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.

New Animal Collective EP Out Today || New Tour Dates and Traxman Remix

Photo Credit: @abitaphoto

Animal Collective Announce New Tour Dates
Including Festival Appearances at
MusicFestNW and Treasure Island

Animal Collective Tour Dates
5/28: Brussels, Belgium @ AB6/11: Washington, DC @ 930 Club
6/12: Washington, DC @ 930 Club
6/14: Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
7/4: Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival
7/6: Gdynia, Poland @ Open’er Festival
7/9: Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall *
7/10: Ottawa, ON @ Ottawa Blues Fest
7/11: Portland, ME @ State Theatre
7/12: Mariaville, NY @ Camp Bisco
7/14: Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Festival
7/15: Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Hall *
7/16: Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues *
7/18: Covington, KY @ The Madison Theater
7/19: Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works #
9/6: Portland, OR @ MusicFest NW * NEW
9/7: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory* NEW
9/8: Salt Lake City, UT @ Depot *
9/9: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre *
9/11: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
10/16: Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theatre *
10/17: Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre *
10/20: San Francisco, CA @ Treasure Island Festival NEW
10/21: Los Angeles,CA @ Wiltern * NEW
10/22: Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee* NEW
10/24: Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theater *
10/25: St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
10/25-27: Asheville, NC @ Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit

* w/Dan Deacon
# w/Chairlift

“[Centipede Hz] captures the sound of studio wizards who are once again ready to unleash some sweaty savagery on the live stage.” – NPR

Today marks the release of Animal Collective’s Monkey Been To Burn Town remix EP on Domino Records. Drawing from the band’s latest record Centipede Hz, the EP features remixes of “Monkey Riches” by Gang Gang Dance’s Brian Degraw, Chicago Juke producer Traxman and New York underground dance producers Teengirl Fantasy, as well as a remix of “New Town Burnout” by Seattle based hip-hop collective Shabazz Palaces. In honor of the EP’s release, Animal Collective has made Traxman’s remix of “Monkey Riches” available for stream.

Animal Collective is also happy to announce new additional tour dates to the upcoming North American tour. In addition to previously announced dates, Animal Collective will also be performing new dates in Los Angeles, Boise, and Phoenix. The band has also added two new festival appearances, including Treasure Island in San Francisco, and a headlining spot at MusicFest NW in Portland, OR. These shows come in addition to the band’s previously announced festival appearances at Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Forecastle, and more.

Filmed in conjunction with The Creators Project, the videos catch the band’s impressive stage show, which was aptly described by Pitchfork as “giant, gap-toothed Nickelodeon dentures on either side, a curved inflatable structure that resembled scorpion tails dipped in PAAS dye, a centralized TV running constant, blaring images. Basically, the cover of Centipede Hz gone widescreen.”

Earlier in 2012, Animal Collective released their 10th and latest album Centipede Hz. The band’s first record since 2007’s Strawberry Jam to feature all four original band members, Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin, Centipede Hz was hailed by critics as a return to Animal Collective’s experimental roots. The album can be ordered via the Animal Collective webstore here.

Animal Collective – Monkey Been To Burn Town EP
(Domino Records – out now on 12” and digital)

A1 – Monkey Riches (Brian DeGraw [Gang Gang Dance] Remix)
A2 – Monkey Riches (Tha Traxman Teklife Remix)
B1 – New Town Burnout (Shabazz Palaces Remix)
B2 – Monkey Riches (Teengirl Fantasy Remix)

Animal Collective Announces Rescheduled North American Tour Dates

Photo Credit: Dave Lichterman

Animal Collective Tour Dates

5/22: Nimes, France @ Paloma

5/23: Barcelona, Spain @ Primavera Sound

5/25: London, UK @ Field Day

5/27: Amsterdam, NL @ Holland Melkweg

5/28: Brussels, Belgium @ AB

5/29: Paris, France @ Trianon

6/7-6/9: Randall’s Island, NY @ Governors Ball

6/10: Washington, DC @ 930 Club

6/11: Washington, DC @ 930 Club

6/12: Washington, DC @ 930 Club

6/13-16: Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo

7/2: Helsinki, Finland @ The Circus

7/4: Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival

7/6: Gdynia, Poland @ Open’er Festival

7/9: Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall *

7/10: Ottawa, ON @ Ottawa Blues Fest

7/11-13: Albany, NY @ Camp Bisco

7/12-7/14: Louisville, KY @ Forecastle

7/15: Royal Oak. MI @ Royal Oak Music Hall *

7/16: Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues *

7/18: Covington, KY @ The Madison Theater

7/19: Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works

9/8: Salt Lake City, UT @ Depot *

9/9: Denver, CO @ Ogden *

9/11: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue

10/16: Madison, WI @ Orpheum *

10/17: Chicago, IL @ Riviera *

10/24: Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theater *

10/25: St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant

* w/Dan Deacon

“[Centipede Hz] captures the sound of studio wizards who are once again ready to unleash some sweaty savagery on the live stage.” – NPR

