It is a warm night in San Francisco -- unseasonably warm. The Great American Music Hall opens its doors for a double bill of veteran road warriors Gomez, who began their ride into the musical landscape over ten years ago, and newcomers One eskimO, who have a strong appetite for expression and experimentation. The Hall begins to fill with concertgoers in t-shirts and sandals, despite it being March in San Francisco. The air has a warmth that's almost humid, and it seems perfect for the milky, dreamy percussion and electronica-driven sounds of One eskimO. The bar tenders pour pints and mix cocktails while I meet backstage with One eskimO's lead singer, Kristian Leontiou, and percussionist, Adam Falkner. The mood in their green room is mellow, with a glint of excitement that becomes more intense as we talk.
I first ask about the popularity of their song, "Kandi." "Kandi" is now in rotation on mainstream, mass-market rock radio. But don't misread One eskimO's recent success; they are still very much an indie band with home-made, do-it-yourself aesthetics. Still, the fact remains that having a so-called "hit song" on mass-market radio can start to change things.

"'Kandi' is probably a standout song for us, but it's different from many of our other songs. I kind of see 'Kandi' as a doorway to our other songs. Many fans downloaded 'Kandi,' but they've come back for other songs," he says as he finishes his dinner, wearing what might become his trademark fingerless, grey winter gloves. He's an intense talker and keeps things going at a quick pace. He's excited about playing with Gomez this night, and remarks that, like Gomez, and so many others in the indie scene, One eskimO have been touring very extensively. "I think maybe in nearly a year... we've been back in England for only six or seven total weeks. But," he adds emphatically, "we're comfortable with each other."

Falkner quickly chimes in, saying, "We probably see each other as much as most husbands or wives."

One eskimO have recently toured with Bob Schneider and Tori Amos. They're playing Coachella and other festivals later this year. Their touring record might seem to put them in the category of alternative singer-songwriters, but the party atmosphere of Coachella could help categorize them more as electronic cross-over musicians. I ask if any of the other artists they've toured with resemble the category of music they think they fit into or whether they'd like to be affiliated with how those artists have marketed their music. "We kind of avoid genre and label. I don't know what we are," says Leontiou. "There are many different influences. But really, it's just us."

"We try to be honest and pure in our songs.... I think that's why we connect with others." Adam Falkner, Percussionist of One eskimO
ARTICLE CONTINUED BELOW

The title of The Tallest Man On Earth's second album, The Wild Hunt, refers to the phantasmal hunting party of Norse and Germanic myth, damned forever to pursue some unseen quarry as it rages across the sky, bearing an ill omen for all who see...

Don't look now, but Secret Cities, a trio (now quartet!) of music makers hailing from the Midwest, might have made the most enjoyable album of the year. Their debut, Pink Graffiti, is a laid-back, charismatic indie-pop album in the best sense, joyously constructed without being overly dramatic. This band is all about layers: layers of vocals harmonizing in and out, layers of acoustic, analog, digital sounds, and layers of lyrics that stick in your mind with the utmost poignancy. We got a chance to talk to the trio just as they finished touring the US about their album, about songwriting via snail mail, about the fact/fiction behind the movie Fargo and about how Brian Wilson is kind of a jerk!
What's the story behind Secret Cities? How long have you been playing together? Charlie Gokey: MJ (Marie Parker) and I have been making music together since we were kids. We met at band camp around 2001, kept in touch through the internet, then eventually started exchanging tapes through the mail. Alex [Abnos] joined around 2005 when we toured for the first time. I met him on the internet, and fortunately, it turned out he's not a murderer or a 50-year-old pedophile. Right from the start, we've never really lived in the same place. I only see Al and MJ when we're going to tour or record.

Can you explain the concept behind the album I've been hearing about? Gokey: I kind of forced this on everyone like a jerk. It's not like the whole album is about any one thing. There are just a bunch of songs about the relationship between people and music, the relationship between people and other people, and those relationships getting kind of mixed up. That sounds like an absurd, pretentious thing, but that theme just sort of developed naturally. When we were just starting to record the album, my girlfriend and I split up. Shortly thereafter, I saw that Brian Wilson was signing his new record at a nearby Borders. I felt compelled to go see him because I had written a little about him in college, plus certain songs he wrote were pretty intimately tied up with this relationship I had just gotten out of. When I actually saw him and tried to talk to him, I was shocked by how old he looked, how little he cared that I was trying to say something to him, by the reality of his personhood. After that weirdness, Brian Wilson became the central figure in my writing -- sort of an easy place to start in sorting through the intense emotions of that breakup and the process of making music.

