Diane Coffee - My Friend FishDiane Coffee My Friend Fish Western Vinyl (2013) Capitalists would have you believe that you need a million dollars and a luxurious studio to create a masterpiece. They would hate the fact that Diane Coffee, the solo project of former child voice actor and drummer for Foxygen, Shaun Fleming, was able to record this psych/soul/gospel-infused gem with pots and pans and detuned guitars in his New York apartment in two weeks, while recovering from the flu.

Kwes. ilp. Warp Records Kwes.' new album, ilp., is an immersive experience. It begins with "purplehands", a soundscape created out of found and captured sounds that have been processed and manipulated, and then added to with lingering musical notes. An aural walk in an urban park, complete with honking geese and hissing swans, this track morphs to become a song that is laced with memory and experiences. Something of a protégé, Kwes., or Kwesi Sey, has worked with such musical luminaries as Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn and Micachu. However, in a touch that signifies this artist's commitment to the personal and private, the biographical material accompanying this release informs us that his musical journey was kickstarted by a gift of a keyboard from his grandmother. A keyboard that he still uses. I find this emphasis entirely appropriate: ilp. is an album of personal ballads. Touching, intimate, engaging but always surprising and intuitively odd, each track is like a memento. Backwards echoes and unconventional multilayering effects offset charming and traditionally framed tunes that are sung, sometimes in a crooning, sometimes in a soulful voice. Behind classic phrasing and homespun lyrics, a palette of tampered, tempered and distorted sounds make up the musical accompaniment. Whether it is the childhood sweetheart recollections of "rollerblades"; the elegant and apparently analogous songwriting of "cablecar"; or the gospel clap and soulful elegy to an out of reach beauty that is "flower" -- this combination of both "pop and mad sounds" delivers an album that is both highly listenable and unexpectedly strange, without ever becoming overly obtuse.

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 is the time of year when one runs through the streets of the Lower East Side, hopeful that you will be able to get into a jam-packed venue to see your favorite band -- or maybe discover a band that you haven't heard of will become your favorite band. It's also the time of year for those of us who are not 25 or under try (in vain) to re-live our wild partying years, and for those of us that are 25 and under to stay up until 4 AM partying with the band that is sleeping on our couch. CMJ 2013 is one of the last of the big festivals of the season, so make the most of this indie music feast for the senses! Here are some of our picks for bands to put on your "must see" list:

Father John Misty

Saturday October 19, 2013 10:00pm - 11:00pm @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th St. Brooklyn, NY 11249) Having recently seen Father John Misty at Newport Folk Fest, I can guarantee this will be a good time. Otherwise known as J. Tillman, he released his debut album under the Father John Misty moniker in 2012. He plays a blend of indie folk and alt-country that is alluring to even the staunchest anti-country music fan, especially those that are into the recent trend of the classic rock throwback. - Judy Nelson

 

Shy Girls

Wednesday October 16, 2013 9:45pm - 10:15pm @ Tammany Hall (152 Orchard St. New York, NY 10002) Thursday October 17, 2013 8:45pm - 9:15pm @ The Delancey (168 Delancey St. New York, NY 10002) A unique indie take on soul and R&B mixed with electronica, Shy Girls were just covered in our Top Pops! section here. The Portland based project of Dan Vidmar has amassed a ton of media attention West Coast, and will attempt to do the same here in NY during CMJ. - Judy Nelson

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your dancing toes. Glasser graces us with her audio-visual explorations, Shy Girls croon their way into new hearts, CFCF gets slightly less theoretical, and more from Tezeo, Weird Owl, Club 8, Bam Spacey, and Hollow & Akimbo.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

Glasser - "Shape"

