It’s been a while.
My locale has changed. Much like when I made the move from DC to Munich 4 years ago, my head has been about as far from writing as it could possibly be. Attempts to weave a cozy expat nest for myself while simultaneously trying to blend into (a new) German society has proven a challenging preoccupation, seeming to wipe my brain free of all levels of creativity and thoughtful anecdotes. I am, however, cautiously happy to report that after nearly ½ a year, I’m finally feeling like a Berliner. So much so that I was able to dip my tour guide toes into the pool for the loveliest bloke from Bristol last weekend, successfully (more on that in later installments). As I’ve ambled my way around this city, this Berlin, as with all of the other places I have lived, the same control is beating in my head and heart as different variables insist upon crashing before my feet. As I stumble, alone or in the company of others, my records lift me up. While it means much more to me (and my sanity) than yours, it looks like I’m back. Take me or leave me.
The beauty of Berlin, as compared to, say, Munich (or even DC) is that I feel more comfortable in my own skin here than in any other city I have ever called home. There is an unkempt sexiness and invincibility lining the streets and silhouettes of everyone. Berlin is perfectly imperfect. Moreover, and most importantly in this the Knox Road arena, I have interminable options as far as live music is concerned. When I say everyone plays here…I mean everyone. And if they aren’t, they’re striving to. I have no desire to land myself completely in the poorhouse, so feverish list-making and gentle gig selecting is necessary, as I am, for the most part, jobless. That said, I manage. Thanks for asking.
Rambling on with specifics of gigs attended seems futile. East India Youth, Lymbyc Systym, This Will Destroy You and a laundry list of jangly greatness at Pop Fest Berlin, to name a few. Per my years gone by, there hasn’t been a lack of live music in my life. Thankfully. Most recently, however, I was able to catch the quintet who provided a delightful chapter to the soundtrack of my first Berlin summer: Alvvays.
Continue reading [Abby’s Road] Always and forever →
Ed Note: Abby’s Back!
At the only German gig in his 5 stop European mini-tour, Knox Road favorite Radical Face (Ben Cooper) was in typical form. Armed with his Jacksonville, Florida-based band, he delivered, per usual, a tome of stories plucked from a variety of his records released since 2007. It seemed to […]
Come on out Wednesday night, October 22 at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn. What Blog?! is Knox Road (me!), Nora of irockiroll, Bryan of subinev, and Chris of batteringroom. UPDATE: Unfortunately, Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! can’t make it, so instead we’ve filled the bill out with Happy Fangs.
Locomote by Genghis Hans + Kid In […]
Since my last Letting Up Despite Great Faults post (you have to scroll down five seconds to find it), Neon is out, and we’ve got a brand new song, “Ride” to present off the album. The single has everything I’ve come to love about Letting Up, with relaxed vocals, a sunny vibe and […]
“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.
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.
Continue reading Nothing Romantic About UK’s Savages →
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.
Continue reading The Kate Boy Collective →
Considering my affinity for Sean Carey (S. Carey, of Bon Iver fame), I’m disappointed I hadn’t come across his sister, Shannon Carey, aka DC’s Luray, sooner. Sean Carey produced Luray’s new album, The Wilder, out August 27, and you can hear his nuanced touch in the three preview songs below. Not to take anything […]
Déjà vu! We’ve partnered for a second time with our good friends over at exfm, as well as dreambear (the music/video production company I recently discussed), to present a fantastic night of music at Pianos, April 17 in New York City. Featuring the likes of Black Light Dinner Party, New Myths, Cultfever, and AM to AM, […]
It’s that time of year. Dreidels are spinning and trees are being trimmed. Advent wreaths a-glowing, this only means one thing: happy people. Refreshing.
Recently, it seems that everywhere I go, be it the crowded Ubahn, grocery store, Christmas markets, even on the -12c, iced-over footpaths begging to twist an ankle I am surrounded by smiling, pleasant humans. Even strangers are meeting my eyes and greeting me on the street. This NEVER happens (to me anyway) in Germany. Ordinarily I’m lucky if I get a cantankerous “entschuldigen” when someone knocks me in the ass with their shopping trolley at the supermarket. You’re just going to have to take my word on this one.
So, with all of this love flying around, one would think that even the congenitally pissed off and soulless would catch the fever. You know, shoot an un-creepy wink and a grin at an unsuspecting passerby or leave an extra-hefty tip for a waiter or waitress. OR…perhaps be elated when one of the most influential bands of recent history as far as independent music is concerned announces UK dates in early 2013 and reports a long-awaited album release is imminent; especially if you are a fan. But no..no. I’ve gone too far…I’ve asked too much. GAH.
I deserve it. My frustration I mean, as I pay attention to social media and blogs, especially when it comes to My Bloody Valentine. Admittedly, I probably receive one too many email blasts, Facebook updates, you name it, as I want to be informed. Foolishly, I assume the majority of folks receiving these messages, messages one must SUBSCRIBE to, are, like me, fans of the band and overjoyed about said announcements. Nope.
I have no idea what it’ll take to make these cranky bastards happy, actually.
Continue reading [Abby’s Road] Emptiness Inside →
Photo via Brooklyn Vegan by Amanda Hatfield
I show up and the doorman is the nicest I’ve ever encountered. I’d never been to Webster Hall before surprisingly, so I’m a little confused about where to enter. He unhooked the red velvet rope for me and said I had my own entrance; I could get used to Manhattan decorum! …Or maybe it’s the new dress. I enter the concert hall and it’s packed. A haze of smoke drifts above the crowd and it’s hard to tell if it sprung from them or if the venue is purposefully papering us in vapor. Nope, smoke machine spotted in the balcony – either way, it works.
Due to a serious of unfortunate events that include the lack of F & G service to south Brooklyn this weekend, I miss Diamond Rings. I’ve had bad luck with transport lately.
They’re setting up the stage for Stars, though, who were another early-college-idol-band for me that I’ve never seen live. The set list you ask? What can one say about a set list that seamlessly blends every old heart-knocking ballad with the new set of sparkling knife-like songs just released on their latest record The North? It was a knock-out. The show was more beautiful and regal than Lady Liberty herself, and as these songs went back to the beginning of college for me, it felt historic too.
Continue reading Stars @ Webster Hall →