aurgasm special posts

Aurgasm Live: Priscilla Ahn

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 by Michelle

singer songwriter // folk

When we first featured Priscilla Ahn back in 2007, she only had a 5-track, independently released EP available. Since then, she got signed to Blue Note Records, released two full length albums and has had her music featured in a number of films and television shows. And last week, she and Charlie Wadhams released a free EP under the moniker Sweet Hearts. She’s been pretty busy! Priscilla was nice enough to take some time to talk with us about making When You Grow Up and played a couple tunes, which we’ve included below!

Priscilla Ahn – “Lost Cause” (Live)

It’s been a few years since your EP and A Good Day came out. For the new album, When You Grow Up, were these all brand new tracks, or were some of these tunes you had written a while back?

Yeah, there’s only one song off the record that I started writing back in the EP days, and that’s “Lost Cause”. Everything else has been written sort of from the last record until now. I named the album “When You Grow Up” because a lot of those were written in a growing period. I took a lot of time to do a lot of reflection and thinking, and I feel like a lot of the songs came out of that.

Can you talk a little about your songwriting process? You’ve got a lot of layers in your songs — vocals, guitar and harmonies. How do you start off?

Well I write the lyrics and the guitar parts at the same time, it sort of just flows together. I’ll make a demo of it, so I’ll record that part, and then — it might not even be harmonies I’m thinking of, it could be other instrument parts — I’ll just sing them, to add something to the demo. [laughs] But they usually end up just being crazy harmony parts. I’ve done a lot of co-writing on this record, and each process for that has been really different.

When you’re co-writing, do you go in with an idea, or is it more collaborative?

The one with Inara [George], that was completely collaborative. We just sort of came up with that together on the spot. The one with Charlie [Wadhams] — I was late [meeting him], so he started writing an idea he got, which was great! The one with Sia; the night before I was meeting with her, I remembered that she doesn’t play any instruments, and realized it was all gonna be on me for guitar. So I actually came up with all the chords and stuff for that song, and then she pretty much wrote all the lyrics, which was really cool. And all the other ones have sort of been collaborative ideas coming together.

The people you wrote with, they all have a number of musical projects they work on (both solo and as part of a band). Do you feel like they’re musical influences as well as being friends, and who are some of your other musical influences?

They’re totally musical influences, because I’m such a fan. You know, I’m their friend but also their fan. Which is awesome because I respect what they do and I trust their ideas. At the same time, it’s a comfortable working environment because we’re friends, so it’s real easy-going. Other musical influences, as of late, I’ve been listening to a lot of Beach House, especially when we were recording the record. Françoise Hardy was an influence. I was listening to a lot of her music when I wrote “Cry Baby” so it was sort of influenced by that. Who else has been an influence…

I mean, not just for this record either, but also–

In life?

Yeah. That’s such an enormous question, I know.

Well, Neil Young is one of my biggest heroes. Andrew Bird is really cool. Growing up I listened to a lot of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Beatles. Radiohead was another big one. Pink Floyd.

Priscilla Ahn – “The Moon” (Live)

How did recording this album differ from your first album? I know you went over to England to record it with Ethan Johns, how did that impact the album?

It was really different, this whole recording experience was really different from my last recording experience. Ethan, he works really old school; we record to tape and he’s very organic. On the last record (A Good Day), I was so used to us doing two or three takes of a song, and we’d piece together the best parts in Pro Tools and then — oh we’re done! When [Ethan] started doing it, he had us play the same song all day, into the next day, and I would think, “This is taking forever!” But then I realized how genius it is, and what a big difference it makes, because it actually puts you into the song. Everyone who’s playing is also in the song, and you all listen to it together, and you find that magic take. And for a producer to have that kind of patience I think is really cool. It’s important to him.

And being in England, at first I was so stressed out because I wasn’t going to have all my musician friends around me, and I was not going to be at home, you know? So I was really freaking out about it. But once I got in there, it was much better for me. When I record in LA, I get really antsy in the studio, and I’m like, “I can’t wait to go home” and I’m not really focused. Whereas being there, what do I have to go back to? A hotel room by myself. Being in another country is also a deadline. I can’t stay there forever. I have a plane ticket for this day, so we have to finish. It was just really focused, and made time go by really fast, which was great. It was a really good experience for me to break out of my comfort zone, and try something new. And I ended up meeting some other really great musicians, like Sam Dixon, who played bass, who’s amazing. And Jeremy Stacey who played drums.