Animal Collective is pleased to announce the rescheduled dates of their North American tour. All previously announced tour dates have been rescheduled for mid-summer and early fall, many with labelmate Dan Deacon. The band has also revealed a third D.C. show at the 9:30 Club on June 12. These rescheduled shows come in addition to the band’s previously announced festival appearances at Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Forecastle, and more.

For a taste of the band’s live show, watch the band’s live videos for “Applesauce,” “Moonjock” and “Amanita” here. Filmed in conjunction with The Creators Project, the videos catch the band’s impressive stage show, which was aptly described by Pitchfork as “giant, gap-toothed Nickelodeon dentures on either side, a curved inflatable structure that resembled scorpion tails dipped in PAAS dye, a centralized TV running constant, blaring images. Basically, the cover of Centipede Hz gone widescreen.”

Earlier in 2012, Animal Collective released their 10th and latest album Centipede Hz. The band’s first record since 2007’s Strawberry Jam to feature all four original band members, Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin, Centipede Hz was hailed by critics as a return to Animal Collective’s experimental roots.

Animal Collective Unveil New Videos, Relaunch Centipede Hz Radio, Add New Tour Dates

Animal Collective and The Creators Project Debut New Live Videos
from Terminal 5, Relaunch Centipede Hz Radio

Photo Credit: Dave Lichterman

Band Adds Summer Tour Dates, New D.C. Show, Bonnaroo, Govenors Ball, Forecastle, and More

Animal Collective Tour Dates
(Pre-Order Links:
1/17: Newtown, NSW @ Enmore Theatre
1/18: Sydney, NSW @ Big Day Out #
1/20: Gold Coast, QLD @ Big Day Out
1/23: Melbourne, VIC @ Palace Theatre #
1/25: Adelaide, SA @ Big Day Out
1/26: Melbourne, VIC @ Big Day Out
1/28: Perth, WA @ Big Day Out
3/7: Boston, MA @ House of Blues*
3/8: Montreal, QC @ Metropolis*
3/9: Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall*
3/11: Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues*
3/12: Covington, KY @ The Madison Theater*
3/13: Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works*
3/15: Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Hall*
3/16: Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre*
3/17: Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theatre*
3/18: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue*
3/20: St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant*
3/21: Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theater*
3/22: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre*
3/23: Salt Lake City, UT @ Depot*
3/24: Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Fest
6/7-6/9: Randall’s Island, NY @ Govenors Ball
6/10: Washington, DC @ 930 Club – *New*
6/13-16: Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
7/2: Helsinki, Finland @ The Circus
7/4: Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival
7/11-13: Albany, NY @ Camp Bisco
7/13-7/15: Louisville, KY @ Forecastle

# w/Africa Hitech
* w/Dan Deacon

“[Centipede Hz] captures the sound of studio wizards who are once again ready to unleash some sweaty savagery on the live stage.”

Animal Collective have unveiled three new live videos preceding their North American tour, which starts later this week. The videos, a collaboration with The Creators Project, feature live performances from the band’s December 2012 Terminal 5 shows complete with psychedelic visual effects and overlays by Abby Portner.

The videos provide an in-depth look at Animal Collective’s live performance as the band prepares to head back out on the road this spring with labelmate Dan Deacon. In addition to previously announced dates, Animal Collective will also be playing an intimate, hometown show at the 930 Club in Washington, DC on June 10th. Pre-sale D.C. tickets can be found here. The band will also be playing a series of festival dates this summer, including stops at Bonnaroo, Govenors Ball, Camp Bisco, and more! Full dates above. For access to tickets and all the latest Animal Collective news, head to For a chance to win tickets and more visit The Creators Projects blog.