There are some artists I've seen live and, as a result, began to trust with utmost faith. Cameron Mesirow is one of those artists -- and this trust lies firstly in her live demeanor, secondly in her artistic style and collaborative pieces, and thirdly in her music on its own. There's a sense of neo-spiritual strength in Mesirow's live energy and the way she holds her head up high that is truly respectable, and a new Glasser album has been something I've been excitedly awaiting since the release of 2010's Ring. Interiors will be out this October on True Panther Sounds and will incorporate a number of exciting audio-visual projects, which we will get into more in-depth next month with our interview with Glasser. For now, the album's first single, "Shape", combines the same sense of mature groove and wind-blown seaside whimsy that Ring incorporated; and the lyrics are entrancing throughout, but it is with the lines, "In the light of the truth all I can do is bow," that the force that is Glasser shines through. Music video visuals by Jonathan Turner. While we're at it, let's also talk about the operatic vocals of "Design", which slip and slide over a rotating landscapes of minimal synthlines and drum exchanges. There is so much to love in this track -- and somehow the slithering sexuality of this music video, also directed by Jonathan Turner, makes perfect sense to me. Says Glasser about the piece: "I'm chasing after the next feeling. 'Design' is probably my favorite piece that I have ever written. It's a moment of joy that exists in the anticipation of ecstasy. Which is the better feeling? Both are delicious phantoms that we'll only ever glimpse again upon reflection of a new experience. This is my best attempt so far of trying on the phantom, wearing it as my clothes, possessing it as my own object." GLASSER - INTERIORS TRACKLISTING 1. Shape 2. Design 3. Landscape 4. Forge 5. Window I 6. Keam Theme 7. Exposure 8. Dissect 9. Window iii 10. Window ii 11. New Year 12. Divide
"I like music where you're not thinking about what a specific instrument is... an instrument-less quality. It doesn't come from a band, but from a whisper in the wind." - Cameron Mesirow of Glasser, of her upcoming record, Interiors

Natasha Kmeto Interview Photography by Patti Miller
Mystics throughout the ages have sought to express the relationship between birth, death, and time through all manner of ritual and philosophy. In Qabballah, we have the Supernal Mother Binah, who crystallizes Force into Form, thus making us subject to time and decay. In the ancient Greek religions, we have the story of Demeter, whose periodic descent into and return from Hades signifies the cycle of birth and death. And in astrological terms, we have the Saturn Return, which signifies the recurring point where the God of Time returns to the position he held on our chart when we were born. This last concept has worked its way into the modern Western lexicon to the point of cliché, but it serves the purpose of illustrating a point in our lives -- which happens around every 27 to 30 years -- when we are seemingly forced by some unseen hand into a state of brutal self-reflection. It is the mid-life crisis; the night journey; the start of C.G. Jung's path to individuation. Regardless of what we call it, this is an ordeal that most people are at least tangentially familiar with. Some event, possibly innocuous at first, becomes the source of friction that challenges us to engage our assumptions about who we are and what we are doing, so that we might make better use of our time on Earth. Now in her late 20s, Portland electronic musician Natasha Kmeto has felt the impact of her own Saturn Return and emerged from it all the better. Though not explicitly dedicated to the topic, her latest album, Crisis, is a highly personal record about love, loss, and longing that marks a maturation point in Kmeto's musical career. It has also lifted her from the status of popular local artist to internationally-renowned R&B singer and electronic music producer.
"It was my career that facilitated me traveling more and starting to experience different things in my mind, [so] that I kind of realized that the trajectory I was on was not the one that I wanted to be on. I kind of did a 180 and had to get really honest with myself and figure out what I wanted, because I wasn’t happy." - Natasha Kmeto

The more I look into Decibel Festival 2013, the more pumped I get about its representation of sounds -- classic, indie, techno, house, classical, disco; somehow this year's fest hits on almost every bit of my musical interests without becoming redundant. With so much going on, it is certainly hard to choose where to put one's mental and physical energies... so I've taken the liberty of choosing my top showcases for each day, to help those of you with passes to hop around gleefully, and those without to best use your money and time. Last year's festival featured some of my favorite shows of 2012; I expect this year to be no different. Happy tenth birthday to one of the best fall festivals around!
BROKE BUT WANNA GO TO DECIBEL? REDEFINE is currently giving away tickets to the upcoming Little Boots dates in Portland and Seattle! The Seattle date is a Decibel Festival date, which includes Little Boots, Light Asylum, Young Galaxy, and MNDR show at Neumos on Friday.
JUMP TO: WED, SEPTEMBER 25 THU, SEPTEMBER 26 FRI, SEPTEMBER 27 SAT, SEPTEMBER 28 SUN, SEPTEMBER 29

