When Bonobo included Khruangbin's "A Calf Born In Winter" on his 2013 Late Night Tales mix, he placed the strumming, shuffling, soulful instrumental between some late night ambient classical piano and his own "Get Thy Bearings", a silken smooth soul jam with UK chanteuse Szjerdene. Somehow, it all made sense,...

Started in Beijing seven years ago, the Modern Sky Festival is now one of many big music festivals that take place across China put on by its namesake company, Modern Sky Entertainment. On the weekend of October 4th and 5th, Modern Sky took the plunge into the US market, starting in New York City, where you can't throw a rock on any given day without hitting some kind of festival.Modern Sky Festival 2014The weather, too, wasn't exactly cooperative. An outdoor concert in a Northern city in October is always going to be a gamble, and had Modern Sky taken place a weekend earlier, it would have basked in unseasonable warmth. Instead, less fortunately, the barometer ended up taking its first real dip into fall teh weekend of the festival, and a long Saturday morning rainstorm left puddles across Rumsey Playfield -- some of which were still lingering after everything wrapped up on Sunday evening.
Modern Sky Festival
Kiev Band Interview
Bands navigating today's music industry are prone to micromanaging and deeply scrutinizing their every career move, but Orange, California's Kiev are not so cynical. Guitarist and vocalist Robert Brinkerhoff -- who introduced himself as "Bobby" at the start of our phone interview -- believes his band prefers a "slow burn" approach, with grassroots, hand-to-hand fan interaction. Kiev's grassroots tactics, which they're perfecting while promoting their debut full-length album, Falling Bough Wisdom Teeth, entail "sticking to your guns and making music you want to make, and knowing that it takes getting people in a room. It means playing shows to all different types of audiences, and hitting the road. It means doing things you love, which for us means making live performance videos, sharing them, and hoping that people get turned on to them in a genuine way and want to share them, as opposed to just being sort of click-bait or a sort of spectacle that gets popular really fast and then dies off really fast."
Candide - Don't Let Go EP Album Review
Heavily inspired by an extended trip to Berlin, Candide is the duo of Candice Strongwater and Adam Brodsky, who imported the city's European sounds to their home in Brooklyn, creating a brand of dark and sultry disco that is equally inspired by Rhythm & Sound as Donna Summers and Bee Gees. This could be the alternate soundtrack to the summer of 1977, if the disco clubs had acknowledged the paranoia and dread of the Son Of Sam running rampant, while still losing themselves in the sweltering heat of romantic dancefloor abandon.
On their newest LP, Electric Balloon, New York's Ava Luna offer a solid rock and R&B framework infused with the pulse of experimental music. The result is something they call "nervous soul" -- experimental rock that is as texturally interesting as it is emotionally invigorating. As soon as Electric Balloon begins, its simple grouping of rock instruments offers a cool, open, and vintage-inspired sound. With heavy power chords, musical interlude-tracing guitar licks, funky bass lines that make you want to dance, and a percussion section featuring everything from cymbals and tambourines to maracas and woodblocks, Ava Luna tap into many of the classic and modern rock instrumental mainstays that would be right at home on a Black Keys album and which (at least for me) cannot fail to please. Add to this awesome, soulful, R&B-reminiscent vocals by Carlos Hernandez and light, edgy female vocals that dart in and out of the album's gritty backing instrumentation, and you've already got a soundscape that is engaging all on its own.
In summer 2010, Gardens & Villa released their self-titled debut album on Secretly Canadian. Full of youthful imagery and metaphysical ideas, the record reflected the band's perspective of the world through musings on life, love, nostalgia, and nature, presented in ways that only the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed can. It was the work of a younger Gardens & Villa, relatively naïve and overly optimistic about the realities of being a musician in the modern age. "We'd never been on the road; we'd never really gone anywhere to make a record before. We'd never heard of Pitchfork or any blogs," explains vocalist and guitarist Chris Lynch. "Our vision of making music was, 'You make a record, and then it blows up, and then you're on the radio, and then you're huge!' And the reality of it was: some people like you, some people don't like you, and you have to tour for two years. There's no really 'making it' anymore, unless you're part of 1% of 1%." Gardens & Villa are playing REDEFINE's SXSW 2014 Unofficial House Party. Click here for details. Photo by Neil Favila 2014 has seen the release of Gardens & Villa's second full-length record, Dunes -- and while these same themes of life, love, nostalgia, and nature still resonate heavily with the band of brothers, months of relentless touring and eye-opening experiences have brought them to this current point, which is philosophically and musically evolved from where they were three years ago. They have matured -- and this maturation can be found in the change from the barebones simplicity of the first to the layered complexities of the second, as well as in the lyrical content, which is now far more difficult to decrypt. Both records still contain much that is celebratory and have a similar thread of emotional honesty -- but the difference is that on Dunes, what is honest, and what is real, feels less dedicated to enclosed emotions and memories, but more to how one interfaces with the multi-colored pastiche of interconnected human experience, on a larger scale. "The second record is a lot more realistic, I guess, and there's a little bit of melancholy in the record that kind of came out of so much time on the road and missing home. But there's also some beautiful elements on both the records that also came out of that time," explains Lynch. "Basically, I'm trying to say that getting older and touring a bunch wasn't all a bad thing; it was actually a good thing. It's kind of us discovering how we're going to do this and survive." "The time on the road [was us] realizing our dream," Lynch continues, "but at the same time, seeing our dream as this long, arduous journey that's not what we thought it was."
Focus on Plastic's groovy basslines and the squishy sonic silliness underlying this track, as colorful animations weave through neon worlds at hyperspeed. A curious cast of characters emerges to dance and swing around the occasionally displayed lyric, and this playfully psychedelic music video, illustrated by Dawid Krępski, is all too fun a journey. It pays homage to classic animations such as The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" and Pink Floyd's "The Wall", working well with every element of the song's quirkiness, even when it breaks down into its killer sax solos. Anything goes in this twirling dancey tango.
To pay proper homage to the musical grandness of 2013 and to usher in the new year 2014, we've once again decided to call upon our tastemaker friends to compile their favorite up-and-comers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Here, Gina Altamura and Van Pham of the innovative, multimedia-minded nightclub Holocene give us the scoop on Portland bands to watch (and see their 2012 list here. Those who are interested in the Seattle scene can view the picks of the stylish boutique shop and venue, Cairo, here.
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Aan __ www.facebook.com/weareaan

