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interviews

Young the Giant Interview

MVRemix.com caught up with Eric Cannata of Young the Giant when they passed through Montreal to play Osheaga Music & Arts Festival. Playing on tour with Incubus, lucky shirts and plans for the next album are all on the table in this waterfront and Montreal skyline style Q&A.

How are you enjoying the festival so far?

Eric: I’ve had a blast so far. I didn’t get much time to see the whole entire grounds, but our crowd was incredible and the catering is probably the best catering we’ve had at a festival. It’s been really nice.

Did you get to see any fellow performers?

Eric: Not really, not today. Just a second of Brand New, but nah we just kinda got here. We drove for a while this morning, we were in New York last night and we drove the rest of the way this morning. So when I got here I was kinda sleepy, just hung out. Yeah it’s boring but yeah.

Is there one band that you’re kind of hanging around with the whole tour or are you doing your own thing?

Eric: This run we are actually only doing two shows. We’ve had a lot of time off recently to write our new record and the two runs that we played both shows with a band called Portugal. The Man.  And we got to hang out with those guys so we’ve been hanging out with them, but we haven’t really been on an extended tour.

What do you think makes Osheaga unique compared to other festivals?

Eric: Just how everything is run. Sometimes you get festivals where it’s a little bit hectic and just the whole plan of where everything is and stuff. I keep hearing everybody telling me how awesome it is here. Like I said I haven’t got much of a chance to walk around the whole grounds but everyone is saying it’s a really well planned out festival and again the catering is unbelievable.

How does a song make it on a set list for these types of festivals and what gets cut?

Eric: Today we cut… we usually play three or four new songs that aren’t on the first record and today we only played one of those songs. We try to stay away from the slower songs and stick to a more up tempo set for these kind of shows.

 

Talking about your self-titled album, was there one inspiration that came to the table when you were producing it?

Eric: There were a couple. I think we always go back to when we were living close to the beach in Orange County. We were kind of inspired by living by the beach and kind of eternal summer, and just hanging out. We all took time off from school so it was kind of just a big party and celebration. Then we moved to L.A. and then it got more serious. When we were finishing up the record we lived in Hollywood right on Sunset Boulevard and lived a bike ride away from our studio, so a little bit inspired by the city and the city life.

If you had to sell it on one track which one would it be, and could you tell me a little about it?

Eric: I think our song “Strings” is kind of a good mix…It’s kind of a more summery vibe on it, but yeah I think “Strings” can give you a good view of the album.

What has been your greatest challenge as a band so far?

Eric: I think being away from home, being away from our girlfriends and families, and friends definitely takes a toll, but we’ve been very fortunate to get to where we are so quickly. We’re about to take a lot of time off to do the second record at home. That’s probably the hardest thing for us, just being away so much and figuring out a way to be at home as much as possible but also, you know, tour as much as possible and play shows.

Do you ever get to bring your friends and family on tour?

Eric: Yeah, I had a couple of instances. My girlfriend comes out every once in a while to a show. I had a friend out for Bonnaroo and that was a lot of fun. You know a friend from growing up, he got to come out and see kind of how it is at festivals, being in a band at a festival. He had a blast and we got to see Radiohead together.

Is there one thing that you take from home that you bring on tour, one special item?

Eric: I have a bird. Its like a hand carved bird that I put on my amp. I always have a lot of lucky things, you know. I guess I bring all of my shirts that are lucky to me. I guess I’m that kind of person, where I have a bunch of little things that I find give me good luck. This time out I brought my dad’s old hat from when he played baseball, I’ve been wearing that…reminds me of my dad.

Do you have any crazy stories on tour, past and present?

Eric: Yeah we do… I always forget when that question is asked. We’ve done a lot of van tours, we we’re lucky enough to get on a bus last year. But one time when we were in van we just broke down on the side of the road, on the side of the freeway in the Mohave Desert and it was burning hot and there were those fire, red ants everywhere like crawling up our legs and stuff. We had, you know, no reception- couldn’t call anybody so I was waving people down on the freeway and making little chants. What happened was our trailer, the tire popped with how hot it was, luckily this guy in a pick-up truck took an exit when he saw us and pulled back around and pulled over. He happened to be a trailer repairman and he had all his tools and we gave him a shirt and a CD for his son. Yeah he just fixed the trailer for us for free and it was really, really cool. It was a little bit of luck and dancing out there, yelling shit, saw the trailer broken down and felt like being nice.

Now, what is one question you wish you had been asked in an interview but never have yet?