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 ___ BACK TO TOP

NOTABLE PICKS > FACTORY POP w/ Peter Hook & Light, ADULT., Nightmare Fortress @ Neumos > ABSTRACT EARTH PROJECT Wax Tailor, Blockhead, Little People, Rena Jones @ Showbox at the Market > HYPERDUB RECORDS Kode9, DJ Spinn, Ikonika, Jimi Jaxon, Zach Walker @ The Crocodile ***

* TOP PICK * Like Klockwork Showcase w/ Ben Klock, Light Years

Q Nightclub (1426 Broadway Ave.) – 9pm Doors / 21+ / $22 Advance or FREE with Decibel Pass Attend the Like Klockwork showcase, and you're pretty much signing up just to see Berlin's Ben Klock, for the man is going to be playing for three-and-a-half-hours. It's not exactly a feat as he has been known to play sets up to ten hours long – but this will be a rare treat for Seattlites looking for bumping techno at the relatively new and sonically well-equipped Q Nightclub. Klock, a signee to the well-reputed Ostgut Ton record label, is a regular DJ at the internationally-famed Berghain nightclub in Berlin, with the likes of folks like Marcel Dettman and label owner Nick Höppner. Dominated by steel and concrete and known for its extremity, the club is, in particular, a “platform for purist techno", according to Höppner. The techno Klock and Ostgut Ton churn out is one not just to be listened to, but experienced (for it's not every type of music that yields the types of quotes as the one on the right) – and as the days begin to turn grey and Seattle enters into fall, one can only hope that the dark, pulsing creative energies that Berlin is known for will seep its way into the way into the Pacific Northwest. Opening the showcase will be Australia's Light Year, who will, with his wide-ranging repertoire, flow from relatively melodious and vocal sample-driven house into more atonal sounds, easing listeners into the transition from sundown to techno night.

Jessy Lanza Pull My Hair Back Hyperdub (2013)Jessy Lanza - Pull My Hair Back Album Review - HyperdubIn the future, androids will cruise lounges looking to score with flesh-and-blood humans. When the couples will go back to their climate-and-dust-controlled apartments and begin pairing, the soundtrack that will start auto-playing in the background is Jessy Lanza's Pull My Hair Back. Like the Barry White of the cyber-generation, Lanza spins out smooth, sultry soul. Yet unlike White, whose deep voice anchored his music, Lanza's breathy, whispery soprano blends into the background, becoming another instrument in a silky sonic sheet you want to roll around in naked until the sun comes up. Befitting an album that will serve as the soundtrack to futuristic human/machine boogie nights, there doesn't seem to be an actual organic instrument on the album. Instead, the synthesizer and drum machine reign, and they manufacture a surprisingly warm and sultry soundscape — think Tangerine Dream all sexed up. At once spare yet lush, this is electropop with a brain — and a soul.

MusicfestNW 2013 began for me like every other MusicfestNW experience. I consistently respect the festival's curatorial efforts, which always yield at least a handful of acts I am excited about, and an even larger smattering that I don't exactly care for but greatly approve of from an objective standpoint. This year, however, I decided to take it preeeeeetty easy, both because I've seen many of the bands in the recent past and because I wanted to save myself for the rest of the September festival whirlwind (Decibel Festival and TBA Festival are still on the horizon). The positive news to report is that I saw no filler acts at this year's MusicfestNW. Every act I saw was fantastic... but here are my top three.

