Thursday, October 31, 2013

Show Preview: King Khan and the Shrines w/ Hellshovel and Black Zinfandel

  • King Khan and the Shrines perform at Motorco
    in Durham, NC on Saturday, Nov. 2.
    Preview by Anastassia Olegovna
    Trying to identify King Khan and the Shrines in a certain genre is nearly impossible. Trying to identify who they even are is almost as difficult, but thanks to the Internet for no longer concealing the identities of anyone, King Khan is Canadian-born Arish Ahmad Khan. King Khan and the Shrines have been around since 1999 and if you’ve never seen them before and know very little about the state of their shows, you might find yourself going through a bit of a religious awakening. The two opening bands for this riotous party of a show, on Nov. 2 at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, are Hellshovel and Black Zinfandel--two bands that fit the bill perfectly. Hellshovel will start you off with a psyched out set of songs that sound like they are underwater. This Montreal band is signed to Slovenly Records, home of garage bands like Paint Fumes, Acid Baby Jesus, and Bazooka. Next is a local gem, Black Zinfandel, a band that is proving to be one of the most essential Raleigh garage bands. Fronted by Brian Cruse, Black Zinfandel has only been around for a short year but has become a favorite of the Triangle garage and punk scene, opening up for well established garage acts and playing a slew of their own headlining shows. Finally King Khan will blow you away into another dimension. Self-described as a “psychedelic soul band with a spectacle of a show”, a King Khan is a spiritual and ritual experience. A tarot-card reading magical guru, Khan has been at this for over ten years and with the release of his new album, “Idle No More”, he is a force of nature who will not stop bring the soul to garage.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Show Review: Shakori Hills Fall 2013

Paperhand Puppet Parade at Shakori Hills on
Saturday, Oct. 12
As another Shakori has passed I'm left here to ponder upon the Shakori's of yesterday. I feel as if every time I leave this festival I find myself saying, "that was easily the best Shakori yet." With each visit to the Pittsboro farmlands I walk away with a new band to delve into, countless stories to tell and a seemingly unescapable stench of campfire. But regardless of how many times I have to wash myself and my clothes to get that smell out of my nose, Shakori is always a festival that I will hold dear to my heart due to its sheer capacity to permeate joy. It's damn near impossible to walk around those campgrounds without a smile on your face, whether that be from the pile of duckfat tots you just far too swiftly consumed or the breathtaking music you just stumbled upon, there's always something to be glad about at Shakori.

This year I was particularly glad we weren't greeted with any heavy downpours as it has been wont to do. Most of the festival was characterized by gray fall days, a welcomed difference from the usual sporadic nature of the weekend. Maybe it's just because with each festival I become more prepared for nature's unforgiving ways, but this fall was easily one of the most carefree weekends I've spent at Shakori. Although there was a good bid of on-and-off rain when I arrived on Thursday afternoon it was just enough to cozy up under a tarp canopy and take in the sounds of the Meadow Stage as it poured into the woods.

The Brand New Life opened the festival and it was as mesmerizing an experience as I'd remembered. The band is characterized by jaunting melodic changes to their jazz-based Afrobeat tunes and always serves as a brilliant display of some stunning musical talent. After The Brand New Life took the stage I was off to lend a hand with camp set-up, meaning I missed quite a bit of the early evening festivities. By the time I made it over to the Cabaret Tent to take in what I'd hoped to be Virgins Family Band, they'd already broken down but thankfully Driftwood was showing off their incredible folk songs on Carson's Grove stage so my heartache was briefly soothed. Morning Brigade came up next and served as a fantastic way to transition into Thursday night. The Cabaret Tent was moderately crowded for the band's set which consisted of grand displays of their rich melodies, powerful lyricism and compelling instrumentation.

Compa came up next and kicked the evening into the right late night direction. While my earlier sets had been filled with luscious folk music, Compa brought their vibrant rhythms to the Dance Tent and got the blood flowing as the night began to get chilly. I didn't stay for too much of Compa as they were playing multiple times throughout the weekend and DJ Bill Kelly was getting ready to take over Carson's Grove stage. Bill Kelly is a figurehead of the electronic dance scene in Miami, which is home to one of the largest electronic festivals in the country with Ultra. Bill Kelly slung a wide variety of dance tunes that brought thumping bass and roaring percussion to the otherwise serene farmlands. DJ Richard McVay was saved for another night though and I headed back to Camp Honeybadger for one of my many ridiculously cozy tent sleeps throughout the weekend.