On the first album, you had someone play a saw, there was an autoharp — a lot of cool stuff. There were also a lot of interesting instruments on the new album, an omnichord, mellotron, celesta, marxophone. How did you start incorporating all those instruments in the recording process?

Well, for the first record, we just went in there and whatever was available. Luckily Joey [Waronker]’s studio had all this cool shit, and we were like, “Oh, let’s try this!” But for this album, I wanted it to be a little more thought out before we went in to record. For the sake of time, but also to have a sound for the album. I made a list of all the instruments that I really liked, which were a lot of those, and Ethan had a couple other things like a mellotron, and a really old pump organ. Each old instrument brings it’s own character and soul to the song, I think. For this album I gave it a little more thought, I mapped it out a little more. I went through each song and was like, “This one, I hear this, this, and this.”

Priscilla Ahn – “All You’ve Got To Do Is Fall In Love” (Live) [Benji Hughes cover]

The album includes a cover of Benji Hughes’ “Vibe So Hot”. What made you decide on a cover, what drew you to the song?

For this album, I wanted to do a more upbeat song, and I was listening to Benji’s album and I thought “Vibe So Hot” was so funny and fun.

When you were putting the record together, did you feel the need to include more upbeat songs to balance it out? I know a lot of the songs are slower tunes.

Yeah, I naturally just write slower songs and I wanted for there to be more movement in the album. With the first record, I had so much time to write all these songs, without thinking about it. Without worrying about, “I need this kind of song, that kind of song.” For these songs, they were all pretty new. I was definitely more conscious about it, in a stressful way.

Are there any songs or bands that have caught your attention recently? What music have you been excited about lately?

Well I love Cass McCombs. I’ve been listening to Little Dragon, but they’re a little more known. Oh, Blake Mills. He’s here in LA and his music is really cool, I have his Live in Shanghai EP and it’s so good!

Thanks Priscilla!

Priscilla’s recommendations:
Blake Mills – Cheers (demo) from Live from Shanghai EP

Get a free download of Blake Mills’ Live from Shanghai EP here.

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donthink: Classick #57

Saturday, December 24th, 2011 by Kyle
Cleaning barn stalls on the farm is often accompanied by my Uncle’s radio playing AM stations, and fresh sounds from generations passed inspired me to make a mix where current electronic trends resemble classic gems. Open your ears to 60’s pop, swinging electric beats, rumbling jazz, hazy noir, retro boogie, school band funk, swanky smooth sensations, robotic soul, and a safe moon landing. 2002 ErrorFM

donthink – Classick #57 (58min):

  1. Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ [1966]
  2. Cujo – Popsicle [2002]
  3. Defcon 5 ft Bluu – Goodbye [2002]
  4. Louis Prima – Jump Jive an’ Wail (Tranquility Bass Remix) [1956 / 1999]
  5. DJ Git Hyper – Just Face It [1997]
  6. Henry Mancini – Lujon [1959]
  7. Anjali – Lazy Lagoon [2000]
  8. Fingathing – Come on Girls [2000]
  9. Mo’Horizons – Do the Boogaloo [2001]
  10. Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song [1965]
  11. DJ Shadow – The Newborn Hippopotamus Jazz Rock Machine [2000]
  12. Louise Vertigo – Où est la Femme? [1998]
  13. Jazzanova – L.O.V.E. and You & I ft David Friedman & Paul Kleber [2002]
  14. Michael Jackson – Ain’t No Sunshine (SSY Remix) [1972 / 2001]
  15. Avia – Exil Exit [1998]

Aurgasm@SXSW 2011 – Day Three

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 by Michelle


Pepper Rabbit
Pepper Rabbit’s set at The Orchard’s party on Friday morning was a bit of an odd one — the group’s normally lush and orchestral sound was stripped down as Xander Singh played solo in in front of a small group of us at Bar 96. Xander admitted, “It’s a little weird to hear my music like this.” Weird, maybe, but still a lovely way to start off the day, and hearing the tracks performed that way was a unique experience. A couple hours later, Serena and I were working upstairs in the Convention Center, just outside the Day Stage where the full band was playing a set. I lucked out, catching two sides of Pepper Rabbit, if only by happenstance. Don’t forget to listen to “Harvest Moon” off their debut album, Beauregard below!