The band and The Creators Project have also relaunched Animal Collective Radio, which last fall counted down to the release of Centipede Hz. The weekly radio shows featured different band members and guests playing mixes, while exploring the creative influences of Centipede Hz. The final live installment premiered the entire album with custom visuals for each track created by Abby. These videos are now available again in full for the first time since the launch at

Abby, who dubs herself the “visual person” for Animal Collective, designed the Animal Collective Radio site and visuals with band’s stage production and live performances in mind. Both the site and stage production feature a giant mouth and Centipede Hz album visuals. You can experience the fully realized prismatic audiovisual experience come full circle for yourself with the release of the three live videos and the relaunch of the Centipede Hz Radio albums visuals. In addition, The Creators Project is giving away two tickets to select shows on Animal Collective’s Cetipede Hz Tour. A limited number of entrants will also receive the 10″ single for Applesauce and a complimentary tour poster. For a chance to win, head over to

Earlier in 2012, Animal Collective released their 10th and latest album Centipede Hz. The band’s first record since 2007’s Strawberry Jam to feature all four original band members, Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin, Centipede Hz was hailed by critics as a return to the band’s experimental roots.

Fergus & Geronimo – Funky Was the State of Affairs album review

The word “interesting,” ironically, may be the least interesting adjective in the English language. It pretends to make an opinion without really saying anything about the subject. To say something is interesting is to say that it captured your attention and held it for a certain period of time, long enough for you to think with at least a sliver of consideration and, hopefully, to form an opinion, but apparently not a very strong one. Interesting is lukewarm and does not communicate anything terribly precise.

In some cases, however, it can be the best way to describe something, especially if you are unable to gauge the reaction of others to that thing. It was the first word that came to mind upon a first listen of Fergus & Geronimo’s sophomore effort Funky Was the State of Affairs. From start to finish, the record truly is an interesting experience. Equal parts the Hives, Joy Division, Blur and Parliament/Funkadelic, Fergus & Geronimo delivers an insane tour de force of weirdness that seems to have covered enough bases to be enjoyable at times for anybody. The Texas-based duo manages to combine elements of psych-pop, proto-punk and funk, among many other styles and genres, to create an extraordinarily unique LP.

Spliced with spoken word tracks such as the opener “Planet Earth is Pregnant for the 5th Time” and “The Strange One Speaketh,” the ceaseless beats and grinding guitar riffs weave a musical journey which calls to mind DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing….. and the fuzzed-out euphoria of Animal Collective. “Earthling Men” takes cues from the controlled, delayed feedback of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, while both parts of “Wiretapping Muzak” owe a tremendous debt to ? and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears.” The driving bass and melodrama of “Drones” hark back to the post-punk Great Britain of Peter Hook in the 1980s, and the closing title track is every bit as fun as many Sly & the Family Stone cuts. The list of bands and artists that this record reminds me of, really, could go on for at least another three hundred words.

All told, Funky Was the State of Affairs is a superbly original release in a world where such an accomplishment is not as easy as it once was. Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly, the duo masterminds of the band, should be proud of this work, even if the spoken word tracks can get weirder than the music. An album like this comes along none too often anymore, yet releases like this, perhaps unfairly, are often overlooked. On Funky Was the State of Affairs, Fergus & Geronimo reflects its influences while creating something entirely new, the failed responsibility of many contemporary musicians. If nothing else, the album is worth a listen. If you’re interested.

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. 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

2012 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival review – Part I

There is a moment of realization, an epiphany of sorts, which occurs to every person who turns off I-24 in Manchester, Tennessee, to enter a 700-acre farm in the heat of the summer. Maybe you have traveled seven hours in the back of a Hyundai hatchback with inadequate space for a young child, much less a college student and a week’s worth of camping supplies. Maybe you packed enough to sustain yourself on the back of a motorcycle and rode from California, with a breakdown in Texas being the only true hindrance. Maybe you had it worse than that. No matter the circumstances, at some point between the security check and the parking of the car, the moment comes: “I am at Bonnaroo. This is it.”

