Titling your sophomore release is almost as important as the music contained therein. Its purpose is to reinvent the persona without forsaking tradition. When mentioned, the follow-up name should take us to the same familiar feeling we came to know from the artist's first expressions, and hint at an approach that is new and refreshing.Jupiter Lion - Brighter Album ReviewFor the second album by Spanish band Jupiter Lion, the name Brighter is an emphasis on a highly synesthetic experience for their listeners. Of the many shapes and colors the band have put down on the record, it's safe to say that in comparison to 2013's Silver Mouth, Brighter illustratively self-explains that the band has intensified the metaphysical drift of their sound. But visualizing how their songs may appear as a picture on your mind is just a precursor; Brighter is also for those longing to visit the sector of outer space that you can only reach by surpassing five minutes in track length.

Austra's two sold out shows in Berlin are expressive of the band's massive appeal in a city that thrives upon innovative music programming, anachronisms of the 1980s, and advocation for LGBT acceptance. Touring behind the sophomore album Olympia, an effort that features all of the aforementioned three, Katie Stelmanis and company delivered a set of darkly emotional synthpop that did not disappoint either night. Classically voice-trained as a child, with a partiality toward gloomy themes, Canadian Katie Stelmanis' laptop dabbling resulted in Austra's 2011 debut Feel It Break, which achieved remarkable success. Now on Olympia, Stelmanis has not only dropped the bleak moods of the first album, but discarded the backing tracks in favor of actual instrumentation rather than computer-driven guidance. In doing, so the band now displays a more human presence, as Stelmanis has relinquished more freedom to the rest of the band to apply musical coloration to her robust voice. October 28th, 2013 @ Heimathafen Neuk├Âlln in Berlin, Germany

After their Earth Tour of 45 countries in 90 days, you might think the members of Horse the Band would loathe each other to the point of disbanding. After such a frenetic pace of travel, the close quarters of their interactions, and the meager financial compensation paid to them, what incentive is there to endure? To enact the Kauffman-esque humiliation upon their audience they are known for: that is the incentive. And now here in 2013, absent record label and foregoing a new album since 2009, Horse gladly take on bonus levels for touring outside of the US. It has become increasingly clear: American audiences no longer excite Horse, and our incessant need for retro gaming nostalgia is exactly what drove them to other shores. We could have been a bit more appreciative that they didn't always write lyrics about video games, and from our folly, Europe has capitalized. Along for this particular tour is UK band Rolo Tomassi, past tourmates of Horse who also call themselves admirers of the band. When asked about watching Horse address the audience on tour, keyboardist James Spence sums it up in a very apt description, joking that they are "a mixture of entertaining and terrifying." "Having spent a fair amount of time around them offstage," he continues, "it starts to make way more sense. I appreciate their honesty and that they're unafraid to be themselves at all times." The tour's Berlin date meant a brief homecoming before departing to Russia for Horse's Lord Gold (Erik Engstrom), who now calls Berlin home base. It would also be the end of the road for Rolo Tomassi, whose upcoming tour schedule has them visiting Japan and Australia this fall. Between the matched amount of enthusiasm for animated keyboard playing between both bands and Horse's outlandish hilarity, the show at Berlin's Magnet made evident that Horse's fun on tour is exponentially higher when not playing at home.
August 12th, 2013 @ Magnet in Berlin, Germany PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSH CONNOLLY (ROLO TOMASSI) AND MATT CARTER (HORSE THE BAND)

 

The short West coast tour pairing of Narrows and Retox answered the question, "What happens when supergroups and side-projects collide?" Can each individual entity within the group find content in wearing his new skin? Or will he shed it like a bloody husk once the tour is over to pursue past glories instead? As Narrows and Retox feature a smattering of individuals from the likes of The Locust, Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, and Unbroken, to name a few, your previous coveting of those names may implore you to read further.

 

Rotture -- Portland, OR -- 22 May 2012 Photography by Mitchell Wojcik

 

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