Pepper Rabbit – “Harvest Moon”

Brian Wright
Just after Xander’s set, we booked it across town to catch Brian Wright bringing some good old rock and roll Americana to The Belmont. Brian Wright and his band played an energetic set which included a personal favorite of mine, “Glory Hallelujah”, as well as mix of songs from both his upcoming album, House On Fire and his previous two albums. The early set meant a smallish crowd, but the energy levels were high — especially for the small group of fans that crowded in front of the stage! Brian’s new album comes out next week, you can get a quick preview by taking a listen to “Accordion” below!

Brian Wright – “Accordion”
Brian Wright – “Glory Hallelujah”

Kina Grannis
We headed back where we came from to catch singer-songwriter Kina Grannis at Bar 96. Serena, who has been patiently shooting SXSW for us, was a fan of Kina’s already, and in no time it was obvious why. Kina’s songs are sweet with the occasional melancholic hint, but most of all, undeniably catchy — essentially, everything you could want in an pop song. She may have first landed on everyone’s radar because of the Super Bowl contest she won back in 2007, but it’s her nuanced songwriting and charming performances that makes Kina a musician to keep an eye on. She’s re-releasing her 2010 album, Stairwells, next month, and you can check out the song “Valentine” below. Kina also recorded a cover of the Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” which you can download here.

Kina Grannis – “Valentine”

We swung by The Ale House to catch Buddy’s set, but even as he started playing, the noise levels from the audience were overwhelming; not a good mix, especially for self-described “wimpycore” that Buddy and his band play. Despite it all, Buddy and drummer Al Sgro played the show like champs, playing a short set of folk-pop inspired tunes from his full length, Alterations and Repairs, as well as a couple new ones. There’s a sweetness to Buddy’s songs, as well as a goofy streak (as evidenced by a Whitesnake singalong to “Here I Go Again” that he started). Early in the set, Buddy mentioned that there were supposed to be six of them on stage, and quipped, “It’s the White Stripes version of us.” Later on they became a trio when Holly Conlan (who was mentioned here back in 2009) came up to accompany him on a few songs. It’s no Whitesnake, but take a listen to “Silent Treatment”, and a live cut of “If We Lived Here” below:

Buddy – “Silent Treatment”
Buddy – “If We Lived Here” (Live)

The Chapin Sisters
The Chapin SIsters were briefly mentioned in our coverage of SXSW last year, when they sang background vocals for She & Him. This year they were front and center at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary, with a full band to back them up! Abigail and Lily’s haunting vocal harmonies and ethereal melodies filled St. David’s as they played a collection of songs from their album, Two. A personal highlight was when, near the end of their set, they shed the band and sang an acapella version of “Sweet Light” to everyone’s delight.

The Chapin Sisters – “Palm Tree”

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down
I’ve been a fan of Thao’s for a while now, and we first featured her here back in 2008. Since then, she’s released another full length with The Get Down Stay Down ( Know Better Learn Faster, 2009), and has a new album with Mirah releasing in a few weeks. Antone’s was completely packed just before Thao and The Get Down Stay Down hit the stage — they’re always a blast to see live, but from Thao’s hilarious soundcheck ditty alone, you knew you were in for a great time. (“I always drink Shiner, like a wino. And that’s all right.”) Typically The Get Down Stay Down is comprised of Willis Thompson on drums and Adam Thompson (no relation) on bass, but the stage was filled with a few extras — including a violinist, trombonist, and guitarist/keyboardist. They wailed through a set which included tracks from both their albums, including “Body”, “Know Better Learn Faster”, a sick keyboard solo in the middle of “Feet Asleep”, and my favorite part of hearing “Bag of Hammers” live — the most impressive “three sounds at once” vocal intro you’ll ever hear. The band’s set was a high-energy mess of handclaps, foot stomps, soaring horns and exuberant vocals. You can take a listen to “Bag of Hammers” from We Brave Bee Stings & All and “Know Better Learn Faster” and “When We Swam” from Know Better Learn Faster below.