The 2012 version of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, held annually in a city of 10,000 people, was sure to elicit that kind of response from all of the estimated 80,000-100,000 attendees. The headliners were sure to be killer, and the rest of the acts appeared set to impress as well. Best of all, perhaps, was the fact that, unlike during my previous trip to Bonnaroo in 2010, the temperature was not going to approach triple digits. So confident had I been in the prospect of extreme heat, in fact, that I did not bother packing anything with long sleeves and only had a light fleece blanket for the nights, which ended up dipping to the 50s and woke me up, almost on the dot, at 5 o’clock every morning. That was a lesson in preparation and assumptions, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Having fulfilled my volunteer obligation on Thursday, the first show my friends and I went to see was K. Flay. The spoken-word introduction to the first song by the female rapper was entertaining, but after a few minutes we decided to move on to The Dirty Guv’nahs, who were far more appealing to our musical sensibilities. Their brand of southern rock may have conjured images of the Allman Brothers Band post-Duane, and they excited the crowd with several displays of intricate guitar work before concluding with a cover of “Hey Jude” that borrowed more from Wilson Pickett’s cover than from the Beatles’ original. Rousing in either case, of course.

Kendrick Lamar was the next show on our agenda, and the young rapper delivered a high-energy set that acted as an excellent set piece for the rest of the weekend. The show not to be missed on Thursday night, however, was Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard’s vocals pulsated throughout This Tent, getting the crowd bobbing to a string of songs that included the single “Hold On” and the namesake of their debut effort, “Boys & Girls.” The group, which sounds eerily like Janis Joplin ditched the Holding Company for the Bar-Kays, rocked the crowd until after midnight before closing with “Heavy Chevy.” Desperate to catch up on as much sleep as possible, we returned to our campsite with the same vigor with which a restaurant patron goes to the restroom following the appetizer. Our palates were whet, and we thought we were ready for what was to come.

What came, of course, was the aforementioned near-frostbite at 5 in the morning followed almost immediately by full-on greenhouse effect inside our tent which caused the abandonment of blankets and superfluous layers of clothing. Unable to sleep past nine in the morning, much time surrendered itself to endless Frisbee tossing and vain attempts to light charcoal. When we finally ventured to Centeroo, the main concert area, the first full show we took in was that of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, whose soulful timbres brought listeners back to the 1960s. The band, a seamless extension from Alabama Shakes the previous night, was extremely tight and carried a feel-good atmosphere with them throughout their performance.

Next on What Stage was the punk-grass outfit the Avett Brothers. The group, hailing from Concord, North Carolina, and led by brothers Seth and Scott Avett, has built a reputation on their blistering live shows, and this was no different. They sent the audience into a sing along-induced frenzy with live staples such as “Will You Return?,” “Paranoia in Bb Major” and “Laundry Room.” The Avetts also included two covers in a tribute to the recently-deceased Doc Watson, “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues” and “Down in the Valley to Pray,” before closing with the seemingly million-beats-per-minute “Talk on Indolence.”

Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, delivered an excellent set in That Tent which included the baroque-dancepop hit “Cruel” and “Cheerleader.” The most highly-anticipated show of the night for most, however, came when Radiohead walked onto What Stage at 10 p.m. and blazed their way through “Kid A,” “The Daily Mail” and “Karma Police” before engaging in two encores, the last of which included “Reckoner,” which Thom Yorke dedicated to the next night’s headliner, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and “Paranoid Android.” The video screens surrounding What Stage, which typically focused on one entire performer or a section of a group, instead showed extremely zoomed-in shots of, for instance, Johnny Greenwood’s guitar or Thom Yorke’s mouth. This disregard to help the audience in the far reaches of Centeroo to see anything seemed like such a Radiohead move, however, that we were not even angry. How could we be? The group met our expectations and then some, and their live presence was big enough to fill all of Coffee County and beyond.

A quick stop by The Word, which featured Robert Randolph and the North Mississippi Allstars, yielded much enjoyment, and though most of the audience was older than the stereotypical Bonnaroo attendee, there was a place for everyone at Randolph’s dinner for the soul. His virtuosity on lap-steel guitar was in full effect, and seasoned keyboard player John Medeski complemented the gospel-influenced song structures that seemed to serve exclusively as frames inside which to jam extensively.

Black Star
, the hip-hop brainchild of Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), raised the proverbial roof off That Tent with a set list that incorporated songs from both Black Star albums to date. The collaboration played to each MC’s strong points, as the Kweli’s ebb balanced nicely with Bey’s flow, as has often been the case in the last fifteen years.