Eric: I don’t know. I feel like we do all these interviews and there’s a lot of general questions but I guess something more specific to what each member does in the band.  Maybe like what gear we have and use, but I guess that would have to do with a more guitar based magazine, considering I play guitar. I’m really into gear, I like to talk about it.

Just wrapping it up, what is one thing die-hard fans don’t know about you?

Eric: Me personally? I’m a black belt in Taekwondo, but I got it when I was like thirteen so…

You’re a little rusty?

Eric: Can’t really pull the same moves. But about the band…ah… I don’t know. We’re all very close, too close sometimes. We lived together for about four years, on and off the road. We’re pretty much like brothers at this point.

You spoke a lot about your upcoming album, can you tell me about the plans surrounding that, have you recorded a lot?

Eric: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun actually. We first had about three months off. We lived in East L.A. and we set up a home recording studio and we were recording demos there. We got about maybe three to four songs done there and then we started playing them out on the road. Then when we came back for about three weeks we actually got to live at my friend Mikey’s place and Mikey plays guitar for the band Incubus. We got to go on tour with them about a year ago. So he was really kind and let us stay at his house for three weeks and record demos in his home studio, which was a blast. Now were probably at about nine or ten songs done. We’re planning on recording either in November, December or January, going in the studio so we’ll have a couple more months to work at everything and write new tunes. So hopefully we’ll have a good amount of songs and then we’ll pick the best ones for the record.

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interviews

The Black Lips Interview

Meet the Black Lips – the self-proclaimed “flower punk” band from Georgia. It’s been just over a year ago since, Arabia Mountain, their sixth full-length hit the stands – but its not like this four-piece is at a loss of things to talk about.

MVRemix.com got down and dirty with Jared and Cole of the Black Lips when they passed through Montreal to play Osheaga Music & Arts Festival. Crazy tour stories, fish sticks and plans for the next album are all on tap in this interview.


How are you enjoying the festival so far?

Jared: So far so good. It’s been great.

Cole: Pretty awesome.

Have you seen any acts so far?

Jared: Nah…

Cole: We’re watching Garbage right now from the backstage screen.

Are you going to some tonight? Snoop Lion?

Jared: Well I have to DJ after this. Most of the times we play festivals we don’t see anyone.

What’s unique about Osheaga compared to other festivals?

Cole: The food is the best food I’ve ever had!

Jared: Top-notch catering!

I heard there’s a crazy chef…

Jared: the Iron Chef!

The Iron Chef?!

Jared: Yeah, he beat Bobby Flay.

Cole: Oysters, lobsters, payaya.

What’s your favourite meal so far?

Jared: Poutine.

So how do you chose what gets played in a festival like this and what gets cut?

Cole: Best of the best.

Do you do anything special on stage… compared to other festivals?

Cole: I vomited all over the stage. If that’s not special I gay fucked the crowd.

So your latest album was released just over a year ago, how’s the success surrounding that?

Cole: Incredible success.

Jared: We all bought houses, I’m building a bathroom right now. It ain’t cheap you know? You gotta get contractors and stuff. We can buy food. We go to markets…

Cole: It’s helping us survive.

Jared: Yeah, hotel rooms, jet planes sometimes.

No private jets though?

Jared: No, no.

Cole: We’re gonna try to work on that.

Jared: All custom made shit too.

But is there one inspiration that came to the table when you were making your album?

Cole: Science, technology…

Jared: Mine was more nature and sociology, just figuring out how people work.

Cole: We always study psychology because as a band, you know, you’re dealing with people.

Jared: I’m the only male in my family who’s not a preacher, so I grew up seeing – and these are evangelicals, so they’re like screaming on the stage, speaking talk, slapping people off… so I’m like hmmm how do I use that to my advantage and be in a band and use that. You will never be able to recreate that because we are not eternal.

Cole: We are so unique. Like me I’m in such a niche demographic being a homosexual, Satanist, scientologist. I’m the only one in the world. It’s a new perspective.

Jared: People get really mad at us because we don’t really have politics but we can agree with anyone. We like independent businesses. But like Chick-Fil-A was really bad the other day. Me and Cole started dating and we made out in the Chick-Fil-A. It’s been a hard kinda few days because not only are we Christians, and like the gay community was. His girlfriend – he got pregnant with his girlfriend when he started dating me and we live next door to each other and we’re in the same band! They say always not to mix business with pleasure.

Cole: It’s okay man.

If you had to sell your album on one track which one would it be?

Jared: Oh one track… I guess…

Cole: That’s hard. We love all our children.

