The Golden Echo: Kneebody + Kimbra and Tiny Hazard Take (le) poisson rouge

By E.R. Pulgar

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The crowd piled into the arena-like dome of what is (le) poisson rouge’s basement venue at 6:30. Marked by dim lighting and open standing space, the venue seemed the perfect place for an intimate jazz set.

Kneebody, the show’s headliners, are a jazz band renowned for their experimental instrument use, and Kimbra, their Grammy-winning guest performer, is another artist known the world over for drawing from a variety of genres and delivering eclectic performances. Needless to say, those seeking a mixed bag of musical influences helmed by several talented musicians were not disappointed.

Tiny Hazard were the first to take the stage with their vocalist, Alena Spanger, a vision in yellow; the love child of Grimes and Florence Welch. Her light, crisp voice floated over the music and echoed throughout, an impressive feat considering how intensely the other members were playing. The drumming, reminiscent of a giant stomping through the forest, was made more mystifying by Spanger’s delivery, which sometimes proved fragile, but would suddenly dive into belting, showcasing an impressive range.

During “In A Little House,” Spanger’s swift changes from the higher altitudes of her range proved impressive, matching the near-overbearing intensity of Ryan Weiner’s guitar and Ronald Stockwell’s drumming. Halfway through the set, technical difficulties and distractions that would have crippled any amateur musicians were relatively ignored by the band, who were so into their performance that they could not be bothered to stop, until a crew member jumped onstage. With a versatile voice at its helm and an unparalleled musicality for a relatively new band, expect this ‘Tiny Hazard’ to grow into a force to be reckoned with.

Kneebody came onstage soon after Tiny Hazard finished their set, with bassist Kaveh Rastegar cracking jokes and lauding the openers for getting through their technical issues. Their exceptional saxophone player, Ben Wendel, and trumpet player, Shane Endsley, led most of the songs in the repertoire, coming together in seamless harmonies. What they lacked in a vocalist they more than made up for with high energy and passionate musicianship. “Uprising” was a particular highlight, with Endsley featured in a trumpet solo that left the room speechless.

Finally, around 9, entered the fray. Donning an all-black ensemble, an intricate gold necklace, bright red lipstick and a leopard-print, she looked the part of a front. Kimbra flaunted her impressive range while playing the synthesizer through what can only be called a vocal acrobatics; scatting, belting, and even changing her voice through synth effects, she transcended the music. The set’s high point was “Love in High Places,” where she took full advantage of Kneebody’s presence to put a jazzier spin on her Lykke Li-esque track. It was here where the teamwork between the musicians was most evident, Kimbra swaying to the music and Kneebody playing to a fervent crowd. Between Kneebody, Kimbra, and Tiny Hazard, both jazz and experimental music have experienced a revitalization that shows no signs of slowing down.

E.R. Pulgar is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com 

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Milo presents a more mature self on “A Toothpaste Suburb”

By Kieran Graulich

Via LA Weekly

Rory Ferreira, better known as ‘Milo,’ has recently been making considerable noise in the west-coast hip hop scene. His first few projects, “I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here” and “Things That Happen at Day/Things That Happen at Night” set him apart from the new-age self-made internet rappers with his contemplative, philosophical lyrics and atmospheric production. Earlier this year, he announced the release of his first studio album, after landing a deal with Hellfyre Club, “A Toothpaste Suburb.”

Milo’s debut full length is another foray into his own introspective psyche; obscure references, philosophy, abstract concepts pepper “A Toothpaste Suburb.” However, right from the start of the album, listeners are also presented with a more mature Milo. When he kicked off his career, he was a 19-year-old college student, still learning about himself and the world. Now, at 22 years old, Milo’s grown up a bit. “ A Toothpaste Suburb” contains much more mature themes: responsibility, marriage, death, love, and regret come in where Milo’s sense of fantasy and youth has dissipated. Whereas “Sweet Chin Music”, the opener to Milo’s 2013 EP “Things That Happen at Day” contained the line, “I’m just an awkward little boy still,” “Salladhor Saan, Smuggler” the opener to “Suburb” preaches, “I learned to become a man again/I learned to become a mannequin”.