Following Black Star was the final performance of my night, that of experimental Los Angeles DJ Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus. Alice Coltrane’s great-nephew shaped his way through selections from Cosmagramma, including a powerful take on “Zodiac Shit” which mesmerized the crowd and gave the hearts of everyone nearby palpitations. Ellison’s perhaps surprising stage presence was on display as well, in one instance playing through an entire verse and chorus of the Jackson 5’s seminal Motown hit “I Want You Back,” with which everyone sang along before he spun it into a separate web altogether, and, on a different occasion, pausing mid-track with a simple request: “Whisky…I need whisky…”

Two days gone, and I already felt like I had journeyed a thousand miles. I certainly looked that way as well, with mud and dust coverage reaching a peak on my legs and no proper means to shave. There were a few issues with the event up to that point as well: first, the scanning wristband system which Bonnaroo has only recently employed seemed to have caused tremendous delays in the lines going into Centeroo, so we had to adapt to that if we were going to arrive on time to desired shows. Second, a common problem with any reasonably-sized festival is concurrent sets of acts one desires to see. Third, we were wholly confused with stage and tent names. It did not seem as though we would be able to ask where an act was performing without getting a question in return. Finally, we were running low on Pop-Tarts, and we had forgotten bag clips to close our bulk Frosted Flakes. Somehow we would have to navigate our way through these crises because there were two full days of music ahead, and because we would not get adequate sleep to deal with it in an appropriate fashion, we knew better than to worry and instead enjoyed the comfort of our dirty, dewy mattress pads.

The Decemberists – iTunes Sessions review

The latest EP from indie folk rock band The Decemberists, is pure roadtripping music. The Ep opens  fast and upbeat with “Calamity Song”, that makes you want to jump in your ride and head to the lake. “Calamity Song” was reworked from the band’s most recent album, “The King is dead” and comes along with two other tracks from that album, “June Hymn” and “This is why we fight”. I loved the pace of “Calamity Song” but absolutely adored the harmonies of the latter two songs, as lead singer Colin Meloy’s voice mesh’s so well with the melodica of Renaissance Woman Jenny Conlee. They truly know how to harmonize and the songs both have a hopeful feel to them; “June Hymn” welcoming summer, and “This is why we fight” insinuating “freedom” as an outcome. Hope and Freedom; two themes that are integral to any roadtrip.

The Decemberists give us a bit of a history lesson on the menacing and eerie reworking of “Shankill Butchers” that was originally featured on 2006’s “The Crane Wife”. The Shankill Butcher’s were a Northern Ireland Loyalist gang during the 1970’s that were most infamous for their late night abduction, torture and murder of random Catholic Civilians. The Decemberists have turned this horrible recent history event into quite a beautiful song that sounds like something mothers in victorian times would sing to their children as a warning to be good. But similar to “innocent” children’s songs like “Ring around the Rosie” there is a real gruesome story behind the warnings in Colin Meloy’s chilling vocals. The Shankill Butchers tale would be a great creepy story to tell around a campfire that any good roadtrip most certainly would lead to.

Six of the 8 songs on the EP listeners will remember from the band’s 10 year discography, but two they will recall because they are covers. They rock out with the Fruit Bats “When U Love Somebody” and give it a really fast-paced blue-grassy tempo and I was bobbing my head to John Moen’s upbeat drumming. The other is Leonard Cohen’s, “Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye”. The sound is a little more country than the original, especially with the inclusion of Chris Funk’s slide guitar and Nate Query’s fiddle. The band put a bit of twang in it, but they did the adept poetry of Leonard Cohen justice, and I liked listening to the song. Any roadtrip playlist has got to have some twang to it right?

This EP is crisp, full, and well rehearsed, and sounds great as it was recorded live in their L.A. studio. I’ll definitely be playing this on my upcoming Californication roadtrip this September. Won’t you?




The Decemberists have announced the release of their exclusive iTunes Session on August 2 with pre-order available today. The 8-song set plays like an informal retrospective with new versions of songs that span The Decemberists’ entire 10 years, from their very first EP 5 Songs (“Shiny”) through their new chart-topping album The King Is Dead (“Calamity Song,” “June Hymn,” “This Is Why We Fight”). The set also includes songs from The Crane Wife (“Shankill Butchers”) and The Hazards Of Love (“The Hazards Of Love 4 (The Drowned)”), as well as covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” and Fruit Bats’ “When U Love Somebody.” The pre-order for the session launched today on the iTunes Store with “June Hymn” available instantly upon purchase.

The iTunes Session also serves as a potent reminder of the band’s strength in a live setting. Recorded live in a Los Angeles studio, singer/guitarist Colin Meloy, guitarist Chris Funk, keyboardist/accordionist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query, and drummer John Moen were joined by touring band member Sara Watkins, who contributes background vocals, fiddle and guitar.

