Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Artist Feature: Temple5

Temple5 will be performing at Deep South in Raleigh
alongside NO9TO5 and Jswiss. Purchase tickets here
When one thinks of North Carolina hip-hop, thoughts don't usually stray towards Wilmington. Maybe the chart-topping J. Cole comes to mind or perhaps the more underground breakout acts like King Mez or Deniro Farrar, but certainly not an eastern North Carolina act. Temple5, however, is doing their damnedest to change that mindset. Temple5 is a seven-piece act that blends elements of hip-hop, jazz and funk to create one dazzling, rhythmically driven sound. While it's easy to lose yourself in the intricately arranged pieces that comprise these recordings, this is the kind of music that you need to see live to truly experience in its entirety. You've got to watch the very obvious chemistry that these musicians have together, feel the horns wash over you as the band's lyricist Louis. effortlessly weaves together ridiculous rhyme schemes that cover everything from socially conscious messages to clever punch lines. Temple5 will be performing at The Deep South Bar on Saturday, Jan. 31 alongside NO9TO5 and Jswiss, so in advance we spoke with members of the band on the intricacies involved with their music and what to expect from the band in 2015.

The creation of Temple5 was a very deliberate process, something that seems to be have been in the works for years on end. AJ Reynolds, saxophonist for the band, goes as far as saying that Temple5 was something he's wanted to do since the age of 16, but states but waited until he was 23 because that was when he felt like he and his peers could approach this band with "the artistry, maturity and ambition" required to make it what it should be. Deliberate may be an understatement when it comes to this band. Steeped in the tradition of acts like The Roots and The Robert Glasper Experiment, Temple5 has melded the new and the old together to create a jazzy take on hip-hop.

"I’ve found the ongoing process of acculturation that has been happening in America over the past 100+ years fascinating," states trumpeter Aaron Lane. "It started with early blues and jazz which was a fusion of African rhythm with Western harmony/instrumentation," he states, and from there the music has morphed into various widely different forms. These two forms have in some way or another influenced practically every wave of popular music and has risen to the top once again with hip-hop. Now as Lane states, we see that the hip-hop has begun to revert back to its origins, pulling heavy inspiration from the jazz, funk and soul that birthed the genre in the first place. And while the whole reverse acculturation thing is a large determining factor in the birth of new and innovative hip-hop, it also doesn't hurt that having a live band just makes a performance that much better.

"I think most of us in the band have gone to hip-hop shows and said to ourselves, 'man, it would be so dope to see a live band up here laying it down with the emcee,'” Reynolds states. And sometimes thoughts like that ignite a spark that erupts into something much larger than anyone could imagine. When you've got so many talented musicians together in one project (they all mostly met at the UNCW Music Department through various university ensembles and jazz combo/big band projects) then it's only a matter of time until things blossom into something that's truly unparalleled. Acts like The Beast have tapped into this in the Triangle, raising the socially conscious flag while laying down some serious grooves, and now it appears Temple5 has taken this torch for Eastern NC.

"We are a unique group of guys in a unique situation with a unique goal," Lane states, "to create and grow a local community through the positive message of hip-hop." With that goal in mind, all it takes is a brief listen through to the band's two previously released EPs to grasp how passionate this crew is about their message and how intent they are on getting it right. Strategic Arrival: The Statement marks the beginning of the band and finds them dipping their toes into the water, toying with Barack Obama speech clips that tackle socioeconomic woes. The Bap Is Eternal: The Argument, found the band diving deeper into the rabbit hole, with a dedicated emcee in Louis. the crew has started take a heavy lyrical focus while still producing acrobatic instrumentation. Their forthcoming full-length CompUtopia: The Solution promises to find the band in the perfect place, vibing together as a crew and ready to produce a definitive statement that relays both positivity and dance-inducing jams. When Lane describes the band's writing process he relays one simple notion, "either it grooves with people or it doesn't." Temple5 most definitely grooves.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Oulipo announces new album "Kisses To The Sky" & shares track "Dolphins"

Oulipo have announced their forthcoming album
"Kisses to the Sky" and shared lead-single "Dolphins"
It's hard to recall a band that's been as interesting to watch as Oulipo. From the first listen of Primitive Ways it was pretty clear that the band had potential to tap into a truly unique and compelling musical niche. It's been nearly three years since the release of Primitive Ways and it's clear that the band has made monumental growth since then, just take a peek into the work they've shared with the public to prove it.

Back in September of 2014 the band released a music video for "Shine On You Crazy Bastard," a track that showcased a new-found sense of restraint and maturity in their songwriting. With a compelling and sparse use of sampling, sprawling instrumentation and soaring melodies, Oulipo re-appeared as a potential powerhouse. Now the band's announced details of their upcoming full-length Kisses To The Sky, and while the release date is still forthcoming, they have shared a brand new track from the album, "Dolphins."

Kisses To The Sky was recorded over the course of a year at Bit Heart Studios in Greensboro and mixed by the iconic producer Mitch Easter at the Fidelitorium (R.E.M., Pavement) in Kersnersville. Recently Easter has been behind some of the state's finest releases from artists like Mandolin Orange and Lilac Shadows, but he's also responsible for mastering upcoming releases from folks like See Gulls and Birds of Avalon. Needless to say all you have to do is sit back with a pair of headphones to fall in love with "Dolphins."

