The last time I saw the New Pornographers live was in 2007 at Chicago’s Metro. Lead singer Carl Newman commented during the show about a strong thunderstorm happening outside during the gig, and you could hear thunder between songs now and then. It was a great show, and my wife and got back to our hotel room still buzzing from it. I noticed I had a voicemail from work, so I listened. The storm that had rolled through Chicago during the show had become a tornado by the time it reached our hometown. Nearly every home on the southeast side of town had either been destroyed or damaged. A factory and a convenience store were wiped off the face of the Earth. Amazingly, no one was injured. Our house was fine, but we returned home early the next day to help with the rebuilding and cleaning efforts.
Thankfully, the only thing dire that happened during my second time seeing the New Pornographers was that the brewery in which they played, Bell’s in Kalamazoo, didn’t serve cider, radlers, or even their own root beer.
Unfortunately, I missed nearly all of opening band Ought‘s set. I walked in during their last song (Thanks, Google Maps, for directions that were fine until the last two steps of the journey.), which sounded like some good shoegaze. I need to check out their material.
The New Pornographers came out sharp and quick with crowd favorites like “High Ticket Attractions,” “The Laws Have Changed,” and “Sing Me Spanish Techno.” They sounded great. They haven’t lost anything in ten years. In fact, the additions of more electro touches from keyboardist Blaine Thurier and keyboardist / co-vocalist Kathryn Calder and violin and vocals from Simi Stone bring the band a new brightness.
“Whiteout Conditions,” the title track of their new record, sounds even better live, and I was delighted to hear “Dancehall Domine” from Brill Bruisers live for the first time (They nailed it, by the way.). The show cruised along well until a string broke on John Collins‘ bass and the band had a brief on-stage break while Mr. Collins worked some magic and had his axe swinging again in moments. They were soon they were back to a fine rendition of “Adventures in Solitude.”
The encore included “Challengers,” “Brill Bruisers,” “The Slow Descent in Alcoholism” (which I found funny considering they were playing in a brewery), and a rousing version of “The Bleeding Heart Show” that had us all cheering.
It was a fun night, and much needed by all. It’s no secret that depression and the 2016 presidential election fueled much of Newman’s songwriting for Whiteout Conditions, so the crisp sound, fun vibe, and power pop the New Pornographers brought were, for one night at least, an escape from the miasma of news, Tweets, rumors, and anger.
Keep your mind open.
Willowbank Out October 6th On Cascine
Catch Them On Tour This October;
European Dates Added
“it’s Perfect Pop” – NPR Music
Charlie Ryder from the band comments, “‘Depths’ is a song about life, love and temporary loss, and all the little moments in between that drag us to the edge of our existences. The people that take your crazy and run with it, turning life upside down in the process, with no regard for the consequences when they forget about you for the day. In parallel, the song explores the ways that we hopelessly fight against this process, as we try to cling onto reality and our sense of self, when really, we should all be letting go before it’s too late.”
For the making of Willowbank, the members of Yumi Zouma settled on a plan to head home for the New Zealand summer. To complete what would become their first significant work written and recorded entirely in their home country, they rented a studio in Christchurch’s semi-demolished CBD, on one of the few remaining blocks that still characterizes the city from before it was destroyed by a series of earthquakes.
Guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist Josh Burgess says, “It was as though there was a brief pause in all of our lives and we finally felt like a band from New Zealand. We were on home turf and creating from a place that felt fundamentally natural.” That sensation was further underscored by Willowbank’s recording sessions falling over the cherished holiday season, during which the Yumis were surrounded by family. Burgess credits some of the small, often mundane Kiwi traditions of the time for influencing their mindset. “New Zealand has a distinct feel from Christmas to the end of January. Things shut down. It has a calming presence, it’s very peaceful.” That sense of holiday can be heard on lead single “December” where the melodies float and stir themselves into a series of swelling refrains that culminate in horns and handclaps.
When you know it’s there, the feeling of rootedness is undeniable on Willowbank. Being connected to their origins on the bottom of the earth allowed the band’s members, Charlie Ryder, Josh Burgess, Christie Simpson and Sam Perry to craft another essential chapter in the Yumi Zouma storybook.