Show Review: Father John Misty “Solo” with Kate Berlant

Comedian Kate Berlant opened the night for a steadily growing crowd. With an acoustic guitar in hand for the majority of her set, she would strum a few chords and go into built-up rants or observations of the moment, easily making the crowd laugh without her jokes being blatant.

There’s something to say for comics who are genuinely funny, in the sense that they can just talk, like you would to a friend at a bar over a whiskey on the rocks. Berlant didn’t have the stereotypical joke-punchline routine, it was more along the lines of storytelling and critiquing. Her sarcasm and general antics were believable and got consistent laughs from the crowd. Personally, I’m not one who will watch Saturday Night Live or go to comedy shows, but I enjoyed Berlant’s performance.

After talking a bit about the manufacturing business practices behind the obnoxiously popular rubber wristbands, she threw some of her own, reading “I Feel,” out to the audience who eagerly snapped them up. Increasingly personable as her set continued, she encouraged the crowd to talk with her after the show, tweet at her, and as she flipped her massive curly hair to one side, to take photos on phones, too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mountain Oasis Itinerary

Mountain Oasis takes place in Asheville, NC
on Oct. 25-27
Festivals have been creeping up on me this year, it feels like just yesterday I was recovering from the weekend marathon of Hopscotch and now here we are two days before the beginning of the inaugural Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit in Asheville. I'm not sure what I'm more excited for at this point, the three day music binge or a weekend in Asheville--okay, that's a lie it's definitely the music. But, the fact that this is all taking place in one of North Carolina's most beautiful cities certainly doesn't hurt the festival's appeal. Nor does the fact that I'll be getting to see a few of my favorite artists of all time in the same weekend. The split between iconic acts and swiftly rising upstarts is usually one that's hard to pull off for a festival, but Mountain Oasis has certainly hit the sweet spot. Most of the lineup is filled with the hottest buzz bands of the past year, acts like Jessie Ware, Disclosure and Purity Ring (ohmygod talk about a mind blowing last minute addition) stand alongside acts like Animal Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel and Bassnectar to give fans a wide array of musical stylings to choose from at any given point of the weekend. Without any further ado I'll get down to the meat and potatoes of the festival and provide a day-by-day rundown of exactly what I hope to check out at this year's festival.

I'll be rolling into Asheville an hour or so before the festival gets started, so there's not much time to soak in all that Asheville has to offer until Saturday. But, it's hard to be upset at that fact when things kick off with such an awesome artist. I'll start my evening at Jacques Green at The Orange Peel. Before I checked out the festival's lineup I wasn't too familiar with Green other than his "Lotus Flower" remix for the greatest band of all time (so I may be a bit of a Radiohead fanboy), but after checking out more of his entrancing sounds I've got to say that his R&B influenced house tunes will be enough to get the energy flowing before Purity Ring. I'll leave Green's set early to get a prime spot for Purity Ring's set at Arena which is one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend. They weren't added until last Friday, but I was floored when I saw their addition to the lineup. They've got a dazzling light set-up that perfectly coincides with their pulsing electronic sounds. Late last year I found it hard to listen to anything other than Purity Ring's incredible debut album Shrines, so getting to see this live is something I've been waiting quite some time for. After Purity Ring closes up I'll head next door to check out Daniel Johnston...kind of just for the sake of saying I've seen Daniel Johnston. He's a brilliant songwriter to say the least, but staying too long would probably throw off the night's flow a bit, so I'll bounce back over for Deltron 3030's set after soaking in some of Johnston's anti-folk musings. Deltron's set is sure to be a wild time, especially since they're one of the few hip-hop artists on the lineup and boy do I love me some hip-hop. While I'd love to stay for the whole thing I'll definitely head out early to ensure my position at one of the main reasons I'm trekking to Asheville this weekend.