Jared: On this last one? They’re all our children, we can’t pick one of them.

Fair, fair. So from the recording process, how many songs did you record and how many did you scrap?

Jared: We usually track about 30 and put about half on the record.

Cole: There’s a lot of scraps, lot of editing.

Jared: When you got four writers you got a lot of songs.

Are you gonna release any of those?

Cole: Yeah we’ve released a couple.

Jared: And now with like our thing we write songs about each other, I admit they’re kinda gay.

Do you think you’ve grown both musically and personally since your last release?

Cole: Yeah sonically, psychologically…

Jared: We’ve seen more places, for sure, we’ve been around the world about four or five times.

Cole: We live every day like all hell is about to break loose.

Jared: If you don’t think like that everyday like all this shit is about to hit the fan then why would you wake up?

Cole: That giddy feeling that the General gets when he had his finger on the nuclear button.

Jared: I like to picture myself in 1962 with Castro with his finger on the bomb like should I do it? And just like… Lets go!

Cole: That’s the feeling we like.

Jared: That’s that rush! That’s like divers get that feeling when they do a triple back flip.

Cole: Some people live for that. They call them daredevils. I consider us one of them.

Jared: They call them adrenaline junkies

Cole: Yeah, adrenaline junkies.

So what is one of your greatest challenges so far?

Cole: Going to Iraq, that’s one of our greatest challenges.

Jared: Yeah the borders are closing soon, we have to go September 13th, we have to keep watching Aljazeera every day.

Cole: We’re not kidding.

Jared: We’re not lying.

You have to go by then or you’re not in?

Jared: No that’s when our plane tickets are for.

Cole: We cant just like go to Iraq, it’s not a tourist destination.

Jared: Do you think we’re going to Sandestin Florida or something? C’mon now.

Cole: It’s gonna be awesome.

Is there one thing you bring on tour, like a special item?

Jared: Guitars, voices.

Cole: Guitars, drums.

Tell me about one of the craziest stories you’ve had, past and present on tour.

Cole: Oh man, there’s so many…

I want a good one

Cole: Ah me and Jared we got basically removed by a police officer off a flight in Australia because we smart off to the flight attendants.

Jared: Ok! Here’s the story I was sitting in an exit row and I had a light windbreaker on my lap and they’re like ‘Oh I’m sorry you have to either wear that or stow it’. I was like ‘Okay’. So I wrap the light windbreaker around my neck like a scarf. He’s like ‘I’m sorry you have to either wear that or stow it’ and I was like ‘I’m wearing it as a scarf’. He’s like [Australian accent] ‘I’m sorry mate that’s not a scarf’. I was like ‘Oh yes that is a scarf. I’m from L.A. and I know way more about fashion then you and this is a scarf I’m wearing.’ Then he left and then five minutes later eight federal agents come aboard and escort me off and then he got escorted off later.

Cole: I told the flight attendants to stop harassing me. She said my bag was too big so I went out and made sure it fit the specifications there before the flight. It met the specifications of size. You didn’t have to shove it through this rectangle and then she’s still like ‘C’mon’. I said ‘Can you please get out of my face you’re harassing me.’ And then she said ‘You calm down’ and I was like ‘No you calm down’. Then I shut up ‘cause I knew I was gonna get in trouble. And then next thing I know, I wake up and there’s police coming on the plane. Go figure they let a guy from Jordi3 on because he was trying to get a seat and we didn’t get the last seat so we got kicked off…

Jared: But the best was they moved us to a Virgin and we went with Virgin and they wouldn’t charge us for any of the drinks, we’re like ‘Why?!’. In the end all the stewardesses we’re like ‘We want to go to your show!’. And the pilots came out they’re like ‘Oh you’re the Black Lips?’ So we took both pilots and all the stewardesses to our show that night and we got wasted…

Cole: And at the end the flight attendant invited Ian back to her hotel room but he was too tired, which like never happens.

Jared: And I’m scared of airplanes, like really really bad and I had the pilot coaching me like ‘Are you seriously never scared when you take off? Cause I always feel like I’m going to die’.

Well what’s one word you would use to describe each other?

Jared: Awesome.

Cole: My boyfriend.

Jared: Yeah, my boyfriend.

Cole: Sometimes I think its hard dating Jared but then when we snuggle at night all the pain melts away.

Jared: Well its kinda cool because its not like I have to bring my girlfriend on tour anymore because we have to share hotel rooms anyways at night so it works out perfectly. And we get to share the same funds we make exactly the same amount of money. So it’s always a Dutch Date.

