Austra – Olympia album review

Pretty average. It’s a way to describe things that are perfectly middle of the road, not especially displeasing, but also not anything that needs to be broadcast from the mountaintops for the world to hear. Olympia, the latest release from Canadian three piece electronic group Austra fits that bill like a weathered hand me down jacket. The album really brings nothing special to the table and if you’ve heard anything by Austra before, it’s basically more of the same. Yes, it is much more danceable and but the tones of “sit by yourself and mope to odd beeping noises” are still very much present throughout. Very few tracks on the EP stand out as anything memorable and while it is undeniably pleasant music to sit and zone out to, even after playing through the album numerous times, I had difficulty with putting track titles to tunes. 12 tracks make up this effort which although decent never breaks through to the true promise that seems to be possible for the Canadian musicians.

“We Become” is one of the more identifiable tracks on the album with a clanking percussion section that would sound just as at home opening a Four Tet song or driving a Bonobo beat while synths layer on top but instead the singer’s voice takes center stage. Harmonies and piano ballad-esque voices are the name of the game here and while it works on this particular track, there are very few others that are as strong. Lead single “Home” plays around with a relatively simple repetitive piano riff, slowly building to a hugely anti climactic climax of the most average proportions. “What We Done?”, the opening track of the album, was actually such a turn off that I had serious difficulty convincing myself to come back and listen to the remainder of the album in any seriousness. The ethereal techno sound is done better by many other bands and personally I find the classically trained vocals across this record to be a bit of an obnoxious contrast with otherwise average electronica. As a whole, not the best album and if you skip this one altogether, no one will blame you.

Austra is currently on tour behind this album and you can follow them at their website at


The Boxer Rebellion – Promises album review

The Boxer Rebellion have released only four albums across the span of their twelve year career but Promises, the most recent release by the London-based alternative rock band, is by far their most accessible release. With a new found expansive, arena rock  sound that is reminiscent of U2 or Coldplay, the Boxer Rebellion show remarkable restraint when it is called for and yet manage to reach the crescendoing peaks they aspire to several times throughout the album. “Diamonds”, the album opening track is a glossy, well polished and depressing pop tune that is indisputably one of the standouts for the album. Following tracks have difficulty reaching the same level of pop catchiness as “Diamonds” but show distinct strength and the majority are at the very least, listenable.

For fans of vast ethereal rock like Jonsi, Sigur Ros, or the first six tracks of Promises, the album takes a distinctly jarring turn on the seventh track and arguably the standout track on the album, “New York”. Pounding tribal drums assault listeners over a delicately understated keyboard part, swelling to a huge climactic finish that serves as the bridge to the back half of the album. Undeniably different from tracks one through six, the second half of Promises holds tracks that could deceive more than a nary listener that the two sides were in fact different bands.

“Safe House” is a blast of concentrated rock, clashing cymbals, bombastic guitars and wailing singer and all. When the four members fall into sync in an amplified bliss that carries listeners along a wild ride and it is extremely evident that the band paid great attention to even the most minute detail on Promises. Where the album especially excels is in it’s role as a studio album that tries its damnedest to capture the feel of a live show, fireworks exploding above the stage and the arena echoing with the last chorus. Comparisons to U2 are inevitable considering the ample prowess that the band demonstrates at controlling an explosion of sound and emotion. “Dreams”, the second to last track on the album carries a feel that can only be described as epic. Through the combination of the polished English rhythm section of bassist Adam Harrison and drummer Piers Hewitt, an indisputably atmospheric feel is created that seems to carry the reverberating guitar of Australian Todd Howe and the yearning voice of Tennessee native and lead singer Nathan Nicholson across some vast, imperceptible gap to comfort listeners.

As a whole the album is strong and although it may take a few listens, it is absolutely worth the experience. The Boxer Rebellion have created yet another album with great commercial and artistic merit. Don’t be surprised if the currently independent band is soon a name you become familiar with.

