Befriend the Bears is an Austin-based seven piece virtuosic pairing of amorous tonal textures and feverishly erotic vocals which leaves the listener reaching for that post-coital cigarette. Their debut EP Before They Take Over is a multi-layered, eclectic work combining elements of indie-folk, funk, psychedelic, soul with a solid foundation of good old fashion rock’n’roll. The band’s ability to defy genre and stylistically spill out track after track of woven, burning storytelling that elegantly raises your emotional temperature.
Bringing in a horn section (Eduardo Ramirez-Sax, Marc Oran-Trumpet, Jason Morris-Trombone) to accompany fierce bass lines (Josh Arredondo), inventive-dynamic percussion (Behn Stuart) and siren like vocals (Tiana Berlin), they toss the salad of genres even more when the lead guitarist (Aaron Sekula) switches to the Korg for their Pink Floyd-esque song Red Lantern.
While the song Red Lantern is the last track of their debut EP Before They Take Over, it is truly one to really savor. Beginning with lyrics coded with quiet anger and soft vocals to match, the song then leads into a lyric free showcase of instrumentation solos. After some seriously intense bass chaos the song drops you off a high energy cliff and swiftly catches you with a soft emotional sax followed by sweet but mournful vocals.
The EPs second track “Stolen” exemplifies the delightfully haunting songwriting that has kept my finger on the repeat button. Memorable guitar licks, meticulous rhythm and vocal harmonies I could live in. BTB’s prowess in melody and lyric is unmistakable. Don’t miss this EP when it drops in January 2012.
I know, I know. You haven’t heard from me in a while. Sorry, I’ve just been really busty lately (heh heh heh). Busy and IN ANOTHER COUNTRY. For those who were unaware, Charlie (a friend) and I (me) spent a semester soaking in the fine Scottish culture IN SCOTLAND. We attended such enriching events as: rugby watching, haggis devouring, whisky tasting, indian food devouring, getting plastered, deciding that indian food was a bad idea, toilet devouring, and not posting to this blog. I did that last one A LOT.
When Charlie and I weren’t reaping the benefits of a cultured colon, we were out exploring Europe. “But Andy, that doesn’t seem very fair, that you get to enjoy europe and we don’t get to!!” Jesus Christ, man… don’t sneak up on me like that… do you reali…(breathes heavy) you just scared me alright? Jeez.
Yes, I agree. It’s not fair. It’s so not fair that I’m not ok with not doing anything about it. Lucky for vous (culture=you’rewelcome), we FILMED THUH WHOLE THANG. Yep, it’s true. You can watch all of our daring adventures here. I dare you (heh heh heh again)
Now a lot goes into scripting filming and editing a travel show. Namely scripting, filming, editing and getting into petty fights that eventually end in tears when it’s not even fair cuz it’s not like you ever payed attention to any of MY needs. Jesus, Karen! What was I saying? Oh yeah, all of those things. PLUS we had to find musicians who would let us use their music on the show for freeee (which is rearry hard). The following are some of the bands that were awesome enough to let us use they’s music. Fuck Karen.
From the bottom of my broken little heart, I want to thank all of these musicians for their willing contributions to what turned out to be a bloody waste of time (Just kiddin’… this is america. A “fuckin” waste of time)
More blagh posts to come.
“I had the extreme displeasure to see Maps and Atlases play a rock show last week at the Middle East. Upstairs. All they did was play really fast and sing really good and wear flannel and be awesome and I hated all of it. I have a pirannah shoved up my ass and one of these shoved up the other thing.”
Did you like that? That was my impression of an asshole. I have been working on it for a while because one day I dream of writing for pitchfork. –Oh… you thought that was real? You agreed? You have gonorrhea (TMI, by the way)?
Here’s the real review: A (the fuck) +
I had the extreme pleasure to see Maps and Atlases play a rock show last week at the Middle East. Upstairs. They played really fast and sang really well (notice I’m correcting asshole grammar) and wore flannel and were awesome and I loved every second of it. I have a pirannah shoved up my ass and one of these shoved up the other thing (this, sadly, is still true).
Lead singer Dave Davison or, as I like to call him, “Nearsighted Bigfoot” was all smiles, flannel shirts and frenzied tapped-out solos last week, as he and the rest of the 4-man Chicago outfit played their way through their new album “Perch Patchwork” in Cambridge. Controlled chaos is really the only way to describe their music. They take complex drum beats, arpeggio picked solos and slapped out bass parts and somehow make it accessible to the normal ear. Let me put it this way: they’re trying to make a peanut butter, prosciutto and horseradish sandwich sound appealing. Each of those things on their own is complex and delicious, but you’d be hard pressed to sell that at a restaurant when you combine them all together. Magically, however, they’ve actually succeeded in making that Shit-Sandwich the best thing on the Middle East menu. (ZING, Middle East).
