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reviews

Oh Land – Oh Land EP review

Oh Land – Oh Land

Some artists who bill themselves as “experimental” can be difficult to listen to, as the listener attempts to navigate through their musical interpretations. Oh Land isn’t at all like that. Lots of synth, sure, but her second album, includes arrangements with a string quartet, a collection of drum kits, piano and lots of satisfying bass.

A blend of electronica backed by sweet vocals with a strong range and a variety of musical styles, Ms. Land can be likened to Lilly Allen or Katy Perry, but her arrangements are more complex than either of those artists. She appeals to a wider audience than just pop or techno, given her willingness to incorporate elements from the rock and alternative genres.

The defiant “We Turn It Up” and the almost-acapella “Lean” demonstrate her incredibly diverse approach to writing and performing. With a background in classical dance and influences from the fashion-design world, Oh Land weaves a visual story together in her performances that are as captivating as her voice.

“Sun of A Gun” has had air play and will be a major draw at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin. It’s a definite pop-40, but serves to draw the listener’s attention to her more notable material like “Frostbite” and “Audition Day”.

The EP will include 6 tracks following up on her first CD, “Fauna” and will be her first album produced outside of Denmark (her home country). All of the songs are listenable and several just plain addictive. Oh Land’s self titled release is definitely worth grabbing.

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interviews

Terra Morta Interview

Local black/deathmetal band Terra Morta played Seattle’s Studio 7 on March 4th, 2011, opening for Atheist’s 25-year reunion world tour.

Although I couldn’t get to the show, the band was kind enough to sit down with me after their set and talk about all things Terra Morta.

MVRemix: Terra Morta means ‘dead earth’. What’s that about?

Margaret: We see the destruction of the earth, the abuse of animals by man, the environmental damage, as something that needs to be addressed now. I have a background in environmental science and that’s where the blend of doom and death metal comes in. The earth is suffering.

MVRemix: Your initial tracks all have to do with the death of the environment. Is there no hope?

Margaret: If we focus on what is going on now, and change it, there is hope.

MVRemix: That’s a different take from most death-metal. What influences your music?

Joel: It’s a wide range; some jazz, classical rock, of course, some progressive…we all take something from other metal genres. We’ve been together since ’08. So there’s been time to meld our interests and come up with the current sound.

MVRemix: Margaret, as a female member of a band in a genre not known for femininity, and a drummer at that, tell me about your experience.

Margaret: I know some of the female lead singers/guitarists try to play that up, so it becomes a focus. I find that I am not taken seriously as a musician sometimes, so I go the complete opposite direction. I want respect for my work and not because I’m a curiosity. It’s all about the music.

The emphasis on the music is evident in the lyrics and lethal guitar riffs. Joel’s vocals are simultaneously growly and understandable…a refreshing difference. You can’t save the earth if no one understands what you are talking about.

Offstage, the band is friendly and definitely un-death-metal like. Not a scary one in the bunch. More importantly, they speak intelligently of their commitment to their passion , something that is definitely reflected in their work.

Musically, my favorite track is “Dead Earth”, although “Beasts of Retribution” satisfies my inner bass desires. This band would be a definite “must-see” when their set list expands.

Terra Morta is currently unsigned and working towards a debut CD, but the band is a solid addition to any metal lineup. Check the MySpace or Facebook pages for details.

Categories
interviews

To Paint The Sky Interview

To Paint The Sky played a sold-out show at Seattle’s El Corazon on October 8, opening for All That Remains and As I Lay Dying. I had the pleasure of talking with Allana, Ryan, Jimmy, Logan and Jaime just after their final sound check.

MVRemix: Tell me about To Paint The Sky

Ryan: It started out with a lot of band changes… Jaime the rhythm guitarist and I are the original members. By luck and knowing people, we got to know the rest of the group (Jimmy/guitar, Logan/drums, Allana/vocals). We formed as we are now about a year ago, became a family. We’re all local to Western Washington.

MVRemix: How do you define your music genre?

Ryan: Definitely rock, also alternative. Some pop/punk. On our 3-song demo we were trying to find our style and we had a different lead singer, so it’s a little different from what we are today. We speak to a lot of genres out there.

MVRemix: How do you write? Collaborative? One writer?

Allana: Ryan and I write lyrics, we work together on them.

Ryan: For the whole song, we all contribute. We split off into our strengths, add our own part.

Jimmy: It takes 2 or 3 practices ’til we know its structure. We add our own style and fine tune it. We’re determined to get the structure down and then the fine details. When it’s done, we all look at each other and that’s when we know we have it.

MVRemix: You have a full CD out?

Jimmy: No, Feb of next year. Literally right after this show, we will start writing more songs and go into the studio in November. Want to put out a 5-song EP. We’re progressing in terms of style…we definitely think the fans are going to like what we put out. breaking the mold. It’s being produced by Wil Francis (Aiden).

MVRemix: What’s the makeup of your fan base?