Listen To “December”:
Yumi Zouma Tour Dates:
Fri. Oct. 6 – London, UK @ Omeara
Sun. Oct. 8 – Brighton, UK @ The Joker
Mon. Oct. 9 – Paris, FR @ L’Espace B
Wed. Oct. 11 – Copenhagen, DK @ VEGA Musikkens Hus – Ideal Bar
Thu. Oct. 12 – Stockholm, SE @ Debaser
Sun. Oct. 15 – Amsterdam, NL @ Sugarfactory
Wed. Oct. 18 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater*
Thu. Oct. 19 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop*
Fri. Oct. 20 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios*
Sat. Oct. 21 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza*
Mon. Oct. 23 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Tue. Oct. 24 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
Wed. Oct. 25 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge
Thu. Oct. 26 – Boston, MA @ Lilypad
Fri. Oct. 27 – Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz
Sat. Oct. 28 – Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha
*w/ Chad Valley
iTunes – http://bit.ly/willowbank-
Cascine – http://bit.ly/willowbank-vinyl
Bandcamp – https://yumizouma.bandcamp.
Linkfire – https://lnk.to/willowbank
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS DEBUT NEW VIDEO FOR “WHITEOUT CONDITIONS”
NEW RECORD WHITEOUT CONDITIONS OUT NOW ON COLLECTED WORKS RECORDS
WORLD TOUR CONTINUES THROUGH FALL
Critically acclaimed supergroup The New Pornographers debut a new video for the track “Whiteout Conditions” from their critically acclaimed album of the same name; watch/share the video at https://youtu.be/v2XvW38UKEI. Of the video, director Kevan Funk explains, “I wanted to tell a set of stories featuring characters who could act as conduits to explore that tension, each of them repressing some sort of tormenting emotion (guilt, shame, self-loathing) that they haven’t been able to reconcile internally. The facade of the mall, with its surreal fantasy elements, provided an effective metaphorical backdrop.”
Earlier this summer the band performed the song on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Whiteout Conditions— the first release on the band’s own Collected Works Records imprint in partnership with Concord Records— continues to receive critical praise:
“Pure, blissfully irresistible power pop…the band would be forgiven for receding into legacy-act status at some point. Instead, its catalog just gets more formidable: now seven albums strong, with as little patience for filler as ever.’” –NPR Music
“The New Pornographers’ seventh album is a peppy team effort, rich with new wave synths and closely blended harmonies…this, plus a singularly bright and skipping tempo, creates an almost forcibly energetic mix.” –Pitchfork
“…uplifting three-to-four-minute indie-pop numbers, imbued with lush vocals.” –Rolling Stone
“A.C. Newman and Neko Case don’t miss a beat; Whiteout Conditions provides another dose of power-pop with quirky synth accents from a collective that hasn’t faltered yet this century.” –New York Magazine
“Expect flawless harmonies, precisely arranged power pop, and more Neko Case vocal wizardry than any mere human deserves to hear in one lifetime.” –Cosmopolitan
“A parade of hook-laden songs.”
“Whiteout Conditions [is] a characteristically punchy and catchy LP with more than a few jams set to become worthy contenders in the New Pornos’ canon.” –Stereogum
“loud, infectious, and energetic—classic New Pornographers” –Entertainment Weekly
“power-pop phenoms” –Vice Noisey
“Whiteout Conditions contains some of The New Pornographers’ most interesting musical ideas.” –The Onion’s A.V. Club
“It is Newman’s steady creative hand and brilliant understanding of pop music’s beating human heart that once again win the day on Whiteout Conditions…a typically neat package that sits comfortably and appropriately in one of rock’s greatest band catalogs. 9 (out of 10)” – Magnet
“More than ever before, the Pornos feel like a legitimate band rather than an all-star union.” –Relix
“Finest yet from Carl Newman, Neko Case et al. 4 stars (out of 5)” –MoJo
Whiteout Conditions made its Billboard debut at #2 on the Alternative Albums Chart, #13 on the Current Album Chart and #35 on the Top 200. Additionally, the album hit #6 on Billboard’s AAA Radio Chart. The band’s world tour in support of the new album continues this summer and fall, including shows with Born Ruffians in select cities. Tickets for all headlining U.S. shows include a free download of the new album; see below for a list of dates.