Though the childhood is in the past, Milo’s sense of absurdity and humor has long from faded. Milo proves that he still has a mastery over thought provoking, self-deprecating slogans for the Internet generation, as well as abstract and ludicrous humor. The hook on the single “Argyle Sox (Hellfyre 5ever)” done by Milo’s Hellfyre companion, Busdriver, shows this perfect balance between the absurd and the serious. “It’s knighted at the roller rink/Y’all know we overthink/And so we keep them argyle socks on argyle socks on argyle socks,” Busdriver recites in between Milo’s deliberation on Chinese philosophy and BET. It’s fan pleasers like “Argyle Sox” and “Peanut Butter Sandwiches” that prove that Milo still has his unique touch.

Among tracks you would expect from on “Suburb,” however, Milo proves he has some new tricks up his sleeve. Towards the latter half of the album, Milo unleashes “Just Us,” a song dedicated to his late brother (or friend, it’s never really specified), Rob, and it’s the album’s emotional climax. He discusses his self-hatred, his friendship with Rob, and how he feels guilty for the fame he’s amassed while Rob is dead. In conjunction with the eclectic and fuzzy production featured across the album, the tribute is an emotional powerhouse.

Yet, in the middle of these highlights, there are some tracks that either blend together or don’t stick around long enough to leave an impression. Songs like “Sanssouci Palace” and “Thatness and Whatness,” though filled with interesting and ideas and motifs, aren’t developed enough to justify their place on the album.

Despite certain lulls in the album, “A Toothpaste Suburb” is exactly what one could hope for in a full-length Milo record: thought provoking, abstract, memorable, weird, and incredibly fun. The road trip through Milo’s suburb, though a strange one, is a journey that will keep listeners coming back for a long time.

Kieran Graulich is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Mø riles up sold-out Webster Hall

By Matthew Mahoney

Via Pitchfork

At around 9:15 on Thursday, September 25, the lights went down at Webster Hall and members of Danish indie-electronic pop singer Mø’s band began to trickle onto the stage, which was illuminated by a projection. As the keyboardist and guitarist took their positions, the drummer began the frenetic drum beat that kicks off “Maiden,” Mø’s debut single, released in May 2012, that propelled many to hail Mø, which is Dane Karen Marie Ørsted’s stage name, as the latest darling of the indie-pop blogosphere.

After a minute of this ferocious drumming, which was synced up with powerful strobe lights, Mø emerged wearing a flowing patterned shawl, black shorts and black shoes, her hair done up in a messy bun, with much of the hair escaping the bun and cascading down the side of her face. Mø’s dramatic hairdo was outlined dramatically by the ever-changing array of short clips featuring a collage of videos geared toward each song. After greeting the sold-out crowd, the singer launched into several other numbers from her debut album “No Mythologies to Follow,” which was released this past March, including Diplo produced “XXX 88” and the pulsing “The Sea,” after which Mø shed her outer layer of clothes revealing a skin-tight nude crop top and silk boxing shorts. On “XXX 88” a trio of horn players emerged to accompany the first of several tracks that included an infectious horn section.

Most of Mø’s songs are mid to high tempo and danceable; however, the Dane slowed the set down briefly to perform “Dust Is Gone” with an accompanying sunrise playing on the projector. On “Slow Love” she waded into the front of the crowd and proceeded to march to the back of the room and performed the rest of the song standing on the bar. This was not Mø’s only foray into the audience; she disappeared backstage during “Never Wanna Know” and reemerged to the audience’s surprise on the balcony, where she wandered around until the song concluded. On the pulsing closer of the main set “Glass,” Mø marched amidst the audience chanting, “Why do everyone have to grow old?” Other songs included in the main set were singles “Pilgrim,” “Waste of Time,” and “Walk This Way.”

The band returned for an encore, which opened with a crowd-favorite cover; “Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls. The set closed with “Dance With Nobody,” during which Mø cast off her shoes and began crowd surfing. Overall, the show was quite energetic made all the more exciting due to the amount of interaction Mø had with the audience.