Royal Canoe

It seems that every other year, I find an indie pop band that I instantly fall in love with. I need not hear an entire record to know these folks resonate with me; I need only the first track to sense familiarity. In 2009, that band was Nurses; in 2011, it was Gardens & Villa. 2013's candidate for "band I'm going to pimp out to all my friends" is Royal Canoe. The six-piece Winnipeg-based band traveled across the country to play an opening MusicfestNW slot for !!!, and despite the fact that very few people in the crowd seemed to know who they were, Royal Canoe were instant crowd-pleasers and dance-insinuators. They rolled through tracks almost exclusively from their recent LP, Today We're Believers, with one exception: the ridiculously sex-groovy "Summersweat" from their 2012 EP. Twas a set full of falsettos balanced by deep mutated vocal effects, and topped off by -- not one, but four -- vocalists harmonizing or shouting gang vocals as necessary. Also notable were the double drummers, one of which triggered numerous sounds on an electronic drum pad, and a series of sick ass synths that sprang awesome leads like unstoppable leaks. Royal Canoe are the first indie pop band I've seen in a while who truly seem like they are doing something irreplaceable. Their set is something wholly and bizarrely themselves, and unparalleled. As if in response to my bitching just the day before about the fact that live shows rarely wow me anymore, in Royal Canoe swooped, to uphold my high expectations for them. I'm only sad that even with all my proselytizing, I failed to rouse up much interest from my friends, who were busy with other MusicfestNW events. They missed out. Learn more about Royal Canoe in my interview with them.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, FYF Fest brought together an impressive group of bands once again, always managing to make it seem like it's a family reunion with its mix of veterans (My Bloody Valentine, Charles Bradley, Roky Erickson, and Flag), newcomers (Lemuria, Fear Of Men, and Poolside) and even that one eccentric, but awesome uncle (Jonathan Richman). No matter your taste, it is not hard to find something that you like, or discover something that you never knew you would like. August 24th and 25th @ Los Angeles Historic State Historic Park in Los Angeles PHOTOS BY KOURY ANGELO

Charles Bradley

You wouldn't normally expect to see a funk/soul singer like Charles Bradley at a mostly indie rock/garage rock/electronic festival, but after catching his set, you're thankful that FYF Fest had the insight to have Bradley on the lineup. Clocking in at 64 years old, Bradley had some of the best energy and moves of the entire weekend. Songs like "Confusion" and "Crying in the Chapel" were raw and hit you at the core of your soul. Accompanied by a great band, which included a horn section, Bradley transcended hipster boundaries and showed the gritty and honest passion that all music should carry.

 

Toro y Moi

For any artist whose music is heavy on the electronic side, it can be easy to hide between a laptop or a pyramid of synths. But in the case of Toro y Moi, it was nothing like that. While the sun was still out at 6:00pm, it was refreshing to witness Toro y Moi's set, which was full of amiability and charm. Whether or not you were familiar with Chaz Bundick, the brains behind Toro y Moi, he and his band welcomed you with open arms. Bundick stood in the center between two keyboards while his hands moved back and forth effortlessly; he kept a cool and calm demeanor, and it was evident that he was very comfortable in his environment. While the majority of the set was dedicated to songs from Toro y Moi's latest album, Anything in Return, some old favorites like "New Beat" were also thrown into the mix. What made the set special is that you could easily and freely dance to the infectious beats and cascading synth notes, but at the same time, also feel your brain be stimulated with the intricate layers.

"I shall make company with creators, with harvesters, with celebrants!" ... so cries Zarathustra, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's prophetic protagonist in his most esoteric philosophical work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.1 The July 2010 issue of Yeti Magazine includes a series of photographs taken on tour by Dean Wareham of pop duo Dean & Britta. Among them is a snap of a French newsstand, where Michael Jackson and Friedrich Nietzsche sat side by side on neighboring magazine covers: In his description of the photograph, Wareham went on to imagine a conversation between the two thinkers, sharing the finer points of dancing and the inner child:
FN: Be on your guard against the learned! They hate you; for they are unfruitful. MJ: Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons. FN: In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play. MJ: There's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day but there's no Children's Day. It would mean a lot. World peace. FN: I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.2
Charming, yes, but I believe this comparison runs much deeper than that, into a juxtaposition of two historical figures that is entirely natural and extremely rich. In this article, I will endeavor to delve further into these imagined cahoots between the King of Pop and Nietzsche. The character of my fondness for Michael Jackson and Friedrich Nietzsche is very similar. Despite both of these men being extremely influential and leaving behind highly celebrated bodies of work, they are also both often considered tragic cases on the historical stage. They were driven to obsessive heights, if not madness, by their devotion to their craft and their vision for the world. Yet I have never looked upon either of them with anything short of deep respect. Even in their tragedy, these men are beautiful to me. I hope to expand upon this fictional dialogue, and attempt to reveal two visionaries reaching out to one another from across historical eras and spheres of influence. In the act of aligning these two boldly trailblazing artists, I hope to lend an admirable and rich philosophy to a pop star, and to lend the romance and marvel of pop to the life's work of a philosopher.