Neutral Milk Hotel may seem like the elephant in the room at this festival, but that elephant produced some of the most meaningful and magical music that I've come across in my lifetime. To say I'm excited for this set is a massive understatement. I've got Jeff Mangum's lyrics tattoo'd across my arm, this is a moment I thought I could very likely never experience in my entire life. I'm positively giddy to experience this in one of the most gorgeous venues I've stepped foot in. Thomas Wolfe housed Sufjan Stevens last time I attended a show there, so Neutral Milk Hotel will surely fill the grandiose auditorium with shouts of whimsy and wonder. If I get the chance to check out some of Bassnectar I surely will, he puts on an incredible live show that I've had the chance to see twice, but nothing will pull me away from Neutral Milk Hotel short of a natural disaster. After Bassnectar has ended I'll head over to check out XXYYXX to close out my night with some skittering, soulful dance music from one of the youngest yet most promising acts on the lineup. Though he's barely 17, XXYYXX has already crafted an addictive sound that's filled with potential to blossom and evolve into something truly transcendental.

Saturday will mark the first full day of festivities for me in Asheville this weekend. Thankfully there's plenty to do throughout the day that will allow festivalgoers like myself to fully absorb all of Asheville's awesome scenery. The Inventors Roundtable Panel is something that instantly piqued my interests, it's an event that brings in four visionaries within the electronic music world to discuss their effect on the genre. The creator of the Moog guitar and the Pyradym, a tool that aids in sound and color therapy, are two of the standouts from this particular panel. However, the rest of the afternoon will surely be spent freaking out over the fact that I'm surrounded by gorgeous mountains.

Thinks will kick off with Bosnian Rainbows at ExploreAsheville, and while I've not gotten terribly deep into Bosnian Rainbows I must say that I'm excited to experience their live set. In highschool I was quite the Mars Volta fan, so Bosnian Rainbows holds a special place in my heart given the fact that their guitarist is Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Plus, their expansive psych-pop will be an excellent way to transition into the lush aural adventure that is Zola Jesus' set. Zola Jesus is another act I'm not too familiar with aside from a handful of tracks, but the thing I do know is that Nika Danilova has one of the most striking and poignant voices I've heard in a long time. This special set with JG Thirwell will showcase the beauty of these songs, especially since they're takes on her most recent release Versions, performed entirely with a string quartet. From Zola I feel it's necessary to check out Gary Numan, he's had an overreaching influence on much of the music that I'm interested in, but once more I've not had too much experience with him. He's got a tightly wound style of production that blends industrial and hip-hop with a veil of dark electronic pop to make for a timeless twist of various genres.

I'll leave Numan's set early though so that I can take in as much of Robert DeLong's set as physically possible. DeLong is a captivating artist whose live show is unparalleled in today's scene. He's got an engaging demeanor that beckons the listeners to lose themselves to the tribal aspects of dance music. Maybe I've just got a bit of fanboyism shining through, but I'd wager that DeLong is going to be one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. Thankfully there's not another high energy act following DeLong or I'd probably collapse into a dance-induced puddle. Instead I'll take in the grandiose sounds of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. While Godspeed's music contains a bit of ineffable intensity, it'll be nice to soak in some post rock in between all of this exhausting and high energy dance music. From there I'll move onto my second most anticipated set of the weekend with Animal Collective. This band is one that I've had on my list to see for years and years at this point and I unfortunately missed them at this year's Bonnaroo after selling my ticket. Thankfully they shall elude me no longer, as Saturday night at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium I'll finally get to experience this larger than life psych-pop brilliance in person. I saw Panda Bear and Deakin at the first Hopscotch, but that's incomparable at this point. Animal Collective have countless anthemic tracks to lose yourself in and that's exactly what I plan on doing. They're one of the acts responsible for my high school foray into experimental music, so seeing them in Asheville is something that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. I'll follow Animal Collective with a brief glimpse of the Nine Inch Nails set before heading to Cashmere Cat to close the night. I saw NIN on their Lights in the Sky tour before their hiatus, but otherwise I'd probably be checking out their incredibly hyped up live set this weekend. After what's sure to be a turnt up dance party at Cashmere I'll actually be able to collapse into a dance-induced puddle and prepare myself for the last day of the festival.

Sunday will serve as an incredible closing night for a festival that's filled with high intensity acts of countless varieties. Thankfully night three is just as jam-packed as the rest of the weekend, even if there aren't as many big name acts filling the lineup. I'll start the evening with Adventure Club, although after two nights full of dancing I don't know how energetic I'll be for their throw-down worthy dance music. To those of you that still have gas in your tank on Sunday, more power to you. I wish I could be you, but instead I'll be bringing my own blend of subdued shaking and flailing to ExploreAsheville early Sunday evening. I'll surely check out some of the sultry R&B stylings of Autre Ne Veut, but seeing Jessie Ware's take on the sound is a bit higher up on my priority list. Ware has gotten a metric ton of promotion throughout the pat year and I've purposefully stayed away from much of her music so that I can experience it for the first time in a live setting. All I know is that I'm ridiculously excited for her set. Thankfully I'll get to stay for all of her set before I head to see Pantyraid. While I'm not too into this set right now, it will serve as an excellent way to make sure that I've got prime positioning for Disclosure's set following Pantyraid.