If they had to make a movie about your band who would you chose to play each other?

Jared: I wanna be Denzel.

Cole: George Costanza… what’s his name… Jason Alexander. He shares my last name.

Jared: Yeah I wanna be Denzel Washington.

So what’s one thing die-hard fans do not know about you?

Jared: We’re pretty open, like we don’t really have any secrets.

Just wrapping up, what’s coming up in your future?

Cole: Going to Iraq! Hopefully we can get in.

Jared: Going to Iraq and then we’re going to record our seventh album.

Do you have any songs written or recorded?

Jared: Oh yeah, a ton of them a bunch of them, we already started going in the studio.

Name for a title yet?

Jared: Ass Dogs.

Cole: Ass Dogs, yeah.

What’s the album cover gonna look like?

Jared: Just gonna be a dogs butt. Hey! Do you like fish sticks?

Yeah for sure.

Jared: Do you like them in your mouth?

Sure? [laughing]

Cole: Have you seen South Park?

[Cole & Jared laughing]

Setting me up here!

Cole: He’s been trying to set people up. He always tells girls the joke, it doesn’t sound as good.

Are there any fish sticks here?

[Cole & Jared laughing]

Cole: I would have them in my mouth

You didn’t have any in your mouth yet?

Cole: No I will ‘cause I like fish sticks and I like them in my mouth

They have some outside if you wanna go pick ‘em up!

Cole: Really? Really?

Yeah, around here, downtown!

Cole: You serious?!

Jared: I’m not going downtown!

Cole: He doesn’t like fish sticks, I like them.

Jared: I’m waiting for a girl that I like

Cole: What?! We’re dating!

Jared: Oh yeah

Cole: See what I have to deal with! We’re gonna go get some fish sticks

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reviews

Jeremy Fisher – Mint Juleps album review

The sun shining. Cold beer in hand. Not a care in the world. Sounds like the dog days of summer, doesn’t it? Well that’s exactly what you get as you stroll through the relaxed acoustic packed, 12-track collection that is Mint Juleps. With two Juno nominations under his belt, Jeremy Fisher brings out his influence at the core of his folk-infused tunes, putting the spotlight on the epoch of the singer-songwriter.

But this is not to be taken literally; conversely Fisher is not stuck in this era. It acts to showcase the Canadian musician’s craft at unifying flawlessly his original songs with timeless classics. I dare you to try and guess which of the 12 songs on Fisher’s latest are new and which are covers. Go for it!

Any luck? Didn’t think so. Reason being, this Ottawa native is drenched with intuition, which has gifted him with lasting qualities of a sonic storyteller. This distinctive folk-pop formula profits him, providing a perfect sonic backdrop to express his eternal ingenuity as a balladeer. The result: winning over fans and music lovers alike.

This mix of 12 tracks features five fresh tracks and seven hand-picked covers from those he frequently plays at live shows. It wouldn’t be hard to guess Fisher’s home base, with the bilingual track “I Lost My Baby” (originally by Jean Leloup), which in my books definitely surpasses the cover. Next up is the cover from the 90s Canadian alt-rock band The Lowest of Low with “Bleed a Little Tonight”. In the same fashion, Fisher chooses to cover Gordon Lightfoot’s “Spin Spin”. Also covers are “Gone” (John Hiatt), “Canned Goods” (Greg Brown) and “Highway One” (Murray McLauchlan). And as aforementioned Fishers ingenuity magically blends these covers with his originals.

“Built to Last” boasts this country-vibe and good life that I was talking about. And what’s a folk album without a love song? “Tetris Song” features Fisher’s wittiness at comparing the Tetris block drop to a lover’s arrival. Authentic, summer, country-vibe could all be used to describe to composition of Mint Juleps. This could be credited to his recording of tracks straight from his seat on the studio floor. With Fisher saying, Mint Juleps best represents him as an independent musician and stage performer.

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reviews

Oneohtrix Point Never – Dog in the Fog: ‘Replica’ Collaborations & Remixes EP Review

After Pitchfork’s placement of brilliant masterpiece, Replica at No. 6 on their list of “Top 50 Albums of 2011” it’s safe to say that Daniel Lopatin a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never sets the bar pretty high for this next release. And what better to follow up one of the year’s most acclaimed albums with an addendum of remixes putting Replica in the spotlight once again.