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Bag of Hammers”
Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”
Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam”

Ben Sollee
Ben Sollee is another familiar face here at Aurgasm — we previously featured him back in 2008, just after his debut album Learning To Bend released. Since then, he’s released an album with Daniel Martin Moore, Dear Companion in 2010, and has been noted for his political activism, especially relating to his home state of Kentucky. We found ourselves back at St. David’s for the last showcase of the night, where Ben was joined onstage by Jordan Ellis on drums; Phoebe Hunt, Cheyenne Marie Mize, and Tracy Bonham on violin; and occasionally, Abigail Washburn on background vocals. Just before introducing his band, Ben said, “The thing about being an independent musician is that you can’t do it without a lot of help.” That sense of camaraderie and simple joy in playing music with friends pervaded the atmosphere at St. David’s. Ben went on to play a number of songs from his upcoming album, Inclusions, which he described as his search for the answer to the fact that, “More than ever, people are living in urban environments. What does that mean for folk music?” He went on to say that “it can be in the car you hear playing a bass line you dig, and also your grandfather teaching you the fiddle.” I’m not sure what the answer may be, but if Ben’s new songs are any indication, it will certainly be beautiful.

I met Bob Boilen (of NPR’s All Songs Considered) after Ben’s set, and he pretty much summed up my thoughts on the evening:

Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore – “Something, Somewhere, Sometime”

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Aurgasm@SXSW 2011 – Day Two

Friday, March 18th, 2011 by Michelle


Alexander Ebert, frontman for Ima Robot and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, debuted his solo effort “Alexander” at SXSW this year. At one point early in his set, Alex said to the crowd, “You have to be a bit forgiving at SXSW” — turns out there was no need for that warning. Despite the heat, Alex and his band had everyone crowded around the small stage, enthusiastically singing and clapping along. Later, he shrugged off all the cheers, jokingly asking “Alright, alright, who paid you guys off?” Though Alex had a band backing him at the Greenhouse, he performed all the songs from his debut album, Alexander, solo. Take a listen to “A Million Years” and “Truth” below.

Alexander – “A Million Years”
Alexander- “Truth”

Sondre Lerche
Sondre Lerche is a long-time favorite of mine, so I was pretty thrilled to hear that Rawkblog & TwentyFourBit had him on the bill for their SXSW party. The scene was a bit calmer over at The Liberty on 6th, which was a bit east of most of the main SXSW madness. Sondre played a bunch of new tunes from his upcoming album, Sondre Lerche, including “Domino” which David Greenwald got video of here: Sondre Lerche – “Domino” (Live @ SXSW 2011). After a couple of the new tunes, someone shouted “Play a classic!” and Sondre asked, “You mean like, The Stones? Or one of mine?” When everyone shouted back, “One of yours!” Sondre quipped, “…of which there are so many!” — but he obliged by playing one of my personal favorites, “Sleep on Needles”. Between the jokes (there was definitely a David Brent reference thrown in there) and the solo performance, Sondre’s set was a great way to spend an afternoon at SXSW. Take a listen to “Sleep On Needles” and his cover of Owen Pallett’s “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt” below (another artist we saw perform).

After his set, Sondre was kind enough to give Aurgasm a little shout out!

Sondre Lerche – “Sleep On Needles” (stream only)
Sondre Lerche – “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt” (Owen Pallett cover) (stream only)

James Vincent McMorrow
After Sondre’s set at The Liberty, we headed back down to the Rachael Ray Feedback at The Greenhouse to catch James Vincent McMorrow. I’d been hoping to catch him while at SXSW, his debut album Early In The Morning is a beautiful collection of songs, which I’ve been playing on repeat for the better part of the last month. As the evening approached, James and his band played a short set from Early In The Morning. His haunting vocals were the perfect soundtrack to the evening twilight.

James Vincent McMorrow – “This Old Dark Machine”
James Vincent McMorrow – “If I Had A Boat”

Allie Moss
We featured Allie Moss back in 2009, and were lucky enough to catch her one show at SXSW this year! The Creekside at The Hilton Garden Inn is the rare SXSW venue that lets you rest a bit while catching a show. Allie was the first artist for the Bedford showcase, and certainly did not disappoint. Backed by a full band, she played a mix of new songs as well as older ones from her Passerby EP. Allie has a full length releasing later this year, but you can take a listen to “Corner” and “Passerby” from her EP below!