Roya [TPTS Manager]: Young people between the ages of 13 and 24. Popular with girls, we have eye candy! We have a MySpace page, Twitter and on Facebook, we have about 23,000 friends. Some of our fans make up our street team. Definitely have a good local following and after touring, we’re getting a good west coast following. It’s because of the fans that we were added to this show about two weeks ago.

MVRemix: Tell me about how your music has progressed.

Jimmy: Our sound has changed. The songs we have now are more rock alt, pop/punk, a better sound. The original 3 songs really showed us where we were creatively and we have progressed from there. But we’re still brutal, still have breakdowns and love to see the audience start jumping, but we also incorporated out own intuitive senses, melodic stuff. We have a piano rock ballad and we’re inspired by combination songs and try to branch out. There’s nobody that sounds like us.

MVRemix: What bands do you closely identify with?

Allana: A Day To Remember…maybe? Escape the fate? Oh, and Evanescence, as far as her sound.

Jimmy: One of my influences was Paramore, but we don’t sound exactly like that.

MVRemix: Personally, I thought of Halestorm’s Lizzy Hale when I heard Allana sing. Young, strong and a remarkable range.

Allana: We take aspects of what successful bands sound like, but we don’t copy them., we put out own influence on those aspects. We’re speaking to the essence of Seattle music and all the kids who support us . Because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be on this bill.

Jaime: So for me, writing this album is like writing it for all of them. We have some awesome fans and love each and every one of them. We remember the same people at our concerts.

Ryan: We love to play El Corazon because its like coming home… we’ve been to other cities, but we love Seattle.

Jaime: It makes me want to write more music.

Ryan: It’s a honor to play this show with the headliners. I mean I grew up listening to them and knowing that the kids are waiting to see them…that energy is going to be amazing, it’ll make us work harder, we’ll feed off of it.


I love live music and small clubs. I know it’s bad for my hearing, but To Paint The Sky is the kind of band that reinforces that feeling: loud, hard and musical. You don’t want it to end.

The opener was a solid headbanger with a definable melody, and Allana more than capably sang over the wall of sound. Her clear vocals were a perfect accompaniment to Jaime’s growls and Ryan’s bassline.

“Ashes To Ashes” was the set’s highlight, with a ripping intro that led into a wicked bassline. Jimmy had mic problems for the majority of the set, but the raw energy between he and Jaime overcame that technical issue. Some nice tempo change ups on this tune, which has commercial appeal.

Allana worked the crowd between songs, hyping the crowd for the headliners. The club oversold the venue by about 200 tickets and when I left after TPTS’s set, the line still stretched around the building. Not sure how the crowd took the news that although they had paid their money, they weren’t going to get in. But, those who were lucky enough to be the first 500 or so to get in were treated to a first-rate opening act and I know more than a few new fans were made.

Combined with their obvious understanding of who got them to this point and their willingness to acknowledge their fanbase, plus their eagerness to stretch and grow creatively, this band should have no problem being the headliner in the near future. They’re worth the price of admission.

See them at Studio Seven in Seattle on April 28th, 2011.

StarAnna and The Laughing Dogs

I took Star Anna away from her dinner at the Crocodile Café in Seattle, where she was performing later in the evening. She said it was no problem and we hustled off to a tiny lounge backstage.

She is sincere and engaging, down to earth, beautiful in an all-American way. She smiles frequently, especially when she talks about her music.

Star Anna admits to the music, much of which she writes, being rather dark and very personal. Fellow songwriter and guitarist and backup vocalist Justin Davis also added tracks.

“That’s what makes it so easy for me to sing the songs… Justin and I have experienced the same things, feel the same way. It’s easy to transfer from him to me and keep the essence of the song. We’re all pretty happy people though, and playing the music helps us process and maintain.”

The new CD (their third) features a richer sound than the previous two, due in part to the addition of two new members (Travis Yost and Keith Ash) and the band as a whole recently made the permanent move from Ellensburg (east of the Cascade Mountains) to Seattle.

“The influences for the music is more of a feeling than a genre. We have dedicated fans, because they can relate to the lyrics more than the sound.”

The Crocodile was at capacity for the CityArts festival. It’s a great venue for experiencing artists up close. Soulful and bluesy, solid rock and rockabilly, StarAnna’s powerful voice can be husky and emotional on one song, but clean and wistful on the next. There was something for everyone in their set: with two albums already in circulation and another one due out in the spring, The Laughing Dogs had plenty of material to draw from.

Not afraid to show her vulnerability, StarAnna pours her heart out on tunes such as “Spinning My Wheels” and “Burn”, but knocks out rockers with the sweet agony of “All Her Ghosts.”

The Laughing Dogs have obvious chemistry onstage and it was great to see that they came to the merch table to talk with the fans, despite a crush of people.

StarAnna and The Laughing Dogs play upcoming shows in Portland, OR, Seattle and Montana. Check the web site @ www.staranna.com for details