Disclosure is another band that's been receiving bukus of hype throughout the past year, and rightfully so. They produce a tantalizing take on house music in it's rawest form, there's thunderous rhythms and absurdly catchy refrains that make their songs into powerful listening experiences. From Disclosure I'll make it to the remainder of Mount Kimbie's set, then meander over to check out Cut Copy. I'd like to say that I'll subsequently dance my ass off to Cut Copy, but I'm a realist so that probably won't happen. I'll likely stay around for a few songs where I nod my head if I know the tune, then head next door to see Pretty Lights. While I admittedly don't really enjoy Pretty Lights, I know his live show is nothing short of a spectacle, so it's definitely on my must see list. By this point I'll probably be running on fumes, so after I've taken in as much psych-infused bass thumps as possible at Pretty Lights I'll begin to make the long trek back to Raleigh.

Ultimately, there's enough going on at Mountain Oasis that I may not even follow this to a tee. The best part of attending festival's like this is following the crowds and seeing what acts you've overlooked. Not to say that you shouldn't follow your own rigid schedule, but live a little! It's nice to take in music that you may not have heard otherwise, for all you know you may walk away a fan. I've already got my bags packed tightly and there's a little over 36 hours left until I depart for Asheville, so for the next day I'll be resting up in preparation for a weekend filled with great times and even better music.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mountain Oasis Artist Preview: Robert DeLong

Robert DeLong will perform at The Orange Peel
on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Mountain Oasis
When I first found out that I'd be out at Mountain Oasis I began to scour the lineup for acts that I had to see throughout the weekend. Sure there's your standard standouts like Animal Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel, Bassnectar, get the picture. But, there's a LOT of artists on this lineup that can easily fly under the radar, much like Robert DeLong was doing for me until I did some investigating. The minute I heard the opening seconds of "Global Concepts," I became absolutely addicted to DeLong's brilliance. When Cashmere Cat was announced last week I saw that the two conflicted on the schedule and I kind of died a little on the inside. However, upon checking again it looks like the schedule has been moved around once more and Robert DeLong goes on unopposed for me once again. Thus, I can accordingly plan to rage out to DeLong's entrancing combination of dubstep, house and electronica for as long as I desire on Friday night.

DeLong cut his teeth on indie rock in Seattle, beginning his career with music as a percussionist and slowly gravitating towards the indie world. He found himself entrenched in artists like Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Radiohead and Sigur Ros and his current output feels like a wonderful amalgamation of these influences. DeLong is a one-man electronic band whose live shows provide an absolutely awe-inspiring experience. DeLong lays down his slick electronic foundation with a variety of MIDI controllers ranging from a Wii-mote to a joystick to control every aspect of his finely tuned beats. DeLong also fleshes out these rich tracks with a full drum set and some absolutely infectious vocal melodies that you'll find yourself humming or dancing along to long after the music has stopped.

While a lot of electronic acts that you see live can easily be a toss-up in terms of quality, it seems as it DeLong truly prides himself in his live performance. He's not relying on crazy light set-ups or cookie-cutter bass drops, he's providing a visceral and engaging live show that commands every bit of your attention. That's not to say that the visual aspects won't live up to the music that surrounds it, but I'll be finding it hard to focus on anything other than DeLong's steadfast rhythms and exhausting bursts of energy.

Earlier this year DeLong released his debut full length Just Movement on Glassnote Records to high acclaim from critics and fans alike. Just Movement gives DeLong fantastic footing, it's a fantastic debut that is placed perfectly between the EDM and Indie worlds. As EDM begins to creep into all aspects of music, DeLong perfectly combines bass-heavy club-ready instrumentation with indie-leaning vocal patterns to create a truly unique sound of his own. This is without a doubt one of my must see sets for Mountain Oasis because DeLong is absolutely in a league of his own. He's crafted a mind-boggling stage set-up to coincide with his genre-bending sound that will make for a sweaty, dance filled evening once he takes the stage at The Orange Peel at 9:00 on Friday.

