Monday, November 23, 2009

Le Loup

Everybody likes a hometown team. Though I can't entirely claim DC as my own, I'm of the camp that if you can get there in less than two hours, consider your satellite closet to be in Reston and have been lost on the Geo Wash Parkway at least once - you're nearly a townie.

Other reasons I have warm-n-fuzzies for this gaggle of multi-instrumentalists:
- I've had a photo-op on the DC Zoo sign, too!
- I like to put "Le" in front of everything! (re: i am le tired)
- Sounds like - animal collective+yeasayer+fleet foxes!

Coming off the quintessential bedroom recordings of founder, Sam Simkoff - Le Loup started layering glistening leaves of le banjo, piano, guitar, perpetual percussion and dryersheet light vocals in '06. The revamped boudoir tracks, le inspired by Dante's Inferno, made for a debut teeming with ambient loops. Sophmore effort, "Family," departs the synth of their brief youth for a more mature audio richness and reverb vocals that taste of Robin Pecknold. That is, if you're of the camp that you've licked Robin Pecknold.
You're an odd bird, aren't you?

p.s. you just read the le 200th ES post in history - YOU WON YOU WON

Le Loup // Beach Town

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cold Cave

If you're of the emotive, angsty, poetry reading sort you may already be familiar with Wesley Eisold.
A poet and a musician, I'm not sure if he's quite a bard - more of an alumnus of the scene. Or maybe you're a Fall Out Boy groupie and know he's had some songwriting plagiarism beef with Pete Wentz? H-anyways, after years of hardcore punk noise bands like Give Up the Ghost he's taking a cerebral holiday as frontman of Cold Cave with current fellow bandmates Caralee McElroy and Dominick Fenrow.

More Depeche Mode than Fugazi - most of the early November release, "Emotional Rescue," keeps you at arms length. It's like prodding human emotion with a chilled iced tea spoon; stirring things up but everything stays colloidal. This track's an exception - a pulsing thrum of a daydream with the mantra "I"m never going back." The refrain keeps in line with Cold Cave's outlook that one can feel like there's nothing more and everything more. I'll have both with a slice of lemon, please.

Cold Cave // Life Magazine

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rain Machine

Day three of Hurricane Ida leftovers, Rain Machine is awfully appropriate.

I'll start this by readily admitting I've been a bit smitten with Kyp Malone. He's only produced a zillion things for a cajillion artists. Plays in a little band you may have seen on one or two 'zine covers, TVOTR. Bodacious, bountiful beard. Owly, astounding specs. A strangled, falsetto howl like Darth Vader executing a chokehold on level 2.6.

Yeah I'm into strangling. What?

This new jaunt's, Rain Machine, naming is either one of two things;
1. he thought it would look cooler on a concert tee than KYP MALONE
2. he believes naming efforts is arbitrary and an interpretation of the individual, so why specify. Has anyone ever really stopped and thought about what Led Zepplin truly means? Doubtful. Don't act like you have just to impart on KM that you're deep. His lil gal Isabell is his music-success barometer, he doesn't need commoners like you and me to think on things for him.

Regardless, on this solo effort you're gonna get a lot of "nearlies" so your interpretation nation is given a jolt. Nearly chaotic. Nearly empty. Nearly g
ospel. Nearly agnostic. Nearly zen. Nearly royally pissed. Irritated yet? Let's move on.

You've probably heard the rollicking "Give Blood" on your local college station, so here's track five. Provocative lyrics, tambourine shakes, handclaps. God do I love handclaps. All giving you a feel for what to expect from the full album.

“...a nearly full spectrum of frequencies audible to the human ear, a reflection of a variety of emotions and situations real and imagined - some rhythm some rhyme." - KM

How could I ever say anything better. Kyp trumps again.

Rain Machine // Free Ride

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Autocue - Interview

An interview I did with local Richmond band, Autocue, for RVA Magazine. Have fun, I know I didn't. Hahaha. Kidding. It was average. ;) Check the lads out this Saturday at Gallery 5.

Photo by PJ Sykes

Not since the animatronic animal band, The Rock-afire Explosion, have I been so duped into expecting one thing and given something else. Those guys were all dark and mysterious with their music, but once you got to know ‘em, they were the most innocent of sweethearts this side of Huckleberry Pasture. I could say the same thing for Autocue, a calm and cool collective of hip hipsters born right from the Earth of Mother Richmond.

If I were me, I’d categorize their sound as layered, constantly dueling guitar patterns with a solid, unrelenting rhythm section. Unique and yet sometimes familiar, their tone is from the dark side.