Allie Moss – “Corner”
Allie Moss – “Passerby”

It’s been a couple years since we wrote about Lenka here — Julija first gave us the heads up back in 2008. We caught her set at The Rusty Spurs last night, where she played as part of the AustinROX showcase. She has a new album, Two coming out later this year, and her set was a mix of new songs from that, as well as familiar favorites from The Show. You can take a listen to “The Show” if you didn’t catch it the first time around!

Lenka – “The Show”

Jenny O
At Malalia, there may have been a trance dance party going on upstairs, but downstairs Jenny O. was wowing the crowd with her catchy alt-country tunes. At one point, the audience started their own dance party, dancing along to her upbeat folk rock. Take a listen to “Well OK Honey” from the Honey EP below, as well as a remix from Spirit Animal.

Jenny O. – “Well OK Honey”
Jenny O. – “Won’t Let You Leave” (Spirit Animal remix)

Lia Ices
One of my favorite venues is St. David’s Historic Sanctuary on 7th; and the church’s vast and beautiful atmosphere was the perfect setting for Lia Ices’ dreamy, intricate ballads. At one point she reflected my thoughts exactly when she said, “It’s very nice to be with you in this civilized place among all the chaos out there.” Take a listen to “Daphne” from her recently released album, Grown Unknown:

Lia Ices – “Daphne”

Owen Pallett
After an exceptionally long day of music, we ended the evening with Owen Pallett. The multi-instrumentalist took the stage at Emo’s late in the evening, but was worth the wait. His most recent album, Heartland, was one of my favorites of 2010, and it’s incredible to see Owen perform these tracks live. It was an impossible-to-describe mix of electronic beats, classical strings that was mind-blowing to see live. Pallett also played a cover of Simon Bookish’s “Interview”. However, a highlight may have been when Owen performed an acoustic version of “He Poos Clouds” as he waited for his computer’s soundcard to reboot.

Owen Pallett – “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”
Owen Pallett – “Lewis Takes Action”

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Aurgasm@SXSW 2011 – Day One

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 by Michelle


Toro Y Moi
After one of the longest trips ever, we finally made it into Austin and decided to swing by The Fader Fort and caught their first set of the day, Toro Y Moi. Chaz Bundick (a.k.a. Toro Y Moi) performed to a growing crowd, laying down his unique blend of digital beats, synths and vocals. Take a listen to “Blessa” from his 2010 debut Causers of This and “Still Sound” from his latest album, Underneath The Pine.

Toro Y Moi – “Blessa”
Toro Y Moi – “Still Sound”

Laura Stevenson and The Cans
One of the best surprises of the day was New York based Laura Stevenson and The Cans. Laura and her band played the Riot Act Media day party at The Ghost Room to an entirely too-small audience; the band’s layered melodies, complex instrumentation and Laura’s lovely vocals were the perfect afternoon break. Their new album releases next month, but you can take a listen to “Master of Art” below.

Laura Stevenson and The Cans – “Master of Art”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
We made it over to The Phoenix just in time to catch the last half of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s set at the KCRW showcase. Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott brought their dreamy blend of pop and folk and probably earned a whole slew of new fans as a result. The Detroit duo got the entire crowd bouncing around, and they’ll do the same to you. Check out two tracks from their Horse Power EP below!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “Nothing But Our Love”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “Vocal Chords”

The Belle Brigade
These LA natives have been on my radar for a while, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to see them live until last night’s showcase at The Phoenix. The group is fronted by siblings Ethan and Barbara Gruska, (the latter playing drums with what seems like every band in LA, including Obi Best, who we featured a few years ago). Their band includes Alex Silverman (of Alex & Sam) on guitar, Aaron Arntz on keys, Keith Karmen on bass and Mike Green on drums. The Belle Brigade’s live show was energetic, uplifting and exceptionally earnest; you can’t help but fall in love with them a little bit. Their entire set was a treat, but one highlight was when Barbara went back behind the kit to play drums, and Mike Green stepped up to do the most epic tambourine playing/dancing I’ve ever seen. Take a listen to “Sweet Louise” off their upcoming album below!

