Over the last few years numerous indie artists went vintage with their music. Katie Costello’s quirky retro melodies share the current trend and similarities with Rosi Golan, Lucy Schwartz, Laura Jansen and Regina Spektor and yet evolve into her own original and captivating sound. Set to release in early 2011, Katie’s album Lamplight is a collection of contagiously melodic, clever and soulful piano driven pop songs that will capture the hearts (and ears) of many. “Ashes Ashes” offers a sweet taste of the upcoming album, while the lyrical “How Do We Know” is taken from Katie’s latest EP.
Jonathan Radford a.k.a. Diesler creates vibes that make you want to move. The sounds are warm and full of rhythm, hence the title of his previous album The Rhythm Station (on Freestyle Records). The warmness of Diesler’s sound is reflected by a clear influence of latin music, with some beats and twists added for good measure, all keeping a positive and fresh style, to which another album title is testament: Keepie Uppies (on Tru Throughts). He is also one of the masterminds behind retro-funk outfit Laura Vane & the Vipertones. There is certainly a lot of music out there by this producer, but let us first point our attention to this summer’s Tie Breakers, released on Social Beats / Unique Records. Check it out for yourself with album track “Deepest Cuba” and the reggae remix dub of “Samba Magic”, reworked by Grant Phabao.
By the end of 2010, it’s safe to say that British female-fronted pop projects strongly dominated the year’s musical landscape. Florence Welch’s charming extravagance, Natasha Khan’s (Bat for Lashes) dark-ish melodies and Marina Diamandis’ sparkling pop debut received critical acclaim on both sides of the pond. Fallulah, a.k.a. Copenhagen-based Maria Apetri, certainly reflects the current musical tendencies. While her debut album The Black Cat Neighbourhood (2010) offers quirky melodies and somewhat dark, richly layered soundscapes comparable to the British diva invasion, she adds a rather unique touch of Balkan folk to her sound. The Black Cat Neighbourhood displays Fallulah’s strong songwriting skills, rich instrumentation that includes everything from folky strings, ukulele and glockenspiel to irresistible whistling and hand-claps along her expressive, distinct vocals.
Javier Dunn may be an unfamiliar name to most, but the singer-songwriter has years of experience under his belt. The Los Angeles-based songwriter has been playing guitar since he was 10, put out his first full-length album in 2006, and has been playing guitar with Sara Bareilles since their days at UCLA. Despite spending an incredible amount of time on the road as part of Sara’s band, he’s managed to release another EP, Vessel, earlier this year. The new EP features “If You Go,” an folk-pop gem that is as refreshingly catchy as it is sincere. His stripped down cover of Miike Snow’s “Animal” isn’t on the EP, but remains a particular favorite of mine. Javier’s take on the electropop hit highlights the plaintive lyrics without sacrificing a groove that keeps the track moving. Like, “If You Go,” Dunn’s version of “Animal” is vulnerable, heartfelt and unerringly catchy. Take a listen to both tracks below and see for yourself!
A luscious and vibrant sound was my aim for this mix, titled ‘Safe Bet’ because I wanted to create an introduction to downtempo / electronic music in a way that may captivate and grow interest. To subtly build an unfamiliar atmosphere and give hints of more to explore.
Classical tendencies, strings especially, sweet beats, glitchy cinematic effects and jazzy grooves fill the air. Mixed in 2003 while DJ’ing at ErrorFM as I hoped to inspire people with new music from around the world.
French-Senegalese chanteuse Madjo first captured my attention with “Le Monstre” back in 2009 making her debut album Trapdoor (2010) among my most anticipated albums of the year. While there is very little information about Madjo available to English speakers, she’s the new chanteuse on the rise among French music lovers. Madjo’s repertoire varies from vintage pop influences to Southern folk-blues and tender ballads, somewhat recalling Feist, Yael Naim and Okou with the subtle avant-garde touch of Camille. Une chanteuse extraordinnaire!