Of writing the new record, founder and frontman A.C. Newman notes that, “At the beginning of this record, there was some thinking that we wanted it to be like a Krautrock Fifth Dimension. Of course, our mutated idea of what Krautrock is probably doesn’t sound like Krautrock at all. But we were thinking: Let’s try and rock in a different way.” Newman recently discussed the new record and the band’s 18-year career in a pair of Salon Talks here, here and here.
Since their debut in 2000, The New Pornographers have released six studio albums including their most recent, Brill Bruisers, hailed as an “exuberant, synthpop-infused set” by Rolling Stone, “infectious” by Harper’s Bazaar and “the grand and purposeful hookfest that you would hope these guys would come back with” by Stereogum. Pitchfork went on to note that “with the futurist sound of Brill Bruisers, the whole band embraces a more electric version of itself—bulked-up in chrome-plated armor, firing on all cylinders, and ready to steamroll anything in its path.” The band celebrated the release with a special NPR Music “First Listen Live” concert at the legendary Brill Building, and performed songs from the album on both “Conan” and the “Late Show with David Letterman.”
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, WHITEOUT CONDITIONS
1. Play Money
2. Whiteout Conditions
3. High Ticket Attractions
4. This is the World of the Theater
5. Darling Shade
6. Second Sleep
8. We’ve Been Here Before
11. Avalanche Alley
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS LIVE
†with Born Ruffians
August 17 /// Kalamazoo, MI /// Bell’s Beer Garden
August 18 /// Madison, WI /// Majestic Theater
August 19 /// Omaha, NE /// MAHA Music Festival
August 25 /// Mexico City, MX /// Pabellon Cuervo
September 23 /// Cincinnati, OH /// Midpoint Music Festival
September 28 /// Victoria, BC /// Sugar Nightclub†
September 29 /// Vancouver, BC /// Commodore Ballroom†
September 30 /// Kelowna, BC /// Kelowna Community Theatre†
October 1 /// Nelson, BC /// Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel†
October 2 /// Calgary, AB /// MacEwan Hall†
October 4 /// Edmonton, AB /// Winspear Centre†
October 5 /// Saskatoon, SK /// O’Brians Event Centre†
October 6 /// Regina, SK /// The Exchange†
October 7 /// Winnipeg, MB /// Burton Cummings Theatre†
October 9 /// Detroit, MI /// Crofoot Ballroom†
October 10 /// Cleveland, OH /// Beachland Ballroom
October 11 /// London, ON /// London Music Hall†
October 12 /// Ottawa, ON /// Bronson Centre Theatre†
October 13 /// Montreal, QC /// Corona Theatre†
October 14 /// Toronto, ON /// Massey Hall†
Keep your mind open.
Detroit psych-rock trio Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor have announced the release date of their new album, Lavender BloodBandcamp page – October 27, 2017. You can pre-order the album now and even hear one track, “Milky Water Jesus,” on their Bandcamp page.
The album was at least partially inspired by a trip the band took to Greece during which their plane depressurized during the descent. The plane landed safely once pressure was stabilized, but an experience like that certainly changes your perspective on things. Two of the album’s tracks are “Die Die Die” and “Sky Greece,” so it will be interesting to hear the music inspired by their near-death experience.
SOYSV also plan to tour to support the album, starting with shows in the Midwest and Canada. Keep your eyes peeled for them. They always put on a great set.
Keep your mind open.
ORB ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, NATURALITY, OUT 10/6 ON CASTLE FACE
LISTEN TO “YOU ARE RIGHT“
I don’t remember where I first heard of Thundercat (AKA Stephen Bruner), but I remember being amazed by his bass guitar skills. His fingers seemed to move on his guitar frets as nimbly as a spider racing across a web. I caught him live at Mamby on the Beach earlier this year, keen on hearing him live. He didn’t disappoint. He wowed the crowd with a jazz-fusion set that was unlike anything you heard the whole weekend.
His newest album, Drunk, is also unlike anything you’ve heard in a long while. It blends electronica with jazz, yacht rock, funk, and even a bit of trip hop. “Rabbit Ho” is a quirky intro with Bruner’s falsetto singing about friends coming and going from his life before it slips into “Captain Stupido,” which is a collaboration with one of his best pals – Flying Lotus. “I feel weird,” Bruner sings, perhaps speaking for all of us, as he struggles to get through the odd feelings that surround everyday activities like brushing your teeth. His bass and Lotus’ loops and beats are a killer combo.