Show Preview: Father John Misty “Solo” w/ Kate Berlant

Father John Misty will perform a solo set on
Friday, Oct. 25 at Cat's Cradle with Kate Berlant
The night will have a bit of an nontraditional start, especially considering the catalog of musicians J. Tillman could have called upon to join him on tour. In lieu of music to prep fans for the swanky tunes of Father John Misty, Kate Berlant will perform “psychedelic, absurdist stand-up.” She’s known for her weekly comedy shows in New York and has been part of a handful of prominent comedy festivals and showcases. While part of the beauty of going to a touring concert is the potential in discovering new music that one of your favorite artists digs, I’m definitely not opposed to a good laugh.    

As with most people, I was a Fleet Foxes fan, and guilty of playing "Ragged Wood" way more than anyone ever should. I heard the drummer started a side project and was intrigued. Then I realized that this drummer was also the same one from post-rock outfit Saxon Shore. The combination of backgrounds in indie folk and ambient/shoegaze made me really curious to what Father John Misty, as a band, would sound like. Inevitably, I checked out Fear Fun (2012) and fell in love. Folk harmonies met psych influences, undoubtedly drawn from Tillman's personal background, and I was hooked.

I caught Father John Misty with full band at Bonnaroo this summer. His stage presence was simultaneously laid back and infecting, and the show marked a highlight of the weekend. I expect that feeling not to be lost in a solo show, perhaps it'll be even more amplified because of the intimacy having only one person on stage creates. The narrative he found in his lyrics tells interesting stories, easy to digest yet thought-provoking and sometimes off the wall.  

Tickets for the show on October 25 at Cat's Cradle are $20 and are available online at and at the door. Doors open at 8:00 PM and the show starts at 8:30 PM. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Show Review: FUZZ w/ CCR Headcleaner and Big No

FUZZ at Kings Barcade
Photos and Write-up by Anastassia Olegovna
As predicted, Fuzz, CCR Headcleaner and Big No actually damaged my hearing and almost led me to wear a neck brace for a few days. But why would any one expect anything less from a band associated with Ty Segall’s name?  Although Fuzz arrived late and the show started about an hour later than it should have, the tension and awkwardness of waiting around for them was dissipated very quickly.

      Big No started out the night, facing a crowd of well dressed people who looked like they could all be in bands, and probably were. Although a fairly young band, Big No proved that they could reign in the ranks of the loud sludge-garage bands. I was pleasantly surprised because Big No definitely sounds more aggressive and loud live, a quality that I admire in bands. The songs weren’t too long and it didn’t feel like a chore seeing this first band open up. 

    CCR Headcleaner
    Photo by Anastassia Olegovna
      Next CCR Headcleaner restored all my faith in finding a metal band that I actually like. They trudged through a sludge-metal set that I’ve never experienced. The band looked like a combination of The New York Dolls and The Clash but the sound they were producing was very far from punk. The music hung in the air like heavy smoke, a very loud cloud of it. I wasn’t surprised that this would be an opener for Ty’s new project but I was intrigued to see the kind of audience that bands like these bring out.

      Finally, Fuzz came on, with Ty positioned front and center. The energy that Ty and every band he gathers put out is truly incredible. I can’t be too sure if I like Fuzz because they are a Ty Segall project or because I really do like the music but Fuzz is definitely a band that you and your Black Sabbath loving dad could seriously bond over. Fuzz channels stoner-metal of 1970s perfectly. While the guitar riffs and the drum patterns can be too familiar at times, there is a pleasant familiarity that presides in all the songs and that is irresistibly insane. No matter how hard I tried to not convulse and head-bang, Fuzz won over my controlling mind.

Mountain Oasis Artist Preview: Cashmere Cat

Cashmere Cat will perform at Asheville Music Hall
on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Mountain Oasis
Rarely does a big-name artist cancellation one week before a festival get me all giddily excited, but sure enough that happened a few days ago with Mountain Oasis. With the unfortunate dropping of Tricky, Delorean and Rudimental, the festival was left with a few glaring holes in their lineup. Their first replacement was the dub-heavy duo Adventure Club. I saw the announcement and was instantly stoked for the rest of their lineup additions. Never did I expect Cashmere Cat to come next.