Vocalist Ryan Trauley's voice subtly slides into a slowly building groove, wistfully gliding atop a steady rhythm. Though the verse carries along downtempo, "Dolphins" erupts into a triumphant chorus that finds Trauley's glossy falsetto unraveling into a soulful croon, making for a gorgeous musical moment. "Dolphins" alone is far more refined than any of Oulipo's previous releases, it's a rich and encompassing track that's built upon tightly packed, yet intricately layered pieces. Trauley's vocals elicit strong emotions from both their lyrical content and their melodic tendencies. And the interplay between Trauley's vocal patterns and the entrancing, yet grooving instrumentation is mesmerizing. The chorus reaches its peak with a passionate croon, and as Trauley soulfully sings out "I wouldn't dance with another," you find yourself ripped away from the moment you're in and become focused intently on these heartfelt sentiments turned into vibrant and robust pop music. Tracks like "Dolphins" and "Shine On You Crazy Bastard" provide a brief glimpse at the brilliance we have left to see from Kisses to the Sky, but you can check out the tracklist for now and just imagine how great this release is going to be.

Kisses to the Sky Tracklist
1. Nite Legs
2. Dolphins
3. Lovers On the Moon
4. Shine On You Crazy Bastard
5. Prisoner of Love
6. Amsterdam Shag
7. Blue Flames
8. Kisses to the Sky

Monday, January 26, 2015

Artist Feature: Bo White

Photo Credit: James Willamor
When you talk to most musicians about whether or not they had a direction in mind with their musical projects, you usually are greeted with a swift "no, it just kind of came out this way." It usually serves as an amalgamation of all of their current and previous influences, effortlessly turning into a style all their own. Charlotte-based musician Bo White seems to approach things a bit differently. Since White's youth he's been meticulously crafting music of all varieties, theres the math-y yet melodic indie pop of Yardwork, the guitarless symphonic pomp of Bo White y Su Orquesta and his most recent post-punk excursion of Patois Counselors, each with their own unique, defined sound that feels unlike any other. Patois Counselors will be making their live debut this Friday at Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, N.C. alongside acts like Diarrhea Planet, Junior Astronomers and Museum Mouth, so in advance we spoke with Bo about how the hell you can consistently make such a wide array of incredible music.

"I’m genuinely interested in most genres of music at any stage," White says, "precise to free, novice to virtuoso. I pay the most attention to unique elements that separate certain genres or sounds from others." So whereas many artists may find particular elements of a certain genre and build their sound around multiple facets, White seems to become enamored by one in particular and delve deep into the genre's possibilities. "If I want to do a different genre, I start another project," White states, which explains the myriad of acts that White has been a part of. He cites his most recent solo releases as the exception to these rules though, claiming that Adornment and Millenial Tombs were "compilations of experiments," which is quite the testament considering Millenial Tombs was listed as one of our favorite North Carolina albums of 2014. "I tried to think about them as little as possible," White proclaims, "Adornment is the compilation of what I could come up with in a weekend. Millenial Tombs is a compilation of what I could come up with in a few weeks while recovering from a stint in the hospital."

When you take into account that White can put such minimal thought into a project and still have it lauded as one of the best releases of the year, it kind of leaves you a bit floored as to what this musician is truly capable of at his finest. When discussing his creative output, White states that he's running at "medium capacity" when at his most prolific, stating that he could "write and record all day, every day" but, you know there's this whole thing called society that we probably need to interact with. Regardless of whether he's working at full capacity or not, it's astonishing to see how seamlessly White can craft such intricate works throughout such a wide selection of genres.

Frankly that astonishment is something that I'm not quite sure will ever go away. It seems as if each new project broadens White's horizons in a new and invigorating way, and that's because he's got well defined ideas as to how each new project should sound. "With any project I begin by imagining the end result," White says. "Do I want to eat Sunday brunch to this music? Do I want to spark some romance? Do I want to get bled on at the Milestone? From there I’ll shape the kernels into a form that is approximately a full song, say 3 minutes or so." If I had to take any guess as to which one of these coincides with Patois Counselors, I'd wager that its the latter. To date there's only two songs available for folks to soak in from Patois Counselors, a primarily synth-driven track entitled "Clean Skits" and "Free Jazz Complaint." The music of "Clean Skits" sounds crunchy and dissonant, propelled by brisk drumbeats and nervous wails from White that dip in and out of the mix as the warm, distorted synth line encompasses the listener. "Free Jazz Complaint" feels a bit more straight forward, it sounds a bit like if Damon Albarn were to take a foray into psyched-out punk rock. White's vocals take more of a forefront on this track while frenzied guitar lines pop in and out,  soundtracking White's meta rants on free-form music.

"I wanted to blister some paint off the walls but do it in an anti-macho, smart ass way," White says of Patois Counselors. "I’ve played punk and noisier stuff before, but people forget. Even when I’m singing Sade soul through a cassette deck with clarinet samples, I feel like I’m doing it in a punk manner." White shrugs off the fact that this may be lost to some audiences, but when you go back and analyze his music through this lens it makes a bit more sense. White's got an inherently punk attitude throughout his work and Patois Counselors serves as an excellent outlet for that attitude. It's crass, but accessible, which is why it fits perfectly on the Reverb Fest bill. Joining some of the state's most revered punk-oriented acts, Patois Counselors will make their live debut this Friday evening with a fresh new band that's "that's taken [his] parts and made them more visceral," meaning you can probably expect things to get pretty wiley.

Listen to "Free Jazz Complaint" below and check out Patois Counselors at Reverb Fest in Charlotte at The Neighborhood Theatre on Jan. 30. alongside Diarrhea Planet, Junior Astronomers, Museum Mouth and Southern Femisphere.