I've believed wholeheartedly in the exceptional talent of Aan's Bud Wilson ever since I first heard his emotionally riveting avant-rock back in 2009. Fast-forward to the present, and Aan is experiencing a well-deserved breakout year. After extensive touring -- including a string of dates with the Smashing Pumpkins -- the band is in top form. Even in mid-size nightclubs, Aan puts on a show fit for an arena with their sheer dynamism and technical skill. Bud is a multi-faceted crooner, capable of delicate romance and ferocious vitriol alike, and he deftly charts a course across this wide emotional territory: a map of Amor Ad Nauseum (the title of Aan's excellent upcoming debut LP). With the recent addition of Brainstorm's Patrick Phillips -- ecstatic West African-influenced guitar shredder -- to the live band, I can only imagine 2014 will be even more exciting for this group. - GINA ALTAMURA (Editor's Note: Aan will be playing Holocene's next film score series, Fin De Cinema, on Purse Candy and Philip Grass; they will be scoring the Japanese animation, Night on the Galactic Railroad. See more details here. Their next record, Amor Ad Nauseum, drops February 1st, 2014.) ++ SEE: ALL POSTS RELATED TO AAN

Phone Call www.facebook.com/phonecallsound

An incarnation of Portland's favorite disco sons, Strength, Phone Call kicks it up a couple of decades with their hard-hitting hip-hop beats, and introduces more assertive synth lines in lieu of Strength’s guitar-heavy grind. It’s unabashedly -- if not absurdly -- sexy, with plenty of space for singer Bailey Winters’ charismatic swagger to shine through. There’s a little Prince, a little JT, and a gleeful dive into the deep reaches of boogie funk crate. Some wear your sunglasses at night/Miami Vice vibes or at least they’ll make you think that it’s getting a little hot in here... But there’s no mistaking: they’re here to make us dance, and maybe leave the place with somebody tonight. - VAN PHAM (Editor's Note: Phone Call play Holocene on New Year's Eve, with Le1f, Shy Girls, and PWRHAUS... along with DJ slots from Miracles Club and Radiation City. Details here.)

Natasha Kmeto __ www.natashakmeto.com/

Natasha Kmeto is a total badass. Unpoetic I know, but nonetheless the most satisfying descriptor for this futuristic soul diva. She's an expert at working a crowd, and as a solo performer relying on electronics, this is especially impressive. As a producer, her adventurous bass music is powerful and entrancing, while her vocal delivery is more captivating still. Her unabashed reflections on the vicissitudes of love and the trials of artistic ambition are belted out with incredibly authentic emotion, lending her music an immortal quality of spiritual resonance. - GINA ALTAMURA ++ SEE: ALL POSTS RELATED TO NATASHA KMETO + NATASHA KMETO INTERVIEW