Listen to "Pink Graffiti, Pt. 1" - DOWNLOAD MP3

"Get Out," the first video from Circa Survive's third album, BLUE SKY NOISE, debuted today. It's a live/studio clip, so it's not as conceptual as their past videos, but the song is raucous enough to continue to whet the appetites of audience as they all...

Las Rubias Del Norte's third album, Ziguala, seems to combine familiar Latin American elements, such as Spanish guitar, creaking underlying percussion, and clicking castanets, with a contemporary indie rock feel. The band's Spanish name makes it seem a little predictable in that regard, but in...

A week-and-a-half after returning from SxSW 2010 should be enough time to blend back into mainstream society, recover from strep throat, and map out my SxSW favorites. Yet unlike some of the other REDEFINE writers, who rambled down the West Coast and into the heart of Texas via a leisurely road trip, my trip is best summed up as three-day dance party fueled by free Red Bull and the knowledge that my trip was much too short, ultimately leaving me disheveled and confused. So here they are at their most honest: my Top Five SxSW Picks.

 

5. Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle

www.pollymackey.com
Meandering through downtown Austin, Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle were rocking out loudly and early, easily luring myself and a slew of other hungover weirdos into a random bar. Once inside, I realized that the band happened to be SxSW showcase openers getting in one last show, so I made myself comfortable between two heavily bearded men. Tip for the solo traveler: sitting between two largish, fully bearded men at a bar is, I've come to learn, the equivalent of going out with eight friends. I assure you: things will get cozy and familiar quickly. Meanwhile, the band was cranking out classic rock riffs with some kind of emo punk sliced in. Their high energy, combined with the multiple pitchers of Bloody Mary's making their way around, equated to an early morning crowd ready to party. What sold the show for me though, was their intriguing vocalist Polly Mackey. A tiny woman wearing the most unimpressed expression stood center stage, strumming her guitar with this huge voice that I overwhelmingly got the feeling she was holding back. Maybe the show was a fluke, or maybe it was all the facial hair in my way, but someone needs to tell Mackey to stop holding back and let that voice rip.

 

Somehow, REDEFINE had unwillingly gotten a subscription to SPIN Magazine last year, and I was recently perusing it when I stumbled across something really hilarious and ridiculous; SPIN had a "[15] Songs You Must Hear Now!" section, and numbers two, three, and four were various incarnations of Yeasayer's "Ambling Alp." Talk about hyping a band. I was convinced that the editors at SPIN would have ousted Freelance Whales' number one spot and actually put Yeasayer as numbers one, two, and three, but they'd felt too bashful about it. I mean, they have pretend like they have some unbiased standards, right? Well, let's parallel that with Tegan And Sara's latest Alligator LP. Apparently, remixes have reached the heights of popularity where you can now release a 17-track album, with 16 of the tracks dedicated to remixes of the same song. In this case, Alligator is dedicated completely to, well, "Alligator" off the duo's last album, Sainthood. And I guess when you enlist the help of heavy-hitters like Passion Pit, Holy Fuck, Four Tet, Toro Y Moi, and Ra Ra Riot, you can do that, and it's okay. The scariest part, though, is that if I were to be compiling a top tracks you should download list, I might even include three of the remixes off of Alligator on that list. That's how good these remixes are -- well, some of them, anyway.

 

I've always felt that the oversaturation of The Killers and The Bravery had signaled the end of newer new wave bands that were coveting bands like Joy Division, The Psychedelic Furs, and The Smiths with great success. But the simultaneous release of new albums from...

Fyfe Dangerfield, of the UK rock band Guillemots, proves to be very versatile in his debut solo venture, Fly Yellow Moon. The entire album has an eclectic ebb and flow and appears to mirror the relationship that Dangerfield must have gained his inspiration from. He...