The Boxer Rebellion – Promises album review

Bonnaroo 2013

For four days in the June heat, a farm in Manchester, Tennessee was transformed from wide open fields into the seventh largest city in Tennessee overnight for Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival. Artists as diverse as Paul McCartney to Japandroids to Sea Wolf to Death Grips played sets across the various stages and tents that took up all of the 780 acres that the festival sprawls across and for the weekend all eyes in the music world were on Manchester. The music played was almost across the board, incredible. Paul McCartney’s headlining set on Friday was described by many concert goers as “the best concert of my life” and it was obvious why as Paul appeared to have not lost a step, tearing through a nearly three hour setlist and three subsequent encores while managing to balance Beatle’s classics with Wings and tributes to fallen bandmates and rock icons George Harrison (“Something”) and John Lennon (“Here Today”) while also paying tribute to Jimi Hendrix, playing Hendrix’s slinky “Foxy Lady”. The Superjams were also a highlight of the weekend and likely the only place where anyone would be able to see R.Kelly sharing a stage with John Oates and Jim James for a soul warming cover of Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come”. Across the board the performances were stellar but for many it as much about the whole Bonnaroo experience rather than the music alone. Across the festival, there was always someone who was sharing or helping someone else in need and even browsing through the virtual community that is present in the aftermath of the festival, a certain type of “spirit of Bonnaroo” can be felt amongst all who go.

Also notable was the comedy tent where despite long lines and short sets, big names like David Cross and Daniel Tosh took to the stage often being joined by bands or other comedians including The Lumineers who joined Ed Helms’ Whiskey Sour Radio Hour, an under the radar high light of the festival for many. Ed Helms seemed to be everywhere, performing in the Comedy Tent and also curating another Bluegrass Situation as he did before in LA, also reminding attendees of his plans to expand the Situation into a full blown festival of it’s own.

Whatever you wanted to do at Bonnaroo, the opportunity was afforded to you. For those there solely to see the headliners, credit is due to the festival organizers for managing to overcome the cancellation of Mumford & Sons on such short notice, for picking widely accessible names and also for making sure the shows went off without a hitch. For those there to see their favorite bands who were “about to blow up”, the tents were the perfect amount of stage for most bands and despite some sound imbalances on Thursday, the rest of the weekend was ideal. In all it was one of the strongest festivals in recent memory and maybe the best Bonnaroo of all time. The only downside is that the organizers have their work cut out topping it next year (ahem *Led Zeppelin* ahem)!


Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2013 – Sunday June 16th, Day Four Preview bonnaroo

Hello and welcome to the final day of Bonnaroo 2013! You’ve survived the lion’s share, now there’s just one day left but today might just be the most exciting of all. If I had to summarize the day in one theme it would be hip hop. The first act I’ll be waking up to see is at 1:30 when Ghostface Killah’s vocal twin Action Bronson takes the stage in “The Other Tent”. Directly after him but on “What Stage” is every mother’s favorite rap game partnership Macklemore & Ryan Lewis who are sure to put on a lavish show for the fans. There’s a brief lull here where more likely than not I’ll be resting up for later shows but notably playing are Canadian rockstars The Sheepdogs. For most fans however there is one name that stands well above the rest on the afternoon’s bill. With his album good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar solidified his place as the best young rapper in the game, with one of the best hip hop albums in recent memory, perhaps top ten all time. His live shows, which usually also feature other artists on his label Top Dawg Entertainment, are known to be showcases for Kendrick’s talent and with the hype that has grown up around the young mc, expect several guest appearances during his set.

After Kendrick the tone of the afternoon shifts back more towards rock and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes will be bringing their big band collective to the “Which Stage” at 5:30, followed by The National on “What Stage” at 6:30. In the time in between or if either act isn’t holding my attention, I’m pretty pumped to have my back up plan be Tame Impala, the Australian group that is reviving the psychedelic rock of past generations. I saw them once this year in New York and the show would have a great time had it not been in a cramped club with screaming college girls everywhere. After The National, another act who has blown up this past year goes on in “The Other Tent”. A$AP Rocky blew up in the past two years with the release of an amazing mixtape , Live.Love.A$AP. and the release of his album Long.Live.A$AP and expect for his show to be a highlight of the festival. Perhaps as a portend of things to come, every rapper who was featured on Rocky’s (jaw dropping) clique cut “1 Train” with the exception of Joey Bada$$ and Yelawolf are at Bonnaroo already so we can hope that these new names in the game get together again. Unfortunately after Rocky, we’re left with only one show to close the festival, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Old enough to know how to throw a live show and with enough ubiquity to close a festival, Tom Petty is the perfect middle ground and promises to end Bonnaroo 2013 in style.

Let us know what you thought about the festival, who were the best acts, what you would like to see next year or anything related to Bonnaroo in the comments section below and have a great rest of your summer!