A year later, after dipping into novel sonic waters, Oneohtrix Point Never is back with a remix and edit-packed, four song EP, Dog in the Fog:‘Replica’ Collaborations & Remixes.  For an experimental EP, Dog in the Fog, is quite the fitting title don’t you think? The EP features reworkings and remixes of a few of the tracks on Replica ­but is it a worthwhile project? With the original record being made up of different isolated parts which led to the transformation and building blocks of the final compositions, it only seems sensible to allow the ingenuity of others to assemble elements in their own special little way.

Dog in the Fog: ‘Replica’ Collaborations & Remixes features fresh remixes and edits of Replica’s hot tracks, “Remember”, “Nassau” and of course “Replica” from a few of Oneohtrix Point Never’s friends.

The EP shines with the addition of Limpe Fuchs vocal and viola contributions to the EP’s main event, “Replica”. His impressive selection comes after being influenced by Limpe Fuchs electro/acoustic album Via. From there Matmos, noted for the luminous A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure and the production of Björk’s Medulla and Vespertine, took the helm to arrange these parts.

The second remake of “Replica” introduces King Midas Sound’s Roger Robinson heartwarming vocals accompanied by an original and innovative arrangement by Oneohtrix Point Never’s own Daniel Lopatin. But we can’t forget the unique versions of “Remember” and “Nassau”. Dog in the Fog’s “Remember” is pumped into churning percussive sparks under the instruction of techno veteran Surgeon. “Nassau” boasts Richard Youngs – another artist added to Lopatin’s pool of influencial musicians – ending the EP with damned, elergy style vocal editing. And as aforementioned it only seems sensible to allow the ingenuity of others to assemble elements in their own special little way.

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reviews

Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense album review

Three becomes four on Future of the Left’s third release The Plot Against Common Sense. Those three years after their second record Travels With Myself And Another saw an addition to their line-up expanding to a quartet. But that’s all, no need to worry. The group from Cardiff, Wales decide to stick with the same synth splashed, playful post-punk formula.

A lengthy 50-minute record, The Plot Against Common Sense, probably could do without 10 of its minutes although this is not to say that the album suffers due to this. In fact these are some of the best songs to be added to Future of the Left catalogue.

On tap are the keys of Andrew Falkous with the help of influential stylings from Devo, dramatic climbing guitars which churn and crunch through the highs and lows of each track. But with every album an artist is destined to grow and Future of the Left do just that. Their lyrics are well above par even stepping in the waters of excellence. Speaking of implausible celebrity tales with Falkous’ anger swooping as low as summer films and as high as frustration towards world leaders and society’s dismal state. His irritation is unmistakable on “Cosmo’s Ladder”; Falkous sings “I have seen into the future/Everyone is slightly older”.

Right off the bat Falkous hits the nail on the head with a stab to the marketers of indie music with “Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman”. What’s more is “Sorry Dad, I Was Late For the Riots” is the definition of excellence using his lyrical ingenuity to the fullest, “I’ll enjoy a beverage from my penthouse flat in Kensinton, and once again, I’ll run with the wolves”. Indisputably Future of the Left’s best to date, The Plot Against Common Sense may fall short when compared to Falkous’ Mclusky Do Dallas from the previous project, Mclusky. However, even though the standings and competition may have changed The Plot Against Common Sense is testament to the album’s power and Future of the Left’s fighting determination.

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interviews

The Royal Concept Interview

From Stockholm Sweden, the Royal Concept come to sweep you off you feet with your fix of infectious indie pop-rock, powered by catchy guitar riffs, synth-pop keyboards and contagious hooks. Pampered with indie rock influence, the quartet’s fresh hit single “Gimme Twice” will drag you straight to the dance floor, proving to be a perfect standout summer anthem.

The Royal Concept consists of David Larson [Vocals/Guitar], Filip Bekic [Guitar], Magnus Robert [Bass], and Frans Povel [Drums]. “D-D-Dance” has already reached No.2 and “Gimme Twice”, No. 3 on Hype Machine with “Gimme Twice” becoming the #1 most added song at Alternative as soon as it hit the airwaves, according to BDS. Be sure to check out their music video for “Gimme Twice” and pick up their debut EP, out now.

I just wanted to congratulate you guys on the release of your EP and “Gimme Twice” video. How are you feeling about your success so far? Has it set in yet?

It’s terrible really. You have to spend a lot of time in New York, playing your own music all the time, all over the world that is, no time for school, parents far away. It’s hard, but we knew rock’n’roll life was going to be tough.

Give the readers a little background on yourselves and the history of the band, and we’ll go from there.

