Nothing Romantic About UK’s Savages


“The world used to be silent / Now it has too many voices.”

– Savages (Silence Yourself Manifesto)

As I prepare to see Savages at the Fonda Theatre in L.A. tonight, I look back at my first experience seeing this band earlier this year.

Jerking her head back-and-forth, with sudden and purposeful movements, Jehnny Beth’s dark, piercing black pupils slice through the crowd’s veneer of hipster-euphoria like a Katana sword through a watermelon. Her stage presence is as impressive as Ian Curtis during the genesis of Joy Division, and one day, we’ll all be talking about her ability to own a crowd. So if you weren’t already aware, Beth, the vocalist and lyricist of UK-based quartet Savages, is driven to be taken quite seriously. For her, Savages is fine art; a gallery showcase of her soul, and to be taken seriously as a proper artist is expected.

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The Hipster Gestapo at the El Rey, with their heads spinning as they text their fellow KCRW-listening groupies about the “Next Joy Division,” seem dumbfounded at the monochromatic intensity in the French-born singer’s eyes. As the white lights reveal the wrinkles in their all-black outfits; bass player Ayse Hassan quickly stands out sonically with the pummeling bass line for “City’s Full,” which has the bassist bouncing behind her pearl white P Bass like a possessed beatnik on a pogo stick. The ferocious rhythm section of Savages is the byproduct of Hassan’s experimental punk plucking; smashed together with the outright hydrogen explosion of crashing cymbals and frenetic hi-hat bravado of their drummer, Fay Milton, who is known to have an unconventional warm-up routine that requires isolation and focus. Milton’s virtuosity behind the kit is one of the pillars that will hold this band above their peers, in a different stratosphere, for as long as they wish to occupy the space.

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THUMPERS: “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)”

I haven’t really been posting about “popular” indie music lately, but it doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it. So I figured I’d take a break from my recent experimental folk pop and provide a danceable new tune from THUMPERS, a duo from London. They’re expected to release their debut full length in early […]

[MP3] The Landing: “Strange Charm”

The Landing’s “Strange Charm” is a soft piano falsetto track that’s right in my wheelhouse. Not overly experimental, which keeps it listenable, but still layered and sophisticated. It’s pretty; it’s hopeful; it’s mesmerizing. Go ahead and take the plunge.

The Landing on the web | […]

Fossil Collective: “The Water”

The temperature is changing, and we’re changing too. The rhythm of our pulses steadily increases as the days become shorter and life feels a tick quicker. The sharply crisp air has a reserved mood, rendering us reflective; introverted. What lies ahead? Are we ready?

Fossil Collective on the web | Facebook | Knox […]

[Hype Hype Hooray] Pandora v. Music or How Artists Can Beat The Industry


Hype Hype Hooray is a biweekly “critique” of the music scene and the blogosphere that feeds it, told through the lens of Jamie Hale, a journalist who likes music about as much as he likes scotch and a firm leather chair. Please enjoy with a grain of salt.

Portland music writer Robert Ham wasn’t happy Wednesday morning. “If I don’t start seeing more musicians freaking the fuck out about this Pandora news, I’m going to be incredibly disappointed,” he Tweeted. “I can’t figure out why they feel that paying musicians/artists LESS money makes the most sense. Fucking bullshit.”

Easy, Bob.

That “bullshit” Pandora news to which he was referring was a federal court decision handed down Wednesday that prohibits musicians and their publishers from making licensing deals with music streaming services, like Pandora, if they’re already members of a licensing fee collecting society, like the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Recently a few major labels had decided to try to negotiate separate licensing deals for some of their music on Pandora, all of which had an established licensing deal through ASCAP. The court saw those separate deals as problematic.

This effectively allows Pandora to bypass, by law, record label negotiations that could, theoretically, grant artists more money in licensing fees.

While there are plenty of valid arguments to be made here, like the fact that Pandora executives and shareholders probably don’t NEED any more money, while many musicians barely make enough money to LIVE as it is, the real debate is about what musicians should actually DO about it.

As is the case in so many times of crisis, we turn to Thom Yorke.

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I can get down to this holychild pizzazz; it’s the type of live music we need now and again. Hopefully it translates as well to the stage as it does to the recorded material — there is so much energy here it’s contagious. (But, man, does she need to be wearing a Lakers […]

The Kate Boy Collective


The sheer scope of vision involved in creating and executing concept art requires an incubation process that in today’s music industry, is almost impossible to accomplish. While concept albums are churned out at a feverish pace (even John Mayer dabbles in the space; which should annoy you), a group or a solo artist that symbolizes an idea (a clear artistic vision), isn’t very common in an industry that continues to value marketability over artistic merit. But every now and again, a ‘scene’ emerges in a part of the world, like grunge in Seattle or techno in Detroit, that offers the proper environment for art to develop without the controlling arms of industry, or worse, a Svengali manager in the mold of Kim Fowley. Right now, actually for the past few years, Sweden and Australia seem to be hotbeds for giving birth to synth-based electronic masters that have taken the states by storm. The Knife might have opened the floodgates in 2006 with Deep Cuts and Silent Shout, but today’s scene seems to be electrified with a diverse range of artists that include NONONO and Lykke Li (both from Sweden), Flume (from Australia), and Crystal Castles (also from Australia). So when I heard about the magnetic blend of Swedish and Australian musicians into one electro-pop ‘concept band,’ titled androgynously as KATE BOY, I knew I had to explore their sound during the incubation phase.

Having been notified the group would be coming to Los Angeles to play an under-the-radar gig at the Echoplex over the weekend, I thought I’d check them out during the genesis of their live act (which is still developing). In 2012, KATE BOY caused a bit of stir in the indie scene with singles “Northern Lights” and “In Your Eyes,” which are included in their EP Northern Lights. Not on the EP, but worth mentioning, is the tribal drum-driven ’80s-sounding, a-little-bit Peter Gabriel (on the more bouncy-side of 1982’s Security), “The Way We Are,” which happens to be my favorite track from KATE BOY. The pummeling robotic synth-bass and electric drums on the track hooked me from the start, but once I deciphered the message, “The Way We Are” stood out as KATE BOY’S breakthrough cut. “There’s been too much poison in the system / festering toxins I am in round / got to get this out of my head / out in the air” melodically whispers vocalist Kate Akhurst, who lyrically builds upon the emancipation theme of their music  over a hodgepodge of electro-pop perfection brought to life during the climatic group drumming piece (killer live, seriously), when all four members attack the drums into a climax that sends the track soaring right into the stratosphere.

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With vocals reminiscent of Britt Daniel (Spoon) and a definitive Britpop vibe, Spires is bringing back the feel good 1990s. The NYC foursome is picking up local steam and looking to make a name for themselves outside the city. Their debut 7” and digital single “Candy Flip” is slated for official release October […]

Cold Country

He knew he was done. He hadn’t been doing quality work in a while, and frankly he didn’t care. He was going to head home to his parents, who at this point woke up at 4 am, tended to the garden, read the newspaper, left the stove top on all day in case […]

Rest easy, Josh Burdette

Known by Washington, DC’s 9:30 Club show-goers far and wide, Josh Burdette, beloved manager and crew chief, has passed away.

A fixture at the 9:30 since 1997, if you didn’t KNOW him know him you knew of him: his pierced face, quiet strength and wall-like stature keeping things flowing and orderly inside and outside of the V St. […]