Bonnaroo 2013 Schedule | Sunday, June 16th

What Stage:
Lee Fields & the Expressions 12:30 – 1:30
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis 2:30 – 3:30
Kendrick Lamar 4:30 – 5:30
The National 6:30 – 8:00
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers 9:00 – 11:00
Which Stage:
Kacey Musgraves 12:00 – 1:00
Delta Rae 1:45 – 2:45
The Sheepdogs 3:30 – 4:45
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros 5:30 – 6:45
David Byrne & St. Vincent 7:30 – 9:00
This Tent:
The Rubens 12:15 – 1:15
JEFF the Brotherhood 1:45 – 2:45
Baroness 3:15 – 4:30
Swans 5:00 – 6:30
Divine Fits 7:00 – 8:30
That Tent:
Aoife O’Donovan 12:15 – 1:00
John Fullbright 1:30 – 2:15
Black Prairie 2:45 – 3:45
Noam Pikelny & Friends 4:15 – 5:15
Sam Bush & Del McCoury 5:45 – 6:45
Ed Helms’ Bluegrass Situation Superjam with Special Guests 7:15 – 8:45
The Other Tent:
Matthew E. White 12:00 – 1:00
Tame Impala 6:00 – 7:15
Action Bronson 1:30 – 2:30
Wild Nothing 3:00 – 4:00
Holy Ghost! 4:30 – 5:30
A$AP ROCKY 7:45 – 9:00
Bonnaroo Comedy Theatre hosted by IFC:
David Cross ft. James Adomian 2:45 – 4:00
Bob Saget ft. Jared Logan & The Improvised Shakespeare Company 4:30 – 5:45
Bob Saget ft. Jared Logan & The Improvised Shakespeare Company 6:15 – 7:30
New Music On Tap Lounge brewed by Miller Lite:
Staying for the Weekend 12:00 – 12:50
LiL iFFy 1:20 – 2:10
Cat Martino 2:40 – 3:20
Alice & the Glass Lake 4:00 – 4:50
The Mowgli’s 5:20 – 6:10
Milow 6:40 – 7:30
Royal Thunder 8:00 – 8:50
Cafe Where?:
Bri Heart ft Jervy Hou 2:30 – 3:30
Little Red Lung 5:00 – 6:00
White Lung 7:45 – 8:45
Silent Disco:
DJ Keebz 4:00 – 7:00
Sonic Stage:
ItsTheReal 12:00 – 12:30
John Oates 1:00 – 1:30
Lucius 1:45 – 2:15
Mac DeMarco 2:30 – 3:00
The Revivalists 4:00 – 4:45
Aoife O’Donovan 3:15 – 3:45
Delta Rae 5:00 – 5:30
The Sheepdogs 5:45 – 6:15
Surprise Set 7:00 – 7:30
Solar Stage:
The Revivalists (Performance & Interview) 1:00 – 1:45
Very Special Guest (Interview) 2:00 – 2:45
Beans on Toast (Performance & Interview) 3:00 – 3:45
John Fullbright 4:00 – 4:45
Black Prairie (Performance & Interview)5:00 – 5:45
The Battleholex and Friends Hip Hop Variety Show Breakdancing 6:00 – 7:00
interviews reviews

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2013 – Saturday June 15th, Day Three Preview

Welcome to Day Three! Friday was a blast but don’t expect it to stop quite yet. We still have all of today and tomorrow to see before we all start the long trek home and both days hold some really exciting acts. The shows start today at 12:15 to give all of us tired, huddled, yearning masses a chance to sleep in a little bit before  it’s back into full swing. The first show I plan on seeing is the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. When my family visited New Orleans a few years ago, they caught this act in their hometown and raved about them for months so I’m psyched to see whether all the hullaballoo surrounding their live show lives up to expectations. Next up for me is Gov’t Mule, a Southern rock jam band founded by Allman Brothers band members and an act that tours every summer as sure as the sun rises. They’re a staple at festivals across the country and you don’t get to that level of popularity by being less than stellar. If you’re into house and electronic music, check out Four Tet over in “The Other Tent” while I check out alternative psychedelic band Portugal. The Man, whose newest album has been on repeat in my apartment since it came out June 4th. That being said, I will be leaving that show early so that I don’t miss a single minute of hip hop legend Nas who will be rocking “What Stage” from 5:00-6:15.

After Nas’ show, the evening begins the semi-awkward period of time where Beach House, A-Trak, and The Lumineers will be playing their sets but everyone will be looking forward to the main headliner of the night on “What Stage”, Mumford & Sons. For those of you who aren’t predisposed to white guys and banjoes though, immediately after Mumford & Sons, r&b superstar R.Kelly will be crooning through his hit filled set from 11:30-1:00 after which the Rock n’ Soul Superjam with Jim James, John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be kickin’ out the jams until 2:00 when those who are still awake will be treated to their choice of Empire of the Sun, Boys Noize, or Bustle In Your Hedgerow as the final shows of the evening.

