With PSY having achieved billionaire/Bieber-destroyer status just in time for the holidays, here’s a mix of not-so-Gangnam s(e)oul jams to recap 2012 and usher in the new year. These aren’t quite for the club; they’re more for staying in — with your boo, or just you — and making it...
When I caught up with Midnight Magic in Portland, Oregon, it was a week after the band's original show in the city. They had originally been booked on a Halloween bash that was foiled by Mother Nature, who decided that hurricanes and cyclones should devoid Portlanders of the band's disco-funk-soul stylings. The make-up show, an Ekstasy-sponsored night co-thrown by members of indie house outfit The Miracles Club, took place at a relatively new dance club called The Rose Room -- and somehow, despite all the chaos, Midnight Magic managed to fly in with seven of their nine members.
I had read a handful of pretty mundane interviews on the internet which were basically fixated on simple facts about the band and went no further. Those publications discovered that some members of Midnight Magic moved from Los Angeles to New York together and that others were session players for Hercules & Love Affair and LCD Soundsystem. All that is fine and dandy, but for a band as fiery as Midnight Magic, I felt it necessary to break the mold and get to the bottom of who they actually are as human beings. On the tip of that iceberg was a simple question about their lineup. How and why is that worth it to them to have nine members? Don't they want to make money or find traditional music-making success or whatever?
I felt that answering the aforementioned questions would by proxy answer a lot of other things about Midnight Magic's approach to music-making and life in general. And when all seven members of the band were on hand and pumped to do a group interview, the band's inclusive and playful sound was translated into tangible real life vibrance.
To set the scene: the club itself was too small to house all of us, so we flowed through the emergency exit to perch in the stairwell, nearly locking ourselves out along the way. Keyboardist Morgan Wiley, the longest-limbed of the group, knelt in the center as everyone stood and sat around him. As there was no flat surface present, Wiley became the eagerly self-nominated holder of the recording apparatus, occasionally striking Backstreet Boy-type poses to make sure the microphone was within earshot of whomever was speaking.
His actions were charming, to say the least -- as was the entire interview. So though I usually opt for expository feature articles on bands, this nine-way chat (with seven band members and two journalists) was too rich with laughter, teasing, tongue-in-cheek statements, and all the self-help philosophies one could possibly want (or not want) to pass up a direct transcription. Doing so would have been a disservice to both band and reader, so both of those follow in the full interview below, along with many a hippie star dust quote spoken with full authenticity.
IN SHORT: "It's not your average Black Moth Super Rainbow Album."
In discussing early album reviews for Cobra Juicy, Black Moth Super Rainbow's de facto leader Tobacco called the album "the 1st bmsr I really got right."
It's an interesting comment, especially for a band who pride themselves on the reckless nature of their sound and their presence on stage. And then there's the fact that Cobra Juicy simply wouldn't exist in its current state if it wasn't for crowd-funding the project on Kickstarter. Especially considering the latter, there are certainly extraneous expectations surrounding the long awaited release.
See full album review
Attending Culture Collide is the easiest and cheapest way to feel like you have been around the world in just four days. When you watch two US bands open a show where groups from Singapore, Argentina and the Netherlands are also on the bill, you start to feel like the most worldly person on the planet. And night after night, numerous different countries were represented under one roof, giving people the opportunity to discover bands that maybe otherwise they would have not come across. Culture Collide deserves praise for making diversity the rule and not the exception. But if I had one suggestion for this young festival, it is to go beyond the comforts of the indie rock and electronic genres a bit. With bands flying in from countries like Peru and Estonia, it'd be nice to take the cultural schooling up a notch and invite bands who are giving new life to traditional sounds from their native countries. It didn't take long for American rock n' roll to start influencing music in other countries, but hopefully a festival like this will help more international sounds infiltrate the US.
SEE FULL FESTIVAL RECAP
When Brazil's Bonde do Rolê had to cancel because of visa issues, Los Angeles' Poolside stepped in to provide some tropical tunes and funky beats. While not as wild as Bonde do Rolê, Poolside were a pleasant addition to the outdoor portion of the festival. With the sun shining, the duo was accompanied by a drummer and second keyboardist, and provided a nice warm up for a full night of dancing. The main stage would later see Niki & The Dove and of Montreal. Instead of taking an aggressive approach to dance music, Poolside provided a relaxed atmosphere with mid-tempo melodies and calming synth lines. Still, you couldn't help but feel like you were whisked away to some exotic island.
At first look, anything that is described as minimal, whether it be architecture, music, art, or even a way of living, is often also characterized as simple. However, a deeper examination can actually reveal a more complicated and challenging story, which proves that minimal does not always have a direct relation to simplicity, and that minimal can mean different things to different people. Such is the case for Austin duo Deep Time, who on their Facebook page describes themselves as "minimal weirdo pop."
When the two members of the band, Adam Jones and Jennifer Moore, talk about being "minimal," they refer more to the literal meaning of using limited resources, as opposed to the more known term of "minimalist music," which is defined by the use of repetition, ambiance, and often, electronics. Unlike the latter, Deep Time's music is considered minimal because they play the game of figuring out how to give life to their complex ideas knowing that they are limited to what they can do between two members.