Four guys from Stockholm in Sweden. One with Serbian/Croatian heritage. Complete instrumental nerds. Formed this band last year after having traveled all over with female artists, like Robyn. Had a different singer first, and band didn’t really feel right. Povel – bit of a drum star in Scandinavia – joined and David began to front the band, voila, we had it. We made some new tracks. Instant success on Swedish radio, and then that breakthrough with the blogs over this new year. People coming over from The States. Got a record deal and moved to NY, the first flight we could find. That’s it really.

How does it feel to have your music compared to the likes of Phoenix? Are they major influences?

We are Phoenix, just changed names a couple a months ago. Funny no one got that.

How long did it take to record your EP as a whole?

We wrote and recorded 20 songs in six weeks. We picked out the five least awesome ones for the EP and saved the really good ones for the LP. We wanted people to get to know us first before releasing a whole 12 tracks album and we’re still really proud of the EP.

If you had to sell your EP on one track which one would it be and could you tell the readers a little about that track?

In The End has a lot of feelings, and is a song that can be four minutes or 30 minutes. It’s our anthem so far. Sort of unites people. We also love the song Naked and Dumb, it’s a bonus track on the physical EP.

How did the idea for your video for “Gimme Twice” come about? Were other ideas brought up?

We had a number of suggestions related to the idea that girls had fun and basically did what they wanted with us. We wanted a video where we performed our song and since the song is about a really dominant girl in a relationship, we thought this was the best idea.

What has been your greatest challenge as a band so far?

Keeping the cool as things have gone so fast. There’s a million voices everyday that tells us their view and what we should do, and they’re all good people but also very persistent and convincing. So you get a lot of everything and you really have to work hard to keep a steady eye on your vision.

Which artists are you into right now? What’s on your iPod?

We love St Vincent and we also have to mention Rufus Wainwright, he really gave us a lot when we were younger. We’ve had a couple of weeks where we’ve educated ourselves in some new US releases so we’ve had Billboards hot 100 shuffled on our Ipods. Gotye, Passion Pit, Fun and Foster The People stick out of course.

Is there one thing you wouldn’t leave home without when you go on tour?

Our instruments and clear eyes.

What was the last job you had before doing the band full time? 

None of us has ever had a job and if what we’re doing now is considered a job, we have the best job in the world.

What is one question you wish you had been asked in an interview but never have yet?

How did it feel to win all categories at the American Grammy Awards?

If you weren’t writing music and playing music what do you think you would be doing?

Filip would have moved back to Croatia and opened his own olive oil farm up in the mountains and the other three of us would have worked for him. Povel would also have an extra job as a pole dancer down at the local saloon.

What is one thing die-hard fans do not know about you?

That after every show we invite a few people backstage and do a secret stripped down show for them.

Any future plans for touring?

You kiddin’? We’ll do a run of shows in US in the fall, with different artists, Alex Clare, Fun and others, and then we have requests from many parts of the world outside US too. Check out our FB-page and by all means join our world wherever it is. We would love to see you at the gigs!

Where do you see yourself and the band in ten years from now?

Making love to big crowds, and doing small intimate gigs in between.

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press releases reviews

Saint Vitus – Lillie: F-65 album review

All you readers will have to excuse my tardiness and lack of expertise in doom metal on this review. But myself, music critics and music lovers included probably wouldn’t be alone if this had been 1986. ‘Doom metal’ was non-existent, never to cross anyone’s mind even when Saint Vitus came along. Often regarded as groundbreaking and credited as the one of the first bands of the genre, Saint Vitus were quickly labeled as some ‘out-of-it’ stoners, who had perfected the art of Black Sabbath reverence and perfected the sense of impending doom, where the genre gets its name. Picking apart Black Sabbath in search of its most vital elements, tuning down their guitars, achieving a thicker and heavy sound than most metal genres while sedating the tempo until sounds like a slow agonizing death.

And it’s no surprise that Saint Vitus were not esteemed when they first set foot on the scene; fantastically out of place sonic tracks, which made them sound as though they were rocking out on the worst studio equipment on the planet. However, as their fan base grew and as they stepped into their second decade of producing music, something magical started to happen, their workings started to brush off onto their little amateur followers. As you can imagine Saint Vitus was not for everyone, more of a particular acquired taste, which unfortunately put strain on their vocalists, with several changes but still retaining their place in the underground scene.

With the launch of a reunion with the original members and the tragic passing of Armando Acosta, their original drummer, a bunch of live performances and the replacement of their drummer with Henry Vasquez something must have struck a chord; for Lillie: F-65 has seen the return of Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich from 22 years of hibernation, magically bringing back the good ol’ days of Saint Vitus, when they were at their peak. Yup, it was 22 years ago that Wino last graced Saint Vitus’ V.