It’s important to note that there are many other stages at Bonnaroo this year as there are every year and while I have only been focusing my previews on the main music stages, there is tons to experience beyond the normal shows. Many performers are also performing DJ sets or dancing in the tents beyond the regular stages so be sure to explore. Remember to stay fueled and hydrated and get ready for the last day!

Bonnaroo 2013 Schedule | Saturday, June 15th

What Stage:
Preservation Hall Jazz Band 1:00 – 2:00
Nas 5:00 – 6:15
Björk 7:00 – 8:30
Mumford & Sons 9:30 – 11:30
Which Stage:
Gov’t Mule 2:45 – 4:15
Solange 2:25 – 3:15
Cults 12:30 – 1:30
Portugal. The Man 4:00 – 5:15
Cat Power 6:15 – 7:15
The Lumineers 8:15 – 9:30
R. Kelly 11:30 – 1:00
This Tent:
Patrick Watson 12:30 – 1:30
Lord Huron 2:00 – 3:00
Tallest Man On Earth 3:30 – 4:45
Dirty Projectors 5:15 – 6:30
Beach House 7:00 – 8:30
Rock n’ Soul Dance Party Superjam featuring Jim James with John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste (of the Meters), Preservation Hall Jazz 12:00 – 2:00
Bustle In Your Hedgerow 2:30 – 4:30
That Tent:
Two Gallants 1:45 – 3:00
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls 3:30 – 4:45
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors 5:15 – 6:30
Dwight Yoakam 7:00 – 8:30
Billy Idol 12:00 – 1:30
Empire of the Sun 2:00 – 3:00
The Other Tent:
Clockwork 12:30 – 1:30
Death Grips 2:15 – 3:15
Four Tet 4:00 – 5:00
Matt & Kim 5:45 – 6:45
A-Trak 7:15 – 8:45
“Weird Al” Yankovic 12:00 – 1:30
Boys Noize 2:30 – 4:00
Bonnaroo Comedy Theatre hosted by IFC:
Michael Che, Nikki Glaser, Jared Logan, James Adomian 12:45 – 2:00
Ed Helms’ Whisky Sour Radio Hour 2:45 – 4:00
David Cross ft. James Adomian 4:30 – 5:45
Comedy Bang! Bang! with Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts 6:30 – 7:45
New Music On Tap Lounge:
Ranch Ghost 12:00 – 12:50
James McCartney 1:20 – 2:10
Chris Stapleton 2:40 – 3:30
Daniel Romano & The Trilliums 4:00 – 4:50
Lucius 5:20 – 6:10
SIMO 8:00 – 8:50
Bean 9:20 – 10:10
William Tyler 10:40 – 11:30
Mac DeMarco 12:00 – 12:50
Cafe Where?:
Stop Light Observations 6:40 – 7:30
Peanut Butter Lovesicle 1:45 – 2:45
Tiny Victories 3:45 – 4:45
Kyng 6:00 – 7:00
The Revivalists 8:30 – 9:30
Silent Disco:
DJ Keebz 4:00 – 6:00
DJ Sam Spiegel of N.A.S.A. 6:00 – 8:00
Jared Dietch 11:00 – 2:00
MSSL CMMND 2:00 – 5:00
Sonic Stage:
Johnnyswim 12:00 – 12:30
Futurebirds 12:45 – 1:15
Rayland Baxter 1:30 – 2:00
JEFF the Brotherhood 2:15 – 2:45
Kalidescope Space Tribe 3:00 – 3:45
Ryan Montbleau Band 4:00 – 4:30
Patrick Watson 4:45 – 5:15
Lord Huron 5:30 – 6:00
Matrimony 6:15 – 6:45
Solar Stage:
MC Yogi 11:30 – 12:30
Ryan Montbleau Band 1:00 – 1:45
Naia Kete 2:00 – 2:45
The Mowgli’s 3:00 – 3:45
Preservation Hall Jazz Band 4:00 – 4:45
Special Guest (Performance & Interview) 5:00 – 5:45
Mawre African Drum & Dance 6:00 – 7:00
The Flavor Savers Beard & Mustache Contest Carnivalesque Entertainment:
Bellydance & Vaudeville 8:30 – 9:30

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2013 – Friday June 14th, Day Two Preview