Cashmere Cat is a Norwegian-based producer/DJ that has an absurd track record running for him. Magnus August Høiber, the brains behind Cashmere Cat, is a DMC World DJ Championship finalist that made the transition over to heady, dreamlike electronic music back in 2011. From there, Høiber began to craft a sound all his own that displayed a tantalizing mixture between trap, jazz, hip-hop and house. Those of you that follow this blog are aware of his deep into Ryan Hemsworth I've been and my love for Cashmere Cat runs pretty parallel to this.

Cashmere Cat's music lies within a scarcely touched realm, although we've only been graced with a handful of tracks thusfar (2012's Mirror Maru EP is available on Soundcloud--other than that it's pretty much just remixes), it's clear that Høiber's musical output is going to be something that stands out amongst an over-saturated electronic scene. It takes seconds to lose yourself in one of these immersive beats, settle down with a nice pair of headphones and close your eyes--then prepare yourself for an aural adventure of dazzling proportions.

Cashmere Cat's tracks are wildly imaginative, percussive shimmers and creaks line the tracks while bright synth lines make the listener feel like they're floating on clouds, suspended in a state of bliss. Elements of R&B and hip-hop shine vibrantly on the production of these tracks, but the songs lie right in the middle of this border. While one minute you're liable to be lost in the melodic instrumentation, the next you're bobbing your head and compelled to dance your heart out to a nasty percussive break.

While many might deem this as headphone music that doesn't translate as well live, they're just wrong. Tracks like "Secrets + Lies" display wobbling bass lines with trapped out percussion that makes for a perfect club-banging atmosphere that will thrive in the hands of a world-class DJ like Høiber. Because quite frankly one of the best parts of seeing music like this live is seeing how it's translated into an energetic and engaging live show.

My sole qualm with this addition is the conflict with Robert DeLong. It's going to be hard to draw myself away from DeLong's compelling rhythms and infectious songs, but Cashmere Cat is a last minute addition that you'd be a fool to miss out on. Asheville Music Hall will house this brilliant live act on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mountain Oasis Artist Preview: Mount Kimbie

Mount Kimbie perform at Mountain Oasis on
Sunday, Oct. 27 at The Orange Peel
With Mountain Oasis being a little over a week away at this point, it's time to start giving you all a run down on some of the most exciting acts that are filling the stacked bill slated for next weekend in Asheville. There's no point in covering these marquee headliners, as acts like Neutral Milk Hotel, Bassnectar, Animal Collective and Nine Inch Nails are so established that it'd be bonkers to come across anyone unfamiliar with their music at Mountain Oasis.

However, with such a versatile lineup there's sure to be plenty of folks that are interested in a wide array of musical genres. Thus, Mountain Oasis lends itself to fans that are looking to peer into new acts and genres that they've yet to delve into. Conveniently enough the festival is filled with some of the most promising acts in the electronic music scene and they're placed right alongside some of the genre's gatekeepers and figureheads. As someone who never got much into the electronic scene until about two years ago, even I sometimes find myself floored by the ever expanding genre. However, the schedule for Mountain Oasis reads as a who's who in the scene and covers many corners of the vast aural spectrum known as "electronic."

The first act I'll be highlighting from Mountain Oasis is Mount Kimbie, a London based duo that has created a sound that's simultaneously robust and minimalistic. Their tracks are mostly mid-tempo or down-beat ambient adventures that mesh field recordings with syncopated rhythms and soulful vocal tracks. Their latest full length Cold Spring Fault Less Youth displays these tendencies to a tee, the album features guest vocals from fellow UK upstart King Krule while their stuttering percussion and encompassing instrumentation surrounds the listener with a unique and dazzling soundscape.

Mount Kimbie brilliantly blends a slew of genres together through subtle nods, songs are likely to contain jazzy brass lines, atmospheric post-rock foundations and soulful vocals, but they never feel formulaic or structured. It all feels invigoratingly free of form, like a band that has given up on trying to mimic any pre-determined sound in favor of creating something brash and new. That brash new sound propelled them to the spotlight in 2010 with their debut full length Crooks & Lovers and the success of said debut led to their most recent signing to Warp Records.

Mount Kimbie began cutting their electronic teeth (their sawteeth so to speak--har har har) with fellow UK-standout James Blake. When one compares the two side-by-side it's rather clear that they had a remarkable influence on one another. Both acts produce searing tracks capable of chest-rattling bass at one moment and chill-inducing beauty the next. Many are quick to toss a post-dubstep label onto it, but it's more accurately pegged as a sound that's all their own.