Matthew Mahoney is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Panda Bear provides eclectic, versatile performance at Irving Plaza

By Kristian Brito

Via Pitchfork

On Sept. 23, Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox brought his solo Panda Bear project to Irving Plaza to roll out an hour-long set of new music, in preparation for the release of his upcoming fifth record, tentatively — and tellingly — titled “Panda Bear vs. the Grim Reaper.”

The set, most of which one can justifiably assume will appear on the new record, signaled a definite shift forward from the airy sampledelic sunshine pop of 2007’s acclaimed “Person Pitch” and 2011’s starker “Tomboy.” Instead taking cues from the cartoonishly ominous title, the as-of-yet unreleased music emerged as some of the most rhythmic and emotionally conflicted music Lennox has produced.

Rest assured, Lennox hasn’t abandoned his distinctive merger of Beach Boys pop melodies with more avant-garde impulses, but the most distinctive characteristic of his new songs was often their reliance on alternating anxious and uplifting rhythmic thump. If not exactly a formal foray into the club music scene, the sound got the crowd of college-aged indie kids moving in a way not normally associated with Panda Bear’s prior releases. Fortunately, Lennox’s gift for uplifting pop melody remained undiminished.

While the lyrical content was predictably difficult to hear in the live setting, the few snatches of coherent lyrics included: “are you there??” “like a sinking ship,” “have some common sense,” which were alarming in their intimations of disillusionment and browbeaten insecurity quite unusual for Lennox to confront head on.

A hymn-like track that came in the middle of the set, devoid of a defined rhythmic pulse and punctuated by gorgeous descending harp sounds and a resigned melody, saw Lennox repeatedly singing of someone who “can’t come back/ won’t come back to me” before slowing to a dark crawl. Whether about a loved one or some more abstract sense of youth lost, the tone of the track was unmistakably more sobering than you’d have expected from the creator of joyful tracks like fan-favorite “Bros,” which he neglected to perform that night.

However, this isn’t to suggest the concert resembled some depressive dirge. Following that slower track, Lennox launched into some of the more joyous and ethereal pop music of his career, effectively supported by a startlingly evocative video projection flashing lysergic images of candy, nightmarish women, and, yes, the Grim Reaper behind him.

Kristian Brito is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Middle school rockstars Unlocking the Truth at Webster Hall on Sept. 24

By Tsering Bista

Via SPIN

12-year-old drummer of Unlocking the Truth, Jarad Dawkins, walked out on stage as if he’d been playing venues like Webster Hall for years. Vocalist and guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse and bassist Alec Atkins, both 13, walked out after him with the same swagger, clad in complementing red and leather outfits.

Together, they comprise Unlocking the Truth, a metal band of minors with major skills.

UTT formed in 2007 and started out as performance artists in Times Square, until they went viral on YouTube. Just a few months ago, they signed a $1.8 million-dollar record deal with Sony Music.

With an impressive list of past performances, including opening for Guns N’ Roses and playing Warped Tour and Coachella, the trio’s talent finally brought them back to New York City to play Webster Hall on Sept. 24.

They started their set with “Take Control,” “I’m Sorry,” and “Made of Stone,” which were all powerful head-banging songs, but none were as memorable as “Free as You Wanna Be,” a track off of their new EP. Though Brickhouse’s vocals aren’t on par with his guitar skills, he, and the rest of the band, played with an aggressiveness and passion that did not dwindle the entire night.

Everything about UTT transcends their age. Their musical ability is unbelievable, their sound is thrashing and energetic, and their stage presence seems to come very naturally. During the middle of the set, Atkins jumped into the crowd, as fans surrounded him. From the stage, Brickhouse playfully rolled his eyes until Atkins got back into position; they made eye contact, smirked at each other, then leaned back to the music and rocked their heads in synchronization. The two were coordinated all night, performing in perfect harmony with Dawkins’ drumming as their foundation.