Congratulations! If you’re reading this you survived the Day One of Bonnaroo 2013! Yesterday was only the warmup though because it is today that the festival starts rolling out some of the big names and Friday boasts what might be the most musically diverse day of the entire weekend. The entire day is packed with great acts and if you’re like me there will be lots of bouncing back and forth between the three tents and two stages in Centeroo to catch everyone you’ll want to see. To give you the time to recover from the previous day and night’s festivities the earliest shows in the morning start at noon but the first thing I’ll be awake to see will be Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue who are going to be laying down some gut busting funk over on “What Stage” from 12:30 to 1 while at the same time the indie rockers from Reptar play “The Other Tent”. If you aren’t tired of buzz bands after Thursday, Local Natives will also be playing “What Stage” from 2:30-3:30, immediately followed by folk rockers Of Monsters and Men on the nearby “Which Stage”. When you inevitably get tired of banjos though, you havevery good alternatives. From 4:00-5:00, Earl Sweatshirt of OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) will be performing in one of his first festival appearances without the rest of the Golf Wang crew. However if vulgar, off kilter hip hop isn’t your cup of tea, electronic five piece Passion Pit is going to be rocking “What Stage” from 4:30-5:30 and from 4:45-6:00 the blind Malian couple of Amadou & Miriam will be playing their unique blend of Afroblues.

After this time in the afternoon, the festival really begins though with perennial indie favorites Grizzly Bear, Foals, and southern rapper Big K.R.I.T. all playing overlapping sets followed closely by Wilco, Jim James, and the recently reunited and touring Wu Tang Clan. From 9:00-11:30 though there is no choice as all eyes will be on “What Stage” where Sir Paul McCartney will be playing his headlining sets, likely drawing from the catalogues of Wings, The Beatles and his solo work.  THe party starts back up after Macca finishes his set with The xx playing on “Which Stage” while a hip hop fan’s wet dream of a Superjam happens in “That Tent” as RZA, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Earl Sweatshirt, ScHoolboy Q, Solange and Chad Hugo share a stage along with “Special Guests”. As if that wasn’t enough, to close the night out dubstep remix king Pretty Lights puts on his trippy concert experience from 1:30-3:15 also on “Which Stage” and closing the night out with their set ending at 4:00 is indie group Animal Collective.

Friday promises to be a great day for festival goers regardless of where their personal listening tendencies lean and everyone is sure to discover a new favorite r two. Stay hydrated and get some sleep while you can because we’re going to be right back here tomorrow for Day 3!

Bonnaroo 2013 Schedule | Friday, June 14th

What Stage:
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue 12:30 – 1:30
Local Natives 2:30 – 3:30
Passion Pit 4:30 – 5:30
Wilco 6:30 – 8:00
Paul McCartney 9:00 – 11:30
Which Stage:
Trixie Whitley 12:00 – 1:00
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit 1:45 – 2:45
Of Monsters and Men 3:30 – 4:45
Grizzly Bear 5:30 – 6:45
The xx 7:30 – 9:00
Wu-Tang Clan 11:30 – 12:45
Pretty Lights 1:30 – 3:15
This Tent:
Sea Wolf 12:15 – 1:15
Calexico 1:45 – 3:00
Glen Hansard 3:30 – 4:45
Foals 5:15 – 6:30
Jim James 7:00 – 8:30
ZZ Top 11:30 – 1:30
Animal Collective 2:00 – 4:00
That Tent:
Bernhoft 12:00 – 1:00
Bombino 1:30 – 2:30
Fatoumata Diawara 3:00 – 4:15
Amadou & Mariam 4:45 – 6:00
John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension 6:30 – 8:00
The Other Tent:
Reptar 12:30 – 1:30
Charli XCX 2:15 – 3:15
Earl Sweatshirt 4:00 – 5:00
Big K.R.I.T. 5:45 – 6:45
Conspirator 7:30 – 9:00
Wolfgang Gartner 11:30 – 1:00
Porter Robinson 1:30 – 3:00
Bonnaroo Comedy Theatre hosted by IFC:
Chris Gethard, Eric Andre, Nikki Glaser & Cristela Alonzo 12:45 – 2:00
Mike Birbiglia ft. Michael Che 2:30 – 3:45
Daniel Tosh ft. Jerrod Carmichael 4:30 – 5:45
Daniel Tosh ft. Jerrod Carmichael 6:30 – 7:45
New Music On Tap Lounge brewed by Miller Lite:
Alanna Royale 12:00 – 12:50
He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister 1:20 – 2:10
Baxter 2:40 – 3:30
Ryan Montbleau Band 4:00 – 4:50
NOCONA 5:20 – 6:10
Cloney 6:40 – 7:30
Ex-Cops 8:00 – 8:50
Casey Crescenzo (of The Dear Hunter)9:20 – 10:10
Matrimony 10:40 – 11:30
Luxury Liners 12:00 – 12:50
Cafe Where?:
Naia Kete 1:30 – 2:30
Jillette Johnson 3:30 – 4:30
Von Grey 5:30 – 6:30
ON an ON 8:00 – 8:50
Silent Disco:
Passion Pit (DJ Set) 2:30 – 3:30
Vacationer (DJ Set) 4:00 – 6:00
Atta Unsar 6:00 – 8:00
Y Luv (DJ Set) 11:00 – 12:30
DJ Logic 12:30 – 2:30
Jared Dietch 2:30 – 5:00
Sonic Stage:
The Stepkids 12:00 – 12:30
Jonny Fritz 12:45 – 1:15
ALO 1:30 – 2:00
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue 2:15 – 2:45
Sea Wolf 3:00 – 3:30
Milo Greene 3:45 – 4:15
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers 4:45 – 5:30
Bombino 5:45 – 6:15
Maps & Atlases 6:30 – 7:00
Solar Stage:
Appalachian Flow Arts (Hula Hooping) 12:20 – 12:40
Johnnyswim 1:00 – 1:45
Wake Owl (Performance & Interview) 2:00 – 2:45
Allen Stone 3:00 – 3:45
He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister 4:00 – 4:45
John Oates (Performance & Interview) 5:00 – 5:45
The Battleholex and Friends Hip Hop Variety Show Breakdancing 6:15 – 7:15
TBD 7:30 – 8:30
The Flavor Savers Beard & Mustache Contest 8:45 – 9:45

