old adage of quality over quantity certainly rings true for The Neighbourhood and the I’m Sorry EP — what remains to be seen is if both can coexist when a full-length debut comes to be.

Bumbershoot 2012 Day Three preview – Monday, September 3rd

Monday wraps up Bumbershoot 2012, but not without a bang. Skrillex, Passion Pit and M83 will all be performing. Sadly fans will have to choose exactly how their night concludes as Skrillex’ set starts 15 minutes after Passion Pit’s begins.

A good number of the comedy acts have remained consistent throughout the festival, but if you’ve yet to enjoy them, make use of your time today and do so.

Festival regulars Best Coast will be taking the Bumbershoot Mainstage at 1:45pm, also noteworthy are Fujiya & Miyagi at the Exhibition Hall stage at 8pm and Ty Segall at the Sub Pop Stage at 3:15pm (competing with M83’s slot), the plus of course Fishbone at 6:15pm on the Exhibition Hall stage.

Bumbershoot also has a variety of panels and art exhibits which are essential to partake in before they’re gone, not to mention it’s showcasing of Seattle International Film Festival material. Check the guides before making decisions on your final day.

Bumbershoot 2012 Day Two preview – Sunday, September 2nd

The benefits of Seattle Center being the location that Bumershoot is hosted in are infinite. Not least of which being the bars and surrounding places to eat afterwards. Having probably gotten out of the fest a little drunk, I’m hoping you made it into Belltown – if so there’s a fantastic Sake bar called Umi Sake House. I digress, but it’s amazing. Seafood gyoza… Damn.

Day two has another fantastic line up for you. It’s definitely a great day if you’re a fan of more mainstream rap. Mac Miller, Big Sean and Yelawolf are amongst today’s performers. Sean remains the only one of the three I haven’t seen, and although I’ve loved Yelawolf’s and Miller’s sets, Mac Miller wrapped up his Bonnaroo set in a quite conceited and over the top manner. Throwing his mic to the ground and walking off stage as his set wrapped up seemed extremely childish. Hopefully he remembers the mic stand exists today.

The always fantastic Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings will be up today, Sharon defying what we’d expect her to do by running and dancing throughout the whole set whilst projecting her superb voice. Keane will be playing as well as a ton of other personal highlights and conflicts that it’s just simply best to rattle off a few names; Civil Twilights, Fruit Bats, WHY?, Barcelona, Katie Herzig and Ty Curtis all deserve your time. But this is a festival and so choices will have to be made.

Lets not forget that Tony Bennet is performing, a man you have to see.

Comedy will remain strong, Fred Armisen of Portlandia fame will be on hand as well as the comedians you may have missed the day before. Try to take in Vancouver Comedyfest’s Illegal Aliens and Gabe & Jenny, plus if you have time, who wouldn’t want to see Writers of Futurama?

Bumbershoot 2012 Day One preview – Saturday, September 1st

Dubbed Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival, Bumbershoot 2012 has proven yet again a force to be reckoned with. For around four decades, crowds have drawn to downtown Seattle to witness some of the most eclectic music festival ensembles in North America, as well as an interesting array of art exhibitions, comedic performances, film, theatre and food.

2012 is no different.

With day one kicking off as labor day weekend begins, there are some clear highlights to check out.

Today’s a great day for comedy with Nick Swardson, Brian Posehn and Kumail Nanjiani performing. All of these comedians are fantastic live, Kumail being one of my personal hightlights. Although having discovered him first at Bumbershoot 2010, and loving his set, I’ve seen him repeat almost the entire thing for the past couple of years. I hope he brings something new to ’12 as although hilarious, a joke is only funny a certain amount of times.

Obviously some of the bigger musical draws on day one will be Jane’s Addiction and Gotye. Quit rightly so, but don’t be so hasty to overlook some of the other fine acts on the schedule.

City and Colour, Missy Higgins and King Khan and the Shrines all have sets in the afternoon. M. Ward and Tiger & Woods round out the night without anybody to compete with, so don’t go home early – take in their sets!

Lastly, John Waters will be on site with John Waters – This Filthy World: Filthier & Dirtier being performed at the Performing Arts Stage. As a huge fan, I have to recommend you head there early to ensure a seat.