But when I went to meet with the guys, they weren’t dark at all (I already knew this because we all know each other, but for the sake of this article, pretend I’m from England and just arrived). They were quite the opposite. In fact, when I got there, they were playing Call of Duty 4, laughing and drinking Shasta. Or maybe it was beer, but still, they were having a laughable time.

I sat down with the band starring Nick Wurz, 26 (guitars), Andrew Prousalis, 26 (guitars), Patrick Ball, 25 (vocals + bass), and Timo Prousalis, 22 (drums) to discuss the band, the weather, and their upcoming EP release show at Gallery 5 on November 14.

We’re at Nick and Andrew’s new workplace/funhouse. Nick’s looking through a sweater catalogue and vowing to buy everything in it the next day.

McKay (Me): Nick, you recently opened up Mondial Creative Labs. What goes on here and why is there a half pipe next to a computer desk and a half-eaten bagel?

Nick: Me, Andrew and two other guys started it with a vision of a very creative, collaborative place where we could do anything we wanted to do. Whether it's video, work or band stuff. We're here all the time, writing music or working on some video or skateboarding or whatever, playing video games.

Me: I mean seriously. There’s a mother effin’ half pipe right there.

Nick: Yeah, that's there. We have periodic skate breaks during the day. Actually, Patrick broke his foot a few weeks ago. First official casualty.

Me: Does that affect your performance?

Patrick: Hopefully not. It affects my performance in other areas.

Me: Like in the bedroom?

Patrick: I don’t wanna talk about it.

Me: Do you hate each other being here all the time?

Nick: Surprisingly not.

Andrew: No. And Nick and I live together.

Me: 24/7. Is there something we should know?

Andrew: We get along surprisingly well considering how often we're around each other.

Me: What's it like practicing here.

Patrick: It's great. We've got a whole in-ear monitoring/recording set up to where all of our amps and drums and everything have microphones hooked up all the time. With our computer we can record it (snaps) like that. It's all set up. At the same time we have our own mixes. Say I'm singing with the vocal mic, I can hear it in my headphones. So that allows us to turn everything way down and just keep it really clean. We can hear everything like you're listening to a record.

Me: Where'd you guys find each other?

Nick: MySpace.

Andrew: Patrick and I talked about starting a band about 2 years ago. We’d played in bands before and we really wanted to do something that had a focus on being creative and trying to expand. Then Timo started playing, obviously, he's my brother. Then I ran into Nick at a Ki:Theory show at Alley Katz about six months later, he started playing and that was it.

Patrick: He just kind of filled that gap.

Me: Is that where you got that shirt? Zing! How'd you come up with the name Autocue?

Nick: Timo came up with it.

Timo: Yeah, I found it online somewhere.

Nick: Autocue is also the name for a teleprompter in the UK.

Timo: That's how I found the name, actually. On Wikipedia there are British words that aren't used in the US.

Andrew: Like bangers and mash. We don't have bangers here.

Me: Oh yes we do. Andrew, you and Timo are brothers. What’s it like playing together?

Andrew: There’s an interesting synergy that happens with brothers. He’ll say something that no one else will get and I’ll totally get it and we might also…

Timo: Finish each other’s sentences?

Me: Is there a spot you guys would prefer to play in Richmond?

Patrick: 929 West Grace Street. The atmosphere, the history, the location is amazing.

Me: Any local bands you’re into these days?

Nick: Heks Orkest. We’re very excited about them. Keeley Davis, one of the guys that works at Mondial is in it along with Jonathan Fuller and Cam DiNunzio from Denali, Engine Down and Black Iris.

Me: Saw them at the Bike Lot recently. My ears didn’t stop bleeding for days. In a good way, a good way. Who else?

Nick: Antlers…

Patrick: Memorial is awesome.

Nick: Ki:Theory. I was in a band with Ash, the drummer.

Me: So incestuous.

Patrick: This city’s pretty incestuous.

Me: Tell me about it.

Patrick: I’m getting into the jazz scene. Fight the Big Bull. Omback. They’ve been playing at Cous Cous every Wednesday back and forth for a couple years now. I think Fight the Big Bull just moved to Balliceaux.

Me: Is there a band, any band, you guys would like to open for?

Patrick: Blonde Redhead.
(collective nodding)

Timo: Mew.

Andrew: Sunny Day Real Estate now that they’re back.

Me: How come you guys don’t have beards?

Andrew: ‘Cause I can’t grow one.

Patrick: Timo can grow a beard for all of us.