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2013 – Thursday June 13th, Day One Preview

With every summer comes the promise of barbecues, sun tanning, swimming pools, and maybe most exciting of all, music festivals. For each and every fan, there is a festival no matter what your musical tastes from Electric Forest (primarily electronica music) to Rock The Bells (a multi city hip hop bonanza). One festival in particular offers an eclectic variety of acts in addition to a rabid almost cultish fan base that return again and again to rural Tennessee to experience Bonnaroo. This year’s ‘Roo runs from June 13th to June 16th and promises a great time for any and all. As the festival runs, each day we will be previewing a few of the acts that are playing that day so let’s open with Thursday’s line up.

For those who are fans of guitar and indie rock, Thursday promises to be a great time. Canadian duo Japandroids bring their guitar and drum assault to “This Tent” at 10:00 and the show promises to be raucous. Look for them to play cuts from last year’s awesome Celebration Rock (seriously, if you haven’t heard this album, you’re missing out) and hopefully we will be treated to some new material. Following them in “This Tent” is the English foursome calling themselves (pronounced “Alt-J”, named after the keyboard shortcut) are bringing their unique brand of indie rock, heavily influenced by electronic bass and drum sensibilities, and fans will likely be treated to cuts from last year’s freshman album An Awesome Wave. A few of my friends caught the band at a Williamsburg club show earlier this year and said that it was one of the most varied rock shows they had ever been to so needless to say I will be making every effort to catch them. Bonnaroo organizers were kind enough to give us a 30 minute break before they bring out the big guns for “This Tent”, another English foursome, The Vaccines. After two fantastic albums and innumerable comparisons to acts like The Strokes, Interpol, even The Ramones, The Vaccines have big expectations to meet. Expect this show, one of the last of the night, to draw a huge crowd and be especially energetic.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Bonnaroo if there was only one stage or genre. In “That Tent”, the last show of the night is being played by ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra), a funky jam band that recalls summer vibes and beach cookouts. They are preceded on stage by indie buzz band Django Django, and sister act Haim who will play their unique updated take on 70’s soft rock with token urban influences. Also playing on the stage in “The Other Tent” is a favorite of hip hop connoisseurs, Killer Mike and Pretty Lights Label signee, Paper Diamond. Also on the electro heavy stage of “The Other Tent” is Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring and beat pad savant AraabMuzik. For me at least though, the most exciting act of the day are Bonnaroo veterans Walk The Moon who bring their pop-influenced, easily danceable indie rock to “the Other Tent” midway through the day.

Bonnaroo looks to be a great time for all and regardless of your tastes, you will find something you like and that’s only Day One. Remember to stay hydrated and fed and have fun! We’ll catch you tomorrow with the preview for Day 2.