And what’s with the title of their eighth album you may ask, why name it Lillie: F-65? Trust me, I screwed up on the title twice while writing this review. Well, it comes from an amusing but distinct downer that guitarist Dave Chandler experienced years ago and which fits perfectly with their incredibly slow tempo style.

You might say the older stuff is always better right? easily said, but that would do disfavor to the raw power and perfection of their newest release in seventeen long years, Lillie: F-65. It wouldn’t do enough justice to say that they finished on a high with their founding vocalist Scott Reagers and with their 1995, Die Healing, and it seems that they chose to ride that high. And instantly. Chandler’s primeval guitar storms in on “Let Them Fall”; a ‘pick-up-where-we-left-off’ story to close up the near two decade old void. And a real ‘pick-up-where-we-left-off’ story at that. It’s almost eerie how close Vasquez is at striking the skins as the epic Armando. It’s incredibly hard to decipher if it is a perfectly skilled tribute or his best attempt at putting a legend to rest. The only way to distinguish the two is by Armando’s slightly heavier style but it is surprising how good a fit Vasquez is to the line-up.

Saint Vitus definitely have something to brag about. With nothing more to gain, Saint Vitus serve up the record’s last two tracks as evidence. Injurious feedback swells up, “Dependence”, a seven-minute advisory tale of intemperance. “Withdrawal” raises the bar, stripping down any melody and lyrics for that matter. Chandler’s feedback fills out the track with two coats of feedback, the most prominent being the one that circulates easily from one headphone to the other.

Lillie: F-65 is an impressive feat, hardly a desperate ‘hey-look-at-me’ move but bragging rights on how little their sonic ingenuity has changed despite time and lineup changes, and priding themselves on their own perfect little formula.

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Gossip – A Joyful Noise album review

With just one hit in the bag, the Oregon threesome are almost begging for a second wave of critical acclaim and have commissioned Brian Higgins from Xenomania to fulfill this duty for A Joyful Noise. Gossip may be seen as a one-hit wonder trio. Give “Standing in the Way of Control” a listen, but A Joyful Noise may be just what they need to dig themselves out of this one.

Sound the alarm, listeners are in for something new, and thankfully Higgins knows just what to do. The formula is simple. Madonna and Abba. Genius, no? If the boosterish electro-punk of Music for Men was of no appeal, don’t worry, don’t worry! Pick up A Joyful Noise, Gossip have redeemed themselves – seriously. No political overtone, none of that on the lyrics of this fizzing record, just a focus on those who continually dissatisfy her without avail. Its not an amateurish attempt at mimicking the prowess of Abba, but a comfortable preparation where Beth Ditto’s own fine testy vocals shine with each word, each verse. That preparedness can be heard in her sparkling electronic melodies. Where it almost seems as if she got advice from the band itself on this endeavor, applying their own formula; 2 parts warmth and anger, and 1 ol’ part lacquer of the finest and glossiest kind.

Sure there are the skeptics who may argue that this step into unknown territory is what some may call a step in the wrong direction, an epic failure. Although signature Gossip qualities are scattered throughout the record, from “Melody Emergency,” the threesome’s opener, it is clear that Ditto’s vocal ingenuity has not disappeared. It is definitely an album that sets them apart but just give them time to test the waters.  They won’t be any contenders for Madonna and Abba, but they sure will have given themselves their best shot at their next hit and their sixth release.

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Father John Misty – Fear Fun album review

We all know Josh Tillman for his solo work, a sound that was decorated in merits of strictness and calm with an overabundance of thorny power. We can best appreciate his efforts in Fleet Foxes from 2008-2011 where Year in the Kingdom was released to major criticism from Paul Thompson due to its “lone lonesome, somber tone, one Tillman– a funny, amicable dude, if you’ve ever heard him clowning on himself at a Fleet Foxes gig– would do well to shake on occasion.”

The response to the criticism and the accompanying bout of depression in Seattle, powered Tillman to pack up his van with shrooms and wanderlust. He ventured to the western coastline, finding shelter in Laurel Canyon in what he most probably psychedelically named his home the “spider-shack.” It bears a striking resemblance to the tale in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, doesn’t it? Conceivably his newly acquired pseudonym, Father John Misty and the bolster of his four-year stint in Fleet Foxes, resulted in a more adventurous catalogue in the form of Fear Fun, Tillman’s eighth and arguably one of his best. Not hard to see what fuelled the album artwork… cough, cough. What is strikingly non-existent is that “lonesome, somber tone”, shedding its skin into tracks which are all favourites because of it: convivial, contagious, even playful at times.