Lumping most electronic music into pre-defined genres and sub-genres tends to overcomplicate a lot of things, especially with bands like Mount Kimbie. What's important is that Kai Campos and Dom Maker have and continue to release brain-bending music that's kind of hard to wrap your head around. It's hard to decide whether you want to close your eyes and immerse yourself in this billowing production or to instinctively bob your head to the point of headache inducing continuity. That, dear reader, is entirely up to you. You've got until Sunday Oct. 27 to decide, as Mount Kimbie will be performing at 9:15 p.m. at The Orange Peel.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Shakori Hills Fall 2013 Itinerary

By the time the week of Shakori rolls around you can pretty much assume I'm not going to expend an ounce of productivity that isn't associated with this festival. All of my thought process is consumed by a constant mapping and re-mapping of who I need to see and when combined with my ineffable excitement of being surrounded by my favorite people on the planet. Shakori Hills is a mere two days away now and I'm still frantically going from store to store stocking up on camping supplies, food and booze. When I'm not frantically checking the forecast I'm probably giddily texting one of my camping buddies about how absurdly excited I am to see (insert act here). But alas, I could go on for hours about this bi-annual excitement binge. Let's get to the music!

Although I'll be showing up later in the evening than usual, Thursday is still shaping up to be a fantastic kick-off to what's sure to be another incredible weekend out in Pittsboro. Although I'll sadly be missing the festival's opening act The Brand New Life (a stellar act from Greensboro that you should definitely check out--we ran a piece on them last week), there's still plenty of incredible music to be checking out on Thursday evening. I'll be bouncing around between Crystal Bright & The Silver Hands' mystifying carnival-esque pop music and the tried and true folk-rock sounds of Birds & Arrows. With a chance of rain possible during Thursday I'll liekly pass on seeing The Old Ceremony at the Meadow Stage in favor of keeping dry under the tents. However one of the festival highlights for me comes just after The Old Ceremony, as Virgins Family Band takes to the Cabaret Tent at 8:00 pm. Virgins Family Band produces tantalizing psychedelic pop music that will fit in perfectly at Shakori. Their powerful harmonies and attention grabbing jams will surely draw in flocks of roaming attendees and I for one can't wait to see their reactions.

After Virgins it's a safe bet to post up in the Cabaret Tent to check out Morning Brigade at 10:00. This brilliant folk-rock group from Chapel Hill caught my attention late last year and has continued to pick up steam throughout 2013. This six-piece crew produces swelling songs filled with unbridled passion, and with two sets this weekend I wouldn't be surprised if they end up becoming Shakori main stays. I for one would have zero problem with that. After Morning Brigade I'll be checking out the sounds of the Haitian rock outfit Compa at the Dance Tent. Though I've got minimal knowledge on the band, they had me sold at Haitian rock. Plus they're closing out the Meadow Stage on Saturday night so they're surely a riotous live act that will be stellar to see in a tightly packed Dance Tent. After Compa I'll head over to check out the DJs at Carson's Grove and probably pop into the Vinyl Lounge, a new edition to this year's festival. But it's important to treat Shakori like a marathon rather than a sprint, so I'll make sure to be well rested for Friday's day of ridiculously awesome music.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ani DiFranco Touches Down in Durham

Ani Difranco performed at
Carolina Theater in Durham, NC
on Sept. 27
Photo by Patti Perret
Ani DiFranco paid Durham, NC a visit this past Friday, and if the state could have collectively given her a high five- it would have. Pearl and the Beard opened, and in between their fresh, funky, and almost tribal songs, could not help but exclaim over “Ani DiFranco!” They were shocked they have been able to open for Ani DiFranco 14 times- but they were the only ones. Their intensely beautiful, borderline ethereal drum beats, and vocals were a spectacular pairing with the show to come. 

Carolina Theater’s Fletcher Hall, packed with enough girl power to ship us all off to the moon, hosted a high energy seated show. With more chewed nails, chair dances, and edge of seat spectators than a theater with blue velvet seats may be used to welcoming onto its stage. Fletcher Hall is full of golden scroll work, and deep red carpet, and Ani’s warm, subtle stage lights, and cozy carpets stage set-up practically glowed. As a disclaimer, this was “my show,” I have been listening to Ani, cranked up in my car, through headphones, and on CDs scratched to the point of skipping, since…forever. To call myself a “fan girl,” would imply that I was excited, and I was closer to short circuiting entirely than I would care to admit.  