Bonnaroo 2013 Schedule | Thursday, Jun 13th

This Tent:
DIIV 4:00 – 5:00
Futurebirds 5:30 – 6:30
Ariel Pink 7:00 – 8:00
Deap Vally 8:30 – 9:30
Japandroids 10:00 – 11:00
Alt-J 11:30 – 12:30
The Vaccines 1:00 – 2:00

That Tent:
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers 3:00 – 4:00
Milo Greene 4:30 – 5:30
JD McPherson 6:00 – 7:00
HAIM 7:30 – 8:30
Django Django 9:00 – 10:00
Father John Misty 10:30 – 11:30
Allen Stone 12:00 – 1:00
ALO with Special Guests 1:30 – 2:30

The Other Tent:
The Stepkids 3:15 – 4:15
twenty one pilots 4:45 – 5:45
Araabmuzik 6:15 – 7:15
Walk The Moon 7:45 – 8:45
Purity Ring 9:15 – 10:15
Paper Diamond 10:45 – 11:45
Killer Mike 12:15 – 1:15

Bonnaroo Comedy Theatre hosted by IFC:
Maria Bamford ft. Kyle Dunnigan and Cristela Alonzo 6:00 – 7:15
Maria Bamford ft. Kyle Dunnigan and Cristela Alonzo 8:00 – 9:15
Mike Birbiglia ft. Michael Che 10:00 – 11:15
Eric Andre, Nikki Glaser, Chris Gethard & Kyle Dunnigan 12:00 – 1:15

New Music On Tap Lounge:
Ri¢hie 1:00 – 2:00
Johnnyswim 2:30 – 3:30
Andrew Duhon 4:00 – 5:00
Houndmouth 5:30 – 6:30
Sons of Fathers 7:00 – 8:00
Wake Owl 8:30 – 9:30
Jonny Fritz 10:00 – 11:00
Maps & Atlases 11:30 – 12:30
Capital Cities 1:00 – 2:00

Silent Disco Sonic Stage:
Vacationer (DJ Set) 4:00 – 6:00
Jonny Santos 6:00 – 8:30
DJ Logic 8:30 – 10:30
DJ Sam Spiegel of N.A.S.A. 10:30 – 12:30
DJ Jazzy Jeff 12:30 – 2:00

Solar Stage:
Asian Teacher Factory 3:00 – 4:00
In Memory of Gregor Barnum: Carbon Shredding 4:00 – 4:15
The Battleholex and Friends Hip Hop Variety Show Breakdancing 4:15 – 5:15
ON an ON 5:30 – 6:30
Ogya Afrobeat 6:45 – 7:45
The Flavor Savers Beard & Mustache Contest 8:00 – 9:00
Carnivalesque Entertainment: Bellydance & Vaudeville 9:15 – 10:15


Phoenix – Bankrupt! album review

Phoenix, Phoenix has been relatively silent, not touring at all since their last show at Madison Square Garden. While I caught them recently at an extremely intimate Williamsburg club tune-up before playing Saturday Night Live, it wasn’t until recently that I had the chance to sit down and give the full album a listen. Opening with their lead single “Entertainment” shows Phoenix back in stride with an uptempo electronic pop nugget that sounds as if Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix grew up a bit in the four years since the last album. The whole album in fact takes all the sounds and themes of their previous effort and adds variety from the high Eastern influenced strings of “Entertainment” to the drop out of all instruments aside while Thomas Mars sings to “Put my name on your list/ S.O.S. in Bel Air”, a move that sounds all too Phoenix if you catch my drift.

The album as a whole is extremely strong. Listeners who expect the same Phoenix will be pleasantly surprised by the next step in the band’s evolution. While “S.O.S. in Bel Air” and “The Real Thing” are obvious spiritual successors to earlier songs like “Long Distance Call” and “If I Ever Feel Better”, the band manages to spice things up enough to make the tracks feel fresh and exciting. “Trying to Be Cool” brings a new almost Cure-esque ethereality to Mars’ typical high nasal crooning. Title track “Bankrupt!” brings an instrumental electronic build up to a more introspective portion of the album which we snap out of almost instantly with “Drakkar Noir” and “Don’t” following shortly after as more evidence of Phoenix’s mastery of catchy electronic pop shines through on the two tracks. Even closing track “Oblique City”, although at times sounds cluttered, is a strong showing for the band that sees the French boys pushing the envelope of what they have collectively produced up until this point.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the album is the inclusion of 71 bonus takes of songs that are included on the deluxe edition which truly show the process that went into the making of this album and all the various ideas and stages each song went through. With their creative process on such brazen display, it is even easier to relate to and subsequently appreciate the songs that did make the cut. The new album is available now on Glassnote Records and the band is going to be touring the US this summer, hitting most major festivals. You can find out when they are coming to a stage near you at their website,