About half way through the show I was faced with a particularly biting question. Is it ok to change my pants in public? (I was enjoying the show so much I LITERALLY soiled myself). (ok, so I was using the awesomeness of the show as an excuse for soiling myself… sue me.) (What’s that? You’re suing me?) (*soils self*)
Admittedly that paragraph was a bit of a digression. The point is the show was freakin’ sweet!! The music was fantastically complex and challenging in all of the right ways. The band was super nice as well. In fact after the show they said something like “Andy, nice shirt bro!” (…. ok so they didn’t say that). They did however do something I’ve never seen before, which is offer to play their encore outside, in the cool summer night.
That’s right, they took their instruments and 100 riled up fans out in front of the convenience store next to the club and played a three song acoustic set. The really amazing thing was, though, that all of these drunk, mindlessly-hollering hipster hooligans showed the utmost restraint during the encore. The band was playing outside, on the streets, without a permit (yeah you need a permit, Mass really blows sometimes). But seeing this, and being aware that causing too much of a scene would get their new favorite band arrested (ok not really) they showed support by golf clapping and hushedly singing along to Davison’s already quiet “outdoor voice”.
At one point, a cop stopped by to see what all the hubbub was about (there was a crowd of 100+ people huddled in front of a convenience store) and seeing that this was the most tame rock concert ever, HE WENT ON HIS WAY. No warnings, no arrests. Saw the love, and let it be. This qualifies as an AWESOME show in my opinion.
For all you metal and hardcore fans out there, (chirp chirp) here is some of what I am looking forward to in coming months.
May 11: As I Lay Dying – The Powerless Rise — True giants of metalcore, AILD are sure to bring some amazing guitar work and surprisingly catchy clean vocals to the party.
May 18: Confide – Recover — I’m not a huge Confide fan, but they’ve been on my radar ever since this over of The Postal Service’s Such Great Heights.
June 1: Stick To Your Guns – The Hope Division — Stick To Your Guns are bringing feel good, positive vibes back into the hardcore seen and are quickly becoming a personal favorite.
June 29: Parkway Drive –Deep Blue — These boys from Australia bust some amazing riffs in all previous albums, with a few years of world touring under their belts I’m excited to see what they can do.
Haste The Day – Attack of the Wolf King — Congratulations for already winning crappiest album title of the year HTD! I would really like to see an entire album that I can enjoy from them instead of the usual few tracks that I love and the rest is mediocre and forgettable.
July 6: A Plea For Purging – [TBA] — These guys put out the best video of 2009, this ones for fans of Adult Swim and ridiculousness in general, check out Malevolence. If that doesn’t make you excited for a new album, then you are reading the wrong blogger.
Corpus Christi – [TBA] — Their last album, The Darker Shades of White was a very solid first release and I’m hoping they don’t hit a sophomore slump.
The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza – Danza III — These men are insane, and I love it. Even Tony Danza finds it catchy!
July13: Norma Jean – Meridional — I’m hoping that Norma Jean can really refine their sound and not rely so heavily on just sounding “dirty.”
Howdy you’all! I come to you today with a much belated review of Kaki King’s April 17th Middle East show. Yes I know it’s May now, I BE SORRY!
Let me paint you a scenario……. ok done. Now let me TELL you a scenario. It’s a cold, rainy night in Cambridge. The air whips past your face like air whipping past your face (couldn’t think of a good analogy). Streetlights illuminate and puddles accumulate (woah, that almost rhymed). There is a soft thumping from the rock club in front of you, drowned out only by the line of 4.2 million people waiting to get in to it (perhaps sliiight exaggeration). You are wearing a hooded sweatshirt AND a suit jacket because you’re so INDIE!
Anyways, a bunch more crap happens. they don’t accept my confirmation number for the tickets I ordered. have to beg my way into the club. cried a lot… blah blah blah. Let’s get to the actual show.
Kaki’s new album Junior came out in early April and this show was part of a touring effort to promote the sale of this record. “Ok, gotcha! So she pretty much played new songs the whole time, huh?” See, that what I thought! (We have so much in common… you wouldn’t happen to be free for dinner Saturday?) Contrary to common conception, she played a really good mix of old and new songs, pitting new rock anthems like “Death Head” against classic acoustics like “Goby“. The real difference in the show came in the energy.