“Uh Uh” is an instrumental showcase of Bruner’s stunning bass skills. Seriously, it will leave you dumbfounded. I have no idea how he plays that fast and that well at the same time. “Bus in the Streets” has Bruner watching the world go by and not wanting to get involved in the rat race. “Won’t you leave some things a mystery?” he asks in this age of everyone Tweeting, hash-tagging, and posting everything at every moment.
“A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)” is perhaps the greatest love song written to a cat of all time. Bruner sings about his admiration for his cat having nine lives, doing what he wants, and lying in the sun all day. “Everybody wants to be a cat. It’s cool to be a cat.” It has a groove as smooth as a cat’s walk, too.
“Sometimes you have to let it go,” Bruner sings in the opening of “Lava Lamp.” The song moves as languidly as its namesake. “I’m so tired. Where can I lay my head?” Bruner asks. It’s a common theme for a lot of us in these times. We’re so overwhelmed that we’re losing time to decompress. Flying Lotus comes back on “Jethro,” and brings wicked beats with him. “Show You the Way” has powerhouse guests Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, and both men show they can still slay a microphone (and a keyboard, too, in McDonald’s case). It’s a glorious return of yacht rock that you won’t realize you missed until you hear this track.
The special guests keep on coming as Kendrick Lamar drops some guest vocals on “Walk on By” – another groovy, smooth track. “Blackkk” is the smoothest song about overcoming fear of death I’ve ever heard. “Tokyo” would be great to have in your ears as you cruise through the city. Bruner sings about eating too much fish, blowing all his money on anime, and wanting to stay another night there.
“Jameel’s Space Ride” has Bruner dreaming about driving into space as he’s pulled over by the cops. “Friend Zone” is a sharp dis on someone keeping him at arm’s length instead of embracing him as a lover. “I’m your biggest fan, but I guess that’s just not good enough,” he sings as his bass and Mono/Poly’s synths deliver dance beats. “Don’t call me, don’t text me after two a.m., unless you plan on giving me some, ‘cause I got enough friends,” Bruner sings. Ouch.
In contrast, “Them Changes” (the first single) has Bruner singing about heartbreak. “Nobody move there’s blood on the floor, and I can’t find my heart. Where did it go? Did I leave it in the cold?” His bass groove on it gets into your circulatory system and won’t leave until you dance. Flying Lotus’ beats sure help, too (as they do on the next track, “Where I’m Going”). “Drink Dat” is a slow jam for people starting to wind down after partying in the late hours. “Can’t open my eyes, girl, ‘cause I’m just too wasted,” Bruner sings between raps by Wiz Khalifa.
“Inferno” is the most psychedelic track on the record with Lotus’ trippy beats. “3AM” has Bruner still awake despite being (according to the theme of the album by now) drunk and tired. His bass groove in it is something Christopher Cross hears in his dreams. “Drunk” gets as wobbly as its namesake thanks to Bruner’s reverbed bass and Flying Lotus’ melted cheese synths.
“The Turn Down” is a witty song about the aftermath of too much partying. Bruner laments the mess in his house, the location of Captain Planet (who might be one of Bruner’s cats), and guests who have lingered too long. Pharrell teams up with him on the track, and Bruner has said multiple times that Pharrell’s contribution to the track blew his mind. He does nail it.
The album ends with the great, keyboard-driven “DUI.” Bruner’s night went from drowning his sorrows, to a fun time, to exhaustion, to annoyance, and then either back home, jail, or the grave. “I’m so tired,” he sings again just before the keyboards turn into the sound of screeching tires and then fade into distortion. Did he crash? Did he make it home? Is he in the hoosegow?
Drunk is masterfully crafted, and the best-engineered and mixed album I’ve heard so far in 2017. It’s a stunning, eclectic piece of work. Only good things are ahead for Thundercat. Get Drunk.
Keep your mind open
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Elephant Stone have been on tour for seemingly all of 2017, and now they’ve added more tour dates throughout Europe and North America that go into the winter. They’re playing gigs with the likes of the Black Angels, A Place to Bury Strangers, and the Dream Syndicate. Any of these shows would be well worth your time and money. Here are the dates:
9/28 Arta, GR @ Miles Bar