September 28th, 2012 @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY
Niki & The Dove
WRITTEN BY JUDY NELSON
With their debut album Instinct recently released in the US, Niki & the Dove were an apt opener for Twin Shadow. Lead singer Malin Dahlström is reminiscent of a modern Cyndi Lauper, while also showing serious deference to fellow Swedish indie star Karin Dreijer of The Knife. Gothic and quirky in the same beat, Dahlström had strong stage presence and a powerful voice to back up what might be construed as overly dramatic dance moves. Keyboardist and guitarist Gustaf Karlöf was a solid but quiet presence, contributing the occasional vocal and any extra instrumentation, ranging from the Maracas to the rarely-seen-live Chinese hand drum, the Bolang Gu (波浪鼓).
SEE FULL LIVE SHOW REVIEW
In its third year, Culture Collide Festival will be welcoming 63 artists from 25 countries to Los Angeles in the span of four days. Other than SXSW, there are very few festivals that consciously provide such an international scope of the indie music scene. And considering how common it is for international bands to come across visa issues, Culture Collide takes on an admirable task in the name of global harmony. The nice thing about the festival is that most artists schedule more than one show during those four days. So while you may stick to the big names for one night, you'll have plenty of opportunities to take a chance on a few unknowns that hail from a country across the globe.
SEE ALL 14 FESTIVAL PICKS
of Montreal (USA)
Saturday, October 6 - 12:00am @ The Echoplex
Sunday, October 7th - 8:00pm @ The Main Stage
It's pretty impossible to not have fun at an of Montreal show. This group is kooky with a whirlwind of pop, psychedelia, electro, and glam. And with six members, it's always a party on stage. There will probably be some costumes too, so just embrace it, don't ask questions. of Montreal have recently have recently released Daughter of Cloud, a compilation of 17 of Montreal recordings from the time of their Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? era to the present. The track "Hindlopp Stat" from the album is below, along with the tripped-out music video for "Spiteful Intervention", from Paralytic Stalks.
Bonde do Rolê (Brazil)
Sunday, October 7 - 5:30pm @ The Main Stage
Even if you don't understand Portuguese, Bonde do Rolê are so worth your time. Heavily hyped by Diplo, the trio is always out to start a sweaty dance party and is known for singing about having a crazy good time. The group features a female and male MC who roll quick lyrics over club beats that you'd hear in the US and a type of Brazilian dance music called funk carioca. Just remember, it gets pretty sweltering on the other side of the equator.
SEE ALSO: Bonde Do Role + DIPLO + BRAZILIAN ARTISTS & MUSICIANS
"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Two female-fronted records from Taken By Trees and Southern Shores offer their unique spins on tropical-influenced experimental pop and release their records on the same day (October 2) via Secretly Canadian and Cascine, respectively.
SEE: FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS
Taken By Trees
Victoria Bergsman, former frontwoman of The Concretes and the female voice on Peter Bjorn And John's "Young Folks", is now stepping into a new light with her newest project, Taken By Trees. Her debut record, Other Worlds, will be released on Secretly Canadian on October 2nd and highlights a sunshine-filled period in Bergsman's life, when the Hawaiian Islands and falling in love played a crucial role in changing her artistic trajectory. Two singles have been thus far released for the album -- the stereotypically dream pop "Dreams", with a music video you can see HERE, and the dubbed out dance jam, "Large", which you can hear below. On Other Worlds, Taken By Trees is innovative at times and derivative at times, but "Large" is a hint of Bergsman's better tendencies. Simply drawing from tropical influences is often not quite enough -- especially in this current tropical pop-saturated atmosphere -- but when tropicalia is slathered in manipulations and unexpected tendencies, that's when it really shines, and Bergsman does so well here.
Taken By Trees will soon be on tour with Jens Lekman, whose latest you can hear HERE. See full tour dates at the bottom of this post, and expect our full review of the record soon.
"Love in the world is very short/ Don’t look back," sang the Portland-via-Somalia Iftin Band. Their translated message wrapped up the Global and Mobile Pop event at TBA Festival 2012. The crux of the evening was indeed about not looking back, but about looking everywhere, in a celebratory program of global music paired with local savvy.
Co-curated by Portland's purveyors of tropical pop, Brainstorm, and self-proclaimed amateur ethnomusicologist, Christopher Kirkley of sahelsounds, Global and Mobile Pop strung together the work of musicians (foreign and domestic) in the African tradition, but with an Information Age twist. A triad of tall screens provided a data-rich backdrop with imagery evoking the foreign and the familiar: hyperbolic, color-saturated music videos hailing from West Africa; Safari windows devoted to on-the-spot search results piloted by local musician turned website jockey, Jason Urick; and a live Twitter feed soliciting audience participation, with all the facets of the microblogging world -- sometimes informative, other times insightful, or irreverent.
The music video for tUnE-yArDs' "Bizness" fluttered through the internet as a colorful extension of main lady Merrill Garbus' long-standing style of bridging movement, geometric facepaint, and playful insanity. It was Garbus' first video to reach the extreme masses, and it, along with the music video for "My Country", were directed by San Francisco's Mimi Cave. They are both exercises in give and take between dancer and creator, and spontaneity and choreography, and both give young children the opportunity to participate in a professional art project.
In the Q&A below, Cave speaks with REDEFINE about the creative process behind the videos, and we take a look backwards at the role of movement in tUnE-yArDs music videos through the years.
The music video for "Bizness" will also be featured at REDEFINE magazine's Motion & Movement In Music Video panel at Bumbershoot and MusicfestNW 2012. SEE FULL DETAILS