The Belle Brigade – “Sweet Louise” (stream only)

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donthink: Safe Bet

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 by Kyle
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.

donthink – Safe Bet (63min):

  1. Xploding Plastix – Dieci
  2. Mujaji – Siempre (Jon Kennedy Remix)
  3. Bonobo – Change Down
  4. Jon Kennedy – Brown Acid
  5. Bathysphere – Where’s Vicky (Quantic Mix)
  6. Caural – Sipping Snake Blood Wine (Savath & Savalas Remix)
  7. The Cinematic Orchestra – All Things To All Men ft Roots Manuva
  8. Broadway Project – Beauty
  9. Yenara – When Mountain Meets The Sea
  10. A Guy Called Gerald – Humanity ft Louise Rhodes (Funkstörung Remiks)
  11. Daedelus – Minor Detour
  12. King Seven – Hidden
  13. Opiate – Pk 50
  14. Hint – Count Your Blessings (Bonobo Mix)
  15. Florian Ross – Piano Interlude

Aurgasm@FYF FEST 2010

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by Michelle


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.

All photos courtesy of Joey Maloney.

The Blow
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 Blow – “Pile of Gold”
The Blow – “Hock It” (YACHT Remix)

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”:

Cults – “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:

Warpaint – “Undertow” (from The Fool, 2010)
Warpaint – “Billie Holiday” (from Exquisite Corpse EP, 2008)

Best Coast
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!

Best Coast – “When I’m With You”
Best Coast – “Boyfriend”

A.A. Bondy
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.

A.A. Bondy – “I Can See The Pines Are Dancing”

THE SOFT PACK- “MORE OR LESS” from gia coppola on Vimeo.

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:

The Soft Pack – “Gagdad”

Local Natives
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 and have a go at remixing some tracks yourself!

Local Natives – “Camera Talk” (Acoustic Aurgasm Exclusive)
Local Natives – “Shape Shifter” (Superhumanoids Remix)
Local Natives – “Who Knows Who Cares” (BretonLABS Remix)

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!

Dead Man’s Bones – “My Body’s A Zombie For You”
Dead Man’s Bones – “Pa Pa Power”

Check out more photos from FYF FEST at our Flickr page. Thanks again to Joey Maloney for the incredible photos!

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Aurgasm@Bumbershoot 2010

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 by Julija


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).

The Budos Band – Unbroken, Unshaven

Pete Molinari
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.

Pete Molinari – For Eliza

Ra Ra Riot
Mentioned already around the blogosphere, Ra Ra Riot were among the festival highlights on Sunday. From breezy pop to energetic indie rock, they won the hearts of the Seattle crowd.

Ra Ra Riot – Boy

Vienna Teng
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:

Vienna Teng – Harbor

Lay Low
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.

Lay Low – Last Time Around

Bomba Estéreo
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!

Bomba Estéreo – Fuego

Loch Lomond
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.

Loch Lomond – Wax And Wire

Photos by Yoav

Aurgasm@SXSW – Day Four

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Michelle


She & Him
After trying to catch She & Him twice before during SXSW, we were finally successful Saturday afternoon! Zooey and M. Ward were the headliners at the Rachael Ray day party at Stubb’s BBQ (a party Local Natives played a few hours earlier). Despite the freezing, gloomy mess that was Saturday’s weather, Stubb’s was at capacity with a line down the street. Strangely enough, when She & Him hit the stage decked out in their finest outerwear, the sun just began to peek through the clouds. Zooey and M. Ward (and the band) played a short collection of songs from both their debut (Volume One) and new release, Volume Two, including “This Is Not a Test” and their cover of the NRBQ song, “Ridin’ In My Car”. After playing “Change Is Hard,” Zooey brought out two familiar faces, Lily and Abby of Los Angeles’ The Chapin Sisters, to accompany her on background vocals. Their winsome, upbeat folk-pop was an ideal counter to the uncharacteristic cold weather, and a great start to the last day of SXSW! Take a listen to “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” from the debut, and “Thieves” from Volume Two, which is out today:

She & Him – “Thieves” (from Volume Two)
She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” (from Volume One)