This was a rock show. As someone who has seen Kaki twice before, her typical show consists of a more laid back atmosphere. Her shows are usually very banter-driven (seriously, if she weren’t a musician, I’d recommend stand up… great personality). This show, however, was much more music-centric. The songs were the focus of this show, and who could blame her? This crowd wasn’t the type to sit quietly and listen to stories or jokes.
Come to think of it, this crowd wasn’t the type to sit quietly and listen to ANYTHING!! At one point it got so loud one mutha’ucking genius decided it would be prudent to yell “SHUT UP” at the very tippiest toppiest of her lungs….. Bit of advice: remember all those movies where, if it’s too noisy, yelling something really loud shuts everyone up? Those movies BLOW! That doesn’t work! It only makes everyone louder! If the person who did that is reading this: I hate you! (but no, seriously call me… we’ll do dinner… ohgodplease*)
Now, with all this commotion, one might assume that the performer might get a bit flustered. Not the case. Kaki King is an entertainer, pure and simple. She fed off the energy of the crowd. In fact, during her encore (a performance of crowd-pleaser “gay sons of lesbian mothers“) she put the music on a loop pedal and jumped off stage and into the crowd. It was there that she proceeded to dance… and dance…. and dance. T’was awesome to say the least. If I’d had a dollar for every time Kaki jumped off of something during that show, I’d be a rich man…(and a genius for finding a way to make money off of that). All in all, kick-ass show! Mucho approved-o! A-plus-o! and other things that end in o.
Hello my friends, how are you all doing? No, no that’s good… keep talking, I’m really interested. No really, what were you saying? Uh huh… yeah… you don’t say. Ok that’s enough from you. MY TURN.
Now, lets get one thing straight: I’m a fan of music. So when I hear large quantities of really good music, I get really excited. How excited, you ask? Very excited (and I thought we’d agreed you were not to speak). This month several artists are releasing new albums for your listening pleasure. Here are a few of them.
Kaki King: “Junior”
Kaki’s back! And, well, to be honest, rock-ier than ever. Her new album “Junior”, was just released here in the states last week and I’ve already given it a few listens. For those of you who have heard Kaki’s earlier work and have thought “well, I’m too much of a metal head to appreciate good acoustic music. Gosh, I’m such a narrow minded mouth-breather”. Fear not, Kaki has heard your cry. “Junior” takes typical Kaki King finger-style guitar work, amplifies it and runs it through a distortion pedal. Don’t believe me? Watch this (fun starts at about 30 seconds):
Pretty bad ass right? Check out “The Betrayer” as well if you liked that one. Now for those of you who have heard Kaki King before and thought “well gee, all that noisy guitar was awful. Gosh I’m such a narrow minded mouth-breather”. Fear not, try “Spit it Back in my Mouth” or choose for yourself by PREVIEWING the WHOLE ALBUM:
John Butler Trio: “April Uprising”
John Butler has typically been known for his fancy-dancy blue-grass/country inspired guitar work. A lot of that is still present here on this album. This album is certainly catering to a wider audience, though. The songs are much more hook driven, and typically feature less bottle neck slides than his earlier work. Still pretty boss, though. This one’s my favorite:
Jonsi, full name Jon Þór Birgisson, was the lead singer of long standing Icelandic favorite Sigur Ros. Sigur Ros announced last year that they would be taking an “indefinite hiatus” to allow for band members to focus on their families and solo projects. “Go” is one of these solo projects. It is an interesting album. The entire thing is wrapped in this etherial mist of pretty sounding things… that’s literally the best I can describe it. Much of it is sung in Jonsi’s trademark falsetto. Jonsi isn’t for everyone… he’s a bit of an odd character, but I garuntee after a few listens you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. Did I say odd character? Here’s the music video for “Go Do”, wherein he is dressed in what I can only describe as Rainbow-meets-Indian Cheif-meets-Mummified Pirate garb… and yes, it’s awesome:
Antoine Dufour: “Convergences”
“Convergences” is set to come out April 27th and serves as a follow up to his incredible “Existence” album. This is a particularly exciting album for me, becuase… well… I love the guy. But also, there is a notable shift in inspiration, from traditional folk guitarists to more mainstream acts. There will be covers of Imogen Heaps ever popular “Hide and Seek” and Coldplay’s “Life in Technicolor” as well as a song inspired by Coldplay’s other work called “Cold Day”, seen here:
Hannah Georgas: “This is Good”