The track listing for the iTunes Session is as follows:

1. Calamity Song

2. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

3. Shankill Butchers

4. June Hymn

5. This Is Why We Fight

6. Shiny

7. The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)

8. When U Love Somebody

# # #

The Decemberists’ The King Is Dead debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 after its release in January. The album—a profoundly simple set of 10 concise country-inflected songs produced by Tucker Martine and featuring guests Gillian Welch and Peter Buck—was also recently selected by NPR Music listeners as the #1 album in a poll of the best music of the year (so far). See below for a full list of upcoming tour dates or visit The Decemberists’ website.

July 19, Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, OR^
July 20, Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, ID^
July 21, Twilight Concert Series, Salt Lake City, UT^
July 22, Big Sky Brewery, Missoula, MT^
July 25, Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL~
July 26, Nautica Pavilion, Cleveland, OH~
July 27, Kresge Auditorium, Interlochen, MI~
July 29, Borgata Event Center, Atlantic City, NJ~
July 30, Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI
July 31, Mountain Park, Holyoke, MA+
August 1, Artpark, Lewiston, NY~
August 3, nTelos Wireless Pavilion, Charlottesville, VA~
August 4, PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music, Cincinnati, OH~
August 5, The Lawn @ White River State Park, Indianapolis, IN~
August 6, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN-
August 8, Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre, Austin, TX-
August 9, ACL Live at The Moody Theater, Austin, TX
August 11, Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ=
August 12, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA*
August 13, Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, San Francisco, CA
August 22, Marymoor Amphitheater, Redmond, WA#
August 23, Malkin Bowl, Vancouver, BC#
August 25, McMenamins Edgefield Winery, Troutdale, OR%
August 26, McMenamins Edgefield Winery, Troutdale, OR@

^ with Typhoon
~ with The Head and the Heart
– with Caitlin Rose
+ with Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
= with Sara Watkins
* with Wye Oak
# with Okkervil River & Fruit Bats
% with Okkervil River & Point Juncture, WA
@ with Okkervil River & AgesandAges

Peter, Björn and John – Gimme Some album review

“Gimme Some” cover art is simple foreshadowing

Peter Björn and John’s sixth album, titled “Gimme Some” involves some hard-learned lessons about break ups and mistakes in love and moving on. That’s where “Tomorrow Has to Wait” and “Second Chance” come in. The two tracks need “Dig a Little Deeper,” to round out the trio of songs that have a distinct sound, more unique than the rest of the album. Imagine guitar backgrounds as light as cotton-candy. They are ear-pleasing, sing along kind of tracks that get inside of your head and live there because you’d know them anywhere. The songs of movie trailers (face it, they’re responsible for “Young Folks”) and television commercials.

You can get into “Gimme Some” and ride back in time. I couldn’t stop the ‘80s and ’90s movie montage from it’s progression in my head.  Scenes from the movie Footloose (when “Eyes” came on) and Sixteen Candles were most definitely included in the mental montage at some point.

Gimme’s songs have vibes are trained on the relationship world. There are tracks toting lyrics with some of the stuff that break ups should be made of and the same recipe people use for getting over someone they liked, loved or just got done with, without the whining.

PB&J just keep it real with the kind of songs one might adopt for their life anthem or personal theme song, lifted by the sound and dynamics, but strengthened by the message, “You can’t, can’t count a second chance; a second chance will never be found,” from “Second Chance.” Words to live by, that’s true about life, but here, you get to learn your lesson with some smooth vocals in the background. Even if you’re not bettering yourself, you’re still singing. What’s more, if you don’t pick up the lyrics perfectly, PB&J give you a little something (a call and response or an ooh-wee-ooh or two) to grab onto.

One of the Swedish band’s influences, Per Sunding of Eggstone is named as a producer on the album. Once you pass the third track, the songs pick up a drum tempo that sticks until the final track, but the sounds of the guitar won’t leave you lonely and neither will vocalist Peter Morén’s voice.

You want PB&J to give you some, something else, but you’re not completely upset that what you were waiting on was in the first three tracks. The dreamy vocals and guitar are an awesome pair (like, peanut butter and jelly, who would have thought) and drum the drums complete the package take care of you, especially at the tail end of some tracks that ride out sans-vocals, allowing  a deeper appreciation of the instrumental mix.

Put this on when you want to sing about love, life and filling in the blanks.