Hey Marseilles
I first stumbled upon Hey Marseilles at SXSW last year, and last fall Julija covered them at Bumbershoot in Seattle. This year we caught the Seattle natives play St. David’s Historic Sanctuary (the church we saw Sofia Talvik play a few days earlier), where they filled the gorgeous space with their unique brand of orchestral pop. Their set included “From a Terrace,” as well as a Daniel Johnston cover (“True Love Will Find You in The End”), before ending with an audience-assisted rendition of “Rio” (mostly involving a little call-and-response clapping on our parts). The band played a multitude of instruments including violin, cello, accordion, trumpet, drums, a concert bass drum, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards and the requisite tambourine & shakers (yes, the number of instruments on stage outnumbered band members). Halfway through the set, singer Matt Bishop said, “I haven’t been in a church in forever, but I’m sure glad to be here now.” From the standing ovation the crowd gave the guys of Hey Marseilles, they were glad to be there too. Hey Marseilles skillfully weave together complex orchestration and effortless melody; the result is music that is worldly, lighthearted, and reflective. If you haven’t been listening to the boys of Hey Marseilles since we first mentioned them, it’s best you start. Take a listen to two of my favorite tracks from their 2008 debut, Travels & Trunks:

Hey Marseilles – “To Travels & Trunks”
Hey Marseilles – “Rio”

A note from Serena (our photographer): “I saw a ton of awesome musicians play at SXSW and these guys were my fave!”

The Wave Pictures
We headed back to Latitude 30 on Saturday night to catch the tail end of the Moshi Moshi showcase; everyone else might’ve been freezing outside but we were doing just fine down on San Jacinto and 5th. The Wave Pictures were one of the last bands to play the showcase, and they made it worth the wait. The London based trio have been playing together in some form for over 10 years, resulting in an ease on stage that is palpable. David Tattersall (vocals, guitar), Franic Rozycki (bass) and Jonny Helm (drums)’s set included a new track, “Epping Forest” and “Strange Fruit For David”. For the song “God Bless The Reverend Gary Davis,” we were pleasantly surprised to see drummer Jonny Helm step out from behind the kit to take the vocal lead. The Wave Pictures’ songs are charming, funny and deeply emotive all at once. Their lo-fi, indie rock leans toward the sparse and simple, with a heavy emphasis on lyrics, served pretense-free by David Tattersall. Take a listen to “Just Like a Drummer” below:

The Wave Pictures – “Just Like a Drummer”

Slow Club
Sheffield duo, Slow Club, closed out the Moshi Moshi showcase on Saturday night. Rebecca Taylor (percussion) and Charles Watson (guitar) started off the set with “I Wanna Live,” which they sung together with a sparse synth accompaniment. For the rest of the night, the duo played a set that would sway between the sweet and tenuously sung “I Was Unconscious, It Was a Dream” to the raucous upbeat energy of “Because We’re Dead,” and the audience loved every second. To qualify Slow Club as simply “folk” would be doing Rebecca and Charles a disservice — it’s a too-simple way to categorize their music which requires more nuance. Alternating between energetic rockabilly to soothing ballads, Slow Club manage to strike a balance. The set included a number of songs from their album, Yeah So, as well as a few new tracks. After Rebecca introduced the new song, “Gold Mountain,” she amended, “Well, not that new, since we’ve played it a million times this festival.” A million or not, it was still a treat. After inviting “all their mates” up on stage, they closed out the night with a cover of Tracy Byrd’s jubilant drinking ode, “Drinking Bone”. Though I’ve been a fan of Slow Club for a while, I’d never gotten a chance to see them live, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Seeing the duo live for the first time was the perfect way to round out SXSW. Take a listen to “I Was Unconscious, It Was A Dream” and “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful” from Yeah So:

Slow Club – “I Was Unconscious, It Was A Dream”
Slow Club – “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful”

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Aurgasm@SXSW – Day Three

Saturday, March 20th, 2010 by Michelle


The Living Sisters
When The Living Sisters hit the stage at the Paste/Vanguard/Sugar Hill party at The Belmont, there was a slight change of line-up. Inara George, who is pregnant (and expecting very soon!) couldn’t make the trip to Austin. However, girls remained a trio, with Alex Lily (of Obi Best) filling in as a “step-sister”. We missed Inara, but Alex did a phenomenal job standing in, her crystalline voice blending gorgeously with Becky Stark’s and Eleni Mandell’s. Their set included “Double Knots” as well as a sweetly sung cover of the Doris Day classic, “Que Sera, Sera”. Alex and Eleni would alternate playing guitar, which remained the only accompaniment to their voices for the set. As Becky said, “We’re The Living Sisters… and we love to live.” Well ladies, we love you too. If you missed our feature of The Living Sisters, check it out here. Also, take a listen to another track off their upcoming album, Love To Live, the stunning “How Are You Doing”:

The Living Sisters – “How Are You Doing”
The Living Sisters – “Double Knots”

