Like a whale call bubbling forth from oceanic depths, Sister Crayon's 2011 release on Manimal Vinyl, Bellow, is an album dense with emotional weight.
"When I think of someone bellowing, I just see a sad, really powerful thing coming out of someone," explains vocalist Terra Lopez. "Years of an... exhausting type of feeling."
Bellow is an aural manifestation of such exhaustion -- a collective "bellow" from a group of Nothern California musicians who do not shy away from the fascinations which arise from darkness. Filled with trip-hop beats, soaring operatic vocals, distorted guitars, and delicate synth lines, the sonic universe of Sister Crayon is a varied and complex one. What holds consistent, though, is the band's fortitude, as they explore parallel emotional states through individualized experiences.
"A lot of the inspiration for the record came from us being on tour and us growing up the last couple of years on the road – [which is] pretty much in the most unconventional way possible." -- Ned Russin...
Amnesty International's 50th Anniversary is tomorrow, May 28th, and this is just a quick post showing off their latest promotional video in celebration of that. They certainly went a bleak route, full of gunshots and burning torsos -- but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It's been a while since we've done some First Thursday coverage, but now's the time to start ramping those up again! Go out tomorrow and see any of these lovely things:
BIG 100 ART SHOW
Chris Haberman and Jason Brown are hosting the Big 100 for the third year in a row....
Last night's Analog Playset custom toy show and action featured 25 custom robot toys by well-known Los Angeles-area musicians and artists, including Joe Ledbetter, Alex Pardee, and members of bands like Minus The Bear, Eisley, Circa Survive, Thrice, All-American Rejects, and Fall Out Boy. Andrew McMahon (of Something Corporate) held...
In 2009, Ben Sollee, with some help from Oxfam America, rode from his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, to Bonnaroo Festival, playing shows in small towns along the way. Later that year, Sollee embarked on a 500-mile, 16-day tour along the East Coast Greenway during the frigid winter months.
In 2010, as bands are increasingly partnering up with environmental and social justice organizations to bring attention causes they believe in, Sollee and crew have partnered up with Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe on a tour with a much more personal meaning. Their "Ditch The Van Tour" might have a name that implies an environmentally-motivated inspiration, but that is merely a perk. The main message Sollee and crew are hoping to spread is one of community-building and simply taking a slow breath in our hectic lives. Additionally, Sollee and crew are embarking on this journey with the idea that this could, in fact, be a viable touring option for bands. "Ditch The Van" is just as much business-minded as it is substance-minded.
When we caught up with Sollee on the telephone, he was riding an Amtrak train from Santa Barbara to Salinas, California. It was a brief respite for the group, so that they could continue the Northern California leg of their bike tour freshly recouped.
In 2009, Portland record label Marriage Records released Merrill Garbus' first album under the moniker tUnE-yArDs. The album was called BiRd-BrAiNs, and only one month later, Garbus was signed to 4AD, a reputable label known for their work with everyone from Deerhunter and Blonde Redhead to The Mountain Goats. With only one month of buffer time between her record release and her label signing, what was it about Garbus that captured the attention of such a huge label?
To put it concisely, Garbus is a helluva woman. Armed with a ukelele, free music editing software, and a digital recorder to capture samples with, Garbus created the lo-fi BiRd-BrAiNs in as DIY a manner as possible. She channeled the hopelessness from a particularly low point of her life into an experimental album – one which feels positive in its instrumentation but has hints of cynicism in its lyrical content. The album is chock full of rhetorical questions -- hypothetical what-ifs one might ask when questioning oneself.
"At a certain point in my mid-20s, I hit real rock bottom -- I mean, in terms of, feeling I wanted to exist on the planet. When I realized that if the choice was between dying versus doing something that made me want to live and made me want to be a part of the world, that was the obvious choice," explains Garbus. "And I guess through my music, I found that."
Two years, a new album, and a major label record contract. Floridians Mayday Parade have just released their sophomore album, Anywhere But Here, their first on Atlantic Records. Leaving their Fearless family behind, though, hasn't hurt them one bit. Shortly after the release of Anywhere But Here, the band co-headlined two back-to-back tours -- Fall Ball and Take Action Tour. In the midst of the indie pop band's rigorous touring schedule, Redefine Magazine caught up with Mayday Parade vocalist Derek Sanders to talk about the tour, the Atlantic Records family, and the band's new album.
March 2010 Interview
How does it feel to be on Take Action Tour, a tour that's supporting non-profits?Derek Sanders: It really feels great. Touring already is what we love to do and what we always want to do, and to add the fact that it's for a great cause and you're just doing something good every single night... [is] really kind of unbelievable.
What's the biggest difference between Anywhere But Here and your last record, A Lesson In Romantics?Sanders: Well, the biggest difference is our second CD is on Atlantic Records. That's obviously different than being on Fearless. And we're older. We've grown as people, as a band.
What was it like recording for Atlantic compared to for Fearless?Sanders: Atlantic was much more involved, I guess. Fearless kind of let us do our own thing, you know? They kind of trusted us to do our own thing and have our freedom. We recorded in a studio only about 45 minutes from where Atlantic is located. They're very involved with the whole process. Kind of a good and bad thing. In some ways, I guess you feel like you don't have as much freedom with what you want to do, but at the same time, you hope there's a reason -- that Atlantic knows what they're doing and that it's going to help out with the whole process.
Are there any things you wish you could change about the way the album came out?Sanders: Not really. There are a few songs that didn't get picked for the album that I kind of wish had been picked over some other songs. There is a handful of song we did that never ended up getting recorded.
Are we going to see these songs pop up on a future EP or live set list?Sanders: A couple of them we actually went and recorded as B-sides. There's a song called “So Far Away” and a song called “The Memory.” Both we recorded, and they're on iTunes. But there's even a few more we recorded that we haven't done anything with, so at some point, there may be an EP-type deal or maybe we'll hold onto them until it comes time to do the next record.
You wrote most of the songs on the album this time around. Are there any that are particularly close to you?Sanders: There are a lot, definitely, but probably the [closest] is the acoustic track on the CD, “This Time I Mean It.” It's about an ex-girlfriend. We dated for two years. We were actually dating up until the point we went up to New Jersey to record. Pretty much the first week we were up there to record is when we broke up. And it was really weird, because that song was written when we were still together. It was kind of interesting, going through the whole break up thing and then recording that song.
What are your plans after Take Action Tour?
After this, we're going to the UK. Then it's pretty much going to be non-stop touring up through Warped Tour. I can't say for sure where it's going to be after the tour with Madina Lake in the UK. Nothing's been confirmed yet. But it's going to be good stuff up until Warped Tour.
Scion Installation 5: Self Portrait Philadelphia Preview from Scion ART on Vimeo.
Whoever is Scion's Art Director or Head of Marketing is a genius. They always manage to sponsor extremely innovative art events to appeal to an audience that, in my book, probably wouldn't even be the ideal Scion-purchasing candidate, but...