Swami & The Blind Shake Album ReviewInstrumental surf music has achieved a place in modern culture that seems to be at odds with its origins. The roaring breakers, the blue sky and the bright Californian sun suggest a music that should be joyous; however, within the lexicon of this genre there is an ever present dark undertow. It is this contradictory presence -- this sense of danger and even evil, that has, since it's emergence into the mainstream around 1961, given this music its enduring appeal. Bands like The Fireballs, The Spotnicks, The Ramrods and The Surfaris pioneered this unhinged, amped (oh yes, I am using original '60s surf slang here) celebration of the wipeout and the quasimoto. Their West Coast and Hawaiian sound, washing up as far away as the shores of the UK in the form of the Shadows, was popular throughout the world in 1960s and 1970s. The modern reinvigoration of surf rock is accredited by many to the use by Quentin Tarantino of "Bullwinkle Pt II" by the Centurions and "Surf Rider" by The Lively Ones in Pulp Fiction (1994). However, this peculiar and hyperactive music, that seems to go so well with murderous and terrifying imagery, influenced a good many bands much earlier, including the B-52s and the Cramps in 1980s. One thing is, however, certain: since Pulp Fiction this music has been overused in a great many media campaigns. Over the last twenty years, it has surfaced in adverts for everything from toothpaste to banks and, because of this, there was a distinct danger that this evocative music might just become a part of our culture's aural wallpaper and be stripped of any potency. Which brings us to the new album, Modern Surf Classics, by Swami & The Blind Shake. Both authentic and imaginative in its approach this album captures the spirit of the original music, whilst successfully recasting it for the 21st century. The combination of the propulsive and bombastic energy of Minneapolis' own psych punk combo, The Blind Shake, along with John Reis' instrumental brilliance, has produced an album that carries the listener forward on a groundswell of pure and brilliant energy.

 

Northside Festival
2014 marks the sixth year of Northside Festival, which is a three-day barrage of shows, both free and pay, across Brooklyn venues. On an annual basis, Northside does a nice job of including a range of up-and-coming bands across all genres in addition to the heavy hitters. Our favorites this year include some bands that are popular names on the indie tip right now, along with some garage rock staples.
Reviews by Ian King and Judy Nelson The War on Drugs @ 50 Kent (Sunday, June 15th, 2014) One of the most highly anticipated shows at Northside, with perhaps the exception of CHVRCHES, The War on Drugs have built a reputation as being an excellent live show. And these guys delivered. They were introduced as one of the "greatest American bands in the world" or some crap like that, which I think is stretch, but they sounded amazing. Seeing their rise to indie rock fame has been interesting to watch, especially since the departure of Kurt Vile and his separate rise to fame. Their show was solid, and they played a mix of songs from their 2014 album Lost in A Dream. Most of the crowd looked a little dazed, but perhaps it was a mix of the summer heat, weekend hangovers, or just general entrancement at the show itself. - Judy Nelson

This might come off as a bit fanboyish -- but Django Django is the best band you probably haven't seen live yet.I've made no secret about my love for the quartet from the English isles, and a cancellation on their performance at Iceland Airwaves only furthered my anticipation. Like everyone else in the Neptune Theater on a rainy Tuesday evening in Seattle, I eagerly waited and waited for Django Django's jangly take on psych-electronic influenced rock -- a wait which first began since KEXP started blasting "Default" nearly 15 months ago.
March 19th, 2013 @ Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA

Night Moves

Django Django chose Minneapolis-based Night Moves, fresh off of a whole lot of good press for the brand new band. The quartet, using a little bit of odd samples and pre-recorded instrumentation, looked like veterans for the crowd, channeling their inner-Portugal. The Man as they delivered a psych-rock set that would make any Deadhead proud. The band, however, isn't prone to senseless noodling; they kept their set nice and tight for an opener, and sounded much more polished than you would expect.

In the music video for Polica's "Wandering Star", Los Angeles-based director ELY (Eugene Lee Yang) unifies a strong grouping of contemporary dancers who one-by-one attempt to raise an elderly woman from her emotional slumber. As they engage the woman, who seems like an artist past her prime, she slowly comes to life once again, shared sensuality leading her to eventually participate in movement herself. The setting is raw -- with dancers donning bodysuits in a stripped room and projections shot onto white sheets -- but the music video's strength lies completely in its display of human intimacy and diversity of dance styles. Director ELY discusses the fundamentals of creating "Wandering Star" in the Q&A below. Polica's "Wandering Star" will also be featured at REDEFINE magazine's Motion & Movement In Music Video panel at Bumbershoot and MusicfestNW 2012. Director Eugene Lee Yang and producer Cathleen Cher will be attendance at Bumbershoot. SEE FULL DETAILS
 

Through the years, long-time collaborators and friends Lazerbeak and Minneapolis video artist Matt Scharenbroich have worked together to match their passions with one another's. In this feature below, we look back at their projects together, and Scharenbroich comments on his latest video for "Life Every Voice", which is a rippling animated delight that falls downwards through glitter and varying levels of psychedelic intensity.

 

INTERVIEW WITH MATT SCHARENBROICH CONTINUED BELOW
"The falling in the video could be paralleled with that of Alice falling down into the rabbit hole or the sensation of one's body falling into a dreamy hypnotic state. There is a certain freedom and release associated with this transformational and transcendent state. That release from the boredom and restraints of life can be incredibly uplifting." -- Matt Scharenbroich

 

Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography +...

I enjoy this video to no end, and it alone puts Low up 20,000 points in my book. For starters, IT HAS JOHN STAMOS!!!!!!, looking as fine as ever. The video itself is a throw-back to the days of black and white pictures. A romantic scene...

Minneapolis trio, CLAPS, has recently released two EPs back-to-back, on the ever-trustworthy Guilt Ridden Pop! label. For some reason, rising out of all of the forgettable bands in the synthpop genre, CLAPS just sits right with me, their '80s-inspired vocals and minimal synthpop occasionally reminding me of my favorite childhood videogames. Sure, that description seems fitting for about a million bands in the genre, but there's a little more to it than that with CLAPS.

Listen to "Fold" - DOWNLOAD MP3

With their latest disc, Wild Go, Dark Dark Dark has honed in on a vibe that is equal parts gypsy and jazz. Aided by dual male-female vocals and a complementary combination of strings, accordion, and piano, Wild Go is packed to the brim with content,...

If music were purely about aesthetics, then Hunting Club would win out in my book. The indie-rock quintet's The Plaid Album manages to poke a bit of fun at the lazy "color" naming scheme of Weezer while still out-nerding the band on their album artwork....