When Paul first broke MOVITS! on Aurgasm last year, they were unknown outside of Sweden. Luckily our readers took notice — did you hear the story of how Aurgasm managed to sell every MOVITS! cd in existence? (And apparently land them on the Colbert Report?) The guys just completed their first tour of the US earlier this year, and were at SXSW playing a handful of shows. We caught them keeping the energy up and laying down the jams on South Congress, at The Home Slice. MOVITS! already had the crowd dancing by the time Johan announced “And now the first official dance break of the day!” and the energy levels never faltered. After a song, Johan would briefly explain what the it was about, but the crowd wasn’t deterred by the language barrier and kept dancing for the whole set. Everyone may have been talking about Courtney Love and Hole’s show at Stubb’s, but the party was really happening south of the river.

MOVITS! – Swing För Hyresgästföreningen
MOVITS! – Äppelknyckarjazz

Obi Best
As we discovered earlier today, Alex Lily was pulling double duty at SXSW this year (strangely enough, both were Aurgasm features!). After playing as part of The Living Sisters, Alex was joined by Bram Inscore (keys) and Mike Green (drums) to play the Victorian Room at the Driskill Hotel as Obi Best. According to Alex, this was their first SXSW show as Obi Best, and they didn’t disappoint. The trio kept the energy up, playing a handful of songs from the album Capades, such as “Swedish Boy” and “It’s Because of People Like You”. Despite Mike being sick, and Bram having two broken keys, Obi Best’s upbeat electro-acoustic jams kept the crowd cheering. They also played a few new songs, “Knock on Any Door” and “Tropical Fish” for those of us lucky to be in the audience. If you haven’t, check out our feature of Obi Best from back in 2008.

Obi Best – “Swedish Boy”
Obi Best – “Nothing Can Come Between Us”

Local Natives
The guys of Local Natives have had a big year since we featured them last year. Now signed to a label and with a full-length out, they’ve been keeping themselves busy with touring… constantly. Andy, Kelcey, Matt, Taylor and Ryan just finished a tour of Europe when they hit SXSW… to play nine shows. (Yes, nine.) However, by the looks of the entirely packed tent at The Galaxy Room backyard (part of the Frenchkiss/Mom+Pop Showcase) on Friday night, nine might not have been enough! Local Natives are an amazing band to see live, their energy barely restrained as they pounded, clapped and sang with a fervor. If you like these guys on CD, you need to catch them on stage! Until then, take a listen to a more low-key take of “Camera Talk” that the guys recorded for us last year:

Local Natives – “Camera Talk” (Acoustic Aurgasm Exclusive)
Local Natives – “Airplanes”

April Smith and the Great Picture Show
After a long wait outside, we finally made it into The Ale House, which was at full capacity (and remained full all night). We caught the tail end of April’s set, which was a great surprise. April Smith and the Great Picture Show played a boisterous and high-energy set of jazz-influenced songs that had The Ale House shaking with every stomp and clap. April and her band were a great surprise to catch in this week in Austin! Take a listen to the track “Movie Loves a Screen” below.

April Smith and the Great Picture Show – “Movie Loves a Screen”

It was a tight fit on the tiny stage at The Ale House for Fanfarlo and their instruments (which included: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, mandolin, keys, bass, trumpet, clarinet, melodica, glockenspiel, and a tom). After a long set-up, Fanfarlo took the stage, and Justin Finch (bass) just exclaimed, “It’s a clusterf*ck!” — that was exactly it. However, after the chaos of arranging themselves on stage and sound-checking all their instruments, Fanfarlo proved it was worth the wait. They started off the night with “The Walls Are Coming Down” with an acoustic/acapella intro, but turned up the energy by the end of the song. Their complex instrumentations and lush melodies were a highlight of the night. Most of the band played musical chairs between the songs, switching up instruments frequently. By the end of the night, The Ale House was bursting with energy, as Fanfarlo played most of the tracks from their album, Reservoir, including “I’m A Pilot,” “Fire Escape,” and “Luna”. These guys have been a favorite of mine for a while, and are always even better live! Take a listen to “Luna” and “Harold T. Wilkins, or How To Wait For a Very Long Time” below:

Fanfarlo – “Luna”
Fanfarlo – “Harold T. Wilkins, or How To Wait For a Very Long Time”

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