Me: You should do it. Bearded drummers get way more tail.
(musical break)

Me: The EP release show is coming up. How did you go about making the EP, Epilogue, and is there anything significant about the timing of its release?

Patrick: We recorded it ourselves.

Andrew: Back in June, we were playing out of town for the first time and didn’t have anything to sell. So we thought, if we’re gonna be doing this often, we should have something. Patrick and I had been recording for a while now so we just thought: let’s do it ourselves.
(lots of recording speak; they did it themselves in two different houses at the same time, trust me)

Me: Why Gallery 5 for the release?

Patrick: It’s got a good vibe. The people there are down, on the level.

Nick: We like what they do. We’ve played there before. They’ve always been great to us. It’s just a cool place to bee affiliated with.

Andrew: I like that it has an art vibe instead of an ashtray vibe.

Patrick: I like that it’s a gallery and not just a typical venue.

Andrew: It’s a firehouse.

Patrick: It used to be a firehouse. It’s a museum.

Me: For fire trucks?

Timo: There is a fire truck inside.

Me: Super. How do you guys write? Together or separately? Or does someone else write your music? Like Britney Spears.

Nick: We write together. We don’t really have a set way that we do it. We all write stuff and usually with bands that becomes a problem. In our case we just bring in a part that we’ve been working on individually and work on it as a group and it’s pretty obvious what’s gonna work.

Me: What inspires you?

Andrew: I like cool rhythms, cool patterns. Even like a flash pattern. A lot of times I’ll see stuff like that and it’ll make me remember…
(18 minutes later there’s silence).

Timo: Interesting.

Patrick: The weather.

Nick: Yeah the weather.

Andrew: The weather?

Timo: Miley Cyrus.

Patrick: Early Miley Cyrus.

Me: You’re working on creating a visual show on top of the standard aural performance. What's the meaning of this?

Andrew: We deal with videos all day, everyday for work.

Nick: And we deal with music all night, every night. So this is natural. We’re in this creative environment, let’s merge all of our talents and skills and interests and create something unique. Seeing some of our favorite bands and their shows, we thought how can we be like them? My Bloody Valentine is insanely loud. Mogwai is insanely loud and has blinding lights. We want to be insanely loud, have blinding lights and hypnotic videos.
(take this as a warning if you’re prone to seizures)

Me: Anything else we can expect to see at the show?

Andrew: We’ll be there.

Patrick: Our friends Casper Bangs and Cleric are playing.


Autocue // Plateau

Monday, November 9, 2009

RIP Jerry Fuchs

Widely and wildly respected drummer, Jerry Fuchs from Maserati, Juan MacLean, !!!, and LCD Soundsystem, tragically died Sunday morning in a freak freight elevator accident. I wish I was just being me and making this up, but unfortunately one of the great ones has left us for good. He was 34. See the full Rolling Stone article here.

Some of his magic:
Maserati // Monoliths
Maserati // No More Sages
The Juan MacLean // The Simple Life

20 Years and The Notwist

Twenty years ago to date, the Berlin Wall opened it's gates and East Germans were free to cross over the imposed border. After 28 years of traveling restrictions under the hand of Leonid Breshnve, former president Mikhail Gorbachev's public renouncement of the doctrine led to a rapid fall. One offhand, confused affirmation from a senior communist official that the restriction was being lifted and millions poured through into West Germany.

Fist-pump inspiration to post The Notwist. Formed that same year a bit outside of Munich, they continue to pour a stream of synthesized syrup into your cerebellum. With a start of roughhousing punk LP's, the Notwist have evolved their sound into it's current incarnation - song oriented 80's (fittingly) indie pop electronica. Searing strings, warm mellow bass and icy bells come with the recent addition of the 21-member Andromeda Express Orchestra. Oh and glockenspiels. They've got glockenspiels too, but I'm not sure what descriptive temperature I can associate with those.

"Hands on Us" comes from the June 2008 release making a second appearance on ES - ref Jan. 2009 "5 Songs I've Liked More Than Others" -
The Devil, You + Me. A bit tense, paranormal and vague, it would've been a good howly week post had I not been such a no-show. I know, I hate me too.
"Sturm 2" is nearly titular of the scored soundtrack done entirely by The Notwist for Hans Christian Schmid's recent film, Sturm. Basic plot - a Bosnian woman to testify against a Serb commander after the Yugoslav Wars. Not finding many sung praises for the visual manifestation, but if you're fluent in German and can speak to it better? Have at it.

Twenty years. Die Freiheit.

the Notwist // Hands On Us
the Notwist // Sturm 2