The Haggis Horns operate as a quite successful horn section, garnering praise from a wide range of recording artists, like Mark Ronson (“The best f***ing horn section in the World!”), Amy Winehouse & The New Mastersounds. Besides recording and touring with said artists (and many more), they also function as a full band. A little while ago their second LP Keep on Movin‘ saw the light of day on First Word Records. The vocals on this album are by Nia Saw aka Lucinda Slim, who also sings on “The Cockroach Grind”. “The Bump”, from their first LP titled Hot Damn!, shows the band can hold its own in vocal and instrumental jams alike.
The Dø is one of those musical gems I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time. Now, with their debut album A Mouthful (2010) finally released in the US and the recent North American tour, is the time to introduce this French-Finnish indie pop act. The Dø first captured attention of European music lovers with their song “The Bridge is Broken”, written for a contemporary dance performance Scène d’amour back in 2005. A Mouthful, a rather eclectic collection of songs, evokes similarities to the sweet quirkiness of Nina Perrson, the Knife’s electro touch and the sharp playfulness of Lykke Li. “At Last” carries rich guitar riffs, piano and bluesy harmonica arrangements woven with Olivia’s yearning, seductive vocals. Ukulele driven “Stay (Just A Little Bit More)” is simply a little delightful track.
While Julija was covering Bumbershoot up in Seattle, I was in Downtown LA’s Historic State Park for Los Angeles’ own FYF FEST. It was a pretty phenomenal afternoon of music. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the whole night, but the stacked line-up ensured I had tons of great bands to check out while I was around! The absolutely packed line-up included Cults, Warpaint, The Soft Pack, Best Coast, A.A. Bondy, The Mountain Goats, Local Natives, Delorean, Panda Bear and The Rapture (plus a comedy tent for good measure), which meant there was a lot of jumping from set to set, but I managed to catch a pretty solid number of acts.
After a long wait for press passes, I finally made it through the gates in time to catch the first set of the day, The Blow. It’s been four years since the release of Paper Televisions, and since then the group (which previously consisted of Mikhaela Maricich and Jona Bechtolt) has slimmed down to just Mikhaela. Currently her live sets are produced in collaboration with Melissa Dyne, who backs up Khaela from the soundbooth. Between lots of chatter about a celebrity who-shall-remain-unnamed, Khaela managed to play a short set which included “True Affection” and the ever-popular, “Parentheses”. Take a listen to “Pile of Gold” and a YACHT remix of “Hock It” below!
The enigmatic duo known as Cults, has remained somewhat of a mystery since I heard their track, “Go Outside” earlier this year. Prior to playing the FYF FEST, the New York based group opened for Maps & Atlases on their US tour. Check out one song I couldn’t stop playing this summer, “Go Outside”:
When we first posted about Warpaint early last year, they had self-released their 5-song Exquisite Corpse EP. Since then, the group has had a slight line-up change (Stella Mozgawa has replaced David Orlando on drums), re-released the EP in October of 2009 (via Manimal, signed to Rough Trade and have a new full-length dropping next month! Phew. The band is a familiar sight in the local venues around town, but the girls were absolutely at home on the massive Redwood stage. Take a listen to “Undertow” from the upcoming album below, as well as “Billie Holiday” which we featured last year:
LA locals Best Coast have been getting a lot of love on the blogs this year. The trio (Bethany Cosentino, Bobb Bruno and Ali Koehler) played to a massively packed crowd at this year’s FYF FEST; their fuzzed-out garage rock was an incredibly appropriate soundtrack to the scorching festival afternoon. While their lo-fi surf rock sound isn’t typical of what you might hear on Aurgasm, check out “When I’m With You” and “Boyfriend” below!
Amid all the lo-fi, electro and indie bands at FYF FEST, A.A. Bondy stood out as one of the few folk acts to hit the stage. However, he wasn’t out of place at all — backed by a full band, Bondy’s soulful and earnest folk was the perfect mid-afternoon set to catch. Listen to “I Can See The Pines Are Dancing” from When The Devil’s Loose below and imagine sitting on the dusty ground, in the shadow of the main stage. Perfect.