The Greater Los Angeles area landscape, and its not so reputable spot in pop history, serves as the perfect backdrop, transforming the lyrics, music and ideas which go into Tillman’s Fear Fun. The luminous lyrics coat the morose, rambling and radiant portions of the record. The album speaks of a colossal Hollywood breakdown with splashes of his tales of shenanigans and hilarity, which are virtually non-existent on Tillman’s previous releases.

Fear Fun opens with the monotone humour of “Fun Times in Babylon,” offering up a unhurried introduction to menacing lyrics coated with a charming lacquer, filled with acoustic riffs and one which displays the depths of Tillman’s vocal range, stretching from defenseless aching during the verses, to the delightful falsetto during the engaging chorus.

This unhurried overture continues on to a spider-shack disco, “Nancy From Now On,” complete with a mass of strings and triangle strikes, and where Tillman’s playful humour and characteristic falsetto can be seen, “Oh, pour me another drink and punch me in the face/You can call me Nancy.”

The different parts of the album are easily recognizable on “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” as Tillman croons against a power-driven backbeat “Jesus Christ, girl,/ It hasn’t been long so it seems since I was picking out an island and a tomb for you at the Hollywood Cemetery.”

Tillman’s shenanigans can be spotted all over “I’m Writing a Novel”. The lyrics speak for themselves, “I ran down the road, pants down to my knees, screaming,/ ‘Please come help me, that Canadian shaman gave a little to much to me!’” An indication of quite an interesting novel.

However, where the album falls short is with its over composed and overly contained to believe the drug-induced chaos and municipal corruption. It’s quite visible that the lyrical and rhythmic arrangements stick closely to the beat with an intense stiffness, too scared to venture on their own.  He only seems to cut them free on “I’m Writing a Novel” and the playful-absurdist “Tee Pees 1-12,” making them definite standouts.

Tillman takes stabs at his lyrics in an undoubtedly unique way on Fear Fun than your standard folk revivalist. An incredible masterpiece that will fill you with wanderlust and discovery of your own paradise, your own colossal Hollywood breakdown. One thing is for certain; Tillman has definitely discovered his muse.

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reviews

Ghosts of Paraguay – On The Run EP review

David Templemann a.k.a. Ghosts of Paraguay and the emotive and melodic Loodma Recordings present their next installment, On The Run EP, which definitely fits with Loodma’s catalogue.

“Beyond Reason”, a perfectly constructed ambient track evoking a considerable amount of visual and unobtrusive power. Conjuring up images of a lonely downtown apartment. A man wakes up, brushes away his white bed sheets and makes his way to his coffee pot. The apartment is dark only lit by the flashes of lightning. He stares at the somber city skyline as it’s slowly drowned out by the pouring rain. The swollen grey clouds coat the sky. As the man watches, the rain streams down and down his window. “Beyond Reason” begins with what seems to be some backmasking. Although just when you think you might be able to decipher some cryptic message, the hauntingly beautiful and soothing voice of CoMa creeps in to set the tone of the entire track. CoMa’s heavy voice accompanies GoP’s rhythmic sweep with LFO, the percussion and his electronic music virtuoso. A match made in heaven you could say.

“Plateau” starts off with a clean and relaxing beat splashed with dry rimshot percussion. Soon turning mystical with the appearance of distant and hollow ethereal female voices, which quickly disappear only to haunt the track again and again. A great tune which GoP fabricates the perfect atmosphere to let your imagination run wild and leaving you in astonishment and wonder.

The sublime “Hold Me Tight” features the calming vocals of Jett, which are most comparable to the those of Montreal’s based Grimes. There is a nice flood of piano mixed in with Jett’s vocals create a perfectly elegant lead in to the percussion which dominates the remainder of the track.

“The Swan” is by far the best track off the latest On The Run EP. An intense build-up with heavy strings puts your mind in the driver’s seat. Dreaming up a perfect scene to accompany the foreboding and grave soundtrack. The built up is followed by a calm piano ensemble, but not long taken over by crackling and layered FX and percussion. Amazing lush piano sections and distant female vocals add to the intricate layering and dreamy feel.

It is a contagious EP with atmospheric power and lush sonic vibes, not to mention clean production. Templemann seems to already be making his way as one of the avant-garde producers of our generation. Be sure to look out for Ghosts of Paraguay on everyone music radar in the near future.