Bonobo – The North Borders album review

Drawing heavily from his trip hop and jazz influences present on his previous four albums, Simon Green who records and performs under the name Bonobo, stays basically true to form with his latest studio release titled The North Borders, available now on Ninja Tune Records. The music begs to be played late at night, preferably after heavy drinking and exhausting shenanigans. Heavy syncopated drums loop over ambient synths and assorted other instruments to create down tempo electronica that depresses listeners at the same time as it relaxes. Green also employs a tide like effect in many of his songs, with instruments coming in and falling out in a wave like pattern, at times swelling to almost indiscernible cacophonies and then fading to something legitimately lovely such as the strings that bring together the opening track on the album “First Fires”.

Where Green predominantly stumbles however is on such tracks as “Cirrus” and “Heaven For The Sinner” where Green seems to have such big ideas that they stumble over each other and collectively get lost in the noise. If it wasn’t for the track listing, listeners would have next to no idea that Erykah Badu is even featured on the song. Other songs such as “Jets” sound primed to be sampled but rather than cutting the catchy parts to make a full beat, Green seems to lose focus and become distracted by the vast array of sounds and effects available at his disposal.

The entire album was recorded in New York in the past year after what can only be described as extensive touring behind his previous (extremely popular, highly recommended by me) Black Sands and the time that was spent on the road can be heard on The North Borders. Many songs seem to blend together with the only discernible divide being the three or four seconds of silence between chiming instruments and low end rumbling bass.

This is not to say however that the album doesn’t have extremely strong tracks. “Ten Tigers” communicates the vision of what could have been if Green had managed his myriad of instruments balances better throughout the album and tracks “Towers” and “Transits” both show the full promise of what could have been. The orchestral width present on both tracks promises listeners who are intrigued enough to buy tickets to a live show that they will have an unforgettable experience seeing how Green attempts to re-create and if he follows his past blueprint, expand upon and improvise further for the audience’s benefit. In all, the album is by no means a failure but at the same time it is not a success. By staying in his comfort zone and producing more of what listeners are accustomed to, Green not only disappoints fans but also fails to live up to previous potential.


Keaton Henson – Birthdays album review

Keaton Henson’s brand of guitar folk is in full swing on his latest release, the first on Anti- Records, titled Birthdays. Yet another folky singer-songwriter imported from across the pond, Henson’s album is a clear evolution from his previous album Dear which had a tendency to become bogged down in it’s own depression. On Birthdays Henson takes an extremely melodic approach and brings back his narrator -esque lyrics, opening the album with the request to “Teach me how to love you like I wrote” in slow moving ballad “Teach Me”. Comparisons to Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and  other similar folksy fire side wood cabin singers are inevitable but Henson deftly avoids these by keeping his songs under control and never actually crescendo’ing to a crest. The variance between tracks is subtle but after a few spins, listeners are able to pick up on the intricacies that initially go by unnoticed such as the high ethereal choir on “Lying To You” or the almost tide like ebb and flow of “The Best Today”.

On other stand out tracks throughout the album, Henson demonstrates an acute ear for balancing melody and atmosphere. In a huge departure from the rest of the album he opens “Kronos” with a blast of thundering guitar rock that wouldn’t be out of place on a Strokes album while at the same time carrying his melodies and lyrics over a distinctly un-Keaton Henson groove. In fact, almost all of the rest of the album past “Kronos” carries a very sharp departure from the earlier half of the album with “Beekeeper” having an unmistakable buzzing guitar and pounding drums to force the chorus to march. “Milk Teeth” and “In The Morning” are more traditional modern folk songs, with Henson lending his signature wavering breathy voice to slowly building guitar picking and quasi-biographical stories. “If I Don’t Have To” comes throws listeners off guard as a tottering rhythm that rushes forward, almost tripping over itself as listeners wait for the inevitable peak that feels as if it will never come. When Henson does elect to grow his songs past his comfortable guitar picking however, it works extremely well. The low end rumble and Mumford and Sons-esque crescendo of “If I Don’t Have To” makes listeners wish that there had been more songs like it rather than the repetitive early guitar picking present across the first few tracks.

All in all the album is extremely solid and Henson fully takes advantage of the often exploratory nature of sophomore albums. Standout tracks like “On The News”, “If I Don’t Have To”, and “Beekeeper” show that Henson has the potential to move beyond the Bon Iver and other folksy comparisons if given the chance. You can hear his entire album here you can follow his tour at