I bet you haven’t heard of Hannah Georgas. That’s ok, I hadn’t either. I stumbled across her music on CBCs Radio One site, and I must say… I had to change my pants. She’s a solo singer-songwriter from Vancouver, and she’s very good. She’s all the things I love about the soloist genre, with just the right mixture of vocal chops and well thought out music. Think Regina Spektor, only canadian… So, as you can imagine, I already had an uncomfortable tightening of my jeans to worry about, but when I heard the album was co-produced by Mother Mother’s Ryan Guldemond… well that was about all I could handle! Pass me a towel. Now, it’s nigh on impossible to find any information about this album, but it is rumored that it will be released April 27th. Please check out her myspace and watch this:
Foxy Shazam: “Foxy Shazam”
“Andy, what are you some sort of sissy? Listenin’ to yo’ gurly ass music? *insert mouth-breathing noise*” Ok, first of all, what did I say about you talking? Second of all…you want rock? Fine, see if I care. Foxy Shazam is ROCK. They’re a progressive band from cincinatti and dammit are they fun to listen to. Think a modern day AC-DC with more basketball references. Their self titled album just came out this month, and is actually streaming from their myspace. I think all you need to know about these guys you can learn from watching the music video for their song “Oh Lord”, ENJOOOY:
Boston is no stranger to great music. In fact at this very moment, there is probably some great band performing an old favorite to a group of beer guzzling post grads. There are unquestionably tables set up in the backs of small stage venues, where long haired hipsters offer a myriad of delightful musical gear. In fact, I know that local favorites “The Dropkick Murphys” are playing a show at the House of Blues. But I didn’t go to any of these events, and I feel pretty good about that.
But Andy, why?? Well that’s a good question, but perhaps let me explain first before you open your god-forsaken trap next time. I DID go to a concert tonight, and while I’m sure the good ‘ole DMs (that’s a thing right?) put on a hell of a show, but tonight, I didn’t care to see their fast paced, mosh inducing antics. No, tonight, I went to see Olof Arnalds, an Icelandic folk artist… (entirely free show btw, you really oughtta keep your eyes open for those)
Who? you may be asking. Did I stutter? Olof Arnalds. Never heard of her? Well I guess I see where you’re coming from. She hasn’t really hit the states as hard as her Icelandic comrades Sigur Ros or Bjork. She is probably better know for her involvement with Mum. Her style of playing is soft, melodic… at times quirky, but always entrancing. Her quiet guitar arpeggios set the backdrop for her ghostly, wavering soprano. For the most part she sings in icelandic, which is an interesting and welcome change of pace from most of the music I listen to. I beleive a friend of mine described it best when he called it “summertime laying in the grass-type music”.
The music was great, but I find you can learn much more about the musicianship of an artist by listening to what they do in between their songs. It is here that you are often able to see how comfortable a musician feels up on stage, facing the relentless gaze of 50 or so strangers. This is no easy feat and we could see that there were times Olof was visibly flustered while trying to read the setlist (which had been placed on stage upside down), or when switching instruments. However, these nervous ticks quickly subsided and what we ended up seeing was one of the more confident, and sincere performances I’ve seen in a while. She truly got to know the audience, and I feel we got to know her. She had several songs where she asked the audience to participate by singing a harmony over her vocals.
At one point during the show, some mouth-breather outside decided it would be a good idea to lay on their car horn for a good five to ten minutes, causing Arnalds to stop playing midsong. Olof handled this by making a joke about how it reminded her of the monotonality of Icelandic punk music, and eventually retuning her guitar to be in tune with the car horn outside. Her banter was breif but funny, and at times thought provoking. My favorite quip of hers came when she was describing this instrument, which is made from the shell of an armadillo. “So, you know… pretty brutal.” she sighed “But I can’t think of any better afterlife, than to be made into a beautiful instrument.” I am, of course, paraphrasing, but it was such an interesting line, I had to include it. All in all it was an experience worth a thousand times what I paid for it (which, lucky for my college budget, is still free.) Moments like this one: going into the show not knowing what I’d find, and walking out with a smile on my face, make life worth living. I definitely recommend seeing her the next time she rolls around. Whether she be on her own, or with Mum she definitely deserves your attention.
Check out her myspace here: Olof Arnalds. Try “I Nyju husi” and “Klara”