That being said, I was a little anxious to see her live, I have been grooving to Ani through the years, and have followed her latest releases, but have relied on the high-angst classics. Or as Ani herself put it on Friday, the height of her “ugh” years, and for the “ugh” she threw her arm across her forehead. I was worried I wouldn’t get to jam to the songs I have spent years scream-singing in my car to, but  I was pleasantly surprised. I do not think it is easy to bridge such a dramatic shift in mood in lyrics and tone, and with such a diverse discography, it would be easy to rely heavily on the new. After all, Ani has been “suckling a five month old, for the past five months,” and as she also admitted “if there was any time to request one of her 486 songs- this was not the time.”

Mountain Oasis Announces Full Schedule

Mountain Oasis takes place in Asheville, N.C
from Oct. 25-27
October has only just begun, but my head is already spinning over how much awesome shit is happening throughout the next few weeks. Ever since the inception of Moogfest I've wanted to get out to Asheville to check out more music. With the exception of one mind-bending Sufjan Stevens show, I'm basically ignorant of the fantastic venues that are in the gorgeous mountain town. But come Oct. 25, I'll be immersing myself in one of the most promising festivals I've seen in years. Mountain Oasis is the newewst festival in the AC Entertainment family, the same folks that organize Bonnaroo, Forecastle and in previous years Moogfest. This year the company chose to drop the Moogfest moniker in favor of a new festival--although Moogfest will continue in April--that boasts one of the most unique schedules I've seen all year.

When news was released that Neutral Milk Hotel would be playing a full band performance in Asheville for Mountain Oasis I was literally speechless. A festival that calls itself an "electronic music summit" booked one of the most revered and reclusive indie rock acts in the past two decades and followed it up by announcing powerhouse acts like Nine Inch Nails, Bassnectar and Animal Collective. Mountain Oasis has one of the most well-rounded lineups on the festival circuit, they've managed to pull in an insane amount of high-profile electronic music while giving enough folk, industrial, experimental and indie rock to keep everyone entertained.

Yesterday the festival announced their full schedule, which naturally has quite a few conflicts that will surely make the weekend a unique experience for every attendee. There's so many combinations of acts to see that it's highly unlikely that any two people will share the same experience, which is one of my favorite parts of this festival. The amount of people that are pissed off that Neutral Milk Hotel will be performing at the same time as Bassnectar on Friday night are probably minimal, but two entirely different crowds will surely be undergoing life-altering experiences at their respective shows. The U.S Cellular Center is home to the ExploreAsheville.Com Arena and Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, meaning that while Jeff Mangum is shouting and crooning "comforting things in your ear," Bassnectar will be satisfying all of your sub-bass needs in the same building. Stop and wrap your mind around that. People can go see the anti-folk musings of Daniel Johnston and follow it up with the hip-hop mastery of Deltron 3030 without even leaving the building. After catching the end of Bassnectar fans will have another difficult decision to make between the heady vibes of Baths or the brilliantly spastic sounds of the young producer XXYYXX.

Shakori Spotlight: The Brand New Life

The Brand New Life performs on Thursday, Oct. 10
on the Meadow Stage at 5:00 pm
I can barely contain my excitement over how close Shakori is. It seems like just yesterday I was packing up my mud-covered belongings and saying goodbye to the farm, but here we are just under a week away from the fall festival. One of the things I love about Shakori Hills is the simultaneous focus on local and international artists, and thankfully sometimes we can get a little bit of both wrapped up into one badass outfit. Take The Brand New Life for example, though the band is based out of Greensboro for the time being, they wonderfully encompass a new brand of Afrobeat styling. Though their rhythmic focus is rooted in West African traditions, they've got a dance-oriented groove that makes for an irresistible live show filled with soaring horns and funky guitar lines.

The Brand New Life is comprised of a crew of self-described "band kids" that cut their teeth in an educational setting, but quickly developed an addiction to rhythmically focused music. "The band started off as this conglomerate of sounds that we had all picked out independently," bassist Seth Barden claims. The group would get together for improvisational jams at their friends house and all of a sudden these various influences would morph into something special. Though they describe their music as Afrobeat-Fusion, there's clear elements of jazz, funk and dance music that shine through in different elements of their songs. While Barden was off studying jazz and European Classical at school, other members found their way into different genres. But The Brand New Life aren't a band that defines themselves by titles, they're clearly about the music.