Towards the second half of their performance, Dawkins called all of the kids in the audience up to the stage. “We brought you up here because you’re the next generation,” he said and continued, “Never give up and do what you want to do. If somebody tells you you can’t be that person, don’t even listen to them, because I know one day you’ll be successful… and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

At that point, UTT’s skill and maturity were enough to mask the fact that they’re a band of 12 and 13-year-olds. But right before the band’s final song, Brickhouse stopped and said, “Someone farted on stage and I don’t like the way it smells. Yo, where did Allen go? I know it was you. Only your fart smells like milk,” and the audience was reminded that under all of that talent are three kids who still play video games and have to do their homework, after performing at Webster Hall.

As they left the stage and the packed venue applauded, the emcee shouted, “Give it up one more time for UTT! This is our future right here.”

Tsering Bista is a contributing writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com  

 

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The Black Keys pack Barclays Center for two consecutive nights

By Christian Scibetta

Via AllMusic

The blues-styled rock duo The Black Keys played at the Barclays Center on Sept. 24 for the second consecutive night.

Promoting the group’s ninth studio album “Turn Blue” the sound of the band has evolved from its origins of bare bones blues with Dan Auerbach as guitarist and vocalist and Patrick Carney on drums, to a more complex production including keyboardist, bassist and second guitarist performing on stage. “Turn Blue” is an emotional shift from the band’s Grammy award winning 8th album, “El Camino” crafting a more pensive, psychedelic sound compared to the pop rock timbre of the previous album.

After over ten years of playing and recording, The Black Keys have risen from the indie origins of a band once recognized by similarities to the White Stripes to one of the most popular rock groups in the US with “Turn Blue” charting at #1 the week of its release.

With their second night at the Barclays Center, the group packed the arena, opening with “It’s Up to You Now,” a faster tempo song from their new album. With such an extensive list of singles from the past decade, The Black Keys navigated across the spectrum of their discography following with the slow burning “Next Girl” off of “Brothers” and “Same Old Thing” from “Attack and Release.”

Dan and Patrick grabbed the attention of the massive stadium with some immediately recognizable singles like “Gold on The Ceiling” and the closer “Lonely Boy,” two major hits off of “El Camino” that have been appropriated in film and TV, as the band has reached peak recognition.

With their encore, The Black Keys played two more songs from their newest album “Weight of Love” and “Turn Blue,” a sonic change featuring the introspective draw of their latest work.

Ultimately finishing with “Little Black Submarines,” Dan took the Barclays stage under spotlight with acoustic guitar crooning the opening lyrics. With the turn of the song Dan made a quick swap back to electric for the energized and fuzz driven sound that The Black Keys have championed for years.

Christian Scibetta is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Mike Doughty sets hopeful vibe with “Stellar Motel”

By Alex Loverich

Via MXDWN

Mike Doughty is making his way back into the music scene with his cutting edge new album “Stellar Motel,” a twist between his hip/hop and alternative-rock influences. The opening track, “Light Will Keep Your Heart Beating in the Future,” sets a hopeful vibe that recurs throughout the album, alternating between spoken word/rap tracks and Doughty’s more signature bright guitar-based tunes.

Doughty is quite versatile and inclusive when it comes to his music, with featuring many underground rappers and even a cellist, thus creating a very eclectic selection of arrangements and sounds. Mike Doughty is not a household name yet, but his previous band, Soul Coughing, may ring a bell to many listeners. Soul Coughing was Doughty’s strictly alternative-rock alter ego, and developed a strong cult fan base, but ultimately took its toll on Doughty because of the personal and creative differences between band mates. However, Doughty, who formed the band during his time as a doorman at New York’s classic venue, the Knitting Factory, has broken the restrictions of a band by releasing “Stellar Motel.”

Doughty’s approach to making a crowd-funded album has fared him well so far, considering much of the revenue that went into creating the album was generated through pledges by loyal fans, in return for incentives such as recordings on microcassette. The fans’ contributions have paid off considering the quality of Doughty’s album. The mix of genres certainly may not be for everyone, but those who enjoy Doughty’s creativity will definitely attest to his skill as both a musician and poet; he was actually involved in slam poetry during his youth.

Whether listeners are a fan of Doughty or not, they cannot overlook his skill as a songwriter or his innovation as an alchemist of genres.

Alex Loverich is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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