The Soft Pack
While I relaxed and waited for Local Natives’ set at the Redwood stage, The Soft Pack made sure I didn’t wind down too much, when they took the stage. The Los Angeles-via-San Diego band kept the energy level up with their upbeat garage rock. Despite releasing a full-length earlier this year, the band already has a brand new track, “Gagdad” out now. Check it out:
Since we featured them last year, Local Natives have been riding an incredible high. The band signed to a label in the US and the UK, released their debut Gorilla Manor to rave reviews, and have seemed to be touring non-stop! Their stop at FYF FEST was the first time they’ve been back in their hometown all summer, and it was an incredible one. The guys are always amazing live, and it seems like all the touring has only tightened up their phenomenal live show.
Recently, the band has been releasing the stems for the tracks on Gorilla Manor on their website, and posting the remixes that fans send in. I asked Andy which remixes the band have really been into, and he sent back a remix of “Who Knows Who Cares” by Brighton-based BretonLABS, and the brand new remix of “Shape Shifter” by Superhumanoids, another LA local. (He also mentioned that Superhumanoids will be opening for Local Natives on their upcoming UK tour!) Take a listen to Local Natives’ favorite Local Natives remixes below, as well as the exclusive acoustic take of “Camera Talk” the guys recorded for us last year. Then head over to http://www.thelocalnatives.com/stems/ and have a go at remixing some tracks yourself!
Dead Man’s Bones
When Dead Man’s Bones hit the stage, they were accompanied by the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir, the same choir that collaborated with the duo on their debut album, Dead Man’s Bones, last year. The band, which is comprised of Ryan Gosling (yes, that Ryan Gosling) and Zach Shields, played a completely charming and eclectic set backed by the kids, who were all dressed in costume (which included flappers, Abe Lincoln and a James Dean). Take a listen to “My Body’s A Zombie For You” and “Pa Pa Power” and hear for yourself!
This year Seattle’s Bumbershoot marked its 40 years anniversary with an outstanding lineup of both critically acclaimed and up-and-coming musicians. Legendary Bob Dylan, folk goddess Neko Case, funky soul performer Jamie Lidell and the Mediterranean Balkan Beat Box are just a few to name. Following the Aurgasm spirit, below are a few acts we wanted to share with you.
The Budos Band
Aurgasm featured The Budos Band grabbed our attention for their truly irresistible afro-funky groove back in 2007. It’s a must-catch act for the fans of Menahan Street Band, Antibalas and the likes. Enjoy the soulful funk vibes of “Unbroken, Unshaven” taken from their recently released album The Budos Band: III (2010).
UK’s Pete Molinari plays quirky folk-blues with a retro feeling to it and a good dose of British humour. “One Stolen Moment” delivers wistful melody and genuinely melancholic arrangements. “For Eliza”, A Train Bound for Glory (2010), displays Pete’s distinctive, melodic voice. From Presley-esque tunes to vintage Americana, it’s simply charming. Keep your eyes (and ears) open for Pete’s upcoming shows.
Vienna Teng could be easily named the loveliest and audience-friendliest singer-songwriter of the festival. California-born Taiwanese-American pianist, Vienna actually is a software engineer who frequently performs across Europe and US. Vienna shared the news about going to grad school this fall, so unfortunately, we’re not going to hear from her any time soon. Enjoy her enchanting piano melodies:
On the last and rainy day, Aurgasm darling Icelandic songstress Lay Low played an intimate acoustic set. Lovísa played songs from her latest album “Farewell Good Night’s Sleep” including a few lovely tunes in her native Icelandic.
Colombian Bomba Estéreo set the stage on fire with the rhythms of cumbia, champeta and bullerengue mixed with danceable electronic beats. A little on the edgy side, the psychedelic effects seamlessly blend into glamorous electronic carnival. Unstoppable energy!
Loch Lomond, another pleasant discovery, are Portland-based chamber pop ensemble. We all already know that plenty of good music comes from Portland, so here comes another treat to keep us convinced. Loch Lomond blends folk melodies with soaring vocal harmonies and instrumentation of acoustic guitar, banjo, flute and vibraphone to create a sound of forest fairytale. Somewhat enigmatic, captivating baroque pop.